Herald Off Base on Pioli Talks

The Boston Herald continues to struggle in its coverage of the New England Patriots.

The Herald reported that the Browns had given Scott Pioli a January 1st deadline. That story is already in the archives, but this Point After blog entry confirms that the Herald had reported about the deadline:

The Herald had reported in its sports pages Pioli had to provide an answer today. It could be the two sides are still working toward a deal, and needed more time to hammer out something workable for both parties.

The Herald reported on negotiations between Pioli and the Browns, which apparently never took place. In today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mary Kay Cabot further debunks many of the reports we’ve been reading in the Herald, saying that the talks between the Browns and Pioli were only ever “exploratory.”

In today’s paper, the Herald reported:

As the Herald reported last week, Pioli’s demands during his sit-down with Lerner may have been considered outlandish. According to a source, Pioli asked for a salary of roughly $5 million per season, along with complete autonomy.

Adam Schefter denies that Pioli made any demands on the Browns. No $5 million per season, no demands at all…because they never even got past the “exploratory” nature of talking. No figures were exchanged, no demands made.

In general, this whole Browns thing is just weird. They fire Romeo Crennel, and then replace him with the guy who replaced him as defensive coordinator in New England, someone who has less experience, and then talk about bringing Crennel back to run the defense? They hire Mangini, who had his team fold down the stretch and finish out of the playoffs after starting 8-3 and being touted as the top team in the AFC  – does this make sense? It doesn’t to me.

Meanwhile, now the Kansas City rumor mill is starting up.

Be sure to check back later for Bob Ekstrom’s Blog review…


Man Arrested For Making Threatening Calls to WEEI

David Frank of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s news blog alerted me to a story this afternoon about a Cambridge man facing charges for making a series of obscene calls to WEEI last year, mostly in reference to the Dennis and Callahan radio show.

Jessica Heslam also has a report on the story, in which the suspect, David S. Banner, 57, made four threatening calls to the station allegedly wishing for Julie Kahn, Jason Wolfe and John Dennis to “die.”

An example from Heslam’s article:

“You and your Klu Klux Klan partner should talk sports you (expletive, expletive). And the next thing too Dennis, when you talk about somebody’s look, look in the (expletive) mirror you donut-eating mother (expletive, expletive) sucker. You and your (expletive, expletive) daughter, die you son of a (expletive).”

Boston.com also has a report.

Top Stories 2008: TomaseGate, Herald Declares War on Patriots

Our top Boston sports media story of 2008 is John Tomase’s accusation that the Patriots taped the Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. The story was picked up by the national outlets immediately and caused a maelstrom of media coverage around the team that lasted nearly halfway into the year.

The report was ultimately proven to be false, and the Herald issued an apology to the Patriots for the incident.

The damage was done, however. For nearly 5 months the Patriots and their fans had to deal with the nationwide assumption that the tape existed and that the Patriots had cheated to win their first Super Bowl championship. It’s hard to emphasize just how huge this story was nationally. All the major outlets took this report as fact, and ran with it…for months. You couldn’t turn around without hearing a reference somewhere to how the Patriots taped the Rams walkthrough prior to their first Super Bowl title.

The Herald retracted the story and issued the above apology only after former Patriots employee Matt Walsh debunked Tomase’s story. The paper then tried to capitalize on the publicity around the apology, proudly touting their “unprecedented” front page mea culpa.

One would think that the Herald would tread lightly regarding the Patriots for a while after this incident. Instead, after talking about the bond between a newspaper and its readers, and their dedication to maintaining that bond, on May 15th, Tony Massarotti, then still with the Herald, wrote a column belittling and blasting sports fans, and Patriots fans in particular – the very people responsible for the fact that he is gainfully employed.

By the way, did we mention that the Herald later hired notorious Patriots hater Ron Borges? (Though I have to say, he’s been on good behaviour thus far.)

Tomase remains on the Patriots beat to this day.

Kudos To Globe For Brady Coverage

I singled out WEEI and the Boston Herald  this morning for their sensationalistic and doomsday coverage of Tom Brady’s knee situation.

I should’ve also mentioned that I’m pleased with the even-handed way the Boston Globe has covered the matter. Yesterday, when WEEI was “reporting” every 20 minutes that the Patriots were upset with Brady for choosing a West coast doctor, the Globe never published that rumor on Boston.com. I applaud them for that.

Their coverage of the infection in Brady’s knee has been similarly even-keeled. The piece by Shira Springer this morning pointed out that “When doctors wash out a septic joint, a similar action often must be done two or three times to help clear out the infection.”

This is a change from most reports that just hysterically report that Brady needed multiple procedures to clear out the infection. Springer’s report points out that flushing the wound multiple times is a common practice when there is an infection. (Though I’m a little unclear about the comment about his return being delayed a couple months in the “best case” scenario.) The Reiss’ Pieces blog has only devoted one post to Brady’s knee condition in the last couple of days, and it was a post this morning pointing readers to comments by Dr James Andrew in the Los Angeles Times this morning which indicates that Brady is winning the infection battle.

