Toucher and Rich Have The Right Idea, But Wrong Methods

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.

Kepner wrote:

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.

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More Patriots reaction, Red Sox welcome Yankees to town

All Boston teams were off on Monday, but there was still plenty to talk about following the Patriots’ season opening win on Sunday. The two main story lines were the play of the rookies on defense, and the emergence of running back Stevan Ridley. Despite the convincing win, with the Boston media and fans there will always be something negative coming out of the game.

This time it was the lack of playing time from Wes Welker. He played only 43 of the 67 snaps (64 percent) compared to just under 90 percent last season, while finishing with three catches for 14 yards. Some threw around the idea Bill Belichick and the Patriots are upset with him after his contract negotiations this past off season and are punishing him now. To me it is a non-story, and just one game. The Patriots seem to be stressing balance this season, so give it a few more games. It will work itself out.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges gives his grades for each position from Sunday’s win. They all passed with flying colors.

Ridley’s super Sunday was no surprise to high school coach– Kevin McNamara speaks with Ridley’s high school coach following his 125-yard performance in the season opening win.

Jones up to tall task– Jeff Howe takes a second-look at rookie Chandler Jones’ performance in his first NFL start.

In the line of Duty– Gerry Callahan looks at Logan Mankins’ toughness after it was revealed he tore his ACL in the first game last season, but did not tell anyone until after the season.

Has Welker’s role changed?– Felger & Mazz debate whether or not Welker’s role has changed this season.

News of Welker’s targets is product of media– Tom E. Curran blames the media for creating the Welker story.

Welker, Brown in same mold– Shalise Manza Young compares Welker to former Patriots star Troy Brown.

NFL Week 1: A few thoughts– Tony Massarotti has some thoughts not only on the Patriots, but the league in general.

In what would normally be a very meaningful September series between the Red Sox and Yankees, this time it means almost nothing, at least for the Red Sox. The Yankees now find themselves fighting to stay atop the AL East standings and the Red Sox will look to play spoiler.

Spoiler alert: Yanks in peril– Michael Silverman says the Yankees September has a chance to end just like the Red Sox’ did last year.

Good place to start– Scott Lauber looks ahead to next season and says the team needs to focus on rebuilding their starting rotation first before doing anything else.

Slumping Sox may find pick-me-up in pinstripes– Peter Abraham wonders if with the Yankees coming to town it might inspire the team to play better ball, and spoil their playoff hopes.

Lester: Beckett wasn’t the problem– Joe McDonald has Jon Lester’s reaction to Josh Beckett being traded, and how it could benefit the left-hander even though Lester says Beckett wasn’t an issue.

Young Patriots Impressive In Opening Win

Early in the first quarter yesterday, it looked a replay of some of the worst moments of last season for the Patriots.  The defense gave up a first down on third-and-long, Wes Welker dropped a pass he normally would catch, and Brandon Lloyd looked suspiciously like the guy who wore #85 last season on a long bomb from Brady. The Twitter critics were basking in their self-made glory.

Then the youngsters stepped up. Running back Stevan Ridley flashed a variety of skills, surprise second round pick Tavon Wilson ended up with an interception in the end zone off a tipped pass, then the Pièce de résistance when rookie Chandler Jones came around the edge and strip-sacked Jack Locker and fellow first round pick Dont’a Hightower scooped up the loose ball and took it into the end zone for defensive touchdown.

Young veterans like Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were their typical brilliant selves, and even the much-maligned offensive line was solid, save one sack that left Tom Brady with a bloody nose. And Tom Brady was, well, Tom Brady.

At halftime (on CSNNE.com Halftime Live) Mike Felger wanted to know why it took so long for the Patriots to draft players like Jones and Hightower and following the game, he tried his best to drum up a Wes Welker controversy after the wide receiver was almost an afterthought in the offense. It was hard to put  a damper on what was a very encouraging afternoon for the Patriots, but he tried.

The Welker situation figures to be the one that most looking for an angle will glom onto. Are the Patriots trying to phase him out of the offense, vindictively and systematically squeezing him? (That whole stream is hysterical.) Are they looking to trade him like they did Randy Moss in the 2010 season? Those should be storylines that some will try and make into headlines.

What we learned Sunday: Patriots dance past Titans – Christopher Price has some things to take away from yesterday. Jonathan Comey has five things we learned, and Hector Longo checks in with a Jerod Mayo-loving two minute drill.

McDaniels, line were dialed in – Greg A Bedard has been pretty much a lone voice in the wilderness since camp opened, saying that the offensive line was not cause for panic and rioting in the streets. Yesterday showed him right.

Patriots have new difference-makers – Mike Reiss looks at the new impact players on defense for New England. Karen Guregian has more on the Patriots new playmakers. Jim Donaldson has the defensive retooling well under way for the Patriots. Mary Paoletti has the defense shutting down Chris Johnson.

Second-year back Stevan Ridley takes heat off Tom Brady – Ron Borges looks at how Ridley makes Brady’s job so much easier. Michael Whitmer has more on Ridley putting together a game to build on.

First and goals to go for Patriots – Chad Finn looks at a number of “firsts” from this one.

