Welcome to the Monthly Weekly?? Sports Media Mailbag! Here are comments and emails from you, the readers, with insight on your favorite sports media personalities. To contribute to the mailbag, either shoot me an email at Hadfield.Ryan@gmail.com, hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

The Bruins are winning (BUT PERHAPPPPSS PEAKING TOOO SOOOON …. DISCUSS !! ). The Patriots just put the rest of the NFL on notice. The Red Sox are set to begin their World Series defense. The Celtics, mercifully, have tanked their way into an apparent high draft pick (maybe). Even the UMass basketball team is relevant.

Sports, you guys! Drink it in, because it doesn’t get much better tha –

… Wait a minute? What am I talking about? More than anything else, one thing became clear this last month: Charles Barkley’s recent comments about ESPN “manufacturing controversies” as well as the remarks he made to the Boston media during the NFL playoffs about how New Englanders “don’t appreciate the Patriots” are unintentionally connected.

Chaz doesn’t realize the ESPN problem – meaning the oversaturation of vapid content (e.g. LeBron James! LeBron James!!! & LeBron James!!!!!; “ELITE/MT. RUSHMORE!!” segments; Skip Bayless; almost the entire NFL Countdown crew; Skip Bayless again) is actually more widespread than thought.

This is the pulse of the Boston sports landscape from a fan’s perspective:

The media? Yeah, they’re more inclined to think otherwise, because instead of all good vibes developing, we hear and read and watch analysis breaking down the following: “Are the Bruins winning too much, too soon??” (Because STORYLINES!) “Did the Patriots give into the noise?” (OMIGOD, get over yourselves) “Is Rajon Rondo a centerpiece?” (Maybe, maybe not – but we should probably wait until he’s playing alongside pedigree above the level of Chris Johnson to decide) “Is David Ortiz a mercenary?” (Plenty of venom thrown Big Papi’s way these days.)

Of course, the same people that write garbage like the following:

“Being good and smarter than everybody else in the face of the NFL norm is great for the Krafts. I’m sure John Elway, Manning, and Talib will care about that when they’re fighting for the Lombardi Trophy next February.”

… Not only follow-up with a “Jets reaction” piece (because commending a move you begged for lacks the requisite amount of lighter fluid to spark a HOT SPORTS TAKE), they also accuse this site of publishing propaganda. Good times! We really are obnoxious sports fans, Chuck.


Before we get to the emails, humor me and read my column for Metro Boston this week, on Dick Vitale – the last universally beloved blowhard (Yeah, I said it). To the emails …

For Salk’s replacement, I don’t think there is anyone to promote from within. They need to outside the building – Michael Smith, Danny Picard, Jen Royle, Marc Bertrand, Jermaine Wiggins.


I’m pretty sure Jermaine Wiggins and Jen Royle are both readily available. And each would make sense to replace Mike Salk, if only because it’d be the most WEEI-move EVER, right? Wiggins promoting his clothing line. Royle blathering on about her fucking dog. Dear God, just a complete disaster

According to Chad Finn’s piece today, Dale Arnold will reunite with Michael Holley for the foreseeable future (maybe longer??) to fill the void left by Salk’s departure. The duo will also have a rotating guest on the show, presumably to help back up whatever the topic of the day is.

Long term plans for the afternoon drive program? Happy you asked? This exact topic was discussed yesterday here, but if I were running the shop – HEY PHIL ZACHARY, LISTEN UP – here would be my shortlist of (realistic) candidates:

Marc Bertrand: My personal favorite. This is absolutely the Belichickian move, just poaching from the proverbial Jets, like a ruthless tactician. A Beetle Coup accomplishes a few things:

1.) Instantly makes your station younger, thus more relatable (Gerry Callahan’s comments about the gay community participating in the St. Patrick’s Day parade isn’t doing you any favors, Phil)

2.) Weakens the competition (Beetle challenges Michael Felger on the regular which helps “Felger & Mazz because Tony Massarotti has been YARM-ing [‘You’re absolutely right, Mike!] for the better part of three years now. MEMO to Mazz: Look, I’m not one for #EmbraceDebate and I get Felger is your buddy, but palatable discourse with your counterpart doesn’t make for compelling radio, especially when your co-host – a champion of consistency – repeatedly contradicts his own seething analysis.)

