Worst Boston Sports Column Nominees

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:

{democracy:82}
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BSMW Group Project – Worst Boston Sports Columns

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 kitsclick 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.

BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst Studio Host

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:

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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:

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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.

BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst TV Sports Personality

Today we’re looking at a group of people who in some cases might be something of a dying breed. These are TV sports personalities, and among them are the people who do sports reports on the local newscasts. They’ve seen their on-air time dwindle through the years, even as the popularity of sports has increased. In many cases they compensate for their reduced newscast time with gigs hosting nightly or weekly sports shows, appearing on team pregame and postgame shows or making appearances on sports radio. It’s very rare to see someone who only does TV sports on the nightly news.

Some of our candidates have been in the market for a long time, others are relative newcomers. Here’s how you voted on them:

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It was a tight voting, with no clear winner. Mike Lynch of channel 5 WCVB came out on top with 232 votes for 18% of the total. Lynch is one of the veterans of the Boston sports scene, and has managed not to get over-exposed during that time. In addition to the sportscasts on WCVB, he also hosts the Patriots All Access program on the station, and during the preseason and occasions that the Patriots play on ABC or ESPN, Lynch has hosted a pregame show on the station as well. He does a solid job, not making himself the focus or star, and going about things in a workmanlike manner, not usually resorting to making outrageous statements just for attention.

Hazel Mae, host of Sports Desk on NESN came in second in the balloting with 14% of the vote, while veteran Bob Lobel and Tom Caron each received 12% of the total. Lobel has been a fixture on the Boston sports scene for over 25 years, and while he may have lost some of his fastball, he’s in many ways still the face of TV sports in Boston.

Reader Comments: I went with Giardi on top here. Mike Lynch is solid but I almost never watch that station….The "Best" vote was easy—no one. There's not one person on that list who I would say is outstanding and only a few (Giardi, Lynch) whom I would characterize as acceptable.

Now let’s look at the vote for worst:

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Once again the voting was very tight, but Butch Stearns emerged as the winner of the worst TV sports personality, taking home 213 votes for 16% of the total. Getting viewers to the station is part of his job, but the way he attempts to do it is something many people take issue with. He’ll tease his sports segment with some statement that is designed to make the viewer think that something huge is breaking. If you watch him for any length of time, you become immune to the tactic. Stearns also is a frequent guest on WEEI (He says it paid for the addition to this house.) and enjoys throwing things out there trying to generate some sort of buzz. Most famous of course was his confrontation with Curt Schilling on WEEI, which he then milked on his sportscast. Another Stearns highlight was when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, and Butch grabbed the trophy on-camera exclaiming “Who’s better than me with the trophy?”

CBS4’s duo of Bob Lobel and Steve Burton came in second and third. Lobel had a rough 2005 with rumors of his personal life making headlines and then suing a cartoonist for alleging that he was drunk on the air. Burton is the king of the one-word questioning technique. He proves clueless on many matters and while he might be a nice guy personally, he offers little in the way of insight or analysis of sports.

Reader Comments: Stearns has my lifetime support for worst here. Steve Burton could visibly pee his pants every time he is on TV and I'm still backing Butch. The lowest of the low….Chris Collins apparently flying under the radar here…. After lengthy deliberation and after a tight battle among the Three Horseman of the Apocryphal (Stupidity, Pomposity and Cluelessness-- Burton, Stearns, and Tanguay) I had to go with the one guy who best epitomizes all three. Who looks better with a Brucie than you, Butch?

BSMW Awards Recap – Boston Sports Media’s Best Kept Secret

Just a short entry today with the holiday.

Today we’re looking at media people who might not yet be household names, but whose work is getting them attention from sports fans and consumers in the region. Last year’s winner was Mike Reiss, who quickly got a promotion to the Globe and has emerged as one of the brightest stars on the Patriots beat and is a trailblazer in terms of sports blogging in Boston.

Here’s this year’s list of candidates and the results. We did also have a couple write-ins for Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe, who was regrettably left off the balloting.

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Rob Bradford moved from the Lowell Sun to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune after John Tomase moved to the Herald and immediately made an impact on Red Sox coverage. He had a tremendous offseason covering the departures, acquisitions and intrigue around the club over the course of the winter. He has since become a Big Show regular and looks to be a fixture on the Boston sports media scene for years to come.

