Was It The Celtics, Or The Red Sox, That Killed Felger and Mazz?

Michael Felger trashed the Celtics all spring, and he then lost the ratings book for his entire station.

Fact, not opinion.

Well, it IS a fact, in the same way that Mike Felger states “facts” about the Celtics, Patriots, or whatever team/athlete/coach is in his crosshairs at the moment.

A statement that may be factually true, but actually inaccurate when you look deeper into it.

What about the opening statement of this post? Yes, it’s true that Felger did trash the Celtics all spring, and that yes, his ratings went down during this time period, actually so much so that while the morning and mid-day shows at 98.5 won their time slots, Felger and Massarotti dipped so far as to tip the entire scales in WEEI’s favor for the spring book.

But was it Felger’s trashing of the Celtics that caused this dip, or something else?

Let’s look at the month of June, week by week.

Keep in mind, that with the ratings periods, week four of June ended on June 20th. Even though the ratings show Mon-Fri, in reality they’re Thursday to Wednesday in this case. The spring book began on Thursday, March 29th.

So the ratings “Month of June” is actually this:

Week 1   May 24 to May 30

Week 2   June May 31 – June 6

Week 3   June 7-13

Week 4   June 14-20

So here is the breakdown:

Men 25-54, Mon-Fri 3-7 pm.

Week One       Week Two      Week Three    Week Four
6.6                    8.4                      6.7                     6.6                        WEEI
5.7                    8.4                      7.4                     5.9                        98.5

Men 18-34, Mon-Fri, 3-7 pm.

Week One       Week Two     Week Three     Week Four
3.1                      3.6                      4.2                      4.4                     WEEI
7.9                     10.5                   10.7                   10.0                     98.5

Men 18-49, Mon-Fri, 3-7 pm.

Week One       Week Two   Week Three      Week Four
5.6                     7.0                     6.0                     5.7                       WEEI
5.9                     9.1                       8.5                    7.0                       98.5

So what do we see from these? It seems pretty clear that the younger audience was listening to Felger and Mazz. It’s not even close in the 18-34 demo.

We’ll concede the younger audience to 98.5 across the month. Let’s focus on 25-54 and why WEEI won this month, and this ratings period for the time slot of 3-7 pm.

WEEI won the month of June in the 25-54 demo 7.1 to 6.8.

You also see that in weeks 2 and 3 of that same demo, 98.5 tied and beat WEEI for the time period of May31st to June 13th. The Celtics/Heat series went on from May 28th to June 9th, and so Celtics discussion was at an all-time high during those two weeks.

But Felger and Mazz beat and tied The Big Show during the biggest two weeks of basketball talk. WEEI won the month by winning weeks one and four. So was Felger’s Celtics-bashing as big a turn-off as it might appear by looking at the entire month?

Did something different happen in weeks one and four?

Yes. Red Sox day games.

On May 28th, which was Memorial day, the Red Sox played a 1:35 game. Felger and Mazz were not on the air that day, but this still counts on their record. On June 15th, during week four, there was another Red Sox day game, against the Cubs, starting at 2:20 pm.

While that is only two days out of the month, it’s a trend that goes through the entire spring ratings book.

Nine times during the springs ratings book, WEEI had a Red Sox game on during the 3-7 pm time slot. Those games included the season opener (April 5th, 1:05pm), the home opener (April 13th, 2:05pm) and the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park (April 20th, 3:05pm). All big games.

Who is more likely to listen to a baseball game on the radio? Someone 18-34 or someone 25-54? Was the “old bastard” audience of 34-54 who listened to the Red Sox games on the radio enough to swing the ratings into WEEI’s favor?

