Derek Jeter Memorial Being Broadcast Live on FOX Tonight

The annual MLB All Star Game, originally scheduled for tonight on FOX has been cancelled and replaced with a three-hour tribute to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter who, in case you hadn’t heard yet, is retiring at the end of the season.

FOX is even bringing Tim McCarver out of retirement to gaze upon Jeter’s calm eyes one last time.

Sadly, I think the Jeter tributes are just getting started.

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Former NESN sideline reporter Jenny Dell and rehabbing Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks got engaged yesterday.

Dell and Middlebrooks are not the first reporter and athlete to have a relationship, but theirs has come under unusual scrutiny, I’ve even commented on it in the past. This news should spark a new round of fingerwags from the usual suspects, though since Dell is no longer with NESN, it shouldn’t be an issue now.

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Another former NESN star, Kathryn Tappen continues her rise in the media world. She will continue her work with NHL Network, but is also now joining NBC Sports, where she will have a variety of roles, including work on NHL Live, Football Night in America, Notre Dame Football, Super Bowl XLIX and future Olympic coverage.

Tappen is married to former NHL player Jay Leach, who had a brief stint with the Bruins. From their own wedding announcement in the New York Times:

The couple met in February 2005, during the National Hockey League lockout. Mr. Leach, who was with the Bruins then, went to Providence, R.I., to play for the Bruins’ minor league team. Ms. Tappen was covering sports for WJAR, the NBC affiliate in Providence.

I only point that that out to contrast it with the reaction given to Dell’s relationship with Middlebrooks, which is admittedly more high-profile, but I don’t recall people questioning Tappen’s professionalism when she was on NESN.

There are other reporter/athlete relationships, Samantha Steele and Christian Ponder are married, Erin Andrews dates LA Kings defenseman Jarret Stoll. It is actually surprising it doesn’t happen more.

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If we’re talking about sideline reporters, it is worthy of mention that FOX “elevated” Pam Oliver from her position as lead NFL sideline reporter into “Senior Correspondent.” She will remain a sideline reporter, but with the announcing team of Kevin Burkhardt and analyst John Lynch rather than the top team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.

Replacing Oliver on the top team will be the aforementioned Erin Andrews.

If it seems like a step back, it is, and a it’s a bad move by FOX. Oliver is one of the best in the business, and if you saw Andrews do the Patriots/Buccaneers game last season, you know this is a step back in quality for FOX.

I like Andews better than most seem to, but Pam Oliver is a pro. Along with Michele Tafoya, Doris Burke and Suzy Kolber, Oliver is among in the top group of people in the position of sideline reporter. Burke and Kolber do a whole lot more than just work on the sidelines, and Burke is actually miscast in the role of foil to Gregg Popovich – she’s better as a game analyst.

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With not much more going on in the local scene other than Dan Shaughnessy trolling Red Sox fans over Jon Lester, it seemed a good time to look at the above topics.

If You Can’t Troll Right, Don’t Troll At All

There’s an art to trolling. Some people can do it well, others just sound dumb when they try to do it.

Michael Felger is a master troller. He does his work on the airwaves, and it is amazingly effective. He gets the reactions, people are fired up, they keep listening even though they’re pissed off at him, and when called on it, he either 1) can somewhat intelligently defend his “take” or 2) sheepishly admit that he was just causing waves. I don’t like or enjoy it, but at least he’s good at it.

Others, like Ben Volin, try to troll, but they do so clumsily, and when they are called on it, either try to confuse the original issue or double down on their stupidity.

Here, young Ben is clearly attempting to troll, by insinuating that the Patriots somehow directly owe the families of the victims of Aaron Hernandez. Which is ridiculous.

When he was called on it, Volin clumsily tried to explain.

So there’s a pending lawsuit against Aaron Hernandez. Tell me again what this has to do with the Patriots? Volin then desperately grabs onto a Mike Florio post, (of all people) to try and make his case.

That post, ends with this line.

Which means that, by fighting to keep Hernandez’s money, the Patriots essentially are fighting to keep money from the families of the people he allegedly killed.

What Volin doesn’t (or can’t) explain is that there are two things going on here.

1) Families of victims are trying to prevent Patriots from paying Hernandez, because his lawyers will immediately take it all.

2) The Patriots are saying they don’t owe Hernandez any further money because he violated his contract.

The two situations have nothing to do with each other.

If the Patriots really wanted to screw the victims families, they would pay Hernandez. (which is what it seems Volin and Florio are insinuating they should do) The victims would never see the money.

