The World Cup continues to be a huge hit here in Boston, as last night’s U.S.A./Ghana match showed with a 7.0 overnight national rating for ESPN, (a record for them) but 10+ in Boston and Hartford.

Talking World Cup soccer is still something the local media is not well-versed in. Dalen Cuff of CSNNE did a nice job on the Felger and Mazz program yesterday afternoon, but he’s the exception to the rule. Most seem to still prefer to mock it as that is easier to do than actually trying to learn about it.


As the baseball world mourned Tony Gwynn yesterday, the media was almost unanimous in praising Gwynn as not just a great player, but a great person as well.

The exception, as always, was the aforementioned Felger and Mazz, with former baseball reporter Massarotti calling Gwynn “overrated” and Felger suggesting that the Padres star used steroids. Stay classy, guys.


Glad the Globe devoted front page space to a column on poor losers. You can guess who was lumped in with Richard Nixon and Whitey Bulger, cant you?

This must be what Kevin Paul Dupont is talking about when he rails on about how important newspapers and print journalism continue to be in our society.

Oh, and a rebuttal to that Globe piece?

Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser. – Vince Lombardi.


Patriots minicamp runs over the next few days. I’ve been finding myself heading over to the Boston Herald Patriots blog (The Blitz)  more often these days. It is straightforward and updated constantly.

While I still think Mike Reiss is head of the class, ESPN has absolutely destroyed his blog. It isn’t so bad during the offseason, as there isn’t as much Patriots news on the national front, but when things heat up and the Patriots are being talked about by the likes of Skip Bayless, I don’t want those segments jammed into the blog at me. Reiss doesn’t have control over that, and has himself expressed frustration at the arrangement, but it is still annoying having to weed through those posts.

With the The Blitz, you’re actually getting information from the Herald writers on the beat – Jeff Howe and Karen Guregian. The Globe no longer has a Patriots blog since the spin-off of The writers on Extra Points are a mixed bag. You might get Eric Frenz (good) or Zuri Berry (bad) or you might get someone else entirely.


A few good links from today:

Depth charge: The importance of Rubby De La Rosa (and friends) – Alex Speier on the contributions of a pair of 25-year-old pitchers for the Red Sox.

Thornton, Bruins will miss each other – Joe McDonald says Shawn Thornton will always have a place in the hearts of Bruins fans.

Shabazz Napier works out for Celtics – Baxter Holmes looks at the Roxbury native who would love nothing more than being drafted by his hometown team.

Kevin Love trade rumors 2014 – Jay King looks at Chad Ford’s suggestion that Minnesota is coming around to the idea that the Celtics could offer the best package for Love.

It’s convenient for NFL to cluck about Irsay now – Tom E Curran thinks the NFL should’ve checked in on the Colts owner before his incident.

How do sports reporters at newspapers adapt to the Internet? Often, grudgingly – So true.


51 thoughts on “Cup Fever Grips Hub

  1. Tony Mazz told me yesterday that LeBron basically didn’t win “multiple titles” because “he only won TWO, MIKE!”. Marinate on that hot sports take for a moment.

    Then Tony Mazz was riffing on AJ Pier… Pier.. AJ, and was opining that the pitchers hated the way he frames pitches. If only he were a well connected baseball guy with the kind of contacts that could clue him in on those sort of details.
    Tony Mazz is horrendous at his job. Horrendous.


    1. I can’t decide who was a bigger douchebag when talking about Lebron yesterday. I tuned into the very end of T & R and heard Rich saying that Lebron quit on the Heat and that he Rich lost respect for Lebron. This is because Lebron check out of the game with 6:30 left, the Heat down “only” 18 points and Rich referencing Tracy McGrady scoring 13 points in 30 seconds…

      I think what Rich was to lazy to check was that Lebron had played the entire game to that point and the Spurs had actually increased the lead in the 4th quarter.

      Lebron’s exit was the Heat waving the White Flag. EVERYONE knew it was over, except, I guess, for Rich Schirtleib, the NBA genius.

      And we had in the afternoon, I checked it for the first 5 minutes of F & M and there was Tony whining and screaming about how the Miami Heat, winners of two rings in four seasons and losers of the finals the other two season, the first team in 27 years to appear in four straight finals – this team was a FAILURE.


