Sports Media Musings: The Best & Worst of 2013

My New Year’s resolution includes a re -commitment to write here more consistently, as in multiple times a week. In order to do so, I’ll need help from you guys, the BSMW community — so send along tips, jokes, articles, or angry missives either to my email – [email protected] – or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, Out There in the Twitterverse (@Hadfield__). Either way, I’ll be back here with more media chatter and the like on Thursday.

THE BEST & WORST OF SPORTS MEDIA IN 2013

Today: A simple exercise, in which we review the good, the bad, and the Shaughnessy; taking you into a fragmented holiday work week (seriously, Christmas and New Year’s Day on a Wednesday is the worst, right? Right.).

A valuable disclaimer: I did not include the beat reporters in this list; news is news, and while it’s nice to consistently have your name in first place on the imaginary scoreboard of who broke what story, ultimately, the news – not the person – is what matters. (Unless, of course, you’re wrong. Then, you matter. Pretty thankless value proposition.)

BEST PLAY-BY-PLAY AND/OR COLOR ANALYST

Mike Gorman, CSNNE: In the middle of a recent broadcast, Gorman had to explain plus-minus (+/-) to Tommy Heinsohn. Related: Mike Gorman works with Tommy Heinsohn on a regular basis. That alone gives Gorman this award while running away from the pack. The NBA game has changed drastically over the years, but Gorman has been able to keep up every step of the way.

Honorable Mention: Jack Edwards, NESN

BREAKOUT ANALYST

Alex Speier, WEEI.com: For the informed, Speier’s prolific work is anything but new – he’s been doing this since WEEI.com revamped their website in 2008. His profile, however, was rightfully raised this last season, evidenced by his all-too-seldom appearances on CSNNE’s “Sports Tonight.”

To his credit, even as the line between reporter and analyst is increasingly blurred, Speier tells us what he knows, not what he thinks. To that end, the former Harvard debate team member is anything but caustic in his analysis, instead relying on hard data for his insights and a friendly demeanor to cultivate sources, particularly at the minor league level, where his work is undeniably the best in the city, if not all of MLB.

Overall, it was a great year for Speier. While his talent still isn’t used nearly enough on the airwaves of 93.7 FM, the Senior Writer of the dot-com side of WEEI’s operation still cranks out his “Down on the Farm” show and manages to work well alongside Rob Bradford and other personalities for podcasts. Speier also appeared on a memorable podcast with Jonah Keri that ran on Grantland during the Sox’ postseason run, in which the two champions of sabermetrics and advanced statistics discussed the importance of team chemistry. While now dated, it’s still worth your time.

Honorable Mention: Erik Frenz, Boston.com; Matt Chatham, Boston Herald

BEST PERSONALITY

Tom E. Curran, CSNNE.com: Personalities need to write. Like it or not, this comes down to branding. (Did I just Darren Rovell all over myself? Great, I need to shower.) Writing helps reinforce a stance in a clear way that’s not confined to a 15 second spot on a television show, or diluted in a four hour radio program.

Case in point: If you’re not enjoying Tom E. Curran’s work on CSNNE.com, his WEEI appearances, and across other CSNNE’s programming, I don’t know what to tell you. He’s likable and funny — and not in a forced or awkward way. More importantly, he’s honest. He’ll go after those in the media who go after him (*FELGER*), and he’ll applaud those whose work should be praised. He’s not a homer or a contrarian; he’s what Shank pretends to aspire to, without being an elitist about the whole thing: an observer.

Mind you, Curran isn’t Bill Barnwell or Aaron Schatz . He won’t use advanced statistics or run Monte Carlo Simulations, but he manages to impress sound logic to the conventional audience, while covering the most polarizing team in the city, through a balanced perspective aided by basic statistics that are easy to comprehend. Believe me, it’s an invaluable skill.

Honorable Mention: Kirk Minihane, WEEI (Kirk, start writing again). While we’re here, WEEI may have had their struggles, but how about the attempted takedown pieces levied at them, and other in the local sports media, this year … Minihane undressed Alan Siegel on a podcast in the aftermath of his uneven piece about the dire state of local sports media personalities in Boston magazine this year. Then, the third wheel on the “Dennis and Callahan” morning show, helped do the same, both in print and on the air, to Callum Borchers for his poorly conceived hatchet job of the radio station in the Boston Globe.

Now, I’m not bringing up either to laud Minihane – or defend WEEI, for that matter – but, rather, to raise the question as to why neither Borchers or Seigel could defend their reporting or analysis? Oddly, both had holes in their stories, but the process should have been cake; either way, these two came off as rather pathetic in both instances.

WORST PLAY-BY-PLAY AND/OR COLOR ANALYST

Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub: Say what you will about Edwards’ strange post-game monologues – and there is plenty to say – but they rarely take away from the broadcast. Zolak’s “WHERE’S THE BEEF CALL?!” did exactly that. And no, “Toucher and Rich,” it’s not that I’m “taking sports too seriously,” I just think that there is a way to call a game that appropriately captures the excitement of the moment without sounding like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch circa 1994.

Honorable Mention: Tommy Heinsohn, CSNNE

WORST PERSONALITY

Before giving my pick, I need to work this out in my head. On one hand, you have a dude like Eric Wilbur, who has taken trollin’ to Baylessian Levels. This is a guy who wrote the following statements this year …

Following the Browns win:

It’s OK, Pats fans. It’s OK to laugh at yourself, get frustrated when things don’t go the right way, particularly against the likes of the Cleveland Browns. It’s OK to have a sense of humor about things, and even more apropos, a sense of humility.

It’s OK to show emotion other than when reciting the Kraft Pledge of Allegiance. It’s OK to question the status of a quarterback and head coach who both haven’t won a Super Bowl in almost a decade. It’s OK to wonder just why in the hell you’re running the ball with a minute left, down by 12.

Because of drivel like this, I won’t remember the Patriots’ run as an unprecedented decade-plus of consistency, but rather a period where we actually diminished the value of regular season wins based on – I don’t know? Style points, I guess? Still, it’s worth nothing that Wilbur isn’t the only person guilty of throwing this type of garbage against the wall.

Here’s another gem:

Was it interference or not? Who cares? It was a bad pass. End of discussion.

I imagine Wilbur’s had a car accident at one point in his lifetime, and I picture the discussion developing like so: “Who cares that I ran a red light?!? You were going 10 miles above the speed limit!”

Wilbur also recently hypothesized that Rob Gronkowski’s venture into film in his upcoming role in the “Entourage” movie could be a tipping point as far as distractions go. Last spring, he ripped the David Ortiz contract, because the slugger got two years from the Sox, and insisted that the only reason Papi was still around was to sell tickets.

Here’s the thing, though: I think Wilbur is a really good writer who can put together an entertaining piece … he just tries too hard to identify what will get him clicks and attention and – ultimately – relevance. That, coupled with his relative obscure visibility, detracts from his candidacy atop this list.

Michael Felger and Tony Massarrotti’s strange crusade against the media this year makes them likely candidates, particularly when they questioned Mike Reiss’ reporting for reasons that remain unclear, but I don’t think listeners take the duo seriously enough anymore. They’re entertaining radio, full of salacious discourse but that’s about it.

Gary Tanguay flipped out a few times. That was fun. But he is too goofy to care about. Plus, the hair is a feat of itself.

Let’s be real, you knew how this game was ending before it began. If nothing else, Dan Shaughnessy made waves this year, and that’s why he’s your winner (and I mean that in the worst possible way). Look, we don’t need to rehash the issues with his much-discussed column about the staples of solid commentary: TELLING IT LIKE IT IS. In the end, we should be grateful that Dan took the time to share with us his mission, his plight; and that he addressed something that really needed to be brought to the forefront.

Writers should be objective and care only about the story at hand, not the subjects. Journalism 101, everyone.Shank did well with the Terry Francona book, but his cohorts, who rallied around him after his TRUTH TELLER COLUMN, need to remember why Shank is terrible and he sucks.