The team doesn’t want to do that. Volin retweeted an AP story from the Globe today, which says:

The (team) lawyers said that in the ‘‘unlikely event’’ that the team is ordered to pay Hernandez more money after an arbitration proceeding, the team has offered to inform the plaintiffs and the court and will not pay Hernandez anything without a court order.

What that tells me is that if the Patriots ultimately are required to pay Hernandez, they’re going to give the plaintiffs and court first crack at it.

What would trolls like Volin and Florio have the Patriots do? Just hand over $3.25 million to families victims?

In the end, Volin just cries. Everyone is being mean to me!!!

No Ben, the backlash is from you being incredibly dim and trying to troll for clicks and attention and instead getting embarrassed.

If you don’t like it Ben, you can always go back to Florida.

Globe Troll, Case Two.

Then we have Dan Shaughnessy, who wrote his second column about ignoring this World Cup. This got him more attention via social media and even scored him an appearance on Outside the Lines on ESPN.

shuaghnessy

Some in the media defended Shaughnessy. Like Ben Volin, naturally.

Then there was national writer Pete Prisco:

It’s clear to me that Prisco didn’t read the column. Being anti-soccer may not be trolling. It may be his opinion.

This is trolling:

My anecdotal data indicates that there is no group with more conviction and less sense of humor than soccer fans. They are angry and firm in their insistence that theirs is the best game. Anyone who disputes this is dismissed as a xenophobic idiot.

When you attack not the game, but the fans and supporters, you’re trolling.

Anyway, how about those Red Sox?

How many weeks until training camp?

I’m out next week, probably won’t have anything up here, so enjoy the weekend and the beginning of July.

Patriots Beat Loses a Good One, Sox Just Lose

Catching up on a few items from the last several days while shaking my head that the Red Sox were nearly no-hit last night…

Nick Underhill of MassLive.com, one of the best young writers covering the Patriots announced yesterday that he’ll be moving on.

It’s a big loss for the beat, Underhill carved a nice niche for himself covering the Patriots, blending solid reporting, film study and statistical analysis in a straightforward, informative, easy to digest manner. I’m impressed with the entire staff at MassLive.com, so I’m hopeful they can bring on someone who can approach the competency that Underhill brought to the job.

Best wishes to Underhill going forward, New Orleans should be a great beat to jump on.

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Last week, NESN announced that Gary Striewski has been named as the network’s primary Red Sox in-game reporter. He follows Jenny Dell and Heidi Watney in that role.

The network claimed to have reviewed over 200 candidates for the job before awarding the position to Striewski, who has done a nice job this year in the role.

I don’t know if NESN even sent out a release on the news, as I didn’t get one, and Chad Finn at the Globe didn’t get one either, which is rather odd given that this is a relatively high-profile position.

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Eddie Andelman’s Twitter Feed Is a Cornucopia of Offensiveness

So when does the Godfather of Boston Sports Radio have his Twitter account deactivated?

Also, the account is not verified are we sure it is even him?

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A couple days late on this, but I laughed at this Peter Abraham paragraph in Sunday’s paper.

It was only the second homer for Ross in 96 at-bats against righthanded pitchers over the last two seasons. The other was against Texas ace Yu Darvish last season. So if you’re a well-paid Japanese sensation, the backup catcher of the Red Sox is coming for you.

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Bruins await Jarome Iginla’s decision – Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins hoping to retain Iginla, who is almost certain to receive more lucrative offers elsewhere.

Plenty of options on Danny Ainge’s table – Steve Bulpett assesses what the Celtics might be able to do this summer.

On Celtics Draft Night, No One Knows What To Expect

If you enjoy the unknown, tonight’s NBA draft promises plenty of drama and intrigue.

The Celtics currently hold picks 6 and 17, and many people will be disappointed if they just sit and make those picks.

There are a number of scenarios for tonight that have been rumored through various media outlets:

1) A trade for Kevin Love. After many declared a week to ten days ago that this was definitely happening, the chances of this move tonight seems to have slipped back significantly.

2) A trade of Rondo to Sacramento. This possibility re-emerged in the last few days, though the Kings have long held interest in the Celtics point guard. Could the Celtics hang onto their #6 pick and pick up the #8 pick in a Rondo trade? If they do, we’re in for another rebuilding season.

3) A trade up to the number one pick. Though this seems remote, A. Sherrod Blakely reported the other day that the Celtics have at least engaged the Cavs in talks for the pick. Would they take Parker or Wiggins there?

4) If Joel Embiid slips to #6 do the Celtics take him there? Especially if they pick up the 8th pick in scenario number two?

