Trying To Do A Friday Megalink Session

I’m hoping to get this entire Megalink session finished in one sitting. It’s been a crazy day thus far. Of course, all of your weekend sport and entertainment programming are featured in the Weekend Viewing Picks.

Let’s get to the linkage now.


Michael Hiestand of USA Today speaks with noted baseball announcing author Curt Smith who has written another book about the subject.

USA Today’s Mike McCarthy has ESPN’s Desmond Howard criticizing the current college athletics system which does not allow for students to get paid.

Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel talks with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott about the details of the conference’s new TV networks.

Mike Barnes of the Hollywood Reporter writes that Golf Channel and CBS will have the honors of airing Tiger Woods’ return to golf next weekend.

Michael Malone at Broadcasting & Cable criticizes WPRI-TV in Providence for recreating golf highlights and passing it off as it actually happened.

Thomas Umstead from Multichannel News says boxing is still a big part of HBO Sports.

Todd Spangler at Multichannel says ESPN will redesign its live streaming site for Xbox 360 users.

Timothy Burke of SportsGrid has the video of Dan Patrick joining old SportsCenter partner Keith Olbermann on Current’s Countdown program to talk about casting the potential ESPN Movie.

Marcus Vanderberg at SportsNewser notes that ESPN’s John Clayton still hasn’t grasped this Twitter thing yet.

Cam Martin of SportsNewser writes that Rory McIlroy called out a BBC golf commentator and had quite the Twitter battle.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell says Knicks and Rangers fans will have the opportunity to see their team’s players go from the court/ice to the locker room and vice versa.

The Big Lead speaks with actor Dan Lauria about bringing his Broadway role of coach Vince Lombardi “home” to Green Bay this weekend.

Sports Media Watch says viewership declined for the last week of Copa América on Univision as glamor teams Brazil and Argentina lost before the semifinal round.

SMW notes that the ratings jumped for the WNBA All-Star Game on ABC last weekend.

Joe Favorito says Baseball’s governing body is now using social media to its advantage.

Bob’s Blitz has an interesting story of a former cameraman and ESPN director who got a lucky cell phone and has been living the life of a celebrity.

Ben Koo of Awful Announcing notes that the Pac-12 Networks will further fragment sports on cable.

Overseas, this is big news. John Plunkett of the London Guardian says BBC Sport is letting go of most of its Formula 1 contract and satellite provider Sky Sports will pick up a lion’s share of races starting next year. That would be as if Fox decided to allow DirecTV to take over most of the NASCAR contract.

Ben Gallop of BBC’s motorsports division explains why the decision was made.

East & Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe feels melancholy over the loss of HBO’s Hard Knocks, a victim of the NFL lockout this season.

At SB Nation, Kat Hasenauer Cornetta says women are still trying to get a foothold in the Boston sports media.

Newsday’s Neil Best says Derek Jeter finally opened up a bit in the HBO documentary that premiered this week.

At the New York Post, Phil Mushnick warns to be careful what you wish for in wanting replay review in baseball.

Mike Battaglino of the Post notes that there will be no edition of Hard Knocks this season.

Justin Terranova writes that the NFL TV’s partners were never worried about losing games to the lockout.

A couple of more stories from the Post. Tim Bontemps from the Post says Derek Jeter agreed to do the HBO documentary on his quest for 3,000 hits so his future children could see him at work.

Justin has five questions for the producer of the HBO Jeter documentary.

Pete Dougherty at the Albany Times Union writes that the premiere of NBC’s Summer at Saratoga series did quite well.

On Thursday, Pete, the lovely Rachel Cohen of the Associated Press and your humble blogger were invited to ESPN to talk to several of the network’s production staff and then interview Norby Williamson, the network’s Vice President of Studio and Event Production. Pete has a story on that visit.

Pete Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News writes about the contentious relationship between NFL Network and NFL Films.

To the Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog and Dan Steinberg who notes that local talk show host John Riggins isn’t optimistic about DC NFL team coach Mike Shanahan’s chances this year.

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner says MLB Network will be all over the Trading Deadline this weekend.


Jared Hunt from the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail profiles CBS golf producer Lance Barrow as he helms the network’s broadcasts of the Greenbrier Classic this weekend.

Cindy Watts of The Tennessean talks about country star Kenny Chesney writing and performing the theme song for a new ESPN series.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle says NFL Films founder Ed Sabol is deservedly getting the NFL Films treatment in a new documentary celebrating his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

David talks about the lack of a Hard Knocks series this season.

Rick Cantu and Kirk Bohis of the Austin (TX) American-Statesman says ESPN approached several high schools about putting their games on the Longhorn Network.

