Cranking Out The Friday Megalinks

Let’s do some Friday linkage for you.

MLB Postseason starts up really in earnest with four games on Saturday. College Football in full swing and the NFL completes its first month of games on Sunday. Your Weekend Viewing Picks have everything you need to know in sports and primetime programming.

To the linkage.

National

Michael Hiestand of USA Today writes that Fox Sports’ NASCAR coverage will be known for having the Brothers Waltrip next year.

Mike Reynolds of Broadcasting & Cable writes that Turner Sports will be all over the League Division Series for the first four days of the MLB Postseason.

Adweek has a graphic showing how much time we spend on watching football.

Bill Cromwell of Media Life Magazine writes that TBS and Fox should see good ratings for the MLB Postseason based on an exciting final night of the season on Wednesday.

Nelli Andreeva of Deadline reports that ESPN is developing an ABC sitcom based on Boston sports fans. That’s going to go over well.

Bill Hofheimer in ESPN’s Front Row blog talks with ESPN’s Jon Gruden about calling a “home game” this Monday.

Jim Romanesko of the Poynter Institute looks at the despicable reaction of Buffalo Bills fans to a column written by a female sportswriter at the Albany Times Union.

Bob’s Blitz has video of WFAN’s Mike Francesa attempting to add on the air.

Brandon Costa at Sports Video Group looks at ESPN placing microphones on various players and coaches during the WNBA Finals.

Brandon chronicles a wild Wednesday night at MLB Network.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell looks at the advantages or lack of thereof having a bigger payroll in MLB.

The Sports Biz Miss Kristi Dosh tells us that despite not making the playoffs, the Atlanta Braves and the Boston Red Sox still get a share of the postseason pie.

The Sports Media Watch looks at how the tumultuous Final Night of the MLB season led to a ratings bonanza for ESPN.

SMW says for the MLB season, ESPN’s ratings went up slightly.

SMW says TBS’ ratings for the MLB regular season were flat compared with last year.

Joe Favorito looks at how Dick Vitale has made himself into a viable brand.

The Daly Planet delves into the changes with the Fox Sports NASCAR crew.

The Influencer Economy has a look into Blogs with Balls 4 and the future of sports media.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn at the Boston Globe (this is the last day I’ll be able to link to Chad as his columns go behind the dreaded paywall starting October 1) writes about NESN viewers unable to see analyst Dennis Eckersley on the last day of the season.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette writes that Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy shares some blame in the Red Sox collapse.

Newsday’s Neil Best talks with TBS’ Brian Anderson who steps into the network’s lead spot for the MLB Postseason.

Justin Terranova of the New York Post has five questions for NBC Football Night in America analyst Rodney Harrison.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union writes that a new local sports talk show host isn’t spending any time discussing any local topics.

Ken McMillan at the Middletown (NY) Times Herald-Record writes about local radio stations picking up MLB League Division Series games.

To the New Jersey Newsroom where Evan Weiner says the college conference shuffle is making fans roll their collective eyes.

In the Allentown (PA) Morning Call, Keith Groller writes that MLB will have a hard act to follow in the postseason after a compelling final night of the regular season.

Laura Nachman says Comcast SportsNet will be all over the Phillies in the MLB Postseason.

In Press Box, Dave Hughes of DCRTV.com writes that sections of the Baltimore Sun’s sports website will go behind the dreaded paywall.

South

The Florida Times-Union reports that the Jacksonville Jaguars have avoided a blackout for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

To the St. Petersburg Times where Tom Jones says Sun Sports got big ratings for the Tampa Bay Rays’ march to the playoffs this week.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle writes that MLB Network was all over the twists and turns from the final night of the regular season.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman has his news and notes.

Midewest

John Kieswetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that a local CBS affiliate will provide halftime highlights during Bengals games at Paul Brown Stadium.

John writes that Saturday’s Cincinnati-Miami game will be seen live online and on local TV on tape delay.

