BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst Studio Host

Here’s our final recap for the 2005 BSMW voting. We’re looking at a relatively minor role, that of the studio host, who introduces the game, brings guests in and out of segments and sets up the studio analysts for their opinions. The host will also perhaps have a few between-periods spots, as well as a post-game wrapup which might include filling time until press conferences are held, and getting analysis from the guests and whomever else might be on the program.

The ideal host is smooth, able to transition between segments effortlessly, sets up his analysts nicely and is flexible enough to be able to handle any unexpected development, such as a weather delay, technical difficulty or sudden lineup change.

Here’s how you voted in this category:

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Going by the above description, Tom Caron is an almost perfect studio host, and the voting affirmed that. (597 votes for 46% of the total) Caron never makes himself the star of the show, and smoothly navigates through the pre and post game shows setting up his guests and analysts very well. During rain delays he never seems like he’s just there filling time, he keeps the discussions going and keeps them lively.

Caron’s NESN teammate Eric Frede, who handles the Bruins studio hosting duties came in second, a bit of a surprise, given the awful season turned in by the B’s. Frede got 264 votes for 20% of the total. He has filled in on occasion for Caron on the Red Sox telecasts, and has handled those opportunities very well. Bob Lobel of the Patriots pregame and 5th quarter came in third.

Reader Comments: Caron first, by default. I liked Rodgers better, but Caron is fine. A very unenthusiastic "best" vote for Caron. A pretty solid performer but his voice and look are not that good.

Now a look at the other end of the spectrum:

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Someone complained to me during the voting that it wasn’t fair that Gary Tanguay was listed in this category twice. They reasoned that he would split his vote and finish behind someone else. Well, there’s no rules that say we can’t combine his totals and make them one number. By that method Tanguay’s gigs with WBCN radio hosting Patriots games and his FSN chores for the Celtics netted him 31% of the vote, which ties him with Bob Lobel to lead the voting in this category.

In contrast to Caron, Tanguay oftentimes seems to be trying to make himself the center of attention. His idea of generating discussion during his hosting duties is oftentimes to take some unpopular or knee-jerk stance and introduce it as a topic for discussion. Last year during the Patriots preseason, the team took it easy on Tom Brady in the preseason. Tanguay several times tried to assert that this meant that there was something wrong with Brady that all fans should be deeply concerned about. Of course, Brady then went on to have perhaps his finest season as a pro. Lobel’s telecasts are sometimes shaky and uneven, though I think people are harsher on him than necessary. Once in a while he’ll pull a Tanguay and try to get people worked on during a Patriots pre or post game show, but not with the same frequency. Having Bob Neumeier next to him has helped the last couple years as they do work very well together.

Reader Comments: Tanguay on 'BCN is the worst; he tries to obscure his lack of football knowledge with a preposterous “tough guy” act. The Pats deserve better, Jonathan….Which sucks worse, Tanger on 'BCN or Tanger on FSN? Verrrry tough choice. On pure volume of stupidity, I have to go with the 'BCN Tanguay.

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BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst TV Sports Personality

Today we’re looking at a group of people who in some cases might be something of a dying breed. These are TV sports personalities, and among them are the people who do sports reports on the local newscasts. They’ve seen their on-air time dwindle through the years, even as the popularity of sports has increased. In many cases they compensate for their reduced newscast time with gigs hosting nightly or weekly sports shows, appearing on team pregame and postgame shows or making appearances on sports radio. It’s very rare to see someone who only does TV sports on the nightly news.

Some of our candidates have been in the market for a long time, others are relative newcomers. Here’s how you voted on them:

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It was a tight voting, with no clear winner. Mike Lynch of channel 5 WCVB came out on top with 232 votes for 18% of the total. Lynch is one of the veterans of the Boston sports scene, and has managed not to get over-exposed during that time. In addition to the sportscasts on WCVB, he also hosts the Patriots All Access program on the station, and during the preseason and occasions that the Patriots play on ABC or ESPN, Lynch has hosted a pregame show on the station as well. He does a solid job, not making himself the focus or star, and going about things in a workmanlike manner, not usually resorting to making outrageous statements just for attention.

Hazel Mae, host of Sports Desk on NESN came in second in the balloting with 14% of the vote, while veteran Bob Lobel and Tom Caron each received 12% of the total. Lobel has been a fixture on the Boston sports scene for over 25 years, and while he may have lost some of his fastball, he’s in many ways still the face of TV sports in Boston.

