#BostonStrong on Sports Illustrated Regional Cover



SI also features a regional cover this week of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes pumping his fists in the air after beginning a game-winning rally with a double in Saturdays’ emotional victory at Fenway Park. The image falls under the headline: “Strong. Triumph After Tragedy.” SI managing editor Chris Stone on why this regional cover was chosen:

“From a sports context, Boston Strong was the story in New England this weekend, especially on Saturday, the day after the lockdown and the capture of the second of the Marathon bombing suspects. There it is: a Sox player flexing his guns after hitting a double to start a game-winning rally. At that moment, I don’t know if there’s any image that could have better captured the mood.”

Inside SI, senior writer S.L. Price writes that the apparent end to last week’s terror resulted in a weekend to celebrate in Boston, a time for civic pride and a time to proclaim that the Marathon will be bigger and stronger next year. However, as the period of relief settles down, Price says now is the time to ask what can be done to avoid a similar tragedy in the future.

“The celebrations will pass and new tougher, darker questions are going to have to be considered—S.L. Price, who’s been in Boston for more than a week, explains this convincingly and hauntingly in this week’s issue,” says Stone.

Price raises questions about terrorism security at future sporting events. He spoke to Rey Mey, a former FBI counter-terrorism expert now working as an international security consultant. Mey was concerned by the lack of security at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and tells Price that we can’t go forward with the same attitudes toward public safety at sporting events because these types of incidents aren’t going away. He says Marathon day is “really something special. But with the society we live in, it’s never going to be the same. (Page 58)

The future of such events is already changing shape. Price notes that the planning power will shift from event planners to security officials. Sunday’s London Marathon, for instance, was staffed by 40% more police than usual.

Price says: “Marathons that end on congested areas surrounded by storefronts and offices could well find their traditional courses altered…crowds lining the route will face increased scrutiny and hassle, and more popular races could erect temporary, ‘sanitized’ stands for family and friends. Undercover operatives, some armed with pole-cameras that stream back to monitors viewed in real-time, will move among the crowds. Entry fees will rise. Ticketing may become mandatory.” (PAGE 58)


Attempting a Return to Sports and Media

The events of last week will never be forgotten.

As we slowly swing back into our lives, here are a few bits and pieces from the sports media world:

Boston Sports Media Watch comes to Chicago Sports Media Watch – I had a chance last week to speak with a similar type of site to this one based out in Chicago.

As mentioned by Ryan on Thursday, Pete Sheppard takes over the drive time slow at 1510 NBC Sports Radio Boston starting today. While signal remains an issue for 1510 AM, they do have an on-line stream available on their website. It’s another option for those of you who listen on-line while at work in the afternoons.

Meanwhile, at WEEI, it seems that at least some of the weekend shifts that Sheppard had been taking will be taken by Jen Royle, who is on the schedule this Saturday from 1-3 in the afternoon.

The rumors keep flying out of WEEI, but ironically, the bombings last week might’ve been a reprieve for someone like John Dennis. When there is legitimate reason for anger radio, like there was last week, there is no duo better than Dennis and Callahan.

An industry newsletter/blog title Inside Music Media had a post last week  in which an Entercom Boston employee referred to the company CEO as “Kim Jong” Field. The author says “One doesn’t know whether the reference applies to CEO David Field because he is the next in line of family “dictators” or that the son of the boss isn’t quite ready for prime time.

It also had this to say about the “town meeting:”

One who attended said: “Field was not inspiring and uptight. The GM tried to blame others, pointing the finger at staffers..like  a coward. Only pre-submitted and sanitized questions were allowed, the whole charade has made things worse“.

The Entercom Boston cluster has had, according to an employee who attended the town meeting, “a long parade of incompetent management, layoffs, horrendous morale, salaries cut, very high turnover, and failed leadership and finger pointing form (sic) Mr. Field and MS. Kramer“(referring to the recently promoted Weezje Kramer).

To improve morale, GM Jeff Brown bought the staff pizza. Yup.

Maybe they’ll allow them to wear Hawaiian shirts with jeans on Friday, too.