Mel Bracht from the Daily Oklahoman talks with ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit about the upcoming season.

Mel finds the real reason why Herbstreit chose to move his family away from his native Columbus, OH to Tennessee.


Michael Zuidema from the Grand Rapids (MI) Press talks with former NFL’er and current TV analyst Ray Bentley about the 1987 NFL strike.

Bob Wolfley at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finds some interesting Brewers anecdotes in the new Curt Smith book.

Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune interviews ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit.

Over to the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin where Paul Christian notes that ex-Minnesota Golden Gopher coaches keep finding their way to television.


Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune says former Utah Jazz player Matt Harpring has made the successful transition to the TV booth.

John Maffei of the North County Times understands why Mexican government ads must be played on a local sports radio station, but it doesn’t mean he has to like them.

Tom Hoffarth at the Los Angeles Daily News looks at the new batch of ESPN Films documentaries that will be released later this year.

Tom has Fox Sports/MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal still being wary of Twitter.

Tom talks with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott about his whirlwind tenure that has left the league with a pocketful of riches.

Tom has more on the Pac-12 Network announcement aftermath.


Bruce Dowbiggin at the Toronto Globe and Mail says the father of new Blue Jay Colby Ramus is using the local media to blast St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.

And that will do it for today.


Sports Media Musings: Felger & Mazz Drop the Ball, Toucher & Rich’s Rise, Rapoport’s Infamous Tweets

A Swing, And A Miss

Fat Albert and a wide receiver doubling as a (somehow) crappier version of America’s Got Talent host, Nick Cannon? To our beloved Patriots? The same team that subscribes, better yet invented, the “Patriot Way.” This is everything local media should be salivating over. Content that, for all intents and purposes, writes itself.

Or so we thought.

Sitting at work, after the Albert Haynesworth deal was announced, I was left with a choice to make. WEEI or The Sports Hub? I went with the latter, because I was interested to hear what Mike Felger had to say. As I’ve written before, the dude’s analysis of the Moss trade was soothsayer-esq, and he had earned the right to have my ears this time around.

The program opened with co-host Tony Massarotti fearfully saying, “This is a bad guy, Mike.”

(A phrase Mazz would repeat roughly 17 times….in the first hour of the show. He reminded me of Michael Myers’ doctor/caretaker trying to warn whatever town the killer was roaming of his lunacy. Relax Tony. Fat Albert isn’t going to break into your house and eat you.)

Felger then put on an exposition from the school of blowhards.

(And to answer your question, yes, Dean Ordway founded the institution in 1987.)

He read the same laundry list of transgressions on the behalf of Big Al that were reiterated to his audience all day. Then he went on to say that he liked the move, and the Patriots should use Haynesworth for one season – then dump him.

My question is if you like the move, presumably, you believe Haynesworth is going to have a good year. And the goal is to win a Super Bowl, correct? So, if the Patriots win it all, we’re supposed to dump Haynesworth?

Felger’s analogous was the mal-content (and out-of-shape) Corey Dillon who – after a ginormous year in the Super Bowl run during ’04 – got fat and happy, never regaining previous form.

In retrospect the comparison works, but in retrospect a lot of decisions look different. The verity of the circumstance is it’s a specious argument. Dillon broke the single-season rushing record for New England that year. If the front office decided to part ways with him, the backlash would have rivaled the Kendrick Perkins trade.

Moreover, Felger incessantly cited the risk that if Fat Al makes it to opening day the Pats are on the hook for his salary. This is the same guy who has killed New England’s frugality in the past, so why does he care if the Kraft’s foot the bill?

This opened up the wounds of a criticism Bruce Allen has noted in the past of Felger – his tendency to talk out of both sides of his mouth. A habit the host ascertained at the lap of his adversary, Glenn Ordway.

Speaking candidly, I’ve never felt that way. I always felt Felger’s strength was his clear-cut takes, whether true or not, and his accountability for mistakes.

(He freely admits being wrong about Julien and the Bruins, just as much as he reminds us about being vindicated in his Branch/Moss prediction.)

But Thursday afternoon this ambiguity was at the forefront of his four-hour show. I still think he’s throwing 98 MPH right now, and though his detractors will disagree with me [and I know there are many of you], if ESPN were to host a special PTI: City vs City – who would represent Boston over Felgy?

You’ve Changed Things And There’s No Going Back

(The Joker, The Dark Knight)

I’ve noticed Fred Toettcher getting more air-time on CSNNE’s Sports Tonight. In fact, the network gave the radio host a segment entitled “Get In Touch”, where hosts ask him rapid questions pertaining to each of the four major professional sports franchises.

