Playoff Hockey Starts Tonight For Boston

The Bruins look to start their return to the Stanley Cup Finals with the opening game of their first round series against the Detroit Red Wings tonight at TD Garden.

This will be the first meeting in the playoffs between these two original six franchises since 1957. Prior to that, these teams were regular postseason opponents.

Red Wings, Bruins rekindle playoff rivalry that blazed in 1940s, ’50s – Gregg Krupa in The Detroit News looks at the history between these two iconic franchises.

Andy Brickley, Jack Edwards see Bruins winning – Chad Finn has the NESN broadcast duo feeling that the Bruins will take this series.

Edwards excited for another Bruins playoff series – Bill Doyle has more from Edwards.

You can get all of the local Bruins coverage at BruinsLinks.com.

We went over the NESN coverage yesterday afternoon, CSNNE will once again also have pre and post-game shows. As in the last few years, the shows will be led by Michael Felger and Tony Amonte, and Joe Haggerty, Mike Giardi and Kevin Walsh will have reports from the games.

Due to CSN’s relationship with NBC, the station will also have access to and interviews with the broadcast team of Jeremy Roenick, Keith Jones, Pierre McGuire, Mike “Doc” Emrick and Ed Olczyk.

Here is the schedule for CSN’s coverage:

  • Game 1 Boston vs. Detroit, Friday, April 18th – CSN Pre-Game Live @7PM & Post-Game Live following game
  • Game 2 Boston vs. Detroit, Sunday, April 20th – CSN Pre-Game Live @2:30PM & Post-Game Live following game
  • Game 3 Boston vs. Detroit, Tuesday, April 22nd – CSN Pre-Game Live @7PM & Post-Game Live following game
  • Game 4 Boston vs. Detroit, Thursday, April 24th –CSN Pre-Game Live @7:30PM & Post-Game Live following game
  • Additional Games 5, 6 and 7 If Necessary; CSN Pre & Post-Game Live schedule TBD

More #Hotsportztakes Headed To Boston.com – Mazz Returns!

As The Boston Globe splits from Boston.com, the latter continues its transformation into a collection of #hotsportztakes with the return of Tony Massarotti to its bandwidth.

Now that none of the Globe content appears on Boston.com, and none of the Globe writers blog on Boston.com any longer, it really has become something of a wasteland for the web version of sports talk radio.

One of the few exceptions being of course, Finn’s own blog, which carries a very different tone from the majority of the site.

Here are the local media columns for today:

High praise, ratings for NCAA Tournaments – Chad Finn hits across many topics this morning, including the mens and women’s hoop tournaments, Danny Ainge’s turn as color analyst on CSNNE, and NFL draft programming.

Will a rookie come out of Woods at Masters? – Bill Doyle has thoughts from CBS analysts and executives on the Masters programming and storylines.

There will be much in the way of local programming heading up to the Boston Marathon. CSNNE, for example will feature a week of heartfelt vignettes that will air in Chevrolet SportsNet Central and online at CSNNE.com/runningstrong from Sunday, April 13th through Sunday, April 20th. The week will culminate with a 30-minute TV special titled Running Strong scheduled to air on Sunday, April 20th at 5PM.

Here are the segments which will be combined into the 30-minute special:

A TEAM REACTS (Sunday, April 13th)

A recap of how the day unfolded for the Boston Bruins who were scheduled to play a game later that night. Hockey reporters/analysts Mike Giardi, Michael Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont review the chronology as to how the team found out, their reaction, and all that happened right through their next home game which commenced with Ray Rancourt’s powerful pre-game National Anthem.

GROUND ZERO (Monday, April 14th)

Athletic store Marathon Sports was the site of the actual bombing and the store has since become a pseudo shrine to remember the events of the day and honor the victims and heroes. Shane O’Hara, Manager of the Boston store location, talks to Comcast SportsNet with a personal recount of the day, how the business has done its best to be “Boston Strong,” and his participation in the Red Sox parade ceremony later in the Spring.

RUNNING STRONG: REMEMBERING THE DAY (Tuesday, April 15th)

Airing on the 1-year anniversary of the 2013 Marathon, this segment will recap how the day and week unfolded with a focus on how the tragic events impacted the Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, and Bruins.

INSPIRED TO ACT (Wednesday, April 16th)

Comcast SportsNet talks with two doctors from Brigham and Women’s – Dr. Kelli O’Laughlin and Physicians’ Assistant McKenzie Bollen – who both witnessed and experienced trauma that day.  The two also talk about how they were inspired to train for and run in this year’s Marathon.

A NEW LIFE (Thursday, April 17th)

Heather Abbott lost a leg in the bombing and her life was changed forever. Comcast SportsNet visits her home in Newport, RI where she has recovered and remains strong.

AN INNOCENT SURVIVOR (Friday, April 18th)

Stoneham resident Mark Fucarile was another victim who lost a leg in the bombing. Mark talks about his recovery, how this affected his 6-year old son, and how he was set to be married soon after the marathon and will finally wed his fiancé later this month. David Portnoy, Founder of the “Barstool Sports” website which caters to the ‘everyman’ like Mark, talks about his efforts to help Mark with fundraising.

THE WITNESS (Saturday, April 19th)

Boston Globe Sports Editor Steve Silva captured the most powerful video of the explosions and ran towards the danger. Comcast SportsNet interviews Steve about how he remembers the day and talks about how he was inspired to train for and run this year’s marathon.

THE LAST RUN (Sunday, April 20th)

Boston Marathon Legends Dick Hoyt and his son Rick who has Cerebral Palsy have run the Boston Marathon together for decades and have become an iconic part of the annual event. 2013 was going to be their final time running the Marathon, but in light of the events, they will now run one final time in 2014.