Who isn’t at least interested in listening to “Holley & The Beetle”?

Chances of Happening: I’m sure WEEI would be on board. Beetle’s a regular on CSNNE, and a known personality. He’s level-headed, but hardly formulaic in a Salkified way. However, I have not reached out to Bertrand. I don’t know him aside from a few Twitter exchanges. And while it was made clear he has aspirations of headlining his own show when Damon Amendolara left for a national gig, does he want to roll the dice and leave a comfortable role at the highest-rated show in Boston for WEEI – a station seemingly in flux? He’s great with Chris Gasper on their Saturday show – maybe he’s still holding out hope the goodwill earned there will lead to something bigger at The Sports Hub. Who knows?

Kirk Minihane: I actually like this better than Bertrand because of familiarity; frankly, it’s the obvious move I’ve long-espoused. It would work, too. While filling in for Salk a few weeks ago, Minihane and Holley, with a shot of Tom E. Curran, predictably, was the best sports radio I’ve heard in a long, long time.

Chances of Happening: All things considered, as much as I want to yell PULL THE TRIGGER PHIL, DO IT … I get why “Minihane & Holley” will likely remain a pipe dream. In short, to his credit, Minihane has played a large part in revitalizing the “Dennis & Callahan” show. And last time management broke up a good thing – “Dale & Holley” – the worst case scenario unfolded. Which is all why it’s not exactly a shock to hear the word on the street is Entercom is happy with the current iteration of their morning drive program to the point where they wouldn’t want to jeopardize ratings in one place to bolster them in another.

Other Options

Greg Dickerson: He’s in the same vein as Arnold, and don’t see it happening. A good guy, who’s likable (likability, amazingly, is still an ongoing issue for WEEI). Dickerson is a familiar face, which probably induces some eye-rolling around these parts, but I remember him and Gary Tanguay as mainstays co-hosting “Sports Tonight” before it was the “Sports Tonight” it is today, and it was clear he’s not an alarmist or contrarian. Moreover, Dickerson’s still young enough that he’ll translate to a wide audience … and he’s likely available.

Danny Picard: I’d be floored if ‘EEI gave the Southie product this platform, but not because of lack of effort – they’re simply not in position to take such a risk. Either way, Picard is a workhorse, evidenced by his daily podcast, “I’m Just Sayin’”, which he’s done for several years now. He’s earned a fill-in gig on WEEI and his time as as a staff writer at CSNNE.com helped him finally make his way up the ladder to appear on “Sports Tonight.”

Michael Smith: Would love to see it. Smith and Holley, two longtime pals, would be great together, but that dude isn’t leaving Numbers Never Lie and the comfort of Bristol for WEEI.

I don’t have much sympathy for Wilfork. He’s already been the highest paid nose tackle in NFL history. He’s coming off an injury and seemed like he lost a step before he was hurt. He’s already been paid $32 million I believe…and yet the team made the AFC title game without him. He’s not Revis, he doesn’t hold the same value to the team…the emotional element is the only thing that will irk some fans

Andy Dursin

Yeah, I’ve written about this for Metro Boston before. He was the best player on New England’s defense. A workhorse and anchor. Below are his usage rates in terms of overall defensive snaps played, courtesy of Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com:

2009: 51.8 percent
2010: 69.8 percent
2011: 86.8 percent
2012: 81.3 percent

So, he was a beast. That’s a given. Buttttttt in the same time frame, in FootballOutsiders.com’s excellent defensive statistic, DVOA, the Patriots defense ranked 14th, 21st, 30th (YES! 30th out of 32 teams!!), then back to a respectable 15th in 2012.

That’s not all on Wilfork, of course; he consistently took on two offensive linemen and single-handily helped Mark Anderson tally 10 sacks in 2011, which led to the Bills comically overpaying Anderson the following offseason (THE WAGONS! OH, THOSE BEAUTIFUL WAGONS!!! THEY ARE A CIRCLIN’!!!)

