Sports Media Musings: Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti Take On … The Entire Media

The Answer That You Want

Is In The Question That You State

 

No one knows anything.

That’s the takeaway I got from Welkahpalooza. Moreover, I doubt we ever will. Of course, that didn’t stop the loudest voices Out There from speculating what transpired as talks unfolded. And that’s fine, speculation is a pillar embedded into entertaining sports commentary.

Slander, however, is not.

Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti, who, believe it or not, used to practice the field of journalism, have embraced their perceived positions as “truth seekers,” among a town filled with media members that, according to them, are compromised — using the Wes Welker contract negotiations as a polemic to launch a diatribe against how the Patriots conduct their affairs.

Agenda much?

(Side Note: When this is extraordinary run is over, we’ll wax poetic about the Tom Brady-era. But there’s no getting around it at this point. You would think the Patriots are the Detroit Lions, Bill Belichick is Rod Marinelli, and Nick Caserio is Matt Millen in the aftermath of Welker’s departure to Denver. Has there ever been a franchise that has sparked more media to have their trembling hands hovering over the “THE DYNASTY IS OVER” button?)

There is a watchdog mentality brewing here (which is weird typing from a website that, essentially, is a watchdog itself). No one asked for this, but we’re getting spoon fed the rhetoric anyway. Felger had no problem calling into question Tom E. Curran‘s report that Danny Amendola was signed the first day of free agency; and Tony Massarotti, as he’s wont to do, effusively agreed. Meanwhile, the two have incessantly claimed Mike Reiss is in bed with the Krafts. Do Felger or Mazz have sources telling them information contrary to what’s been reported, or are they just blindly shooting from the hip? Methinks the latter is a strong possibility.

Anyway, eventually, this prompted Reiss to call into “Felger & Mazz” Friday afternoon in a wildly entertaining segment, in which he reminded Felger about his journalistic roots, quipping, “That’s called reporting, Mike.”

Immediately after Reiss hopped off the line, Mazz retorted that he didn’t agree with a lot of what Reiss was reporting. Felger then said, “AT THEIR PRICE! I HATE THAT …. when you want a player, you get him!” At this point, we all were just hate-listening, but thinking about that asinine statement leads me to believe Michael Felger does not understand valuation, economics, or free agency in general. Though, I suppose “if you want the player, you do whatever it takes” works when you’re concurrently espousing the idea that the “cap is crap.”

This week, we’ll hear how the Patriots read the market right and tactfully signed Aqib Talib to a one-year deal on short money. Everyone will agree on this. What’s curious is that they used the same model to evaluate Welker, and are somehow considered frugal. This doesn’t align with any sort of consistency in analysis. And that’s because analysis has relented its position to (baseless) salacious accusations of other reporters’ coverage, I guess. Felger and Mazz continually upbraid the BBWAA; openly loathe the Celtics; and now this.

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I have a friend who loves sports; probably more than I do in some ways. He can tell you where Brandon Tate went to school, rip off statistics off the top of his head from a few box scores from big games, all of that. A few weeks ago, I talked to him about a the Patriots’ run that is nearing the end. He told me he thought we were playing with house money and that he believed the Jets and Marc Sanchez were going to take the reigns back in 2010. We both chuckled, but I cut my laugh short when he cited Felger’s influence as a cause for this impression. People, even knowledgeable sports fans, believe in this nonsense. They take it as gospel. That’s why I didn’t have a problem last week when Felger claimed he had more influence than ESPN in the Boston market during his media review on “Sports Tonight” with Glenn Ordway. 

It’s the gratuitous pot shots, heightened blurriness between entertainment and reporting, and, ultimately, how they recklessly use their influence that worries me most.

Sports Media Musings: Conflicting Welker Reports, NBC 1510 & Bob Ryan? Thoughts on Olbermann/ESPN Reunion And More!

GET INVOLVED, GUYS: Due to popular demand, I’ll be running a Media Musings Mailbag soon. To contribute to the fun and games, 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.

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Lots of media notes to get to today, but before we do it appears Wes Welker is deciding to test the free agent market. This would seemingly refute Mike Giardi‘s report Tuesday that the Patriots and Welker are “close” to a deal. Although, “close” is relative … maybe the two sides are nearing an agreement and going to the market is part of the negotiation process; then again, maybe they aren’t. To Giardi’s credit, he’s sticking by his report:

I wrote about Welker betting on himself today for Metro Boston.

From my column:

Consider this: Per Pro Football Reference, no other player has caught a 110 passes in a season more than twice in his career; Wes Welker has accomplished the feat in five of his six seasons as a Patriot. In fact, he holds three of the top seven spots in the all-time single-season most receptions list. And despite being a slot guy who doesn’t typically stretch the field, Welker racks up yards, compiling 8,580 in his nine seasons in the league. For perspective, assuming he signs a three-year deal and racks up over 1,000 yards during that time (totally doable), he’ll land somewhere in the top-20 all-time for most receiving yards.

It’s more than that, though. When Tom Brady needed it most, he looked to Welker. We’re constantly told about the importance of moving the chains, and Welker has ranked somewhere in the top-10 of players who have the most receptions that converted a first down in all but one season as a Patriot (the lone season he didn’t crack the top-10 was in 2010. Again, the comeback season).

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NBC Sports Radio 1510 is making moves to better position itself in the local radio wars, adding an hour to Danny Picard‘s show, “I’m Just Sayin.'” Picard will now be live 8:00 am – 10:00 am every weekday morning.

Also, BSMW hasn’t corroborated anything, but this feels worth mentioning:

Again, absolute conjecture at this point: But someone who can actually talk NBA? On the radio???? Color me excited.

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Your must read piece this week comes from Don Van Natta Jr., “His Game, His Rules.” It takes a look at Roger Goodell‘s suspect decision making during his tenure as NFL Commissioner thus far. Van Natta Jr., who covered the White House and CIA (post 9/11) for the New York Times, went on Bill Simmons‘s podcast to discuss the piece, stating his prior high-profile beats helped prepare him for this story. (Pretty jarring comparison.)

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Journalists write for exposure bucks all the time. I’ve done it. Quite often, actually. But here’s a hilarious exchange between longtime journalist Nate Thayer and The Atlantic. 14 million page views a month and they can’t pay more than $100 for freelance work? Yeesh.

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With the launch of Fox Sports 1, ESPN PR guru (and former BSMW media guy), David Scott, put together a post showing how much of a stranglehold ESPN has on the market.

ESPN is no stranger to competition, just like Fox, NBC and CBS both have 24/7 sports networks as well. Neither has posed much of a threat to the four-letter network. And frankly, I don’t see this being much different. ABC Sports reluctantly relented most of its live sporting coverage to ESPN, bringing the network to new heights. NBC Sports does the same with much of its hockey coverage; and CBS has, um, Jim Rome?

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[UPDATE]:

The Big Lead is reporting that ESPN executive John Skipper wants Keith Olbermann back:

But after poking around at ESPN, sources tell me this wasn’t a give-me-a-job plea from Olbermann. ESPN President John Skipper wants the cantankerous Olbermann back, multiple sources say, and they’re very likely going to get him – as early as late-May.

[END UPDATE]

Speaking of the WorldWide leader, Keith Olbermann wants a second chance to shine in Bristol. Although, it appears very unlikely.

