Sports Media Musings: NESN Forgot To Cover Theo Epstein’s Departure, CSNNE Flexes Muscle with Chicago Affliate

You thought “Sox Appeal” was cancelled? The laughable Red Sox-centric date program may have unceremoniously ended, but the stigma lives on. In fact, it permeates throughout the entire network. NESN decided they won’t report on Yankee victories next season. In their eyes, the World Series was cancelled after Jon Papelbon blew game 162 in Baltimore.

I’m obviously being (somewhat) sarcastic. But NESN is not a viable sports network. After 10 years as Red Sox General Manager, Theo Epstein made his first appearance in Chi-town at a Cubs press conference today. I suppose, because this isn’t exactly seen as a ‘warm’ moment for those running Yawkey Way, NESN decided to skip-out.


No big deal, really.

NESN decided this wasn’t newsworthy.

The station instead thought better-of-it to play a “NESN Daily” re-run. A re-run which by the way featured a Heidi Watney narrated piece on “Who Ben Cherington really is.” Of course, this had a clip of the Globe’s Nick Carfardo effusively praising the new architect of our ‘beloved’ BoSox.


NESN has been accurately accused of not covering the Patriots or Celtics as extensive as the two teams, the Bruins and Red Sox, they hold the game rights to. That argument sailed away a long time ago. Futhermore, NESN’s coverage of the Bruins is being usurped – in terms of ratings – by CSNNE. You’re telling me, the “Three Stooges” are going to lose ALL credibility in their coverage of the cash-cow (Red Sox) as well?

I understand Sox ownership, who own NESN, don’t exactly want to throw hosannas at the feet of Theo Epstein as he jettisons town — but, my God, cover the team. Cover the team. COVER THE TEAM. This is something that should have had attention and analysis  before and after-the-fact.


Comcast SportsNet New England had their Chicago affiliate feed their broadcast of the presser. Immediately following Theo’s Hello-Goodbye moment, Mike Giardi and Sean McAdam discussed what was said as well as projected what would happen in Ben Cherington’s introductory press-conference later in the day.

(Because, you know, they cover sports stories in this town.)


Red Sox Still Talk Of The Town

The Red Sox remain the biggest topic of conversation around here, but hopefully we’re moving away from the “drinking in the clubhouse” discussions and towards the “what moves should they be making” discussions.

In yesterday’s Globe baseball notes, Nick Cafardo made the case that the Red Sox should try and get John Farrell away from the Blue Jays. Comments from the Toronto GM would seem to indicate that the door might be open for a move, but Rob Bradford looks at Why John Farrell should be the Red Sox’ next manager but won’t be.

Also in the Sunday Globe yesterday was a full-page advertisement from Theo Epstein, thanking Red Sox fans for 10 years of support. Also, in an effort to mess with his reader’s heads, Dan Shaughnessy wrote a glowing column on Epstein and the job he did here. (Maybe Dan and Larry Lucchino are on a break these days?)

Gone, never forgotten – John Tomase reviews Epstein’s reign as Red Sox GM.

Here’s looking at you, Theo – Gordon Edes looks at what is next for Theo and for the Red Sox.

The Patriots return from their time off this week and prepare to face the Steelers next Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Patriots superlatives – Ian Rapoport gives us the superlatives (yearbook-style) for the first half of the season.

Brown’s D.J. Hernandez serves as role model for Pats’ Aaron – Bill Reynolds with a look at the Brown assistant coach, and older brother of the Patriots tight end.

Life on Pats’ practice squad is a wild ride – Glen Farley with a look at the ups and downs that come with being a practice squad player.

Patriots’ Spikes learns game on the fly – Monique Walker has a look at the second-year middle linebacker and the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the defense.

In search of some early risers – Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook has the Bruins desperately needing to finish shots early in games.

An unheralded Kelly leads B’s by example – Steve Conroy looks at the impact Kelly has made on the Bruins since coming over in a trade last February.