Greg A Bedard signed off in his Sunday NFL Notes yesterday, noting it will be his last edition of the notes. He’ll be with the Globe through the draft this week before he departs to SI and Peter King, but will not have the notes on Sunday.

One name I’ve heard in regards to a possible replacement of Bedard at the Globe has been Ben Volin, who has covered the Dolphins with the Palm Beach Post for the last four seasons. I don’t think he was the first choice for the job, but might be their highest remaining candidate. I’ve attempted to contact Volin, but have not gotten a response from him.

Mike Emrick’s call during Bruins game really hit home – This was Chad Finn’s media column from Friday, where he looked at the call from the veteran announcer at the Bruins game against the Sabres last Wednesday night.

Don’t expect to see Kevin Garnett shaking hands til it’s over – Bill Doyle had Flip Saunders, the former coach of Kevin Garnett with the Timberwolves (and Celtics consultant last spring), and who is now serving as a studio analyst for ABC and ESPN during the NBA playoffs, talking about the competitive fire of KG.

ESPN, NFL Network unveil NFL draft plans – Richard Deitsch looks at how the two networks will battle it out over the draft this week.

The Globe added Baxter Holmes to its roster this season as the new Celtics beat writer. I’ve watched as he’s established himself as a strong company man (lots of retweets/promotion of Globe content) and then on Friday, he came up with a tremendous feature on perimeter defense in the NBA and what makes Avery Bradley so good at it.

If you missed it with everything else going on, be sure to check it out today.

David Ortiz made his feeling about Boston known during his emotional speech on Saturday prior to the first Red Sox game at Fenway since the bombings.

The FCC apparently has no issues at all with Ortiz’s use of an expletive on live TV during the speech. Good for them.

Sports Media Musings: Pete Sheppard to Join NBC Sports Radio Boston 1510

We’ll call it “Return of the Meat,” a sequel that took, oh, six days to produce.

On Saturday, a disgruntled Pete Sheppard was airing out Entercom’s dirty laundry on WEEI’s airwaves, offering a poignant resignation to his audience. The following Thursday, Sheppard took to Twitter to announce he is set to join NBC Sports Radio Boston 1510 AM, hosting an afternoon drive show from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Sheppard’s debut at his new home talking sports earlier today included veiled shots at his former employer:

“You walk into [1510’s studio] and it is a complete antithesis of what I had to go through very recently. It’s too bad. It’s sad to see what happened over there. I feel bad for my friends, who are still over there, that have to go through this.”

Sheppard’s exodus Saturday continued a trend of startling roster changes to WEEI’s lineup in recent months including the departures of Jon Rish, Glenn Ordway, Kevin Winter, and Jon Meterparel. Save for Ordway, who was fired in February, four out of the five moves were “resignations.” At least that’s what The Suits on Guest Street would have you think.

Meanwhile, NBC Sports Radio 1510, who added Danny Picard‘s popular webcast, “I’m Just Sayin'”, to its lineup just a few months ago, will give a WEEI refugee a chance at his own afternoon drive show.

Thoughts on the move for Sheppard? For NBC 1510? Leave it in the comments section.


Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 2 vs. the Rockets

Celtics (1-0) vs. Houston (0-1)
April 11, 1980
Boston Garden

The Celtics held serve and defeated the Rockets, 95-75, to claim a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-final match-up.  Only leading by three points at intermission, the Celtics hit Houston with an offensive barrage in the second half, featuring a total of six scorers in double-figures.

Pete Maravich and Larry Bird from INSIDE SPORTS
Continue reading Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 2 vs. the Rockets

Sports Media Musings: The Sports Hub soars in the Winter, WEEI Hibernates

[Update]: Chad Finn has the official numbers from Arbitron posted on Touching All The Bases. 

From the piece:

The Arbitron winter ratings period was a rout for 98.5 The Sports Hub.

The Sports Hub finished first overall in the men 25-54 demographic for the period of Jan. 3-March 27, earning a 9.0 share. Each of its four daily programs finished tied or alone in the top spot in their respective time slots.

WEEI (93.7) finished tied for sixth place with WMJX with a 5.2 share. That’s slightly up from its seventh-place tie and 4.9 share in the fall.