I’m happy to see the success from Toettcher’s morning radio show – Toucher & Rich – translate to television. From “Rad Marchand” to “New-Jack Edwards”, it’s clear 98.5’s Toucher & Rich have given this market a shot in the arm that it’s never had before – no, not HGH – but quality sports talk predicated on humor.

Critics will point to the stereotypical “Morning Drive Zoo Radio Formula”. And that would make sense if T&R were two hosts yelling over one another playing obnoxious sound bytes. This is not the case though. The show’s ingenuity focuses on the ideology of grasping an evanescent event in sports, and yielding a comical skit.

It’s easy to argue the show’s lack of credibility since it derived from the now defunct alternative rock station, WBCN. However, the reason T&R has taken off has to do with the previously discussed innovative comedic talents and, more importantly, the duo’s willingness to out-work its competition.

It’s palpable how much both host’s, Rich Shertenlieb and Fred Toettcher, have improved their sports knowledge. That takes work. Shertenlieb attending a late-night Charlie Sheen performance, and convincing the crazed star to come on the show takes work. In the same token, Toettcher getting out of bed at 2 AM to do the show takes work. The two have hit their mark.

On the other hand, I think Dennis & Callahan didn’t expect worthy competition at this stage in their career. I don’t think the WEEI hosts want anything to do with it either, especially considering the unorthodox style T&R is broadcasting. D&C seems to impose the opposite strategy that T&R employs. While T&R produce comedy on the ephemeral, D&C harp on serious issues over LONG periods of time, to the point of exhaustion.

Adding to the Rap Sheet

In what feels like a month ago, Ian Rapoport was castigated by fans and peers this week after he tweeted inside the temple of Myra Kraft’s funeral. Rapoport defended himself in multiple mediums.

First, on his Twitter page – the origin of the scandal – he denied using his phone during the actual service:

So everyone debating has the facts: There was no tweeting during the service. Only before and after. All were respectful.

Later on, the beat reporter for the Boston Herald appeared on WEEI’s The Big Show to further address the situation and his intentions.

While I was there to pay respects to Myra Kraft, I was there as a reporter going to write a story on the funeral, on the service, which I did. So you know, what I want to do every time is bring timely newsworthy information to readers and followers and whoever else, basically in every way that’s available, and so i tweet a lot.

Rapoport did show hesitation in regards to his actions, alluding to things he could have done differently.

I didn’t tweet once [the service] began. The only thing that I’m sort of still thinking about that I think is difficult for some people to wrap their head around is I was inside the building. I was physically in the temple. …Maybe it might have been better to step outside in the reporter area, communicate the news that way and then go back in. I just didn’t want to lose my seat. So maybe that’s something if I could do it again I would consider physically where I was. I was in my seat. Would it have been better if I was in the hallway, in the doorway? I’m not sure, but those are the kind of things I’m thinking about.

Aggregate reaction was predictably harsh, before calming down.’s Chris Gasper seemed perturbed initially, but then backed off saying “It’s a personal choice. Just not something I would have done.” Gerry Callahan said he read his colleagues tweets and thought they were interesting.

What do I think?

Well, I hate to play the middle (it’s cop-out, to a degree), but I have to here. Rapoport’s tweets isn’t an exemplar of desecration, but I’m not going to go as far as Callahan and say, “They were worthwhile and provocative.”

I love Twitter. I think it’s a great forum for everyone (Players, Fans, Media) to interact. He was “doing his job” and letting the masses know who was in attendance. Strictly from a utilitarian point of view, Rapoport’s ‘scandal’ is not really a scandal – it’s just natural runoff from covering an event.

Although, hearing that Curtis Martin came to Myra Kraft’s funeral can wait. And, like with anything in life, there’s a sense of discretion and autonomy in play here. I doubt his editors were demanding a play-by-play of the timeline in which players appeared at the service. That’s not an attack on Rapoport. He is simply a conduit for this social media debate.

So I ask you, readers, did Rapoport go to far? At what point is the line separating immediacy of information being disseminated and humanity superseding intersected?

2011 Approval Ratings – Gary Tanguay

Gary Tanguay is the co-host of Mohegan Sun’s Sports Tonight on Comcast SportsNet.

The self-proclaimed “truck guy,” Tanguay is very busy, co-hosting Mohegan Sun’s Sports Tonight for CSNNE alongside Mike Felger as well as the pregame and postgame shows for the Celtics broadcasts on the network. He has been with CSNNE since 2000.

In addition, Tanguay is the host of the pregame and postgame shows on the 98.5 FM Patriots radio broadcasts. He was part of the August 2009 initial launch of 98.5 The Sports Hub, co-hosting the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm show with Scott Zolak before being dumped the following April in favor of Andy Gresh.