Contrast that with this headline banner on WEEI.com:

I got an email from WEEI.com this morning pointing out that the screaming headline was an actual quote from the Doctor in the report.

“What will probably have to happen is that they will have to go in, remove everything–including the screws, everything—because everything has to be sterile and clean for (the repair) to take,” Kremchek said.

What does that mean in terms of timetable?

“Next year, I have to think, is seriously in doubt,” Kremchek said.

Now it becomes clearer why so many people are concerned.

Worst case?

“His career could be in jeopardy,” Kremchek said.

OK, so Dr Kremcheck did say Brady’s career could be in jeopardy.

In the Worst Case scenario.

If you read the Doctor’s comments in the report, his opinion is quite different from what others have said about the situation. More pessimistic, for sure.

WEEI.com chose to run with this approach to the story. The “worst case” angle, and play it up accordingly. That’s their perogative, and they likely will get a few more people to click over to the story by doing it that way.

Ron Borges in the Herald also chose to run with the worst case scenario, comparing Brady’s situation with a boxer who had surgery from the same Doctor that Brady did, and who never returned to the ring.

I’ll take the cautious, even-keeled reports in the Globe yesterday and today over the panic-mongering style shown in this incident by WEEI.com and the Herald any day.

LA Columnist Strikes Back at Gerry Callahan

From T.J. Simers, who had the long interview with Manny Ramirez last weekend that has caused so much anguish among the sports media here in Boston: (Though they’re all just probably ticked off that this guy got more from Manny then all of them managed to get from him in his eight years here in Boston.)

GOT WORD a sports columnist from Boston didn’t like reading what Ramirez had to say Sunday on Page 2. So I checked the Boston Globe, found nothing — only to learn it was some guy from a shopper ripping Ramirez, and Page 2 as well.

Gerry Callahan, writing in something called the Boston Herald, initially referred to me as T.J. Simers-Boras, linking me to agent Scott Boras, who will probably sue now.

Callahan wrote that Ramirez had “revealed at last his problems with Boston” to the “strangely sycophantic Simers.”

Jeff Kent has called me a lot of names, but with words I understand. I had to call the daughter who went to Notre Dame to find out the meaning of sycophantic. I presume she called a friend who went to USC.

From what I gather, I’m a “yes man, flunky, fawner and flatterer,” as I’m sure so many athletes in L.A. would also tell you.

The guy who writes for the shopper was really peeved and upset with what Ramirez had to say, oddly enough proving Ramirez’s point that the folks who write in Boston really need to get a life.

We’ll await Callahan’s rebuttal…

Media Movement Scorecard

Here’s a snapshot look at the movement of some Boston sports media members during the last few months: (Not in strict order)

Gordon Edes – Boston Globe > Yahoo! Sports

Jackie MacMullan – Boston Globe > Buyout > ESPN

Peter May – Boston Globe > Buyout > Yahoo! Sports

Tom Casale – Patriots Football Weekly > DegenerateGambler.com

Michael Parente – Woonsocket Call > Patriots Football Weekly

Michael Felger – Boston Herald/ESPN 890 >WEEI.com (and Comcast SportsNet)

Rob Bradford – Boston Herald > WEEI.com

Alex Speier – NH Union Leader > WEEI.com

Tony Massarotti – Boston Herald > Boston.com/Boston Globe

Jeff Horrigan – Boston Herald > Private Sector

Ron Borges – Soup Kitchen > WEEI.com > Boston Herald

Sean McAdam – Providence Journal > Boston Herald

Bob Lobel – WBZ-TV > Retirement > WODS103.3FM/Oldies 103.3

Hazel Mae – NESN > MLBTV

Adam Kilgore – Washington Post > Boston Globe

Lew Goldstein and Mike Vallee (“Lew & Mike”) 1510theZone > ESPN 890

Laura Behnke – NECN/CSN > KNTV-NBC11 (San Francisco)

Joe Haggerty – Boston Metro > WEEI.com

Who did I miss?

Tony ‘Miserable’ Massarotti In Top Form

We knew that Tony Massarotti hates the Patriots and their fans, and he has continued his slanted coverage of them in his new role at the Boston Globe.

While his Red Sox coverage is generally shiny and positive, his Patriots postings consist of things like Tony’s Top 5 most disturbing statistics about the Patriots. You know, Patriots fans probably aren’t feeling all that great already, and Tony feels the need to pile on more misery, even though the season has already gotten as disturbing as it can be. Now that posting is from a few days ago, and I just now got around to seeing it. Lucky me.

His first statistic is an old standby.

With Tom Brady as his starter, Bill Belichick has a career record of 87-24. Without Brady, Belichick is 43-58. As Bill Parcells might say, you are what you are. As Belichick might say, it is what it is.