Sports Media Musings: Bryant Gumbel & Shock Value, The Big Lead Impresses, Zolak Bolsters Broadcast

Shocking…But That Was The Point

Bryant Gumbel knew his well-written, yet very misguided rant about David Stern and the NBA lockout would garner Hank Williams Jr.-esq attention. Gumbel compared Stern to a plantation owner on HBO’s “Real Sports.”

“Stern’s version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It’s part of Stern’s M.O., like his past self-serving edicts on dress code and the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.”

Gumbel ceded the analogy wouldn’t exactly go over well, which was alarming on many levels.

“Some will of course cringe at that characterization but Stern’s disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent,” Gumbel said.

Usually when a public figure makes an off-color remark – whether premeditated or not – it is viewed as a short-sighted moment of self-inebriation. For example – and I’m only using this because it was recent – Hank Williams Jr. stumbled into his Obama/Hitler analogy. He didn’t participate knowing he wanted to get that one-liner off his chest.

Gumbel, on the other hand, acknowledges that the public will “cringe” and said it anyway. To me that suggests this was said to draw the ire of viewers and gain attention. I don’t buy the theory Gumbel was looking for street credibility amongst the black community. Why would he wait until now to use his “Real Sports” platform to espouse his image that way?

I actually caught wind of this on Wednesday, and assumed it would be something fresh for the BSMW readership. To my surprise, “The Big Show” spent a few segments broaching the subject yesterday. It was a nice change of pace. The co-hosts showed good rapport as Glenn Ordway was deferential to Michael Holley on the matter. Ordway and Holley were right to point out the Shaun Powell piece on ESPNNewYork. Powell’s take down of Gumbel’s proclamation was spot-on.

Meanwhile, during the same hour of programming, “Felger & Mazz” teased their rebuttal to the Dan Shaughnessy piece with Red Sox CEO, Larry Lucchino. I’m going to side with Bruce Allen’s media column – this is getting weird.

Michael Felger and (to a lesser extent) Tony Massarotti believe the story is about them. And that’s NEVER a good thing. Lucchino’s notes the media is “misleading” the public. It is transparent Felger is excited to be enthralled in this mess. He hasn’t been this fired up since Shawn Thorton said, “Suck it, Felger” following the Bruins Stanley Cup victory. The duo needs to retreat and start talking about the Patriots defense or the Bruins early season struggles to get back on track. For instance, the Kerry Byrne segment yesterday was a breath of fresh air.

I haven’t said this much, but yesterday was a win for the “Big Show.”

Quick Musings, Links has a better design. Still needs tweaking, though.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Gerry Callahan is still awesome in print.

Last night, on my way home from the gym, one of those elaborate “Free Credit Report” songs came on 93.7 FM. It sounded like an actual tune. And for a second, I was euphoric. My credulous attitude led me to believe the “Planet Mikey Show” was tossed in favor of Mike FM tunes. Hope quickly evaporated. Poor John Ryder.

Hated this column by WEEI’s Rob Bradford. He argues captains are worthless in baseball. Just because Jason Varitek was an awful captain doesn’t devalue the title. And yes, I realize only three teams in MLB have captains — but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be beneficial for more teams to appoint a leader.

In fact, I’d argue Varitek’s biggest failure this year was his admission the ‘C’ had no real impact on his role. Way to own it, Jason! Furthermore, this is an example of a column produced in reaction to the collapse. Look, its sports, sh!t happens. Not everything has to be a macro issue. Simmer down.

Colin Cowherd is delusional: He thinks his NFL picks move the lines in Vegas. I don’t listen to Cowherd’s radio show, and have seen “Sports Nation” sporadically — but he seems like a braggart. I can’t believe CBS almost launched a sitcom based off his life and career.

Speaking of ESPN’s Cowherd, remember when he was scolded for ordering listeners to blow up The Big Lead’s server? Feels like 10 years ago…

Now is, for my money, the best sports blog on the web. Even after being bought out, Jason McIntyre has maintained the integrity of the site and content has stayed on par. As a Patriot fan, McIntyre’s incessant Jets posts can be carping, but the rest of the country has to deal with ESPNBoston Bill Simmons. It feels like a fair trade. Another aspect which bothers me are the “sponsored posts” — but it’s only a slight mar on an otherwise great site. Here are two good sample posts from this week…

1.) Why did Adam Schefter sit on news of the Carson Palmer Trade?

