Sports Media Musings: Ramble, Ramble, RAMBLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The three main problems?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter IV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirk, is that you??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugh.

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

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

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 [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.

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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!

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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__