Reader Comments: I went with Giardi on top here. Mike Lynch is solid but I almost never watch that station….The "Best" vote was easy—no one. There's not one person on that list who I would say is outstanding and only a few (Giardi, Lynch) whom I would characterize as acceptable.

Now let’s look at the vote for worst:

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Once again the voting was very tight, but Butch Stearns emerged as the winner of the worst TV sports personality, taking home 213 votes for 16% of the total. Getting viewers to the station is part of his job, but the way he attempts to do it is something many people take issue with. He’ll tease his sports segment with some statement that is designed to make the viewer think that something huge is breaking. If you watch him for any length of time, you become immune to the tactic. Stearns also is a frequent guest on WEEI (He says it paid for the addition to this house.) and enjoys throwing things out there trying to generate some sort of buzz. Most famous of course was his confrontation with Curt Schilling on WEEI, which he then milked on his sportscast. Another Stearns highlight was when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, and Butch grabbed the trophy on-camera exclaiming “Who’s better than me with the trophy?”

CBS4’s duo of Bob Lobel and Steve Burton came in second and third. Lobel had a rough 2005 with rumors of his personal life making headlines and then suing a cartoonist for alleging that he was drunk on the air. Burton is the king of the one-word questioning technique. He proves clueless on many matters and while he might be a nice guy personally, he offers little in the way of insight or analysis of sports.

Reader Comments: Stearns has my lifetime support for worst here. Steve Burton could visibly pee his pants every time he is on TV and I'm still backing Butch. The lowest of the low….Chris Collins apparently flying under the radar here…. After lengthy deliberation and after a tight battle among the Three Horseman of the Apocryphal (Stupidity, Pomposity and Cluelessness-- Burton, Stearns, and Tanguay) I had to go with the one guy who best epitomizes all three. Who looks better with a Brucie than you, Butch?

BSMW Awards Recap – Boston Sports Media’s Best Kept Secret

Just a short entry today with the holiday.

Today we’re looking at media people who might not yet be household names, but whose work is getting them attention from sports fans and consumers in the region. Last year’s winner was Mike Reiss, who quickly got a promotion to the Globe and has emerged as one of the brightest stars on the Patriots beat and is a trailblazer in terms of sports blogging in Boston.

Here’s this year’s list of candidates and the results. We did also have a couple write-ins for Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe, who was regrettably left off the balloting.

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Rob Bradford moved from the Lowell Sun to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune after John Tomase moved to the Herald and immediately made an impact on Red Sox coverage. He had a tremendous offseason covering the departures, acquisitions and intrigue around the club over the course of the winter. He has since become a Big Show regular and looks to be a fixture on the Boston sports media scene for years to come.

No one else in this group really stuck out among the voters, Eric Wilbur does pretty solid work for Boston.com, though he does so mostly in anonymity, as the site doesn’t seem to promote his stuff as much as they do other features of the site (Dirt Dogs, for one). Someone that I think is an up and comer is the guy who essentially replaced Mike Reiss at the MetroWest Daily News, Albert Breer, who has done some good work covering the Patriots for the paper. I also like Michael Parente’s Patriots coverage, and someone else who didn’t make the list, Scott Souza of the Daily News, whose coverage of the Celtics has caught my attention a number of times over the course of the season.

Tomorrow: TV Sports Personalities

BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst Local in-game Analyst

Today we’re ending up the week looking at the best and worst of the in-game analysts here in Boston. These guys are there to give us insight and commentary about the game as it unfolds in front of them (and us). A good color analyst will tell you things you did not know, and might not have seen until you get a replay of what just happened. The great ones can also tell you ahead of time what is about to happen next.

What does the field look like here in Boston? Here are the results for the best in-game (color) analyst:

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Not too much of a surprise here. Hometown guy and former Red Sox second baseman Jerry Remy has become a cult figure here in Boston, with his own website and line of merchandise. The adulation is well deserved as Remy does indeed oftentimes tells you what is going to happen just before it does take place. Remy took away 774 votes for 59% of the total. While he sometimes can get caught up in silliness and can spend way too much time talking about Wally the Green Monster, you do have to keep in mind that it is a long season, and there are games in which it is simply difficult to keep on focus because of a blowout. When the big moments of the game arise, Remy raises his game as well. While Remy was probably at the top of his game when working with Sean McDonough – no one could fill a blowout game like those two – he has developed a good relationship with Don Orsillo, though admittedly not on the level of what he had with McDonough.