Sports Media Musings: On “Big Show: Unfiltered”, Baby Boomer’s C-Section Comment, & More

The Patriots bringing in Johnny Football for a pro day, then re-signing Patrick Chung was The Hoodie at his best. This has been the most interesting offseason since, um, the last offseason (the Brady paycut [Which somehow was criticized? God, I love the sports media!], Welkahpoloooozzzzah, Everything Gronk, and finally Aaron Hernandez, double murders, and Angel Dust … Unreal.).

Wait, Angel Dust was part of last year’s offseason discussion??? OK, OK: 2013 > 2014

Before some media takes, let me serve up a quick self-promotion alert: I wrote about the Bruins and Peak Talk for the Metro today. Read it.

OK – onto a few media notes. Feel free to say hello on the Twittersphere, @Hadfield__

*****

Early thoughts on the “Big Show Unfiltered”: It’s OK. And OK may be enough for Glenn Ordway & Co. – much to my surprise, I willingly listened to commercials, which truly distinguishes the program from, say, a podcast. I felt like I was listening to a radio. Only on the Internet.

INTERNET RADIO.

Anyway, about the commercials, which, before going any further, need to be discussed …  Because Connecticut School of Broadcasting is still a thing!! I’ll be completely honest, for the longest time I thought it was a joke, a scheme, or even the basis of the movie “Accepted.”

(Side Tangent: “Accepted” is a B- Comedy featuring Justin Long (Drew Barrymore’s old BF, also the guy in the Apple commercials), Blake Lively (before she was BLAKEEEEE Lively), and Lewis Black.

And, yes, even two-time Academy Award nominee, Jonah Hill.

Good stuff. Hollywood is the greatest. But, yeah – I 1000000% believed GO CSB was a fictional place where dreams go to die.)

OK, back to “Big Show: Unfiltered.” This iteration is basically a DIY, rough cut version of the original “Big Show.” Can they grab enough momentum to simulcast beyond Sirius? I’m not sure. I mean, clearly, there’s an audience for Pete Sheppard, Ordway and the guy that does the great Terry Francona impression, I’m just not it.

(I know, I know – this is despite Sheppard’s abrasive Tony Massarotti impressions; if nothing else Pete’s going for it … whatever “it” is.)

*****

“Sometimes it takes some time to remember where you were headed in the first place and the people you intended to go there with.”

For me, early questions about “Dale & Holley” Part Deux mostly revolved around whether bringing back what was never really broken as an admission of past failures …  or just WEEI’s acceptance that they are, for the time being, the alternative – as opposed to the FLAGSHIP STATION! …?

One thing’s for sure: It’s not the sexy move, or a game-changer. This play for WEEI is a means to survival through reliability. And, all things considered, with the revival of “Dale & Holley,”  the Boston sports fans are winning here.

(Yes, that’s right – I’m going positive, which almost feels borderline crazy to do in terms of media analysis.)

Look, upon conception, our hope for “The Sports Hub” did not necessarily circle around a precipitous demise for the men of Entercom (although, in some circles, seeing hubris wilt and decay was a nice byproduct). All told, reasonable sports fans just wanted WEEI to be better, and, typically, competition breeds excellence or, at the very least, improvement in quality.

Well, it took longer than expected, but, finally, mercifully this has happened.

Think about it: The morning at WEEI is better. I still can’t believe “Dennis & Callahan” made it through the storm unscathed, although who knows, maybe, at times, the two hosts were “hiding under their desks.” Either way, their improvement is palpable; heck, you could argue it’s undeniable. Kirk Minihane has proven himself a worthy foil to John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, and it’s kind of compelling radio.

(An aside: This will sound like I’m an ageist, but I could do without the obsession over Johnny Manziel’s girlfriend. Really, guys. You’re old, and it’s weird. But seriously, try harder.)

The afternoon, meanwhile, over on ‘EEI is a relic in the best possible way, and a sound option for audiences to check out instead of their counterpart, “Felger & Mazz,” which has evidently decided to become a different show than when it began its run. Dale Arnold, almost immediately, has rediscovered his rapport with Michael Holley.  Something Holley never could harness with Ordway, or what we can now the Misguided Mike Salk era.

(Another aside: Consistently adding a third man to the “Dale & Holley” rotation is a nice twist, too. But how about less Christian Fauria and more Matt Chatham, please. Thanks.)

Up on the dial, “Toucher & Rich” didn’t land the Torey Krug-80s hair metal voice over segment, at least not as much as the comparable “Rad Marchand” skit from a few years ago, but the fact they’re still churning out stuff like “Motley Krug” is a good sign. It’s what they do best.

And the duo poking fun at Johnny Gomes’ “Just PUSH PLAY, the story is already written” comments was perfect. To their credit, they absolutely nailed the Ultimate Warrior-Haxsaw Johnny Gomes comparison. The dialect is eerily similar.

*****

Speaking of “Toucher & Rich”, I thought Fred Toucher’s take on Richard Sherman’s column about DeSean Jackson’s release from the Eagles on Peter King’s Monday Morning QB site was not only thoughtful, but poignant.

In the piece, Sherman argued about, well, a few things: 1) That saying DJax is affliated with gang is irresponsible; 2) You don’t turn your back on people you grew up with; 3) Jackson’s teammate — Riley Cooper, earning an extension, a year after his racist remarks at a country concert went viral; 4) The Jim Irsay free pass.

Toucher’s main contention is that you do turn your back on friends at some point, basically, because if you hang out with shit for long enough, you’ll start to smell like it, too. It’s a fair counter; measured and realistic.

I didn’t agree, however, with Toucher’s co-host, John Wallach, when he said Sherman, who is no stranger to media relations, will have to learn to pick his battles. If we’re enabling the nonsense floated out there from time to time in sports media, then I have zero qualms dealing with Sherman going off the rails. Dude’s a top cornerback with a unique perspective to offer on the matter. I don’t have to agree, but I’ll certainly be interested.

*****

“Everyone is just waiting for their next Wikipedia Edit.”