To properly understand why we say this requires one to peer back to the beginning of the year and recall the unnecessary, self-serving insertion into the Texans-Patriots Divisional playoff game. This, readers and media members, is why Shank sucks. Because Dan claims to be a neutral observer WHO CARES ONLY ABOUT THE STORY! … oh, right – and also someone who occasionally interjects himself into the storyline itself. What a joke.

Not to mention, he was a jellyfish during his self-defense of that debacle, quipping “I don’t know football” to a Houston radio station. Well, that’s great — good thing we established your incompetence as a sports columnist who doesn’t “know sports.”

Congrats, buddy. 2013 was your year, a swan song of sorts; shine on, you crazy little diamond.

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__ 

Sports Media Musings: Mike Francesa Still Hates Twitter, Bob Lobel Tries His Hand In Blogging

Quick Note: Shooting for another mailbag this week.  To contribute, either shoot me an email at [email protected], hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

*****

“AGAIN, WITH THE TWEETS! IT’S ALWAYS THE TWEETS!”

Mike Francesa (still) hates Twitter. The rant above came after the AP’s Twitter account was hacked. Twitter is far from perfect and this certainly was a bad incident from a security standpoint, but focusing on one mishap fails to take proper context into its benefits and shows severe lack of perspective. Coincidentally, I actually wrote about athletes and Twitter this week in my column for Metro Boston.

This isn’t the first time the mike-francesa-sleeping-gifWFAN host has lashed out against the social media website. A year ago he infamously quipped “Do you know how inane some of this stuff is?”  

The irony of a sports talk radio host reprimanding the inanity of Twitter doesn’t escape me.

I’d make a joke about Francesa asking me to get off his lawn, but he seems like the type who’d ask me to mow it before leaving.

*****

Bob Lobel, meanwhile, is more progressive. He thinks that blogging thing is gaining steam and will be contributing to SuiteSports.com. The press release may or may not be riddled with hyperbole. The word “giant” was used to describe Lobel’s reach. So there’s that. I’ll let you decide, here is an excerpt:

Legendary Sports Broadcaster Bob Lobel Will Begin a Weekly Blog and Podcast with SuiteSports.com

BOSTON, MA- APRIL 22, 2013 - SuiteSports.com, a new hybrid site that will feature both local Massachusetts high school sports coverage, as well as national sports opinion pieces from bloggers and reporters across the country, today announced the addition of legendary sports broadcaster Bob Lobel to its team.

For nearly 30 years, Lobel was a New England sports institution as the lead sports anchor for WBZ-TV in Boston. With his signature catchphrase “Why can’t we get players like that?”– Uttered whenever a former Boston player made a big play for his new team– and memorable humorous personality, Lobel quickly became one of the most recognized sports broadcasters in the country.

Now, Lobel joins SuiteSports to take a shot at the blogging world, a format he believes is tailor made for his writing style.



”I think blogging will play right into the way I thought for TV,” Lobel said. “It’s just going to be a collection of my thoughts. Perfect for my ADD when it comes to sports.”



Lobel will write a weekly blog running on Tuesdays. In his blog, Lobel says he will cover it all – The four major Boston teams, national stories, scandals – with a sense of institutional knowledge, but also with humor.



”You can’t have enough humor,” Lobel chuckled.



Lobel will also appear on a weekly podcast for SuiteSports every Thursday where he will discuss the greatest events he has covered in his illustrious career. SuiteSports co-founder Joe Parello will host the segment, and can’t think of a better person to join the SuiteSports team.

“The idea that Bob Lobel is joining our team, it’s almost surreal,” Parello said. “I feel like sometimes we get stuck in the Boston bubble, but I mentioned Bob to a friend of mine in Texas and he immediately shot back ‘Why can’t we get players like that!’ That was a reminder that Bob is a giant, not just here in New England, but across the country. I honestly can’t think of a better guy to join our site, and he’s got some opinions that will get people talking, trust me.”

 

Sports Media Musings: Pete Sheppard to Join NBC Sports Radio Boston 1510

We’ll call it “Return of the Meat,” a sequel that took, oh, six days to produce.

On Saturday, a disgruntled Pete Sheppard was airing out Entercom’s dirty laundry on WEEI’s airwaves, offering a poignant resignation to his audience. The following Thursday, Sheppard took to Twitter to announce he is set to join NBC Sports Radio Boston 1510 AM, hosting an afternoon drive show from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Sheppard’s debut at his new home talking sports earlier today included veiled shots at his former employer:

“You walk into [1510’s studio] and it is a complete antithesis of what I had to go through very recently. It’s too bad. It’s sad to see what happened over there. I feel bad for my friends, who are still over there, that have to go through this.”

Sheppard’s exodus Saturday continued a trend of startling roster changes to WEEI’s lineup in recent months including the departures of Jon Rish, Glenn Ordway, Kevin Winter, and Jon Meterparel. Save for Ordway, who was fired in February, four out of the five moves were “resignations.” At least that’s what The Suits on Guest Street would have you think.

Meanwhile, NBC Sports Radio 1510, who added Danny Picard‘s popular webcast, “I’m Just Sayin'”, to its lineup just a few months ago, will give a WEEI refugee a chance at his own afternoon drive show.

Thoughts on the move for Sheppard? For NBC 1510? Leave it in the comments section.

@Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: The Sports Hub soars in the Winter, WEEI Hibernates

[Update]: Chad Finn has the official numbers from Arbitron posted on Touching All The Bases. 

From the piece:

The Arbitron winter ratings period was a rout for 98.5 The Sports Hub.

The Sports Hub finished first overall in the men 25-54 demographic for the period of Jan. 3-March 27, earning a 9.0 share. Each of its four daily programs finished tied or alone in the top spot in their respective time slots.

WEEI (93.7) finished tied for sixth place with WMJX with a 5.2 share. That’s slightly up from its seventh-place tie and 4.9 share in the fall.

[End Update]

Because fledgling columnists (like myself) love lame gimmicks, let’s just play nine innings with this, shall we?

1. The Story

“The Sports Hub” winning the winter ratings book isn’t shocking. My thoughts on the daily crusade against ownership and (I don’t know?!) fellow media members taking place in the afternoon is well documented. We don’t need to rehash the winning side’s pros and cons. Just know that Michael Felger reminds me of the political pundit in “V For Vendetta” shrewdly saying, “You want my opinion? You’re watching my show, I imagine you do,” then, minutes later, callously reciting his credo: “ENGLAND PREVAILS!”

Bizarre, but very effective.

2. The Real Story

Guest Street is in shambles. Pete Sheppard wasn’t the first radio host in the history of the medium to quit on the air, and he won’t be the last. It’s indicative of the volatile feeling that lives in the New Balance building. Morale, most likely, has reached a new nadir.

Let’s review quickly: The “Dennis and Callahan” show jumped the shark long ago, and their attempt to bring crude, if not inappropriate, discussion to the table (something totally out of their lane), feels misplaced. That failure is not particularly tough to imagine when you got banter like this on your side:

Yikes.

The other money maker, the afternoon drive program, “Salk and Holley,” has the advantage of a fresh start to work with — mind you, something we’ve been sure to afford them in this space. Judging their show at the starting line is a fool’s errand. But there have been rumors that Mike Salk isn’t the most popular personality at the station, and that he is too ESPN Radio (and not in the good way). Is this resistance to change? I don’t know. Either way, what a complete, utter meltdown.

The precipitous fall of the former MONOPOLIZER  leader of sports talk radio in Boston is quite remarkable. 2009 feels like 1999. In his “Sports Talk Radioactive” column in Feb. of 2009, published then for the short-lived, but underrated OT Magazine (produced by the Boston Globe), Chad Finn wrote the following:

[WEEI} think the station’s success somehow reflects on them, that we tune in for their shrill banter, contrived characters, and prefabricated opinions. We don’t — never have, never will. We listen because we love sports, our beloved teams are enjoying a remarkable run of success, and WEEI happens to have both access and broadcast rights. Most of all, we listen because there is no other decent local alternative with a signal stronger than that of a ham radio.