Game 1 Notes: Patriots 34, Titans 13 – Tom Curran checks in with some notes and observations.

Nothing lasts forever: Enjoy yourself, Patriots fans – Ryan Hadfield urges you not to be so eager for January to get here. Enjoy the ride.

Check more links at PatriotsLinks.com.

Is This Stage Too Big For Bobby Valentine?

On the surface, that seems like a far-fetched question, after all, he did manage in New York.

It was the Mets though, not the Yankees, and no matter how good the Mets are, they don’t get the coverage that the Yankees do,  and for all the talk about the “tough” New York media, from an outsider, that seems like a myth.

Valentine’s behavior and performance this season often seem to be that of someone who is over his head and overwhelmed by his surroundings. His appearances on radio and TV have been marred by bizarre comments and head-scratching statements. From his very curious calling out of Kevin Youkilis the first week of the season right up to his recent “punch you in the mouth” comment to Glenn Ordway, Valentine has gotten himself into one mess after another this season.

He acts like someone who is overcompensating for a lack of confidence or security. It’s all been very odd. He’s been nothing like what he was billed to be by the likes of Gerry Callahan and Nick Cafardo coming into the season. Callahan the last few mornings has been saying that “we’ve all” been surprised by Valentine this season, which I disagree with. I think the majority of people were wary of Valentine right from the start, and only those who either cross themselves to Larry Lucchino each morning or who blatantly attempt to curry favor with the manager were boosters of Valentine as the successor to Terry Francona.

Kirk Minihane asks Is the media too tough on Bobby Valentine? I don’t know if that is the right question. It might be instead “Is Bobby Valentine tough enough for the Boston media?”

Media links:

Jim Nantz, Phil Simms familiar with Patriots – Chad Finn’s media column has CBS’s top NFL duo talking Patriots. A couple of years ago I wrote a column for Patriots Football Weekly which showed that Nantz and Simms had called more Patriots games than any other TV duo ever.

Patriots tight ends have Shannon Sharpe’s endorsement  – Bill Doyle has the CBS analyst talking about the Patriots tight end combination.

Doyle also wrote a very good column on the reunion of Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman this week.

Will the Kids be Alright? – George Cain notes Felger and Mazz’s examination of a Greg Bedard column from earlier in the week and adds his own thoughts.

Media Roundup: Could Brian Scalabrine Eventually Replace Tommy Heinsohn? – Though Finn reports above that Scal is an additional hire, not a replacement, I wonder if there is a little Gino Cappelletti/Scott Zolak thing going on here.

The Patriots kick things off for real this weekend, check all the constantly updated coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

Red Sox lose again, who will replace Bobby V?

While everyone was watching the Giants-Cowboys NFL regular season opener and then sleeping, the Red Sox lost 2-1 to the Mariners out in Seattle. The team finished their nine-game road trip by losing eight of nine games. The team is off today before hosting the Blue Jays for a weekend series at Fenway Park, which is sure to be interesting as as the Blue Jays manager is John Farrell and he is the man who was connected to the managerial opening last winter. The Red Sox might be interested in going after again this offseason.

The biggest story of the day came off the field, with Bobby Valentine losing his cool on WEEI’s Big Show, which was well documented by Bruce yesterday afternoon.

Strain shows in Valentine’s words– Peter Abraham says the stress of the season is starting to takes its toll on Valentine.

Bobby Valentine in misery– Michael Silverman also looks at Valentine and his comments on WEEI.

Bobby Valentine down for count– Gordon Edes says Valentine’s comments show he is on his way out of town after the season.

Will Red Sox get their man in Farrell this time?– Nick Cafardo wonders if the Red Sox can get Farrell to come back to Boston. He says he will be the teams’ number one choice to replace Valentine.

Why the Red Sox should take another run at John Farrell– From yesterday, Rob Bradford also thinks the Red Sox will push very hard to get Farrell to come back to Boston.

Red Sox need more Bill James?– Dan Shaughnessey touches on a number of subjects in his column today, including Bill James, and yes, the Patriots’ new media work room.

One more lost year for Ryan Kalish– Silverman also looks at Ryan Kalish’s season, one which has been limited due to injuries and once again hurting his development.

The Patriots open their regular season this Sunday at Tennessee, and for Boston sports fans it can not come soon enough, especially with everything going on with the Red Sox.

Double coverage on tap– Michael Whitmer looks at the McCourty twins facing one another this Sunday.

Brady prepares for unknown in Tennessee– Tom E. Curran says the offense could break out Sunday like they did in last year’s season opener in Miami when Brady threw for 517 in the Patriots’ 38-24 win.

In defense of needing a strong Patriots defense– Ron Borges says having a strong defense is still important in the league today, it isn’t all about the offense.

Young, talented defense critical to getting Patriots over the hump– Jeff Howe looks at the young defense and how it has changed over the years under Belichick.

Bobby V Goes Off On Ordway, How Much Longer Can He Last?

While his team continues to nosedive and rumors circulate about his future, Bobby Valentine remains combative, as evidenced this afternoon in a defiant, semi-crazed sounding segment on The Big Show.