From James Andrew Miller‘s story (Yes. The same guy who wrote the oral history of ESPN, “Those Guys Have All The Fun”):

“After the dinner, at that point, there was no real appropriate place for Keith to come back, nor did I feel like I was prepared to bring him back,” Skipper said.

“We don’t have a policy that says we won’t bring somebody back. We’re running a great business, and when we think we can get quality content, there’s no such thing as a condemned list. That said, this is not an easy place to get back into. There are not that many successful examples of people who have come back, in part because it’s like water filling a vacuum. When somebody leaves, somebody else fills their place.”

The general reaction Out There is that Olbermann’s combustible relationship with any entity he works with (See: MSNBC and, ahh, ESPN) validates him being blacklisted. The other prevailing thought is that too much has changed over in Bristol for Olbermann to work there.

My take? I know it’s not going to happen, but I’m not sure why. You’re telling me Chris Berman and Hank Goldberg  are still collecting paychecks and “change” is really a barricade to a guy like Olbermann to adapt to? Those guys have been doing the same thing since the early ’90s.

Olbermann made “SportsCenter” what it was, not is. Sure, in “Those Guys,” he comes off as a mercurial prick, but Olbermann also is described as a genius, who could cut great copy in an hour’s time. Basically, he gave us reason to watch. And I’d rather watch him rip off Bob Costas-like essays instead of Rick Reilly.

While ESPN notoriously steers away from network “stars,” I find no real reason to tune into “SportsCenter” anymore. What no one realizes is that just like the Internet (more specifically the blogosphere) crippled the newspaper industry, YouTube has hurt bland shows like “SportsCenter.” If there is a killer highlight, I’ll probably see it on YouTube, or a blog. And no, throwing it over to Stephen A. Smith‘s hyperbolic soliloquy is not impetus to stay tuned after a commercial break.

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Co-founder of Bleacher Report, Bryan Goldberg, gave a response in the form of an open letter to Will Leitch‘s Sports On Earth column killing the aggregator publication.

From Goldberg:

Finally, you point out that the company was “founded by business people trying to game the system.” Yes, I am a business person. I am an equally strong writer. But as for your suggestion that I “gamed the system” somehow? That would imply that the system was good enough to be gamed. Far from it. The system was so broken, that it really did not deserve the honor of being called a “system” at all. The smoldering wreckage of debris known as “the publishing business” is unfit to be called a “system,” because a system is assumed to be — at a minimum — self-sustaining.

I don’t think Leitch was arguing to save the newspaper industry, or traditional mainstream media for that matter. This was the guy who started Deadspin for crying out loud. I think he was insinuating that B/R’s reliance on superior SEO skill, rather than producing quality work, “gamed” the Internet system, and that the site’s actual work (mostly) is garbage.

Sports Media Musings: Sources Say The Patriots Dynasty Is No More (Again)

Quick Informercial

Using Tom Brady and LeBron James as case studies, I wrote about the horrible epidemic facing all athletes in 2013 for Metro Boston today.

From my column:

The athletes can’t win. Say anything beyond the usual platitudes and you’re bound to be picked apart. Say nothing and you “lack charisma.” If the treatment of James and Brady, two of the greatest players of all time in their respective sports, has proved anything, it’s that greatness is simply a footnote, and never has the term, “Take it out on the field,” had so little meaning.

You can check out the rest of the piece here. 

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The media has been counting down the days to the end of the Patriots’ reign ever since Tom Jackson, truly a pioneer in this regard, said, “They hate their coach” in 2002. Over a decade and four Super Bowl appearances later, everyone is still waiting. Now, there has been plenty of hilarious reaction to the Tom Brady contract extension. Gregggggg Doyel led the way saying if Brady were truly unselfish, he’d play at the veteran’s minimum. The local media took the ball and ran with it, eventually causing a firestorm of media on media crime that wreaked of ineptitude, self-importance, and (best of all) high comedy. Just a stellar week from my point of view. Bravo.

Jeffri Chadiha is a Senior Writer at ESPN.com. Like Greggggg, Jeffri’s name is spelled differently than the classic way. And because of this oozing synergy, he wanted to get in on the action. Take it away, Jeffri. 

When the good times end in the very near future, New England Patriots fans will remember this week as a turning point.

Ominous. Tell me more.

They also will see that AFC Championship Game loss to Baltimore as additional evidence of an overrated franchise.

You know what is overrated? New Years Eve, Tim Tebow, the 2012-13 NBA Trade Deadline, Paulina Gretzky, Taylor Swift, and the HBO show “Girls.” Hold on a second, I’m confirming with the committee as I type, and yes, it appears Super Bowl appearances and winning 13 games a season is, in fact, not overrated. It’s properly rated. That’s OK, keep going.

Worst of all, they will see that their team’s real dominance ended about five years ago. Everything since that point has been misleading.

BUT I THOUGHT GOOD TIMES WERE ENDING IN THE “VERY NEAR FUTURE.” Now you’re telling me they ended five years ago???

You could see the frustration in Brady’s eyes as the Ravens whipped New England in the second half of that conference title game. This wasn’t the team he was used to leading. It didn’t even look as if it deserved to be within one game of another Super Bowl.

Hmph. But they were really a half away from THE BIG GAME. The record shows the Patriots were winning after 30 minutes of action. Were the Ravens playing possum??? Interesting theory. I mean, don’t worry about the whole “winning at halftime thing.” Those are just facts. Don’t let the details deter you! KEEP GOING!

Brady seemed to acknowledge that when he reworked his contract into a more cap-friendly deal (even though he guaranteed himself a nice windfall over the lifetime of that extension). The surefire Hall of Fame quarterback realized he had to create opportunities for Belichick to add more playmakers to the roster. New England had gone far too long relying on Brady to carry an offense filled with largely marginal talent.

Parenthetical salient point, guys! Remember, Brady isn’t playing for free. Also, the offense is full of marginally talented players. Hernandez, Gronk, and Welker are worthless. Needs more DUSTIN KELLER and Brian Hartline.

Sure, the Patriots’ offense has been dazzling when at its best. But the team’s inability to snare another Vince Lombardi Trophy has been just as noteworthy during that time.

Wait, I thought New England was only marginally talented on offense? Now they can dazzle! You’re doing that thing where you say one thing then write the opposite a few sentences later, Jeffriii. It’s awfully confusing.

 No true deep threats have emerged since Randy Moss left town in 2010, and slot receiver Wes Welker also isn’t as clutch as he used to be (see: loss to New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI).

It’s true. Welker had a 91 Clutch Rating in the 2010 version of Madden. He’s only going to be, like, an 89 next season. That is, if Clutch Rating actually existed in real life, of course. Though, I’m getting the sense that Chadiha doesn’t believe in statistics anyway.

It was obvious in that loss how different the offense is without Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Call me crazy, but this felt like it was worth mentioning a little before seven paragraphs into the column. That’s just me.

 But let’s also be honest here — that defense isn’t one great player from being dominant. It was compromised the moment Talib left the AFC title game with a hamstring injury suffered in the first quarter.