… You can’t look at these things in a vacuum, but Andy’s right in terms of CB versus nose tackle and how each position can help a defense. I hope Wilfork comes back, because I’m sappy and care wayyyy too much about the pending employment of big, jolly, no B.S., locker room leaders like Big Vince. But both parties will be fine if they goes their separate ways. (#analysis)

WEEI needs a big move, but the options seem quite limited. They want to bring in someone that can entertainingly lead a program, but co-headline with Holley. One name that comes to my mind is Damon Amendolara. Not sure he would return locally, but with a little money, you can sway people’s minds.

Chris Boudreau

The human monologue and “big name”? Take a drink, sir.

Can you not blog with profanity? It’s childish and doesn’t really befit a self appointed critic of media that find ways to write without it. There’s simply not need for a word like **** on a site like this.


Wooaaaaaaah … first off, “self-appointed” media critic? Look, you can agree or disagree with what goes into these columns, but, if nothing else, I’d like to think I’m authentic – meaning, I don’t write for page views. However, calling me a media critic is stupid; it bestows authority that I’m not worthy of – like saying a reporter is an “expert” or an “insider” (the latter may be true, but just because a writer covers something doesn’t qualify them as an “expert”… they are just well versed in the topic). So, look, I’m delusional, but not that delusional. As far as swearing goes, I’m sorry about your virgin eyes. Everyone makes it to the back of the school bus at one point or another. I hope it was good for you, it was great for me.

 What is people’s obsession with Jen Royle? She is absolutely terrible, was never prepared for her Saturday shows on ‘EEI in the past and has very thin skin. She would be a horrific choice for PM drive.



(Don’t do it for us. Do it for the story, Phil. For the story.)

Yes, John Dennis is thin-skinned. To an Nth degree. Maybe when you stop deleting/editing comments that are critical of your work you ought write something about it.

James Allen

Comment moderation is handled by the Big Guy running this operation, Bruce Allen. Any readers will attest I’m very open to people ripping me; granted, I’m not a troll — I don’t get off on it or anything. What I do here is mostly subjective, thus I hardly expect EVERY reader to enjoy my stuff, much less agree.

But yeah, you’re probably right: I’m terrible and completely off-base with everything I write. Also I’m a hack. A fraud. Thanks for not only reading, but taking the time to comment, all despite these shortcomings!

I think the WEEI ‘brand’ and ‘nameplate’ have been destroyed, no matter the people behind the microphone. There apparently is no way to right a ship once it has listed too far to starboard.


Disagree here. The downfall of WEEI certainly happened faster than anyone expected, but then again – while dominant, the station NEVER had the type of competition The Sports Hub presents. One thing we’ve all learned in the radio wars is that listeners are willing to change the dial if there’s better, more thoughtful (and less condescending) options available.

WEEI simply needs to find those options. So far, save for the addition of Kirk Minihane to the “Dennis & Callahan” show, every moved has been an unmitigated disaster. And more concerning, it wasn’t as if each move was met with great praise and then backfired – even at the time, the decisions were met with general trepidation, both inside the walls of Guest Street and out here, in the Blogosphere.

Re: Salk, Who knows, maybe the deal is that sports talk show hosts are a lot better if they have to actually show up in the locker rooms they talk about on air? 

Keep up the writing


It would be hard for me – someone who has been in the locker room, covering each of the Big Four sports, but mostly writes from HIS MOM’S BASEMENT nowadays (not really, but you know what I mean) – to back up this theory.

Yes, there is real value being in the locker room. Getting to know the players, atmosphere, and the like does provide insight, but I think someone is capable of talking about sports in an entertaining and intelligent way without having been in a locker room.

 “Of course, Belichick never is one to get caught up in the chatter or what the pundits are telling him to do. This time, however, he didn’t ignore the noise.” Karen Guregian, in the Herald today. There is not much more that is hateable about a journalist than when they starting take credit for things that happened outside of the world of journalism.

Homer Gomez

Going to give Karen Guregian a pass, mainly because it was a throwaway line, and she’s a pro. But agreed with your overall assessment, which is definitely a widespread problem.