Prior to joining CSNNE, the Maine native worked at WBZ-TV, and also did radio work with WEEI, WVEI and WTKK, where he hosted “Calling All Sports.”


Guest Column – The Rise Of Armchair Sports Commentary

Today’s guest column comes from former Boston Herald columnist Michael Gee. 

By Michael Gee

The two comments most often made to me during my career as a sportswriter by loved ones, friends, acquaintances and strangers were, hands down “So you get to go to the game for free,” or, “you get paid to go to the games.”

The first was inaccurate. I was getting paid. The second was only half-true. I was getting paid to write about the game after I watched them.  I didn’t argue the point. People who have not written prose on deadline for money do not believe writing is work, and nothing can change their minds. Besides, the half of their sentence that was true was the more important half.

I did get to go to the games.  By games, I mean every sports event I covered, ranging from the Olympics on down (or up) to the state high school field hockey championship game where it ended in the declaration of a tie, co-champions, and two sets of teenage girls weeping uncontrollably as they got their trophies.  And as far as I was and still am concerned, studying athletic events up close was the reward part of my trade, while writing was the trade part.

A life spent sitting front row center is nonmonetary compensation of incalculable price. It’s worth a great many 6 a.m. Tuesday flights to Detroit. It’s why Red Smith said sportswriters were “underpaid and overprivileged.”   The sportswriters who got to cover the most big games as defined by the average fan were held in almost the same regard by their peers as the ones who were thought to be the best writers or who made the most money.

(Wiseacres, note the following disclaimer. Of course going to the games can be tedious and irksome. That’s how the people in the games feel sometimes, too. Bill Belichick has admitted training camp is dull. Ernie Harwell told me calling 5000 baseball games got repetitious.  I did my share of bitching. Didn’t mean I didn’t love what I did).

Now that I’ve been a journalism consumer and not producer for six years, it strikes me this equation has gone upside down. The best-known and best-compensated sports reporters and commentators, in whatever medium, go to the fewest games, not the most. What’s more, the system is set up to encourage sports reporters and commentators to go to as few events as possible.

Bill Simmons, Mike Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser, Rick Reilly. Those are probably the four sports journalists in America with the largest audiences. All are or were accomplished writers. All but Simmons, who invented his own gig, covered an enormous number of games in their time. None go to many now. There’s more money and fame in being a personality than is found in the press box.

For better or worse my former colleague Michael Felger is the hottest sports commentator in town right now. Michael went to a great many games in his day and a good reporter he was, too. Now, for many times the money he made at the Herald, Mike works the 10-6 shift Monday to Friday. He can have a life. Mike would have to either have rocks in his head or be unhealthily devoted to watching sports events not to have embraced his new gig. His incentives all point in that direction.

Those incentives aren’t healthy. The participants in and especially the owners of the new order of sports media do not perceive the danger it poses to their whole racket.  It seems insane for any part of the business of journalism to respond to the challenge of the Internet by creating a structure where armchair opininating is the pinnacle of the professional pyramid.  Anybody can go on and on about sports on the Web and many do, including me. If you are offering a product for money that can be produced for free by your customers, it had better be of much higher quality than what they can crank out.

The laws of probability make that a chancy proposition. To his credit, Simmons has spawned millions of imitators. Most are and will be horrible,and will fail. But some won’t be. Sooner or later, one will strike readers as even better than Simmons himself.  That dynamic works even more quickly and horribly in radio, or so I am informed by stockholders of Entercom and Glenn Ordway’s agent.

It’s a simple dynamic.. In a world where more people have more access to more information than at any time in human history, the only model that works for the information business is “tell ‘em something they don’t know yet.” Why would customers pay for anything else?

If I were running a sports media business, my reporters and commentators could look forward to going to a great many games – high school games most definitely included.

Former Pats LB Tedy Bruschi Joins WEEI’s Patriots Monday

Just announced by WEEI, former Patriots Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, a current ESPN NFL analyst, will join The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley every Monday for “Patriots Monday”. Ordway, Holley and Bruschi will interview Patriots head coach Bill Belichick so this apparently means the end of maddening softball questions by both Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie. Then again with Bruschi there, I’m not sure if he’s willing to ask hard questions of the coach either. Anyway, it’s a whole new cast for “Patriots Monday” for the Big Show with Ordway being the lone holdover.

We have the announcement from WEEI:

Former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi joins the WEEI Sports Radio Network

July 26, 2011 (Boston, MA) – The WEEI Sports Radio Network announced today that former New England Patriots linebacker and current ESPN NFL analyst, Tedy Bruschi, will join the station as part of its Patriots coverage this fall.

