2011 Approval Ratings – Michael Holley

Today’s subject is WEEI’s Michael Holley.

An Ohio native, Holley worked for the Akron Beacon Journal before joining the Boston Globe in 1997. He was the Celtics beat writer before being moved into the columnist role. At the time, he was also a frequent guest on WEEI, especially on The Big Show, prior to the WEEI/Globe schism.

In September, 2001, Holley left the Globe to join the Chicago Tribune as a columnist. He quickly realized that he had made a mistake, and has spoken of the impact that 9/11 had on him at that time. By January, 2002, he was back at the Globe, and remained there until 2005.

In 2004, Holley was working on television on Fox Sports Net’s I, Max alongside Max Kellerman. He has also done ESPN’s Around the Horn. Locally, he has been a regular on CSNNE, and has been the host of Celtics Now.

In 2005, he was named to replace Bob Neumeier alongside Dale Arnold on the WEEI midday show. In February of this year, it was announced that Holley would be moving to The Big Show as permanent co-host alongside Glenn Ordway.

Holley has published three books – Patriot Reign, Never Give Up and Red Sox Rule.

His fourth book, War Room: Bill Belichick and the Patriot Legacy is due to be released on October 4th, 2011.


2011 Approval Ratings – Peter Abraham

Peter Abraham is a Red Sox reporter for the Boston Globe.

A native of New Bedford, MA, Abraham joined the Globe in 2009. He attended UMass-Amherst.

Prior to coming to the Globe, covered the Yankees for The Journal News beginning in 2005, and spent four years prior to that covering the Mets. Before coming to New York in 1999, He covered the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team for the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin.

Other publications Abraham has written for include Baseball America, Slam, Basketball Digest, Sports Illustrated, Sports Nippon, Metropolitan Golfer, Basketball Times and Backstreets.

Prolific in the ways of new media, Abraham was one of the first credentialed baseball writers to be as well-known for his blog coverage of the team as for his print coverage. He is also very active on Twitter, often engaging with and taking on fans through that medium.


2011 Approval Ratings – Dan Shaughnessy

The voice and face of Boston sports – at least according to the Boston Globe – is Dan Shaughnessy.

Shaughnessy is the Globe’s front-page go-to guy for all major sports stories, the latest example being all the front page runs he received during the Bruins Stanley Cup chase.

Shaughnessy grew up in Groton, MA, and is a graduate of Holy Cross. He started his professional career with the Baltimore Sun in the late 1970′s, serving as Orioles beat writer. He moved on to the Globe in 1981, where he covered the beat for the Red Sox and Celtics before moving to the columnist role. In the last couple of years, he has also been writing the occasional column for SI.com. He is a nine-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year, and at least eight times he has been selected as one of Americas top-ten sports columnists by Associated Press Sports Editors.

His formulaic columns, ripjobs, unabashed agendas and contrarian opinions have earned him the title of The Most Hated Man in Boston. His work has inspired his own watchdog blog, the entertaining Dan Shaughnessy Watch.

Shaughnessy has written at least 11 books, including The Curse of the Bambino, The Legend of the Curse of the Bambino and Reversing the Curse: Inside the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Other credits include Senior Year: A Father, A Son, and High School Baseball and Ever Green The Boston Celtics: A History in the Words of Their Players, Coaches, Fans and Foes, from 1946 to the Present.


2011 Approval Ratings – Kevin Paul Dupont

Kevin Paul Dupont is the national hockey writer for The Boston Globe.

Dupont enjoys using nicknames for players and cities, and has been picking up steam on his Twitter account, which for awhile there seemed exclusively devoted to complaining about having to sit near small children and clueless parents on airplanes.

He  started his writing career with the Boston Herald-American back in 1977. He covered the Red Sox to start out with, and did more Bruins coverage as time went by. In 1983 he joined The New York Times and stayed there for a couple of years before coming on board with the Globe in 1985.

He was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame as a recipient of the 2002 Elmer Ferguson & Foster Hewitt Award. He has also covered 10 Olympic games for the Globe during his career at the paper.

In recent years there had been several rumors about Dupont leaving the Globe, either as part of one of the buyouts, or to join another site. I had people swear to me that he was leaving the Globe to join CSNNE.com when that site expanded. Through it all, Dupont is still at the Globe, and with the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s good to have a reporter with his experience here locally.


2011 Approval Ratings – Fluto Shinzawa

It’s been three years since the original round of BSMW Approval ratings were run. Things are much different now, people have come and gone, moved to new positions, and there are even new outlets that weren’t here previously.

The concept is very simple. Each day (or thereabouts) a short profile of a Boston sports media member is posted, and you simply choose “Approve” or “Disapprove.” There is no middle ground. Then tell us why in the comment section.

