Mediots! Series: John Dennis As The Last Professional Internet Tough Guy

John Dennis

January has too much promise of the New Year. February is all about love. March, though? March is where we heat up the snark. Once a week, we’ll profile why we strongly dislike members of the local and national sports media, in what I’m calling the Mediots! Series. 

Here’s the biggest indictment of John Dennis: I can’t tell if he’s Jack Nicholson playing Lt. Jessup, an ornery, morally corrupt HO-RAAHHH dude, shown below demanding respect; or if he’s Tom Cruise, who Jessup mocks, calling out his “Harvard mouth.”

Come to think of it, he’s probably both. And that’s why John Dennis is awful.

In terms of a national comparison, John Dennis is Bob Costas. Which, all told, is a massive insult to Bob Costas. In actuality, John Dennis is how a growing number of people perceive Bob Costas, meaning the version of Bob Costas that’s as insufferable and annoying and pompous as the rest of the world views him.

The comparison coalesces when we think about how each personality looks at the Internet. For instance, in 2008, Bob Costas had Will Leitch-Buzz Bissinger-Braylon Edwards(!!) on Costas Now to discuss the new media, and it immediately became clear Costas had a vague understanding of the sports blogosphere, which is to say he had NO CLUE about the blogosphere. (By the way, Bissinger is the real showstopper in the clip, holy shit — his reputation was forever tarnished. Acting like a lunatic will do that to you.)

Re-reading Leitch’s dissertation of the debacle on New York magazine’s website displays the true issue: For all he has accomplished, Bob cares too much about what other people think of him. That’s a recipe for loads of snark; the Internet tends to smell insecurity and, instead of relenting, it ATTACKS. I’m not particularly proud to be a part of this contingent — but, then again, I’d like to think I’m level-headed about the endeavor, and write with a conscious and tone that’s both enjoyable AND truthful. Regardless, for how brilliant and smooth Costas typically comes across, I get an unseemly amount of pleasure knowing that he failed to distinguish between a blog post and the comments section while reading Deadspin.

Anyway, John Dennis is all of that – to his credit, he can be eloquent in his delivery, yet annoyingly loquacious at the same time. More important is that Dennis is insecure, and that insecurity manifests itself on Twitter. Consequently, instead of severely misunderstanding the blogosphere like Costas, Denito acts like a 17-year-old backup nose tackle on a junior varsity high school football team in his social media exploits. (In other words, he’s Andy Gresh, which is almost an insult to Gresh.)

It’s not a good look, but again, insecurity only fuels venom.

In fact, you could argue Dino’s timeline should be a case study for what NOT to do if you’re a polarizing Mediot. Worse, and I’ve written this before, John Dennis TOTALLY thinks if you delete a salty tweet from your timeline no one will notice and it will be like it NEVER HAPPENED. (It’s the Internet, JD – NOBODY FORGETS.)

Anyway, on top of him being a generally terrible person to listeners (I’ve received multiple emails from readers complaining about this), some of my personal favorite John Dennis moments on Twitter include the following:

  • The time he berated Marc Betrand, or at least a Twitter account that he thought was Marc Betrand.  What a moment. So many strange angles here, but I can’t help but think about the poor guy who was on the receiving end of those tweets meant for Bertrand. Must have been a strange email to get from Twitter. “Honey, why is John Dennis verbally accosting you on Twitter?” Great times. I love divas of sports media. Never change, guys.

(The tweets have since been deleted)

(Dino’s tweets supporting Sileo have since been deleted)

(And yes, for those of you keeping score at home — those tweets, too, have since been deleted)

  • Also, as an aside: I can’t find the link, but I remember people being up in arms about the time he [allegedly] told someone to check his W-2 forms and get back to him. Yeah, he’s awful.

That’s all interactive stuff, though. The complaints about the actual show are even more egregious. And no, we’re not talking about the legendary voicemail he left Ryen Russillo or the METCO gorilla comment. That stuff will live on forever, but it’s almost too easy.