Prescient is the word I would use. The scary thing was everyone knew this much (well besides certain WEEI personalities and Jason Wolfe, evidently). But no one, not even Finn, could have foreseen the alacrity at which Entercom’s hold on the market dissipated.  It’s startling, really.  Since the spring books of 2011 were released, the same period the Bruins made their Stanley Cup run, “The Sports Hub” (for the most part) has controlled the key 25-54 men demographic. The following summer period “The Sports Hub” was victorious again and WEEI finally got on the FM dial.

No longer would signal issues or debate of whether to count the Providence numbers in WEEI’s market share be part of the discussion pertaining to the radio wars. The playing field was level, compelling discourse would win out.

3. Common Formula

Here’s the thing, though: Compelling sports talk didn’t really win out. I’m not learning anything about advanced statistics, insights into the locker room, or, really much of anything besides aimless conjecture, polarizing contrianism, and baseless predictions. But what “The Sports Hub” have accomplished is simple: From the top of its roster to the bottom, 98.5 has out-gooned the Goons of Guest Street.

You remember that Outside the Lines piece about WEEI that ran in its heyday, which showed Michael Holley proclaiming something to the notion of, “It’s not what you know, it’s what you’re willing to say!”  98.5 took that idea to new places.

“Toucher and Rich” have made a living testing what athletes will say in their skits, drunken fans will say after games, and whoever else may cross their path will say. “Felger and Mazz” will say just about anything, even if it’s not true or contradictory to previous declarations, and especially if it’s salacious — just ask Heidi Watney or Mike Reiss and Tom E. Curran.

Remember, it was 98.5 who reported and then blew the Clay Buchholz pool party story out of proportion (even for the Boston media, this was over-the-top). Lou Merloni was the first to call it what it really was – a non-story. It’s just too bad for Gary Tanguay that he didn’t get the memo, leading to this hilariously rewatchable segment.

(Yes, Gary. The trainer. He went to the trainer. Oh, by the way. Per Tanguay, Buchholz is never going to take advantage of his potential, guys! It’s a bad look when Shank is the voice of reason. Never mind that, less than a year later, Buchholz almost became the 30th pitcher in MLB history to pitch multiple no-hitters.)

 4. All The Right Wrong Moves

In the last four years, WEEI has made the wrong move at every turn. They never should have moved Dale Arnold, waited too long to get on the FM signal, curiously brought back Pete Sheppard (yeesh!), drastically overvalued Glenn Ordway, oddly waited (still waiting?!) to properly use Kirk Minihane (the only media member, sadly, capable of challenging Felger), and failed to recognize and execute any “Moneyball” moves. (For example: I know that Marc Bertrand pined for the night shift at “The Sports Hub” when Damon Amendolara went national. I’m not sure if Beetle is still part-time, I know he wasn’t a full-time employee up until last summer, but he’s young, entertaining, and seems well-versed in the takes he can bring to a show. He goes at Felger. And did I mention he’s YOUNG? Wouldn’t hurt to inject some youth into your lineup, Jeff Brown.)

It has been an astonishing lesson on mismanagement from The Suits at Entercom. More alarming, is that these weren’t bad mishaps in retrospect. No, no, no. None of these personnel decisions — not one — were met with great adulation. Not from me, not from listeners.

So here we are.

5. Pat Summerall, the anti-Jack Edwards, passed away.

(For the record, that’s not a shot at Jack Edwards. Hockey requires a frantic and voluminous narrative.)

I was always infatuated with how Pat Summerall said so much by saying so little. Thought this was a clever orbit by Chuck Klosterman

As always, the natural questions turn to legacy: Were he and John Madden the best play-by-play booth in NFL history? Historians will point to Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, and Frank Gifford because it’s Howard freakin’ Cosell (Side Note: How many years does it take Cosell get fired these days? Poor Brent Musburger was chastised for pointing out a hot WAG was a hot WAG. Granted, everyone is a product of the times, but is Cosell’s bravado viewed the same way if it happens in 2013? Who knows.).

I’m not a huge fan of any contemporary teams. (I get annoyed when Jim Nantz says “Hello friends!” at the beginning of broadcasts. Not exactly a tone setter for a big game. And while I’m on the Joe Buck bandwagon — yeah, yeah .. I know — I’m perplexed by Troy Aikman.) And Madden and Summerall were a big part of football’s ascent passed MLB. Even the small stuff, like the duo voicing the Madden video game franchise (a big deal to my generation), played a large role. The rapport the two had with one another was infectious and effortless. Never felt forced. They told us what we needed to know and let the game handle the nuance of the broadcast. As simple as it is, staying out of the way is no easy feat.

6. Still? Really?

I get the “Sweet Caroline” venom around these parts. But trust me when I say this: If this Red Sox team continues to compete, maintain likability, and stay in the sports section and out of the gossip section, much of the media will miss these ancillary story lines. Whether it’s filling radio time or writing a column, remember, they root for the story.

7. Thank you, guys

I am enjoying binge-watching “Breaking Bad.” Happy you all helped me choose it over “Game of Thrones.” Although, I’d be lying if I didn’t concede Don Draper and Co. have my undivided attention. The two-hour premiere was taxing, but Sunday’s episode was fantastic. Pete Campbell‘s salty ways, which caught up to him by the end of the episode, produced the best exchange of the nascent season.

Pete and his pleasure pal were wrapping up relations at his new apartment in the city. While said-Pleasure Pal was getting dressed, the following conversation takes place.

Pete’s Mistress (AKA Pete’s Neighbor): “I’ll park in front of the hotel lobby, that way you know I’m thinking of you.”

Pete Campbell: “That’s nice. Now, move along now. I’m in a hurry.”

I love this show.

8. Twitter Thoughts

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Twitter proved to be extremely worthwhile. While I bemoan its existence for producing inane observations during games or useless rumors as a trade deadline approaches, the social media site broke all sorts of imagery and updates on the situation. That said, beware of the lowlife humans who create Twitter accounts to “raise” money for victims. These people aren’t people, they’re opportunists.

9. Thanks for reading

We probably don’t have enough hug it out moments here at BSMW. So let’s take a second, if just for a moment, for some Real Talk. After Monday afternoon, getting back to business was never going to feel normal. Not today, anyway. It’s too soon. But last night I told myself, “I’m going to write about sports media because that’s what I do.” Presumably, that’s why you’re here, looking at this page. To get away, to find normal again. It’s going to be a marathon, not a sprint.

If this helped distract you, even for 10 minutes, then it was worth writing. Thanks for reading. I’ll talk to you guys out there, @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: Sorrow and Tragedy Strike 117th Boston Marathon

boston

I was putting the finishing touches on a Red Sox column for Metro Boston when I took a quick second to touch up a piece I’ve been working on for BSMW about WEEI’s precipitous fall. These days, I’ve become very good at multi-tasking, a skill I would unknowingly summon all afternoon and into the night. Like others, once I heard news of an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, I became glued to my Twitter timeline — learning news of the terror which had reared its head in our city, on our holiday, Patriots Day, 140 characters at a time. For all the inane observations and rumors it produces during games and trade deadlines, the social media platform was particularly valuable in the immediate aftermath of the events.

At 27 years-old, I’m not going to pretend to know what to write in this space. Frankly speaking, I’m not sure if I would know what to write even at 50-years-old.

I don’t know what Pear Harbor was like, and can only surface a few cursory memories of the Oklahoma City bombing.  9/11 resonated in its own horrid way. For whatever reason, Columbine seemed like it happened in a different world. Meanwhile Newtown and Aurora hit close to home. Now this. With each of the last three events separated by less than 200 days, it’s becoming harder and harder to conclude that the world we live in isn’t inhabited by evil. I don’t want to believe that, but part of me does. I feel guilty, honestly, but can’t help it. As I wrote for the Metro today,  I found out Monday that it’s different when these events occur in your city. It’s a car accident that you don’t get to drive by and forget about. Instead, it lives with you.