Ryan, you do good work and I enjoy your columns. BUT, is there anything about Grantland you don’t like? I feel like at times you are a PR hack for them. Grantland has some good features, but really, in a blog post about “look at me” media members (Dino), doesn’t Grantland do the same thing with its pop culture stuff?

Ted Sarandis

Speaking of Grantland, Bill Simmons & Co. has been doing another live webcast from his living room during the first weekend of March Madness. It’s basically a live stream of him, a few friends, Jalen Rose, and – new addition – Michelle Beadle watching the games, bull-shitting with one another. It’s not my cup of tea; but it worked well last year.

To your larger point, Grantland’s pop culture coverage is hit or miss. Wesley Morris and Alex Pappademas are fantastic; some of their other writers should try less. Often times, when they discuss a topic, like Matthew McConaughey’s resurgence (who I never thought had the chops to pull off the role he played in True Detective), it’s almost as if they’re trying to shoehorn every little moment as a larger paradigm shift that we’ll remember in 20 years …When, in reality, more often than not, these things don’t truly matter. A moment can be just that – a moment – meaning everything doesn’t have to take on this grandiose theme, greater than what is actually is.


As always, thanks for reading! We’ll do it again sooner rather than later. If you’re bored Out There, give me a shout on Twitter @Hadfield__.


17 thoughts on “Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter VIII

  1. The latest in the #HotSportzTakez on peaking is great:

    – So, if a team wins too much, they’re “peaking too soon” – Four hours of trashing them ensues on sports talk.

    – If they are mediocre, say .500, they’re criticized for having a great roster but not performing to talent.

    – If they’re even worse, they’d get criticized anywhere, but the point being there is no way to win.

    It reminds me of the logic those folks who blame the Patriots for being in a bad division and all of their competition SUCKING use.

    But, wait, there’s more!

    Now that we realized it’s not a smart move to use the first strategy, we start to trash the competition. Basically, the Bruins SUCK because they had complete control over their own schedule, playing only non-playoff teams or on the fringe. Dear god. The ONLY sport you can use this in is CFB, when the big boys use the first 4 weeks, prior to conference play, to pay FBS doormats for a free win.


    1. That’s the thing, bsmfan. Pretty much any regular season for a contender, with rare exceptions like the 2007 Patriots and 1998 Yankees, is going to have its flat stretches, where they’re around .500 for a while. Of course that’s fodder for talk shows but it’s basically an expected part of the process. The 2004 Sox looked pretty un-amazing during that season too. I do subscribe to the idea that a team can peak too soon–that 2007 Patriots squad is a good example, though more than anything they were fatigued by the burden of being undefeated, so they’re really an atypical case–but these Bruins I think aren’t in danger of that. They seem to be relying more on the young defenders toward the latter part of the season (not that this will quiet the radio guys).


      1. Yeah, and any sport where you have >20 games, going “undefeated” is next to impossible. The exceptions, CFB, Wichita St, are thanks to a large lack of parity. Hell, even in European soccer, go look at the Spanish league (La Liga), where you have the two big boys (FCB/RM) and maybe one or two others that can “contend”. Even those guys, with 40 matches, “slip up”.

        The problem I have, as others have, is the angle attacking this “win streak” (11 now). If you were to have a rational discussion about, “do you think its a bad thing to be so good now? Might you just burn out before the start of the playoffs and be a first round exit?” is a legitimate question. But, when you phrase it around the “oh lets doom and gloom it” because.. we can’t find anything negative to talk about, well now you enter Skip Bayless and First Take territory. Then, after Mazz clearly started reading what the SportsHub interns were printing out from here or on SoSH, he said something about “I took a lot of heat” and changed the tone to trashing the opponents. I heard Dale doing it but moreso because I think he clearly keeps up with the chatter here, SoSH and on Twitter, which you wind up a ton with when absurd discussions go on between the two stations.

        See, you brought it up in this manner, “I do subscribe to the idea that a team can peak too soon”. As do I. How many times have we heard, from players now moved on or retired, about how “tired” they were in 2007? We all wonder the same and nobody wants to see that. I recall watching the RedWings do it in 2006 or 2007, when Edmonton beat them in the first round.