I’ve read these two sentences 27 times. It’s hilarious: ” … defense isn’t one great player from being dominant.” OK, fine. But then he came back saying it was compromised when Talib — who is just one player, I think — left. WHAAAAAAA —

At some point, all great players can see whether they’re playing on a team that has the goods to win a championship or are merely on a respectable contender. It wasn’t until this past year that the Patriots proved they’re actually in the latter category these days. That’s a tough place to be when you’ve been used to dominating for so long. Unfortunately for New England fans, it’s hard to see anything more than that before Brady eventually calls it a career.

Smoke and mirrors, The Patriot Way. (According to Chadiha.)

As always, thanks for reading, give me a shout on Twitter: @Hadfield__

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter III

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 Hadfield[email protected], hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

Thanks for stopping by, GUYS! Tried to send everyone off to the weekend the right way. I covered a lot of ground and hit on a plethora of topics including the recent feuds in the local media, how I approach my column (boring and perhaps self-serving, but this was asked), the lack of solid NBA coverage in Boston, my Jason Whitlock/Gregg Doyel take-down piece from earlier this week, and other matters.

Keep it classy in the comments section … (well, sorta)

Ryan Hadfield, pelting John Dennis with stones from the comfort of his glass house. -JonB

Don’t be silly, my glass house is hardly comfortable, JonB.

Even a staunch Dennis supporter has no ground to stand on here. I just don’t see it. He used Tom Brady‘s email — sent out of courtesy as an explanation for not wanting to talk about his contract on the radio —  for ratings and attention. And he’s mad why, exactly? Because Fred Toettcher misread the situation as Brady sending an email to the station unprovoked? Really? Dennis had no business leaking the correspondence to begin with. DISCRETION, pal. DISCRETION.

And yeah, Toettcher’s take was equally obtuse. As I wrote yesterday: Anyone in the media who actually believes that NFL teams are sitting down at the bargaining table and suggesting to agents that Tom Brady’s team-friendly extension should be a universal standard is out of their mind. Period.

On Ordway’s last show you wrote“Media criticism often becomes problematic. We purvey analysis of other people’s, uh, analysis”… Do you mean how you write a blog about what other media people say about sports? Expand. - Dan

I’ll answer Dan’s question by being introspective for a minute here. Good media criticism — the type Bruce Allen has churned out in this space for over a decade — is tough. Long story long: I’m objective with myself and write what I think — not what you want to read and certainly not in any attempt to fulfill a preemptive narrative. (I leave that stuff to the “insiders” and “experts.”)

That said, I do have immense respect for the radio and television personas I write about, just as they (most likely) have respect for the athletes they rip. As a columnist, I’m afforded the luxury of time and insurance against any spontaneous mishaps. Once I hit publish it’s Out There, but until then, I have a safeguard and the ability to craft. However, their exposure to the whims of internal thoughts — good and bad — never lets up.

Now, do I have authority to rule and judge on media matters? I don’t know. I have a Masters degree in journalism and I’ve covered the locker rooms of each of The Big Four sports teams in Boston. I get the dynamics, but does that make me an expert? Hardly. But here’s the kicker: The aspiration of objectivity in sports media, as a whole, is dead. I’ve posed the question numerous times to reporters in the city, and the best explanation given was, as a reporter, “You root for the story.” That rationale becomes problematic awfully fast.

It truly is pathetic to see so few people in the media here that can talk about basketball. -Ryan

Lou Merloni, Donny Marshall, and Gary Tanguay didn’t do themselves any favors during the NBA trade deadline. There is no way around this. The proposed Paul Pierce trade that would’ve hauled in Marshon Brooks (at this juncture, a borderline bench guy), Mr. Kardashian (a piece), and a draft pick (who knows) was blasted by basketball writers across the nation. An utter joke.

Yet local personalities supported the deal. Why? BECAUSE BLOW THAT SUCKER UP, THAT’S WHY!

(Another reason could be because the media needs to write columns, fill air time, and tape daily shows TELLING US HOW IT IS. So remember, dear readers, they root for the story.)

Seeing how this is a great case study on sports media, let’s dip our toes into the water. The “blow it up” notion is a perfectly reasonable take to have in regards to the Celtics. But the “why” isn’t nearly as important as the “how.” Give me an actionable plan, don’t just talk in generalities. When I asked Tanguay what the exact steps Danny Ainge should’ve taken were on Twitter, all he said was “One step at a time.”

He answered with a fucking cliché. Not shocking — check out this video of Gare-Bear assessing Jeff Green’s recent improvement. Tanguay, as usual, talks in tropes, “He had courage. He couldn’t do this two months ago.” That’s bullshit analysis. Green didn’t go to Iraq, he didn’t take a “Magic Clutch Pill,” his personality didn’t change. None of that. He simply is channeling skill (some of which partially eroded from the fact that he was OUT OF BASKETBALL FOR A YEAR; and other portions of  new skill that he’s developed.)

It’s telling that Tommy Heinsohn (who may or may not think it’s 1972 at times), Brian Scalabrine (a complete novice to broadcast media), and Cedric Maxwell (a great player in the ’80s, but I doubt he’s scouring Basketball Reference for trends on the regular) are the best NBA analysts in the city. On another note, the beat writers and select columnists in the city are good.

(Pro Tip: If you want real hardcore stuff, your best bet is to check out Zach Lowe over at Grantland or one of the million talented NBA bloggers … Perhaps someone like Michael Pina, who writes for like 18 different ESPN TrueHoop affiliates.  These guys — and others — are junkies; the type of writers who aren’t dedicated to one team, and thus can take the time to use tape and still-frames to explain how things transpire on the hardwood.)

One person I think WEEI should look into trying to hire is Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. He’s from here and would bring good NBA insight. -RG via Twitter

I like this. Mannix on the midday would be intriguing and would instantly give ‘EEI the advantage. He is likable, and , heck, my friends and I could crush a 30-rack of Natural Ice (because we’re classy) and still make more sense than “Gresh and Zo” talking NBA. Plus, Merloni could more than carry the MLB talk.

While I’d admit to not being a regular reader, I do find that every time I read one of these, my main takeaway is that Ryan Hadfield sure is impressed with what Ryan Hadfield has to say. What exactly is the point of injecting yourself in the first part of the story? Because you thought someone was going to talk about you, then didn’t? Oh, well that’s worth keeping in there. - JC

Come on, JC! You don’t have to be a regular reader to know that I’m just as egotistical as the mediots I write about. I incessantly wrestle with the idea that Sir Paul McCartney wrote “Maybe I’m Amazed” not about a woman, love or anything else, but ABOUT ME BECAUSE I’M AMAZING (even though I wasn’t born yet … he had to know I was coming, right?). AND GET THIS — sometimes, while brushing my teeth I stop, just for a second, look in the mirror and say, “HEY YOU! YOU’RE SO FUCKING AWESOME!”