Patriots Day, despite its new infamous association, will happen next year. A cathartic event where we’re forever reminded to never forget what happened on April 15th, 2013. And we won’t. I don’t doubt that justice will prevail, and, ultimately, normalcy will be restored. And I don’t doubt that Boston, as its wont to do, will pull together in the face of tragedy. But reading the endless accounts, walking through the city, and processing the events that transpired makes any notion of healing seem far away.

In light of that, there will be no media column today. Even with so much going on in Brighton, just a few blocks away from my apartment, and a 10 minute car ride away from Copley Place, the visits from The Suits, Pete Sheppard, Mike Salk, and other items will have to wait. In the interim, we can hope, while searching for answers, that those in the media will shepherd us through this difficult time, providing accurate information. From a media consumption standpoint, Greg Bedard put it best, in times like these it’s important to “be right, not first.”

As Bruce linked earlier, Charlie Pierce has an excellent, must-read piece over at Grantland on the startling eventsand Steve Silva’s raw video was shrilling.

I hope everyone in the BSMW community is safe and sound.  I’m not sure why, but I just wanted to write this.

@Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter V

Welcome to the Monthly Weekly?? Sports Media Mailbag! Here are comments and emails from you, the readers, with insight on your favorite sports media personalities. To contribute to the mailbag, either shoot me an email at [email protected], hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

Took a vacation from my vacation in Key West to finish writing this (fifth!) edition of the Sports Media Mailbag. In addition to this, if you have time to kill at your desk, check out my recent columns for Metro Boston on the Nike Tiger Woods ad and my ranking of the current best home(field/ice/court) advantage in Boston. I hope you guys enjoy. As always, thanks for reading.

***

Does anyone really know what is going on with the morning show? I know you wrote: “I’m told the Kirk Minihane seclusion is a very real thing.” It is painful. It’s bad. It’s extremely odd. I almost get the impression that John Dennis is now Peter from Office Space but the Bob’s have not come yet. They’re now doing a Sweet 16 of “Female Boston News Personalities”. 60 year-old guys gawking at women in their 20s on the radio?

The Kirk Minihane thing is fantastic because he is so candid about it. From my conversations with him in the past, I’m not shocked. That’s how he is. It’s how he’s always been. On Twitter, he’s openly mocking the happenings on the show he is purportedly involved in, but in reality, not actually part of. It’s subversive and it’s very real.

mini

As far as the other part to the question, I’m writing something on this for next week, but here is a quick summary of the morning radio wars: For my money, good sports radio comes down to two things — compelling discourse and likability. The former has never really been a problem for Gerry Callahan and John Dennis, but the latter is burning them right now (kind of the same way it’s burning “Felger & Mazz”, except “Dennis & Callahan”‘s plight has been slow and painful. “Felger & Mazz” are seemingly racing towards self-sabotage). Meanwhile the competition, “Toucher and Rich”, have had the likability aspect locked down since they hit the airwaves, and producers have done a nice job working in call-ins from experts to mask any perceived defenciency talking sports. It’s night and day, really.

Ryan,

Do you have anything original to bring to this column, honestly? Everything you write is a regurgitation of Bill Simmons, Drew Magary, or Mike Tunison style of writing. From the Gregggg to the rip down of local columnists (ala Peter King or Gregg Easterbrook), to the mailbag. Its just so old. Are you really trying to copy writers that are already getting tiresome. Pop-media sports has found its niche. You are not a part of that, find your own style style.

-jmu

True story: My family sees these mailbags and far too often I’m left explaining to my mom that the internet, by nature, is a negative sphere. People aren’t going to go on Yelp and write a good review (unless it’s fantastic and life changing), but they’ll be quick to bash the restaurant that is slow with service. I read Drew Magary but never really check out his takedowns of Gregg Easterbook. Which, in retrospect, looks like a complete ripoff joke. Bad job by me. Won’t happen again.

That aside — and I think readers will attest to this — this media column, now running on its third year, has its own voice and style. The takedown pieces are meant to be brash and boisterous. This probably because I freelance for Metro Boston (which I love doing), but am devoid of a full-time gig. And that’s transparent bitterness on my part. But I take pride in the actual media columns and these mailbags. I try to write with a critical eye (while hopefully holding some entertainment value). Is it an amalgam of some of my favorite writers? Probably. But isn’t that expected to some degree?

And hey, if you want to take one column and use that to judge my body of work, then go for it. Kind of short-sighted, but go for it. Either way, thanks for reading.

You do know that people who spell their name “Gregg” spell it that way because their parents named them that way. People who spell their name “Greg” are really named “Gregory”. -DrakeW

I love everything about this. Thanks for that.

So you are still on the Mike Holley bandwagon. Please explain to me what he does or says that let’s you believe that even if you could have gone back in your DeLorean and moved Dale and Holley to the afternoon that would have worked. Your idea still contains Mike Holley. Other than he is a nice guy, articulate and can write reasonably okay…I don’t see why he has not been banished from the radio. – latetodinner

Underrated subplot of the radio wars has been Michael Holley. He is clearly beloved by the suits over on Guest Street. Holley has been given the keys to the car. There has to be a part of him, though, that is nervous. It’s what I call “good nerves,” meaning butterflies, not jitters. Like if I was given a column at the Boston Globe or New York Times. For me, again, it comes back to likability and compelling discourse. Holley has plenty of the former, and the latter is lacking, but I respect the hell out of him for not going Media Troll on us after abandoning his journalism gig.

This is a guy whose covered the Celtics and Patriots beat (and possibly more, can’t recall), and was once a columnist for the Globe. You know who had a similar career arc? Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti. Notice a difference in how the two handle their business? I do. And it’s refreshing. Of course, ratings don’t take any of that into account, so the question, obviously, becomes whether or not he can he carry a show? The answer, even after all these years, is I don’t know.

I loved, loved, LOVED the few times he was paired with Tom E. Curran or Minihane. Maybe that’s because I know the parties involved. Mike Salk, thus far, hasn’t resonated quite like I wished he would going in, but it’s still a feeling out process. Regardless, it’s a big year for Holley professionally. And yeah, I guess his style gels with what I’m looking for — measured takes that are less LOOK AT ME! and more “Here’s the reasoning why I think __.”

Plus, “banished from the radio” is a little harsh. Don’t you think, LateToDinner?

Two things that I am just baffled by at 98.5, which I have been an avid listener of since it debuted.

1. With such great up and coming talent (Bertrand and Hardy for example) how on earth does a guy like Andy Gresh keep his job?  He is AWFUL!!  Seriously, he has pictures of a big wig over there, right?  The only explanation.  Even if he was reasonably intelligent, his voice alone gives me post concussion syndrome.  He brings out the worst in Zolak, it really reminds me of listening to the dark days of the Big Show with Smerlas and Deossie. 

2.  When the ratings are looked at, do they look at individual days?  Love them or hate them Felger and Mazz ( I am of the former, they are head and shoulders better than every other program) make great radio, EXCEPT Tuesdays.  Jermaine Wiggins on air equals this guy tuning into the other station. 

Am I the only one out there that thinks this????

Dave in Gardner

Speaking of measured takes, how about Marc Bertand and Chris Gasper in the midday? Bertrand is funny and knowledgeable. Gasper is smart and does well articulating his points. The duo developed a nice rapport doing a morning show on Saturdays for The Sports Hub that I wish I heard more of.

I have written extensively about Andy Gresh in this space before. I’ll admit he will grow on me at times, but his monologues are tough to listen to, and he comes across as pompous. There is an authoritative tone, then there is “I’m right, you’re wrong.” Gresh falls on the wrong side of that fence for me. Also, I can’t help but notice him berating listeners on Twitter. Reminds me of the same hubris that took down WEEI.