[End Update]

Because fledgling columnists (like myself) love lame gimmicks, let’s just play nine innings with this, shall we?

1. The Story

“The Sports Hub” winning the winter ratings book isn’t shocking. My thoughts on the daily crusade against ownership and (I don’t know?!) fellow media members taking place in the afternoon is well documented. We don’t need to rehash the winning side’s pros and cons. Just know that Michael Felger reminds me of the political pundit in “V For Vendetta” shrewdly saying, “You want my opinion? You’re watching my show, I imagine you do,” then, minutes later, callously reciting his credo: “ENGLAND PREVAILS!”

Bizarre, but very effective.

2. The Real Story

Guest Street is in shambles. Pete Sheppard wasn’t the first radio host in the history of the medium to quit on the air, and he won’t be the last. It’s indicative of the volatile feeling that lives in the New Balance building. Morale, most likely, has reached a new nadir.

Let’s review quickly: The “Dennis and Callahan” show jumped the shark long ago, and their attempt to bring crude, if not inappropriate, discussion to the table (something totally out of their lane), feels misplaced. That failure is not particularly tough to imagine when you got banter like this on your side:


The other money maker, the afternoon drive program, “Salk and Holley,” has the advantage of a fresh start to work with — mind you, something we’ve been sure to afford them in this space. Judging their show at the starting line is a fool’s errand. But there have been rumors that Mike Salk isn’t the most popular personality at the station, and that he is too ESPN Radio (and not in the good way). Is this resistance to change? I don’t know. Either way, what a complete, utter meltdown.

The precipitous fall of the former MONOPOLIZER  leader of sports talk radio in Boston is quite remarkable. 2009 feels like 1999. In his “Sports Talk Radioactive” column in Feb. of 2009, published then for the short-lived, but underrated OT Magazine (produced by the Boston Globe), Chad Finn wrote the following:

[WEEI} think the station’s success somehow reflects on them, that we tune in for their shrill banter, contrived characters, and prefabricated opinions. We don’t — never have, never will. We listen because we love sports, our beloved teams are enjoying a remarkable run of success, and WEEI happens to have both access and broadcast rights. Most of all, we listen because there is no other decent local alternative with a signal stronger than that of a ham radio.

Prescient is the word I would use. The scary thing was everyone knew this much (well besides certain WEEI personalities and Jason Wolfe, evidently). But no one, not even Finn, could have foreseen the alacrity at which Entercom’s hold on the market dissipated.  It’s startling, really.  Since the spring books of 2011 were released, the same period the Bruins made their Stanley Cup run, “The Sports Hub” (for the most part) has controlled the key 25-54 men demographic. The following summer period “The Sports Hub” was victorious again and WEEI finally got on the FM dial.

No longer would signal issues or debate of whether to count the Providence numbers in WEEI’s market share be part of the discussion pertaining to the radio wars. The playing field was level, compelling discourse would win out.

3. Common Formula

Here’s the thing, though: Compelling sports talk didn’t really win out. I’m not learning anything about advanced statistics, insights into the locker room, or, really much of anything besides aimless conjecture, polarizing contrianism, and baseless predictions. But what “The Sports Hub” have accomplished is simple: From the top of its roster to the bottom, 98.5 has out-gooned the Goons of Guest Street.

You remember that Outside the Lines piece about WEEI that ran in its heyday, which showed Michael Holley proclaiming something to the notion of, “It’s not what you know, it’s what you’re willing to say!”  98.5 took that idea to new places.

“Toucher and Rich” have made a living testing what athletes will say in their skits, drunken fans will say after games, and whoever else may cross their path will say. “Felger and Mazz” will say just about anything, even if it’s not true or contradictory to previous declarations, and especially if it’s salacious — just ask Heidi Watney or Mike Reiss and Tom E. Curran.

Remember, it was 98.5 who reported and then blew the Clay Buchholz pool party story out of proportion (even for the Boston media, this was over-the-top). Lou Merloni was the first to call it what it really was – a non-story. It’s just too bad for Gary Tanguay that he didn’t get the memo, leading to this hilariously rewatchable segment.