      1. I heard Rich too. Had to turn it off. Bird sat the last few minutes of the G6 ’87 loss. The game was over. It’s called garbage time.

        I know this isn’t a popular take around here, but the Boston obsession with trying to tear down LeBron is a complete embarrassment to me. Not that he needs me to defend him from these clowns, but it’s just lazy, agenda driven nonsense. And it’s certainly not everyone, just some yahoo fans and media.

        By all accounts he’s a pretty good guy and a good teammate. He seems to have moved past the mistakes of his youth. And any mistakes he did make were pretty minor. He’s never been in any trouble. He has won and lost the past 4 years with class and dignity.

        As far as his game goes, it doesn’t really need to be defended. 4 straight Finals appearances, 2 wins, 2 losses. Last team to do that was the mid 80’s Celtics who also went 2-2. Funny I don’t remember anyone calling that team a “failure”. He’s also in the prime of his career. He’s not necessarily done at 2 titles. And even if he never wins another one, he’s at least a top 10 all time player. I think the criticism of his game after the loss to Dallas in the first year of the Miami Big 3 was just. He deferred too much to Wade and they should have beaten that team. But, there is no way on earth his Cleveland team, or this year’s Miami team could have beaten SA. It was a mismatch, through no fault of his.

        As I get older, I just have found that it’s become a lot easier to accept that sometimes guys that you root against are just great. And it’s okay to admit it and accept it. You don’t have to go looking for reasons or making things up to justify rooting against him. It’s sports. Just don’t root for him. That’s fine. But, the rest of the country seems to have moved on from the irrational axe grinding LeBron hate. Except here. But hey, at least you still have Skip Bayless on your side.


    2. Between this and the Tony Gwynn bashing, I might need to revive the @firemazz Twitter account.


      1. Hah!
        But seriously, on the day he died that had to do that stuff? On the day he died…


    1. If anything, the best is just following him via Twitter.

      Bruce’s point is how ESPNBoston burries the content and even though it’s one form of medium (see Twitter above), it doesn’t look well. You’d think that Reiss, given his status and tenure, would have more say over the local site, but ESPN clearly has a different idea for how they want to run each “ESPNlocal” site. Reiss is aware of the competition from the locals, which Bruce points out, and, his public discontent has showed.


      1. I get Bruce’s point and can recall Reiss complaining publicly in his blog. I do not use Twitter.


        1. I only use it to follow people. I’ve never Tweeted otherwise, as I don’t use any form of social media. I only use it because it’s the best way to get a customized “news feed” without the off-topic non-sense.


  2. Bruce, I 100% agree with you on the ESPN Blog. It stinks that they put in stories from ESPN NY, just because there’s a Pats connection. Or they continue to put AH stories in the blog every time that meathead is in court. He’s not on the Patriots and hasn’t been for close to a year. Did they follow the Stallworth investigation as closely, nope. And yes I am aware that a possible triple murderer is much more attention-grabbing than a motor vehicle homicide, but I feel like those stories should be lumped in with general pieces not in the Patriots blog.

    I have noticed that if you kind of hover over the Patriots name near the top of the page, where all the Boston teams are, you generally only see the pieces that Reiss or Yates has put up where as if you click on the Patriots Blog itself or go to their section in the middle right of the page you will see stories from ESPN mixed in.

    I still think Reiss and Curran are the best reporters, although Underhill, Yates, and Howe are making up a lot of ground lately.


    1. I thought Howe would get lost in the bubble of locals. He’s got more exposure lately and I’ve enjoyed his coverage. To me, he seems like a guy who is gonna graduate to a national gig at some point in the next few years.

      Honorable mention for Chris Price (WEEI) at @cpricenfl , as well. I’ll also do my mandatory plug for Matt Chatham (@chatham58), but he’s not a beat guy.


  3. F+M had Dalen Cuff on for an hour and it was good. He understands the sport and did a great job at explaining it. His approach is precisely what you need to have on any medium. You won’t win over everyone but someone like him helps the “I want to know more..” casual fan out there.