Re Jermaine Wiggins: This is what I wrote from the first “Sports Media Musings” Bruce Allen published back in the summer of 2011 (yeesh!). It still holds true:

Maybe not as grating, but unfortunately Wiggins is the Mike Adams of 98.5′s afternoon drive show. He either struggles articulating his point, or doesn’t have one — I still am trying to figure out which it is. Bottom line: “Wiggy Wednesdays” are as entertaining as the pending NFL lockout.

Who says there is any “intel” to extract from Lou Merloni? – wdriii

Guys like Scott Zolak and Lou Merloni could — and should — use their experience in the locker room playing at the highest level (albeit in a backup role) and provide audiences with the nuances the common fan can’t see. Surely, from their experiences, they must see the game in a different light than the rest of us. Right? I don’t see why they don’t channel that unique perspective more often is all.

Ryan, 
I generally love your insights, but for the love of god, please get off of Simmons’ stick. I agree that Grantland is great, but notwithstanding that he the most powerful man in sports business, Simmons has become way to proud of himself and his writing has suffered for it. – Ted Sarandis

Agreed. I probably write about Bill Simmons too often for this space. And yeah, the writing has gone down hill, but his presence on TV has vastly improved (and increased); not to mention, the live stream during March Madness could catch on. Just look at this snippet from Richard Deitsch’s “Media Circus” column over at SI.com (special thanks to reader BSMFAN.)

As Sports Business Daily media writer John Ourand observed: “What’s to stop Turner’s Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley from putting on their own online halftime show around the NBA Finals, even though the games are on ABC? Or how about NBC firing up its 30 Rock studio to have Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison analyze ESPN’s Monday Night Football games online, starting with a couple of minutes left in the first half?”

This is fine, what is everyone complaining about? Isn’t this the guy everyone crowned the new king of sports talk radio in this city? You all (Felger fans) complained about Ordway and his opinions, you ran him out of town by giving Felger your ears, You’re already complaining about Mike Salk and it’s not even a month. You’re okay with personal bashing and stepping over the line, you’ve traded that for real sports talk and you’ve all allowed Felger to brain wash you into believing his “Tell it like it is style” is the way to go. So enjoy it, don’t complain. As For me, I’m fine with EEI, as far as local goes, anything but Felger and Mazz. – Will

I guess I should just come out and say that I don’t have a problem with Felger’s Jeff Green heart surgery remark from last week. When you’re on air for 27 hours a day, you’re subject to capricious miscues. I don’t think Felger would put that in print. Comedy is meant to be (somewhat) offensive, Green is still alive, and so on and so forth. Sounds matter of fact, but it’s just how I feel. Sticks and stones.

Still, would I have made the remark? Do I think it was in bad taste?

Absolutely not. And yes, it was crass. But all I’m saying is that it happens, and when it does, it’s usually worse than what Felger said (e.g. Doug Gottlieb’s “white man perspective” comment during CBS Sports coverage of the NCAA tournament).

As far as giving him the platform: I’d like to think the two are mutually exclusive, Will. Glenn Ordway’s success proved to have as much to do with the lack of competition as his actual show. That doesn’t mean whatever siege “Felger & Mazz” are on in recent weeks should go unnoticed.

The thing that gets me about their show is how there’s seldom any actual INSIGHT into the games being played on the field — something, once upon a time, Felger used to be good at. Now they usually bypass an actual dissection of the game itself for long-winded rants about how Belichick is clueless, Kraft is a liar, Chiarelli sucks, the Celtics suck, the Red Sox suck, the Red Sox ownership sucks…taking shots at reporters covering the Pats…taking shots at players….basically, everyone sucks except for Cam Neely. Got it!” – Andre Dursin

Bingo! This! Just everything about this. I had a bigger issue with Felger saying Green sucks. Because he doesn’t. And if Felger watched basketball, he’d see that. Parading ideas about ownership or coaches is fine, too, but the show has become four hours of hypothetical ulterior motives. It’s exhausting at times.

When Tim McCarver initially started out as a baseball analyst — initially locally in Philly and subsequently on nationally broadcast games — following his playing days (including the proverbial cup of coffee with the Red Sox in the mid-’70s), he was quite enjoyable and very good. Somewhere along the line he became an insufferable, drooling tool which, I believe, started shortly after he was paired with that smug, quintessential DB, Joe Buck.

Want a good Tim McCarver career obit? The best I found, by far, was from Brian Curtis. Great juxtaposition with John Madden‘s old style. Really great read. 

On that note, as always, thanks for reading! We’ll do it again sooner rather than later. If you’re bored Out There, give me a shout on Twitter @Hadfield__.

 

Sports Media Musings: Gregg Doyel Is Just My Favorite

Quick Programming Note: Running a massive mailbag Thursday morning covering a wide range of local/national media topics. Get involved: Feel free to send along comments, questions, or other funny anecdotes to [email protected] or on Twitter (@Hadfield__)

***

Since returning to BSMW, I’ve written a few column breakdowns takedowns, featuring different writers, but Gregg Doyel from CBS Sports is our first scribe to appear twice here. Because he’s the best, guys. You see, Gregggg Doyel doesn’t fall into the usual tropes while writing about sports. No, no, no. He looks at things with a critical, extreme eye. It’s all black and white with Greggggg — there is no middle ground, which is fantastically stupid, and extremely short-sighted. Frankly, I love it.

Case in point: Instead of praising Tom Brady in the aftermath of his team-friendly contract extension, Gregggg questioned just how much of a team player Brady is — stating that if Brady was really a team player, he’d play for the veteran’s minimum (Which, as an aside, isn’t possible for Brady to do under current CBA rules. NO MATTER, SEMANTICS). I’d take it one step further, Brady should be paying the Patriots to play. Why not? Let’s get real crazy! Greggg got a chance to defend his take on WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan,” and miraculously made John Dennis and Gerry Callahan appear likable, no easy feat.

The key here is to always remember everything is black and white and there is no middle ground. But before we dive in to today’s column, let’s review Greggg’s bio. It’s phenomenal:

Hi. Hello. Congratulations, you found me. And I know why you’re here — it’s because of that column you just read. It angered you. So here you are, trying to decipher my motives.

Good luck.

Authors? Tried to get into David Sedaris and failed. Tried to get into Jonathan Franzen and succeeded. But my favorites are Chuck Palahniuk at his best, and Matt Taibbi at his worst. And me. I’m underrated.

As for your original question … maybe I just don’t like your favorite team. Ever think of that?

So yeah, that’s where we stand. That’s Gregg Doyel.

Anyway, methinks Greggggg liked that moment in the incubator that is Boston sports, because he came back, with a vengeance, to offer another gem: IS THAT BILL BELICHICK GUY REALLY ALL THAT GOOD AT COACHING FOOTBALL OR IS IT JUST BRADY? GO!

This should be fun. Take it away, Gregggggggggg.

Wes Welker is gone, and Bill Belichick is right. Time will tell it. History will show it. Belichick let another superstar go, and his New England Patriots will go about their merry way, winning 10 or more games in 2013 and getting into the playoffs and making a run toward the AFC title game. Maybe the Super Bowl.

Because Bill Belichick is right. He’s always right.

BELICHICK FOR PREZ IN 2016? WHO’S WITH ME!!! No? OK, well I’m going to have The Hoodie do my taxes and pick out a few stocks to invest in. Dude is always right, guys. Always.

But does he know why he’s right? Do you think he understands that he’s right, that the Patriot Way will continue without Welker as it continued without Deion Branch and Ty Law andAsante Samuel and Richard Seymour and Randy Moss — but not because he’s Bill Belichick? But because his quarterback is Tom Brady?

… Don’t forget Russ Hochstein, he was a pivotal member of the offensive line as a versatile player. Plus, he was great in those Visa commercials.

Because I think Belichick really thinks he’s the key to the whole thing. That it starts with him. That he’s the tree producing the fruit, and that Wes Welker can fall off the branch and land in someone else’s orchard and everything in New England will be fine because Belichick will just grow another one.