I don’t have the week-by-weeks for April and May in front of me, but for the two months, the head-to-head ratings broke down like this:

The Big Show:

25-54: April 8.3, May 7.5
18-34: April 5.3, May 3.9
18-49: April 6.9, May 6.4

Felger and Mazz

25-54: April 7.5, May 6.6
18-34: April 10.0, May 7.9
18-49: April 8.0, May 6.9

Once again, 98.5 won with the younger crowd. The “old bastard” crowd saved WEEI. Or more accurately, having Red Sox day games scheduled which would appeal to the “older” crowd is what saved WEEI, and what ultimately, doomed 98.5.

Now, I’m sure that having Felger on the airwaves every afternoon just ripping the Celtics from limb to limb did not sit well with some listeners, and I’m sure a good number switched over to Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley during that time. I know I did.

But can we blame 98.5’s fall solely on Felger’s Celtics-bashing? Considering that his show beat the competition during the most intense period of basketball talk this spring, it seems prudent to at least consider other reasons for WEEI’s triumph.

This is in part, why having the broadcast rights to the Red Sox is such a valuable commodity for WEEI. Do they win this three-month ratings period without them? I have my doubts.

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Toucher and Rich Declare Spring Victory

Public ratings are out tomorrow, but Toucher and Rich are already celebrating. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the lineups do, considering how May went.

Update: Gresh and Zo are declaring victory over WEEI:

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BREAKING: Red Sox Not Very Good

The brave and fearless Dan Shaughnessy informs us this morning that the Boston Red Sox are not a very good baseball team, and for this incredible insight, he is lauded on both morning shows today and on Twitter.

Thanks Dan, where would we be without that amazing insight?

Injuries or not, the entire Red Sox organization from ownership down is a joke. Somehow they’ve managed to erase the goodwill of two World Series championships and transport us back to 1992.

While the diehard Red Sox fans suffer through and try to hope for improvement, many in the region are counting the days until Patriots training camp, amusing themselves with videos of Bob Kraft (not gonna link it, trust me, it’s easy enough to find) or hoping Danny Ainge can make at least one impact move this summer.

Looking ahead to Boston’s second half – Tim Britton looks at what we might expect from the rest of the season.

Fellow pitchers pulling for Sox’ Daniel Bard – John Tomase has pitchers from around baseball wishing Bard the best, with some blaming the Red Sox for what’s happened to him.

Yesterday, Bob Ryan had written that we shouldn’t be bashing Ray Allen on his way out of town. I’m not bashing Ray for making the decision to go to Miami, play with the defending champs and enjoy the year-round weather, I’m just intrigued at how a guy painted as the consummate professional could have so many issues. This morning’s column from Gary Washburn (Plenty of blame to go around) meant to portray things more from Allen’s perspective doesn’t change my view at all of the situation. Apparently Ray was as pissed that he wasn’t traded to Memphis as he was that his name was in the trade talks.

Celtics’ Fab Melo lands on feet – Mark Murphy looks at the quick feet of the Celtics 7-foot rookie.

E’Twaun shooting for Moore action – Chris Forsberg has the second-year guard looking to make the most of his opportunity.

We’re in the slowest sports days of the year right now, so most of what is on sports radio is nonsensical filler, but how does that differ from the rest of the year, really.

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Will the Red Sox be buyers or sellers?

With the Red Sox sitting at .500, 43-43 and 9.5 games behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East standings at the All-Star break, the biggest question among fans is whether or not the team will be buyers or sellers at this month’s trade deadline.

Despite being 9.5 games out in the division, the team is only 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot, but the issue is there are five teams ahead of them.

With all of the injured players scheduled to come back in the next few weeks the Red Sox could look at those as midseason acquisitions, or they could become sellers and trade some of their star players

Tony Massarotti believes that the Red Sox should be sellers, and look to trade one of their top pitchers.

Possessors of a 40-35 record roughly 10 days ago, the Red Sox limped into the All-Star break late Sunday night on the heels of a 7-3 defeat to the Yankees at Fenway Park. With loss, the Sox dropped to a perfectly mediocre 43-43. But before we make this too much of a big-picture issue, let’s focus on the two men who absolutely needed to step up in the weekend series against New York and who jointly fell on their faces.

Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.

Massarotti wants the Red Sox to trade Beckett or Lester, but not both.

If Ben Cherington and the Red Sox are smart – and assuming they are not doing so already – they should be exploring any and all deals for either Beckett or Lester (but not both) as we approach the trading deadline set for the end of this month. Lester is obviously the more desirable to keep, but he would probably fetch more in return.

Massarotti brings up the dreadful numbers of the two starters this season, and also throws in a random line mentioning John Lackey.

Beckett and Lester also rank 28th and 30th among the same 41 pitchers in ERA, making it all the more curious that the Sox would allow chicken-fried running mate John Lackey to be joining the team on road trips despite the fact that he will not pitch for at least the majority of this season.

To me, I think the Red Sox will either be buyers, or do nothing — not be sellers. First of all, who could the Red Sox look to move?

Beckett would be extremely tough to deal because he has 10-5 rights, and who would the Red Sox look to get for Lester? Prospects? What good would prospects do for the Red Sox, who aren’t about rebuilding, rather look to win year in and year out. Very rarely at the deadline do you see starts being traded for stars.

With the number of injuries the Red Sox have had, especially in their outfield, it is presenting an issue when Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury return.

Daniel Nava has been outstanding filling in for Crawford. Ryan Kalish performed pretty well before being sent down to Pawtucket last week when Ryan Sweeney returned from the disabled list. Sweeney has played well when he’s been healthy, and Cody Ross is on pace to hit a career high home runs, despite missing a month with a fractured foot. Where are all of these players going to go? They are too good to be optioned to Triple-A.

The team could look to deal the likes of Nava and Kalish, but they need to think long-term. Ellsbury is set to become a free agent after next season, and all signs point to him not resigning. Crawford has battled injuries this entire season, so can he really be depended on? Thinking long-term the Red Sox cannot deal away their young outfielders.

With the recent news that Carl Crawford is contemplating Tommy John surgery following the season keeping him out 6-8 months that would take him a few months into next season. What is the sense of Crawford even playing this season?

He should have the surgery now, and not try and play when he really shouldn’t. He should call this season a wash, and direct his full attention to 2013.

The Red Sox’ hands are tied. They really cannot be sellers at the trade deadline. They are forced to go with the players that they have signed to contracts, but that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

With the amount of talent on the roster they can get hot and click at the right time to string together a number of wins to get right back into the playoff hunt. Despite the struggles of the front-end of the starting rotation they have all proven they can be “aces,” who is to say they cannot step up and perform like them in the second half.

But, with the difficult schedule that awaits the team following the All-Star break, they could dig themselves a hole that is too deep to dig out of.

For Ray, It Wasn’t Business, It Was Personal

I completely understand why Ray Allen chose to sign with the Miami Heat.

He gets to go to a team that will contend for a championship every year for the rest of his career, his game is made easier for his aging legs as he’ll likely have many more open, spot-up jumpers with the Heat, and not running through multiple screens to get open. He’s going to Miami, where he can play golf year-round, and enjoy the weather and beaches for the final years of his Hall of Fame, lucrative NBA career.

Can’t argue with any of that. I don’t have any issue really, with his decision, other than the personal disappointment that he will now be with a team I can’t stand.

While I’m sure those items above were a big part of Allen’s decision to leave the Celtics and sign with the team that knocked them out of the playoffs the last two seasons, it seems clear that the biggest factor in his decision was the chance to stick it to the Celtics.

I’m already tired of the “will Ray Allen get booed storyline” on sports talk radio and TV. At this point, I’m more interested in seeing what Danny Ainge does now to add to his backcourt. From a team standpoint, I’m not even all that broken up over losing him. The Celtics needed to move on at some point, and paying Ray Allen $12 million over the next two years seemed a bit too much. Hopefully Ainge can find a steal in the free agent market, someone who can contribute in ways that perhaps Ray couldn’t at this point in his career.

