Last week, we asked where you went most for your Celtics information. Today, let’s see who you think the best writer covering the Celtics right now is:
Forget someone? Add them in the comments below.
The television sports anchor is a dying breed, with more and more news programs phasing out the sports report and squeezing it down to the bare minimum.
It’s hard to believe, but it really wasn’t that long ago when we looked to these guys as a pretty big part of our sports coverage. For many of us, especially if you lived away from the city, it was the only way to see highlights of that night’s game, and to see and hear from the athletes that we were fans of. We’d stay up for the 11:00 pm news just for the sports report.
Cable TV and now the Internet have rendered these reports pretty much obsolete, as we can watch all the games, and have instant access to highlights and interviews in real time.
We’ll take this opportunity to take a look back at some of the TV sports anchors that we’ve had here in Boston, and I’d like you to weigh in with your memories and opinions of the many who graced the sports desk on the various TV news programs over the years.
Some names to toss around, and I’d certainly welcome more:
Again, this is not a complete list, so feel free to bring up any other names that come to mind, and what you remember about them. Perhaps give me your top three all time, so that I can make a list to vote on in the near future.
So last week, I had you weigh in on who your favorite all-time Boston sports columnists were. I enjoyed reading through many of the comments, and received several emails from others who enjoyed reading some names they hadn’t seen in a long time.
So from the comments, along with a number of emails I received, I’ve put together this list for you to vote on.
If you’re so inclined, you can also put them in order, or at least the top five, in your comments below.
This post is part of the effort to select The Best All-Time Boston Sports Columnists
Browsing the Sports Illustrated Vault, I noted a couple of publisher’s notes from the magazine which give us a glimpse into the writer that Leigh Montville is.
From the April 20, 1987 issue:
Eighteen years of writing for the Boston globe and living in Newton, Mass., has given columnist Leigh Montville a special perspective on the Boston Marathon. Not only has he written about Heartbreak Hill, he has frequently driven over and around it. So when the idea came up to have him describe the residents and merchants along the storied marathon course (page 94), he had an assignment close to both heart and home.
“Most of the people I talked to have the feeling they’re involved in something special,” says Montville, 43. “Each of the places I went, people didn’t have to think very deeply for stories.”
In addition to writing for us—his two previous contributions were stories on the Boston Garden (May 19, 1986) and the inventor of the Zamboni machine (March 30, 1987)—and for other magazines, he turns out four sports columns a week and the random essay for the Globe’s Sunday magazine. Seeking inspiration, he often turns to a mystical—to him—rubber-coated baseball the late Globe columnist Ray Fitzgerald also favored. “Ray developed the notion that if he held on to the ball, War and Peace would come into his head,” Montville says. “Michael Madden, his successor, uses it, too. It’s surprising how many times you need it.”
Montville’s stories generally reflect a fresh point of view. “Everyone else looks at things from the ground floor,” says SI senior writer Peter Gammons, a former Globe colleague. “Leigh writes like he’s got his own hot-air balloon.” Globe sports editor Vince Doria says, “Leigh’s not a hard-opinion guy. He sees a lot of gray in everything.” And it’s usually funny. To which Montville says, “I think that’s one part of writing columns they don’t mention in journalism school—entertainment. There’s as much Woody Allen in it as Woodward and Bernstein.”
Montville is easy to spot in a press box. He’s the rumpled guy with a toothpick in his mouth and a Coke in his hand. When he isn’t working, he reads Anne Tyler and John Gregory Dunne, vacations in Maine, goes full court at the Newton Y and slugs down junk food.
And then the September 25, 1989 issue:
The first time Leigh Montville entered the time-life Building in New York City, in 1965, he was a callow youth newly graduated from the University of Connecticut. His objective then was to be what he is today—an SI writer. But perhaps he was a tad naive.
