Reiss: “I have lost control over the tone and direction of the Patriots blog on ESPNBoston.com”

If you’ve visited the ESPNBoston Patriots blog recently, you’ve probably noticed some changes. In addition to the material from Mike Reiss and Field Yates, now, every single time the Patriots are discussed on any ESPN platform, there is an entry on the blog for it.

Reiss addressed the changes in his chat today, and I was surprised by the tone from the mild-mannered Reiss:

max (my cube)
Mike,I don’t see the “Patriots blog” section on the ESPN Boston homepage anymore. Has it been removed for some reason?
Mike [via mobile]
Can you get rid of all the extra links that have been popping up on the blog lately? I don’t need a link to a clip of any ESPN show that mentions the Patriots. Most of it is overlap with information you have already posted.
Mike
 (12:26 PM)
Max and Mike, I see quite a few comments similar to yours in this chat. I think over the last four years, we’ve established a community that is straight-forward and honest, so I’m going to shoot you straight here: I have lost control over the tone and direction of the Patriots blog on ESPNBoston.com. Since I started a Patriots blog back in 2003-2004, back at the MetroWest Daily News and then at the Boston Globe, I’ve always had control, for the most part, of the tone and direction of the blog. Over the last three days, that has changed as ESPN has introduced its NFL Nation project. Based on the personal investment I’ve put into it, there are a lot of emotions that come with that, and still a lot of questions ahead as to how things will unfold going forward as it relates to the tone and direction of the blog. I’m going to stay positive at this point, knowing that any time there is change there is some level of patience involved.

As a BSMW member put it: That’s the Mike Reiss equivalent of coming into the office and shooting the place up. He’s furious.

For what its worth, I agree with Mike. He’s established a proven formula for success in this market. He’s got a right to be upset that these changes are being forced upon him and his own work is being diluted in the process. Add this to the recent change to Facebook comments, which really angered a lot of regulars, and we’re seeing some real blowback at ESPN here.

Bruschi On Why Gronk Was In On P.A.T.

In his chat today.

Tedy
  (12:10 PM)

Jason, you always leave your starters in on the P.A.T., even on the field-goal block team. When I was playing defense and we were blowing out an opponent, you were told, “You’re out of the game now, Tedy, but you’re still on the field goal block team.” It’s just the way it is in football. The forearm injury to Gronkowski is unfortunate. The projected time for him to miss is 4-to-6 weeks, per some reports. From my experience, it can be significantly less. Mike Vrabel broke his forearm one year. After surgery, they put in one plate and 11 screws. Vrabel missed two games. I know Gronkowski is tough, but Mike Vrabel’s toughness was legendary. So it all depends on the player. I would doubt that Gronkowski is out the full six weeks.

850 AM To Switch To ESPN Radio on October 5th

In a long-rumored (Chad Finn reported it earlier this summer, it had been rumored well before then) move, Entercom Boston announced this afternoon that programming on 850 AM will switch to all ESPN radio beginning on October 5th. The station will carry the full lineup of ESPN Radio programming.

Also announced was a tighter integration with ESPNBoston.com, the audio stream for WEEI 93.7 FM will be available through ESPNBoston.com and ESPNBoston’s video player will power WEEI’s video player with content from ESPN.

The full release:

Tuesday, Sept. 18

Entercom and ESPN Radio Join Forces to

Launch “ESPN on WEEI” 850 AM

WEEI to provide the best in local and national sports talk and play-by-play

ESPN 850BOSTON, MA – Entercom Boston and ESPN Radio today announced that starting on Friday, October 5, WEEI will split its AM/FM simulcast and begin broadcasting ESPN Radio on 850 AM. “ESPN on WEEI” will air ESPN’s entire national lineup, including the entire upcoming Major League Baseball postseason schedule, the NBA, and college football and college basketball. ESPN Radio on 850 AM will debut with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, of “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” broadcasting live from Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium beginning at 6 a.m. ET on October 5.

WEEI’s legendary local lineup of “Dennis and Callahan,” “Mut and Merloni,” “The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michal Holley,” and “Planet Mikey with Mike Adams” will now be broadcast solely on the 93.7 FM frequency. In addition, 93.7 FM will be the exclusive home of Red Sox baseball, Celtics basketball, Patriots’ Monday and Friday, NFL football and the NFL playoffs.

As part of this expanded partnership, listeners will be able to access 93.7 WEEI’s live audio stream through the popular ESPNBoston.com website. At the same time, ESPNBoston.com’s video channel will now power WEEI.com’s video player with the most up-to-date ESPN video content.