Ray Allen put in five very productive seasons for the Boston Celtics, and I appreciated him for it. All along though, I think we knew this was a guy who is wired a bit differently from certainly the rest of us, but even from most NBA players.

There were references to OCD, which given the strictness and thoroughness of his routines, was something that even Allen didn’t dismiss. I tend to think anyone who is wildly successful at what they do, especially if it is a specific skill has to be wired a bit differently from the rest of us, so it’s no reflection on character.

But what has been coming out since this news broke has been a series of alternately intriguing and head-scratching tales of  things that bothered Allen so much here in Boston that he chose to walk to the team that at the moment, is their biggest, and most hated rival for half of what the Celtics were offering to pay him.

Most of the material was provided by the peerless Adrian Wojnarowski, (Heat gave Ray Allen reason to again feel wanted) who wrote on Saturday about Allen:

He hated the way Ainge dangled him in trade talks, hated that the Celtics told him he was on his way to Memphis in a deal at the March deadline only to have Rivers later tell him the trade was dead. Allen hated that Rivers didn’t give him his starting job back after he returned from a late-season ankle injury, and hated that it always felt like he was the Celtics star made to sacrifice above the rest.

We had heard during the season that it was Ray’s idea that Avery Bradley start. Either it wasn’t true, or he changed his mind when he saw that Bradley could actually play and how that might impact his own future. Then there were the issues with Rondo.

The friction started in the 2009-10 season, after Rondo signed his five-year, $55 million extension, sources said. It wouldn’t be long until Allen started to hear his name in trade talks, and he began to make the correlation that Rondo’s salary played a part in the Celtics looking to trim payroll – starting with Allen.

Rondo’s contract is one of the most team-friendly deals in the NBA, yet Allen begrudged him on it? As for the trade talks, I’ve heard a lot of “Well, the Celtics tried to trade him, why should he show any loyalty to them?” Yeah, I get that, but most NBA players have their names in trade talks at some point or another. Allen has been traded twice in his career already. It’s part of the business. Most players seem to understand that.

So besides Rondo’s contract, what were the personal issues?

“When it comes to basketball, Rondo is the smartest player on the team – one of the smartest players in the league,” one locker-room source said. “And Ray considers himself a smart guy. But at some point, it became hard for Ray to be corrected by a guy so much younger than him.”

Was Ray being corrected because he was wrong, or because Rondo just wanted things done his way? Wojnarowski acknowledges that they were also polar opposites in personality, and that was an issue. He says though, that Allen was discussing these issues with associates, to the point that Celtics management became concerned.

Was it just Rondo?

Within the Big Three, they teased Allen for his political nature. Whereas Rondo, Pierce and Garnett would speak in brutal, honest terms, Allen was forever measured, even.

He didn’t like to be teased by his teammates? Gary Washburn, in yesterday’s Globe had Doc Rivers revealing another nugget about Allen’s unhappiness:

Rivers hinted that perhaps the Celtics first courting Kevin Garnett to return may have irritated Allen, who may not have felt he was a priority.

“I thought we did [pursue him],” Rivers said. “[President of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] in particular did exactly what he should have done. Kevin Garnett was our focal point, and he should have been. If that got anyone ruffled, then that’s probably too bad. We did everything that we’re supposed to do.

“[Allen] had his reasons. I think emotionally he probably got bent sideways a little bit by us courting Kevin, for some reason. I don’t know, honestly.

This is where it sort of gets silly. Of course KG was the Celtics number-one priority. For Allen to think he should’ve been seems ridiculous.

So because of all of these slights, and because the Heat laid out the red carpet for him, Allen decided to stick it to the Celtics, Wojnarowski writes:

Yet, it turns out Allen’s trip to South Beach made him feel so wanted, so inspired, and, truth be told, so eager to stick it to the Celtics. He could’ve broken Boston’s hearts and left for anywhere, but clearly there’s a part of Allen that wants to exact some kind of revenge on the Celtics. There was nowhere else to do that but Miami.