“I put on my little suit and gathered my little college newspaper clips and showed up unannounced at the personnel office, where there were two other guys—who were waiting to interview for a maintenance job—and me,” says Montville. “We all saw the same woman and we all heard the same speech, ‘Get some experience and then come see us again.’ ”
Montville has been collecting experience bulk rate ever since. He took a job at his hometown paper, the New Haven Journal-Courier, and three years later moved on to The Boston Globe, where he became a columnist in 1970. Several thousand deadline stories later, he longed for the luxury of time to reflect on his stories. “Doing a daily column is usually more typing than it is writing,” he says. “It’s like being a contestant on Beat the Clock.” That was why when SI asked him to do a piece on the Boston Garden, in ’86, his first question was, “When’s the deadline?” Told it was in four weeks, he accepted the assignment with relish.
Be sure to check out this 1986 SI column by Montville on the old Boston Garden: And They All Say, ‘this Is It?’
I need your help. Again.
Especially you old-timers.
I’d like to create a list of the best all-time sports columnists here in Boston. The list of potential names is impressive, but who is the best of the best? Who represents the pantheon of Boston sports columnists?
Some potential names you might consider…and this is by no means a complete list. I really need more suggestions, in fact.
The list is sort of subjective, so I didn’t include Peter Gammons, as I think of him more as a baseball writer than a general columnist, while Will McDonough did mainly focus on football, but wrote columns about all sports as well, so he’s on the list. Maybe you have your reasons for putting Gammons on the list. Maybe Tim Horgan doesn’t deserve to be considered, so don’t include him, there are no rules here other than they need to be the best.
What I’d like you do is place a comment below in which you list your top three Boston sports columnists of all-time. I’ll use that feedback to compile another list, from which we’ll vote on the all-time best.
Here’s my list, which are all guys I’ve actually read: Fitzgerald (You need this book.) Montville and Ryan.
Feel free to include any stories or reasons why you feel the way you do about your list.
I’ll also have a prize for a random commenter in this list, but I haven’t picked out what it will be yet. (Businesses: Want to donate a prize and get mentioned? Send me an email.)
For this week’s poll, we’re going to select the best general sports columnist currently writing for a newspaper in New England.
This particular poll is for columnists whose work appears in print. I figured we needed to crank this one out in case the Boston Globe does stop printing, and before Lenny Megliola’s time at the Metrowest Daily News comes to an end. (It’s been reported that Megliola will be part of a layoff at Gatehouse media.)
In fact, it’s possible that this could be the last-ever print columnist poll of this type on BSMW. Future editions might be on-line only. Unlikely? Maybe, but certainly not impossible.
We will have an online columnist poll coming up, for writers like Tony Massarotti, Michael Felger, Chad Finn, etc.
Add your thoughts in the comment section…
In last year’s BSMW Approval Ratings, Sean McAdam, then of the Providence Journal, scored one of our highest ratings, with an 87% approval.
In last week’s BSMW Opinion Poll on who is the best Red Sox writer, McAdam, now with the Boston Herald, took home top honors with 38% of the vote. Out of over 1000 respondents, 385 voted for McAdam.
He easily outdistanced the second place finisher, Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe, who got 171 votes for 17% and the third place finisher, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, who got 99 votes for almost 10% of the total.
For this achievement, McAdam wins…nothing. Unless you count the ribbing he’s sure to receive in the Red Sox press box this week.
Last week, I asked for your help in coming up with some of the worst Boston sports columns of recent memory. 100 comments later, we’ve got quite a pool to choose from.
Here are some of the ones you mentioned:
Dan Shaughnessy from January 10th, 1999 – “As the Jets take off, let’s get on board – Foes have familiar faces” In this column, just two seasons removed from Bill Parcells leaving the Patriots, and a year after Parcells took Curtis Martin from New England with a “poison pill” contract, Shaughnessy tells Patriots fans they should root for the Jets in the playoffs.
Jackie MacMullan from September 26th, 2006 – Body betrays a mental slump – reading Tom Brady’s Body language.