“Since 1991, WEEI has been the gold standard in sports radio. This strategic alliance with ESPN allows WEEI to deliver to the most passionate sports fans in America the very best in local sports talk and play-by-play on WEEI FM and the very best in national sports talk and play-by-play with ESPN on WEEI AM,” said Jeff Brown, Entercom Vice President and Market Manager. “WEEI 850 AM is a proven sports brand. Joining forces with ESPN provides advertisers an additional touch point to connect with a highly valuable and sought after consumer.”

“We’re pleased to team with Boston’s preeminent sports radio outlet and one of the nation’s best radio broadcasting companies in Entercom to bring the number one national network into New England,” said Traug Keller, ESPN Senior Vice President, Production Business Divisions. “This move coupled with the existing presence of ESPNBoston.com provides Boston’s passionate fans the best of ESPN’s national and local coverage and analysis.”

“We are excited to be expanding our partnership with ESPN in such a meaningful way,” said Entercom President and CEO David Field. “Combining Boston’s leading sports station, WEEI-FM, and the new ESPN on WEEI 850 AM, together with our ability to cross promote content through our existing mobile and digital platforms, gives passionate Boston sports fans the very best in local and national sports content.”

Beginning Friday, October 5, the new ESPN on WEEI 850 AM ESPN lineup will be:

  • 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. “Mike & Mike in the Morning”
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “The Herd with Colin Cowherd”
  • 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. “The Scott Van Pelt Show”
  • 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. “ESPN Today”
  • 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. “Hill and Schlereth” / ESPN Play-by-Play
  • 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. “SportsCenter Tonight”
  • 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. “SportsCenter All Night”

Mike Reiss Rants on Negativity, Legacies and Anger

Mike Reiss is as even-keeled a guy as you’ll find in the business. He stepped out of that demeanor in his ESPNBoston chat today, and delivered a welcome rant on a few of the topics that have bothered me, and plenty of others recently:

Dave (Elmira)

Mike, Another All Pro season of reporting. Thanks for the great work. Less of a question than a rant; ” Gronk disrespected himself,” “Brady’s legacy is tarnished.” A bunch of questions and statements without answer. I understand that it’s part of the entertainment value of the game, but what’s this got to do with football? I think I understand BB’s position better: That’s in the past. We are preparing for the next thing.

Mike (12:30 PM)
Dave, thanks for the compliment and now I rant…

Mike (12:31 PM)
The pictures of Gronkowski and Light at the post-Super Bowl party didn’t bother me at all. This is a 22-year-old kid who gave his all to this team this year. People blow off steam in different ways and he’s entitled to do whatever he wants (within the law) as far as I’m concerned. I’m more angered that some low-life would take video of it and distribute it. I find that despicable. …

Mike (12:32 PM)
…As for the legacy talk, my take is simple: Talk to me when their careers are over. We always seem to want to write the ending to stories while they are going on. Why? Why can’t we enjoy the journey and then talk legacy? …

Mike (12:34 PM)
I have been having some internal philosophical debates in my head about what media is these days. What are we trying to accomplish? When I got into this business, I thought we were supposed to tell people what they needed to know. Now I think we’re trending in a dangerous area where we report based on what will get clicks. It bothers me…

Mike (12:36 PM)
… I’m not perfect, but when I see a company soliciting publicity for dropping a boatload of Butterfingers in Boston and thanking Wes Welker for his drop — and then some report on it to give that company exactly what they want (publicity) — it makes me shake my head. What are we doing here?

Mike (12:36 PM)
Rant over.

Erik G (Los Angeles)
Love it when you get feisty, Mike. So while we’re at it, tell us your thoughts on the post game words by Brandon Jacobs…

Mike (12:36 PM)
Pathetic.

A little later, he added:

cp (reno,nv)
flip side what do you make of Brady’s wifes comments?

Mike (12:39 PM)
CP, I think she has to know better than to say that. She was wrong. At the same time, I was more angered that someone would incite her in that manner, but I guess I have to accept that’s where we are in society today. I just want to know what is in that person’s heart. What would possess them to taunt her? Who does these things? Maybe I’ve been living under a rock over the last 10 years, but when did everyone seem to get so angry?

Well said, Mike.

Hats off to you for sounding off on some of these things that seem to have gotten so prevalent and really take away from the enjoyment of sports.

In addition, I’ve really never been a big fan of Rick Reilly, but his column here is dead-on as well: It’s only a game.

2011 Approval Ratings – Gordon Edes

Today, we’re going to have a look at ESPNBoston baseball writer Gordon Edes.