Ray Allen has always been portrayed as the ultimate professional. His preparation for his craft is beyond reproach. He was always available to the media, and willing to talk after a win or a loss.Interestingly, over the weekend, while this news was hot, NBATV was replaying the series The Association when it featured the Celtics in the 2010-2011 season.I had forgotten how prominent Ray Allen was in that series. He was the go-to guy for the camera. They followed him when he showed up four hours before every game, they went to his house for Christmas, and later he talked about the Perkins trade. He and KG and Pierce talked about their special bond and what it meant to play together and win together. Watching it, just hours after learning of Allen’s decision to sign with the Heat, was incredibly surreal.

This process has revealed another side of Ray Allen. A dark side. One that let jealousy and petty feuds consume him. One that was insecure, and overly sensitive. One that apparently had a lot of internal turmoil that he didn’t allow the media or public to see, but festered to the point where he wanted to stick it to the Boston Celtics and their fans in the worst possible way.

When he is introduced by the Heat later this week, I have no doubt that he will say the right things, and suggest that this decision was strictly about business. That he is doing what is best for the business of Ray Allen and his family.

On the surface, he can make that argument, and it is a plausible one. I’m not buying it. This wasn’t business for Ray Allen It was personal.

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The Yankees Are Coming! (Is Anyone Excited?)

The Red Sox return to Fenway Park after a dreadful road trip to finish out the first half of the season with a four game series with the AL East-leading New York Yankees. Boston currently sits 7.5 games behind the Yankees.

Red Sox need to get well soon – Gordon Edes says that the Red Sox need to round into form quickly.

Dustin Pedroia down, out – Scott Lauber’s notebook has the Sox preparing to play this series without their sparkplug, who appears headed to the DL.

He’s working for tips – Alex Prewitt’s Minor League Notebook has Jackie Bradley Jr getting some tips from Carl Crawford during his rehab stint in AA Portland.

Buchholz’s esophagitis a common problem – Wait, what? I thought it could only be caused by the fact that Buchholz was an out-of-control binge drinker…at least that’s what sports radio told me…

Forget a raise, what about a pay cut? Why David Ortiz and the Red Sox could confront a challenging negotiation – Alex Speier looks at why Ortiz still may not get what he wants, despite how good a season he has this year.

Ortiz complained about the media coverage in Boston recently, but there is no faster way to generate anger on sports radio than to be a professional athlete whining about being humiliated with a $14.575 million dollar contract for 2012.

Brandon Bass in mix, agrees to three-year deal – Steve Bulpett was first with the news yesterday that the Celtics had worked out a new deal with the power forward. Jessica Camerato talked to Bass about staying in Boston.

Ray Allen makes Heat wave – Bulpett also had reported that the Celtics were a hard push on Allen, attempting to meet his concerns by offering a no-trade clause or trade kicker into his contract.

Most media seem to think Allen is gone, A Miami TV station even reported Allen had signed with the Heat, but it turned out they were fooled by a fake Twitter account. This was the same station which jumped the gun on Derrick Rose’s torn ACL, reporting it, and then retracting it. In that case, they were lucky it turned out to be true.

Media Roundup: Erin Andrews Moves On From ESPN To FOX Sports – My SB Nation Boston Media Column looks at Andrews’ career shift. I didn’t go quite in the same direction as Tom Hoffarth, who wrote perhaps the most scathing and critical column on Andrews you’re ever likely to read.

Let’s Do The Friday Megalinks

Time for Friday linkage.

The Weekend Viewing Picks have your sports and entertainment suggestions. Let’s get cracking.

National

Michael Hiestand from USA Today looks at TNT’s plans to go mostly split-screen during breaks for Saturday’s NASCAR race.

Tom Perrotta of the Wall Street Journal reports that the one Wimbledon souvenir the players want is the towel.

Alex Sherman at Bloomberg Businessweek talks with NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus about the Olympics.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk says enhancing the NFL fan experience might bring more people to games.