With Dennis, it’s the elongated questions. The persistent claim during their tailspin that “Dennis & Callahan” are victims of Chad Finn misrepresenting the ratings. The time he used what was supposed to be a private correspondence with Tom Brady about Brady’s contract negotiations to – I don’t know?? – gain listenership.  Finally, the crusade he went on about how management was silencing him and his cohort, Gerry Callahan, from doing the show the way they wanted to do it, as if the temporary removal of the “Headlines” segment was the reason for the ratings plummet.

(Because, God forbid, sports talk radio keeps the conversation to sports.)

And let’s not forget about his recent, kinda creepy penchant to YACK IT UP about his MACK-DADDY-SMOOTH days with the ladies. One reader put it best when he said, it was called the ’70s, John.

There is a good side to Dino, I’m sure of it. I’ve been listening to the WEEI show more frequently than “Toucher & Rich” of late. He’s shown professional growth by learning to interact with Minihane, as opposed to pretending he doesn’t exist, and the show is better for it. Truthfully, the start to this new series could have featured a number of media personalities, but given the recent resurgence of the “Dennis & Callahan” morning show, which has been praised in this space of late, it was just time to remember that John Dennis is still an abhorrent individual.

To contribute or nominate a Mediot, shoot an email to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, yell at me on Twitter, @Hadfield__.

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10 quick musings (NOT INCLUDED: I don’t know what to think about the Big O’s new Internet venture, so I didn’t write about it. Maybe next week. If you care about such matters here are details):

1.) Ron Jaworski thinks that unless Johnny Manziel changes his playing style, he won’t last three games in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Johnny Football, who recently changed his moniker to Mr. Football, is one of things I most look forward to in September. I love that he’s so polarizing that people like Barry Switzer (!!) come out of the woodwork to call him an “arrogant little prick.” And I love that there’s no in between with Mr. Football, he’ll either be great or awful — any intermediary take is unreasonable. Just the best.

2.) AJ McCarron’s lady friend, Katherine Webb, has been part of Internet folklore since Brett Musburger got all hot and bothered by her in the middle of the BCS Championship game two years ago. RELATED (BUT NOT REALLY; ACTUALLY, YEAH, THIS IS DEFINITELY RELATED): NFL quarterback prospect, Blake Bortles’, girlfriend is not ugly. There has to be a correlation between McCarron’s stock dropping and Bortles’ coming on strong.

3.) Speaking of correlations, the MIT Sports Analytics Conference is this weekend at the Hynes Convention Center. The attendee list gets more and more impressive every year, and 2014 is no different. Writers, thought leaders, and important sports figures – both national, and here in Boston – will be there. Here are a few names that stick out: new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Andrew Luck, Brad Stevens, John Henry, Jonathan Kraft, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Gladwell, Mike Reiss, Mike Zarreen, Phil Jackson, Richard Deitsch, Thomas Dimitroff, Zach Lowe, and Wyc Grousbeck.

4.) A laundry list, indeed. Still, there are people – even select decision makers – in the sports world who have little to no interest in advanced analytics. In a piece that’s well worth your time, Bill Barnwell, formerly of Football Outsiders and now the lead football writer at Grantland, does his best to offer insight into why this gap still exists.

5.) Rajon Rondo took a day off to celebrate his birthday without permission from the Celtics. It is a story that requires reaction. Most people agree it was the wrong move, especially for the team’s captain. And I think that’s reasonable.

I don’t know Rondo. I don’t know what’s said behind closed doors, or what his teammates think of his personality. I will say that when I covered the team in 2012-13, the year Rondo truly became Boston’s best player, he always appeared like an aloof individual. (Read: has ZERO use for the media)

But because of that, his “it’s none of your business” comments about the story make perfect sense. Look, he doesn’t seek the attention when things are great, thus he doesn’t feel he owes an explanation when times are tough. I’m OK with that rationale, I suppose. But still, it’s not a good look.

6.) I think Andrew Sharp, who I highly recommend reading over at Grantland, especially his Onion-esq weekly column #HOTSPORTSTAKES, went the wrong way with the Rondo thing, claiming that because his name always pops up in trade rumors and he finds himself stuck playing on a crappy, tankaliscious team, Rondo should be free from scrutiny.

I’m not sure if Rondo needs to be lambasted here, but that rationale is faulty at best. Players are on the trade market all the time. Rondo deserves criticism.