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press talks with Tigers TV voice Mario Impemba about the team’s chances of advancing in the MLB Postseason.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel speaks with Brewers TV voice Brian Anderson about getting the top gig for TBS for the playoffs.

Bob has a couple of quotes from CBS’ Phil Simms about Sunday’s Denver-Green Bay game.

To Crain’s Chicago Business and Ed Sherman who writes that Nebraska’s addition to the conference can only help the Big Ten Network.

Ed has his winners and losers in sports media and business.

In the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin, Paul Christian talks with former Minnesota coach Tim Brewster who’s now patrolling the sidelines for Gus Johnson and FX’s college football game of the week.

Jennifer Mann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals TV voice Dan McLaughlin has been arrested on DUI charges for the second time this year.

Dan Caesar of the Post-Dispatch writes that Fox Sports Midwest has suspended McLaughlin indefinitely.

West

Bill Center in the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres expect to bring back its TV booth, but no word on the team’s radio announcers or new TV contract for next season.

The Union-Tribune says Sunday’s Chargers game against the Dolphins will be blacked out.

John Maffei of the North County Times says the Padres hope to have a new TV deal (with Fox Sports Net) in place by the New Year.

At the Ventura County Star, Jim Carlisle writes that Wednesday’s MLB season finale was Must See TV.

Jim says despite being on a losing team, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp is in the center of the MVP debate among TV analysts.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News looks at Jenn Brown’s endorsement deal with GNC.

Tom says Bill Macdonald’s full-time days with Fox Sports West are over.

Tom looks at TBS’ coverage of the MLB Postseason.

Tom wonders why the NFL pulled back the 1st half Thursday Night Football package from the table.

Canada

In the Toronto Globe and Mail, Bruce Dowbiggin says MLB got a shot in the arm on Wednesday.

The Canadian Sports Media Blog writes that TSN has locked up curling on TV in Canada through the end of the decade.

And that’s going to do it. I may have a few more links later tonight.

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Sports Media Musings: The Big O losings O’s

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I previously wrote Ordway is a program director. He no longer holds that title. Oversight on my part. Apologies.

Chad Finn’s article last week said according to industry sources, Glenn Ordway was given a choice: Cut his rumored $1 million salary in half, or face the possibility of losing his job at Entercom-owned, WEEI. The Big O’ thought better of it to take the former.

Ordway, who’s role includes hosting “The Big Show” afternoons from 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM, failed to finish in the top three in the coveted 25-54 demographic during the spring ratings book. This, allegedly, gave Entercom an oppotunity to opt out of Ordway’s rather lavish contract.

The timing of the pay-cut is curious and – from an outsider’s perspective – ominous for the former monopoly of sports radio in Boston. I’ve documented in this space before how WEEI’s fall from grace coupled with their adversary – 98.5 The Sports Hub – has unfolded. But I ruminated the possibility of a WEEI bounce-back in the summer books, which are set to be released next Tuesday by third-party Arbitron.

The Bruins Stanley Cup frenzy waning combined with the fact WEEI broadcasts Red Sox games, seemed to point to an oppotunity for WEEI to take back what was once theirs. With news of The Big O’ losings O’s at the end of his paycheck, one has to postulate Entercom has caught wind they under-performed (again) during the summer ratings period.

Since I’m here, let’s dig a little deeper.

Ordway’s salary cut is appropriate. Obviously this is opinion, but he never should have been making that kind of money to begin with.  The guy talks about sports four hours a day. Granted, his show was largely successful. And if you’re the best, you deserve to make the most. But Ordway – along with the rest of the WEEI roster – was the best by default. Never once, while listening to “The Big Show”, was I ever met with an epiphany from an Ordway ‘take.’ I never found myself saying, “Wow, that was a different spin on things I had not considered.”

