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 Boston.com 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 Boston.com, 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 DCRTV.com 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.

Sports Media Musings: Finn Podcast, Influx of Media, Former Athlete Media Grades, Links

Ryan Hadfield is a media columnist for SportsOfBoston.com. You can read his archive here. He also is a feature writer for GossipSports.com. You can yell at him on Twitter or harass him via email at Ryan@SportsOfBoston.com

An Informercial Before Our Regularly Scheduled Program

I don’t think I’m going out on a huge limb when I presume (most of) you come to this site for three reasons:

1.) You enjoy having every column relevant to Boston sports at your finger tips in one segregated place.

2.) You like to discuss the media figures, business side of each medium, and what could be done to improve both.

3.) You just want to wake up to Bruce’s mug every morning.

If either of the first two options appeal to you, I encourage you to head here and listen to my podcast with the guru of Boston sports media, Chad Finn.

In the podcast we discuss the recent troubles of WEEI, the coinciding rise of 98.5 The Sports Hub, NESN vs. CSNNE, and Grantland.com.

For the third option simply go to your favorites tab, and keep on living the dream.

Two for the Money?

Speaking of the local radio wars, I find the perceived “animosity” between hosts of each station more disingenuous with every viewing of Sports Tonight. Every day, I listen to each station make crass remarks about one another. And that’s fine, I get it, controversy creates publicity. It’s very essential to what these people do. “We’re number 1!”…”No! We’re number 1″…And so on and so forth.

(Though, after the last ratings book came out, The Sports Hub’s claim is true, while WEEI’s equivocal statements are somewhat delusional.)

My contention is – and I broached this topic with Finn – that these personalities have the relationship of cops and criminals throughout the day, and all of the sudden, turn into Franklin & Bash at night while on various CSNNE shows. The transformation shows, above everything else, the goal is strictly monetary-driven and the aforementioned venom is somewhat fabricated.

Except for John Dennis, Andy Gresh and Glenn Ordway. Everyone can all agree on hating them.

Hot Sports Takes!

With all the new media outlets launching in Boston, opinions often are consumed, regurgitated, and consumed again. It has to be expected with two radio stations, an abundance of websites, and CSNNE which converges all of the talent.

This week hilarity ensued as virtually every radio show on both The Sports Hub and WEEI gave listeners some form of, “No one wants to say it, but we’re straight shooters – the United States blew the women’s World Cup last Sunday. We know it’s weird to think of things in those terms – because they are women – but we’re the platform that tells it like it is. BOOM!”

Someone needs to sit both stations down, and advise personalities to refrain from presenting content like they’re shock jocks. Especially when their adversary is spewing the same crap. Simmer down.

Commenting on the, uh, Commentators!

Doc Emrick is leaving MSG Network to work full-time at Versus and NBC. I never thought I would take to a hockey play-by-play guy like Gary Thorne, but Emrick seems likable and his frantic pace is doting to the common viewer. It’s a good move for both the aging talent, and NBC (I don’t get to say that often). Eh, Enzo?

Additionally, I caught wind from Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch that old friend Sean McDonough is being assigned the lead college football afternoon game on ABC with color commentator, Matt Millen.

(Is it weird, even though McDonough called World Series games and also the Sox for over fifteen years, the moment that resonates most with me is this gem from a college football game? Fast forward to 25:30.)

On Twitter, Deitsch was lamenting about Millen’s presence in the broadcast, because of his failures as the winless Detroit Lion’s general manager.

Millen earned his bones as a player first and foremost, which provoked me to pontificate about former athlete’s in Boston and their role in the media.

Scott Zolak – Zo has been a presence in the market since his retirement from football, frequently appearing on Patriots 5th Quarter. The eccentric ex-signal caller has been a radio personality both in Providence, and now in Boston middays with Andy Gresh at 98.5 The Sports Hub. I think Zo’s football knowledge is worthwhile, but isn’t substantial enough to justify a radio show year round. Bottom Line: Although his enthusiasm for radio is endearing and borderline infectious, a guest host is a better suited role for Zolak.

(*Also worth noting: His rambunctious persona would fit in with, dare I say it, The Big Show).

Lou Merloni – While playing for the Red Sox “Utility Lou” was lauded for getting the most out of his abilities. He was never a stud prospect, which is ironic, because decision-makers in both television and radio fawned over Merloni. In fact, it’s been said The Sports Hub wined and dined Merloni trying to bring him on board to spar with Mike Felger in the afternoons. WEEI thwarted those attempts, giving Merloni a slot in the revamped midday show Mutt & Merloni. And while I think Merloni has tremendous upside as a host and analyst, he needs to add more insight and conviction in his work. Bottom line: Merloni belongs.

