Losers All Around In Globe Article

I think we all expected that a tell-all about the 2011 Red Sox was coming, and I think we suspected that the Boston Globe – with their ties to Red Sox ownership – would be the outlet to provide it.

That article came today.

Inside the collapse – By Bob Hohler.

The article is being universally praised among media types this morning. (Well, Eric Wilbur doesn’t love it.) The article basically collects everything that has been previously reported about the team and puts it all into one place, with a few new details and revelations.

No one looks good in this article, and in some ways, that includes the Globe. Let’s look at the entities involved.

Players: The Red Sox players  deservedly take the most heat, especially the trio of John Lackey, Josh Beckett and disappointingly, Jon Lester. The story tells of their eating fried chicken and biscuits, drinking beer and playing video games while the Red Sox games were being played on the field. None of the three would comment on the story, and until they do, this issue is going to linger right through to spring training. Assuming of course that any or all of the three are still here. Other players are targeted as well. Kevin Youkilis is a grouch. David Ortiz whiner. The captain, Jason Varitek, chastised the Globe reporter when asked about the season. Adrian Gonzalez was not a leader in his first season with the team. Tim Wakefield was more interested in personal accomplishments than the team.

I don’t know how fair it would be to expect Gonzalez to come in and establish himself as a leader in a very established clubhouse in his first year with the team. Going forward, I expect him to prove himself in there, but for his first season, I’m not sure that’s fair. The only players to come out of this looking OK are really Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon. In my opinion, the team should build around those three plus Gonzalez and look at everyone else as expendable.

Manager: Terry Francona might come out the worst in this article, and that is unfortunate. I think there is an attempt to paint him in a sympathetic light, but the emphasis comes down on “pathetic.” There were rumors about Francona’s personal life swirling around various messageboards in the week following the season, and Hohler covers most of them here. The article portrays Francona as a “lame-duck manager, coping with personal issues, whose team partly tuned him out,’ and hints at a prescription drug problem for Francona. More on this later. In addition to losing power in the clubhouse and having his marriage fall apart, what’s the deal with mentioning the Francona was concerned about his son and son-in-law over in Afghanistan? What source contributed this, and with what motive? Is it a criticism that he was concerned? I don’t get it.

Francona though, is the only source (beyond Pedroia) that talked to Hohler on the record. If that isn’t a damnation of the entire Red Sox organization, I don’t know what is.

General Manager: Theo Epstein is only referenced in this article in the context of failed player acquisitions such as Carl Crawford. There is nothing about whether Epstein attempted to intervene as the season was slipping away or about his relationship with Francona and management. This is a little curious to me. It makes me think a couple of things 1) People didn’t want to talk about Theo given his uncertain future with the team, a comment either way could be personally damaging to the source should certain events happen, or 2) Larry Lucchino is at this moment huddled with Dan Shaughnessy working on the ultimate smear campaign against Theo, to be unleashed the second it is officially announced that Epstein is moving to the Cubs.

Ownership: These guys might come out the worst in the entire article, and not because that is the intent of Hohler. In fact, I think effort is made to deflect blame off ownership, but they do enough to make themselves look bad in this piece. A pair of paragraphs really stand out.

Sox owners soon suspected the team’s poor play was related to lingering resentment over the scheduling dispute, sources said. The owners responded by giving all the players $300 headphones and inviting them to enjoy a players-only night on principal owner John W. Henry’s yacht after they returned from a road trip Sept. 11.

Are they really saying here “Hey, we gave the millionaire ballplayers $300 headphones, what else are we supposed to do?” If the team was really exhausted and needing rest (and apparently partying too much) was a night party on the owner’s yacht a great idea?

Then there is this:

The owners also indicated in postseason remarks they were generally unaware of how deeply damaged the Sox had become until after the season. They denied being distracted by their expanding sports conglomerate – from the Sox and NESN to Roush Fenway Racing and the Liverpool Football Club – but they professed to have no knowledge about players drinking during games, among other issues.