Hey Ryan, I’m a big fan of Bruce Allen and BSMW and glad to see another regular column from you. I’m ready to flip the dial back to EEI at 2p. Felger and Mazz are awful and I look forward to the new Mike and Mike!! I don’t get what Felger is up to? I thought he was bucking for a national show but maybe he likes being omnipresent here locally. Tony is AWFUL. I thought TSH would be better off trying to woo Minihane to take Tonys spot and get someone to challenge Felger’s blatant contrived arguments from this pompous ass. What can we do? Next up the “Lets get Tanguay off the air” rant!! Thanks for your time, Mark

Thanks, Mark. I get lots of emails about Michael Felger and Kirk Minihane. Look, you have to like someone and I enjoy both on different levels. It’s not like either is Greggggg Doyel or Skip Bayless. For my money, each is compelling — meaning they have something to say, and it’s generally interesting.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the vitriol. It’s becoming clearer by the day that Felger is incredibly agenda-driven and reaches for the low hanging fruit far too often. When you’re on the radio and television for 20 hours a day, that will happen. Exposure, more than anything else, may burn him in the end, and he could flame out just like Rex Ryan in New York (OH HEY IRONY: Felgy spent the better part of 2009-10 extolling the Jets — not the Patriots — for being the “model organization” going forward. Hmph.).

On the other hand, Minihane is more acerbic than Felger (mind you, no easy feat), and that will probably get him into trouble in the future, but he’s a smart dude, who shows diplomacy when necessary (Felger’s contrition comes off too facetious. It’s tough to take him seriously.) To his credit, Minihane is refreshingly adept at using statistics to support his takes and less pompous than others in the media. 

Bottom line? Neither backs down. And that’s grating to many, but if I’m being honest with you, I do listen to both guys … that says something.

Will the NFL combine/Te’o situation end up being the downfall of D&C? If anything it’s shining a light on Callahan’s blatant unapologetic homophobia and you’d have to think he’s close to talking himself right off the air. – Jim

I admit I’m not totally sure, but I believe you’re referring to Gerry Callahan saying something to the effect of, “No NFL team wants a player who is going to be the trailblazer for the gay community and come out.” I remember Minihane steering the duo away from the conversation. But again, I’m not sure if he had a larger point that I missed (I started writing my column shortly after and had to turn the radio off), but that’s a fine line to walk.

Either way, the downfall of “Dennis and Callahan” happened the moment “Toucher and Rich” usurped them in the ratings. Leading up to the launch of “The Sports Hub,” Callahan had made incredibly arrogant remarks about how he hadn’t heard of his new competition, and went as far as to sarcastically say he was “hiding under his desk” because he was scared. No real coming back from that.

It looks like I’ll be in the minority here, but I thought Whitlock’s column was pretty good (and I usually do). I’ll admit his writing is at the least an acquired taste, because his bombastic humor (such as being the self-appointed arbiter of race in sports) can be a little obnoxious. But he covered football for years as a reporter, so I think he does have some knowledge about closeted gays in the league, and he certainly has knowledge of how homophobic an NFL locker room is. Jason’s comments on Teo’s performance in the championship game are pure speculation, but I agree with his main point: Goodell can use his position as Commissioner as a kind of a bully pulpit to hold the NFL to broader standards in society. He certainly has the power to start changing the culture in that league, particularly by working with the players’ association. – Jim

For whatever reason, Whitlock isn’t a must read for me. I’m not saying he sucks, or anything. Obviously, he is doing something right. It’s just, to me, he looks for the cross-section of sports and culture more than anyone else (probably to secure that Pulitzer he’ll never get). Sometimes it’s warranted, but the style can get preachy and formulaic.

In this case, the Te’o column felt forced. Conflating the girlfriend hoax/scandal with presumed homophobia in the NFL was irresponsible. Yes, the league should take proactive steps to figure out its (perceived) issues with homophobia, but using Te’o as a conduit to broach the issue feels unfair to the Catfishee.

Like I previously wrote, under this course of action the headline would read: “NEW NFL PRESS RELEASE — GOODELL TO PLAYERS: FAKE INTERNET GIRLFRIENDS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!!! ALSO, IF YOU’RE GAY WE’RE TOTALLY COOL WITH IT!” 

(Let’s not disregard Whitlock’s word choice in the column, either …”Free the gays” ????? What was that?)

I read Deadspin each day and enjoy what they provide, but, it seems that in light of the Te’o story that we’re holding them up as the “model” or “future”, while they are so far from it. – BSMFAN

Deadspin makes it abundantly clear that they classify themselves as a tabloid — the whole nine yards — replete with sophomoric (read: smut) content. Now, occasionally, Deadspin produces a Te’o-esq feature.  And that’s great. But the simple model is as follows: The garbage pays for the investigative stuff. That’s how it works. Subsequently, at its core, Deadspin will never be the “future” … just part of the future (as it’s currently part of the present). I suppose the scary takeaway is that, these days, Deadspin exposes the mainstream outlets for shooting for the moon and more often landing in the mud … as opposed to the stars.

(By the way: BSMFAN is referring to my remarks about the editor of Deadspin, Tommy Craggs’, Q&A with the National Sports Journalism Center.  It’s fantastic, and if you’re a media/journalism addict, like myself, I highly recommend taking 10 minutes to pick through it.)

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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: Let’s Play Angry Birds On The Radio!

birds

GET INVOLVED, GUYS: Due to popular demand, I’ll be running a Media Musings Mailbag soon; in fact I may post it tonight, but more likely tomorrow morning. To contribute to the fun and games, 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.

John Dennis & Gerry Callahan vs. Fred  Toettcher

(Because A Team-Friendly Contract Is Worth Embarrassing Yourself For)

First the build up: Back in late 2011, Andy Gresh called me an “idiot media blogger” on his radio show (Real rich coming from a dude whose immediate reaction to the Jerry Sandusky scandal was that Joe Paterno‘s legacy would remain intact. Really hit the nail on the head there, Geraldo Rivera. Nice work!).

I’d rank Gresh crushing me on the airwaves right up there with the first time I showed up unprepared for a pop quiz in high school or the time I couldn’t figure out how to unhook a girl’s bra strap while Dashboard Confessional was playing  in the background. Just grand memories. (Introspective Song Choice: GLOOOOOORRRY DAYS! DUH DUH DUH DUNNNN, GLORRRRY DAYSSS!!!)

Well, since then, I’ve gotten a few angry emails, a few nice emails, blah, blah, blah — but never my name came up in conversation on the air …

When Gerry Callahan responded to me saying it was more than one person John Dennis was irate with, my interest piqued. “GOLD, JERRY,” I said out loud to no one in particular. And hey, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that part of me thought, “Could it be? Will I have another moment in the sun?? I HAVE TO CALL MOM!” All for nothing, guys. (Sorry mom.)

John Dennis was perturbed at Toettcher (and Gresh) for his rant about Tom Brady’s letter to Dennis about his contract situation on Sports Tonight Wednesday night.

A few notes from this morning:

– First of all, SOME INSIDE MUSINGS for you guys: I get my fair share of emails from media members, many whom I write about. I would never publish these exchanges without consent, mainly because I’m not an idiot. RELATED: Evidently, John Dennis is an idiot. He and Brady had correspondence about why he didn’t want to talk about his contract on the radio; and, in turn, Dennis decided it was appropriate to disseminate the letter on the very medium Brady wanted to avoid. In the name of ratings, I guess Dennis subscribes to the saying, “Don’t ask for permission. Ask for forgiveness.” According to Dennis, Brady’s not happy with him. No matter — I suspect Tom won’t have to deal with him next season anyway.

– Second of all, everyone involved in this episode should be embarrassed. Dial it back, guys. This is the dumbest debate ever. And there have been plenty of dumb debates in this town (Clay Buchholz went to a pool party and signed autographs. DOES HE GET ‘IT’??? DISCUSS!)