(Yes, Gary. The trainer. He went to the trainer. Oh, by the way. Per Tanguay, Buchholz is never going to take advantage of his potential, guys! It’s a bad look when Shank is the voice of reason. Never mind that, less than a year later, Buchholz almost became the 30th pitcher in MLB history to pitch multiple no-hitters.)

 4. All The Right Wrong Moves

In the last four years, WEEI has made the wrong move at every turn. They never should have moved Dale Arnold, waited too long to get on the FM signal, curiously brought back Pete Sheppard (yeesh!), drastically overvalued Glenn Ordway, oddly waited (still waiting?!) to properly use Kirk Minihane (the only media member, sadly, capable of challenging Felger), and failed to recognize and execute any “Moneyball” moves. (For example: I know that Marc Bertrand pined for the night shift at “The Sports Hub” when Damon Amendolara went national. I’m not sure if Beetle is still part-time, I know he wasn’t a full-time employee up until last summer, but he’s young, entertaining, and seems well-versed in the takes he can bring to a show. He goes at Felger. And did I mention he’s YOUNG? Wouldn’t hurt to inject some youth into your lineup, Jeff Brown.)

It has been an astonishing lesson on mismanagement from The Suits at Entercom. More alarming, is that these weren’t bad mishaps in retrospect. No, no, no. None of these personnel decisions — not one — were met with great adulation. Not from me, not from listeners.

So here we are.

5. Pat Summerall, the anti-Jack Edwards, passed away.

(For the record, that’s not a shot at Jack Edwards. Hockey requires a frantic and voluminous narrative.)

I was always infatuated with how Pat Summerall said so much by saying so little. Thought this was a clever orbit by Chuck Klosterman

As always, the natural questions turn to legacy: Were he and John Madden the best play-by-play booth in NFL history? Historians will point to Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, and Frank Gifford because it’s Howard freakin’ Cosell (Side Note: How many years does it take Cosell get fired these days? Poor Brent Musburger was chastised for pointing out a hot WAG was a hot WAG. Granted, everyone is a product of the times, but is Cosell’s bravado viewed the same way if it happens in 2013? Who knows.).

I’m not a huge fan of any contemporary teams. (I get annoyed when Jim Nantz says “Hello friends!” at the beginning of broadcasts. Not exactly a tone setter for a big game. And while I’m on the Joe Buck bandwagon — yeah, yeah .. I know — I’m perplexed by Troy Aikman.) And Madden and Summerall were a big part of football’s ascent passed MLB. Even the small stuff, like the duo voicing the Madden video game franchise (a big deal to my generation), played a large role. The rapport the two had with one another was infectious and effortless. Never felt forced. They told us what we needed to know and let the game handle the nuance of the broadcast. As simple as it is, staying out of the way is no easy feat.

6. Still? Really?

I get the “Sweet Caroline” venom around these parts. But trust me when I say this: If this Red Sox team continues to compete, maintain likability, and stay in the sports section and out of the gossip section, much of the media will miss these ancillary story lines. Whether it’s filling radio time or writing a column, remember, they root for the story.

7. Thank you, guys

I am enjoying binge-watching “Breaking Bad.” Happy you all helped me choose it over “Game of Thrones.” Although, I’d be lying if I didn’t concede Don Draper and Co. have my undivided attention. The two-hour premiere was taxing, but Sunday’s episode was fantastic. Pete Campbell‘s salty ways, which caught up to him by the end of the episode, produced the best exchange of the nascent season.

Pete and his pleasure pal were wrapping up relations at his new apartment in the city. While said-Pleasure Pal was getting dressed, the following conversation takes place.

Pete’s Mistress (AKA Pete’s Neighbor): “I’ll park in front of the hotel lobby, that way you know I’m thinking of you.”

Pete Campbell: “That’s nice. Now, move along now. I’m in a hurry.”

I love this show.

8. Twitter Thoughts

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Twitter proved to be extremely worthwhile. While I bemoan its existence for producing inane observations during games or useless rumors as a trade deadline approaches, the social media site broke all sorts of imagery and updates on the situation. That said, beware of the lowlife humans who create Twitter accounts to “raise” money for victims. These people aren’t people, they’re opportunists.