Are they pleading ignorance here? The fish rots from the head down, and it certainly looks like ownership was less interested and involved in the product than they have been in years past. Did this send a message to the players, who sensed this and felt less accountability to themselves?

The Globe: Fair or not, I simply cannot read an article of this type from the Globe without wondering about the influence that ownership stake has in what is appearing on the pages of the paper. I’m also uncomfortable that just about everyone sourced in this article did so anonymously. What does that say about that organization?

I’m pissed at how Francona gets portrayed as basically a weak, powerless, pill-popping philanderer by nameless sources. Accurate or not, this just smacks of a smear campaign against a former employee on whom the organization is trying to heap as much blame as possible. So Francona, and now likely Epstein are both leaving of their own will. What does that say about the atmosphere over there? The portrayal of Francona can have career-impacting results, especially when he tries to get back into managing. You think the items raised in this article aren’t going to give prospective employers pause when they considered whether to hire him?

We may have the two World Series trophies now, but in so many ways, 2011 proved that these really are the same old Red Sox that we grew up with. Players change, managers change, ownership changes, reporters covering the team change, but it’s the same old Boston Red Sox.

Still, I suspect we haven’t heard the last of the 2011 Red Sox season. Just wait for the article that comes after the Epstein situation is fully resolved.

2011 Approval Ratings – Chris Gasper

Chris Gasper is an online columnist for Boston.com.

Gasper joined the Boston Globe in 2002, covering sports for the Globe North section. During his career he’s covered high school and college sports, as well as a healthy amount of time covering the Patriots. During the Mike Reiss years, he and Reiss were a very strong combination on the beat. He moved into the columnist role when Boston.com became more of a seperate entity from the Globe, though his columns still occasionally appear in the Globe.

Gasper can be seen and heard on many outlets, including Comcast SportsNet, 98.5 The SportsHub (where he makes a nice balance to Felger and Massarotti as an in-studio guest on their show), the Patriots pregame shows on 98.5 and SportsCenter 5 OT.

Chris Gasper 2011 Approval Ratings
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Not. Getting. It.

This seems to apply to Shalise Manza Young in the Globe, who I usually like. She tweeted the following last night after Andre Carter announced that he was coming to the Patriots.

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This snarky comment just seems to indicate that Young either wasn’t listening when Bill Belichick expanded on his media fabrication comments, or she still just doesn’t get what he was talking about.

Belichick did not say that it was a media fabrication that the Patriots would moving to a 4-3 this season, as Young’s tweet implies. He explained in some detail, that 4-3 fronts have always been a big part of his defenses, but that in the end, it doesn’t really matter how many defensive lineman/linebackers line up and where they line up as much as what they do after the snap. He said that the 3-4, 4-3 emphasis is overrated.

Yes, with the recent signings of veteran pass rushers, it does seem like the Patriots may use more defensive linemen and fewer linebackers this season.  It doesn’t mean Belichick was being untruthful when he called the pigeonholing of his defense as a media fabrication.

Not a hard concept to grasp, but it seems that Young took exception to the shot at the media instead of trying to understand the real issue being discussed.

Guest Column: A Tale of Two Titles

Today’s guest column is from Mike Passanisi.

It took an editorial by a respected journalist to get the city to recognize the Celtics’ incredible accomplishment.

On May 6, 1969, the team, a collection of aging stars with a few new additions like Bailey Howell and Emmette Bryant, shocked the hoop world by winning their 11th title in 13 years.

After finishing fourth during the regular season, the Celts had overcome the Sixers, Knicks, and finally the Lakers in seven games capped by an exciting 108-106 victory. Longtime Celtic fans all remember Don Nelson’s shot that bounced off the front and back rims before dropping in. They also remember that Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke had put balloons into the ceiling of the Forum ready to be released after a Laker victory. Also, the USC band was ready to march onto the court playing “Happy Days are Here Again”. A bitterly disappointed Jerry West said “we’re still the better team, but you have to give them credit for winning it.”