Things were supposed to change after “The Big Show” changed up the roundtable format with the addition of the affable Michael Holley. However, still, more often than not during “The Big Show”, my ears are met with colloquial conversation that after 20 minutes turns into yelling, and has “celebrity” callers garble more nonsense. The only change seems to be Mike Adams doing his best Ed McMahon impression. I’m not sure if this was a joke that I was not “in” on, or if the program was just a caricature of a sports show. Once Mike Adams became a permanent fixture, I was convinced it was the later.

Perfect Example: Holley (in a sarcastic tone) – “Mike I know you are a hardened journalist — what do you think?”

Adams – “Journalism? I may be a professional at Ururinalism!”

It is unclear whether Adams bombs like “The Situation” at the Trump Roast on purpose or not.

Back to the show. With news of CSNNE’s agreement to simulcast Ordway’s direct competition – “Felger and Mazz” – things continue to look bleak for WEEI. Moreover, the Red Sox collapse combined with the real possibility the NBA season won’t take place means WEEI is forced to talk Patriots/Bruins until the ‘Host Stove’ talks heat up. Only issue is 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for those two teams and carry the games.

Next Tuesday will tell us more. A lot more. But as a personality told me recently, “It is easy to see which station is going up and doing well, and which station is not.”

Francona Gone? Theo Too?

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night that the Red Sox and manager Terry Francona are expected to part ways, as soon as today.

Francona expected to leave Red Sox

The Chicago Sun Times reports today that Francona wants out, and would be interested in joining the White Sox:

Terry Francona wants out of Boston; White Sox are logical landing spot

It would be tough to see the best Red Sox manager ever leave town, but you knew something had to change with the team after that dreadful final month. Could Theo Epstein be gone too? The Sun Times also reports that the Cubs are going to make a run at Epstein – Cubs will make run at Theo Epstein for GM job.

That would be quite the shakeup. Stay tuned.

A few quick links before handing things over to Ryan later this morning:

Media Roundup: Did The Boston Globe Take Pleasure In Red Sox Collapse? – My SBNation Boston media column looks at whether the Globe and Boston.com treated the Red Sox elimination as something to celebrate.

Rice no match for Eckersley – Chad Finn says that it’s a shame that Dennis Eckersley wasn’t available for NESN after the Red Sox elimination.

Red Sox fans have Dan Shaughnessy to blame – Bill Doyle’s media column puts the blame for Wednesday night on the Globe columnist.

Meet The New Red Sox, Same As The Old Red Sox

When Evan Longoria’s 12th inning home run barely snuck over the wall near the left-field foul pole in Tampa last night, all I could do was laugh.

I mean, what else could you really do at that point? All seemed well earlier in the night. The Red Sox and Orioles were in a rain delay with the Sox ahead 3-2, and the Yankees leading the Rays 7-0 in the eighth inning.

Then Dan Shaughnessy appeared on my TV screen via NESN. His beaming face proclaimed that the Red Sox would now be able to have a day off before starting their division series with the Rangers or Tigers, because the “Rays aren’t going to win tonight.”

http://img.widgets.video.s-msn.com/flash/customplayer/1_0/customplayer.swfNESN: Shaughnessy jinx?

I knew right then how things would turn out.

The loss stings, but it isn’t the devastating killshot that ’03 or ’86 or ’78 were. This wasn’t a sudden death, it was long and drawn out, and by the end of it you were just hoping they’d get put out of their misery. Big picture, this is a worse collapse than those seasons, but in the moment, not quite as painful.

So who takes the fall for this one? I’m already anticipating what changes are going to be made to this team and organization between now and next February. This will be a transitional offseason if there ever was one.

If you’re going to read anything this morning, I recommend Chad Finn: Red Sox did this to themselves

Here’s a few other links from this morning. As you can imagine, this is a Shaughnessy-free zone, though I did hear he makes references to the “baseball Gods” this morning. Must be a new book in the works. What’s the angle this time? (I think Jeff Jacobs has already coined the phrase The Curse of the Andino.) Maybe it’s the connection to LeBron James…

For Sox, misery arrived in slow motion – You can also rely on Alex Speier to bring you a reasonable take on things.

