By this point you’re probably aware of the incident at Bobby Valentine’s press conference yesterday involving Rich Shertenlieb of 98.5 The Sports Hub.
For some background, yesterday Toucher and Rich talked about how the media does not ask the questions that the fans would like asked at these sort of press conferences. Rich announced his intention of taking a listener question – a legitimate one, and getting a credential from the Red Sox and sitting in the front row and asking that question to Bobby Valentine.
Which is exactly what he did. He had no trouble obtaining a credential from the Red Sox, and he attended the press conference, and asked the very first question – “If you had to make your case to the fans as to why you should be the manager of the Red Sox next year, what would you say to them?’’
OK, so maybe it’s not the question that is on the tip of the tongue for the majority of Red Sox nation, but it’s a question that the beat reporters and people that cover the team on a regular basis are not going to ask.
Valentine seemed surprised by the question, and it apparently also didn’t sit too well with some of those on the beat, who viewed it as nothing more than a stunt.
Gordon Edes wrote about it in the Red Sox blog on ESPNBoston.com – Valentine: ‘I’m the best man for the job’
He added the following commentary:
Radio talk-show hosts don’t typically show up for pregame sessions, but Valentine presented WEEI’s Glenn Ordway with a gift sound bite last week, so perhaps ‘EEI’s rivals were looking for the same. If so, they probably went away disappointed.
Tyler Kepner of The New York Times also mentioned the incident in his column on Valentine today – For Valentine, a Ruined Season and Spoiler’s Role.
The pregame news conference Tuesday began not with the standard talk about injuries and the lineup, but with a breathless demand from a radio reporter that Valentine tell fans why he should still be manager.
Both Edes and Kepner’s commentary seemed fairly benign from here, but it led to an epic, screaming rant from Fred Toucher on this morning’s show.
Toucher insisted at least twice that this was “not a wacky bit” just done to get attention. The pair insisted that this was an effort to get the “voice of the disenfranchised fan” out there and heard by Valentine. Toucher was insulted that Dan Shaughnessy after bring apprised of Shertenlieb’s intentions asked that they just not get the nice girl who gave him the press pass fired.
Toucher, who from the rant you would think was the one who went down and asked the question yelled that the pair is “in our mid-30’s” and that “we know what we’re doing.” It was stated again that this was “not a wacky bit” for the radio.
You might recall that a couple of years ago, Shertenlieb, on a somewhat similar mission, attended Celtics media day in order to quiz then-Celtics guard Delonte West about his alleged relationship with LeBron James’ mother. That was a stunt, and an incredibly awkward one as well. It would be easy to understand why some might have concerns that the intentions might be similar here.
Toucher went on, calling the sports media a “self-important righteous bunch of jerks” and wondered what the problem was with questioning an “a-hole manager who’s never won anything.”
He chided Edes for having an “overinflated sense of what you’re doing – what a jerk!” He then went on this hysterical, screaming rant after they read the quote from Edes above suggesting that this whole thing was just to get their own Bobby Valentine “moment.”
That’s right, Gordon! That’s what Rich wanted, was for Valentine to just BLOW UP on him, you hit the nail on the head! Better give your guys at EEI a nice pat on the back because they cover ESPN programming and ESPN guests can’t come our station. Better give your boys a little pat on the back you prick, you condescending prick, that’s just great.
This is where he lost me. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t hear Gordon Edes a whole lot on the WEEI airwaves. I don’t think he has any reason to plug WEEI in the least. ESPN talent cannot appear on any other radio networks, that’s their policy, it’s not particular to 98.5 just because WEEI is in town.
I can get on board with an outsider coming in every once in a while to ask a different sort of question. The reporters who are there everyday aren’t necessarily going to be big into asking confrontational questions every day, since it can make for an unpleasant work environment for themselves. The idea of someone like Shertenlieb coming in and getting questions from fans and asking them at a press conference is in theory, an interesting one.
The media can be a bit self-important. That’s not a secret. Calling them out is appropriate from time to time.
But when you do it in the manner that Toucher did this morning, any good points you have made quickly lose credibility. I can’t tell if he’s pissed that he and Shertenlieb aren’t being taken seriously as sports “journalists” or if he’s more mad that Gordon Edes had the temerity to suggest that this might’ve just been another attempt at publicity by a pair of wacky morning zookeepers. When you’re calling a pro like Gordon Edes a jerk and a condescending prick, (knowing he’s unlikely to respond) it tends to distract from your main objective, which is a shame.