In the Boston Globe, the announcement of the Celts’ victory in a game that did not get over until 1:00 AM Boston time (TV didn’t dictate starting times in those days) did not even make the day’s headline. It only appeared as a “kicker” at the top of page 1 of the morning paper “Celtics Beat LA for 11th title, 108-106″. An accomplishment that had never been achieved in pro sports and probably never will again did not even merit a regular headline.

At the time, one of the most popular and respected journalists was a Globe columnist named Jerry Nason. His style was understated and rather old-fashioned (he used to write prediction poetry for local college football games), but he was not afraid to speak out. In a column entitled “Yes Boston, They’re Your Celtics”, Nason called attention to the team’s incredible achievement over 12 seasons and praised the late owner Walter Brown, who kept the team afloat in the early years.

Then, gently, he prodded the city.

Since the advent of the Celtics era, the Canadiens have captured 9 Stanley Cups, the Yankees 7 AL pennants, the Green Bay Packers 5 football titles. The Celtics have been finalists in 12 “World Series” and the town has never invited ‘em to a party. That used to bug Walter, and it continues to bug me. The closest Boston ever came toward enshrining the Celtics was one year when they rounded up a few of the guys who were still hanging around and got ‘em into the Marathon. They rode in open cars all the way from Coolidge Corner to Exeter Street, three miles-big deal..

Garden officials confirmed that Nason was correct.

Nason and the Globe apparently had some influence with city officials. And so, two days later, there was a parade. It went from the Common to City Hall Plaza. It drew about 3,000 people. Bill Russell, not surprisingly, failed to attend. Mayor Kevin White proclaimed it “Boston Celtics Day” and retiring Celtic Sam Jones was presented with a rocking chair. This was all that happened, and the newspapers began following the Red Sox into a disappointing season that ended with manager Dick Williams getting fired.

Let’s jump ahead 17 years to 1986, 25 years ago last month. The Celts had defeated the Houston Rockets, 114-97, to cop their third title in 5 years. The reaction in Boston was, shall we say, a bit different. On the left side of the front page of the next day’s Globe was a headline, not much smaller than the regular headline on the right side. It read “Celtics Crowning Glory”.  An article by Bob Ryan (who else?), spoke of the Houston Rockets as an “unwary couple pulled over on the highway for going 3 miles an hour over the speed limit by a burly Georgia cop with the mirrored sunglasses”. He continued : “It wasn’t their day. The cop’s name was Bird. The bailiff’s name was Bird. The judge’s name was Bird. And the executioner’s name was-guess what?- Bird.” Ryan went on to say :”Welcome to Bird country, boys, and while you’re at it, why don’t you congratulate your Celtics on the occasion of their 16th NBA championship? “The front page also showed huge photos of Larry getting doused with champagne and fans celebrating outside the Garden. The headlines on articles for the next couple of days tell the story. “Off the Rim and Into Clover”. “From Head to Toe, Fans are Green with Pride”. “Playoff Effort Puts Bird into Drivers Seat”.”A Garden Hangover.”

The parade two days later was somewhat bigger than that of 1969. About 2000 times bigger. That headline proclaimed “Boston Roars Its Tribute”. But the most interesting column was one authored by the great Leigh Montville. It talked about and Irish kid and four Italian kids from East Boston, all students at Boston Latin. They were playing hookey, like many Bostonians that day. It is significant, however, that they were not African-American kids from, say, Brighton or Dorchester High.

In the 1980’s the issue of racism and the Celtics which had always been simmering, appeared again. The ’86 team captured Boston, it was said, because of the racial makeup of the team. There were big men Bird, Kevin McHale, and Bill Walton-all white. African-Americans were certainly part of the picture. Coach KC Jones was black, and Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson played big parts in the title. But it was true that the racial makeup of the Celts was close to 50-50 at a time when most teams were largely black. There were stories  that in parts of Dorchester, Laker jerseys were outselling Celtic ones by a wide margin.