Bob Halloran, date unknown. Unfortunately don’t have a link for this one, This one was actually on ESPN.com and this was in the height of the Brady/Bledsoe debate, and Halloran compared Brady to a sneeze guard at a buffet.
The infamous Ron Borges draft analysis of 2001…you know the one:
“On a day when they could have had impact players David Terrell or Koren Robinson..they took Georgia defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who had 1 sacks last season in the pass-happy SEC and is too tall to play tackle at 6-6 and too slow to play defensive end. This genius move was followed by trading out of a spot where they could have gotten the last decent receiver in Robert Ferguson and settled for tackle Matt Light, who will not help any time soon.”
Sadly, Borges can’t even blame Mike Sando for that one.
Jim Donaldson, May 6, 2005 – Ainge Code may be hard to decipher. Yikes.
Michael Muldoon (Lawrence Eagle-Tribune) Feb 5th, 2008 – Time for classless Belichick to eat some humble pie.
Dan Shaughnessy, June 10th, 2008: Smoke and mirrors – Red takes me through his looking glass
Ron Borges, January 20th, 2002 – Ruling Keeps It From Being A Just Win, Baby. Quotes from Ben Dreith about how bad Walt Coleman’s “tuck rule” call was.
Tony Massarotti – March 16th, 2009 – The Bostonian’s guide to sports injuries
Bob Halloran – Coach is Not the Saint He was Portrayed to Be – “He took the feel-good story of the autistic high school basketball team manager, who came into the game and kept hitting 3-pointer after 3-pointer, and decided to play contrarian by viciously ripping the coach.”
Kevin Mannix – Boston Herald, 09/05/04 – the “Consumer Fraud” article.
Will McDonough, Feb 16th, 1997 – “An Inside Look At Parcells-kraft Here’s How They Came To The Breaking Point In A Tumultuous Year.” The one that starts with “This is my story and I’m sticking to it because I lived it and know it is right.”
Shaughnessy pretends to be Curt Schilling: Famous guest blogs in – Given ‘invite,’ Schilling issues direct answers March 25th, 2007.
Shaughnessy’s one-mile per day column, Jan 6th, 2003.
Tony Massarotti, June 2nd, 2006: Hey fake fans: Make like Damon and leave. Contrast that with his column last year about New England being “the official home of yahoos, hero worshipers and gutless suck-ups.”
Shaughnessy, Oct 20, 2004: Now wait just a minute: Series still must be won. “The Curse isn’t over until I say it is, dammit!”
The sad thing, we’re still not even scratching the surface here.
(Yes, there have been plenty of GOOD sports columns too, we’ll discuss those in a future session here.)
So here are 20 nominees for the worst Boston sports column in recent memory:
Before I left on vacation at the beginning of the month, Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal wrote a column that was simply staggering in its stupidity. The column was titled Has marriage cost Tom Brady his competitive edge?
It got me thinking…where does that column rank in the annuals of just bad, absurd, off-base Boston sports columns of the last few years?
There are no shortage of candidates. You’ve got Tony Massarotti’s column while at the Herald last year (“Nobody Wins This One – 5/15/08) in which he called New England “the official home of yahoos, hero worshipers and gutless suck-ups.”
There’s Gerry Callahan’s over-the-top farewell to Manny Ramirez on August 1, 2008, (“No Dodging it: Manny Ramirez just a bad, bad man”) which can be summarized as “Manny hates kids with cancer.”
We can go with Bob Ryan’s claim that the Celtics might just barely be a playoff team after aquiring Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. (Title for Celtics far from a done deal – 8/2/07) “That’s it? Someone actually thinks this Celtics team will win the East and contend for the championship? Really?” The column ends with “They might even make the playoffs.” The only player the Celtics added before the season started was James Posey.
Going back a little further, we’ve got the column Dan Shaughnessy wrote which essentially caused Theo Epstein to quit – Let’s iron out some of this dirty laundry (10/30/05)
That’s without touching anything from Bill Burt, Ron Borges, Steve Buckley, Nick Cafardo, Peter May, Bill Reynolds, Jeff Jacobs or even Buddy Thomas.