7.) Criticism, mind you, which the local media is happy to give, of course. Although, on WEEI.com, Ben Rohrbach is mostly pro-Rondo, citing the Captaincy thing as a misplaced narrative considering the title has been “reserved for such luminaries as Dee Brown, Rick Fox, Pervis Ellison and Antoine Walker.”  Chris Gasper, as is his MO, delivers a harsh, but fair viewpoint about Rondo’s frustrating personality on and off the court. Meanwhile, Chris Forsberg does well to describe how this is just another chapter, in a series of chapters, of the Rajon Rondo Experience.

8.) For those who emailed me this week, I’m in on True Detective, but out on Mixology. Yes, I watched the pilot because I live with girls and am exposed to such things. In short, Mixology portrays guys like they’re a bumbling mess or borderline creeps. It’s the equivalent of how people react to Johnny Football — meaning there’s no in between. Somehow, this makes Girls look like a reasonable show. (Hey, at least Girls tries.)

9.) Drunken college kids. Competitive “student-athletes” (whatever that term means). Lack of security. Surprised incidents like this don’t happen more often.

10.) SELF-PROMOTION: I wrote about Aaron Hernandez and guilt in fandom for the Metro this week. Check it out.

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Sorry for getting this up so late. Go big or go home, ya know? Anyway, I’ll hold off publishing the first part of Monday morning, so it doesn’t get buried. Hope everyone has a great weekend and, as always, thanks for reading. Say hello on the Twittersphere. @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: February Sports Coverage Is The Worst Kind Of Sports Coverage

Programming Note: With Bruce away, I’m captaining the ship this week. Always exciting, often disastrous. Shoot tips, comments, and other feedback to [email protected] or, if you consider yourself the progressive type, yell at me on Twitter, @Hadfield__.

WARNING: THIS IS A RANT

I don’t like to be the Everything Sucks Guy. I really don’t. The Internet is full of Everything Sucks Guy(s). You don’t need another one of those voices filling the space here. But today, dear readers, I deviate; because while hanging out with friends this weekend, we pondered a significant question: Is February the worst month of the calendar year to be a Boston sports fan?

It has to be. Ohhhh, it hassss to be. We’re stuck in quicksand consuming takes on takes on takes about the NFL Combine, Red Sox Spring Training, and the merits of tanking in the NBA. Really, the only thing we have to hold our hat on is the Bruins. And, keep in mind, the playoffs are months away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for Jenny Dell, Will Middlebrooks and Everlasting Love; the over-saturation there helped me avoid an over-the-top, deep-dive into the meaning of Erin Andrews’s new role as host of “Dancing With The Starts.” (Or Erin Andrews doing anything, really.)

But, truthfully, I can’t stand February. This realization goes beyond the lack of relevant games, though — it’s everything else which has made consuming sports better and worse in 2014. What this all comes down to is speculation. Because if speculation is what you crave, February will tickle your fancy.

The main offender here is the NFL Combine, because the NFL Combine is terrible. Actually, let me rephrase — the combine itself isn’t horrible, but the way we digest the results definitely is. The problem is that the wall-to-wall coverage has not made us better, more knowledgeable fans. Nope. It’s made us informed juuuuuust enough that we’re annoying about the whole endeavor – like a college student trying to explain Occupy Wall Street to Will McAvoy.

Yeah, that’s fans and the media these days. A lot of people talking at once, without any real idea what’s going on in front of us.

For example, did you hear that draft pundit on “Toucher & Rich” this morning? I didn’t bother remembering his “premium” website, because he said things like “Jadeveon Clowney isn’t a winner.” He spoke in generalities and clichés, it was like listening to Danny Woodhead, circa 2011, tell the media he “just has to work on improving, day-in and day-out.”

What is happening here?

Well, 35 percent of fans, bloggers, “analysts”, radio hosts, and the like, take combine crap wayyyyy too seriously; as if someone’s 40-yard dash time tells you EVERYTHING you need to know about whether or not Player X will be an impact guy on Sundays.

