The Minihane Reminder – The Boston Media Is Not Very Tough (skinned)

Only in Boston could we have a ceremony celebrating the 10-year anniversary of a Championship that broke an 86-year drought and then spend the next day listening to the media bitch endlessly about it.

Then we have Kirk Minihane’s column today. (The Manny Ramirez reminder: Boston is not a tough sports town)

Holy crap.

I understand the points he’s trying to make. I really do. I’m going to try my best not to be a total fraud on this one.

First, I’m on the anti-Manny side of this. A serial steroid abuser, a guy who quit on his team, skipping Jimmy Fund after Jimmy Fund event, blowing off Walter Reed, beating up old guys and his own wife — we all know the greatest hits. He’s personified everything that’s been wrong with baseball the last 15 years, and the Red Sox decide to give him above-the-title billing for the 10th anniversary celebration of the 2004 World Series champions Wednesday? A stunningly tone-deaf move by the Red Sox, basically endorsing all the many transgressions of Ramirez.

I think we’re all well aware of Manny’s history. I also think appreciating what he did on the field does not signify condoning what he did off of it, nor does it mean that the Red Sox are complicit in his acts by giving him the role they did the other night.

That would be like saying Kirk Minihane, by showing up for work every day endorses the acts that got his co-hosts suspended for racist remarks. That when they skipped the Jimmy Fund event themselves because they were in a contract dispute, that it was OK. Their own interests were more important. That sending out numerous bullying voicemails and Tweets that would get others in hot water is just fine and dandy, thank you. We all know the greatest hits of D&C. By working there, Kirk endorses all the many transgressions of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan.

Some would say that Dennis and Callahan (and Minihane) personify everything that’s been wrong with sports media for the last 15 years.

I wasn’t surprised the Red Sox elected to have Ramirez announced last and throw out the first pitch — this is an ownership group that hungers to be liked by players, turning into 12-year-olds around these guys. That’s OK, I guess, it’s their money and they’ve been extraordinarily successful. No, what surprised me was this idea that there was ever a chance the fans would react negatively toward Ramirez. That was never going to happen.

I wasn’t surprised that Kirk and his co-workers as well as just about every other on-air personality in town elected to spend yesterday howling at the moon on his topic. This is a group that hungers to have the edgiest hot sportz take, and to attempt to make following sports miserable. That’s OK, I guess. They’ve been extraordinarily successful. Well, some more than others, anyway. What surprised me was this idea that there was ever a chance that the media would actually just let fans enjoy something that meant a lot to many of them instead of trying to ruin it with their own misery. That was never going to happen.

Again, cheer or boo — it’s your buck — but can we all get together and drop the notion that Boston is a tough town? That’s over, it’s been over for years. Who, exactly, is having a tough time in Boston these days? What athlete? Ramirez treated fans, media and his own organization like a six-pound turd for the better part of a decade and all is forgiven … why? Because he’s been gone for a while? Because he’s using the ultimate mulligan, the Jesus card, to kick off an image rehabilitation tour?

That’s right, Clay Buchholz is NOT being called a giant pussy a dozen times an hour all day on sports radio. Rajon Rondo is NOT being deemed a punk and an arrogant s.o.b. who isn’t a leader whenever the subject of the Celtics comes up. Dont’a Hightower is NOT being called the biggest draft bust in the Bill Belichick era and having his every miscue in coverage screamed about. Brad Marchand is NOT catching any heat for his playoff antics and lack of performance. Danny Amendola is NOT being mocked at every turn for being a fragile as Wedgwood china. David Ortiz is NOT being called greedy and having his every achievement asterisked. Bill Belichick, despite having the best record in the NFL since 2001 does NOT have his every move, draft pick and decision picked apart, criticized and questioned.

These things are NOT happening. It’s a piece of cake to be an athlete in Boston.

Please tell me why it is necessary for athletes to have “a tough time” in Boston. Some in the media seem to think if they’re not being “tough” they’re not doing their jobs. They’re the only ones who think this. Eight championships in twelve years tells me that things are going pretty well.

Is the Jesus card the ultimate mulligan, or is using kids with cancer a better way to rehabilitate an image? As long as it is publicized, I guess. If you’re putting your name and image to a cause like that, you can get away with pretty much anything. And if someone dares question your motivation in doing this, you can just scream at how your accuser hates kids with cancer, and your lackeys will rush to your defense and smother the dissenter. John Dennis, when the whole METCO thing happened said that people did not know what was in his heart.

Apparently, though, Manny is just “using” the Jesus card, because Kirk and everyone else can actually see into his heart and know that this is fraudulent, just an act to try and con people into thinking he’s changed.