    With all of the talk, I still think soccer will be fringe in the US. However, I’ve never seen the interest like it is before. If I had to pick one impetus? ESPN. They can make and break sports. Even if the US does well, I think it (and MLS) will remain a “little brother” to the 4 bigs. To ever get over this hump, I think the MLS would have to revamp itself closer to what other “Premier Leagues” are in the big European nations, which includes changing its schedule back over to FIFA’s calendar, and also removing the parity restrictions, and the elite athletes we have here become soccer players, vs basketball or football.

    Someone tweeted this about Mario Balotelli, the Italian star. If he were in the US? He’d be playing basketball or football, not soccer. The US needs more people like him to be playing soccer, and sustain this over decades+. The media? They’re just going with the wind, which, right now, is blowing in the direction of the World Cup. I could be wrong but I don’t see much besides a small bump after it, no matter how the US does.

    A big “?” in this is also how ESPN “covers” soccer going forward. Them losing the WC rights to FOX for the next two championships doesn’t
    help the coverage but I can’t see them relegating coverage on the
    tournament like they do with the NHL.Their current management clearly has an affinity toward soccer, with ESPN winning the latest MLS round, and also expected to be big players with the next round of EPL negotiations (NBC has it). The rest of the “big” leagues are on beIN, which most people cannot legally get w/o the sports package (another $20 a month for me on Comcast). I don’t know the status of these contracts but beIN, owned by alJazerra, clearly needs these in order to remain a channel that US carriers will pay for, and with their unlimited resources, would probably outbid anyone.


    1. Ah…the soccer (futbol) discussion. I think in the next 20 years if not sooner Soccer will pass the NHL It might not be MLS…it might be EPL or maybe a new North/South American super league with teams in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Hondurus, Columbi, Uraguay, Argentina and Chile… the important thing is it appears that ESPN has figured out how to televise the sport. Games are usually played in 2 hours and players are becoming more well known.

      I think the USA produces plenty of athletes, more than enough to produce soccer players. The issue has always been money. MLS makes money in all cities that have soccer only stadiums. Their regular season ratings are on par with the NHL. The issue is expanding that base, getting talk radio to talk soccer and bringing in new fans. In order to do that three things need to happen:
      1) Success on the international scene (look at what Lemond and Armstrong (before he admitted he cheated) did for Cycling’s US perception). By the way the US has some…just no one knows about it. We keep producing world class keepers and strikers…it is creativity in mid field that has killed us for years…well that and Bruce Arena.

      2) Financial incentive for world’s greatest players to want to come and play in the USA. When transfer fees for some players are more expensive than entire MLS team payrolls then you have to realize we are not playing in the big leagues.

      3) A better organized season/league that allows it to be more closely compared to what is happening in Europe. The analogy I would use is this…the MLS is closer to a AA team that it is the NIPPON Baseball League…which in itself is considered almost a AAA league.

      Baseball is vulnerable to a better televised and better paced program. Soccer should be that alternative. I think work needs to be done to get it there…but if you had told me 20 years ago my father, on his own, would sit down and watch a world cup match, as he did yesterday…I never would have believed you. Times change, things evolve, Soccer is definitely moving into a better place.


      1. Don’t be so hard on Brucie. Before Bruce (i.e. pre-1994), the USMNT was basically the NCAA Div I all-star team, with maybe one or two guys playing in Germany or Scotland.

        I’m both more and less optimistic about the sport than you are, I think. My comments on your three points:

        1) I think there’s two separate issues here — success as a professional sport, and visibility as a professional sport. International success is important to the latter — but I don’t think it’s vital for the former. MLS can still be a robust, popular, stable professional sport even if the national team stinks, so long as the product is compelling and entertaining. See, e.g., your example of the Nippon PBL. Popular? Check. Robust and stable? Check. Good product for its customers? Check. (Probably not by our standards, mind you, but Japanese audiences seem fine with it.) International respect? BZZZT. Nope, although that’s sloooowly changing as Japanese players succeed in MLB. And that’s what international success, or foreign league success from US players, will do for MLS: slooowly increase the perceived prestige of the league, due to the increased prestige of American players in general.

        2) Frankly, that’s never going to happen. To be perfectly blunt: a large proportion of the best soccer players in the world are black, Hispanic, or a combination of the two. To get them to leave countries where they’re comfortable and/or enormously well paid to come to the US and deal with our… let’s say ‘problematic’ racial issues…. it’s going to take a loooooot of money. Money that simply isn’t there and may never be there for MLS. This league simply can’t pay a Neymar or a Juan Mata at a Justin Verlander level, which is what it would take. And that’s just the salary — the transfer fee, assuming Real Madrid or Chelsea would actually sell those two, would be enormous.