(Because 40-yard Go -Routes are all the jazz in pro offenses these days. Seriously, I’d rather see how well DBs and WRs deal with pick plays; at least that would provide real context and maybe educate us with insight into what’s “dirty” or clean)

Then there’s 40 percent of the same crew, who have a little better handle on real life and understand that game film matters more than how awesome Player X is at working out. Of the remaining 25 percent, a decent chunk — let’s say 20 percent — then find themselves explaining the real value at the combine: the player interviews with team representatives behind closed doors: Are you in shape? What do team doctors think of you? Is your mom – or has she ever been – a prostitute?

Finally, the remaining five percent of people invested in this process, in one form or another, throw their hands up and say “I have no idea what is going on, and neither does anyone else.” As the coverage ramps up – and, in coming years, methinks it will – the blurriness between these groups will only distort. I can’t wait.

Spring Training isn’t much better. Let me sum it up for you: Xander Bogaerts is well on his way to being the next Mike Trout (Because you have to file the unreasonable column in Spring Training, so you can write the “WHAT’S WRONG WITH Xander??” column come July. Jackie Bradley Jr. is emphatically shaking his head in agreement). Jon Lester says he’ll take a home team discount, but that’s only left us to ask if he’ll take a real home team discount?

More story lines: Lots of Stephen Drew talk, the ongoing debate surrounding David Ortiz’s contract, and Ryan Dempster‘s shocking decision to walk away from $13 million. Plus, lots of stretching. That too. Like the combine, getting wrapped up in this discussion is fun, but generally pointless until the games start. (After all, remember, Bobby Valentine dazzled the cynical Boston sports media in Spring Training before the fourth estate gloriously turned on him.)

I won’t even get into tanking. At this point, the only thing worse than tanking is talking about the idea of tanking. Also, seedy stories like Rajon Rondo taking “unscheduled” off-days are always a good time; I’m sure people will have reasonable takes about that situation. This should be fun.

***

Now, as I understand it, the popular month’s people tend to point to as the nadir of the Boston sports calendar are July or August.

Not to be a jerk, but to that I say FOOLS. All of you.

(Alert: HOT LIFE TAKE coming your way – set your mind to blown)

As the wonky Internet writer, who fancies himself an intellectual luminary, one that is omniscient about these sorts of things (Read: life matters), allow me to explain. You see, there is life that takes place outside of sports. And July and August is when the other aspects in life supersede the enjoyment gained from sports. That’s not to say there is no room for sports, of course — but its place is auxiliary to all the other great events that make summer, well, summer.

Day drinking. Barbeques. Barbeques AND drinking. Beach days. Beach nights. Beach days AND beach nights. Summer concerts. Not to mention, people are in better shape and appear to be considerably happier – mainly because it doesn’t hurt to go outside. Sports is the cherry on top when I have all that going on in my life.

February? In February, it hurts to go outside. My lips are constantly chapped, face egregiously red because of wind burn, and people around me all gain weight because they can wear layers in the winter. And while there’s day drinking, it’s typically indoors in order to avoid the elements.

Case in point: my friends and I spent Saturday bowling, because there was alcohol and it was near my buddy’s condo. Then we watched Duke-Syracuse and speculated about NBA Draft prospects, because, as previously mentioned, in February there’s not much else to do but speculate.

Sports Media Musings: Bill Simmons Shines During Celtics-Lakers Telecast; Kirk Minihane Saves “Dennis & Callahan”

Programming Note: With Bruce away, I’m captaining the ship this week. Always exciting, often disastrous. Shoot tips, comments, and other feedback to [email protected] or, if you consider yourself the progressive type, yell at me on Twitter, @Hadfield__.

Today: In which we go Three & Out — yet again, because we lack a stretch wide receiver – while we discuss happenings in the media, as we brace for yet another Polar Vortex this week … BURRRRRR.

FIRST DOWN: It’s That Sports Guy On Celtics-Lakers

When it was announced Tommy Heinsohn would only provide color commentary for home games this year, my interest immediately piqued. Finally! Who would they bring in? Does this mean more Donny Marshall? God, I hope this doesn’t mean we’ll have more Donny in my life. Does he get any royalties from Ray Allen’s contract? He should definitely earn a little off the top.