“I’m much more offended by Gerry Callahan’s gay-bashing.”

Those were my initial thoughts about when reading reaction to Boomer Esiason’s comments regarding Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy’s paternity leave (which fell on opening day):

From CNN:

During a conversation on his radio show with co-host Craig Carton, Esiason, a father of two, said he would never have done what Murphy did.

“Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts,” said Esiason. “I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry. This is what makes our money. This is how we’re going to live our life. This is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”

I don’t have children, I’m turning 28 years-old next week, which means I’m really only 23 years-old (Someone, I don’t know who, just decided it was totally acceptable for 20somethings to act like kids even as they broach their 30s. I won’t fight this. Thank you, mystery man.) But I have three sisters; I get the complications around reproduction, and can attest that Boomer is stating stupid words behind a stupid premise.

But you know what? PEOPLE ARE STOOOPID.

Rich people are stoopid. Everyone’s stoopid. Fuck, that ignorance – you know, being stoopid – is just as much a part of ‘Merica as saying ‘Merica!

We live in a world where athletes, not just college athletes, pro athletes, with a kajillion dollars, get Catfished! Yes, by Catfished, I mean keyboard romance gone awry, someone conned by an idiot imposter on an online dating site.

(Moreover, that “Catfish” is actually a television show – yes, a television show – is mind boggling. Knowing Nev Schulman has been out there, fighting to the good fight, trying to illuminate what is, in fact, real love, and what’s not, for over three seasons all because the South have yet to figure out how to do 12 seconds of Internet research through Google Images search, could be the most American thing ever.)

So, we’re all stupid, from time to time anyway. Then, let’s ask ourselves, why are talking heads, most of who are former athletes, the subject of this type of scrutiny? Even Callahan, a fantastic writer, whose views on the radio have become increasingly acerbic and forced, has a right to be stupid. Again, ‘Merica!

To that end, who cares what Boomer Esiason thinks about this topic? Like, really, this is what we’re going to get upset about.  If you’re an ardent listener to his show, that’s one thing; but it’s almost as if the Internet pushes OUTRAGE Button, and all chaos breaks loose.

And Boomer, predictably, issued a subsequent apology, because apologies are part of the news cycle in 2014.

I’m all for calling an idiot out for saying idiotic shit on the radio, but where do you guys stand?

*****

Memo to Danny Picard: Keep Going

Dig Radio Boston flounders; Danny Picard’s show, “I’m Just Sayin’”, keeps on keepin’ on. If nothing else, Picard hustles. In the past, his show has been simulcast on CSNNE.com, 1510 Boston, among other outlets. But now he’s back to hosting solely on his website and iTunes.

Earlier this week, Picard had an interesting rant about the move away from Dig, other subjects in the media (like the Jerry Remy-NESN story) earning too much attention, and even went on a tangent about his distaste for sharing a co-host during his weekend appearances on WEEI.

As a fellow writer, with much less success and longevity compared to Picard, I can sympathize with his frustration with breaking into sports media. There are very few Xander Bogaerts’ in the media. Youth is quelled by barriers. Hustle and passion are part of success – and, sometimes, the journey to prominence is better than the destination itself – but, at some point, you have to break through.

I still think Picard will. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way. This is a town where Mike Adams has had a daily radio show for the better part of a decade.

*****

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__.

Opening Day For The World Champs

That was a fast offseason.

The 2014 Red Sox begin their regular season this afternoon at 3:05 in Baltimore. A defiant Jerry Remy will be in the booth alongside Don Orsillo despite the fact that his presence on the telecasts is not just a job to earn a living, but he is there to entertain and inform the audience, some of whom may be uncomfortable with having him on.

He has a right to earn a living, but this is not just any living. Despite being a private person with a private lifestyle, his job puts him very much in the public eye.

My personal feelings are conflicted on this. While I appreciated Chad Finn’s column from Friday where he made the case that there is no reason to oust Remy from his job, I can see the other side too.

There are other factors here too. Putting aside the legal matters with his son, is Jerry Remy the best person for this job? At one time he was among the very best color commentators in the game. Is he still? I think that’s up for debate. Is he even the best one employed by the station? (I say Dennis Eckersley is better.) Does he bring out the best in his partner? I don’t think he does. Too often, they go off onto silly tangents, and is that going to be appropriate now? When Orsillo works with Eckersley, one of the things I appreciate is that Eck solicits input from Orsillo, who sometimes seems surprised at that. But he brings out the best in Orsillo, which is better for the broadcast.

So Eckersley doesn’t want the gig full time. OK. I was just using him as an example.

I really don’t know how these first few weeks and beyond are going to go. Are we just going to forget about it, and it will be Don and Jerry and Wally as usual? It’s really hard to tell. We know Remy’s not going anywhere of his volition, and John Henry and NESN are not going to remove him.

Finn in the Red Sox preview in the Globe had a look at all the Sox radio and TV voices.

For the on-field team, there is plenty of intrigue, from the official rookie season of Xander Bogaerts, to the comeback of Grady Sizemore (Tony Massarotti’s personal source of anger) and the performance of veterans who performed so above expectations last year.

Of course, we’re already being told in some quarters that there is no where for this season to go but down. I don’t know about you, but I’m so glad we have these brave truth-tellers to set us yahoo honks straight on things.

Check all today’s coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

Tony Massarotti Is Panicked Over Grady Sizemore, And Other Absurdities

Mike, these people think they’re getting the Grady Sizemore from 2008!!! They’re not, Mike! He’s not the same guy! He’s going to break down!

Welcome to the latest Tony Massarotti idiotic strawman panic argument. Who exactly are these people who are saying Grady Sizemore is going to be an injury-free MVP candidate this season.

Mike, I’m really worried about Tampa! They know how to win in September! The Red Sox don’t!

Mike I’m really worried that the Red Sox woke up the Yankees yesterday! Why’d they do that? It’s over now!

