Shaughnessy — “Get Off My Lawn, Bloggers”

The Boston Globe continued its series of attacks on blogging, Twitter and the internet by old-school media dinosaurs with the publication of today’s column by Dan Shaughnessy.

You’ve probably heard by now that Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was injured on Sunday and some Kansas City fans actually cheered when he was taken off the field.

The bloggers are to blame, naturally.

It’s an issue about civility in America today. It’s about accountability. It is about angry fantasy football players who do not know how to look someone in the eye, or hold a face-to-face conversation. It is about fanboy bloggers who kill everyone and everything under the brave cloak of anonymity. It’s about instant tweets fired from the safety of your basement. It is about anonymous bullying with the World Wide Web serving as the new bathroom wall.

Those of us who write stories and do talk shows are not blameless. Winston made a good point when he said that Cassel “hasn’t done anything to the media writers who kill him . . . ”

I’ve certainly done my share of tweaking and exposing professional athletes or organizations who don’t give an honest effort to live up to their contracts or fulfill the team-fan accord. In print, on TV and radio, we contribute to a climate of anger in the stands. But at least you know who we are.

That last paragraph is mind-blowing. He only tweaks those “who don’t give an honest effort?” or who don’t  “fulfill the team-fan accord?” What does that even mean?

So has “Amos Alonzo Kraft” failed to give an honest effort, or has he not fulfilled the team-fan accord? Which is it? (By the way, Shaughnessy actually took that moniker from Mike Barnicle. If you’re stealing material from Mike Barnicle, it might be time to acknowledge that you actually do not possess a conscience.) And that is an incredibly minor Shaughnessy tweak.

And “at least you know who we are.”

OK, that makes everything better.

Guys like Shaughnessy are terrified of the internet, because while he might not be the most self-aware guy around, he at least recognizes his increasing irrelevance, as evidenced by this old-man rant.

Yes, there are nasty, vicious people on the internet. I sometimes am disgusted myself at just how angry some people are online, and the things that they say. But speaking in sweeping generalities, like Shaughnessy does, isn’t right either.

It’s easier for Shaughnessy to write a column like this now, because a lot fewer people – especially those online, who are his targets – are able to read it due to the paywall.

Which just might be the best thing about the paywall, limiting the exposure of a Dan Shaughnessy column like this one.

Bob Ryan’s Farewell, CSNNE’s 5000th and More…

Bob Ryan’s farewell (sort of) column in the Globe yesterday was typical Ryan – passionate, with a nod to history, underscored by humility about his own role in things.

The Globe has lost perhaps the final piece to its glory days, and a bridge to even earlier eras. We’ll continue to read Ryan on many Sundays throughout the year, but the paper will not be the same. Ryan officially closes things out with his account of the United States’ win in the Gold Medal Men’s Olympic basketball game.

You’re up, Chris Gasper. Got 44 years in you?


Comcast SportsNet New England celebrates their 5000th episode of “Sports Tonight” with a one-hour prime time special beginning tonight at 6:30PM.

5000 episodes is an impressive number, and kudos to CSNNE for reaching it. However, I can honestly say I don’t watch it all that much, as it is essentially a recap of whatever subjects were debated on sports radio that day. I’ve heard all the storylines, and the debates once already, I don’t need it again.

CSNNE provides a lot of good programming (SportsNet Central, Celtics broadcasts and pre and post game, various original specials) but they also provide an outlet for ridiculousness like the ongoing Joe Haggerty-Kirk Minihane slapfight.

In case you’re not up to speed on it, old friend Ryan Hadfield provides a recap on his Out of Bounds blog on

Hadfield might find it entertaining, I find it forced, staged and juvenile.


That gushing Boston Globe feature on Bobby Valentine yesterday by Stan Grossfeld was embarrassing. I usually enjoy the somewhat offbeat features that Grossfeld puts together, but I thought we were done with these types of stories after spring training. Given the season that the club is having, it’s even more out of place.


Same newspaper, same day:

Count me as one who missed the memo that the Red Sox are allowing beer in the clubhouse on the road after games. It’s a complete contradiction to what we were told by Bobby Valentine in February. The word then was “no beer in the clubhouse.’’ Now we’re all supposed to shrug and say it’s no big deal that the beer is still there on the road? The Sox made absolutely no distinction between home and road clubhouse rules when they made their big announcement in Florida. The notion that it was common knowledge is incorrect and sneaky.