Brian ScalabrineI’ve written about his transient endeavours in media before. Bottom Line: As I wrote in the linked piece, Scal could be a rich man’s Merloni; conversely, his worse-case upshot is Merloni’s ceiling. Consequently, Scanilla Ice belongs.

Jermaine Wiggins – Maybe not as grating, but unfortunately Wiggins is the Mike Adams of 98.5’s afternoon drive show. He either struggles articulating his point, or doesn’t have one — I still am trying to figure out which it is. Bottom line: “Wiggy Wednesdays” are as entertaining as the pending NFL lockout.

Speaking of the lockout…

The NFL’s labor strife has turned into a will-they-won’t-they soap opera of epic proportions. It’s like an episode of Entourage. And I hate Entourage.

Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I love writing and reading about these negotiations. Frankly, the lock-out has joined the pantheon of topics that I refuse to talk about in even the most colloquial circumstances.

(Note this is a prestigious group: The lockout joins such subjects like Brett Farve’s penis, anything related to Tiger Woods, the economy, the Kedrick Perkins trade and Adrian Gonzalez playing right field as issues I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole.)

The immediacy of Twitter, which is doubling as a news gathering entity, exacerbates the blurriness between news and rumors.

With all that being said, I think we – as consumers – have to give some adulation to Mr. Albert Breer for his persistence during this ordeal. Breer’s efforts to keep readers informed is unparalleled. And, granted, his access through his employer (NFL Network) certainly behooves his purpose -he still deserves credit. Breer has been crushing it on the beat, telling us about each and every meeting, any advance in discussions, prevalent issues, and the like.

Even former co-worker and peer, Chris Gasper, gave his support of Breer’s work on the lockout.

@AlbertBreer You are the hardest-working man in NFL journalism. Almost home, man. Hang in there.

In his time at the Boston Globe Breer wasn’t exactly beloved like Bob Ryan. I got the sense readers felt he was a bit smug in his tone. I never got that sentiment, though.

So I ask, what say you readers? Was Breer under-appreciated, or did he just need a new forum to thrive?

Things I’m Reading

The Big Lead’s take on ESPN trying to capitalize on Twitter. An acute look at the motivations, pitfalls, and benefits of the four-letter network’s new initiative.

Peter Abraham gives us an idiot’s guide to the trading deadline.

David Shoemaker, of Deadspin and Grantland (Funny, right?), helps explain the new era of professional wrestling. (I know, I know – not really sports related. Consider it alternative viewing.)



Guest Column – The Local Boston Sports Scene in the Information Age

Bruce is on vacation -during his time off, a series of guest columns and posts will appear in this space.

The Local Boston Sports Scene in the Information Age

By George Cain

When I was a kid I spent many summers at a rental cottage in Hampton Beach, NH.  In the morning I would wake up, take fifty cents down to the corner store and purchase the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.   This was how I USED to get my daily sports fix.

SportsCenter existed at this time but it was on cable, which was not in everyone’s living room.  It definitely was not on a black and white television set with rabbit ears sitting in the cottage living room.  You had to rely on the newspapers in those days.  Most games weren’t on television, they were on the radio.   So it was common to read the game story the next day to help fill in the blanks from the radio cast the previous night.  Some of those game stories were written by Peter Gammons.   Do people even remember Peter Gammons writing, never mind writing the game stories?  There were also the all-important notebook columns.  This was the only way to find out about injuries, lineup changes or comments from the Manager/Coach.   And finally, there were the box scores.  I could read the baseball box scores for an hour back then.  These were the days way, way before fantasy baseball. You read the scores because you were a fan of the game and not because you were in first place in your $2000 fantasy baseball league.   The Sunday Boston Globe was a particular treat where you had the weekly columns written by Hall of Fame writers: Jackie MacMullan, Peter Gammons and Will McDonough.    Today’s its all changed.

Today we have the internet, 24 hour sports talk radio, 24 hours sports TV, ESPN, blogs, tweets and mailbags.  There are sportswriters , insiders, and personalities who jump from show to show to show to supplement their income and stay relevant in an industry that is completely focused on the NOW.

The newspaper industry is dying , if not dead.  For most people, especially men and women under the age of 35, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald are nothing more than websites that you visit for information.  These papers don’t break stories anymore, unless it’s through their own website.  Seldom do we ever see something on printed paper before we see it on our computer.  So if you live in Boston or are a Boston native where do you go to get the best information?