Bill Belichick thinks he could win with Curry College’s defense. That’s my takeaway here. Is that far off?

… the Patriots will have more than enough offense to win 10 or more games, go to the playoffs, aim for the AFC title game, maybe even get into the Super Bowl. And when it happens, Belichick will think he did that … The Patriots win because the players aren’t the thing. The system is the thing, which means the coach is the thing. That’s how Belichick thinks, if you ask me. His confidence in himself is unshakeable. And misinformed.

Bill Belichick’s conscious viewpoint of HOW IT ALL WENT DOWN (according to Gregg Doyel): The Helmet Catch? All Belichick. Ty Law‘s pick-six in the Super Bowl? Please. All Belichick. John Kasay kicking the ball out of bounds with just over a minute left, giving the Patriots great field position to win their second Super Bowl? Well, you already know, that was BB. All BB.

Guys like Chad Ochocinco have openly begged to play for the Patriots by buttering up Bill Belichick, because that’s how the game is played. Kiss Belichick’s ass, and Belichick will consider you. Kiss Brady’s ass, and you’re pressing your luck.

Greggggggg is dropping a lot of knowledge, guys. He must know the inner workings over at Foxboro. Funny, though, I don’t think I’ve seen any reporting or sources listed at all in this piece. Could this be *gasp* aimless conjecture? Hmm.

Belichick isn’t the magnet in New England — Brady is. Belichick isn’t the certifiable genius at his job; Brady is. Belichick has made plenty of good decisions over the years, sure, but he has also made some of the worst player personnel calls in recent years. Albert Haynesworth? Chad Ochocinco? Belichick wanted those losers. Asante Samuel and Richard Seymour? Belichick let them go.

Brady dated Tara Reid once. I thought that was a terrible personnel decision.

Belichick is good, too. I’m sure of that. Above average? Yeah, probably. He went 11-5 with Matt Cassel at quarterback in 2008 when Brady got hurt, staying focused and using overwhelming talent — talent that was attracted to New England because of Brady — to have another good season. Belichick is above average as a head coach, but great? I’m not sure he’s great.

I don’t have much to add to this text. Just know that Greggg called Belichick a “probably above average” coach after spending the previous 200 words talking about how the NFL is a QB’s league, then tossed aside a season in which Matt Cassel led the Patriots to an 11-5 record. None of this makes sense, yet everything about this makes sense.  And my God, given the premise of this missive, the Cassel season “probably” feels worth mentioning before the 13th paragraph. Just a thought.

Then again, I just hope, someday, like Belichick (according to Doyel), I’m always right. Or at least think I’m right. Or at least think I’m right when really I have the greatest editor working on my stuff, and I’m just “above average.” Yeah, that would be nice.

 

 

 

Sports Media Musings: Ramble, Ramble, RAMBLE

I used to hit on a variety of topics, both local and national, in my media columns. These days, because we’ve been hit with a barrage of news and events, my writing in this space has been more focused and in-depth. So, to combat this trend, I decided to clean out my notebook. Also, since I have your attention, I’d like to get a mailbag going next week so drop me a line on Twitter (@Hadfield__) or via email ([email protected]). As always, thanks for reading.

***

Let’s play 9 innings with this, shall we?

1. Was this what Spring was like in the late ’80s? Riveting night in Boston sports.

  • I understand The Old Garden was legendary and all that. No arguments here. People romanticize about it and I’m sure the place was a fantastic venue to watch a big game (I was too young to remember). But I do think it’s telling how the Bruins and Celtics both hold two of the biggest home court/ice advantages in their respective leagues.
  • Jarome Iginla was heading to Boston then, overnight, he wasn’t. TSN had it wrong. Since they, evidently, adjudicate on such matters, it will be interesting to hear how Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti will handle the error in reporting today. This, of course, was all in the aftermath of Tuukka Rask letting in a game-tying goal with just under ten seconds left, leading to a Bruins’ overtime loss to Montreal.
  • The Celtics, meanwhile, came out with a dramatic 93-92 victory in Cleveland on the strength of this brilliant up and under scoop layup by Jeff GreenI was busy watching the end of the B’s game, but I hear Gary Tanguay and Brian Scalabrine had an entertaining post-game show. Apparently, Alan Thicke said that Green didn’t really impact the game, to which Scal replied, “HE HIT THE GAME-WINNING SHOT!” If Tanguay stayed his lane as a reliable host, he’d be fine, but Mr. Beaver gets in his own way far too often. Word of advice: stop watching Skip Bayless cuts, Ron Burgundy.

2. Bob Ryan, curmudgeon? Nope. Dude is a purist. Undresses JA Adande here. Excellent take.

  • More important (or comforting) is that, to this day, Ryan still loves sports.
  • Ryan’s appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast earlier this week is a must-listen. Ryan still throws 97 MPH and his ability to recall minute details about basketball over the course of four decades is remarkable. We always say, “Person X will forget more about __ than we’ll ever know.” I’m not sure if we always mean it. In Ryan’s case, we do.

3. Speaking of the Sports Guy, never got the chance to touch on his Twitter suspension after calling the Skip Bayless-Richard Sherman “First Take” fiasco a lose/lose segment for all parties involved, including ESPN.

  • Simmons was right. But the suspension makes sense, he had to be held in check — can’t be calling out colleagues.  Still, this (strangely) felt like yet another loss for us, the viewers, in ESPN’s curious role as Fast Food Food Journalism Enabler.
  • You know how I just wrote that Simmons needed to be held in check? Puhlleeeasse. A nothing Twitter suspension didn’t stop The Sports Guy from taking a veiled shot at Bayless in his recap of The Walking Dead on Grantland Monday afternoon (Yeah, I watch The Walking Dead. I concede it’s more or less a terrible show. Nonetheless …)

A little bit later, when Merle confidently predicts to his brother that Rick is gonna buckle, he sounds like Skip Bayless talking about LeBron James during the 2011.

4. Matt Doherty calling out CBS Sports coverage of the NCAA Tournament on ESPNU — specifically Charles Barkley, dropping a not so subtle “turrrrribllleee” line — is self-serving and specious. Sure, I don’t think Chaz or Kenny Smith are breaking down tape of Harvard before the tourney, but why do I need “experts” to tell me what’s happening with March Madness? I wrote about the tourney for Metro Boston on Monday. To me, there are no true insights available until the games are actually played. College basketball is sloppy; you never know how each team will handle the others playing style.

5. You want a “Salk and Holley” take, right? All I can say is that it’s an auspicious beginning. It’s not great, it’s not terrible, but you have to assume it’s going to get better; if this is the baseline starting point, then it’s possible for this show to make noise down the line.

  • Too vague, eh? (I feel like I should write like a Canadian when discussing Mike Salk because he really, really loves hockey guys. Like a lot. WEEI wants you to know this.)
  • The “Miked Up” segment should be scrapped. Like today.
  • I don’t want to pass judgement on the show anytime in the near future. That would be disingenuous and short-sighted. Plus, I’ve made that mistake before. Check my archives here: I sound bi-polar while writing about Grantland. I defended it, questioned it, tolerated it, liked it, and now I love it.

6. Amidst all the radio war drama, the “Dennis and Callahan” show has become unlistenable. I tried real hard this morning. Couldn’t get through an hour. Sorry.

  • I’m told the Kirk Minihane seclusion is a very real thing.
  • Since joining “Dennis and Callahan,” Minihane hasn’t been nearly as active writing on WEEI.com. And that sucks. For my money, he’s the best columnist in the city.
  • WEEI obviously wishes it had kept Felger and dumped Glenn Ordway during The Big O’s frisky contract negotiations in the later part of the last decade. Let’s say they fire up Doc Brown’s Delorean to go back in time to the first sign of trouble. My retrospective moves: Dump John Dennis and pair Gerry Callahan with someone who can challenge him; pair Minihane with Lou Merloni in the midday (Kirk would extract actual intel from the ex-jock); move “Dale and Holley” to the afternoon drive slot (Say what you will about Dale Arnold but those guys had great chemistry and were ALWAYS likable. Hmph, “likability.” Something “Felger and Mazz” are currently devoid of.)