        3) This is the catch-22. MLS should be better aligned with the European/South American seasons (which run September-May more or less)…. but that would put them in direct conflict with pro/college football AND basketball AND hockey, which would likely be suicidal. So they’re organized as a summer sport…. which means MLS players are off-season with pretty much everyone else in the football world. Which functionally means that the big leagues (EPL, La Ligua, Serie A, the Bundesliga, etc.) cannot use MLS teams for their loan candidates. That would be a huge boon to MLS – affiliations with big-time Euro clubs would boost the level of playing talent (marginal US scrubs would be replaced on the rosters by highly talented but young and inexperienced Euros), which benefits both the league AND the US national players who play in it. But, again, it would probably kill the league to go against football, so there you go.


    2. I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but would like to note that NBC did a perfectly good job successfully promoting their EPL coverage in the absence of any significant ESPN coverage. (Not that ESPN ignored it, but it wasn’t highlighted in the way that ESPN highlights the NBA.) I don’t think you need ESPN support — it just helps dramatically.


      1. Yeah, agree.

        And, NBC did an amazing job with the EPL. To me, they took what ESPN did and made it their baby, similar to their NHL package. ESPN burried their PL match on ESPN2, usually up against a SportsCenter rerun (7:45AM Eastern kick) or live one if it was 10AM. When they grabbed a Monday 3PM match, it was usually ESPN. We won’t even get into how bad FoxSoccer (now FS1/FS2) was here, either.

        I think ESPN balked at how much NBC paid, since it was 3x the # FOX/ESPN paid for the original package. After the record NBC ratings, I think ESPN wants this back (along with FOX), and will pay virtually whatever it takes to get it.

        But, on your point, yeah it helps a lot when ESPN promotes your sport. There was even an article this week of soccer execs somewhere wanting to make sure ESPN does a similar job promoting the 2018 and 2022 WC, since they don’t own the rights. Their dominance, which won’t change anytime soon, still means that they have a significant say as to what the “sports narrative and conversation” is in this country.


  4. Because those sorts of excuses/free passes are NEVER made for other quarterbacks, some of whom might be married to supermodels, of course……


    1. Not saying Brady doesn’t get a free pass sometimes, but I would submit that he gets a lot more criticism than Manning—including being criticized for “not caring about football anymore” since marrying a supermodel (not saying that you have said that, but I have read and heard it elsewhere). The point is that Manning has gone practically blameless for anything that’s ever gone wrong for any of his teams for his entire career. Remember, it took three Super Bowl wins (apparently two wasn’t enough) before some in the national (and even local) media would even consider uttering Brady’s name in the same breath as Manning’s. And, again, I say this as a guy who likes Manning and admires his abilities….not as a Manning basher.


  5. Ding ding ding. You got that right.

    Another tired complaint: “Oh, look at all the flopping!!! THE FLOPPING!!!!!!” Hey, guess what? Yeah, the flopping can be annoying. But when you actually watch the sport, you tune it out as background noise. Maybe one or two times a season someone really sells a blatant non-foul and draws a game-changing free kick or penalty that shouldn’t have been awarded, but those tend to even out, and officials (at least in the good leagues) are very good at sniffing out fakers. On the whole, it no more distracts from the enjoyment of the sport than, say, Nomar’s incessant pre-pitch quirk rituals did, or the spate of nickel CBs who grievously injure their hamstrings and require a stretcher when the other team just happens to be running a hurryup offense do. (Roger Goodell should really look into that!)


    1. The same people that bash soccer (cheap signaling that I’m not a fan) and the NBA for the flopping, ignore it in the NFL and pretty much celebrate it in the NHL. I’ve never heard anyone preview an NBA playoff series, the way the MOT-BOS second round series was previewed by EVERYONE around here, in which it was acknowledged the outcome would probably be determined by the flopping of the Canadiens and the reaction of the Bruins. But those same NHL fans and analysts will scream at the top of their lung about how flopping makes the NBA unwatchable. Domain dependence at work.