A hurt for the ages – Gordon Edes says that this one is going to take a while to get over.

This isn’t 1978 … it’s much, much worse – Christopher Smith explains why this is so bad.

‘Devastating blow’ for Red Sox – Scott Lauber looks at a collapse rivaled only by that of the Berlin Wall.

Red Sox forever choked – Steve Buckley says not to let the two World Series trophies blind you: the Red Sox are still the Red Sox.

Sox problems run deeper than final loss – Sean McAdam says that the Red Sox had set themselves up for just this sort of torturous ending.

Red Sox complete a collapse for the ages – Mike Fine says that the final weeks of the season turned into a “nightly death struggle.”

Why Terry Francona was one who deserved (and deserves) better – Rob Bradford says that the Red Sox manager is a victim in this mess.

Plenty of question marks for Epstein – Nick Cafardo says that the Sox GM will have some answering to do.

Wakefield wants to come back – Peter Abraham’s notebook has a odd quote from the knuckleballer, who believes that “the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that (all time Red Sox wins) record. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber has the Red Sox players backing Francona.

Seymour is still defensive force – Julian Benbow has a look at Richard Seymour’s role in bringing the Raiders back to respectibility. The former Patriot talked with New England reports on a conference call yesterday. More on Seymour from Dan Duggan | Paul Kenyon | Glen Farley | Tom E. Curran

Good stuff on Brandon Spikes – Ian Rapoport looks at whether the second-year linebacker might be starting to “get it.”

Just a finesse team? Patriots hope not – Chris Forsberg looks at the Patriots transition from a “a lunch pail-toting group of overachievers with a smashmouth defense to some version of the Greatest Show on Turf, an offensive juggernaut with
little defensive backbone.”

Time to question Ochocinco’s play – Karen Guregian looks at the receiver’s poor play.

Pats Pregame Points: Game Four At Raiders – Chris Warner looks ahead to Sunday.

Mankins misses practice with illness – The Patriots Journal has the All Pro guard missing perhaps the first practice of his career yesterday. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport  has a look at the Seymour trade. The Globe notebook from Monique Walker has more on Ochocinco. The Enterprise notebook from Glen Farley has Brian Waters talking about playing in the “Black hole.”

Steven Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski ignoring the elephant in the rink – DJ Bean looks at the battle for the last defensive spot on the Bruins.

Bruins’ Sauve hoping his number is called – The Globe notebook has the Bruins second round pick in 2008 hoping to show he’s NHL-ready.

Red Sox Do It The Lavarnway

The Red Sox got a pair of home runs from a rookie making his first Major League start behind the plate, and needed both of them as they barely hung on for an 8-7 win in Baltimore last night. The win kept Boston tied with Tampa for the Wild Card playoff berth heading into tonight’s regular season finale.

If the Red Sox can somehow win two games in a row – something they haven’t done all month – they will very likely have to play again tomorrow in a one-game playoff with the Tampa Bay Rays, who are playing a resting Yankees squad tonight.

All square – Peter Abraham looks at things all tied up, with one to go.

Red Sox not closing book yet – Gordon Edes looks at what could be the final chapter in this Wild Card chase. Rob Bradford says that there is no one the Red Sox would rather have save their season than Jon Lester. Christopher Smith says that it is time to put up or shut up. John Tomase says that despite the collapse, this stretch run has been very exciting. Steve Buckley says that forgiveness can only come with a Wild Card berth.

Ryan Lavarnway Does More Than the Average Fill-In, Carries Red Sox Offense in Crucial Victory – Tony Lee looks at the 24-year-old rookie from Yale who may have saved the Red Sox season. Joe McDonald looks at the impressive performance both at and behind the plate for the rookie.  Alex Speier says that Lavarnway was well-prepared for this position. Scott Lauber has the rookie getting his homework done before the game. Sean McAdam has the rookie happy to contribute.