I think everyone has a general knowledge of Twitter with the exception of my father and a few select tribal members deep within the South American rainforest.  But to refresh, all the sportswriters have an internet Twitter account they use to send out information. They will tweet a line and usually that line will link to a column or blog entry.  Those “tweets” are also published within websites like WEEI.com, ESPNBOSTON.com or CSNNE.com.  CSNNE.com does the best job of publishing contributing tweets within their website.  So if you want to find out quickly what happened to Josh Beckett when he fell of the mound, well CSNNE.com is a good place to start.   The problem is many of their “on air” personalities think it’s their personal Facebook and tweet completely useless information including what they are doing on their weekend.   I consider this totally unprofessional and tedious.  My advice is to follow a reliable source and go directly to their Twitter page.   Bill Simmons, the former “Boston Sports Guy” and now internet sports writing “King” is also worth checking out at least once a day, if for no other reason than to find out when his next column is appearing.  WEEI.com has “this just in” which is essentially bullet point headlines.    I like this format, the problem is that “this just in” becomes “guess what happened yesterday” so less is more when it comes to headlines.




I am much more of a blog reader than a Twitter reader.    So for me, Bruce Allen’s Bostonsportsmedia.com blog, is a must read everyday.  Bruce links all the local websites, newspapers sites, national articles pertaining to Boston sports and he’ll throw you some commentary as well.   He’s basically saving you at least 2 hours of time you could be wasting in other places.  Second locally would be WEEI.com with ESPNBOSTON.com a close third.  WEEI.com has the best daily blogs because they have the most range and cover 3 of the 4 sports well.  (hockey being the exception, check out Hags on CSNNE.com for hockey)   If its football season, Mike Reiss has the best information.   The Patriots clearly feel comfortable talking to Reiss, which is a rarity, since they tend to be close lipped on everything.  But, Reiss will bring you more than opinion.  Reiss provides stats, number of snaps players played in the previous game and formations used during the course of a game.   Reiss doesn’t just watch the game and give an opinion.    He breaks down the tape and informs the reader, something I myself enjoy as opposed to bloviating sports writers who like to gesture to cameras and read emails on air. (ahem..Tom Curran, Quick Slants is a mess)

BEST LOCAL BLOGGERS: Bruce Allen and Mike Reiss, 

BEST NATIONAL BLOG: Buster Olney’s on ESPN.com


If you’re looking for QUALITY sports columns on a day to day basis its pretty slim pickings out there.  WEEI.com has Rob Bradford, Kurt Minihane and Alex Speier, three strong writers who seem to try to give you more than what you can simply watch on TV at night.   McAdam has always been a favorite of mine, but he’s become much more of a TV personality than a columnist.   And that pretty much goes for everyone at the Globe and Herald with two exceptions:  Ian Rapoport who actually seems more interested in journalism than television and Chris Gasper, who has tremendous upside as a writer and radio personality.   Jackie MacMullan, of ESPNBOSTON.com is always a superb read and is one of my favorite sports writers in the country.  Some people are much better suited for the TV, that’s right Michael Felger I’m talking about you.  But it makes you wonder if the journalist is dead?  Do words mean anything anymore, or do we all just want to listen while we multi-task.    I often think about what Thornton Mellon said in the movie “Back to School” when asked if he ever reads.  “Read?   Who has time?  I see the movie.  I’m in and out in 2 hours.”  I don’t know if that makes us lazy or a product of an information evolution.  But TV and now video podcasting are becoming the new printing presses.


WORST LOCAL COLUMNIST: Ron Borges (which is a shame because at one time, one of the best)


Lots of writers do on-line chats or mailbags.   Once again I recommend Mike Reiss on ESPNBOSTON.com for his weekly chats.  Felger used to have a pretty entertaining mailbag but with all his fame and multiple jobs it looks like he’s put the keyboard aside for good.  It’s now much easier for him to butcher the English language 4 hours a day on the radio and ½ hour at night without the stress of coming up with witty answers for his minions.   Bill Simmons to me is still the gold standard for which young writers today should strive to emulate.   He didn’t want to fetch coffee and wait his turn at the Boston Herald so he went out and started a website of this own, “The Boston Sports Guy.”  He’s parlayed that into ESPN.com.   And he’s parlayed ESPN.com into the most financially successful sports writing career in the history of the industry.  He has his detractors but the stats don’t lie.  Just check out his Twitter following, podcast downloads and visitors to Grantland.com where he is Editor-in-Chief.