Biggest non-story of the year: John Lackey having two beers after a Red Sox loss on the road. If you knew the team rule, it wouldn’t be a story. No alcohol in the Fenway clubhouse and no alcohol on return charters to Boston. Been that way since spring training.

The first was Dan Shaughnessy, the second Nick Cafardo.

I’m guessing that since Cafardo is around the team everyday, he actually knew what the rule was.

By the way, John Lackey is severely tone-deaf and lacking in self-awareness and good judgement, but no more so than many of the media weighing in on this whole absurd topic.

Jen Royle says that episodes like this are why we shouldn’t be surprised when players say it is tough to play here.

Globe Editor Finger-Wags Patriots. Again.

Glad to see the fearless sports editor of the Boston Globe is back in full Patriots finger-wagging mode.

Right, because making rookies go down a slip-n-slide – in full public view of media and coaches – is the same as the sexual assaults and beatings that have been uncovered among high schools.

If anything, the Patriots as showing how to initiate rookies in a fun, non-harmful manner. I might think the whole thing is silly, but it’s not harming anyone.

I just hope Sullivan also comes out and takes a stand when the Red Sox make their rookies wear dresses on the final road trip of the season. If anything, that’s more humiliating than going down a slip-n-slide.

Just Curious…

Did anyone else laugh out loud at these lines from Nick Cafardo on the Kevin Youkilis/Will Middlebrooks situation:


It should be Valentine’s decision as to whether Youkilis gets his job back, and nobody else’s.


The Drew Bledsoe-Tom Brady analogy is somewhat pertinent in this case. Bill Belichick had just about reached the end of the line with Bledsoe and when Brady took over and performed so well, it was an easy decision.

Those are somewhat different sentiments than Nick had at the time of the Bledsoe/Brady debate.

From November 21st, 2001.

The principals in the Confrontational Conference at Foxborough – that would be heavy-handed head coach Bill Belichick and once-upon-a-time starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe – were asked yesterday in separate interviews how they would characterize Bledsoe’s emotions in the meeting Monday in which the coach told Bledsoe he was going with replacement Tom Brady as his starter the rest of the season.

And a little bit later on in the same column:

Belichick’s pronouncement came at an awkward time, just after Brady had played his second consecutive subpar game, a 24-17 loss to the Rams Sunday night. Brady is 5-3 as a starter but has shown obvious decline in the last four games.

If Brady was performing “subpar” and in “obvious decline” it doesn’t really sound like an “easy decision” like Nick makes it out to be, 10 years later.

Valentine gets free reign in making the decision on Youkilis, but Belichick was “heavy-handed” in making his decision.

Bob Ryan Bowing Out, Bruins Blanked

It wasn’t exactly breaking news, but when Bob Ryan told Bill Simmons yesterday on the B.S. Report that he will be hanging it up after the 2012 Olympic games in London, it caused quite a stir.

Ryan had hinted previously that he’d likely be scaling things back following the Olympics, and he emphasized yesterday that he won’t be going away completely. He’ll still be around for the occasional column or TV/Radio appearance, but he wants to move on, and do some other things with his life, which he deserves to do. Interestingly he cited the demands of blogging and tweeting in this modern age as things he’s not comfortable with, and part of the reason he feels he doesn’t fit in anymore.

The last link to the glory days of the Boston Globe, Ryan has had a tremendous career and his weekly voice will be missed. The podcast is exhibit “A.” Even if you’re not a huge NBA fan, it is a great listen, and you really get the sense of his passion for the game. Couple this podcast with last week’s with Larry Bird, and Simmons is on a roll here.

There will be more on Ryan as we get closer to the Olympics, I’m sure.

The Bruins continue to stumble as they were shut out by the New York Rangers last night 3-0.

Ice dam – Fluto Shinzawa reports on Henrik Lundqvist shutting out the Bruins last night.

Where did the Bruins go? – Stephen Harris says that hitting the road might be the best thing for the Bruins.Joe Haggerty says that the Bruins have work to do.

Bruins clearly have big expectations for Johnny Boychuk – DJ Bean says that the new deal for the defenseman reflects the faith they have in him.