I’m glad Tony has found his calling.

***********

This immediately become my favorite Bill Belichick clip of all time.

It was in response to Ben Volin asking if there was a timetable for Rob Gronkowski’s return.

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Can we just rename the Arbella Early Edition  to Arbella #HotSportzTakes?

A sampling their Gary Tanguay-led “content”:

Is CSNNE running a counter of how many days VINCE WILFORK IS BEING HELD HOSTAGE????

Is it that hard for anyone, particularly an NFL “Insider” like Mike Florio to at least point out that the reason Bill Belichick doesn’t pose in the coaches picture is that he isn’t part of the coaches union? Or is it just easier to say it’s part of his responsibilities and that he should do it?

Damn those Red Sox beat writers. Always so positive! They’re practically cheerleaders! They act as if the team just won the World Series! This David Ortiz guy…useless piece of you-know-what…you’d think the guy just batted .688 in that World Series or something.

**********

If you happened to miss it, Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane had dueling columns on the Jerry Remy topic.

Rajon Rondo is going to spend the first quarter of Monday night’s Celtics/Bulls game at the broadcast table with Mike Gorman. His goal? He wants to be  just like Tommy Heinsohn. It will be the second game of a back-to-back so the point guard will not be playing, thus his availability for the gig. Cedric Maxwell will do the rest of the game. Danny Ainge and Chris Herren will work with Gorman for the April 9th game against the Hawks and the April 14th game against the Sixers. Herren will work with Gorman on April 12th in Cleveland.

Gerry Callahan: Previous Remy Victims Are Culpable in Death of Jennifer Martel

As you might imagine, yesterday’s front page story in the Boston Globe about the history of Jared Remy is the biggest topic on the radio this morning.

I’ve said this before, but I just don’t see how keeping Jerry Remy on the NESN telecasts is in any way a good idea. Why is he still doing it?

Remy himself has said he doesn’t have a lot of money. Speculation, but based on that article, I’d bet a good chunk of his income over the last decade has gone to Jared’s legal fees.

On WEEI this morning, the ever-sensitive Gerry Callahan actually had the gall to say that Remy’s previous victims were “culpable” in the death of Jennifer Martel. He insisted that despite a history of the court system letting Jared Remy right back out onto the streets, that they should’ve risked their lives and testified against him.

To their credit, Kirk Minihane and John Dennis immediately stepped back from this statement. Callahan though, insisted.  From his twitter feed, he appears proud of his stand, retweeting someone who said he’d never come across worse than today.

I mistakenly tweeted yesterday that Jerry Remy was taking the weekend off and that now we knew why.  I was confused – it was two upcoming games that he’s going to miss – and Remy was in the booth as usual yesterday. I remain amazed that this is the case.

I’m glad that the Globe wrote this story, but it still seems to me that they handled Jerry Remy with kid gloves throughout it. He is not directly indicted for his responsibility in what Jared turned out to be. What it does however, is allow the reader to connect the dots and realize how much he had actually enabled his son by continually bailing him out and paying his legal fees.

Will NESN viewers find Remy’s continued presence distasteful? It seems clear by this point that Remy is not going to leave on his own. He will be on the broadcasts unless he is removed or convinced to resign.

Either way, this is not going to get any more palatable.

Elsewhere:

Case closed: Red Sox fans not obligated to pay for Jared Remy’s defense – I wish this guy wasn’t nicknamed “Obnoxious Boston Fan” because many times, he’s right on the money. Like today.  Jenny Dell is gone from Red Sox broadcasts for her “transgressions”, but Remy remains?

Is Jerry Remy’s broadcasting career finally over? – Dan Kennedy also weighs in on Remy’s future.

Additionally – Jared’s employment at Fenway Park while mentioned, seems somewhat glossed over in all of this.

He soon materialized as a security guard at Fenway Park, three other guards recalled. Instead of assigning him to crowd control at games, the Red Sox placed Remy on quiet day shifts, signing for packages and checking bags of fans touring the ballpark.

By the time the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, Remy had amassed 15 criminal cases and at least nine speeding tickets and five accidents, according to state Registry of Motor Vehicles records. Still, that February, he was assigned to escort the new World Series trophy to the Berkshires for an appearance. He got pulled over doing 92 on the Pike, according to RMV records.

After another beating incident, where Jared actually spent 81 days in jail before the prosecutor decided to give him probation on the plea agreement, we read:

When he got out in January 2006, Remy’s Fenway job would be waiting for him. And it would lead him to the woman he is accused of killing.

He worked for at Fenway for two more years:

As he was about to become a father for the second time, Jared Remy got snared in 2008 in a Major League Baseball steroid investigation that would cost him his job. Aggrieved, he spoke at length at the time with the Globe Spotlight Team.

So with the rapsheet he had, and the things he did while employed there, he only lost his job after a steroid probe. Was anyone at with the Red Sox asked for comment about this? Especially considering the Red Sox and the Globe are owned by the same person. (For once, not mentioned in a column.)

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter VIII

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.

The Bruins are winning (BUT PERHAPPPPSS PEAKING TOOO SOOOON …. DISCUSS !! ). The Patriots just put the rest of the NFL on notice. The Red Sox are set to begin their World Series defense. The Celtics, mercifully, have tanked their way into an apparent high draft pick (maybe). Even the UMass basketball team is relevant.

Sports, you guys! Drink it in, because it doesn’t get much better tha –

… Wait a minute? What am I talking about? More than anything else, one thing became clear this last month: Charles Barkley’s recent comments about ESPN “manufacturing controversies” as well as the remarks he made to the Boston media during the NFL playoffs about how New Englanders “don’t appreciate the Patriots” are unintentionally connected.

Chaz doesn’t realize the ESPN problem – meaning the oversaturation of vapid content (e.g. LeBron James! LeBron James!!! & LeBron James!!!!!; “ELITE/MT. RUSHMORE!!” segments; Skip Bayless; almost the entire NFL Countdown crew; Skip Bayless again) is actually more widespread than thought.