Edes joined ESPNBoston in November of 2009, after spending just over a year with Yahoo! Sports. Prior to that, he had covered the Red Sox for 12 years (1996-2008) with the Boston Globe.

Edes went to high school in Massachusetts, and had his first article published in the Fitchburg, Mass. Sentinel when he was 14. During his career he has covered all four major sports (though mostly focusing on baseball) for newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the National Sports Daily and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He returned home in 1996 to join the Globe.

While at the Globe, Edes was involved in the infamous Carl Everett confrontation, which resulted in the outfielder stating that he would not speak with the Globe, Edes, or his “Curly Haired Boyfriend.”

Gordon Edes 2011 Approval Ratings
View Results

2011 Approval Ratings – Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPN Boston.

A native of Rhode Island, McDonald spent 18 years at the Providence Journal, where he was best known on the Red Sox beat, but also covered the Bruins, Patriots, Pawtucket Red Sox and Providence Bruins during his time there.

He joined ESPN Boston in February of 2010 as a Red Sox and Bruins reporter, and while his time right now is focused on the Bruins, when the season ends we’ll see more of him on the Red Sox side of things.

He’s been heard on WEEI occasionally, especially during this Bruins playoff run, but he generally seems to keep a pretty low profile on the on-air side of things.

Joe McDonald 2011 Approval Ratings
Total Votes: 403 Started: June 9, 2011 Back to Vote Screen

Fun With NFL Payrolls and Draft “Value”

It seems that the payrolls of NFL teams can be interpreted in many different ways. This is apparent from a pair of statements in articles over the last couple of days.

On Sunday, Dan Shaughnessy wrote the following:

If the Jets win the AFC Championship at Heinz Field, perhaps the Krafts will be inspired to spend a little more money on payroll next year (are we supposed to feel good that the Patriots have the third-lowest payroll in the NFL?).

Today, Mike Reiss has this:

“We’re comparing teams by a simple, bottom-line metric: Player payroll dollars spent per regular-season victory,” Hruby writes. “Using the most recent and accurate salary figures available, we’re also examining which clubs have been penny-wise and which have been pound-foolish.”

Hruby ranks the Patriots fourth in the NFL — their $152.73 million was the second highest in the league and the team produced 14 regular-season wins.

So which is it?

This is a game I’ve heard the likes of Ron Borges, Michael Felger, and Shaughnessy play. They interpret the payroll one way so that they can accuse the Krafts of being “cheap” and others calculate things out so that it shows that the Patriots are near the top of the league in payroll. They cite bonuses, “dead money” and actual salary paid for that season as variables that can be swapped out, apparently to make your argument either way.

Where did Shaughnessy get his information? If you type NFL Payrolls into Google, this page is the second result, and has the Patriots third-lowest in the NFL. The problem is that the data on that page is from at least 2008.

I’d like to think that Shaughnessy used better information than just a quick Google search.

Shaughnessy also snuck in: Maybe New England will stop trading down to get “value’’ for high draft picks.

I think that strategy, while criticized, has worked out pretty well the last two years. In 2010, they traded down twice in the first round, and still ended up with Pro Bowler and Second Team NFL All Pro cornerback Devin McCourty. In trading down from their original position at 22, the Patriots obtained the picks used to later select Taylor Price (3rd round, from Dallas) and Aaron Hernandez (4th round, from Denver).

Then check out this maneuver - During the 2009 draft, the Patriots obtained the #47 pick in 2010 in exchange for a third round pick in 2009. Then in this year’s draft, the Patriots traded that second round pick (47 overall) to Arizona for a later second round pick (58 overall) and a third round pick (89 overall).  They then sent the #58 pick to Houston for #62 (Brandon Spikes) and #150 (Zoltan Mesko). They then took that #89 pick and sent it to Carolina for their 2011 second round pick, which is now the top pick in the second round.

So from that one third round pick in 2009, they turned it into Brandon Spikes, Zoltan Mesko and the top pick in the second round in this coming draft.

Instead of sarcastically refering to that as “value,” I’m going to say they got VALUE from that one pick and a couple of trades.

For some reason, the media and fans HATE when the Patriots trade around in the draft. It generates snide remarks like the one from Shaughnessy, who can’t be bothered to see what actually comes of those moves.

“Four Days In October” Preview

I just finished watching the screener DVD of Four Days In October, the ESPN 30-For-30 film that makes its debut tomorrow night at 8:00 PM on ESPN.

Despite the presence of Lenny Clarke, I’m glad to say the film is tremendous. Clarke is paired with Bill Simmons at a bar and the film comes back to them at various moments during the one-hour film. In small doses like this, Clarke was OK. He even made me smile a couple times, something I don’t recall doing with Lenny Clarke jokes before.