5) If the Celtics stand pat, and Embiid is not there, or they don’t pick him, who do they pick at #6? Gordon? Smart? Exum? Randle? Vonleh?

Of course, it could be none of the above.

The draft starts at 7:30 tonight on ESPN.

Help! We Don’t Know How To Talk Soccer!

That was basically the message I heard on both morning sports radio stations this morning, as they relied on callers for explanations and analysis of the  USA/Portugal World Cup soccer match yesterday.

Apparently Alexi Lalas was a little too fired up yesterday for the likes of Kirk Minihane as well, as the former Revolution defender was a target of the morning show.

Dan Shaughnessy got plenty of attention for his recycled and moronic  I’m choosing to ignore soccer column from yesterday.

Question: Are you really ignoring something if you’re writing an 800-word column on it in the region’s largest newspaper?

One thing is certain, Shaughnessy and his tomato can Globe editors were high-fiving over the reaction to the column, no matter how negative it was. The reaction is what matters. Effort, interest, prose, none of that matters.

A couple other notes:

Skip Bayless defended? A Q&A with head of ESPN’s First Take – An outstanding job by Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated in trying to get Marcia Keegan, the ESPN vice president of production to explain the appeal of the debate show.

Nick Cafardo wrote twice over the weekend saying that David Ortiz should have enough goodwill built up around Boston to get him through events like his complaints over the official scorer last week.  I agree. It seems ludicrous to me that Ortiz has so many detractors in this town, mostly on the airwaves. The emailers to Nick’s Saturday column (toward the end) are typical of the sort. They can’t wait until he’s gone. I don’t get that. You may not like him, but he’s done enough to earn some respect and some slack for when he does shoot off his mouth.

ESPN’s new SportsCenter set has gotten a lot of ink and attention over the last few days, but WCVB’s SportsCenter 5 OT also has a new look, and I thought it looked pretty good last night.

Where The Media Blows Yet Another Patriots Story Out Of Proportion

Greg Bedard didn’t expect this, even if he probably should’ve known what parts of his story some of his belly-crawling colleagues in the sports media would pick up and sensationalize.

In an profile of new Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine, the Boston-based Bedard painted a picture of Pettine as a hard-working, intelligent coach with a chip on his shoulder due to the fact that just 13 years ago he was coaching high school football.

About two-thirds of the way into the column, Pettine started to explain why he prefers to keep his initial playbook relatively thin and simple.

pettine-quote

He then told a story about Tom Brady teasing one of the Jets coaches about having their playbook, and Pettine saying he wasn’t surprised because Rex Ryan gave out playbooks all the time, including to Nick Saban, who is a Belichick friend.

While Bedard thought the anecdote was innocuous, whoever laid out the page at MMQB saw the sensationalistic aspect to the statement, and thus created the pull-quote above.

Immediately Twitter and web headlines everywhere proclaimed the Patriots guilty of stealing playbooks and by extension – cheating.

Bill Belichick was asked about it at minicamp yesterday.

Rex Ryan was asked about it.

Nick Saban’s office was asked about it.

This didn’t stop the freight train. Bedard went onto CSNNE last night to try and set the matter straight, and said if he knew the extent to which the anecdote would be blown out of proportion, he’d have left it out, because it wasn’t important.

Bedard: Media misconstrued Pettine anecdote

Most people who know the NFL know that playbooks get passed around all over the league. Rex’s brother Rob worked for the Patriots – you don’t think he gave his brother one? You can download portions of the Patriots (and other teams) playbook on the internet.

Bedard is pissed that this has become the focus of his story, and I don’t blame him.

Addendum:

This was posted last night:

So when the Patriots are mentioned with anything, it is a huge deal. Stuff like this comes out, and it is completely ignored.

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David Ortiz was wrong to have a tantrum over an official scorers decisions week. It’s not the first time he’s done, and it probably won’t be the last. He’s emotional – for better or worse – but that does not excuse his behavior.

That said, Boston sports radio needs to save their hand-wringing and outrage for other things. They love to tell us how Ortiz gets a free pass for everything in this town, and put on their whiny-baby voice while they say but he won us three World Series when mocking fans. We’ve heard it a million times already.

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It was bizarro Felger and Mazz this week, as I tune in one afternoon to hear Felger saying he made a bet that the Patriots would be a top-five defense this year, and that he feels that this team is championship-built.

Tony Massarotti then stated that the Red Sox aren’t out of it yet, and can still make a run to the postseason.