You know who is having a tough time in Boston these days? The D&C Show, for one. Damn those ratings.

Here’s the truth: You don’t care if Ramirez is a different person or not. Down deep, you’re thinking what I’m thinking — once a jerk, always a jerk. That doesn’t change. But he helped you win two World Series and was a great (though juiced off the charts) hitter. And that’s what matters. He could get arrested six times over the next 10 years and tear Boston to shreds in interviews, and guess what would happen in 2024? He’d get a standing ovation at the 20th reunion.

Here’s the truth: I’m over it. Is Manny Ramirez the only athlete in history to be a jerk? Was he the only player juicing it up? So, none of the competition were doing these things? There were no jerks or juicers prior to Manny?  The Yankees had many more players be exposed over the years as having used substances. Is there any effort by the local media to diminish their accomplishments? No. Only with the locals. Does it bother me that Manny did these? Yeah. It does. But I’m over it. Why is it such a horrible thing that someone cares mostly about just what happens on the field? When did this change? Athletes in the past did horrible things, but no one heard about it. Should older fans now look back at teams of their childhood and renounce them now knowing what we know about some of them? It’s a slippery slope. We need to hold all grudges against Manny forever, but what about when we find out about things others have done?

Just like Kirk is apparently over his co-worker’s antics. Kirk is open about the troubles in his own personal life in the past. Should we also hold them against him? Once a jerk always a jerk?

I’m over it. The 2004 World Series was a historic moment in local sports. The efforts to make us miserable over it are just pathetic.

Right or wrong, the fanboys have won. The cynics have been pushed aside, they are now very much a minority in the fan base and the media. If you introduce a negative opinion, or a suggestion an athlete should be traded or not re-signed, or if the athlete or coach isn’t as great as the current perception, you are either miserable or just a troll looking for page views. Maybe you think that’s a good thing. Maybe you’re right. But I’m not comfortable with it. I don’t like beat writers as PR guys or radio talk show hosts as cheerleaders, and I don’t want adults with some influence pushing for players to be on the cover of video games. I see all this — just go on Twitter during games and tell me some beat guys aren’t rooting for teams — and wonder what’s next, where exactly does it end? Will John Henry own everything and everyone will just shrug and move on?

Ah yes. The fanboys. There are no lower forms of life than the fanboy.

There are no cynics anymore. I just wish that the likes of John Dennis, Gerry Callahan, Kirk Minihane, Lou Merloni, Andy Gresh, Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti, Adam Jones, Dan Shaughnessy, Ron Borges, Kevin Paul Dupont, Gary Tanguay, Eric Wilbur, Adam Kaufman, Jim Donaldson, Hector Longo, Steve Buckley…I just wish these poor, repressed souls had SOME outlet or platform to express their anti-fanboy views. To set us all straight. It’s too bad, really. There just are no cynics anymore.

I have never once looked on Twitter during a game and gotten the impression that the beat writers were rooting for the local teams. Ever. Where does this come from? Radio talk show hosts as cheerleaders? Who is he talking about here? Dale Arnold on the Bruins? Scott Zolak on the Patriots? It sure seems to me like those guys are the minority.

Beat writers are cheerleaders? Who? I don’t see it. Is it because they’re not cynical and negative? Does everyone involved in covering sports have to be cynical and negative or they’re not up to the standards that Kirk is demanding? Where does the line come down?

One thing we know for sure – unlike these fan boys, athletes and team management, the sports media embraces criticism of themselves and uses it to better themselves and their product. That’s without question. They would never insult someone who is critical of them and their work.

In the minds of the media, do you know what a fanboy really is? It’s someone who pushes back against them. Email Dan Shaughnessy sometime and knock his latest column. You’ll be called a fanboy. Push back on Twitter against someone in the media. They’ll call you a fanboy.

Fans are always going to be suckers, I suppose, weak in the knees for a 4.3 40-yard time or a .440 OBP. I get it, I really do. I don’t agree with it, but I even understand why they cheered for Ramirez. They don’t care about the bad stuff, it’s irrelevant. They want to win and they want to treat the people who actually win like they are more than the rest of us. If Aaron Hernandez were somehow released from prison today, and signed by the Patriots tomorrow (clearly impossible, of course), most fans would be thrilled. And if he caught three touchdown passes against the Broncos, virtually all would be forgotten. Now, would some people give up their season tickets or stop watching? Sure. But those tickets would be snatched in three seconds and the TV ratings wouldn’t move an inch.

If you’re a fan of sports, you’re also a sucker. Remember that.

Also remember that when a guy keeps telling you repeatedly that he gets it, he really does – he doesn’t. Not at all.

Let’s run through Kirk’s hypothetical strawman scenario involving Hernandez.