This is the pulse of the Boston sports landscape from a fan’s perspective:

The media? Yeah, they’re more inclined to think otherwise, because instead of all good vibes developing, we hear and read and watch analysis breaking down the following: “Are the Bruins winning too much, too soon??” (Because STORYLINES!) “Did the Patriots give into the noise?” (OMIGOD, get over yourselves) “Is Rajon Rondo a centerpiece?” (Maybe, maybe not – but we should probably wait until he’s playing alongside pedigree above the level of Chris Johnson to decide) “Is David Ortiz a mercenary?” (Plenty of venom thrown Big Papi’s way these days.)

Of course, the same people that write garbage like the following:

“Being good and smarter than everybody else in the face of the NFL norm is great for the Krafts. I’m sure John Elway, Manning, and Talib will care about that when they’re fighting for the Lombardi Trophy next February.”

… Not only follow-up with a “Jets reaction” piece (because commending a move you begged for lacks the requisite amount of lighter fluid to spark a HOT SPORTS TAKE), they also accuse this site of publishing propaganda. Good times! We really are obnoxious sports fans, Chuck.

***

Before we get to the emails, humor me and read my column for Metro Boston this week, on Dick Vitale – the last universally beloved blowhard (Yeah, I said it). To the emails …

For Salk’s replacement, I don’t think there is anyone to promote from within. They need to outside the building – Michael Smith, Danny Picard, Jen Royle, Marc Bertrand, Jermaine Wiggins.

StoJa

I’m pretty sure Jermaine Wiggins and Jen Royle are both readily available. And each would make sense to replace Mike Salk, if only because it’d be the most WEEI-move EVER, right? Wiggins promoting his clothing line. Royle blathering on about her fucking dog. Dear God, just a complete disaster

According to Chad Finn’s piece today, Dale Arnold will reunite with Michael Holley for the foreseeable future (maybe longer??) to fill the void left by Salk’s departure. The duo will also have a rotating guest on the show, presumably to help back up whatever the topic of the day is.

Long term plans for the afternoon drive program? Happy you asked? This exact topic was discussed yesterday here, but if I were running the shop – HEY PHIL ZACHARY, LISTEN UP – here would be my shortlist of (realistic) candidates:

Marc Bertrand: My personal favorite. This is absolutely the Belichickian move, just poaching from the proverbial Jets, like a ruthless tactician. A Beetle Coup accomplishes a few things:

1.) Instantly makes your station younger, thus more relatable (Gerry Callahan’s comments about the gay community participating in the St. Patrick’s Day parade isn’t doing you any favors, Phil)

2.) Weakens the competition (Beetle challenges Michael Felger on the regular which helps “Felger & Mazz because Tony Massarotti has been YARM-ing [‘You’re absolutely right, Mike!] for the better part of three years now. MEMO to Mazz: Look, I’m not one for #EmbraceDebate and I get Felger is your buddy, but palatable discourse with your counterpart doesn’t make for compelling radio, especially when your co-host – a champion of consistency – repeatedly contradicts his own seething analysis.)

Who isn’t at least interested in listening to “Holley & The Beetle”?

Chances of Happening: I’m sure WEEI would be on board. Beetle’s a regular on CSNNE, and a known personality. He’s level-headed, but hardly formulaic in a Salkified way. However, I have not reached out to Bertrand. I don’t know him aside from a few Twitter exchanges. And while it was made clear he has aspirations of headlining his own show when Damon Amendolara left for a national gig, does he want to roll the dice and leave a comfortable role at the highest-rated show in Boston for WEEI – a station seemingly in flux? He’s great with Chris Gasper on their Saturday show – maybe he’s still holding out hope the goodwill earned there will lead to something bigger at The Sports Hub. Who knows?

Kirk Minihane: I actually like this better than Bertrand because of familiarity; frankly, it’s the obvious move I’ve long-espoused. It would work, too. While filling in for Salk a few weeks ago, Minihane and Holley, with a shot of Tom E. Curran, predictably, was the best sports radio I’ve heard in a long, long time.

Chances of Happening: All things considered, as much as I want to yell PULL THE TRIGGER PHIL, DO IT … I get why “Minihane & Holley” will likely remain a pipe dream. In short, to his credit, Minihane has played a large part in revitalizing the “Dennis & Callahan” show. And last time management broke up a good thing – “Dale & Holley” – the worst case scenario unfolded. Which is all why it’s not exactly a shock to hear the word on the street is Entercom is happy with the current iteration of their morning drive program to the point where they wouldn’t want to jeopardize ratings in one place to bolster them in another.

Other Options

Greg Dickerson: He’s in the same vein as Arnold, and don’t see it happening. A good guy, who’s likable (likability, amazingly, is still an ongoing issue for WEEI). Dickerson is a familiar face, which probably induces some eye-rolling around these parts, but I remember him and Gary Tanguay as mainstays co-hosting “Sports Tonight” before it was the “Sports Tonight” it is today, and it was clear he’s not an alarmist or contrarian. Moreover, Dickerson’s still young enough that he’ll translate to a wide audience … and he’s likely available.

Danny Picard: I’d be floored if ‘EEI gave the Southie product this platform, but not because of lack of effort – they’re simply not in position to take such a risk. Either way, Picard is a workhorse, evidenced by his daily podcast, “I’m Just Sayin’”, which he’s done for several years now. He’s earned a fill-in gig on WEEI and his time as as a staff writer at CSNNE.com helped him finally make his way up the ladder to appear on “Sports Tonight.”

Michael Smith: Would love to see it. Smith and Holley, two longtime pals, would be great together, but that dude isn’t leaving Numbers Never Lie and the comfort of Bristol for WEEI.