7. Tim McCarver announced he is retiring at the conclusion of the upcoming baseball season. I actually didn’t hate him. I’ll let you guys have at it in the comments section with that gem.

8. Soccer will never be a huge sport in this country, but I still love it. The US-Mexico World Cup qualifier Tuesday night was fantastic.

  • Ian Darke puts every-by-play guy in every other sport to shame. Makes everything seem so effortless. Love that guy.
  • On the other hand, former CSNNE personality Taylor Twellman, now a color commentator at the WorldWide Leader, couldn’t keep with pace with Darke’s greatness. The Ken Doll didn’t offer much in the way of any analysis beyond vapid remarks like “The US isn’t holding possession but the reality is that it’s still 0-0.” Glad he’s here.

9. Joon Lee had Steve Buckley on his podcast to discuss his sports journalism career. It’s a good listen. Enjoyed Buck’s candidness about writing, “I hate writing, but love to have written.” I can attest to that. Believe it or not (and I suspect most of you don’t), writing a compelling, honest column is hard.

Extra Innings (Random stuff that may or may not be pertinent):

  • Going on vacation next week. Reading suggestions? Right now, I’m halfway through this year’s Baseball Prospectus. I’m also bringing along the oral history of Saturday Night Live (written by James Andrew Miller, which explains why it came free  along with my copy of “Those Guys Have All the Fun” a few years back).
  • Binge watched Mad Men over the summer to catch up. Excited for the new season. Question: Do I binge watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones next? Obviously Breaking Bad has more seasons and is much more of a process, but I’m willing to commit to either.
  • Will Leitch is leaving New York magazine to write full-time over at Sports On Earth. Leitch is severely underrated as a writer.
  • Steven Hyden’s look at the career of The Stokes has me going back through their anthology. Right band, right time (post 9/11), right city (New York City). The piece, as you can tell from my gushing, is awesome. Hyden is great. I want to write like him.

Sports Media Musings: What The Sports Guy’s Live March Madness Stream Means For Studio Shows

Quick Infomercial: I wrote about Tuukka Rask‘s plight and “Tuukka Time” becoming “Biding Time” for today’s print edition of Metro Boston. Here’s the web version. Please take a moment and give it a read. And remember, feel free to give me a shout out on Twitter if you’re bored Out There. As always, thanks for reading.

*** 

The way CBS Sports — both the studio crew and sideline reporters — handled the power outage during last year’s Super Bowl was reprehensible. Too strong? Considering the stage — the freakin’ Super Bowl — and how poorly James Brown and Co. adapted to the unforeseen circumstances (Hey guys! Let’s take a look at those same three highlights one more time!), I’d say from a media performance perspective this was, in every sense, embarrassing. Like Janet Jackson‘s nipple slip on freeze frame for 45 minutes.

When you really think about it, was it all that shocking the CBS talking heads floundered when the lights shined (check that, didn’t shine) brightest? Nope. Studio shows suck. That’s not the most eloquent sentence I’ve written in my career, but it’s true, they’re terrible. I know this. You know this. My seven year-old niece (probably) knows this.

The three main problems?

1. Studio shows are overproduced: I don’t need three hours to get ready for a sports event. I don’t need “goofy”segments featuring ex-jocks preaching to me about players being “elite” or “among the elite” or “potentially elite” like we’re on the Congress floor voting for governmental reform. Shoot me. In the face. Please. This is sports, guys. Remember this.

2. Studio shows are grossly overstaffed: There are a litany of reasons why “Inside the NBA” on TNT works. It starts with the talent, the chemistry, all of that. But early on the producers realized less is, in fact, more. Three guys: Ernie Johnson, Chaz Barkley, and Kenny Smith. That’s it. It’s all you need. If you want to throw in a plugged-in information dude, like, say Adam Schefter if you’re ESPN, I’m on board. Too often they are too many chefs in the kitchen with these things. HOW DO THE REST OF THE NETWORKS NOT SEE THIS????

3. Studio shows lack any sincerity: Seriously, I’m hearing the same Chris Berman joke that Tom Jackson and Cris Carter are digesting, and my reaction is either indifference or worse; meanwhile, they respond like they’re watching Dave Chappelle do stand up comedy circa 2004. They’re either YACKING IT UP for the cameras, or are operating with a sense of humor different to anyone else I’ve ever encountered in the world.

I mean, I don’t need these guys to be best pals; I need them to have a clever feature or interview and decent discourse about the league they are covering. Maybe throw in a few old war stories from when they played. But that’s it. Chemistry always helps but it can’t be manufactured — you either have it or you don’t. Berman and Jackson have it, but only after developing a rapport over the years.

***

Bill Simmons knows these problems. He’s written about these problems for Page 2 way back when. In 2013, he finally has the influence and cache to remedy the issue. He’s got the ear of ESPN C-Level Executive John Skipper. Sports Illustrated’s media critic Richard Deitsch put Simmons as the most powerful personality in sports media in his power rankings last month. He’s now even a player in the sphere as an analyst on ESPN’s revamped “NBA Countdown” studio show. ESPN is clearly following the TNT model, using Simmons, Magic Johnson, Jalen Rose, and Michael Wilbon (as the pseudo host). Four guys. That’s it. And more often than not, on non-primetime games, one of the analysts will be off for the night.

So, it came to no surprise to me during Day 1 of March Madness that The Sports Guy hosted a live stream from his living room (I’m serious) on his website, Grantland, featuring a few staff writers, Rose, and his friend Joe House. What did they do? Basically, just a bunch of guys, being guys, eating food, and watching sports. HAMMIN’ IT UP for the camera webcam.

This seems silly, but then again so did Simmons writing an Internet column for $50 bucks a pop in the late ’90s before becoming the face of ESPN.com (and Grantland) and hosting a podcast in 2007 mainly featuring friends before having guests like President Obama on (That’s right. Our President took the time to talk to Simmons on his podcast. Sorry, haters — you may denigrate what The Sports Guy’s accomplished, but if that isn’t telling, I don’t know what is).

Will this be a game changer? I don’t know. Probably not. It’s a risk from Simmons. He’ll likely be poked fun at by the blogosphere, because that’s what the blogosphere does, but he can be coy and claim it’s just him and a few buddies hanging out (the insertion of House, the setting, all make for a “GOTCHA, THIS WAS JUST FOR KICKS” aspect for those that really care to criticize).

Worse case scenario, show runners come to terms with something the rest of us realized at the turn of the century: Studio shows have an obsolete format and it’s time to turn out the lights on the old guard — figuratively speaking, of course — and consider implementing a major overhaul.

Recognition of the problem, I’m told, is always the first step.

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter IV

Welcome to the Monthly Weekly?? Sports Media Mailbag! Here are comments and emails from you, the readers, with insight on your favorite sports media personalities. To contribute to the mailbag, either shoot me an email at [email protected], hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

“Welcome Mike Salk. If you didn’t before, you definitely now have a wide open door for listeners from 2-6.” – Andre Dursin

Tony Massarotti and Michael Felger were theorizing about why the Bruins go into a funk every March/April on Monday. Kind of ironic to think about: Their show started to tailspin around this time last year when they poorly miscalculated the impact of their Celtics-bashing during the 2011-12 playoff run. A slow start is forgivable, but “Salk & Holley” have a chance, albeit a slim one, to capture some quick momentum out of the gate with the recent happenings on “Felger & Mazz.” (More on this later.)

“My days of reading this site are over. Hadfield is unreadable. Readership is officially single digits. Over and out.” –Luther

I’m unreadable? Is it the font?? Why are you talking on a walkie-talkie???