– Dennis said he and his cohorts aren’t allowed fire insults back at “Sports Hub” personalities. In retrospect, another great executive decision by the Entercom brass. I like it: BE ABOVE IT ALL (Except, of course, in the ratings. Currently, they are below it all in the ratings.)

–  From the Semantics, minor details, and stuff everyone is overlooking department: The headline, “Toettcher: Screw You Brady,” is more than misleading. He was posed the question of how other players should react, and not necessarily his own reaction.

– “Dennis and Callahan” insinuating that all of “The Sports Hub” is in bed with the Patriots is laughable. This is a station that Michael Felger spent the better part of 2009-10 getting hot and bothered over how great the Jets organization is. The Jets for crying out loud — the same team interested in Brady Quinn! Worse, your station is LOSING TO THIS RHETORIC. I need to shower. Or a drink. Maybe I’ll start drinking in the shower … Is it noon yet?

– I don’t think this was a planned rant to combat the return of Rich Shertenlieb. I do think this was a planned attack at “The Sports Hub” in order to garner ratings. That’s totally fine. “Toucher and Rich” have been employing the same tactics for over three years now. Welcome to the show, guys.

– Does Toettcher, Gresh, or anyone else REALLY think NFL teams are going to the bargaining table tell agents that THOMAS EDWARD PATRICK  BRADY TOOK A TEAM-FRIENDLY DEAL. YOUR CLIENT SHOULD TOO!!! If so, we have bigger problems in the media than I initially anticipated.

– How funny is it that, despite this posturing, Gregg Doyel still comes off as the biggest tool since Brady signed his extension? Talk about setting the bar.

– Kirk Minihane wanted no part of this discussion. None.

–  Does John Dennis walk around with a thesaurus? Love how he whipped out the word “unctuous” multiple times. So officious with his tone and vernacular rangggggeeee. CLASSIC DENITO.

Sports Media Musings: Columnists Gone ‘Cray’

Is everyone alright? I only ask because sports scribes everywhere are producing work that, frankly, is wildly absurd. I know, I know: The quixotic endeavour of  journalism commentary has long been dead. I get that. And somehow, someway, Deadspin has become the voice of reason, leaving major outlets (e.g. ESPN, Fox Sports, and CBS) behind.

It started with news that ESPN was hiring Jay Mariotti as a freelancer.

I think the WorldWide Leader gets a great deal of criticism levied their way just for being ESPN. It gets old sometimes. But then Rob Parker makes race-baiting comments about RGIII, Skip Bayless continues to do Skip Bayless things (and collect a paycheck), and the list goes on and on (and on). To its credit, ESPN eliminated Parker. A good move, for sure. But then it brings in Mariotti? Confounding. It’s like giving up Burger King for Lent, but then embracing Wendys. Even on an one-off assignment, this wreaks of strangeness.

Mariotti, who has taken a sabbatical from writing, is loathed in the industry, mostly for being a jerk and writing sensationalistic (Read: crappy) columns. On a personal basis, if you’re not a fan of spousal abuse, Mariotti probably isn’t your cup tea, either. With so many other writers available (Hey! ESPN! Look over here!), why does the four-letter network bring in Mariotti for a freelance assignment? Odd choice.

*************

You’d never believe it, but Jason Whitlock wrote a stupid column. Yeah, this thing was actually published. I’m not saying there is — or isn’t — a homophobia problem in the NFL. But Whitlock irresponsibly conflating the Manti Te’o situation with coming out of the closet in an NFL locker room is a reach at best; an ill-fated attempt to bolster his crusade against Roger Goodell for whatever it is he’s botched most recently. (Seriously, is there a more hated commissioner? Goodell is terrible, but come on, David Stern curiously vetoed a trade involving a league-owned franchise for crying out loud! Gary Bettman nearly killed ANOTHER NHL season! And Bud Selig oversaw the steroid era!!)

A few fun excepts:

Goodell could and should free the gays.

Let me stop there for a moment.

Please do. Just stop. Oh wait — you’re going to keep writing, aren’t you? (Side note: “Free the gays”? There are so ma– Really???? … WTF!)

I am not stating an opinion on Te’o’s sexuality. I don’t have any inside or outside information on Lennay Kekua’s widower. I do, however, believe Mike Florio of NBC’s ProfootballTalk is correct in his belief that the Notre Dame linebacker’s sexuality is a topic of high interest for his prospective NFL employers.

Phewwww. Don’t worry, guys. He’s going to bring in Mike Florio: Purveyor of journalism! Thank god!

Because if Te’o is hiding in the closet, he is highly vulnerable to exploitation and extortion. There is a popular theory that the possibility of hustling money from Te’o — and not love — motivated Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the mastermind and voice behind Kekua.

It could all be a coincidence, but Te’o just happened to have a horrendous performance in the BCS Championship as the Kekua fraud was unraveling. Maybe he was distracted. Or maybe the wrong people knew his secrets.

I thought he had no inside information?

Whatever the case, difficult questions must be asked, and they should come from the commissioner’s chair. It’s Goodell’s job to protect The Shield. It’s Goodell’s job to protect the employees.

The best protection for the league and the players is the freeing of the gays.

WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE! (Side Note: I thought the “Free the gays” thing was a typo. I was wrong – ROLLIN’ WITH IT)

Let’s be honest. I think it’s reasonable to assume that 15 percent of NFL players are gay and/or bisexual.

Doing the numbers … Yes, your baseless claims seem to add up, keep going! You’re almost there!

Goodell should use this Te’o situation as a convenient excuse to enact tough measures and standards of behavior that attempt to eliminate the homophobic hostility within football locker rooms.

I can see the edict now …

Goodell: Fake Internet girlfriends can happen to you! Also, if you’re gay … We’re totally cool with it!

*************

The last shot taken before dry heaving ensued was CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel taking a hatchet to the notion that Tom Brady is a hero. BECAUSE WE NEEDED CLARIFICATION!

No reasonable person believes Brady is a ‘hero’ for taking a deal below market value as Doyel insinuates. He isn’t altruistic nor is he a philanthropist. But if you’re an absolutist, like Doyel, then it’s all or nothing. Take it away, Gregg!

Tom Brady is not heroic or noble or even unselfish for signing a contract Monday for considerably less than his market value. To be those things, he would have had to sign a contract for the NFL minimum.

And I’m kind of wondering why he didn’t.

Me too. Me too.

Being honest here.

Is it a red flag when you need to give an “honesty” disclaimer in your column? Methinks so.

Nobody in his position has ever done that, of course, but nobody — and I mean nobody — has ever had the freedom to be as altruistic as Tom Brady. His net worth is in the vicinity of $100 million, and he earns millions more in endorsements, and that’s not even what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about Gisele.

Who?

To be fair, Brady is unselfish in the sense that he’s not selfish.

So it’s either one … or the other? No gray areas. Got it.

A player’s contract is more than his salary. It’s his status symbol. That applies to almost everybody in professional sports — but it doesn’t apply to Tom Brady. He doesn’t need the biggest salary in the Patriots locker room to have the utmost respect of everyone there.

Respect > $20 million > Logic. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW, PREACCCCCCHHHH!!!!!