Ed Sherman of The Sherman Report is happy to learn that Jeremy Schaap’s ESPN Radio show is now available as a podcast.

Bob Pockrass at The Sporting News says NASCAR hopes that NBC Sports will be a bidder for the sport’s TV rights.

Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News says ESPN Deportes scored with the EURO 2012 Final last Sunday.

Mike says Golf Channel has selected the venue for the next season of “Big Break”.

Christopher Heine of Adweek says MLB’s allowing Twitter votes for the All-Star Game for the first time may have had a hand in deciding which league hosts the World Series.

Jason Del Ray of Advertising Age says the impending Turner Sports purchase of Bleacher Report makes sense.

Wayne Friedman at MediaPost says the NFL easing requirements on local TV blackouts shows the league wants to reach the casual fan.

Dan Daley at Sports Video Group says ESPN will be utilizing plenty of microphones at the MLB Home Run Derby.

Awful Announcing’s Matt Yoder has a screengrab of a Canadian TV station messing up the Steve Nash trade to the Lakers.

And Matt has found an episode of Judge Sapp. Yes, that’s Warren Sapp.

The Big Lead soaked up the latest Twitter battle between ESPN’s Darren Rovell and Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch.

MediaRantz looks at the top 5 ESPN plagiarism scandals.

Nick Bromberg of Yahoo’s From the Marbles blog wonders what is the big deal with the TNT/truTV simulcast of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup race on Saturday.

Joe Favorito likes how MLS has adopted “Food Week” to get fans to explore its markets’ restaurants.

East and Mid-Atlantic

At SB Nation Boston, BSMW Fearless Leader Bruce Allen says it was time for Erin Andrews to leave the ESPN Mothership.

Jerry Barmsah of Fishbowl NY says CBS Radio’s WFAN could be headed to FM and could take the Yankees with it.

Yes, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, we know you hate ESPN.

Justin Terranova of the Post has five questions for ESPN tennis analyst Brad Gilbert.

Ken McMillan from the Middletown (NY) Times Herald-Record says the MLB Extra Innings pay per view package will be free next week.

Don Laible of the Utica (NY) Observer-Dispatch talks with the NHL on NBC’s Dave Strader about calling Olympic basketball.

Ken says a local minor league baseball team has found a new radio home.

Dave Sottile of the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News says there are no plans to bring Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic to the local area.

Tim Richardson in Press Box looks at the differences between the Washington Nationals and MASN over the team’s TV rights fee.

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner talks with MLB Network’s Chris Rose.

South

Kyle Veazey of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal says a popular local sports radio host is changing stations.

At the Houston Chronicle, David Barron writes that the new Comcast SportsNet Houston will air Conference USA football featuring the University of Houston.

Midwest

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says MLB feels it has restored integrity to the All-Star Game. It’s an exhibition game!

Paul M. Banks of the Chicago Sports Media Watch wonders who had the best mock NBA Draft?

Paul Christian at the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin says the new TV voice of the Minnesota Wild will have an exciting team to call this season.

Dan Caesar from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch talks about Erin Andrews making her Fox debut next week.

Dan writes that Blues analyst Darren Pang turned down a full-time offer from TSN and will remain in St. Louis.

West

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News has this harsh takedown of Erin Andrews.

Here’s Tom’s column which has a little more on the last post.

Tom also links to reaction to his Erin Andrews column.

Matt Rudnitsky of SportsGrid replies point-by-point to Hoffarth.

John Maffei of the North County Times writes about Erin Andrews joining Fox.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star talks with Fox’s Joe Buck on the challenges of calling the MLB All-Star Game.

Jim has his Weekend Viewing Picks.

Matthew T. Hall at the San Diego Union-Tribune wonders where’s the fan outrage in the Fox Sports San Diego-Time Warner Cable dispute leaving Padres games off TV.

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News tries to clear up some confusion over the Pac-12 Network.

And that will conclude our links for today.