Oh wait, you just don’t like my approach. That’s fair. Sorry, bruh. Not changing – GOTS TO KEEP IT REAL. I am concerned, however, about your comprehension skills – *re-checks the numbers* – I don’t think your report about BSMW’s readership is accurate. SIDE NOTE: Bruce, we may have a hacker.

“I don’t get the vitriol for Felger. I don’t get the vitriol for anyone just because they have a different opinion on sports. Take it with a grain of salt, it’s supposed to be fun…to me Felger and Mazz are funny, entertaining radio.” – NEPatsFan

Look, I’m on record here, many times over, actually, as being a staunch “Felger & Mazz” supporter. Yes, sports talk radio is supposed to be a fun, worthwhile debate. And Felger and Mazz certainly meet these guidelines, as ratings would suggest, with flying colors. And hey, while I could do without the contrarian takes, whatever, I get it.

But man, I have enormous issues with how the two have conducted themselves during Welkahpalooza. The duo is traversing dangerous grounds by calling out other reporters, particularly while not documenting any reporting of their own to bolster their claims. I think it’s rude. I think it’s unprofessional. I think it’s a punk move.

Now, with that coming from me of all people, readers could – and I’m sure will – mention something about pots and kettles and stones and glasshouses. But you’d be wrong. Oh, you’d be very wrong. I rarely call out reporters, if ever. I have no use for it. Reporters obtain information and disseminate.  That’s great. But what I do here mainly focuses on columnists and talking heads. And, from my point of view, the imaginary scoreboard of breaking accurate stories shows Tom E. Curran and Mike Reiss have a strong track record doing their job, and doing it well.

That Jeffri Chadiha takdown was an ass-whupping.  Feelings are king in football columns. Gravity on its last leg? Seen better days? Potential column.” Matt Chatham (via Twitter).

For better clarification: Read my evisceration of Chadiha if you haven’t already. Reiss and Curran don’t belong in the same filth as that crap. Unfortunately, appreciating the Patriots won’t draw the ire of listeners, and doesn’t translate to ratings.  I wrote this the other day: It’s comical how many media members are ready to push the “DYNASTY IS OVER” button on the Patriots. Like every year. I get the Bill Belichick hate, I suppose, but come on.

“I love what Felger and Mazz are doing. They are trolling the Boston media and the rest of us who don’t get hot and bothered by negative talk about the local teams are loving it and the ratings prove it. All media in this country is corporate swill and they deserve the abuse.” – Dan

There is playing Devil’s Advocate (e.g. picking the Ravens over the Pats even though you vehemently claim the NFL is a QB’s league all season long), then there is throwing out baseless accusations to support an agenda, Dan. I’m fine with the former. If you want to espouse the idea that the Patriots have significant valuation issues and equate Robert Kraft to the late Al Davis, go right ahead. But please, I don’t think neither Felger or Mazz  are abusing “corporate media” as part of a greater altruistic effort; they’re doing it because they want ratings.

(Side note: If Felger really thinks Reiss’ coverage is “slanted,” what does he call the opinion-based dialect he spews roughly 22 hours a day on radio and television? I makes me seriously wonder if he has less self-awareness than Donald Trump.)

“Another great column, Ryan….HOWEVER, I disagree with this line >>>> “People, even knowledgeable sports fans, believe in this nonsense. They take it as gospel” ……..sorry man, no disrespect to your buddy but NO, “knowledgeable sports fan” takes what Felger says as “gospel”…if they do, then they aren’t “knowledgeable”…..in fact, they must be idiots.” –DryHeave

I love “DryHeave” as a username. RELATED: I hope everyone had a great St. Paddy’s day.

Re: Knowledgeable sports fans DO take what is said on the airwaves seriously. The platform has that power. Felger’s right — they have more influence in the Boston market than ESPN, but with great power comes great respon-…

Wait, where was I? OK, back. Sorry blacked out there for a second. I just think that influence is why it sucks Felger and Mazz recklessly challenged reports from esteemed writers. It hurts said-writers’ reputation. Good on Reiss for firing back, but he shouldn’t have to. His history doesn’t give us any reason to question his reporting.

“I am not a fan of Minihane’s but someone has to free him. D&C are in a total tailspin. I know it is a slow time of the year but this media vs. media MMA thing is painful radio. I even tried Kuhner this morning on ‘RKO, but his voice kills me. WEEI has to get Minihane out of there, they are killing his credibility, they run right over the guy. Ryan – keep up the good work, it is hard to establish a voice in any market let alone Boston.” –Free Kirk

Kirk, is that you??

Man, that media MMA tourney was cringe worthy, but I think it was useful in the sense that WEEI should now recognize they will lose a war of wit against The Sports Hub, specifically “Toucher & Rich.” The men of Guest Street must engage the audience in a different style – channeling compelling discourse about sports (not politics, please).

Methinks the dog days of summer are going to be especially long for Minihane, like listening to a long-winded question from Denito himself, but all signs point to John Dennis’ exile being all but imminent.  And hey, Dennis’ vacation was a nice preview of what could be. I enjoyed Minihane-Arnold-Callahan.

“On Deadspin yesterday: http://deadspin.com/welcome-ki… …’SI is developing a new brand and website with King as the centerpiece, sources told us. The in-house nickname for the new site is Kinglandia. The actual name for the site is still under discussion…Here’s one name: A source tells us Kinglandia is going hard after The Boston Globe’s excellent NFL writer, Greg Bedard.’

As they point out, it’s basically going to be a clone of Grantland but with King running it.. really? The name alone is, uhm..”-BSMFAN

I’ve been mystified with choices Bill Simmons has made with Grantland since its inception. When it comes to the site itself, I’ve wavered more than Glenn Ordway on, well, anything. On the other hand, I’ve always said that everyday they publish at least one MUST-READ piece (and that number is growing with time). These days, I love it. But the reason it works is because Simmons, whether you like it or not, has interests outside the realm of sports that most people relate to.

Meanwhile, don’t get me wrong, I do pick through MMQB every week, but Peter King enjoys coffee and loathes traveling. Those aren’t interests, they are minutia. This could be a disaster waiting to happen. And if Sports On Earth and Grantland didn’t already enlist Mike Tanier and Bill Barnwell, who are both fantastic, then Greg Bedard would’ve been writing for either. His move to Sports Illustrated makes sense. He’s a clever writer, adept at film study, and has solid sources around the league. I just have reservations about “Kinglandia.”

“How many of the supposed knowledgeable Boston Talking heads (Shaughnessy, Ordway, Dennis, etc..) think Danny traded away the Championship in 2011. What they fail to remember is Dwayne Wade’s jujitsu like takedown of Rondo in Game 3 of that series. Once that happened, all bets were off. I liked Perk but he wasn’t a 9 million dollar player. Apparently the Thunder are learning the same thing as there are constant rumors that they will amnesty him.” Jimmy V.

Night’s like Monday’s 105-103 loss to the Heat are why I was firmly entrenched in the anti-BLOW IT UP camp. The Celtics aren’t necessarily old, and guys like Jeff Green experiencing more games will help, not hurt, their career down the road. And from a viewer’s perspective, it’s nice to watch competitive basketball.

Funny though, who’s excited to hear talking heads wax about sacrificing “chemistry” and “intangibles” with the Kendrick Perkins trade? ME, I AM!?! That’s all we’ve heard since the trade, right? They’ll shift gears and redirect, because they always do. Case in point, Mazz actually opened Tuesday’s show saying “it’s not about the numbers with Green, it’s how it looks – on some level his 43-point performance is frustrating.”

Ugh.

By the way, speaking of injuries, we always hear talk about how the Celtics lost a potential championship to Kevin Garnett’s injury in 2008. Is it time to start thinking they lost a title to Avery Bradley and Green’s injuries last year? I think they win that Heat series if the two are healthy.

Something interesting to think about. On that note, as always, thanks for reading! We’ll do it again sooner rather than later. If you’re bored Out There, give me a shout on Twitter @Hadfield__.