Turns out, much like the admirable job NESN did back-filling the void created from Jerry Remy’s absence in the booth last summer, the brass over at Comcast has done a good job finding talent to insert on the road – Jackie MacMullan, Dave Cowens, and even the C’s General Manager, Danny Ainge, have all helped call games alongside the venerable Mike Gorman. Hey, if nothing else, the personalities have been interesting choices, in a somewhat uninteresting season of local basketball.

Enter ESPN’s Bill Simmons. As with all things (Boston) Sports Guy, his appearance on the broadcast of Friday night’s Celtics 101-92 loss to the Lakers was met with a wide range of reaction, because, these days, the Internet exists so we can dissect such things with purpose and vigor normally associated with political campaigns.

Here are scattered musings about The Sports Guy’s performance …

… Overall, listening to Simmons field questions during the pregame show was insightful and enjoyable. The guy is plugged in and has the perspective of someone whose knowledge extends well beyond the Celtics, because – you know – he watches the NBA, as opposed to aimlessly giving an opinion. For instance, Simmons spoke to why winning the lottery isn’t the end all be all of getting a good draft pick, because the lottery is full of dudes like Michael Carter Williams and Trey Burke who can be had with the seventh or eighth pick.

… I don’t think 85% of sports radio hosts in Boston know who MCW is or where he went to school last year. #FactNotOpinion. And stuff like that is a shame, because the NBA is great. It really is. But intelligent, league-wide conversation around these parts is lacking.

… Don’t think Sports Guy could pull this off as soon as a year ago. He’s improved considerably since joining ESPN’s NBA studio show.

… That said, I could have done without the obligatory “Wanna give a shout out to my friend Sully, Murph, Sully, Sully, et al” joke, but whatever.

… Could have also done without the weird interactions with courtside folk. Again, whatever — you win some, you lose a lot. This wasn’t a huge deal.

… I get that he’s polarizing — although, I’m not sure why — but hate him or love him, no matter how much his circumstances, access, and connections have evolved over the years, Simmons hasn’t changed the way he views sports – from the prism of a fan’s perspective — and there’s something incredibly endearing about that. He kept on rambling about how calling a game with Gorman was a bucket list item of his. Kind of cool.

… To that point, anyone berating Simmons for saying “we” or “us” in reference to the Celtics during the telecast misses the entire point. Plus, he’s filling in a role normally held for Heinsohn, a dude who doesn’t exactly scream objectivity.

… Within five minutes of opening tip, Simmons compared Jeff Green to an actor who doesn’t want to be the lead in a big budget film, but is instead content reprising the third or fourth role. When this happened, I’m quite certain Drew Magary’s head exploded.  SOMEONE CHECK ON DREW.

… Speaking of Magary, Deadspin took an opportunity to call out CSNNE for trying to fetch ratings with the addition of Simmons to the telecast. Because Lakers-Celtics used to mean something! (Or something.) It wasn’t that the assertion was particularly off – it was a Friday night and, on Twitter, I saw multiple people admit they were drawn to the telecast solely because of Simmons, as opposed to the two awful NBA teams that played subpar basketball. But, as Simmons told Chad Finn last week, this was planned in the offseason. The network had no way of knowing whether or not the Celtics or Lakers would be terrible. (To be fair, given the rosters, that certainly seemed likely)

Either way, does anyone else think Deadspin/Gawker’s infatuation with everything Simmons is beyond perverse at this point? Seriously. Transcribing the Lena Dunham podcast? (An interview where Simmons, ironically, announced that he likes Jezebel, Gawker’s website that boasts the tagline “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion For Women. Without airbrushing”) How about Tim Marchman’s well-written, but curiously agenda-driven breakdown of the controversial “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” feature on Grantland?

(I’ve already written extensively about this issue, but a quick refresher: Marchman does a fine job illuminating the journalistic failings of the piece, but ultimately tries to make this a marco issue about Grantland-Bill-Simmons. Frankly, it wasn’t. Any publication could have made the same mistakes. Do you know about trans-gender sensitivity issues? I sure don’t.  In fact, Deadspin, along with many other prominent journalists/publications, initially loved the piece.)