  6. Agree here on your points but I think you’re missing the “outside Boston” perspective DaveR hit on. Outside this area, many people feel that Brady/BB/Patriots get a “free pass” in regards to their lack of Superbowls and playoff duds. I’ve even seen similar conversation in regards to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Since his lone Superbowl, he’s not been his best, either.

    All of this, I think, ESPN capitalizes on. They’ve done it for years with CFB and its own rivalries. They antagonize the Big10 with SEC love. Next show, they’ll start hyping the ACC/FSU, which drives Big10/SEC fans nuts. Repeat for 18 hours a day and you piss everyone off, but just enough where they pay enough attention to control the conversation and/or create pageclicks.


      1. Inside this area, definitely. Brady is the most “sacred cow” around here, bar none.

        Criticize him, depending on the way its done, and you have 1,000 Jerry Thorton Twitter followers flooding the phones.

        So, if I were a local media person, I’d tread lightly doing so (I’m sure it’s been done by good writers), knowing what happens. Pointing out the lack of Superbowls and recent playoff duds isn’t being anti-Brady/anti-Patriots, it’s just reciting fact.

        I understand why it’s not done but also wonder how many media members don’t because of what I said above.

        No matter how responsible you do it, or how much the writer is respected, you’ll get “flack” for doing so.


  7. Cannot stop laughing as I listen to frauds Felgie and Mazz attempt to talk soccer. Hilarious to hear Felger break down the scoring play. Hope someone calls up and laughs at them on the air. What a joke!!


  8. Bob Ryan on with Dale and Holley: “Brock Holt has been the Red Sox MVP and THERE IS NO ARGUMENT.”

    No, you stubborn ignoramus, it’s clearly been Bogaerts (who at times has carried the team singlehandedly with his bat and is leading the team in batting WAR), and I concede that you could make an argument for the Lester/Lackey combo as well.


    1. What are you watching?? No way Bogaerts has been the Sox MVP. He’s played a weak field (cost the Sox a game or 2 with his brutal SS play earlier this season) and has been mediocre at best when hitting with runners in scoring position. If anything Bogaert has been a bit of a disappointment based on all the hype he got coming up. Thought he’d have more gap power. He’s basically been a singles hitter, not clutch at all and with a mediocre glove. Also doesn’t seem like much of a threat on the bases.
      Offensively Ortiz has been the MVP impact bat with some big clutch game winning hits.
      Team MVP has been the pitching staff in general and Lackey/Uehara in particular. Tough to perform when you know if you give up 2 runs you’re in danger of losing every night.


      1. Bogaerts has had 249 at bats–69 hits–6 hr–18 RBI
        Ortiz has had 248 at bats–61 hits–15 hr–42 RBI

        Bogaerts may have had a great game or two offensively but he has never carried this team.


      2. “Big clutch game winning hits,” “gap power” and comparing Ortiz and Bogaerts’ RBI prove that these posts shouldn’t be taken seriously. Even with recent slump, Bogaerts has the 2nd highest OBP on the team behind Napoli (who has 60 fewer ABs). He has the 4th highest OPS of any SS in the league and has a 2.2 offensive WAR, which is very good for this point of the season. He has more doubles than Tulo, but perhaps they have not been landing in “the gaps.” He has won more games with his bat than he has lost with his glove.
        He may not be a clear-cut team MVP, but he is hardly a disappointment in his rookie season.


    2. Every time a sanctimonious Boston media type says “As long as Brock Holt continues to produce …” an angel gets its wings


  9. Grady Sizemore, we hardly knew ye.

    I predicted a May 31 cut down date for Grady…17 days off ain’t too bad.


  10. World Cup is comparable to the Olympics, tremendous amount of “buzz” while it’s taking place, but 2 seconds after it’s over?….crickets… (unless the USA wins it all)…. Note to soccer fans: this was not meant as a slap at the sport, just an observation.


    1. Agree, but this seems to be aimed at the intolerable hardcores who don’t understand growth.

      You can compare the two because of frequency, but it ends right there. While other “sports” at the Olympics are year-round, for the most part (soccer and hockey) it’s either not on TV or so niche that even ESPN43 or FoxSports9 doesn’t air them. Soccer is played every year. You have a ton of options here. The “stars” carry over. ESPN and other mainstream outlets air highlights. The games–and, not just the EPL, which most know–are watched and followed heavily.