BEST MAILBAG: Kirk Minihane WEEI.com

So to sum it all up, there is more information than time to digest it all.  There is no clear #1 as far as I am concerned.  You have to be able to navigate through the useless stuff or you can waste a LOT of time.  There are definitely things today that work better than 25 years ago.  The media today can interact with the fans and vice-versa.   But there are some things that are worse.  Opinions are more plentiful but so is redundancy and mistakes.   By the time you get to the article about the Red Sox pursuing Matt Garza four other outlets have shot it down.  So, for me, while I do like the wealth of information available through all the different mediums, in some ways, I still miss the daily box scores all there in front of you in print.  I miss reading the game story which helped give context to the radio broadcast I listened to from the night before.  And finally I miss the breaking story that you got when you picked up the front page.  “Red Sox trade Eckersley for Buckner.”  Today that would have been tweeted, blogged, posted, discussed and Facebooked before the presses finished printing.  I still enjoy getting the Sunday paper delivered so I can read it on my porch and comb through the box scores.

That’s my opinion, what say you?

Vacation Time

Yes, it’s once again time for Bruce’s ill-timed vacation. Each time I go away, something huge happens, and this will be no exception, as the NFL prepares to go back into business. Surely there will be some unexpected move which have the local sports media going crazy, and dwelling on for about a week too long.

During my absence, (I’ll be back August 3rd) I’ve got guest columns and posters lined up each day. I’ve got three guest columns from George Cain, two from Michael Gee and one each from Roy Reiss and Mike Passanisi. Ryan Hadfield, who has been doing a bang-up job on media musings over at SportsOfBoston.com will be by each of the next two Fridays with his media musings and links. Ken Fang will interrupt your regularly scheduled programming with any huge news. These guest columns are terrific, and I guarantee that some of you will say (or just think) “Gee, BSMW is better when Bruce is away.”

There will also be Approval Ratings on most days, but not all. Keep in mind that with me away from a computer most of the time, your comments will not immediately appear unless you’ve registered with IntenseDebate and then logged in here. Otherwise, comments will still need to be approved manually, and that could be very infrequent.

So until August 3rd, enjoy (hopefully) the end of the NFL lockout and (hopefully) the start of free agency and training camp.

Sox Quieted By Guthrie

The Red Sox bats were held in check by Jeremy Guthrie last night, and while rookie Kyle Weiland managed not to get thrown out of his second major league start, he did pick up the first loss of his major league career as the Orioles beat the Red Sox 6-2 in Baltimore.

Swings and a miss – Peter Abraham focuses on the post-All Star break slump by Adrian Gonzalez, who is now 2-24 in the second half of the season. More game stories from Scott Lauber (also focusing on Gonzalez) | Tim Britton | Sean McAdam | Tony Lee | Baltimore Sun

Gonzalez not worried about slump – Sean McAdam has the Sox slugger refusing to blame the Home Run Derby for his batting slump.

J.D. Drew could be on borrowed time – Gordon Edes has the outfielder seemingly OK with the idea of losing his job to Josh Reddick. Jeff Goldberg notes that a roster squeeze is coming in the outfield.

Heavy hitters are able to deal with deadline – Nick Cafardo with a long, stream-of-consciousness piece on the trading deadline. Pretty sure he mentions every prospect the Red Sox have ever traded, and every player who might be available for trade this month.

Seven years later, Sox rejoin Beltran sweepstakes – Alex Speier’s trade deadline piece is focused on Carlos Beltran.

Control problems vexing Miller – Tim Britton has the Sox getting their first look at the frustrating side of Andrew Miller.

Weiland a winner in first loss – Ron Borges has Kyle Weiland feeling much more comfortable in his second start. Borges also has a piece on Clay Buchholz, who feels fine when throwing on flat ground, but still has back pain when throwing off a mound.

Reddick’s well-seasoned – Scott Lauber’s notebook in the Herald looks at the difference between the Josh Reddick of the past and the one we’ve seen in 2011. The Globe notebook from Peter Abraham has Darnell McDonald on a nice little run at the plate. The Red Sox Journal looks at the contributions of Dan Wheeler. The CSNNE notes from McAdam have more on Weiland.

NFL stays on track for new CBA – Greg A Bedard with a good summary of where things stand on the NFL labor front.

No lockout on NBA schedule – Steve Buckley mocks the NBA TV schedule release show.

In a “thoughts” column, Dan Shaughnessy stumps for Mike Barnicle, rails against Twitter, lauds Logan Mankins for standing up to the Krafts, and says Jacoby Ellsbury is gone after 2013. Makes you want to run right over and read it, no?

Toucher and Rich had an interesting segment this morning where they had people telling them of a “marketing” survey that some of their listeners took part in yesterday which certainly appeared to be coming from WEEI as a way to figure out how to change up their programming to compete with 98.5.  A sample question from the survery was along the lines of “Are Dennis and Callahan past their prime?”

I’d be curious if anyone reading here was contacted for such a survey.