… And yes, this is interesting coming from me, someone who spends far too much of my own time thinking about media criticism.

… All that said, I don’t think I could watch Simmons call games on a regular basis, but I’m not sure he’d want to do that either.

SECOND DOWN: Kirk Minihane’s Jedi Mind Tricks

The morning show over on WEEI, “Dennis & Callahan,” have spent a considerable amount of time debating the impact of team chemistry on a team’s fortune, specifically how the intangible trait helped aid the Red Sox during their World Series run last season.

New guy – otherwise known to them as The Savior – Kirk Minihane, argued that stuff like team chemistry is overblown and simply another example of an overwrought narrative that morphs into (faulty) truth. (THEY LIKE EACH OTHER = WINNING!) John Dennis and Gerry Callahan could not wrap their head around this logic, but Minihane would only concede that chemistry merely helps matters and that it’s hardly important.

RELATED: “Dennis & Callahan” is listenable again, and it has nothing to do with chemistry. It’s funny: Minihane’s existence keeps Callahan and Dennis employed, as they disprove their own HOT SPORTS TAKE. This is a profession where chemistry matters — presumably more than something like baseball, anyway.

But on-air chemistry is much different than the type of crap Dennis and Callahan are espousing as ingredients for winning baseball games. Knowing your cues, when to let the other guy go on a tangent, or to put him in his place is comparable to a pitcher being in sync with a catcher. It’s occupational chemistry.

Whether or not, David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks double date with their respective WAGs is different. Sure, it may help matters, but overall, a relationship outside the game lacks any real bearing on the scoreboard. The same can be said for the resurgence of “Dennis & Callahan.” I get the feeling Minihane respects Callahan and tolerates Dennis. These guys don’t seem like best friends; they’re colleagues with similar aspirations. But it works. So much so that Minihane says if the duo doesn’t get the extensions they’re looking for that he’d walk. (I’m not sure if this is Minihane saying Minihane things, or if he’s serious – methinks it’s the former).

The funny part is that Dennis and Callahan definitely go into Phil Zachary’s office touting their banter and formula that is catching steam, but the truth is Minihane would’ve revived “The Big Show” the same way. Who isn’t listening to Michael Holley  and Minihane over “Felger & Mazz”? It was another long, overdue move – just like the switch to FM – that, for whatever reason, Entercom waited about a year too long to make.

(Side bonus: Minihane is writing more often at WEEI.com again. His stuff is usually worth your time.)

Third Down: Other Media Matters, Random Thoughts

… Question: How dumb am I for NOT watching True Detective? Is it good? How good?

… Congrats to Tony Gonzalez on his new role as part of the NFL Today studio show on CBS. Which also means happy trails to Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe, both of whom are being booted after yet another season that CBS trailed FOX’s coverage in ratings. I’ll miss nothing about Sharpe, except for his DAPPER suits. They were the best.

… As much as “Bill Belichick, The General Manager” supposedly sabotages“Bill Belichick, The Head Coach,” at least they’re cordial with one another (Sources say the strong relationship is due to the two being the same person. BSMW hasn’t confirmed these reports. Stay tuned…) That’s not the case in San Fransisco, however, where it appears Jim Harbaugh was in talks to be traded to Cleveland because he and the 49ers GM, Trent Baalke, don’t play nicely with one another. File this under: THANK GOD THIS STORY ISN’T HAPPENING IN BOSTON. (I think I would just ignore the Internet altogether if it was)

James Franco on seflies was better than James Franco on Shia LaBeouf, which was also really, really good. An auspicious start to a – possibly recurring??? – role contributing to the New York Times.

… The NFL is thinking about implementing a 15-yard penalty for using discriminatory language on the football field. I feel like Roger Goodell and the competition committee made a deal with talking heads in the media on ways it can fuel stupid, moralistic debates during the offseason. Is there an incentive metric for this in his $44.2 million annual compensation package? Has to be.

Alec Baldwin wrote at length about his “retirement” from public life. Is it me or is he totally one of those people in your life that announces on Facebook that they hate Facebook and are quitting, instead of – oh, I don’t know – simply deactivating their account? HOLY self-aggrandizement.