He’s sort of a team player, yes. He made a gesture. But if he’s going to think of his team a little bit, why not think of it a lot?

Let’s go a step further: Brady should start paying the Patriots for the right to play quarterback. THAT’S A TEAM PLAYER.

But let’s have some perspective, please.

Pretty please? Pretty, pretty please!?!

OK, for some perspective, here is Doyel’s bio on CBS Sports:

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.

I can’t CRACK THE CODE. Hold on, I think — yes, I figured something out — you’re just a troll. That’s all. Just like the rest of them, only with a bigger forum. You probably took an ethics class in college, and you most definitely tried joining the debate team. You play devil’s advocate hoping not that you’ll convey any greater point that no one considered, but that it will piss people off.

Hmm. And to think: It only took me reading, the words, “Being honest” as a disclaimer. LUCK MUST HAVE BEEN ON MY SIDE.

*************

Finally, this Deadspin Q&A with the National Sports Journalism Center on how they handled the Te’o story is incredible. Read it.

As always, thanks for reading, give me a shout on Twitter: @Hadfield__

Kirk Minihane To Join “Dennis And Callahan” Full-Time

John Dennis is safe (for now). Chad Finn is reporting Kirk Minihane will be joining Gerry Callahan and Dennis on the “Dennis and Callahan” morning show on WEEI, not as a sports flash anchor, but as an equal voice on the program.

From Finn’s report:

Minihane, whose informed, unfiltered opinions have helped him earn a following as a weekend host (most often paired with Dale Arnold) and fill-in on various WEEI programs, will be an equal voice on the program.

He has also emerged as a popular columnist for WEEI.com, a role he began in 2009, and hosted the Hot Stove Baseball Show along with Rob Bradford and Alex Speier during the Red Sox’ offseason.

Minihane will not handle the “Sports Flash” updates that were the domain of past, less prominent third voices such as Jon Meterparel, who left in October after more than a decade on the program, and Kevin Winter, who was fired February 12, just six weeks after replacing Meterparel.

Finn notes it is unclear whether or not the show will be entirely rebranded. Murmurings of more changes to WEEI’s lineup have been rampant since Glenn Ordway was fired last week. Earlier this month, Entercom, WEEI’s parent company, conducted focus groups to gauge public perception of their personnel. The group session reportedly skewered Dennis and Callahan along with Ordway.

As far as the change, the initial take here is that, while polarizing, Minihane is compelling as a personality. He typically has something to say, and it’s usually not idiotic (or racist … or misogynistic …or just generally offensive).

Ryen Russillo‘s day, it appears, is not yet here. More analysis to follow from Bruce Allen.

@Hadfield__

Sports Media Musings: Now And Then, Then & Now

Before You Ask Which Way You’re Going, Remember Where You’ve Been

As Glenn Ordway approached his final hour hosting “The Big Show” last Friday night, the competition and primary parties responsible for his unemployment (well, besides Ordway himself), “Felger and Massarotti,” reflected on his career, his exile, and the business in general. Along with Chris Gasper, Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti gave a very appropriate response to the Guest Street Shakeup that rocked the sports media landscape here in Boston.

Media criticism often becomes problematic. We purvey analysis of other people’s, uh, analysis. And I fear, at times, we obfuscate the truth — that writing and sports commentary is hard. The segment, which was as meta as a Quentin Tarantino film, echoed these sentiments; providing an introspective view of the hopes and fears of two hosts, who, evidently, comprehend the ephemeral nature of success in broadcast media. And from my Ivory Tower, it appeared the salient points were that Ordway’s extraordinary run will likely never be replicated in this — or any — market, and that the profession, in any form, is a tough, unforgiving industry.

Here are highlights from the segment (a friendly hat tip to the guys over at Sports Rantz for the transcription):

Michael Felger: And he’s been on the air with that show almost twenty years? I mean, probably over half of it, he was number one. And, it wasn’t all that long ago that he was still number one. And yes, we’ve had a good run here the last couple of years. But, what are [Ordway and Holley] now, I — you know, second to fourth… third, fourth, second, somewhere in that range. It’s not like they went to last [place]. And I just — from a personal level? Good God, I’m gonna be number one for twenty years, and then I’m third? And that’s tanking? And you’re out of a job? I don’t feel like being congratulated at all. That scares the crap out of me.”

Tony Massarotti: I mean, in this business, to do that, for that length of time, is borderline unheard of, really. It’s extraordinary, and again, the — look, in this business, okay, you’re exposed. On a regular basis, every day, for twenty hours a week, and I’m not making a pity party. That’s the job. That is what the job is. And so, some of you love him, some of you hate him. Fine… but don’t disrespect the ability, is all I’m saying. And that’s how I look at it. So, I have tremendous respect for his talent, and again, I feel indebted.”

 Quick Musings

I hate when people take up two parking spaces! A little consideration please! #unosportstonight

— Gary Tanguay (@Gary_TanguayFebruary 20, 2013

1.) Truth be told, I was going to wait until Friday to post my weekly media column, but then Gary Tanguay practically #begged #me #to #write #something by abusing the hashtag, “#unossportstonight.” Look, I post nonsense all the time on Twitter (sorry!). I get it. But I don’t tweet about Tom Brady then use the #Celtics hashtag. I mean, am I missing something? Will Tanguay’s crusade on double-parking be a topic of conversation on “Sports Tonight?” (Note: I’d thoroughly enjoy it if it was). In the history of social media, I’d argue Tanger needs a Twitter training seminar more than any other user. That said, next to Jose Canseco, Gary’s my favorite follow. (I’m not sure what that says about me.)

2.) I have high hopes. I really do. But I’ve written many press releases in my day, and the transparency oozing in WEEI’s release about the Mike Salk hiring was alarming.

“I’m especially excited to talk Bruins hockey. I grew up a rabid Bruins fan and have great memories from the old Boston Garden. My wife might not know it yet, but our 1-year old daughter will be wearing a lot of black and gold in the future.”

Maybe I’m too cynical and Salk is just ecstatic to talk Bruins. More likely, however, is that the Entercom brass’ mindset is still saturated with paranoia about the backlash caused from their sparse (Read: Awful) coverage of the B’s. (Again, I personally enjoy Michael Holley and have a hopeful outlook about the new program. I think they’ll be a formidable duo that will scare their competition … and sooner rather than later)

3.) Will Leitch had a thoughtful piece about the Bleacher Report, content aggregation (*NESN*) versus real journalism and analysis, over at Sports On Earth. 

What I think really rankles about B/R is that it was a reverse engineering enterprise from the get-go: It was created by business people trying to game the system, the type of people who refer to all work as “content.”

Naturally, the column upset a few of the high-profile writers at Bleacher Report (which Turner Sports recently purchased, and subsequently replaced SI.com as CNN’s primary sports publication partner with). Specifically Dan Levy, who is terrible and can’t comprehend the stigma associated with his employer (even though he would totally take a similar stance if B/R weren’t the ones writing his paycheck). But Leitch is more than fair; in fact, he does well to credit the younger writers who bust their humps to earn “badges” or whatever the hierarchy at Bleacher Report is using to measure productivity. The column is worth your time. 