Bruschi will join co-hosts Michael Holley and Glenn Ordway during The Big Show on “Patriots Monday,” from 4pm to 6pm, and be part of their interview with Coach Bill Belichick each week beginning August 15th. Bruschi was drafted by the New England Patriots in 1996 out of the University of Arizona and played his entire career with the team before retiring in 2008. He was a member of each of the Patriots three Super Bowl winning teams in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

Additionally, WEEI will support the efforts of “Tedy’s Team,” through a series of fundraising ventures over the course of the season. “Tedy’s Team,” is a group of runners raising money for the American Stroke Association and training to complete the Boston Marathon® and the Falmouth Road Race. Their participation supports Tedy Bruschi’s fight against strokes and honors both the survivors and the loved ones lost to America’s No. 3 leading cause of death.

“Tedy was a terrific player for the Patriots and is an excellent broadcaster for ESPN,” said Jason Wolfe, Vice-President of Programming for WEEI. “He’ll be an outstanding addition to our fall football lineup and I’m excited to be able to work with him. I’m also extremely proud to use the power of our station to support ‘Tedy’s Team, and I hope we can continue to bring awareness to this great cause.”

That’s all.

2011 Approval Ratings – Ron Borges

Ron Borges is a columnist for the Boston Herald.

This is actually Borges’ first time in the approval ratings, the last time we did these, in 2008, Borges was unemployed, having left the Globe after the football notes plagiarism case. Borges had been at The Boston Globe for 24 years covering the NFL and boxing beats. Before then he had worked out in the SF Bay area, covering the Raiders from 1976 to 1982, first for the Sacramento Union, and then for the Oakland Tribune, which spawned his unending admiration for all things Black and Silver.

Borges is a renowned boxing writer, having covered the sport for HBO in addition to the Globe. After leaving the Globe, he briefly wrote for his own site,, while freelancing for various boxing and football publications. He was hired by in the summer of 2008, where he lasted for a month before bolting to the Herald.

His appearances on local sports radio and television are always contentious, and his recent foray into the world of Twitter is the perfect place for him to spout his opinion on all topics. He was featured in a 2006 edition of Boston Magazine.




Guest Column: A Tale of Two Titles

Today’s guest column is from Mike Passanisi.

It took an editorial by a respected journalist to get the city to recognize the Celtics’ incredible accomplishment.

On May 6, 1969, the team, a collection of aging stars with a few new additions like Bailey Howell and Emmette Bryant, shocked the hoop world by winning their 11th title in 13 years.

After finishing fourth during the regular season, the Celts had overcome the Sixers, Knicks, and finally the Lakers in seven games capped by an exciting 108-106 victory. Longtime Celtic fans all remember Don Nelson’s shot that bounced off the front and back rims before dropping in. They also remember that Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke had put balloons into the ceiling of the Forum ready to be released after a Laker victory. Also, the USC band was ready to march onto the court playing “Happy Days are Here Again”. A bitterly disappointed Jerry West said “we’re still the better team, but you have to give them credit for winning it.”

In the Boston Globe, the announcement of the Celts’ victory in a game that did not get over until 1:00 AM Boston time (TV didn’t dictate starting times in those days) did not even make the day’s headline. It only appeared as a “kicker” at the top of page 1 of the morning paper “Celtics Beat LA for 11th title, 108-106”. An accomplishment that had never been achieved in pro sports and probably never will again did not even merit a regular headline.

At the time, one of the most popular and respected journalists was a Globe columnist named Jerry Nason. His style was understated and rather old-fashioned (he used to write prediction poetry for local college football games), but he was not afraid to speak out. In a column entitled “Yes Boston, They’re Your Celtics”, Nason called attention to the team’s incredible achievement over 12 seasons and praised the late owner Walter Brown, who kept the team afloat in the early years.

Then, gently, he prodded the city.

Since the advent of the Celtics era, the Canadiens have captured 9 Stanley Cups, the Yankees 7 AL pennants, the Green Bay Packers 5 football titles. The Celtics have been finalists in 12 “World Series” and the town has never invited ’em to a party. That used to bug Walter, and it continues to bug me. The closest Boston ever came toward enshrining the Celtics was one year when they rounded up a few of the guys who were still hanging around and got ’em into the Marathon. They rode in open cars all the way from Coolidge Corner to Exeter Street, three miles-big deal..

Garden officials confirmed that Nason was correct.

Nason and the Globe apparently had some influence with city officials. And so, two days later, there was a parade. It went from the Common to City Hall Plaza. It drew about 3,000 people. Bill Russell, not surprisingly, failed to attend. Mayor Kevin White proclaimed it “Boston Celtics Day” and retiring Celtic Sam Jones was presented with a rocking chair. This was all that happened, and the newspapers began following the Red Sox into a disappointing season that ended with manager Dick Williams getting fired.