Peter Chiarelli proceeds with caution – Joe McDonald says that the Bruins GM would like to swing a trade.

Rockland’s Josh Hennessy feels at home in Boston Bruins dressing room – Mike Loftus has a look at the callup.

Johnny Boychuk stays a Bruin – Dan Duggan’s notebook has more on the new deal. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa and the Bruins Journal both have the same lede.

Kevin Garnett’s turn to take seat – Peter May has KG as the latest injury casualty for the Celtics. Scott Souza says that the Celtics are a team of wounded. A. Sherrod Blakely says that the KG injury might mean the first career start for JaJuan Johnson.

Ivy climbers – With the success of Jeremy Lin in New York, Bob Ryan takes a look at other Ivy League players who have made an impact in the NBA.

Reuniting Brandon Lloyd With Josh McDaniels an Interesting Possibility and 19 Other Patriots Thoughts – Jeff Howe thinks the Patriots have an excellent shot of returning to the Super Bowl.

Brandon Spikes hyped-up for ’12 – Karen Guregian says that the linebacker could be a difference-maker for the Patriots defense.

Which Patriots made the grade? – Greg A Bedard knocks out the grades for the entire Patriots roster.

Bard ready to toe the starting line – Nick Cafardo has Daniel Bard ready to give it a go as a starter.

Think what you want, the Red Sox do spend – Ron Borges dispels the notion of the alleged belt-tightening at Fenway. It was amusing to hear Tony Massarotti scream that the Red Sox were cheap AND that they overpaid for David Ortiz within the span of 10 seconds yesterday.

Red Sox spring training gets a face-lift thanks to Tim Bogar, Bobby Valentine – Rob Bradford looks at how things will be different this spring.

Beckett arrives, takes mound – Peter Abraham has Josh Beckett showing up and getting some work done in Ft Myers.

Ranking the best (and worst) TV announcers in Boston sportsKirk Minihane still doesn’t like Jack Edwards.

It’s Been Target Practice for the Boston Sports Media – George Cain looks at the current targets.

Joe Sullivan Shows Who He Really Is

Since the Bill Belichick era began, coverage from the Boston Globe has been pretty consistent.

With the exception of Mike Reiss and Greg Bedard, (who I’ve disagreed with a couple of time, but overall I think is excellent, and very objective in his coverage.) the coverage of the Patriots coming out of Morrissey Blvd has been routinely negative.

It doesn’t matter the writer, whether it is Nick Cafardo, Ron Borges, Jerome Solomon, Michael Smith (though he was OK) Chris Gasper, Albert Breer or Shalise Manza Young, the tone and attitude towards the team have remained the same. There are complaints about the access given to reporters, there are shots taken at the fans who they insist believe that Bill Belichick can do no wrong.

Where does this come from? As the saying goes, the fish rots from the head down. In this case, it is sports editor Joe Sullivan, who has been the constant among all the comings and goings on the Patriots beat in the last 10 years. It is Sullivan who sets the tone for his staff when it comes to covering the team.

A Tweet from Sullivan yesterday confirmed how he fans about Patriots fans.

The line about Patriots fans in the article that Sullivan disagrees with so much he felt the need to Tweet about?

I don’t know a New England Patriots or New York Jets fan who argues that Bill Belichick or Rex Ryan is the greatest man walking the earth, almost incapable of sin.

It was a throwaway line in the column, which is focused on the adulation of college coaches, but Sullivan jumped on the line and clearly wanted his views on the matter out there.

The “In Bill We Trust” line gets thrown out there quite bit, usually attempted as an insult to those who think that Belichick might actually know what he’s doing most of the time. However, the records speak for themselves.

In speaking behind the scenes, I can confirm that there is a general attitude within the Globe that hostile towards the Patriots. The coverage also speaks for itself. It doesn’t always manifest itself in the actual game coverage within the newspaper. But follow them on Twitter, read their chats, they always manage to find a way to get their shots in. No other outlet does this.

Where does it stem from? It’s from access. Sullivan and Globe feel a huge sense of entitlement. They demand access. Sullivan has complained to league about their access to the Patriots on multiple occasions. (That information has also been confirmed separately.) There is resentment there, and it comes through in the attitude of the paper and its personnel.