9. Thanks for reading

We probably don’t have enough hug it out moments here at BSMW. So let’s take a second, if just for a moment, for some Real Talk. After Monday afternoon, getting back to business was never going to feel normal. Not today, anyway. It’s too soon. But last night I told myself, “I’m going to write about sports media because that’s what I do.” Presumably, that’s why you’re here, looking at this page. To get away, to find normal again. It’s going to be a marathon, not a sprint.

If this helped distract you, even for 10 minutes, then it was worth writing. Thanks for reading. I’ll talk to you guys out there, @Hadfield__.

This Week’s Sports Illustrated On The Marathon


Two stories from the issue:

Chaos, fear filled the Boston air after the explosions – S.L. Price

Teary thoughts on a special day in Boston with my daughter – Steve Rushin

Chris Stone, SI Managing Editor, discusses the process of putting together this week’s SI.

With Monday being the weekly deadline for the magazine, how did the process go yesterday?

Stone: With the deadline rapidly approaching soon after the tragedy occurred, our team of editors and writers quickly worked together to provide our readers with coverage that is highly personal and emotional. And we had to change this week’s SI Cover at the last minute with a photo from the many that were coming in from the scene.

Why did you go with this cover?

Stone: After meeting with senior editors late Monday afternoon, we chose to run the cover photo because we felt it truly captured the horrific moment at the end of the race—there’s a fallen runner, police with their guns drawn and loose debris from the explosion. Inside SI, we wanted to help tell the story through photos and words (as written on the cover). We dedicated the entire Leading Off section to photos from Boston. They are extremely emotional and do a great job of chronicling the chaos that ensued.

With little time to spare, how did you decide on what content to run?

Stone: One of our best writers—S.L. Price—was in Boston on another assignment, staying in a hotel frequented my many runners just three miles from the finish line. After interviewing runners and witnesses, he wrote brilliantly in our Scorecard on the state of shock felt by those there in Boston and how the great city sadly joins a growing list of suffering cities that have been struck by tragedy. We felt strongly about putting this article up immediately on SI.com as well.

In addition, we ran a highly personal essay from Steve Rushin in the Point After section. Rushin recalls experiencing Boston and its beloved marathon in happier times with his eight-year-old daughter last summer. We felt this essay was a very suitable way to end our coverage.

How will SI continue to cover this story?

Stone: I am extremely proud of the great work done by our team to close an issue focusing on such a horrific tragedy at the 11th hour of our weekly deadline. As details continue to emerge, SI.com and the SI iPad app will have on-the-scene coverage from Boston.

You Messed With The Wrong City

Historically, Bostonians have never taken to being pushed around very well.

This doesn’t bode well for whomever is responsible for the atrocities committed at the finish line of yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

I’m mortified at the idea that some lunatic(s) felt that Patriots’ Day – a day to remember the first battles of the American Revolution – was the day to make some sort of statement about government and rebellion, and to attack and kill and maim innocent people in the process.

Patriots’ Day was about the people of Boston taking a stand against a cruel and unjust regime. If whomever did this tries to make a connection to those events 238 years ago to justify what they did yesterday, then they are even more messed up than we can possibly imagine. It goes against everything the revolution was fought for.

This will not end well for the terrorists, whoever they are. Bostonians will continue to hold the marathon, to remember Patriots’ Day, and this event will only serve to bring more people together and make this annual day even more significant. Bostonians do not shrink back from adversity. Never have.

While yesterday showed the worst in people, it also showed the best. This photo is a shoo-in for a Pulitzer. Someone like Steve Silva, who was filming the finish line, and instead of running from the explosions, ran to them, capturing footage shown all over the world.  All the people at the scene who immediately ceased thinking of themselves and their own safety and instead, focused on who and how they could help around them. We can go on and on.

I’m just going to link three pieces by sportswriters today.

Heartbreak Hill – Leigh Montville.

The Marathon – Charles P. Pierce.

Letter from Boston – Paul Flannery.