Let’s jump ahead 17 years to 1986, 25 years ago last month. The Celts had defeated the Houston Rockets, 114-97, to cop their third title in 5 years. The reaction in Boston was, shall we say, a bit different. On the left side of the front page of the next day’s Globe was a headline, not much smaller than the regular headline on the right side. It read “Celtics Crowning Glory”.  An article by Bob Ryan (who else?), spoke of the Houston Rockets as an “unwary couple pulled over on the highway for going 3 miles an hour over the speed limit by a burly Georgia cop with the mirrored sunglasses”. He continued : “It wasn’t their day. The cop’s name was Bird. The bailiff’s name was Bird. The judge’s name was Bird. And the executioner’s name was-guess what?- Bird.” Ryan went on to say :”Welcome to Bird country, boys, and while you’re at it, why don’t you congratulate your Celtics on the occasion of their 16th NBA championship? “The front page also showed huge photos of Larry getting doused with champagne and fans celebrating outside the Garden. The headlines on articles for the next couple of days tell the story. “Off the Rim and Into Clover”. “From Head to Toe, Fans are Green with Pride”. “Playoff Effort Puts Bird into Drivers Seat”.”A Garden Hangover.”

The parade two days later was somewhat bigger than that of 1969. About 2000 times bigger. That headline proclaimed “Boston Roars Its Tribute”. But the most interesting column was one authored by the great Leigh Montville. It talked about and Irish kid and four Italian kids from East Boston, all students at Boston Latin. They were playing hookey, like many Bostonians that day. It is significant, however, that they were not African-American kids from, say, Brighton or Dorchester High.

In the 1980’s the issue of racism and the Celtics which had always been simmering, appeared again. The ’86 team captured Boston, it was said, because of the racial makeup of the team. There were big men Bird, Kevin McHale, and Bill Walton-all white. African-Americans were certainly part of the picture. Coach KC Jones was black, and Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson played big parts in the title. But it was true that the racial makeup of the Celts was close to 50-50 at a time when most teams were largely black. There were stories  that in parts of Dorchester, Laker jerseys were outselling Celtic ones by a wide margin.

Race was definitely an issue. You can’t talk about Boston in the 70’s and 80’s without facing it. The busing crisis brought it to a head, but it had been there all along. However, the issue is not so much that the ’86 Celtics had more white players than the ’69 team, though it did. The issue is more one of symbolism. In 1969, the coach and symbol was Bill Russell. His image was one of an angry black man. He refused to sign autographs. He was way ahead of his time in criticizing the white power structure, both in sports and society as a whole. In ’69, Boston could not fully accept a team with this symbol. A parade couldn’t even draw 5000 fans.

In 1986, the symbol was a blond superstar with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and a bit of a wise mouth. He seemed to be an everyman, though he earned millions of dollars. At an earlier rally on live TV, he shocked a few people when, seeing a sign, he made a comment about what Houston’s Moses Malone really ate. Though he was neither Irish nor from Boston, people saw some of the team’s mascot-the leprechaun-in Larry Bird.

Ironically, a week after the’86 celebration, Jerry Nason passed away at the age of 77. Few people remember the editorial back in ’69. The parade he inspired was a small one, but that doesn’t matter. It showed that he cared.

Mike Passanisi is a semiretired former high school teacher and freelance writer. Over the years, he has written for New England Baseball Journal, Patriots Football Weekly, Manchester Union Leader, and a number of blogs, including BSMW. He is a member of the Sports Hall of Fame at Pope John High,  where he worked for many years as SID. He is also a regular contributor to the blog Fenway West. He and wife live in Medford.

You can contact Mike at

2011 Approval Ratings – Tony Massarotti

Tony Massarotti is the co-host of the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The SportsHub.

A Waltham native, Massarotti also hosts The Baseball Reporters on 98.5, and is a sports columnist. He joined the Boston Herald as a sports intern in 1989, joining the likes of Michael Felger, Bill Simmons, Michael Silverman and Paul Perillo. In 1994 he started covering the Red Sox for the Herald, a focus he held until he left the paper in 2008. He then joined, and in August 2009, he and Felger started their popular afternoon drive show on 98.5, which has unseated long time ratings champ Glenn Ordway and The Big Show on WEEI. Interestingly, Massarotti, like Felger had been a frequent co-host on the WEEI show in the past. The duo signed a new deal with the station in April of this year.

Once a dogged and capable baseball reporter, Massarotti now focuses on playing the contrarian, especially when it comes to the Patriots – a franchise and fan base that he clearly loathes. He has also proclaimed his love for Derek Jeter, and does an absolutely horrible voice impression of Boston sports fans.