Yesterday, Shalise Manza Young held her weekly Patriots chat, and things got ugly. To her credit, she attempted to answer some of the harder-edged questions that came in, but was not successful.

Here’s an example:

Comment From Blinded
Shalise, with respect, I think you and the rest of the media really fail to put any sort of context on the Patriots drafting and personnel moves. Do other teams such as the Steelers, Packers, Jets, etc hit on everyone of their picks? Not even close. For the Patriots to be continually painted as gigantic failures in the draft and free agency really exposes the lack of perspective around here.

shalise manza young:
Blinded – Again, no one expects them to hit on 100 percent of their picks. I still have the game notes from the Giants, so right now in the time we have I can only look at them. But of the 75 players they have either on the 53-man, IR or practice squad, 33 were guys that they drafted. 19 of those 33 were drafted from 2006-2010, the same time frame I used for the Pats.

OK, so she attempts to actually provide some context and give an example. However, if you do the same breakdown with the Patriots, you find that of the players currently on the 53-man, IR or practice squad, 32 were guys that they drafted, and 16 of those were drafted from 2006-2010.

Huge difference, huh? Before you jump on me, she chose to compare them to the Giants.

Young ended her chat with a typical, childish response:

Comment From TiredofTheMedia
As usual, you miss the point. A guy who’s in over his head can’t lead his team to a 14-2 record. You think he’s in over his head because he lost a playoff game to the Jets. It’s a pretty absurd thing to think.

shalise manza young:
I think your handle says it all. Nothing I could say short of “all is right in Patriots world, this team is perfect, they’ll win the Super Bowl by three touchdowns” would appease you.

Talk about hyperbole. No one expects nor wants that type of comment or analysis. It is childish.

Before the Patriots/Belichick haters start lining up in the comments section, let me state this:

This Patriots team has very visible flaws, and some of their moves and decisions are certainly open to criticsm.

The problem I have is when reporters who really have no idea themselves what goes into decisions and what discussions are held behind closed doors or really have no more knowledge about the game than the average fan start suggesting that Bill Belichick is in over his head, it’s time to call them on it.

Moreover, when an entire sports department is guided by a hand that holds a clear grudge, and makes sure that that grudge is conveyed in the final product, and whose personal feelings are allowed to impact the product that goes out to the customers, and who delights in tweaking and annoying those same customers, is it any wonder that the Globe has struggled so much in recent years, during which Sullivan has overseen the demise of what was once the greatest sports section in the country?

Maybe it is Joe Sullivan who is in over his head.

From The PFW Archives – An Interview With Lesley Visser

This column originally appeared in the November 25th, 2009 issue of Patriots Football Weekly.

Visser no stranger to Pats success

By Bruce Allen

“Hi, I’m Lesley Visser, I know Will McDonough.”

With those eight words, Lesley Visser, the longtime CBS sportscaster voted this past summer as the No. 1 Female Sportscaster of All-Time, would approach players, coaches and officials during her first season on the Patriots beat. The year was 1976, and the 23-year-old Visser was working for The Boston Globe, yet was not allowed in the locker room, and her team-issued press credential flatly stated “No Women or Children allowed in the Press Box.” Oftentimes she would have to wait in the parking lot to interview players. There wasn’t even a ladies room available to her. Dropping McDonough’s name was the only “in” that she had until she could establish herself.

Despite her distinguished career, I sometimes feel that Visser isn’t always properly appreciated by the public for being the true pioneer that she is. In an age where more and more women are seeking careers in sports media, Visser set the standards by which they all measure themselves. Thus, having the chance to chat recently with the very gracious Visser was a great privilege.

Both her remarkable life and career began right here in Massachusetts. Born in Quincy MA, sports and football were in Visser’s blood from a young age. As a little girl, she dressed as Celtics guard Sam Jones for Halloween one year, and asked Santa for a pair of shoulder pads one Christmas.

In 1966, Visser attended her first professional football game, when the Patriots took on the Oakland Raiders at Fenway Park. The 13-year-old Visser managed to get down to the Raiders sideline where she saw future Hall of Fame center Jim Otto up close. “He was the biggest human being I’d ever seen,” she remembers, “and my eyes grew as big as his double 00’s.”

She had the goal of being a sportswriter when she grew up, and as an English major at Boston College, she obtained an internship at The Boston Globe through a Carnegie Foundation grant. Joining the paper full-time following graduation in 1975, she immediately started making her mark in a male-dominated field.