Andy Brickley’s strong second place finish despite the dismal year the Bruins had is a testament to his skills and ability in the booth. Another native New Englander who also played professionally for the local team, Brickley provides very good analysis and insight on the Bruins telecasts on NESN. Brickley picked up 178 votes for 14% to just edge out the third place finisher, Gino Cappelletti of the WBCN Patriots radio broadcasts. Cappelletti might be just a tad past his prime, but is still a fan favorite and you’re glad he’s still in the booth with Gil Santos as those two have seen more Patriots football then perhaps anyone else alive.

Reader Comments: I threw Max a vote for best commentator here. The guy has evolved into one of the all-time funniest color guys I've ever heard—he knows the game inside and out and he is candid. Bonus points for never wavering on disliking Mark Blount…. I voted for Maxwell as the best. A great combo of funny and insightful. There's a reason The Sopranos chose to use the commentary from a Celtics game to use in their season opener. Quack Quack Quack Quack Quack…. I'm switching my vote to Max this year for several reasons. First, no one has worked harder at his job to get rid of the "ebonics" and deep southern accent problems that plagued him in his early years. Second, I find Max consistently funny (at least 2 or 3 laughs per game) and insightful at the same time. Finally, the "quacks" notwithstanding, Max is no homer. He is perfectly willing to point out the flaws of the C's, both in individuals and in the team as a whole. And—unlike the BC broadcast team—Max does not believe every foul was committed against the Celtics.

Now to the worst in this category:

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No one was deemed bad enough to be saddled with the worst label, which is good. Tommy Heinsohn may be a shameless homer and his screaming at the officials can get on some people’s nerves, but as someone who grew up listening to Johnny Most, Tommy has simply picked up the torch that Most handed to him. Broadcast partner Mike Gorman deserves a huge round of applause for his ability to balance Tommy’s act for sake of the viewers. Jerry Remy actually got 13% of the worst vote…likely from those who might feel that the “remdawg” has gotten overexposed the last few years.

Reader Comments: I would like to vote "none" on the second part, but ended up going with Bob Beers, just because I never liked him as a player…. As for worst, its Gino again for me. I love him like my own grandpa and respect his accomplishments but he adds bupkis to the broadcast… You know who's coming up fast for me on the "worst" side of the ledger? Jerry Remy. His constant pimping of his website is annoying and his popularity has made him lazy.

Monday: Boston Media’s Best Kept Secret

BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst non-beat Sport Specific Writer

Today we’re going to check out a category with a name with might initially sound confusing. The non-beat, sport specific writers. These are writers who fall in between the role of a beat writer and a full fledged columnist. These writers usually focus on one specific sport, but are not the beat writers for their papers in their sport. They offer more opinion and analysis than do the beat writers, and their pieces are often mini-features. They usually compile the Sunday notes columns for their respective sports, going beyond the local teams and looking at the entire league.

These are some of the more controversial writers in town, probably because their roles are not clearly defined. Some expect them to be reporters focused on facts and events, like the beat writers, while some feel that since they’re practically columnists that their pieces are going to be filled with strong, polarizing opinion.

Here’s how the voting went for the best of this category:

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Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal was the top pick here, grabbing an impressive 46% of the total vote. McAdam has a reputation as a good reporter, who has his opinions, but is also usually very reasonable and even-keeled, even on the most volatile of subjects. McAdam also has national recognition with his work on the ESPN.com webpage. He is very visible, making the rounds of the various media outlets with regularity.

Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe placed second, getting 25% of the vote. Edes is another solid reporter, who generally provides solid, instructive and well-written analysis of not only the Red Sox, but also all of Major League Baseball. Edes has worked in several cities during his career, and this serves him well in terms of contacts around the game.

Reader Comment: I would have liked to have voted for Mark Blaudschun here. I think he fits into this category, and he's an easy winner over these guys in my eyes.

Now to the worst of this category:

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Ron Borges of the Globe picks up 710 votes for 51% of the total. He was the only writer to earn recognition in this category as the “no one” vote was the next highest amount with 18% of the vote.

Borges’ axes when it comes to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are well-documented. It’s unfortunate that this is what he is known for, as he is without question a solid reporter and gifted writer. He has sullied his own reputation with his dislike of how things are done down in Foxboro.