Massarotti  has written or co-written several books, including Dynasty: The Inside Story of How the Red Sox Became a Baseball Powerhouse, as well as bios with Tim Wakefield and most famously, Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits. Despite these close associations with players he was covering, Massarotti loves to hammer other reporters for being “in the bag” for the Patriots. 



Guest Column: The State Of The Media – 2011

Today guest column during Bruce’s vacation comes from former Channel  7 sportscaster Roy Reiss

By Roy Reiss

Technology and innovation have spawned some incredible changes in the media landscape over the last several years.

Witness the tremendous expansion of internet sites and the many new opportunities created by their existence. See the great impact of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and how they feed into the insatiable 24/7 “want to know” culture that has evolved. Realize the endless hours that have to be filled on talk radio means you need plenty of sizzle and unfortunately less substance. Understand how all of this has affected the once proud newspaper industry that tries to stay competitive in today’s much different world.

What does all this mean to the avid sports fan who follows their favorite team with a passion? I like to break it down into 3 categories. The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

The Good

Jobs, jobs and more jobs. There are now more opportunities than ever for sportswriters, sportscasters and support personnel to be involved. Young talent that had a difficult time breaking through in the pre internet era now have become prominent players in today’s media. Joe Haggerty on CSNNE, Chris Forsberg on ESPNBoston, Ian Rapoport of the Herald, and Peter Abraham of the Globe are a few of the so-called “new” guns making an impression in the new environment. The common thread for these individuals is a passion for their respective sport. They fully understand what’s required and they deliver for their followers with plenty of copy, some insight, and a love for the sport they cover that is evident to a sports fan. Those are the necessary ingredients for any wannabe to be successful and ultimately to be accepted by the public.

The Bad

What’s happened to the art of reporting and to accountability? Anything goes in today’s media and most of what’s anything is not worthy. Twitter has created a monster as everyone seems to follow everyone else. You have people pointing out what others are writing instead of developing their own stories. The heck with checking the facts or authenticity of the report, simply get it out there and be first. Who cares if the facts are incorrect since no one is held accountable for what they report. And to think this is what new media people are taught as they learn the ropes which all serves as a preview of what to expect in future years.

I’d love to see some of these so-called reporters go two weeks without any locker room access that seldom results in meaningful quotes or insight. No longer would they have the crutch of players droning on and now they’d face a real challenge of developing story lines outside their comfort zone.

Just like in professional sports, expansion has watered down the product. So too in the media. Many are simply not prepared to play in the “big time’. They’re rushed into roles that they’re not ready to fill since they haven’t had the proper training or experience. Hurt the most has been the newspaper industry that loses their talented young writers they’ve developed to new websites that simply offer more money and opportunities. As a result the papers need to fill key roles with many “not ready for prime time talent”. It’s a trend that will be hard to reverse in the future.

The Ugly

With so many people covering teams now, the question becomes “how do you stand out?’

The quick and easy path is you become the story rather than covering the story. Sadly many of the young journalists follow this path. They insert themselves into stories and try to be controversial in the hopes of attracting attention to their work. In the short-term it may work, but long-term Boston sports fans are too smart. Sooner or later these type of reporters lose their credibility which is the one ingredient anyone in the media should cling to.

Remember the Patriots 2010 draft when they selected Devin McCourty with their first selection. There was the reporter from a major paper who suddenly knew more than the scouts and blasted the team for their selection the next day. He projected himself as an expert and implied to readers that he knew more than everyone. Maybe it pleased his bosses who could point out how this was different and would attract readers or viewers on the internet. Now, a year later, wonder how that worked out for him?

Truth be told no one knows how any draft pick is going to work out so why travel this route. Intelligent fans realize this, yet we constantly have management shoving draft grades down our throats the day after. How ludicrous!

Just recently midway thru the Stanley Cup playoffs, we had a prominent radio talk show host discussing the possibility of trading Tim Thomas after the playoffs end. It’s the shock technique. Say something outrageous, get people involved, generate telephone calls and ratings. Rather than intelligently discuss sports issues, we rely on this method to draw attention to our show and ourselves. Sizzle over substance.

And we haven’t even gotten to those journalists who have agendas and push their agendas at every opportunity. You know who they are and what those agendas are. Yes they’re different and they do stand out. Unfortunately they stand out for the wrong reason.

Roy Reiss, who started his career working for Curt Gowdy Broadcasting, was a former sportscaster on Channel 7. His son Mike now covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.

The Complete Friday Megalinks

Friday’s have become maddening. I was out of the office earlier today and expect to be out again later, but I’m doing the Megalinks early so I can be done with them and be free for other stuff tonight.