John Tomase’s Rams Walkthrough Tape report doesn’t really fit here, as it was reported as news, not an opinion column, so it doesn’t fit here. We’re looking for columns only here. Let’s keep it fairly recent, maybe the last 10 years or so.
Your assignment is to submit further columns – with links and excerpts if possible, and post them in the comment section below.
There will be prizes given away as part of this project. Everyone who submits a comment suggesting a column or voting on a suggested column will be entered in a giveaway for one of two AX MEN (Mondays 10:00pm on HISTORY) roadside kits – click here for a photo of the prize – they’re pretty sweet.
You need to enter a valid email address in the comment form email field (won’t be displayed to others) to be eligible for the prize.
We’ll leave this open through the end of the week, and then we’ll publish a list of the top columns as suggested and put them to a formal vote.
Here’s our final recap for the 2005 BSMW voting. We’re looking at a relatively minor role, that of the studio host, who introduces the game, brings guests in and out of segments and sets up the studio analysts for their opinions. The host will also perhaps have a few between-periods spots, as well as a post-game wrapup which might include filling time until press conferences are held, and getting analysis from the guests and whomever else might be on the program.
The ideal host is smooth, able to transition between segments effortlessly, sets up his analysts nicely and is flexible enough to be able to handle any unexpected development, such as a weather delay, technical difficulty or sudden lineup change.
Here’s how you voted in this category:
Going by the above description, Tom Caron is an almost perfect studio host, and the voting affirmed that. (597 votes for 46% of the total) Caron never makes himself the star of the show, and smoothly navigates through the pre and post game shows setting up his guests and analysts very well. During rain delays he never seems like he’s just there filling time, he keeps the discussions going and keeps them lively.
Caron’s NESN teammate Eric Frede, who handles the Bruins studio hosting duties came in second, a bit of a surprise, given the awful season turned in by the B’s. Frede got 264 votes for 20% of the total. He has filled in on occasion for Caron on the Red Sox telecasts, and has handled those opportunities very well. Bob Lobel of the Patriots pregame and 5th quarter came in third.
Reader Comments: Caron first, by default. I liked Rodgers better, but Caron is fine. A very unenthusiastic "best" vote for Caron. A pretty solid performer but his voice and look are not that good.
Now a look at the other end of the spectrum:
Someone complained to me during the voting that it wasn’t fair that Gary Tanguay was listed in this category twice. They reasoned that he would split his vote and finish behind someone else. Well, there’s no rules that say we can’t combine his totals and make them one number. By that method Tanguay’s gigs with WBCN radio hosting Patriots games and his FSN chores for the Celtics netted him 31% of the vote, which ties him with Bob Lobel to lead the voting in this category.
In contrast to Caron, Tanguay oftentimes seems to be trying to make himself the center of attention. His idea of generating discussion during his hosting duties is oftentimes to take some unpopular or knee-jerk stance and introduce it as a topic for discussion. Last year during the Patriots preseason, the team took it easy on Tom Brady in the preseason. Tanguay several times tried to assert that this meant that there was something wrong with Brady that all fans should be deeply concerned about. Of course, Brady then went on to have perhaps his finest season as a pro. Lobel’s telecasts are sometimes shaky and uneven, though I think people are harsher on him than necessary. Once in a while he’ll pull a Tanguay and try to get people worked on during a Patriots pre or post game show, but not with the same frequency. Having Bob Neumeier next to him has helped the last couple years as they do work very well together.
Reader Comments: Tanguay on 'BCN is the worst; he tries to obscure his lack of football knowledge with a preposterous “tough guy” act. The Pats deserve better, Jonathan….Which sucks worse, Tanger on 'BCN or Tanger on FSN? Verrrry tough choice. On pure volume of stupidity, I have to go with the 'BCN Tanguay.