I used to hit on a variety of topics, both local and national, in my media columns. These days, because we’ve been hit with a barrage of news and events, my writing in this space has been more focused and in-depth. So, to combat this trend, I decided to clean out my notebook. Also, since I have your attention, I’d like to get a mailbag going next week so drop me a line on Twitter (@Hadfield__) or via email (Hadfield.Ryan@gmail.com). As always, thanks for reading.
Let’s play 9 innings with this, shall we?
1. Was this what Spring was like in the late ’80s? Riveting night in Boston sports.
- I understand The Old Garden was legendary and all that. No arguments here. People romanticize about it and I’m sure the place was a fantastic venue to watch a big game (I was too young to remember). But I do think it’s telling how the Bruins and Celtics both hold two of the biggest home court/ice advantages in their respective leagues.
- Jarome Iginla was heading to Boston then, overnight, he wasn’t. TSN had it wrong. Since they, evidently, adjudicate on such matters, it will be interesting to hear how Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti will handle the error in reporting today. This, of course, was all in the aftermath of Tuukka Rask letting in a game-tying goal with just under ten seconds left, leading to a Bruins’ overtime loss to Montreal.
- The Celtics, meanwhile, came out with a dramatic 93-92 victory in Cleveland on the strength of this brilliant up and under scoop layup by Jeff Green. I was busy watching the end of the B’s game, but I hear Gary Tanguay and Brian Scalabrine had an entertaining post-game show. Apparently, Alan Thicke said that Green didn’t really impact the game, to which Scal replied, “HE HIT THE GAME-WINNING SHOT!” If Tanguay stayed his lane as a reliable host, he’d be fine, but Mr. Beaver gets in his own way far too often. Word of advice: stop watching Skip Bayless cuts, Ron Burgundy.
2. Bob Ryan, curmudgeon? Nope. Dude is a purist. Undresses JA Adande here. Excellent take.
- More important (or comforting) is that, to this day, Ryan still loves sports.
- Ryan’s appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast earlier this week is a must-listen. Ryan still throws 97 MPH and his ability to recall minute details about basketball over the course of four decades is remarkable. We always say, “Person X will forget more about __ than we’ll ever know.” I’m not sure if we always mean it. In Ryan’s case, we do.
3. Speaking of the Sports Guy, never got the chance to touch on his Twitter suspension after calling the Skip Bayless-Richard Sherman “First Take” fiasco a lose/lose segment for all parties involved, including ESPN.
- Simmons was right. But the suspension makes sense, he had to be held in check — can’t be calling out colleagues. Still, this (strangely) felt like yet another loss for us, the viewers, in ESPN’s curious role as Fast Food Food Journalism Enabler.
- You know how I just wrote that Simmons needed to be held in check? Puhlleeeasse. A nothing Twitter suspension didn’t stop The Sports Guy from taking a veiled shot at Bayless in his recap of The Walking Dead on Grantland Monday afternoon (Yeah, I watch The Walking Dead. I concede it’s more or less a terrible show. Nonetheless …)
A little bit later, when Merle confidently predicts to his brother that Rick is gonna buckle, he sounds like Skip Bayless talking about LeBron James during the 2011.
- Follow up to my column last Friday about Grantland’s live stream from Simmons’ living room during March Madness: All I can say is that I’d love to have a beer — or 14 — with Jalen Rose. Seems like a great hang. He can even bring his baseball bat if he wants.
4. Matt Doherty calling out CBS Sports coverage of the NCAA Tournament on ESPNU — specifically Charles Barkley, dropping a not so subtle “turrrrribllleee” line — is self-serving and specious. Sure, I don’t think Chaz or Kenny Smith are breaking down tape of Harvard before the tourney, but why do I need “experts” to tell me what’s happening with March Madness? I wrote about the tourney for Metro Boston on Monday. To me, there are no true insights available until the games are actually played. College basketball is sloppy; you never know how each team will handle the others playing style.
5. You want a “Salk and Holley” take, right? All I can say is that it’s an auspicious beginning. It’s not great, it’s not terrible, but you have to assume it’s going to get better; if this is the baseline starting point, then it’s possible for this show to make noise down the line.
- Too vague, eh? (I feel like I should write like a Canadian when discussing Mike Salk because he really, really loves hockey guys. Like a lot. WEEI wants you to know this.)
- The “Miked Up” segment should be scrapped. Like today.
- I don’t want to pass judgement on the show anytime in the near future. That would be disingenuous and short-sighted. Plus, I’ve made that mistake before. Check my archives here: I sound bi-polar while writing about Grantland. I defended it, questioned it, tolerated it, liked it, and now I love it.
6. Amidst all the radio war drama, the “Dennis and Callahan” show has become unlistenable. I tried real hard this morning. Couldn’t get through an hour. Sorry.
- I’m told the Kirk Minihane seclusion is a very real thing.
- Since joining “Dennis and Callahan,” Minihane hasn’t been nearly as active writing on WEEI.com. And that sucks. For my money, he’s the best columnist in the city.
- WEEI obviously wishes it had kept Felger and dumped Glenn Ordway during The Big O’s frisky contract negotiations in the later part of the last decade. Let’s say they fire up Doc Brown’s Delorean to go back in time to the first sign of trouble. My retrospective moves: Dump John Dennis and pair Gerry Callahan with someone who can challenge him; pair Minihane with Lou Merloni in the midday (Kirk would extract actual intel from the ex-jock); move “Dale and Holley” to the afternoon drive slot (Say what you will about Dale Arnold but those guys had great chemistry and were ALWAYS likable. Hmph, “likability.” Something “Felger and Mazz” are currently devoid of.)
7. Tim McCarver announced he is retiring at the conclusion of the upcoming baseball season. I actually didn’t hate him. I’ll let you guys have at it in the comments section with that gem.
8. Soccer will never be a huge sport in this country, but I still love it. The US-Mexico World Cup qualifier Tuesday night was fantastic.
- Ian Darke puts every-by-play guy in every other sport to shame. Makes everything seem so effortless. Love that guy.
- On the other hand, former CSNNE personality Taylor Twellman, now a color commentator at the WorldWide Leader, couldn’t keep with pace with Darke’s greatness. The Ken Doll didn’t offer much in the way of any analysis beyond vapid remarks like “The US isn’t holding possession but the reality is that it’s still 0-0.” Glad he’s here.
9. Joon Lee had Steve Buckley on his podcast to discuss his sports journalism career. It’s a good listen. Enjoyed Buck’s candidness about writing, “I hate writing, but love to have written.” I can attest to that. Believe it or not (and I suspect most of you don’t), writing a compelling, honest column is hard.
Extra Innings (Random stuff that may or may not be pertinent):
- Going on vacation next week. Reading suggestions? Right now, I’m halfway through this year’s Baseball Prospectus. I’m also bringing along the oral history of Saturday Night Live (written by James Andrew Miller, which explains why it came free along with my copy of “Those Guys Have All the Fun” a few years back).
- Binge watched Mad Men over the summer to catch up. Excited for the new season. Question: Do I binge watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones next? Obviously Breaking Bad has more seasons and is much more of a process, but I’m willing to commit to either.
- Will Leitch is leaving New York magazine to write full-time over at Sports On Earth. Leitch is severely underrated as a writer.
- Steven Hyden’s look at the career of The Stokes has me going back through their anthology. Right band, right time (post 9/11), right city (New York City). The piece, as you can tell from my gushing, is awesome. Hyden is great. I want to write like him.