It started that bicentennial year of 1976, when Visser became the first woman assigned to an NFL beat when the Globe sent her out to cover Patriots on a daily basis.

“The first day of training camp, I think I brushed my teeth in the parking lot of Bryant college.” She recalls her biggest fear in those first days on the beat: “Working with people like Peter Gammons and Bob Ryan and Bud Collins, I was terrified I’d let the Boston Globe down with their historic decision.”

Dropping McDonough’s name became her “Magic Credential,” as she puts it. McDonough, the most respected football writer in the country, even spoke to Billy Sullivan on her behalf, telling the Patriots owner that she would work hard, and asking them to be forgiving of her mistakes.

Mistakes? She made a few, some of which pain her to this day. She recalls one incident early in her tenure when she was doing a story on Sam Cunningham, (Visser says that Sam was much more famous than younger brother Randall.) and included some notes at the end of the story. The Patriots were banged up along the offensive line, and she asked coach Chuck Fairbanks who would start at tackle, Tom Neville or Bob McKay.

In the Globe the next morning, Fairbanks was quoted as saying, “Neither one can play the position”. Visser relates: “I got a call at 6 am.  ‘Are you out of your mind?'” It was Fairbanks, shouting on the other end. “I said EITHER one can play the position!”  Visser still shakes her head at the recollection. “I wanted to move to Bimini. Instead, I flew down to Miami with the team – as all members of the media did back then. I heard about it the whole flight, and, OK, maybe the whole season. I think Dave Smith and Vince Doria, our legendary editors at the Globe, remind me of it to this day.”

All in all, she says that “The Patriots were great to me” and that first season in Foxborough was a memorable one, the team went 11-3 before losing a heartbreaking playoff game to the Raiders on the infamous Ben Dreith “roughing the passer” call on Sugar Bear Hamilton, the Patriots tackle who Visser says had watched game film with her that year, giving her an even deeper understanding of the game.

Though he was just a Patriots season ticket holder at the time, Robert Kraft had a big impact on Visser’s career even back in the 1970’s. Kraft owned the Boston Lobsters of World TeamTennis, and was the first person to let Visser into a locker room in any sport. She adds that Kraft “has been so supportive of women in this business, an advocate for more than 30 years. I’m happy to report that the struggles of Schaefer stadium are now the glories of Gillette. It’s no coincidence that the Patriots are the model, the envy of the NFL.”

With her history with the Patriots, it only makes sense that Visser’s favorite memory from her long career covering sports involves the franchise from Foxborough, MA.

“One of my most favorite memories in all of sports was Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.” She proudly recalls “I was on the field when Adam Vinatieri drilled it through the uprights, and as the confetti came raining down, I remember thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is the team I grew up with, the team that gave me my biggest opportunity, and now I’m here for their most shining moment.'”

Visser had moved on to television with CBS in the early 1980’s, and made history there too, working almost all major sporting events the network covered, including the NFL, where she became the first woman to host the postgame Super Bowl Championship trophy presentation. She stayed at CBS until 1994. She then moved on to ABC/ESPN, where she become the first woman on the announcing team of Monday Night Football, as sideline reporter. She returned to CBS in 2000, and has remained there ever since. She currently is a reporter for The NFL Today, and writes a column for In July of this year, Visser was voted the No. 1 female sportscaster of all time by the American Sportscasters Association.

Also this summer, Visser became the first woman to serve as a color commentator on an NFL TV telecast, during a Dolphins preseason game. Visser says of the experience “It was an enormous challenge, but I was careful to stay within my experience. I’ve never been in an NFL huddle, so I never said anything I couldn’t possibly know –  I think that philosophy has helped me for 35 years. I don’t assume, I ask.”

Visser’s distinguished career covering the NFL led to the ultimate honor. In 2006 she became the first (and only) woman to be honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Among those congratulating Visser that day was Jim Otto, “Pretty good,” he said, “for a little girl shivering on the sideline.”

Visser says that “Being honored as the first woman in the Pro Football Hall of Fame made me glad I went through all the ups and downs. I have a genuine respect for sports, I’ve always said it’s the most meritorious business in America. It doesn’t matter where your father went to college or how much money your mother has, if you hit the jumper or sink the putt or kick the winning field goal, it’s because of your talent, your will and your skill.”