I don’t have much sympathy for Wilfork. He’s already been the highest paid nose tackle in NFL history. He’s coming off an injury and seemed like he lost a step before he was hurt. He’s already been paid $32 million I believe…and yet the team made the AFC title game without him. He’s not Revis, he doesn’t hold the same value to the team…the emotional element is the only thing that will irk some fans

Andy Dursin

Yeah, I’ve written about this for Metro Boston before. He was the best player on New England’s defense. A workhorse and anchor. Below are his usage rates in terms of overall defensive snaps played, courtesy of Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com:

2009: 51.8 percent
2010: 69.8 percent
2011: 86.8 percent
2012: 81.3 percent

So, he was a beast. That’s a given. Buttttttt in the same time frame, in FootballOutsiders.com’s excellent defensive statistic, DVOA, the Patriots defense ranked 14th, 21st, 30th (YES! 30th out of 32 teams!!), then back to a respectable 15th in 2012.

That’s not all on Wilfork, of course; he consistently took on two offensive linemen and single-handily helped Mark Anderson tally 10 sacks in 2011, which led to the Bills comically overpaying Anderson the following offseason (THE WAGONS! OH, THOSE BEAUTIFUL WAGONS!!! THEY ARE A CIRCLIN’!!!)

… You can’t look at these things in a vacuum, but Andy’s right in terms of CB versus nose tackle and how each position can help a defense. I hope Wilfork comes back, because I’m sappy and care wayyyy too much about the pending employment of big, jolly, no B.S., locker room leaders like Big Vince. But both parties will be fine if they goes their separate ways. (#analysis)

WEEI needs a big move, but the options seem quite limited. They want to bring in someone that can entertainingly lead a program, but co-headline with Holley. One name that comes to my mind is Damon Amendolara. Not sure he would return locally, but with a little money, you can sway people’s minds.

Chris Boudreau

The human monologue and “big name”? Take a drink, sir.

Can you not blog with profanity? It’s childish and doesn’t really befit a self appointed critic of media that find ways to write without it. There’s simply not need for a word like **** on a site like this.

bosox3054

Wooaaaaaaah … first off, “self-appointed” media critic? Look, you can agree or disagree with what goes into these columns, but, if nothing else, I’d like to think I’m authentic – meaning, I don’t write for page views. However, calling me a media critic is stupid; it bestows authority that I’m not worthy of – like saying a reporter is an “expert” or an “insider” (the latter may be true, but just because a writer covers something doesn’t qualify them as an “expert”… they are just well versed in the topic). So, look, I’m delusional, but not that delusional. As far as swearing goes, I’m sorry about your virgin eyes. Everyone makes it to the back of the school bus at one point or another. I hope it was good for you, it was great for me.

 What is people’s obsession with Jen Royle? She is absolutely terrible, was never prepared for her Saturday shows on ‘EEI in the past and has very thin skin. She would be a horrific choice for PM drive.

Hambot

AMENDOLARAAAA & ROYLE.

(Don’t do it for us. Do it for the story, Phil. For the story.)

Yes, John Dennis is thin-skinned. To an Nth degree. Maybe when you stop deleting/editing comments that are critical of your work you ought write something about it.

James Allen

Comment moderation is handled by the Big Guy running this operation, Bruce Allen. Any readers will attest I’m very open to people ripping me; granted, I’m not a troll — I don’t get off on it or anything. What I do here is mostly subjective, thus I hardly expect EVERY reader to enjoy my stuff, much less agree.

But yeah, you’re probably right: I’m terrible and completely off-base with everything I write. Also I’m a hack. A fraud. Thanks for not only reading, but taking the time to comment, all despite these shortcomings!

I think the WEEI ‘brand’ and ‘nameplate’ have been destroyed, no matter the people behind the microphone. There apparently is no way to right a ship once it has listed too far to starboard.

Smack_Libs_Around

Disagree here. The downfall of WEEI certainly happened faster than anyone expected, but then again – while dominant, the station NEVER had the type of competition The Sports Hub presents. One thing we’ve all learned in the radio wars is that listeners are willing to change the dial if there’s better, more thoughtful (and less condescending) options available.

WEEI simply needs to find those options. So far, save for the addition of Kirk Minihane to the “Dennis & Callahan” show, every moved has been an unmitigated disaster. And more concerning, it wasn’t as if each move was met with great praise and then backfired – even at the time, the decisions were met with general trepidation, both inside the walls of Guest Street and out here, in the Blogosphere.

Re: Salk, Who knows, maybe the deal is that sports talk show hosts are a lot better if they have to actually show up in the locker rooms they talk about on air? 

Keep up the writing

Jon

It would be hard for me – someone who has been in the locker room, covering each of the Big Four sports, but mostly writes from HIS MOM’S BASEMENT nowadays (not really, but you know what I mean) – to back up this theory.

Yes, there is real value being in the locker room. Getting to know the players, atmosphere, and the like does provide insight, but I think someone is capable of talking about sports in an entertaining and intelligent way without having been in a locker room.

 “Of course, Belichick never is one to get caught up in the chatter or what the pundits are telling him to do. This time, however, he didn’t ignore the noise.” Karen Guregian, in the Herald today. There is not much more that is hateable about a journalist than when they starting take credit for things that happened outside of the world of journalism.

Homer Gomez

Going to give Karen Guregian a pass, mainly because it was a throwaway line, and she’s a pro. But agreed with your overall assessment, which is definitely a widespread problem.

Ryan, you do good work and I enjoy your columns. BUT, is there anything about Grantland you don’t like? I feel like at times you are a PR hack for them. Grantland has some good features, but really, in a blog post about “look at me” media members (Dino), doesn’t Grantland do the same thing with its pop culture stuff?

Ted Sarandis

Speaking of Grantland, Bill Simmons & Co. has been doing another live webcast from his living room during the first weekend of March Madness. It’s basically a live stream of him, a few friends, Jalen Rose, and – new addition – Michelle Beadle watching the games, bull-shitting with one another. It’s not my cup of tea; but it worked well last year.