        The fact this has to be explained just makes me shake my head. And, of course, when “challenged”, you get the usual line about being some toadie fan, wanting to hear that “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of the team!”, which is a convenient strawman. Maybe I just don’t understand the angle or the intent of the argument is to service a different type of listeners. I don’t know. All I do know is it makes me change the dial rather quickly. It makes me wonder if what is billed as “smart sports talk” is just a mirage. ESPN sure went down the toilet in the past few years, after being “the best and leader”.


  2. Does it have to be “(fill in the blank) & Holley”? There’s nothing offensive about Michael Holley, but on the other hand he isn’t terribly entertaining, either. Is it just me? How about “Bertrand and Minihane”? I would tune into that.


    1. I’ve been thinking for a while about what makes Holley so terminally bland, and even have the stink of death around him on the air. Why can he not headline a show? Even now, the (probably) short-term fill-in, Dale Arnold, is running the show (though it’s basically a reprise of their old midday show).

      But I think I’ve figured it out. Sort of like (and I’m not meaning to lurch into politics here) what’s said so often of Obama–he conditioned himself as he grew up to simply take slights and insults in stride, show no emotion, betray no frustration, studiously cool his opponents down. Holley isn’t exactly that way, but I think he’s sort of similar: I’ve never heard even an ounce of anger from him. It’s like he’s mortally afraid of seeming like the Angry Black Man.

      Nobody will ever mistake Michael Holley for Malcolm X, but I think Holley’s cultivated a non-confrontational state of mind for so long that he’s just constitutionally unsuited to running a talk show. As we all know, talk radio (political and sports) is driven by anger, and Holley just doesn’t have it.


      1. After latetodinner and others started bringing up the Holley “common denominator”, I tried to find a reason to the same, “something isn’t right here.” line brought up here.

        I’ll generalize your political analogy because I think you meant the word “stoic” or maybe something similar in meaning. He doesn’t seem to want to get passionate about an argument at many times. It reminds me of hearing Mike Reiss on. We all (most of us? majority?) love his work. He’s great at it. On the radio? He’s Switzerland. He wants to anger nobody. Every single one of his “opinions” seemed to begin with a, “let me make sure to not say a single thing a person might disagree with” (even though you’ll always find that person, no matter how diplomatic). That doesn’t work here. It just doesn’t. Reiss is fine for fill-in duty but trying to get him as a regular would turn people off right away.

        And, I don’t think most of us care about his politics or color (hope so). I care 0 about it, just hate when it’s brought up, as many can easily go on with D+C about. I have problems with both sides, so it drives me nuts when I have to hear either, depending on the station/host.

        Is staying ‘diplomatic’ a bad thing? No, but I think most people want something with a bit more bite here. You can offer up a strong opinion, but without being a DB about it. Just make sure it’s backed by reason and enough people will appreciate it. Dale, while “Ned Flanders”, I think does it subtly. In terms of the “angry” — I think it’s a bad term. I just wish Holley injected more passion? I don’t know if it’s the proper word here. But, with this “repairing”, I think Holley is more comfortable, and maybe that will open him up more. Listening to the difference between Dale+Holley vs. S+H is night and day.

        In the end, maybe that’s Holley’s personality, where he just doesn’t offer an edge on this. Many people dislike Dale because of that, which I can understand. I like Dale because you know what you get with him, and he is good at it.

        Back to D+H. With the seismic shift at 98.5 from 2-6, aka “First Take Skunk Works”, maybe this old pairing can work. It’s a great alternative if I’m not around a PC and can’t stream Big Show (still sampling here). If it resonates with listeners? I don’t know. Clearly, they work together. WEEI doing this “sampling” instead of trying to find the next Salk is smart on their part. They’re clearly listening, which is a good thing.


  3. The Remy article everyone’s talking about (very long):


    As Bruce says, I think we know why Remy took the weekend off.

    Some thoughts:

    – Globe’s reasoning here? 1.) That forced piece where you do it to look objective, even though we know that’s a joke. The Globe will become the print-media extension of FSG, just in “print” form. 2.) I think part of this has to do with NESN really wanting Remy gone but they hate negative PR so they won’t fire him.