Race was definitely an issue. You can’t talk about Boston in the 70’s and 80’s without facing it. The busing crisis brought it to a head, but it had been there all along. However, the issue is not so much that the ’86 Celtics had more white players than the ’69 team, though it did. The issue is more one of symbolism. In 1969, the coach and symbol was Bill Russell. His image was one of an angry black man. He refused to sign autographs. He was way ahead of his time in criticizing the white power structure, both in sports and society as a whole. In ’69, Boston could not fully accept a team with this symbol. A parade couldn’t even draw 5000 fans.

In 1986, the symbol was a blond superstar with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and a bit of a wise mouth. He seemed to be an everyman, though he earned millions of dollars. At an earlier rally on live TV, he shocked a few people when, seeing a sign, he made a comment about what Houston’s Moses Malone really ate. Though he was neither Irish nor from Boston, people saw some of the team’s mascot-the leprechaun-in Larry Bird.

Ironically, a week after the’86 celebration, Jerry Nason passed away at the age of 77. Few people remember the editorial back in ’69. The parade he inspired was a small one, but that doesn’t matter. It showed that he cared.

Mike Passanisi is a semiretired former high school teacher and freelance writer. Over the years, he has written for New England Baseball Journal, Patriots Football Weekly, Manchester Union Leader, and a number of blogs, including BSMW. He is a member of the Sports Hall of Fame at Pope John High,  where he worked for many years as SID. He is also a regular contributor to the blog Fenway West. He and wife live in Medford.

You can contact Mike at [email protected]

2011 Approval Ratings – Tony Massarotti

Tony Massarotti is the co-host of the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The SportsHub.

A Waltham native, Massarotti also hosts The Baseball Reporters on 98.5, and is a Boston.com sports columnist. He joined the Boston Herald as a sports intern in 1989, joining the likes of Michael Felger, Bill Simmons, Michael Silverman and Paul Perillo. In 1994 he started covering the Red Sox for the Herald, a focus he held until he left the paper in 2008. He then joined Boston.com, and in August 2009, he and Felger started their popular afternoon drive show on 98.5, which has unseated long time ratings champ Glenn Ordway and The Big Show on WEEI. Interestingly, Massarotti, like Felger had been a frequent co-host on the WEEI show in the past. The duo signed a new deal with the station in April of this year.

Once a dogged and capable baseball reporter, Massarotti now focuses on playing the contrarian, especially when it comes to the Patriots – a franchise and fan base that he clearly loathes. He has also proclaimed his love for Derek Jeter, and does an absolutely horrible voice impression of Boston sports fans.

Massarotti  has written or co-written several books, including Dynasty: The Inside Story of How the Red Sox Became a Baseball Powerhouse, as well as bios with Tim Wakefield

 

Tony Massarotti 2011 Approval Ratings
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2011 Approval Ratings – Nick Cafardo

Nick Cafardo is the national baseball writer for The Boston Globe.

Cafardo begin his career in Brockton in 1975 before moving to the Quincy Patriot Ledger in 1981. In 1989 he joined The Boston Globe sports staff.

Cafardo has covered both the Red Sox and Patriots during his tenure at the Globe, but his heart is clearly with baseball. During his time on the Patriots beat he was clearly frustrated with the working environment and it reflected in his coverage of the team. Having moved back to baseball, he is noticeably more confortable and in his element.

He is a frequent presence on the various NESN programs, and in the past was in demand on WWZN radio, ESPN Radio and WBZ-TV’s Sports Final.

He is the author of several books, including The Impossible Team: The Worst to First Patriot’s Super Bowl Season, 100 Things Red Sox Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die and Boston Red Sox: Yesterday and Today

Nick’s son, Ben Cafardo works at ESPN in the communications department.

Nick Cafardo 2011 Approval Ratings
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2011 Approval Ratings – Michael Holley

Today’s subject is WEEI’s Michael Holley.

An Ohio native, Holley worked for the Akron Beacon Journal before joining the Boston Globe in 1997. He was the Celtics beat writer before being moved into the columnist role. At the time, he was also a frequent guest on WEEI, especially on The Big Show, prior to the WEEI/Globe schism.