As always, check out the Weekend Viewing Picks for the sports and entertaining programming.


We’ll begin with Andy Staples from Sports Illustrated who writes that the Longhorn Network has suddenly created a big problem for Big 12 Conference schools not named “Texas.”

Gavin J. Blair of the Hollywood Reporter says one of Japan’s networks will begin airing women’s soccer in the wake of the country’s win in the Women’s World Cup last week.

Mike Reynolds from Multichannel News says MSG Network will celebrate Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend with a marathon of Halls of Fame specials.

Jessica Shambora of Fortune says ESPN succeeds where other cable channels don’t.

Glenn Davis of SportsGrid notes that NFL Players Association Executive DeMaurice Smith snuck up on ESPN reporters George Smith and Chris Mortensen during a live shot on Thursday.

Cam Martin at SportsNewser has former Howard Stern Show castmember Artie Lange confirming that he’s in talks to do a Fox Sports Radio show.

Karen Hogan of the Sports Video Group mentions that ESPN Films will premiere a new documentary on famed Georgia running back Herschel Walker in September.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell tells us that he’s going to sing the national anthem before a selected MLB game next month.

Sports Media Watch has some various ratings news and notes.

Steve Lepore of Puck The Media waxes poetic about Mike Emrick’s departure as Voice of the New Jersey Devils.

Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing has the site’s next matchup in its Joe Morgan Memorial Tournament, Joe Buck vs. Jim Gray. That’s a tough choice.

Ryan Yoder from AA says ESPN is taking a chance on airing live poker.

Joe Favorito asks who really benefits from the World Cup?

Dave Kohl at Major League Programs has a review of the week in sports media.

Dom Cosentino of Deadspin notes that San Francisco Giants announcer Jon Miller is still bitter about his firing by ESPN.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe talks with Sunday Night Baseball analyst Bobby Valentine about his first year in the broadcast booth.

The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir talks with Mike Emrick about his decision to leave the New Jersey Devils.

Newsday’s Neil Best writes that the Derek Jeter 3,000 hit chase has put a famous memorabilia company into the spotlight one again.

Neil talks about New Jersey announcers departing their teams after long runs.

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post admits that he loves to hate WFAN’s Mike Francesa.

Justin Terranova of the Post writes about Hall of Fame announcer Mike Emrick leaving the New Jersey Devils after 21 seasons.

Justin has five questions for ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union talks with an NBC Sports executive about how its summer horse racing series from Saratoga came to fruition.

Dave Hughes from writes in Press Box that one Baltimore TV station is cutting back on its sports coverage.

The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg revels in an on-air argument on one of the local sports radio stations in the DC Sports Bog.


At the Houston Chronicle, Brent Zwerneman writes that Texas A&M officials are very concerned about the Longhorn Network and what it means for the future of the Big 12 Conference.

The Chronicle’s David Barron has statements from Big 12 Commissioner Don Beebe and Longhorn Network owner ESPN about the conference’s temporary cease-and-desist order on airing high school football games and a Texas conference game.

David says the Longhorn Network saga could make for good reality TV.

David says while Longhorn Network is prevented from airing high school football for now, Fox Sports Southwest will have an NFL Red Zone Channel-like high school football block on Friday nights.

Suzanne Halliburton of the Austin Statesman-American says Longhorn Network programming is currently in limbo.

From the Daily Oklahoman, Mel Bracht writes that ESPN will document the Oklahoma football program as it prepares for the 2011 campaign.


John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes that ESPN’s Barry Larkin is coming back to the Queen’s City this Sunday.

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press writes that a local TV sports director is back on the job after corrective neck surgery.

Ed Sherman at Crain’s Chicago Business has this week’s winners and losers.

Roman Augustoviz says WNBA star Maya Moore will give viewers an inside look at the WNBA All-Star Game tomorrow.


John Maffei at the North County Times says there’s too much money being left on the table for an extended NFL lockout.

Bill Shakin of the Los Angeles Times writes that court documents show MLB was very skeptical of how Fox’s money for an extended rights deal could have helped the Dodgers remain competitive.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News says Minnesota Twins analyst Bert Blyeven credits Dodgers voice Vin Scully for helping him to become a Hall of Fame pitcher.

Jeff Faraudo of the San Jose Mercury Times reports that ESPN Deportes now has an affiliate in the Bay Area.

Jon Wilner of the Mercury Times tries to handicap what will happen next with the Pac-12 Network.


Bruce Dowbiggin at the Toronto Globe and Mail looks at Bryant Gumbel’s closing comments on the US Women’s soccer team on HBO’s Real Sports.

And that’s going to do it. Stay cool on this scorcher of a day.