    1. Knew about Remy’s son but at same time wasn’t following it that closely…after reading this article…Holy frickin’ crap.. shaking my head at so many levels of the story I think it might fall off…. Jesus H Crist


        1. Dave R was way out in front on this one on this board. Read the Globe article and the thought that came to my mind is why weren’t any Sox official on the record for why this guy was hired to begin with. Yes it took a mention by the Mitchell report for hint to be let go…but why was he kept around for so long with the rap sheet.

          2 possibilities and neither look good for the sox.

          1) He was supplying players.
          2) Jerry Remy was complicit in enabling him by using influence to get him the job.

          Either way…the Sox look bad. Jerry and his wife look bad…and again I say…why does NESN keep this guy on the air.


          1. I don’t think its some “Going Holler on their own” or any other ulterior motive on the part of the Globe. I’d like to believe they’d do this sort of story on anyone who eventually murdered with that long a rap sheet and that little (no) time served. It’s what any self respecting watchdog news organization would do.


  4. Some questions after the Remy piece:

    – Apparently, Remy has 4 years left on his contract, from looking around (no source but I’d love to know if true). Is that true? This just ups the incentive to publish (below).

    – Also, they’ve yet to follow-up on what happened the night of the Martel murder. I get the gag order part but no sources here leaking details? She was clearly influenced here by the family. I think it is what everyone wants to know.

    – Why, after all of the convictions, did he not only get a job but continue to be employed by the Red Sox? It basically took a post-Mitchell Report bust with steroids before they finally said no. Remy was a broadcaster, not an exec’s “Spaulding Smails” son where they can’t say no. You didn’t even need to do a formal “background check” to know the guy had problems (which the team was probably aware of). These were pretty serious, not some stupid childhood conviction a decade ago where the kid had been clean for a bit.

    – I saw some comment from Albert Breer about how this “proves” there is some blah blah “journalistic wall” between the paper and Henry. Laughs. You wouldn’t even question the intent of the piece? Others seem to be commenting the same thing. It reeks of another “Bob Hoeller” hitjob from Larry and his friends. It was tons of work, looked long, but there seemed to be a ton of holes. Still, you have to question intent. Ties into the contract thing.

    ‏- @jerrythornton1 Jerry Remy would’ve gotten a fairer shake from The Globe if he was from Khazakstan & on welfare


    1. I actually thought they went easy on Jerry and is nothing like the Hohler piece. Unlike the Hohler piece, there are very few unnamed sources. It it is built from criminal/judicial reports and the on-the-record interviews of people who were there. It clearly establishes that Jared kept getting second chances and that his parents’ resources and his connected lawyer are the primary reasons for his ability to escape jail time.
      I have some issues with the Globe (especially the sports dept) but the investigative/crime reporters like Moskowitz are top notch and have broken some really important (non-sports) stories in recent years. Hohler is not an investigative reporter, his background is in sports and politics and as a result the story after the 2011 collapse was a political hit job. This was nothing like that.


  5. You didn’t mildly disagree. You trolled and were personally insulting and added nothing to the discussion. Those are the comments which get deleted. You’re a serial troll which is why your IP was banned. You tried many times, under many different names/emails to get in here and insult me. Why should I let that garbage appear? Nice attempt at playing the victim though.


  6. Finally had a chance to read over that Jared Remy story.

    I’m sick to my stomach about it. And I can’t believe the amount of folks who had a hand, in some way, in this tragedy. It’s amazing what money, recognition and influence will get you in our country’s “justice system”.

    I really hope they take that enabler off the broadcasts. I don’t think I’ll be able to ever listen to him without recalling the horrors perpetrated by his son.


  7. “Peaking too soon” simply does not exist. What is a team supposed do if they find themselves on a long winning streak, play worse and lose on purpose? Should the best players be benched? It’s utter and complete nonsense. It’s not a factor that can be controlled.

    And no one that thinks “peaking too soon” is real ever talks about the teams that play very well from day one through to the end and win the ring, i.e. the Anti-2007 Patriots.

    The Chicago Blackhawks last season are a great example.


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