2.) Stephen Douglas destroys FOX Columnist Bill Reiter. This is really an exemplar of what the blogosphere is all about. Reiter wrote a terrible piece and the ultimate watchdog – IE ‘The Internets’ – cries foul. A tidbit I enjoyed about the piece is Douglas insinuating Reiter knew the blogosphere would kill him for the column…

Before I get into the jackassery –  Yes, I’m fully aware that Reiter likely wrote this column in hopes that blogs would tell him what a jackass he was being. Reiter is “trolling hard,” as they say. You can’t simply say that LeBron James is one of the best basketball players alive. You have to take a hard stance one way or the other. He either is or he isn’t. Get on the train or f*** off. Pick a side and watch those page views grow.

Before I move on, I’m aware Deadspin and The Big Lead overlap with many of their stories. I just find Deadspin’s updated site design laborious to navigate. Plus, I enjoy each of the five regular writers on The Big Lead.

Liked this piece, by Chad Finn, on Scott Zolak’s new role as sideline analyst during Patriots radio broadcasts. I’ve said this about Zo before, but his enthusiasm is infectious. His passion is evident both on his mid-day show and also during game broadcasts. Two things I took away: 1.) Zo’s blunder leaving the mic on during the last Pats touchdown. High comedy; 2.) His reaction to the Tony Siragusa comparison, calling him a “goofball.” Umm, is it me or is Zo a goofball too? His Twitter description includes, “Shake & Bake.”

Friday Quick-Hit Media Links

Here are the local sports media columns for today, as we get ready for Sports Media Musings coming up in a little bit.

Three is no crowd with Zolak – Chad Finn looks at the addition of Scott Zolak to the Patriots radio broadcasts, and what Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti think of having the former quarterback on their team.

Media Roundup: Has Red Sox Media Coverage Crossed A Line? – I think the headline of my SB Nation Boston column this week is a little misleading, while I don’t like the hysterics that have gone on, I don’t mention crossing lines, either. Instead, I’m looking at a few media members who have distinguished themselves for the good this month. Also, I’ve got a look at the Patriots TV ratings thus far this season:

A quick note on TV ratings for the Patriots. Sunday’s game against the Cowboys on FOX tied for the highest rating of the season for the Patriots, the  37.1 rating was equaled only by the season-opening broadcast against  Miami on Monday Night Football. The Dallas game received a higher  share of the audience than the Miami game, pulling in a 62 (a season  high) in comparison to the 56 share of the season opener. The Patriots are averaging a 33.6 rating and 59.5 HH over their first six games.

Tuning In: Antonio Tarver picks Edwin Rodriguez to beat Rosinsky – Bill Doyle talks to Showtime boxing analyst Antonio Tarver about this weekend’s fight between Worcester super middleweight Edwin Rodriguez and Will Rosinsky at Foxwoods.

Congratulations to Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, who was named by the Pro Football Writers of America as a winner of a Dick Connor Writing Award for his Enterprise Feature “Roster overhaul key to Patriots’ success.” which appeared in the January 5th, 2011 edition of the Herald. (A full list of honorees can be found here.)


One Drama May Be Coming To A Conclusion, At Least

Reports this morning are that the Cubs and Red Sox are close to finalizing compensation for Theo Epstein, and that the Cubs could officially hire Epstein in the next day or two. That would close out one bit of drama, in this nightmare of October, hopefully other items will follow and we can get on with our lives.

Theo Epstein deal near – Scott Lauber’s notebook in the Herald says that an announcement is possible tomorrow. The Globe notebook from Peter Abraham also reports that a deal could come tomorrow, an off-day for the World Series.

Cubs prospect Trey McNutt tries to make sense of Red Sox rumors – Alex Speier looks at the Chicago prospect that has been rumored in the Epstein compensation.