Here’s the transcript from WEEI.com, but you need to hear it to get the full effect. (You can also download it as an MP3.)

This is the part that will get the most attention:

Ordway: Let’s get it on the table. People back here are talking an awful lot about you, ummm, I understand they make a huge deal, they change the personnel on your team dramatically, a team that is much more challenged to score runs, but you do get the impression that maybe you’ve kind of checked out. Have you checked out of this?

Valentine: What an embarrassing thing to say. You know if I was there, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Haha. How’s that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing to…why would someone even, I mean, that’s something that a comic strip person would write.

The desire to punch a WEEI host isn’t necessarily an unreasonable nor unnatural one, but expressing it on the air is  not the wisest course of action. A PR-conscious ownership isn’t likely to react charitably to this interview.

Later, Ordway rats out Nick Cafardo as a reporter that wrote that Valentine was “late” for a game (arriving at 4:00 for a 7:00 game.)

Did he really? That’s really embarrassing, Nick. I’ll see him when I get out there. He could have asked me very easily.

Poor Nick. He’s been carrying Bobby V’s water the entire season, and this is how he is rewarded in the end? (He wasn’t even being judgmental in bringing up the “late” incident.)

The media sessions in Seattle tonight should be interesting, to say the least.

I’m no Bobby V guy, to be sure, but the glee with which this meltdown and the meltdown of his team is being met with is slightly nauseating to me. I may have hated the decision to hire him in the first place, but this is a man’s life we’re talking about here, and his career, and we’re seeing it end with a fiery crash. There’s nothing enjoyable about that.

New England 2-2? First Quarter 2012 Predictions

Soo, ready for the season yet, or do you want another preseason game?

Nope? All set? Good.

Speaking of which, before we get into our predictions of the first four contests of the season, a quick review of our Preseason Predictions column posted at the beginning of August.

Preseason Predictions (Proper): Pretty short list. Two preseason wins or less (at 1-3, the Pats fell in line). Also, we guessed that, while Stevan Ridley would produce the most, Brandon Bolden could secure a roster spot with solid play. Donald Thomas would start at guard, while Ryan Mallett “(would) get plenty of opportunities to play.”

Preseason Predictions (Poor): We had Bolden scoring the most TDs (zero won’t do it), Aaron Hernandez getting the most receptions, and Jabar Gaffney with the most reception yardage (even without his injury, that probably wasn’t going to happen).

Ah, well. Why let a few mistakes get in the way? Let’s be pundits!

At TENNESSEE (Sun, 9/9, 1 p.m.) NE 23, TEN 20.

Titans quarterback Jack Locker comes into this game with three advantages: home crowd, strong scrambling skills, and opponent ignorance. On that last point, New England has so little film on Locker they may as well be scouting Nessie. With a strong running game, we can see Locker doing just enough – even without Kenny “Officer, I Haven’t Had Anydrink To Thing Tonight” Britt at receiver – to give the Pats’ defense a challenge.

Meanwhile, the visiting offense takes a while to round into form, as the starting line this off-season have seen each other about as often as Giselle and the inside of a Wal-Mart. We predict a win, but a close one.

Vs. ARIZONA (Sun, 9/16, 1 p.m.) – NE 31, ARI 13.

Your starting quarterback for Arizona: John “Who, me?” Skelton, who beat out Kevin “Ka-ching!” Kolb and Ryan Lindley. Seriously, this three-headed QB is kind of like Cerberus, if Cerberus were a mini Chihuahua.

Offensively, the home opener should see the Patriots pull an Earth, Wind, and Fire and really get into a groove.

At BALTIMORE (Sun, 9/23, 8:20 p.m.) – BAL 27, NE 23

If you’re from Baltimore – sorry: If youse’re from Balmer, you want this game. The Ravens came within one dropped pass of victory and one missed field goal of overtime in last year’s AFC Champsionship at Foxboro. Linebacker Ray Lewis would actually rip off someone’s head and shout at it to ensure a win – and that would be his own teammate. With New England starting more slowly than Don Criqui matching a uniform number with a player while Baltimore gets inspired by the past more than Ron Borges’ barber, it should become a tough slog down in Charm City for the Pats.

But man, wouldn’t it be great if the Pats won on a questionable call by a replacement official? Even watching from his couch, Terrell Suggs would get so upset he’d pass out after forgetting to breathe out of his mouth.

At BUFFALO (Sun, 9/30, 1 p.m.) – BUF 21, NE 20

After a 2-0 start, the Patriots move back to .500 with a lame effort against Buffalo. Too many weapons on defense and a good-enough game from Ryan “Oh, I Went To School Near Boston – In Cambridge, As A Matter Of Fact” Fitzpatrick keep the visiting offense on their toes and the defense on their heels. Mario “I’m Not Injured Yet” Williams will make a difference, throwing Tom Brady off-rhythm and allowing the Bills to drop about 40 players into coverage.

The home fans feel very happy, until they leave the stadium and realize they live in Buffalo.

Predicted record after four games: 2-2

Predicted season record: 11-5

You can email Chris Warner a polite and cheery note at chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com