Fittingly, talent, will and skill are all qualities that Lesley Visser possesses in abundance.

Losers All Around In Globe Article

I think we all expected that a tell-all about the 2011 Red Sox was coming, and I think we suspected that the Boston Globe – with their ties to Red Sox ownership – would be the outlet to provide it.

That article came today.

Inside the collapse – By Bob Hohler.

The article is being universally praised among media types this morning. (Well, Eric Wilbur doesn’t love it.) The article basically collects everything that has been previously reported about the team and puts it all into one place, with a few new details and revelations.

No one looks good in this article, and in some ways, that includes the Globe. Let’s look at the entities involved.

Players: The Red Sox players  deservedly take the most heat, especially the trio of John Lackey, Josh Beckett and disappointingly, Jon Lester. The story tells of their eating fried chicken and biscuits, drinking beer and playing video games while the Red Sox games were being played on the field. None of the three would comment on the story, and until they do, this issue is going to linger right through to spring training. Assuming of course that any or all of the three are still here. Other players are targeted as well. Kevin Youkilis is a grouch. David Ortiz whiner. The captain, Jason Varitek, chastised the Globe reporter when asked about the season. Adrian Gonzalez was not a leader in his first season with the team. Tim Wakefield was more interested in personal accomplishments than the team.

I don’t know how fair it would be to expect Gonzalez to come in and establish himself as a leader in a very established clubhouse in his first year with the team. Going forward, I expect him to prove himself in there, but for his first season, I’m not sure that’s fair. The only players to come out of this looking OK are really Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon. In my opinion, the team should build around those three plus Gonzalez and look at everyone else as expendable.

Manager: Terry Francona might come out the worst in this article, and that is unfortunate. I think there is an attempt to paint him in a sympathetic light, but the emphasis comes down on “pathetic.” There were rumors about Francona’s personal life swirling around various messageboards in the week following the season, and Hohler covers most of them here. The article portrays Francona as a “lame-duck manager, coping with personal issues, whose team partly tuned him out,’ and hints at a prescription drug problem for Francona. More on this later. In addition to losing power in the clubhouse and having his marriage fall apart, what’s the deal with mentioning the Francona was concerned about his son and son-in-law over in Afghanistan? What source contributed this, and with what motive? Is it a criticism that he was concerned? I don’t get it.

Francona though, is the only source (beyond Pedroia) that talked to Hohler on the record. If that isn’t a damnation of the entire Red Sox organization, I don’t know what is.

General Manager: Theo Epstein is only referenced in this article in the context of failed player acquisitions such as Carl Crawford. There is nothing about whether Epstein attempted to intervene as the season was slipping away or about his relationship with Francona and management. This is a little curious to me. It makes me think a couple of things 1) People didn’t want to talk about Theo given his uncertain future with the team, a comment either way could be personally damaging to the source should certain events happen, or 2) Larry Lucchino is at this moment huddled with Dan Shaughnessy working on the ultimate smear campaign against Theo, to be unleashed the second it is officially announced that Epstein is moving to the Cubs.

Ownership: These guys might come out the worst in the entire article, and not because that is the intent of Hohler. In fact, I think effort is made to deflect blame off ownership, but they do enough to make themselves look bad in this piece. A pair of paragraphs really stand out.

Sox owners soon suspected the team’s poor play was related to lingering resentment over the scheduling dispute, sources said. The owners responded by giving all the players $300 headphones and inviting them to enjoy a players-only night on principal owner John W. Henry’s yacht after they returned from a road trip Sept. 11.

Are they really saying here “Hey, we gave the millionaire ballplayers $300 headphones, what else are we supposed to do?” If the team was really exhausted and needing rest (and apparently partying too much) was a night party on the owner’s yacht a great idea?

Then there is this:

The owners also indicated in postseason remarks they were generally unaware of how deeply damaged the Sox had become until after the season. They denied being distracted by their expanding sports conglomerate – from the Sox and NESN to Roush Fenway Racing and the Liverpool Football Club – but they professed to have no knowledge about players drinking during games, among other issues.

Are they pleading ignorance here? The fish rots from the head down, and it certainly looks like ownership was less interested and involved in the product than they have been in years past. Did this send a message to the players, who sensed this and felt less accountability to themselves?