Sox in trouble even if they make ALDS – Sean McAdam doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the Sox if they somehow survive today and tomorrow.

I suppose I should comment on the trash submitted by Globe columnist Brian McGrory this morning. Entitled These Red Sox not a good fit for Boston, the column says

If you’re whining, moaning, wailing, or crying, get yourself a grip. This store-bought team never reflected Boston. It never paid homage to what the city and the Red Sox have traditionally been. This team, in short, never had a story and never had a narrative arc. If it did, it would read as follows: We should win more games because we spent more money.

He also lists off all the free agent busts of the last few years. I’m wondering though, what exactly makes this team any different from 2004 or 2007. Both of those teams had about the same or perhaps even less homegrown talent than this one has.

This column smacks of the ESPN the Magazine storyline of what New Englanders are, their puritanical and thrifty roots, and how all that in some way, shape, or form relates to how we cheer for our sports teams. Sports these days is all about spending money. The team that is ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East standings is the one that spent more money than they did. You can say that this team is not likeable, that’s a valid argument perhaps, but not a good fit for Boston? Had they sailed into the postseason without any issues would this column have been written?

Ironman now Alfredo Aceves’ role – Where would the Red Sox be without the Yankees castoff? Lauber’s notebook has the reliever shining for the third game in a row. The Globe notebook from Peter Abraham has more on Aceves, as do the CSNNE.com notes from Sean McAdam. The Red Sox Journal has Terry Francona shuffling up his lineup last night.

And yes, you did hear Mike and Lap Dog trashing Jacoby Ellsbury for four hours yesterday. He’s not their type of player. Not enough of a Trot Nixon-like “Dirt dog.” Leave it to Matty in the Morning on Kiss 108 this morning to take Felger to task, mentioning the irony of Felger and his “musical theatre” background calling Ellsbury a pretty boy…

Seymour leads Raiders revival – Ron Borges looks at how the former Patriot has transformed the entire Oakland franchise and brought it back to its nasty roots. Chris Forsberg says to get ready for the ‘what-ifs’ in regards to Seymour.

What might have been: Bill Belichick, Oakland Raider? – Christopher Price notes that Al Davis interviewed Belichick for his head coaching spot twice during the 1990s.

Bill Belichick’s Job Interview With Raiders Spurred Patriots’ Dynasty and 19 Other Thoughts – Jeff Howe also touches on the interview in his 20 thoughts for the week.

Patriots didn’t have things covered in the secondary – In reviewing the loss to the Bills, Greg A Bedard notes that once again, the big issues were with the secondary.

First Impressions – Oakland Raiders – Greg Doyle looks at some key Raiders and what they’re saying out in Oakland. Greg A. Bedard also looks at the Raiders. Glen Farley says that the Raiders and Patriots are unfamiliar foes.

Nowhere to run for Patriots – Karen Guregian says that the Patriots need to get their running game going.

More roster turnover – Mark Farinella says that all the shuffling of the roster is an indication that Bill Belichick has no idea where is team is headed.  

Deion Branch OK with pattern changes – Guregian’s notebook has the receiver insisting all is good after getting shut out on Sunday. The Globe notebook from Monique Walker has the Oakland running game presenting a big test for the New England defense. The Patriots Journal notes that the Raiders prowess running the ball goes against league trends. The Enterprise notebook from Glen Farley has the Raiders preparing for a ‘finesse team’ in the Patriots.

Bruins roster takes shape – Stephen Harris has the defending champs starting to get their lines settled.

Room to go, and to grow, at center – Fluto Shinzawa has second-year center Tyler Seguin giving the Bruins from options at center.

2011 Approval Ratings – Ian Rapoport

Ian Rapoport covers the New England Patriots for the Boston Herald.