Reader Comments: Allow me to plug for Nickles Cafardo in the worst category. As detestable as Borges can be with his intentionally contrarian stance, Borges is worlds better than Cafardo when it comes to writing, reporting, and creativity. Cafardo is the laziest and deserves this award. You don't even have to read Cafardo's columns to know where they're going - ex-Bostonians, agents, nostalgia...over and over again.

Tomorrow: In-Game Color Analysts

BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst Sports Radio Host

Today’s category is a huge one…the Best and Worst radio host in Boston. Though Sports Radio has really grown nationwide over the last 10-15 years, it has taken off in Boston as nowhere else the last few years. At the center of each show is the host. They all have their own styles, some are confrontational, others cerebral, some cater to the lowest common denominator, while others do their best to manufacture drama on a daily basis to keep people coming back, like a soap opera.

Which styles work? Who is the best at running the show, keeping things lively and entertaining?

Here’s how you voted:

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Glenn Ordway was the winner, but not by as wide a margin as he probably would’ve liked. He picked up 287 votes and 20% of the total, but was challenged hard by a former protégé, Michael Felger who began hosting his very first radio show in the latter part of the year. Felger picked up 18% of the vote. Another surprise was Mike Adams with his third place showing, picking up 11%.

I haven’t totally figured out Ordway…some days I marvel at how he can fill a show with the likes of Steve Burton, Bill Burt, Larry Johnson and Butch Stearns, and still make it work rather smoothly. Other times, I think that Ordway purposely surrounds himself with “talent” of that ilk so as to make himself look all-wise and reasonable by comparison. Whatever he does, it works as shown by the record setting ratings success enjoyed by the station, and in particular his program. Who can argue with success?

Felger began his show making sure that he didn’t step on WEEI toes, not wanting to burn bridges, but did state that they would do some things a little differently. No “celebrity” callers. No talking for days on end about “Manny peeing in the wall”. They held to that for awhile, and still stick to a more traditional sports radio format…plenty of guests, mixed in with the callers, but occasionally Felger shows his roots of having trained at the feet of the master Ordway with manufactured drama and plot lines. Still, there’s a lot of promise there for the future.

I’m not sure what to say about Adams. I liked him over the years, but have been turned off as he has been indoctrinated into the WEEI style of angrily bashing certain players, particularly Manny Ramirez. His gag opening show, where he pretended to lock himself in the WEEI studios was memorable, but rather lame.

Reader Comments: I chose Felger as the best—I like very much how he has started on 890 and wish the signal was better….I went with Rotillo (Russillo) for “best” for his depth and breadth of knowledge and the enthusiasm he has for all sports…The best host is the currently underemployed Ryen Russillo. Felger is only as good as his co-host, which is not a criticism per se.

Now for the worst:

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Eddie Andelman, who only was on the air for about half the year, he still managed to leave enough of an impression on the minds of listeners to name him the worst sports radio host in Boston. Gerry Callahan tied him in terms of percentage (Both got 18%) but Andelman got a few more actual votes (268 to 261). It’s been a sad descent for the once-great Andelman, who was a real pioneer in the sports radio format. Andelman in his final days at WWZN was reduced to simply lashing out on old agendas (Bob Kraft, Red Sox Ownership) and bringing on the same old guests that he’s had for years. He recently started a new weekly show on WTKK 96.9 on Sunday nights and it’ll be interesting to see if the reduced schedule does him good.

I don’t think Gerry Callahan is deserving of election as the worst sports radio host. Sure, his viewpoints and attitudes can be maddening, but when it comes to sports, he’s better than most in town. Now Callahan’s partner in the morning, John Dennis, he is a guy who might be worthy of consideration in this category. He finished next, with 12% of the vote. Dennis is decent at leading the program in and out of breaks and around different segments. Content-wise, what exactly does he bring to the program? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Reader Comments: In spite of so many good candidates, John Dennis wins “worst” easily. He's everything a host and radio personality shouldn't be: pompous windbag; uninformed; bad interviewer. Finding out too much about his creepy personal life just tops it off….. Dennis and Ordway was basically a coin flip, but Dennis is slightly more execrable….The jowly, aging, racist frat boy [John Dennis] has neither depth nor breadth of knowledge, unless it's of last night's episode of 24.

Tomorrow: Non-beat Sport Specific Writers

Column – If BSMW was Full-Time…

As most of you know, this website is only a part-time venture for me. I still have to work full-time, and because of that, I’m not able to do as much as I might like on the site. Many days my work here is limited to daily links which I put together before I go to work in the morning. If I do something more extensive, it needs to be done during off hours, something which isn?t always conducive to having a life.