To your larger point, Grantland’s pop culture coverage is hit or miss. Wesley Morris and Alex Pappademas are fantastic; some of their other writers should try less. Often times, when they discuss a topic, like Matthew McConaughey’s resurgence (who I never thought had the chops to pull off the role he played in True Detective), it’s almost as if they’re trying to shoehorn every little moment as a larger paradigm shift that we’ll remember in 20 years …When, in reality, more often than not, these things don’t truly matter. A moment can be just that – a moment – meaning everything doesn’t have to take on this grandiose theme, greater than what is actually is.

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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__.

What’s Next For WEEI? What Would You Do?

Now that the Mike Salk shoe has dropped, the WEEI reshuffling really can’t be far behind.

Besides Dennis and Callahan, nothing really remains from the glory days of the station when they were a ratings powerhouse. D&C (and Minihane) still trail Toucher and Rich in the ratings, but have posted strong numbers and continue with their claim of being “the most listened to morning show” locally. There probably don’t need to be any changes here, unless you’d consider moving Minihane out to another role on the station.

We’re left with the midday show and the afternoon show to try and improve. (Mikey Adams at night does well competitively with 98.5 – with help from the Red Sox broadcasts – and he has his own unique audience that is going to tune in to him.)

On midday, the Mut and Lou show has been dismal, ratings wise. Prior to their taking over this slot, this had been the only daytime period that WEEI was winning, when Dale Arnold and Michael Holley had the show. Since then, Gresh and Zo on 98.5 have wiped the floor with them in the ratings.

The afternoon show has seen a similar decline since the changes a year ago. During February 2013, Glenn Ordway’s last month with the station, they posted a 5.8. This February the Salk and Holley show only rated a 3.7.

So what, if anything, can WEEI do to not just stop the bleeding, but to begin to reverse fortunes? They’ve certainly cleaned house in the last year, with Ordway, Jason Wolfe, Jeff Brown and Julie Kahn all exiting. In their places are Entercom VP/Market Manager Phil Zachary and WEEI Brand Manager Kevin Graham. They’ve had some time now to evaluate the station and it seems that some moves need to be made soon. But what?

Some have suggested putting the own team of Arnold and Holley back together on middays. That teaming would likely be successful ratings-wise, but Holley now makes too much to be a midday host.

I like Michael Holley, I really do, but what a track record he is building up. Think of the places/shows he’s worked on in the last decade. Boston Globe – sinking. 1510 the Zone – gone, I, Max – cancelled, Dale and Holley – Dale gets demoted, Big Show – Ordway gets fired, Salk and Holley, Salk leaves before he’s fired.

Yes, bringing Dale back would be recycling a host, not exactly a fresh voice, but they tried to bring in a young, fresh voice with Mike Mutnansky. It hasn’t worked. I feel bad for Mutnansky, I really do. He’s worked his way up in the business, paid his dues at small stations, and got this break. Now he’s trying to hang on and doing what he thinks he needs to go to stay in the business with the “worried” storylines, and the other tactics common today. He’s also a new dad, and he likely doesn’t have the resources to fall back on if he loses his job as someone like Merloni would have.

Can they find another young voice around? Matt Perrault has the same job that Mutnansky used to have up here in NH. Do you try him? How about trying to get someone like Marc Bertrand for this show – I don’t think he’s fulltime drive-time host material, but middays could work for him.

It’s been rumored more than once that they could remove the local show altogether from that time slot and just go with ESPN Radio there. That would be raising a serious white flag. They might as well just change the format of 93.7 FM and go back to 850 AM.

How about trying out the crew from Playaction Sports Boston? They know their sports. They’re passionate. They’re entertaining. They currently do shows on Tuesday and Friday evenings. It would definitely be something fresh and something the market hasn’t seen on either one of these sports radio stations. It probably won’t happen, but I’d be in favor of giving it a try. Give them some weekend shows or something, at least.

So we’re back putting Dale Arnold back on the midday show. It might work. He’ll need a co-host. Do you keep Lou Merloni on there? Merloni has tried very hard on his Felger impression. He works in the YOU as often as possible, he still has his DAMN storylines. OK. WEEI won a bidding war with 98.5 for him, so he’s probably making enough money to keep his job safe for now.  I’m also not sure Merloni is long for the station. He might leave or take another job on his own. Then what? Brand Manager Kevin Graham hosted his own show at his last job. Does the Jets fan try himself out in the midday role? Maybe? I’ve never heard him, so I have no idea what his show would be like.

I’m not thrilled with it, but an Arnold/Merloni midday show might be the best WEEI can hope for at this point.

What about the afternoons? I think Holley still stays. He needs the right partner though. I don’t think Michael Smith is walking through that door. They’d be interesting. So does Minihane come over? Would his removal from the now-stable morning show be detrimental there? What other options are there? Tom E Curran would be great, but I don’t want to take him off the Patriots beat, and I suspect he would not want to do radio full-time either.

Does Arnold join Holley in drive time with a rotating third guest, as we’ve had this week? Again, we’re recycling, and while that could stem the tide, I don’t see it reversing things. They need to to go big.

But then again, maybe they’re not interested in competing with 98.5, just putting together a solid show that gets decent, not record, ratings.

Which ever way they want to go, Entercom has some  major decisions coming up.

What do YOU think they should do?

Note: I’ve gotten some comments, tweets, etc accusing me of now saying I love Glenn Ordway and the Big Show after years of HATING them. That would be inaccurate. I always admired and respected Ordway. Their old show did drive me nuts at times, and was getting old with some of the same personalities showing up all the time. I never hated, never quit listening altogether. I was excited at the launch of 98.5 to see if some competition would force WEEI to improve their product. It really didn’t. They went in the tank. Over time, 98.5 became what WEEI used to be, both in ratings and in the attitude of the hosts. In fact, they exceeded what WEEI had ever done, especially in terms of finding the negative storylines to pound, day after day.  In retrospect, I can look back and appreciate the Big Show more now than when it was on, and can be glad that there is a new form of it available for when the other stations start driving me nuts.