4.) Speaking of the Bleacher Report, Erik Frenz will be contributing to the Boston.com as a blogger on a part-time basis this offseason (and beyond). Frenz, who is the lead writer for the AFC East Blog at the Bleacher Report, tells me his responsibilities there will remain the same. With the addition of Baxter Holmes to the Celtics beat, it appears the Globe‘s free site is making efforts to bolster their presence on its blogs … A wise move.

5.) ESPN announced it will be launching Nine for IX, a spin off of their critically acclaimed 30 For 30 documentary series, which, will specifically focus on women in sports using in-depth storytelling. The tagline is: “About Women. By Women. For Us All.”

 

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter II

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

The last 72 hours have been pretty hectic in this space, so I decided to roll the monthly mailbag out a week early. But before I fire up some commentary, let’s take step back. Bruce Allen has provided end-to-end coverage, and I chimed in myself to answer a few pressing questions in the immediate aftermath. As the kids say in the Twitterverse, “In Case You Missed It” … here’s a rundown of BSMW’s coverage on Glenn Ordway‘s (forced) exodus:

Chad Finn Reports WEEI To Replace Glenn Ordway With Mike Salk

Ordway Confirms Exit On The Air Today

WEEI Statement on Glenn Ordway

Ordway Links

Sports Media Musings: Everything Glenn Ordway

An Appreciation of Glenn Ordway

OK — let’s get to your comments and questions.

***

I enjoyed the background info you provided. I am sorry to see Glen Ordway go but I watch “Felger and Mazz” more often.  I don’t like the yelling and insults aimed at casual sports fans ( i.e. women) that passes for fun on these talk shows,but I’m a long time Red Sox fan so I tune in to hear the latest news.

- Susan

I don’t think misogynist attitudes as a whole are being remedied here. Ordway is pretty harmless, and that’s a problem that goes well beyond the realm of sports talk radio. Though, evidently, WEEI is launching an all ladies show on weekends, featuring Jenn Royle as the primary host with a rotating cast of guests. Also, Chad Finn’s piece in the Boston Globe this morning included the tidbit that WEEI is heavily pursuing Comcast SportsNet reporter and “Quick Slants” personality, Mary Paoletti. Interesting shakeup, and a great opportunity for Paoletti, who is one of the more endearing personalities in the market.

WEEI let its success go to its head and became arrogant and crappy to the audience. I’m glad they are clearing house over there…arrogant hateful jerks. I can hear the Spors Hub going the same way now. Most of them are becoming arrogant and crappy to the audience. Next up will be loooooong monologues from the hosts on all things NON-sports related. The Sports Hub will eventually fall as WEEI rises….this cycle will go on and on.

- Marcellius

The hubris that permeated WEEI is something I don’t think we’ll ever see again. They thought their hold on the market was impenetrable, and honestly believed their “recipe” — the bloated contracts, celebrity callers, and a consistent side of condescending dialect — was acceptable, because there was no challenger. Well, though he’ll never admit it, these days, Gerry Callahan is definitely hiding under his desk.

Listen, success naturally breeds this line of thinking; but success also breeds contempt and complacency. And I’d caution a few personalities over at The Sports Hub check their own egos, specifically the midday hosts, instead of celebrating Ordway’s precipitous fall.

And remember, WEEI is still deep — like Denver Nuggets deep — and The Sports Hub is devoid of a reliable fill-in personality save for, maybe, Rich Keefe. EEI’ has  Kirk Minihane, a rising star on the radio, whose leverage is growing by the nano-second. The dude can write, too; in my opinion, he’s the best columnist in the city. And it’s not even close.

Overall, the dot com side of the business lost Paul Flannery to SB Nation this year, but still includes Minihane, Alex Speier, Chris Price, and Rob Bradford. All of those writers use advanced statistics to, you know, back up their arguments. And it’s telling that two out of the three “Sports Tonight” segments Thursday night featured Michael Felger sparring with two WEEI.com personalities (Speier and Minihane).  So, while WEEI is in a bad place, things may not be as despondent as they appear. (Full disclosure: I used to write for WEEI.com)

Great tribute and history here. Even if you weren’t a fan, it’s always nice to appreciate “how things came to be”.

- bsmfan

@bruceallen‘s rumination on Glenn Ordway’s place in Boston sports media history is respectful and extremely well done.

- Chad Finn, via Twitter

I’d say our coverage culminated with Bruce’s retrospective look at Ordway’s career. It’s an outstanding piece that even Ordway himself probably appreciates. He isn’t Tim Thomas. His legacy is cut and dry: Over time, he’ll be credited for his managerial decisions, such as orchestrating WEEI’s lineup in the mid-90s, and, more specifically, the round-table format he introduced during his own program, “The Big Show.”

That’s underselling it though, right?

As I wrote yesterday, eliminating Ordway’s voice, something that’s been embedded in Boston sports for over two decades, is jarring. It was never going to feel right. Remarkably, the hyperbolic media reaction is simultaneously both overstated and appropriate (does that make sense?). For the majority of his run, Ordway was the voice reacting to whatever was happening in Boston sports (and there was a lot happening). But, as we would later find out, this was largely due to the lack of options, and not Ordway’s own talent. In short, it’s not that we didn’t know any better; it’s that we had no other choice.

Still, Ordway was here, in our lives, talking four hours a day; suddenly, he’s gone. Now what?

Will I miss him? Personally no, not really. It’s as simple as this: I don’t think Ordway was particularly compelling anymore; candidly speaking, I’m still not sure he ever was. I never remember saying, “Hmm. I never thought of it that way” or having an epiphany during his show. If he was, well, he’d still have a job. That’s the truth.

Of course, as we have all learned, these sports talk show guys never die, they just do a little time on the ranch and resurface later on. I expect the same with Ordway.

- Dean Harrington 

I remember writing about how Dale Arnold fared well after his removal from the “Dale and Holley” show. Arnold was doing more television appearances, both on Comcast SportsNet New England and NESN, still doing fill-in spots at WEEI, and eventually landed a job hosting the Bruins pre and post-game show on NESN. Not bad. Ordway isn’t dead. And while I don’t foresee a career revitalization …  I’m not ruling it out, either.  Internet radio? A podcast? Maybe another run at a different station? It’s all in play.

(Side Note: If you have time, check out Will Leitch‘s piece on sports podcasts over at Sports On Earth.)

I think Michael Jordan is slipping a bit. He thinks Kobe has had a better career so far than LeBron?

- Fred Smerlas, via Twitter

Oh, I don’t know, and I’m just spit-balling here, but it could have something to do with the five rings.

(So, uh, remember that legacy I talked about — I won’t miss some of the personalities Ordway continually gave airtime to.)

I hope that Mike Salk brings something to the table and can quickly develop some chemistry with Holley as I don’t want to resort to listening to national sports radio and as JR states, Felger and Mazz are unlistenable.

- Josh Mar

As far as Mike Salk goes, I don’t know anything about him, but I’ll listen to find out — and that’s more than I can say about the current parliamence over at WEEI.

Here’s where I have a few problems, though. It’s a tough business — I get the “Felger and Mazz” hate (trust me, I really do. I’ve run a parody in my column making fun of their interactions, for crying out loud!). Even though I deride them as much as the next guy, I’ve to terms with what they are. I mean, you have to like someone, right? I don’t buy the spin, but, to me, “Felger and Mazz” is an entertaining program.