How many times is this going to be trotted out there? First used by Ron Borges, this stat has been repeated over and over and over again by the self-proclamed “objective” members of the meda.

How come no one says: “With David Ortiz on his roster, Terry Francona has a career record of 468-338. Without Ortiz, Francona is 285-363. As Bill Parcells might say, you are what you are. As Belichick might say, it is what it is.”

How about: “With Kevin Garnett on his roster, Doc Rivers has a career record of 66-16. Without Garnett, Rivers is 273-312. As Bill Parcells might say, you are what you are. As Belichick might say, it is what it is.”

No, you don’t hear either of those. It’s only Belichick that this stuff gets applied to.

I prefer to turn it around and say Belichick’s career record without stiffs like Bernie Kosar and Drew Bledsoe is 105-46. (Something like that anyway…I’m counting the second half of the ’93 season after Kosar was cut, and all of the ’94 and ’95 seasons, and not counting the first 18 games of his New England career when Bledsoe was the QB.)

Herald Loses Another, Horrigan To Depart

The baseball beat on the Boston Herald has taken another blow, as Jeff Horrigan will be leaving and looking for a non-journalism job in Milwaukee, where his wife is from.

Scott’s Shots has the details.

It’s the latest in a series of losses for the Herald, which earlier this season could boast of one of the best collection of baseball writers in the country with Horrigan, Michael Silverman, Rob Bradford and Tony Massarotti. Now, only Silverman will remain.

Who Should Be the Herald’s New Patriots Reporter?

The Boston Herald has been looking for an NFL reporter to take on the Patriots beat. The Heraldsports editor has already all but confirmed that John Tomase will be going over to the Red Sox beat, which is in need of help with both Rob Bradford and Tony Massarotti leaving. Tomase is also in need of a fresh start given his disastrous “walk-through” story.

Who are some of the candidates for the position, and which one should they hire?

Here are some reporters who might seem to be a logical fit for the position, and could very well end up with the job.

David Heuschkel

Heuschkel covered the Patriots for the Hartford Courant until July 31st, when as part of a downsizing of the sports department, he was let go. He had been with the paper for 17 years, covering the Red Sox for seven seasons (2000-2006) and moving to the Patriots beat last season. Heuschkel scored a number of scoops and exclusives while on the Red Sox beat and now also has the football credentials as well. The fact that he is currently out of work may actually be in his favor as he could step into the job immediately.

Christopher Price

Currently at the Boston Metro, Price has covered the Patriots for the paper since 2001. He has written a book on the team, The Blueprint which was published last season. Price writes the very popular “10 Things We Learned…” column following each game, which is one of the most clicked-through columns each week here on BSMW. Price has also been a contributor to Patriots Daily, penning the weekly “Inside Gillette” notes column.

Douglas Flynn

Flynn was profiled in this space yesterday, and his past association with the Herald through the former content sharing agreement between the Metrowest Daily News and the Herald make him well known to management at the latter. His work on the Patriots beat has been impressive in his one year on the job.

Eric McHugh

McHugh is another Patriots beat writer who has paid his dues at a smaller paper, having taken the reins from the legendary Ron Hobson at the Quincy Patriot Ledger. McHugh has done some solid work in his time on the beat, avoiding most of the hysterics that some of his colleagues occasionally fall into.

Jon Couture

Couture could be a long shot, as he is more of a baseball guy. He writes for the Standard-Times of New Bedford, doing Red Sox columns and notes for the paper. He’s a young guy with a bright future in the business, and with his paper having recently followed the trend of many others in the industry and doing away with most of their professional sports coverage, he might be ready to step out and make a move to a larger paper. Edit – I had the Standard-Times mixed up with another paper that is cutting back coverage…I’m assured that they’re trying to do more, not less. However, Couture is still a great candidate for the job.

Now is your chance to weigh in on these candidates, or to suggest your own. If you vote “someone else,” please put their name down in the comments section and give us some reasons why.



Approval Ratings – Jeff Horrigan

Jeff HorriganJeff Horrigan is one of the baseball writers for the Boston Herald.

A graduate of Northeastern University, Horrigan’s MLB beat career started in Cincinnati, where he covered the Reds for seven seasons with the Cincinnati Post.

In 2000, he joined the Boston Herald, where he is in his ninth season sharing the beat writer duties covering the Red Sox.

Horrigan is the  Co-Founder and Director of the Hot Stove Cool Music concert series, which has raised over $2 million for The Foundation To Be Named Later – benefiting inner city and at risk children and the Jimmy Fund. He was named  the Jimmy Fund Council’s Co-Man of the Year with Peter Gammons in 2005.

His work on the beat in the paper is solid, but Horrigan doesn’t do a whole lot of  appearances on TV and Radio, and it was hard just to find a photo of the guy. The picture from the right is from an interview with Stacy and Lauren of foxxysports.com.