If Aaron Hernandez were somehow released from prison today – The only way that could somehow happen would be if the charges were dropped, probably following the confession of another, so Hernandez would be innocent.

and signed by the Patriots tomorrow (clearly impossible, of course), most fans would be thrilled. – Yes, given that he was innocent of all charges in this strawman argument, then I would hope fans would welcome the resigning of a quality player who was wrongfully charged.

And if he caught three touchdown passes against the Broncos, virtually all would be forgotten. – Well, hopefully it wouldn’t be forgotten, people shouldn’t let the state brush those false charges under the rug so easily.

Wait, what was the point again?

Cheer or boo, do whatever you want. But let’s stop with the charade that Boston is a tough sports town. It’s a pushover, a place for athletes to be protected, coddled and worshipped by fans and media. This is San Diego, Kansas City, fill in whichever former punchline city you’d use. Boston is no different, most of the media and fans just want to believe it is to feel different about themselves, to build up some false credibility. It’s a fanboy haven now, for better or worse.

Oh right. The whole point of this column is that the Boston media (and fans) aren’t TOUGH. Or tough enough anyway. In order to have credibility, apparently Boston fans and media need to be TOUGH on players and teams.

This paragraph (well, the whole column actually) makes no sense to me whatsoever. Questions I need answered:

Who is portraying the “charade” that Boston is a tough sports town?

Why is it important whether it is true or not?

Why would Boston fans and media need to make something up to feel different from other cities?

What credibility is needed beyond eight championships in twelve years?

When did being a fanboy become such an awful thing?

I like Kirk Minihane. I enjoy many of his columns, he oftentimes takes a stand that runs against what much of the media groupthink seems to be. I’m disappointed that with this one, he seems to be in lockstep with his colleagues at WEEI, as well as the likes of Felger and Mazz and Dan Shaughnessy.

When all the biggest voices in town are the cynics, how can it be said that the “fanboys” have won?  I’ve actually had a column started and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder about how “Felger Has Won.” I believe it is a more accurate representation of what the current fan/media climate is here in Boston at the moment. The “fanboys” get mocked, shouted down and hung up on, while the cynics get all the space and airtime they want.

If you listened to the radio at all yesterday, you know I’m right.

John Ryder Latest To Exit WEEI

John Ryder, who provided a nice dose of sanity and reason to the insane-ness that is the Mikey Adams Project tweeted the above this afternoon.

I would imagine that this could be tangentially related to the weekend news of the midday show ( the details of which Mike Mutnansky confirmed on the air) in that I can see WEEI moving Mutnansky into the roles that Ryder filled, specifically on Red Sox pregame duties. Whether he works with Adams at all remains to be seen.

Ryder was one of the solid personalities at the station, not prone to the hotsportztakes and adept at wielding off the drunken callers.

Mutton Lou No Longer, Fauria, Benz To Join Merloni Middays

Chad Finn had the story this weekend that WEEI is finally shaking up the midday program, reassigning Mike Mutnansky and bringing in Christian Fauria to join Lou Merloni, and adding 970 ESPN Pittsburgh host Tim Benz to the program as well.

According to Finn:

Benz will join the program — titled “Middays with MFB” — sometime later in the month after the Penguins complete their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Rangers.

Tim Benz
Tim Benz

I had heard the Fauria rumors and refused to believe them, thinking that 1) Fauria wouldn’t want a full-time role like this, and 2) that new management would be smart enough to see that the former Patriots tight end doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table other than his NFL experience.

As for Benz, he has ties here, as Finn notes:

He was born in Boston, and his father is Dr. Edward Benz Jr., the current president and CEO of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

We all know how well things went the last time the station brought in an out-of-town talent who had local ties here. Benz’s challenge will be to avoid being Mike Salk V2,

Benz was involved in a bit of controversy last year when he left his spot as morning host of The X Morning show.

Tim Benz leaves 105.9 The X Morning Show over gun control debate

Tim Benz Leaves X Morning Show – This link shows a Facebook post allegedly by Benz where he suggests that a drone strike targeted at the listener’s home would be “doing all of us a favor”

A change on the program was well overdue, and while it remains to be seen how well the new parts will work together, you can see some of the logic in how it was put together. In Merloni and Fauria you’ve got baseball and football covered with guys who have played locally and know how things operate and the unique environment that is Boston. In Benz you’ve got a guy who has covered the Steelers and Penguins and can be the host of the show, hopefully playing the strengths of Merloni and Fauria.

As for Mutnansky, it appears that he’s been Dale Arnold-ed. He’ll likely get some fill-in spots and weekend duty. I’m glad they didn’t fire him altogether, but it remains to be seen where his radio career goes from here.