If I want the site to reach its full potential, something needs to happen. It has to be able to pay the bills and take the place of my full time job. I’d need to build up the site enough to the point where I would not have to work at a 8-5 job during the week. That might never happen. To make that leap would be huge. I could try to build up a few other streams of income, which I’m attempting to do, but those also require time and attention and will need some more time to develop.

What?s the quickest way this could happen? The only way I could see this happening is if I were to get a sponsor who would be able to pay me equivalent to what I make working to do the site full-time. Getting that sponsor would be tough; as I would have to make sure that I am still able to have editorial control over content, so as to ensure that the spirit of the site lives on.

The sponsor could have their name be the only advertising on the site. It could be a naming-rights style deal (“BSMW Presented by Dunkin”) or just a “branding” of the site to reflect the sponsor. I’d be open to ideas in this regard.

Here’s an idea of what you might see on Boston Sports Media Watch if I were able to devote eight or more hours everyday to it:

Daily Links

The Daily links would continue to be a huge part of the site. If BSMW were my job, even more emphasis would be placed on getting them done daily in a timely fashion. They might even be expanded to include out of town links on the local sports scene, as well as regular afternoon updates for the papers and blogs that update later in the course of the day. I would check blogs and other sources more regularly for updated news and content that would be of interest to readers and Boston sports fans.

Sports Radio Log

Part of the full-time BSMW site would also include logs and updates of what is being discussed on the various sports radio shows as they happen. I see this as being in more of a traditional blog format, with short, frequent updates on what’s happening and what noteworthy things are being said. This might be in a separate area from the daily links area.

TV Show Notes

I would also make a point to view as many of the local shows as possible. I do this now, but don’t always find the time to comment on them. If I had my days free, I would make sure I DVR?d the shows and made some notes on the content of them. This would be another way of keeping track of some of the outrageous statements, predictions and analysis that often occurs on these programs.

Television/Radio Listings

There would be a box on the page somewhere so you would know at a glance exactly what was on the airwaves at that moment, as well as in prime time. I wouldn’t just include games, but also radio shows, the various nightly and weekly television programs, and even things on other networks that would be if interest to the locals, such as old games on ESPN Classic, or Sports Century features on Boston athletes.

More Columns/Features

With more time to devote to the site, and likely more knowledge as a result of my increased exposure to all of it, I’d have a chance to do more columns and opinion pieces on what trends I see and hear in the local media and how I think it is influencing the casual sports fan.

One column idea that has always intrigued me is the idea of a BSMW-Retro. In this, I would periodically focus on some Boston sports media member and look at their influence on the era in which they worked, or examine incident of the past and relate it to the modern-day internet age audience. From what I know now, there would be no shortage of personalities and stories that I could draw from to create some interesting features.

I’d also like to include a few more media interviews. I’ve done a few very small ones for book reviews and as a part of the Friday columns, but there would be an audience for deeper interviews. Talking to reporters, columnists, announcers, etc about their jobs and how they view them.

Podcasts

I experimented with this very briefly last year, but never released an “official” podcast. I’d need to take some time and figure out what I wanted to accomplish should I attempt to go back to this idea. Would it be a recap of what happened that day or week in the media? Would it be something where I’d interview someone, or have a guest on the podcast with me? There’s some potential with this, but I would need to think about this much more in detail before I would consider bringing this to the site.

Mailbag

I get plenty of email from readers of the site. I try to keep up with it all, but there are a few that slip through the cracks each week. However, I do get a lot of the same type of email. The same questions asked by several different emailers. Many readers bring up interesting points, or even just want to rant a bit. It might be beneficial to answer some emails as part of a mailbag format, making sure more questions sent to me via this method are answered. I might only have to answer a question once on the website instead of having to answer it 10 times via email.

More Blogs

I’ve thought that a Boston Sports Business blog and a Sports Law blog might be interesting additions to the site. I have in mind who I’d like to author those blogs, and have thought about contacting them to gauge their interest in participating in such a project.

Those are just a few of the ideas I’ve had. In fact, I’ve had many more, but they escape my recollection right at this moment. I think you can see that there is a lot of potential here, and I’d like the opportunity to expand it as much as I can. If you have ideas for turning BSMW into a full time venture, I would certainly be interested in hearing from you.

Tomorrow: Best/Worst Sports Radio Host