In September, 2001, Holley left the Globe to join the Chicago Tribune as a columnist. He quickly realized that he had made a mistake, and has spoken of the impact that 9/11 had on him at that time. By January, 2002, he was back at the Globe, and remained there until 2005.

In 2004, Holley was working on television on Fox Sports Net’s I, Max alongside Max Kellerman. He has also done ESPN’s Around the Horn. Locally, he has been a regular on CSNNE, and has been the host of Celtics Now.

In 2005, he was named to replace Bob Neumeier alongside Dale Arnold on the WEEI midday show. In February of this year, it was announced that Holley would be moving to The Big Show as permanent co-host alongside Glenn Ordway.

Holley has published three books – Patriot Reign, Never Give Up

His fourth book, War Room: Bill Belichick and the Patriot Legacy is due to be released on October 4th, 2011.

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2011 Approval Ratings – Peter Abraham

Peter Abraham is a Red Sox reporter for the Boston Globe.

A native of New Bedford, MA, Abraham joined the Globe in 2009. He attended UMass-Amherst.

Prior to coming to the Globe, covered the Yankees for The Journal News beginning in 2005, and spent four years prior to that covering the Mets. Before coming to New York in 1999, He covered the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team for the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin.

Other publications Abraham has written for include Baseball America, Slam, Basketball Digest, Sports Illustrated, Sports Nippon, Metropolitan Golfer, Basketball Times and Backstreets.

Prolific in the ways of new media, Abraham was one of the first credentialed baseball writers to be as well-known for his blog coverage of the team as for his print coverage. He is also very active on Twitter, often engaging with and taking on fans through that medium.

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2011 Approval Ratings – Dan Shaughnessy

The voice and face of Boston sports – at least according to the Boston Globe – is Dan Shaughnessy.

Shaughnessy is the Globe’s front-page go-to guy for all major sports stories, the latest example being all the front page runs he received during the Bruins Stanley Cup chase.

Shaughnessy grew up in Groton, MA, and is a graduate of Holy Cross. He started his professional career with the Baltimore Sun in the late 1970′s, serving as Orioles beat writer. He moved on to the Globe in 1981, where he covered the beat for the Red Sox and Celtics before moving to the columnist role. In the last couple of years, he has also been writing the occasional column for SI.com. He is a nine-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year, and at least eight times he has been selected as one of Americas top-ten sports columnists by Associated Press Sports Editors.

His formulaic columns, ripjobs, unabashed agendas and contrarian opinions have earned him the title of The Most Hated Man in Boston. His work has inspired his own watchdog blog, the entertaining Dan Shaughnessy Watch.

Shaughnessy has written at least 11 books, including The Curse of the Bambino, The Legend of the Curse of the Bambino and Reversing the Curse: Inside the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Other credits include Senior Year: A Father, A Son, and High School Baseball and Ever Green The Boston Celtics: A History in the Words of Their Players, Coaches, Fans and Foes, from 1946 to the Present.

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2011 Approval Ratings – Kevin Paul Dupont

Kevin Paul Dupont is the national hockey writer for The Boston Globe.

Dupont enjoys using nicknames for players and cities, and has been picking up steam on his Twitter account, which for awhile there seemed exclusively devoted to complaining about having to sit near small children and clueless parents on airplanes.

He  started his writing career with the Boston Herald-American back in 1977. He covered the Red Sox to start out with, and did more Bruins coverage as time went by. In 1983 he joined The New York Times and stayed there for a couple of years before coming on board with the Globe in 1985.

He was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame as a recipient of the 2002 Elmer Ferguson & Foster Hewitt Award. He has also covered 10 Olympic games for the Globe during his career at the paper.

In recent years there had been several rumors about Dupont leaving the Globe, either as part of one of the buyouts, or to join another site. I had people swear to me that he was leaving the Globe to join CSNNE.com when that site expanded. Through it all, Dupont is still at the Globe, and with the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s good to have a reporter with his experience here locally.

Kevin Paul Dupont 2011 Approval Ratings
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