Big Show Unfiltered – Just Like Your Father’s Big Show. But Unfiltered.

Glenn Ordway’s much-ballyhooed internet radio project the Big Show Unfiltered launched yesterday, and sounded much like what we heard for so many years on the WEEI airwaves.

Given the current afternoon drive radio environment, that’s not such a bad thing from this corner.

There were some things you didn’t hear on WEEI. Curse words, for one, though Ordway made sure to say that they weren’t going to force it on that issue. Pete Sheppard was the one getting in his curses, mainly directed at former WEEI GM Jeff Brown. They also went after Felger and Mazz by name, and an impression of Massarotti’s negative panic was in the offering.

Technically, things went pretty smooth for the first time out, they had some issues with callers, but for the most part, it was OK on that end. There seemed to be an issue with Steve Buckley’s microphone – he could barely be heard for much of the show, and as we all know, Buck likes to talk, so it was a bit of a struggle at times to hear.

They broke the news that the show will be aired on SiriusXM radio starting next week on channel 108.

They also had no issue making mention of Buckley’s sexual orientation, which was something of a change. The “Just for Men” hair coloring joke in the Whiner Line for one, and Buckley himself making lighthearted reference to “the gay guy.”

The advertisers were familiar as well – Miltons, Ace Ticket, Jon Meterparel did an ad, but I can’t remember what it was for. Ordway was able to bring along these advertisers to his new venture which speaks to his remaining influence in the market.

All in all, it was a familiar-sounding product, and I was glad to have it back. I had no issues getting the show to run on my PC, and later, even on my Blackberry (!) phone which I had hooked up to a Bluetooth connection over my car stereo.

I’ll be interested to monitor this going forward. It could be a great alternative to the incessant Patriots-bashing that goes on over at 98.5 in that timeslot, and we still don’t know what WEEI has planned in terms of a Mike Salk replacement. (Please not Christian Fauria full-time.)

******

I’m surprised the irony meter has not broken after hearing John “spring water” Dennis talk about Jim Irsay this morning.

We’ve heard a lot about the Red Sox offering dynamic ticket prices. How does that impact them? – Green Monster Dynamic Pricing Could Add $2- $3 Million Of Revenue From Red Sox Tickets

Our favorite storyline is happening for the Boston Bruins right now. Are they peaking too soon???? Are these the same people who were screaming that they didn’t do enough at the trade deadline, and that they let the Canadiens get the player they should’ve gone harder for?

There sure are a whole lot of media and fans drinking the John Elway kool-aid around here.

Dan Shaughnessy has taken “playing stupid on the radio” to levels Tony Massarotti could only dream of. So apparently, other NFL teams are just handing over their best players to Bill Belichick. I thought Belichick was hated around the NFL? Why would they just hand their best players to him. Tampa handed the Patriots Darrelle Revis. Never mind that any team could’ve signed him. This must somehow be related to how the NFL hands the Patriots a tomato can schedule every year (even though the schedule is largely determined years in advance).

Someone on the station (Roche?) also thinks that if Belichick or Kraft can just get Vince Wilfork down in front of a nice dinner all will be well. Sure. Give the fat man some food and he’ll do whatever you say.

Finally:

God knows I love Bob Ryan, but this paragraph in his Sunday column just blew me away:

I’m serious when I say that a year ago today you and I knew more about the NBA than Brad Stevens did. I’m not talking about actually coaching basketball at something other than a youth level. And I know Stevens says he used to watch more NBA than anyone ever realized. I’m talking about living through years and decades of the actual NBA experience, which has nothing to do with high school, college, or anything else.

What in the world?

Wrapping The Week

As we wind down just another week in Boston sports, here are a couple of links and some thoughts:

What went wrong for Mike Salk at WEEI?

Chad Finn examines why the Massachusetts native just never seemed to fit in after coming back home. He also looks at Brent Musburger being replaced on Saturday Night Football (Moved to the SEC broadcasts.) and the curious experiment by the Red Sox to have the PA Announcer call the strike count after every pitch in a game this week.

Tuning In: Could Carmelo Anthony end up with Boston Celtics?

Bill Doyle talks to Celtics voice Sean Grande, who has his own plan for rebuilding the Celtics, which includes luring Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love.

This week’s NFL free agent frenzy has brought out the best and worst of reporting. As usual, Adam Schefter has been out in front of most major developments, and it seems at times that many reporters are just waiting to take their cue from him.

I’ve seen it a few times now, and I’m a little uncomfortable with media members congratulating players on signing new deals, or encouraging them to “go get theirs” on the market. After the number of lectures we get from the media about how they’re objective, and have no rooting interests in what they cover, just the best story, it seems really odd to me to be out there openly celebrating a player getting big money.

Equally disconcerting to me is how many media members are purely pawns of player agents. I understand that in many cases, agents are about the only source of information as the teams (especially the local one) are not usually that forthcoming with information, but sometimes, it’s just painfully obvious where information is coming from and it has to be viewed accordingly. Last night’s spat over the status of free agent cornerback Brandon Browner was a perfect example. After Ian Rapoport came out with the report that Browner had agreed to a two-year deal with the Patriots, the report was denied with such a vengeance that it was very clear where the denial was coming from – an agent who still wanted leverage in negotiations. That was confirmed later when the same verbiage came directly from the agent.

I realize it’s a tough business with everyone trying to get the scoop and being willing to use whatever sources at their disposal to get information, but when it becomes so clear what sources are being used, it can taint your perception of that reporter and have you wondering what the angle is with each subsequent report.

Our favorite sports editor is sick and tired of this Patriots talk.