Apparently in-game beer drinking is common in baseball, but since it happened in Boston, it is the end of the world as we know it. Peter Abraham though, says that the practice is dwindling in the game.

Powder keg tapping out – Gordon Edes says that slowly but surely, the beer story is fizzing out around here. He’s got some little shots in there at his former employer, the Globe, as well.

Adrian Gonzalez looks for answers – Scott Lauber has the first baseman explaining how he feels the leadership structure of a team should be built, and says he’ll feel more comfortable taking a bigger role next year.

Red Sox could have a surprise up their sleeve – Christopher Smith looks at the rumored managerial candidates.

Forget crying, the Red Sox proved why there should be no captains in baseball – Rob Bradford has Jason Varitek’s ineffectiveness as an example.

Patriots rookie progress report – Chris Forsberg evaluates the rookies at the bye week.

Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez cause problems – Karen Guregian looks at the matchup nightmare that is the second-year duo.

Belichick lightens up on Inside the NFL – Jimmy Toscano has the Patriots coach opening up a bit on the Showtime series.

Bye week a time for the Pats to heal – Tim Whelan Jr has the Patriots looking to rest up a bit and get healthy.

It’s all good from scrimmage work– Ian Rapoport’s notebook looks at the purpose of a rare in-season scrimmage this week. The Globe notebook from Shalise Manza Young has more on the bye week plans.

The Patriots/Cowboys game will be featured on tonight’s episode of NFL Turning Point, which airs on VERSUS at 10:00pm. Particularly in focus will be the final drive, which won the game for New England. The hour-long program, hosted by Football Night in America’s Dan Patrick, airs weekly throughout the NFL regular season and focuses on the crucial ‘turning point’ moment in several games for football fans each week in a more in-depth way than ever before by utilizing NFL Films’ unmatched cinematography and sideline and on-field audio.

Kessel, Leafs should motivate struggling B’s – Mick Colageo says that the sight of their former teammate might give the Bruins a spark tonight. Joe Haggerty notes that the former Bruin is on fire to start the season.

Slumping Boston Bruins expected to use new lineup against Toronto Maple Leafs – Mike Loftus looks at a lineup shift.

Bruins need to find a cure – Stephen Harris says that the Bruins need to shake their hangover.

Bruins Lose, Pats On Bye, Sox Still Losers

OK, Seriously.


I’m bored with this Red Sox crap, and there is no end in sight. This story is the epitome of low-hanging fruit for the sports media. I could be very very wrong, but I think this story is much more interesting to the casual and even non-fan than it is to the hardcore Red Sox fan. For the former, this story is appealing, it’s gossipy, scandalous, TMZ-like, for the latter, they just want to see what the team is going to do to fix things. The media, which like water, seeks its own level and the path of least resistance, is busy breathlessly reporting the latest gossip and giving their uninformed opinions as an easy way to fill airtime. What happened in the Red Sox clubhouse actually might not be all that outrageous, if you ask Peter Abraham.

To quickly sum up the latest, WHDH-TV reported yesterday that Jon Lester, John Lackey and Josh Beckett were drinking beer in the Red Sox dugout during games. The Red Sox quickly issued a complete denial, including a statement from former manager Terry Francona. Jason Varitek spoke to the Globe yesterday and to WAAF this morning.

What makes this week worse is that the Bruins are still struggling, and the Patriots are on their bye week, meaning the Red Sox story will continue to dominate everything for at least another week.

Boxed out – Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins losing 4-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes last night.

Missed conduct – Stephen Harris says that while the Bruins finally “displayed passion and toughness — but it was poorly timed and kind of ugly.” Douglas Flynn says that the Bruins need to learn to play with passion even when the opponent does not engage them physically. James Murphy says that the Bruins need to get a hold of themselves and their frustrations.

Looking for a spark, Julien juggles his lines – Shinzawa’s notebook has the coach shaking things up a bit. The Herald notebook from Steve Conroy has Tuukka Rask dealing with very little scoring support from his teammates.