The Globe: Fair or not, I simply cannot read an article of this type from the Globe without wondering about the influence that ownership stake has in what is appearing on the pages of the paper. I’m also uncomfortable that just about everyone sourced in this article did so anonymously. What does that say about that organization?

I’m pissed at how Francona gets portrayed as basically a weak, powerless, pill-popping philanderer by nameless sources. Accurate or not, this just smacks of a smear campaign against a former employee on whom the organization is trying to heap as much blame as possible. So Francona, and now likely Epstein are both leaving of their own will. What does that say about the atmosphere over there? The portrayal of Francona can have career-impacting results, especially when he tries to get back into managing. You think the items raised in this article aren’t going to give prospective employers pause when they considered whether to hire him?

We may have the two World Series trophies now, but in so many ways, 2011 proved that these really are the same old Red Sox that we grew up with. Players change, managers change, ownership changes, reporters covering the team change, but it’s the same old Boston Red Sox.

Still, I suspect we haven’t heard the last of the 2011 Red Sox season. Just wait for the article that comes after the Epstein situation is fully resolved.

Not. Getting. It.

This seems to apply to Shalise Manza Young in the Globe, who I usually like. She tweeted the following last night after Andre Carter announced that he was coming to the Patriots.

[blackbirdpie id=”100379713192722432″]

This snarky comment just seems to indicate that Young either wasn’t listening when Bill Belichick expanded on his media fabrication comments, or she still just doesn’t get what he was talking about.

Belichick did not say that it was a media fabrication that the Patriots would moving to a 4-3 this season, as Young’s tweet implies. He explained in some detail, that 4-3 fronts have always been a big part of his defenses, but that in the end, it doesn’t really matter how many defensive lineman/linebackers line up and where they line up as much as what they do after the snap. He said that the 3-4, 4-3 emphasis is overrated.

Yes, with the recent signings of veteran pass rushers, it does seem like the Patriots may use more defensive linemen and fewer linebackers this season.  It doesn’t mean Belichick was being untruthful when he called the pigeonholing of his defense as a media fabrication.

Not a hard concept to grasp, but it seems that Young took exception to the shot at the media instead of trying to understand the real issue being discussed.

Guest Column: A Tale of Two Titles

Today’s guest column is from Mike Passanisi.

It took an editorial by a respected journalist to get the city to recognize the Celtics’ incredible accomplishment.

On May 6, 1969, the team, a collection of aging stars with a few new additions like Bailey Howell and Emmette Bryant, shocked the hoop world by winning their 11th title in 13 years.

After finishing fourth during the regular season, the Celts had overcome the Sixers, Knicks, and finally the Lakers in seven games capped by an exciting 108-106 victory. Longtime Celtic fans all remember Don Nelson’s shot that bounced off the front and back rims before dropping in. They also remember that Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke had put balloons into the ceiling of the Forum ready to be released after a Laker victory. Also, the USC band was ready to march onto the court playing “Happy Days are Here Again”. A bitterly disappointed Jerry West said “we’re still the better team, but you have to give them credit for winning it.”

In the Boston Globe, the announcement of the Celts’ victory in a game that did not get over until 1:00 AM Boston time (TV didn’t dictate starting times in those days) did not even make the day’s headline. It only appeared as a “kicker” at the top of page 1 of the morning paper “Celtics Beat LA for 11th title, 108-106”. An accomplishment that had never been achieved in pro sports and probably never will again did not even merit a regular headline.

At the time, one of the most popular and respected journalists was a Globe columnist named Jerry Nason. His style was understated and rather old-fashioned (he used to write prediction poetry for local college football games), but he was not afraid to speak out. In a column entitled “Yes Boston, They’re Your Celtics”, Nason called attention to the team’s incredible achievement over 12 seasons and praised the late owner Walter Brown, who kept the team afloat in the early years.

Then, gently, he prodded the city.

Since the advent of the Celtics era, the Canadiens have captured 9 Stanley Cups, the Yankees 7 AL pennants, the Green Bay Packers 5 football titles. The Celtics have been finalists in 12 “World Series” and the town has never invited ’em to a party. That used to bug Walter, and it continues to bug me. The closest Boston ever came toward enshrining the Celtics was one year when they rounded up a few of the guys who were still hanging around and got ’em into the Marathon. They rode in open cars all the way from Coolidge Corner to Exeter Street, three miles-big deal..