The film focuses solely on the 96-hour stretch in October of 2004 when the Red Sox came back from a 0-3 deficit to beat the New York Yankees. Starting with Kevin Millar talking to Dan Shaughnessy prior to game four (when Shaughnessy had referred to the Red Sox as “pack of frauds” in his column – a point referenced by Millar) the movie moves quickly, with no narration, just jumping through audio and video clips from those four days.

Along the way, you are reminded just how unsufferable Joe Buck was/is. Even in game seven, he’s making comments, which, knowing now how things turned out, are patently ridiculous, and maddening at the same time. He refused to give up hope in the curse to the very bitter end.

Simmons has taken heat for making the comment that people have forgotten just how huge David Ortiz was in this series. The comment might sound silly on the surface, but watching this film, you get what he meant. It wasn’t just the game-winning hits in games four and five. Ortiz was everywhere in that series. The Yankees were terrified of him like they’ve been of no other Red Sox player. Ever.

There’s plenty about Schilling and the bloody sock in game six, including a look under the bandage, and pregame talk from ESPN talking heads who were dismissive of Schilling’s ability to pitch effectively in the game. There are other details that you forget a little over the years, like the police in riot gear having to surround the Yankee Stadium field after the umpires overturned the original call on the play in which Alex Rodriguez slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove. The play is well remembered, of course, but the reaction of the Yankee Stadium fans and the need for the riot police had slipped my mind.

Prior to game seven you’re treated to snippets from the likes of Donald Trump, Jackie MacMullan and Yogi Berra, all certain that there is no way the Red Sox can finish off the comeback. Yet, even as they’re speaking, you can sense the confidence wavering ever so slightly. Others, like Spike Lee were admittedly nervous, and said so.

Johnny Damon is among those who comment here and there throughout the film, and he’s pretty subdued. You’ve got to wonder if the fact that he went on after 2005 to play with many of those Yankees caused him to be a little muted in his reactions to this event after the fact.  

The best part of this film is that there is no narrator leading the story along, no cadre of local media giving their retrospective ”take” on the series, it’s just raw footage (some of it taken from Red Sox players’ camcorders and those of fans) put together with audio clips from the broadcasts (radio - both teams and national - and TV broadcasts from FOX). You just get to live through the ride again, seeing the events that changed history for this franchise. You’ll feel the emotion all over again.

It airs tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 5th at 8:00 on ESPN. Be sure to watch it.

ESPN Radio…on 1510?

A short post on the website RadioInsight.com reports that 1510 The Zone  – or more accurately, Revolution Boston GM Anthony Pepe (remember ”The Diehards?”) recently registered the domain names 1510ESPNBoston.com and ESPN1510Boston.com via his Mouthpiece Boxing company.

I find it a little hard to believe that after all the hype about WEEI becoming an ESPN affiliate and talk from ESPN that they wanted to establish their national programming in Boston that they would settle for airing on the poor signal that is AM 1510 in Boston. The scenario that made the most sense to me was WEEI going to FM, and them putting the ESPN programming on the 850 signal. Going to 1510 makes little sense to me.

This could simply be Pepe being proactive, or perhaps wishful in registering the names, or perhaps something is in the works.

Update: A quick response from Pepe to my inquiry – “Nothing happening!”

Alrighty then. Carry on. Nothing to see here.

James Murphy Joins The ESPNBoston Bruins Beat

ESPNBoston.com has made a new addition to its Bruins staff, adding NESN.com hockey writer James Murphy.

Hey all, just a head’s up that I am now covering the Bruins/NHL w/Joe McDonald @ESPNJoeyMac for ESPNBoston.com.Tue Jul 06 20:19:16 via web

Murphy has been covering the Bruins and the National Hockey League for the last eight seasons, at a variety of difference outlets, including NESN.com, NHL.com, his own blog Drop Puck Murphy, the Boston Metro, and Insidehockey.com.

Murphy also hosts the Inside Hockey Radio Show on on “NHL Home Ice” XM 204 and Sirius 208 on Saturdays from 2-4 p.m. He has also been a hockey analyst on NESN Sportsdesk.

The Dedham resident is a UMass product, with a major in journalism, and also served as a play-by-play announcer for UMass Hockey.

As noted in his Tweet above, Murphy joins Joe McDonald as a Bruins writer on ESPNBoston. Matt Kalman, who also writes the excellent theBruinsblog.net had been a contributor during this past season, but it appears Murphy’s hiring will push Kalman out permanently, at least on the Bruins side of things.