Cowboys reined it in – Greg A Bedard says that while there has been improvement from the defense in the last two games, some of that is on the opposition rather than vast improvement from the Patriots. Karen Guregian examines the Patriots’ stinginess in the Red Zone.

Break-out season so far, but Arrington sees room for improvement – On the new-look Providence Journal website, Brian MacPherson looks at the Patriots cornerback, who leads the league in interceptions. More on Arrington from Glen Farley and Dan Duggan.

An opposing scout offers his take on what the Pats need to work on during bye week – Christopher Price has an outside look at what the Patriots need to improve.

Patriots use PUP list to advantage – Chris Forsberg has the Patriots getting a boost from three returning veterans.

Belichick blames media for ruination of handshake – Tom E Curran has the Patriots coach says that the media has ruined the traditional postgame handshake. He also has the coach taking another shot at the trigger-happy media.

Matt Light’s Gutsy Play a Critical Part of Tom Brady’s Comeback Drive and 19 Other Patriots Thoughts – Jeff Howe offers up his weekly observations on the team.

Payoff pitch is Patriots will get a bye – Jonathan Comey thinks another bye is in the cards for the Patriots. Don’t get your hopes up though, Cold Hard Football Facts says that it is impossible for the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

Faulk back on the field, but still a long way to go – The Patriots Journal has Kevin Faulk among those returning to practice. The Globe notebook from Monique Walker has more on Arrington. The Herald notebook from Karen Guregian has Ron Brace also returning to action.

NBA is inviting irrelevance – Bob Ryan says that there are no sympathetic figures in the NBA lockout.

Brady, Defense Lead Patriots Over Cowboys

Tom Brady executed his 32nd fourth-quarter comeback, and the New England defense was stout, especially when it needed to be, as the Patriots rallied from a 13-16 fourth quarter deficit to a 20-16 win yesterday at Gillette Stadium.

Get all the coverage at

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Ten years later, Tom Brady still majoring in drama – Christopher Price runs down what we can take from this win. Mark Farinella says that the Patriots are fortunate to be 5-1. Bill Burt says that the Patriots are back. Tim Weisberg says that the offense finally looked human, but the defense made a statement. Michael Hurley says that this was a Super Bowl-era performance from Brady and the Patriots.

Defense comes up with big plays – Mike Reiss says that the collective confidence of the defense is rising, and that was on display yesterday. Karen Guregian has more on the defense stating its case yesterday. Rich Garven says that the defense’s work on Jason Whitten was especially impressive. Monique Walker has more on some big plays by the defense. Hector Longo thinks that we saw the birth of a defense at 7:04 of the third quarter.

Another Ryan, another Brady win – Greg A Bedard says that after beating the Ryan boys on back-to-back weeks, Tom Brady can spend the bye week in Brazil, or screaming like a little girl down a water slide if he wants. Ron Borges has more on Brady closing out the Cowboys. Jim Donaldson has Brady proving once again why he is the best. Chris Forsberg says that the Patriots expected – and received – the happy ending in this one. Tom E. Curran notes that it has been a while since Tom Brady struggled in a game, but made the adjustments to come out on top in the end. Jackie MacMullan and Bob Ryan have Brady coming through yet again.

Spikes reads, reacts – Dan Ventura looks at some big plays from the second-year linebacker. Julian Benbow has second-year tight end Aaron Hernandez putting his fumble behind him and making the winning TD catch. Forsberg looks at the Quincy jump.

They catch a break before the break – The Patriots Journal has the team going into the bye week on a good note. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport  has the Cowboys containing Wes Welker. The Globe notebook from Shalise Manza Young has Chad Ochocinco barely seeing the field. The Enterprise notebook from Glen Farley says that it will be a good bye for the Patriots.

John Henry showed he’s a team player – Tony Massarotti gives his thoughts on John Henry’s surprise appearance on his radio show Friday afternoon.

Things-to-do list awaits Ben Cherington – Scott Lauber looks at the things the GM-in-waiting will have to get done.