#mindblown

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Enormous changes coming to ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter’ – Chad Finn details the upcoming changes to the ESPN flagship show which has a new 194,000 square-foot studio. If you’re a fan of “show the highlights and get out of the way” the new SportsCenter may not be for you.

Bengtson has used the phrase “talent forward, content back” — one of those buzzy sayings that if you hear enough might leave you with a hangover the next day — to describe a more personality-driven approach to “SportsCenter.”

Great.

NESN’s Tom Caron brings out best in all analysts – Bill Doyle looks at the Red Sox host’s ability to work with varied personalities like Tim Wakefield, Steve “Psycho” Lyons, Jim Rice, and Dennis Eckersley

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Finally, a minor request to my friends on the Patriots beat. Can we dispense with the whole habit of including Matthew Slater in with the wide receivers on the roster? Every time a reporter lists out the wide receivers who will make the team, they usually list six, but with the caveat that one spot is reserved for Slater. Ben Volin does it today, most of the other reporters do it as well. It is tedious.

Matthew Slater is not a wide receiver. Does Danny Aiken get counted as a tight end or offensive lineman? No, he’s a specialist, as are the kicker and punter. Slater is as much a specialist as those guys. List him as one.

Cup Fever Grips Hub

The World Cup continues to be a huge hit here in Boston, as last night’s U.S.A./Ghana match showed with a 7.0 overnight national rating for ESPN, (a record for them) but 10+ in Boston and Hartford.

Talking World Cup soccer is still something the local media is not well-versed in. Dalen Cuff of CSNNE did a nice job on the Felger and Mazz program yesterday afternoon, but he’s the exception to the rule. Most seem to still prefer to mock it as that is easier to do than actually trying to learn about it.

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As the baseball world mourned Tony Gwynn yesterday, the media was almost unanimous in praising Gwynn as not just a great player, but a great person as well.

The exception, as always, was the aforementioned Felger and Mazz, with former baseball reporter Massarotti calling Gwynn “overrated” and Felger suggesting that the Padres star used steroids. Stay classy, guys.

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Glad the Globe devoted front page space to a column on poor losers. You can guess who was lumped in with Richard Nixon and Whitey Bulger, cant you?

This must be what Kevin Paul Dupont is talking about when he rails on about how important newspapers and print journalism continue to be in our society.

Oh, and a rebuttal to that Globe piece?

Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser. – Vince Lombardi.

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Patriots minicamp runs over the next few days. I’ve been finding myself heading over to the Boston Herald Patriots blog (The Blitz)  more often these days. It is straightforward and updated constantly.

While I still think Mike Reiss is head of the class, ESPN has absolutely destroyed his blog. It isn’t so bad during the offseason, as there isn’t as much Patriots news on the national front, but when things heat up and the Patriots are being talked about by the likes of Skip Bayless, I don’t want those segments jammed into the blog at me. Reiss doesn’t have control over that, and has himself expressed frustration at the arrangement, but it is still annoying having to weed through those posts.

With the The Blitz, you’re actually getting information from the Herald writers on the beat – Jeff Howe and Karen Guregian. The Globe no longer has a Patriots blog since the spin-off of Boston.com. The writers on Extra Points are a mixed bag. You might get Eric Frenz (good) or Zuri Berry (bad) or you might get someone else entirely.

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A few good links from today:

Depth charge: The importance of Rubby De La Rosa (and friends) – Alex Speier on the contributions of a pair of 25-year-old pitchers for the Red Sox.

Thornton, Bruins will miss each other – Joe McDonald says Shawn Thornton will always have a place in the hearts of Bruins fans.

Shabazz Napier works out for Celtics – Baxter Holmes looks at the Roxbury native who would love nothing more than being drafted by his hometown team.

Kevin Love trade rumors 2014 – Jay King looks at Chad Ford’s suggestion that Minnesota is coming around to the idea that the Celtics could offer the best package for Love.

It’s convenient for NFL to cluck about Irsay now – Tom E Curran thinks the NFL should’ve checked in on the Colts owner before his incident.

How do sports reporters at newspapers adapt to the Internet? Often, grudgingly – So true.

Tito’s Still Upset, NESN Giving Time Off To Orsillo, Remy

The Red Sox got back on the winning side of the ledger last night at Fenway Park. Old friend Terry Francona was in the house, and like old times, made an appearance on the Dale and Holley show. He again said he has not spoken with John Henry or Tom Werner and isn’t sure he ever will again.

A few quick media notes this morning:

NESN will give Don Orsillo time off in July – Chad Finn looks at a memo from NESN this week that Orsillo and Jerry Remy would be taking vacation time this summer.