      That’s why I would not compare them.

      Yes, the hardcores want it #1 but I think the safer thing to speculate on is how much of a bump it gets. Lets see if Revs, who average a 0.2 share (F&M simulcast gets a 0.38 avg), get a bump. Lets see if the national MLS games get a bump. Lets see if EPL gets a bump (it did all last year on NBCSN). Champions League also received a similar bump. After that, lets look at how it sustains itself.

      I think the “bump” will sustain some. There is always natural runoff from people. But, this is how something is organically grown. You don’t become big overnight.


      1. yep, you make some good points….It’s got to start with the younger generation in my opinion. Somebody like me (50 years old) I never see myself becoming a fan of a new (so to speak) sport….It’s always been Football,Hockey,Baseball,Basketball, Boxing.. I’m too old to get into anything different now…. (I can’t even get into that MMA stuff which I guess is popular now)…


        1. You’re just reflecting the reality. I asked my older neighbors if they’re watching. Nope. They would only if the US was close to winning in the title game. The younger folks (12-49) are driving this. It’s just not there thing.

          (Conversely, if you look at MLB’s “problem”, it’s just the opposite, but that’s another story).

          I get the “wait, I’m not interested but everyone is talking about it”, since I’m that way with anything trendy or new. You don’t mind hearing about it but don’t want it shoved in your face. (Aren’t most of us the same about everything?) That’s why I praised Dalen Cuff’s approach, which Bruce mentioned.

          Much of this reminds me of how CFB is growing but there is still a poor market here (really the Northeast).


        2. I have been working in a public school district for nearly 20 years…one that has a tremendous youth and high school soccer program. With that in mind, only over the last 2 years or so did I ever really see a lot of kids wearing soccer jersies. Today I counted twelve out of the 400 or so kids in my hallway. Some were FIFA stars, some were EPL, others were MLS. The tide is turning for soccer in this country, I believe. The truth will be shown 10 years from now when these kids are adults.


  11. Which shows are you talking about that are mocking soccer? The 2-6 shows on both 98.5 and EEI have been talking about the Cup and giving it a ton of air. I haven’t listened to the others, are they the immature ones you’re referring to?


    1. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s Dennis & Callahan….They’ve been soccer haters for YEARS it’s part of their shtick, they love to mock the sport….always mocking…mocking!,,mocking!..mocking!


  12. 9:20 AM – I just heard a quick promo for Felger & Mazz.

    Felger says, “You were a top 5 defense last season with Talib so yes yes yes with Revis you should be.” Now you might dispute that ranking, but that’s not the point.

    I seem to recall that during the actual months of October and November, when “footie-pajama wearing Homers” like me were telling anyone that would listen that the Pats had a “top ten” defense, Felger & Mazz (and numerous other Mediots) were telling anyone that would listen that the fraudulent Pats defense was enjoying the Waltz of the Tomato Cans.

    Isn’t funny how that works?


    1. Just a warning:

      Dan Shaughnessy’s legal team will be filing trademark infringement for your post.


  13. Wow, I can’t disagree more. I think his straight reporting is what draws me to the site. He doesn’t give “hot sports takes”, he just reports what happens, and then tells you why he thinks something happened. He plays it right down the middle, never too up on the team, and never too down on the team. I like it. I don’t agree with some of his takes, (his pick of the Nevada OL in the first round of the draft this year comes to mind), but for the most part the story is about the team, not about himself, which is what I’m looking for in Pats coverage.


      1. I love how Cimini, the Jets’ lickspittle, referred to the Patriots as having “illegally spied” on the Jets in 2007. Hyperbole much? It wasn’t really illegal (I guess it depends on how you interpret the rule–Goodell basically rewrote it on his own with his “clarifying memo”); and if they were spying, they did a lousy job of it since they had their camera man on the sidelines in full view of 70,000 people, wearing Patriots’ regalia to boot. Oh, and the Jets did the same thing in Foxboro the year before, but that fact doesn’t fit the narrative, so it gets droppped. Alas, this crap is never going to go away, especially if they don’t manage to win another Super Bowl or two before BB and Brady ride off into the sunset.


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