With the Bruins in the spotlight right now, it feels right to start things off with a member of the Bruins beat. Fluto Shinzawa is a 1999 graduate of Boston University, and started at the Boston Globe in 2002. He covered college hockey (with a focus on Hockey East) and NASCAR for the Globe before moving to the Bruins beat around mid-decade.

Prior to coming to the Globe, Shinzawa had worked for the Concord (NH) Monitor, where he also had a hockey focus, covering the UNH hockey team, as well as NASCAR and high school sports. At the time he joined the Globe, Shinzawa was employed as a senior editor for the RobbReport,  a luxury lifestyle publication.


Shaughnessy Column Corrected

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post – Fun With NFL Payrolls and Draft “Value”

From the Globe this morning:

Correction: Because of a reporting error, the ranking of the Patriots’ payroll among NFL teams was incorrect in a column about the Jets-Steelers game in Sunday’s Sports section. The NFL salary cap can be tabulated in different ways, but in three of the most-commonly acknowledged ones, the Patriots are ranked second, ninth, and 12th.

So did he just Google “NFL Payroll?”

Why The Patriots Media Policy Is The Right One

This tweet from Globe football writer Greg A Bedard caught my attention last night:

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Bedard went on to explain a little bit more of what he was referring to, by saying that he wasn’t talking about the Packers, and adding:

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It appears he was attempting to say that the Patriots should treat their players like adults by trusting them not to say dumb stuff to the media.

This continues a glorious Boston Globe tradition carried on by the likes of Nick Cafardo, Jerome Solomon and others of complaining about lack of access to the Patriots and implying that the Patriots players are somehow held under some sort of bondage and indentured servitude down there at Gillette Stadium.

My first instinct upon reading the above tweets was to reply that the Patriots methods seem to have worked pretty well for them. But why? Is their method of dealing with the media the correct one, perhaps not for all teams, but for them?

I believe it is. Here’s why:

1) They don’t give opponents anything to take and use against them.

Some might believe that “bulletin board material” is overrated. To some extent that is true, but it is also true that professional athletes are a prideful bunch, and very much into “respect.” If they’re not getting it, they’re going to be motivated to prove themselves. Rodney Harrison was the master of this, he used slights, perceived or real, to give himself an additional shot of motivation. The Patriots don’t provide bulletin board material. Tom Brady starting that Terrell Suggs and the Ravens talk a whole lot for only having beaten the Patriots since he’s been there is about as far as they go. In most cases, they go the opposite route and praise the opponent – something that some media members (Bedard included) have complained about as well.

2) They don’t give away information that could be used in game planning against themselves.

In recent weeks, Rex Ryan has given out small details on how his team plans to attack an upcoming opponent. (Including the Patriots prior to their45-3 loss to New England.)  He talked about how they would defend Tom Brady. He said they wouldn’t kick to Devin Hester. He revealed that Mark Sanchez has cartilage issues in his shoulder. Why? Why would you give out any information about your team? Much of this is tied to injury matters, but it applies to general strategy as well.

3) Giving out no injury information is better than giving out incorrect injury information.

So if Bill Belichick goes up to the podium and says that player X has a strained knee ligament and will be out for two weeks, and then those two weeks and more go by and there is no player X on the field, wouldn’t that be pointed out by the media? You bet. They’d wonder if they had been deliberately misled, and speculate about what else they had been sold a bill of goods on. Why would Belichick give an answer about an injury, especially immediately following a game when not all the information is available? Even when the injury is fully diagnosed, different players heal at different rates, so it is unfair to place some sort of artificial deadline on a player recovery. It’s better to give the minimum required (league mandated) information rather than creating an expectation of a return time.

4) Having one voice for the organization prevents conflicting messages and keeps things consistent.

Yes, assistant coaches are now required to be made available to the media. When they get that chance, don’t they sound a lot like Bill Belichick? Of course. Whether he’s speaking or not, the messages coming out are the same. That consistency keeps things simple and protects the players and coaches from revealing too much.

5) The players can stay focused on the task at hand.

The players know what is expected of them when speaking with the media. If they feel uncomfortable dealing with a topic, they know the “pat” answer that can be given. If they’re more comfortable dealing with the media, they have freedom to speak – for themselves, not on behalf of the team. Some players use that freedom and speak more, others stick strictly to the company line.

Mike Reiss had a post today about a Patriots Today clip that showed a sign reminding the players what is expected of them. I think it applies to their media policy as well:


* Don’t believe or fuel the hype

* Manage expectations

* Ignore the noise

* Speak for youself

In summary – The Patriots avoid giving themselves a lot of headaches or complications by the way they deal with the media. They keep things simple, and allow themselves to focus on the field. Their job after all, isn’t to please the media, but to win games. If they feel this is the best way to do it and it works for them, then they should keep doing it. I’m not saying it’s the only way to operate, but it works for them. It’s not about letting the players act like adults. It’s about staying consistent as an organization. If the end result is success, I don’t think the players much mind the “shackles” they are forced to operate under.