The Boston-born but New York raised Rapoport joined the Herald in July of 2009. He had previously worked for The Birmingham News, where he covered the Alabama football program led by Nick Saban.

The Columbia University graduate employs an energetic style to his coverage of the Patriots, having fun, yet still breaking his share of scoops along the way. He is prolific on Twitter and is very engaged with his audience. He’s been a regular guest on sports radio, and on TV with Comcast SportsNet.

{democracy:134}

Brady’s Four Interceptions Help Buffalo End Streak Against Patriots

Tom Brady threw four interceptions yesterday, and the Patriots defense continued to give up yards and points at an alarming rate as the Buffalo Bills came back from a 21-0 deficit to defeat the Patriots 34-31 out in Western New York. It was the first time that the Bills have beaten the Patriots since 2003.

ESPN the Magazine’s Boston issue this week features a column on Tom Brady which might be the worst thing I’ve read in some time. In short, the premise is that Boston fans don’t like Tom Brady anymore because he is too perfect. So by that logic, yesterday’s performance raised him a bit in the eyes of the Boston fandom.

Thanks to John Lackey however, the Patriots loss may not totally dominate the talk around town at least for today. TMZ reports that the embattled Red Sox starter is divorcing his wife, who has been fighting breast cancer. Last night, after Lackey actually pitched pretty well in a 7-4 Red Sox extra innings win, Lackey confronted reporters, saying that he had been texted about a personal matter from a media member just 30 minutes before the game started. Rumors says that the came from the TMZ reporter.

The Red Sox magic number for the Wild Card sits at three, with three games to play this week against Baltimore.

Pressure on – to improve defense – Greg A Bedard says that offseason plans to improve the defense haven’t worked, as that unit is still unable to generate any pressure at all on the quarterback. Chris Forsberg says that the Patriots need to go back to the drawing board on the defensive side of things. Hector Longo says that it is a fact that the Patriots have sold their fans a bill of goods when it comes to this supposedly rebuilt team. Ron Borges mocks the supposed “big play” defense. Tom E. Curran says that the defense is just not good enough.

Patriots can’t pick Brady up – Mike Reiss says that costly penalties and spotty defense were just as much to blame for this loss as Brady’s four interceptions.

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: No defense for this outcome – Christopher Price says that the defense’s shortcomings is the biggest thing to take away from this one.

A bit of a catch for Welker – Monique Walker looks at a record-setting day for Wes Welker, who would rather have gotten a win yesterday.  Karen Guregian has more on the afternoon for Welker.

True to form, Patriots consider loss quietly – Mary Paoletti says that there wasn’t a lot of demonstrative anger in the Patriots locker room after this one.

Pats play ‘passive defense,’ says Buffalo’s Nelson – The Patriots Journal has even the Bills taking some shots at the weak New England defense. The Globe notebook from Shalise Manza Young and Monique Walker has another shaky game from Chad Ochocinco. The Herald notebook has more on the struggles of 85, who dropped a sure TD pass yesterday.

Apparently the objective media in Buffalo was really excited by this win:

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Did Jacoby Ellsbury save the Red Sox season last night? His three run homer in the 14th inning lifted the Red Sox to a win and a doubleheader split with the Yankees yesterday, preserving the Red Sox one-game lead in the Wild Card.

Red Sox show they’ll stick it out – Gordon Edes has Ellsbury and the Red Sox hoping this win can give them a boost. Nick Cafardo says this might’ve been Ellsbury’s MVP moment.

The turning point? How Sox hope to use dramatic win as springboard – Alex Speier has the Sox headed to Baltimore knowing that they still control their own fate. Speier also examines What happened to Carl Crawford’s defense.

Sox take deep breath – Michael Silverman has the Sox showing a pulse.

Pen stopped at nothing – Peter Abraham’s notebook has the Red Sox bullpen coming up big. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber has more on the Lackey incident. The CSNNE.com notes from Sean McAdam have Ellsbury hitting a few milestones yesterday.