Garden officials confirmed that Nason was correct.

Nason and the Globe apparently had some influence with city officials. And so, two days later, there was a parade. It went from the Common to City Hall Plaza. It drew about 3,000 people. Bill Russell, not surprisingly, failed to attend. Mayor Kevin White proclaimed it “Boston Celtics Day” and retiring Celtic Sam Jones was presented with a rocking chair. This was all that happened, and the newspapers began following the Red Sox into a disappointing season that ended with manager Dick Williams getting fired.

Let’s jump ahead 17 years to 1986, 25 years ago last month. The Celts had defeated the Houston Rockets, 114-97, to cop their third title in 5 years. The reaction in Boston was, shall we say, a bit different. On the left side of the front page of the next day’s Globe was a headline, not much smaller than the regular headline on the right side. It read “Celtics Crowning Glory”.  An article by Bob Ryan (who else?), spoke of the Houston Rockets as an “unwary couple pulled over on the highway for going 3 miles an hour over the speed limit by a burly Georgia cop with the mirrored sunglasses”. He continued : “It wasn’t their day. The cop’s name was Bird. The bailiff’s name was Bird. The judge’s name was Bird. And the executioner’s name was-guess what?- Bird.” Ryan went on to say :”Welcome to Bird country, boys, and while you’re at it, why don’t you congratulate your Celtics on the occasion of their 16th NBA championship? “The front page also showed huge photos of Larry getting doused with champagne and fans celebrating outside the Garden. The headlines on articles for the next couple of days tell the story. “Off the Rim and Into Clover”. “From Head to Toe, Fans are Green with Pride”. “Playoff Effort Puts Bird into Drivers Seat”.”A Garden Hangover.”

The parade two days later was somewhat bigger than that of 1969. About 2000 times bigger. That headline proclaimed “Boston Roars Its Tribute”. But the most interesting column was one authored by the great Leigh Montville. It talked about and Irish kid and four Italian kids from East Boston, all students at Boston Latin. They were playing hookey, like many Bostonians that day. It is significant, however, that they were not African-American kids from, say, Brighton or Dorchester High.

In the 1980’s the issue of racism and the Celtics which had always been simmering, appeared again. The ’86 team captured Boston, it was said, because of the racial makeup of the team. There were big men Bird, Kevin McHale, and Bill Walton-all white. African-Americans were certainly part of the picture. Coach KC Jones was black, and Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson played big parts in the title. But it was true that the racial makeup of the Celts was close to 50-50 at a time when most teams were largely black. There were stories  that in parts of Dorchester, Laker jerseys were outselling Celtic ones by a wide margin.

Race was definitely an issue. You can’t talk about Boston in the 70’s and 80’s without facing it. The busing crisis brought it to a head, but it had been there all along. However, the issue is not so much that the ’86 Celtics had more white players than the ’69 team, though it did. The issue is more one of symbolism. In 1969, the coach and symbol was Bill Russell. His image was one of an angry black man. He refused to sign autographs. He was way ahead of his time in criticizing the white power structure, both in sports and society as a whole. In ’69, Boston could not fully accept a team with this symbol. A parade couldn’t even draw 5000 fans.

In 1986, the symbol was a blond superstar with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and a bit of a wise mouth. He seemed to be an everyman, though he earned millions of dollars. At an earlier rally on live TV, he shocked a few people when, seeing a sign, he made a comment about what Houston’s Moses Malone really ate. Though he was neither Irish nor from Boston, people saw some of the team’s mascot-the leprechaun-in Larry Bird.

Ironically, a week after the’86 celebration, Jerry Nason passed away at the age of 77. Few people remember the editorial back in ’69. The parade he inspired was a small one, but that doesn’t matter. It showed that he cared.

Mike Passanisi is a semiretired former high school teacher and freelance writer. Over the years, he has written for New England Baseball Journal, Patriots Football Weekly, Manchester Union Leader, and a number of blogs, including BSMW. He is a member of the Sports Hall of Fame at Pope John High,  where he worked for many years as SID. He is also a regular contributor to the blog Fenway West. He and wife live in Medford.

You can contact Mike at