Sure, perhaps, Felger is too caustic and acerbic, while Tony Massarotti defers almost every chance he gets, and comes off as too self-depreciating at times. But, regardless, I listen. And that says something. I know I get a lot of crap for this, but I still say if there is ever a fictional spin off of Pardon the Interruption, entitled, PTI: Cities, I’m going with Felger to represent Boston.

Look at the bright side, even Felger detractors have to take solace that he’s not Skip Bayless, who, in typical Bayless-fashion, actually accused LeBron James of baiting fans into believing he was going to do the Slam Dunk Contest for attention. Doing something for attention??? That’s rich, coming from a dude like Bayless. I’m not sure what else to say here, but something about stones, glass houses, pots, and kettles.

With that, I’ll close things out here … Thanks for reading and hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__ or email ([email protected]).

Sports Media Musings: Everything Glenn Ordway

Before we get to everything WEEI and Glenn Ordway, I would like to take a moment to send my thoughts and prayers to Rich Shertenlieb and his wife, Mary, who was diagnosed with leukemia.  As his co-host on the morning drive show, “Toucher and Rich,” Fred Toettcher, pointed out several times, Rich is truly a great person. Most know of his work developing the Miracle League in Massachusetts; but, in my opinion, his involvement isn’t extolled as much as it should be.

On a personal note, next to Rob Bradford, I owe much of my own success to Shertenlieb. Two years ago, shortly after I started writing at BSMW, I reached out to Rich to come on my podcast. There was no benefit to him — no exposure bucks and certainly no financial compensation — yet, without hesitation, he came on and spent an hour talking to me about work ethic, failures, triumphs and how he always tries to raise the bar in sports radio. Since then, even while working with WEEI, I’ve exchanged occasional emails and caught up with him at Celtics games. Rich, as he’s wont to do, is always gregarious toward me, and seems genuinely interested in me “making it.” A good dude in a cynical world. That’s all. And as Toettcher alluded to this morning, he feeds off his listeners; if you have a moment, shoot him an email or a tweet. It will mean a lot to him.

***

As Bruce Allen posted yesterday, Chad Finn reported on Boston.com (and Ordway confirmed on air) WEEI is replacing Glenn Ordway with Mike Salk. “Seismic” is the (appropriate) word Finn used in his report, and, as always, a move of such magnitude creates more questions than answers in the immediacy. Are you shocked at the news? But are you really surprised? How do others in the media feel about the news? How did Ordway handle the news? What was The Sports Hub’s role?

The answers to those questions are as follows: no; somewhat; mixed to lukewarm; well, but we’ll never truthfully know; bigger than Ordway gave credit for on the air.

Good? Wait, why are you shaking your head — OK fine, I’ll expound.

Are we shocked at the news?

The writing was on the wall that WEEI was going to make a move in their lineup. We can all agree conducting focus group studies after ratings continued to sag was as ominous as the word “ominous” can be. Besides Michael Holley and Lou Merloni, I wouldn’t be shocked if anyone is let go from the station (Yes, I’m using present tense. More moves are in play here.). Ordway’s salary cut a year and a half ago set the stage for something like this. A move had to be made in either the morning or afternoon time slots to create a sea of change. Frankly, WEEI waited far too long. I’ve said this numerous times, but I literally don’t know anyone under the age of 45 that listens to its programming. That’s a problem that goes beyond a crappy AM signal.

But are you really surprised?

Not buying that cursory explanation? Fair enough, let’s look further: Ordway, whether you like it or not, was a fixture in this market for 20+ years. So yes, despite all the inkling and rumblings and rightful justification, I’m shocked WEEI is parting ways with him. I guess part of this is because of Kevin Winter‘s recent shady resignation firing from the “Dennis & Callahan” show.

(On Winter: based off correspondences I’ve had, I feel pretty confidently that this was a terribly botched spin job by WEEI; probably to save face. From what I gather, Winter wanted it to work out on Guest Street. Case in point, what other personality was doing a separate podcast on the dot com side to market himself? All the sudden it got too much? Please. But hey, hiring someone then firing him in a few months bleeds transparent volatility. So, I get the chicanery … as ill conceived as it was.)

In the end, the timing of Ordway’s exodus was never going to feel right; because such matters, by nature, never feel right. He’s here, talking four hours a day; suddenly, he’s not — now what? All that said, there is typically a calm before the storm; it appears Winter’s release, meanwhile, was a friendly appetizer, like three inches of snow dropping the day before Nemo.

How do others in the media feel about the news?

The rumors of Mike Salk‘s expected insertion has spawned a ESPN 890 collective high five. The defunct station has seen its former personalities, most notably Michael Felger and Adam Jones and now Salk, commandeer the sports radio landscape in Boston. All that aside, the general take from writers and personalities on Twitter was morbid. You would have thought Ordway was on his death bed. This makes sense, of course. Ordway’s legacy to some (Steve Burton, Steve Buckley, Fred & Steve’s Taco Shack) is forged on being a king maker. He gave them exposure, an outlet, to ultimately talk over them, but that’s semantics.

While covering the Celtics game last night, I got the sense from a few younger writers that Ordway was neither caustic (e.g. he didn’t yell, “HE SUCKSSSSS, MIKE”) nor compelling enough. I fall on the latter side of the fence. We all have access to statistics, post-game quotes, and the like. These days, more than anything else, it’s about formulating and presenting an opinion in an entertaining manner. I can’t remember a time when Ordway espoused a take that made me say, “Hmm, I never thought of it that way.” And that he made so much money didn’t help matters, either.

How did Ordway handle the news?

Pretty well, all things considered. I don’t think he gave enough credit to The Sports Hub (see next question), but then again, I wouldn’t expect him to. He was (understandably) irate that news of his exile was released to Finn. To me, this is curious. Sure, not being able to announce the news himself stinks, especially to a dude who helped WEEI become what it is was. And yeah, it’s crappy whenever someone loses their job. Ordway, like you and me, has a family; for it to get out in that manner, for lack of a better term … sucks.

On the other hand, look at it this way: Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch once told me that the blogosphere exposing an ESPN personality like Chris Berman for any nefarious transgressions is fair game because, at this point, most people recognize Berman’s face more than the right guard for the Washington Redskins. In other words, in some respects, he is bigger than the game he covers (I know, ewww, right?).

Ordway was overpaid and enjoyed the gift of (relative) provincial fame in the hub for over 20 years. He’s not Berman, but I’m willing to bet enough people know Ordway’s likeness over, say, the 11th man on the Celtics bench. (That could be because the Celtics only have 10 players on their active roster, but you get the point) His employment is fixated on human interaction, and his removal from that equation is news. A mole in the organization is an institutional failing, I guess, but not exactly unlikely given his profile.

What was The Sports Hub’s role?

Everything. Weird to think about, but indulge me as we go “Donnie Darko” for a second: In an alternate universe, if CBS never pursues an all sports radio station, Ordway is still making a cool million a year, Jason Wolfe isn’t freaking out, Dale Arnold is complaining about Kevin Garnett‘s on-court language, and Pete Sheppard is still insufferable. Make no mistake about it, WEEI didn’t lose its audience, The Sports Hub took it.