Like Chad, I find the Orsillo bit rather strange. NESN is known for their cryptic releases and this one was no exception. It stated “Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo will each get a week-long break this season, consistent with what many regional sports networks do for their MLB broadcast teams.” and then gave the dates.

It did note that Jon Rish will fill in for Orsillo while he is “on break.”

Join Eddie Andelman’s ‘Huddle’ on Boston Herald Radio – The sports radio pioneer will do a one-hour show this afternoon at 2:00 on Herald Radio.

Fran Quinn will get air time at U.S. Open – Bill Doyle looks at coverage of the U.S. Open, including of Massachusetts native Quinn, who had a strong showing on the first day of the tournament.

Random Thoughts:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a broadcast trio as depressed as Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were when the second half of last night’s Spurs/Heat game began.

One of the things that makes Dan Shaughnessy’s incessant trolling so infuriating is columns like this.

I’ve seen hang-wringing on Twitter and elsewhere over the comments of U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann that his team has no chance to win the World Cup. The media is a funny group. They demand honesty from the people they cover. But when they get it, the criticize the person for giving it. They’d rather have Rex Ryan’s yearly Super Bowl guarantees.

Early returns on the MFB: Not good. Gresh and Zo have little to worry about. Tim Benz seems to be of the Mike Salk school of painful teases – “There IS one star that I don’t think should be getting more heat from the media. I’ll tell you who when we come back.” Christian Fauria can’t complete a thought without getting distracted, or he comes out with a gem like “90% of the time he always does the right thing.”

Tony Massarotti spent a good chunk of time yesterday staring at the ceiling while trashing David Ortiz and his season thus far. His timing was perfect.

Jenny Dell Resurfaces as CBS NFL Sideline Reporter

Former NESN Red Sox sideline reporter Jenny Dell will be appearing on NFL sidelines this fall, as CBS announced its broadcast pairings for the 2014 season.

Part of the release noted that Tracy Wolfson would be joining the network’s top announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms as reporter. Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts have been promoted to the 2nd team, and Trent Green will join Greg Gumbel, after the retirement of Dan Dierdorf.

The release also noted that  THE NFL ON CBS will utilize additional sideline reporters during the season including  Jenny Dell and Evan Washburn.

It’s a nice way for Dell to land on her feet following her departure from NESN which was made complicated and messy after she and Red Sox player Will Middlebrooks announced that they were dating.

CSNNE To Provide Nightly World Cup Updates

While soccer and the World Cup may currently be an object of ridicule on certain sports radio shows, there is still some interest locally in the biggest soccer tournament in the world.

Comcast SportsNet New England announced their coverage plans for the World Cup this afternoon.

Full Release:

COMCAST SPORTSNET TO FEATURE IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF WORLD CUP SOCCER WITH NEW ENGLAND’S TOP SOCCER EXPERTS
 
Revs GM Mike Burns, Revs Players Chris Tierney, Darrius Barnes, and
A.J. Soares, and USA Soccer Legend Kristine Lilly to Headline Nightly “Cup Reports”
on Comcast SportsNet, Beginning Wed, June 11

Burlington, MA, June 10, 2014 – The 2014 World Cup is almost here and Comcast SportsNet, television home of the New England Revolution, will bring soccer fans nightly “Cup Reports” with opinion and analysis from some of the sports’ most knowledgeable experts, beginning Wednesday, June 11th and continuing throughout the entire competition.

Comcast SportsNet’s “Cup Reports” will be featured in the network’s nightly news show Chevrolet SportsNet Central and will include in-depth updates from the likes of Revs GM and two-time U.S. World Cup team member Mike Burns, current Revs players Chris Tierney, Darrius Barnes, and A.J. Soares, and US women’s soccer legend Kristine Lilly, among others. The robust team of soccer experts will provide fans with recap and opinion on prior games and a preview to upcoming matchups, providing unique daily coverage of the World Cup as it unfolds.

In 2010, Comcast SportsNet featured Revs goal record-holder TaylorTwellman on the network providing his expert insight and analysis on South Africa’s World Cup. Twellman, who started his broadcasting career with Comcast SportsNet New England, is now a national soccer analyst for ESPN and will play a significant role in the network’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

CSNNE.com, the online home of Comcast SportsNet, will offer an online version of the Cup Reports and will also provide real-time news and info on a dedicated World Cup page surrounding the tournament.

The World Cup is an international soccer competition contested by the Senior Men’s National teams of the members of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. The Championship is awarded every four years and is a highly anticipated worldwide event.