No one else in this group really stuck out among the voters, Eric Wilbur does pretty solid work for Boston.com, though he does so mostly in anonymity, as the site doesn’t seem to promote his stuff as much as they do other features of the site (Dirt Dogs, for one). Someone that I think is an up and comer is the guy who essentially replaced Mike Reiss at the MetroWest Daily News, Albert Breer, who has done some good work covering the Patriots for the paper. I also like Michael Parente’s Patriots coverage, and someone else who didn’t make the list, Scott Souza of the Daily News, whose coverage of the Celtics has caught my attention a number of times over the course of the season.

Tomorrow: TV Sports Personalities

BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst Local in-game Analyst

Today we’re ending up the week looking at the best and worst of the in-game analysts here in Boston. These guys are there to give us insight and commentary about the game as it unfolds in front of them (and us). A good color analyst will tell you things you did not know, and might not have seen until you get a replay of what just happened. The great ones can also tell you ahead of time what is about to happen next.

What does the field look like here in Boston? Here are the results for the best in-game (color) analyst:

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Not too much of a surprise here. Hometown guy and former Red Sox second baseman Jerry Remy has become a cult figure here in Boston, with his own website and line of merchandise. The adulation is well deserved as Remy does indeed oftentimes tells you what is going to happen just before it does take place. Remy took away 774 votes for 59% of the total. While he sometimes can get caught up in silliness and can spend way too much time talking about Wally the Green Monster, you do have to keep in mind that it is a long season, and there are games in which it is simply difficult to keep on focus because of a blowout. When the big moments of the game arise, Remy raises his game as well. While Remy was probably at the top of his game when working with Sean McDonough – no one could fill a blowout game like those two – he has developed a good relationship with Don Orsillo, though admittedly not on the level of what he had with McDonough.

Andy Brickley’s strong second place finish despite the dismal year the Bruins had is a testament to his skills and ability in the booth. Another native New Englander who also played professionally for the local team, Brickley provides very good analysis and insight on the Bruins telecasts on NESN. Brickley picked up 178 votes for 14% to just edge out the third place finisher, Gino Cappelletti of the WBCN Patriots radio broadcasts. Cappelletti might be just a tad past his prime, but is still a fan favorite and you’re glad he’s still in the booth with Gil Santos as those two have seen more Patriots football then perhaps anyone else alive.

Reader Comments: I threw Max a vote for best commentator here. The guy has evolved into one of the all-time funniest color guys I've ever heard—he knows the game inside and out and he is candid. Bonus points for never wavering on disliking Mark Blount…. I voted for Maxwell as the best. A great combo of funny and insightful. There's a reason The Sopranos chose to use the commentary from a Celtics game to use in their season opener. Quack Quack Quack Quack Quack…. I'm switching my vote to Max this year for several reasons. First, no one has worked harder at his job to get rid of the "ebonics" and deep southern accent problems that plagued him in his early years. Second, I find Max consistently funny (at least 2 or 3 laughs per game) and insightful at the same time. Finally, the "quacks" notwithstanding, Max is no homer. He is perfectly willing to point out the flaws of the C's, both in individuals and in the team as a whole. And—unlike the BC broadcast team—Max does not believe every foul was committed against the Celtics.

Now to the worst in this category:

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No one was deemed bad enough to be saddled with the worst label, which is good. Tommy Heinsohn may be a shameless homer and his screaming at the officials can get on some people’s nerves, but as someone who grew up listening to Johnny Most, Tommy has simply picked up the torch that Most handed to him. Broadcast partner Mike Gorman deserves a huge round of applause for his ability to balance Tommy’s act for sake of the viewers. Jerry Remy actually got 13% of the worst vote…likely from those who might feel that the “remdawg” has gotten overexposed the last few years.

Reader Comments: I would like to vote "none" on the second part, but ended up going with Bob Beers, just because I never liked him as a player…. As for worst, its Gino again for me. I love him like my own grandpa and respect his accomplishments but he adds bupkis to the broadcast… You know who's coming up fast for me on the "worst" side of the ledger? Jerry Remy. His constant pimping of his website is annoying and his popularity has made him lazy.

Monday: Boston Media’s Best Kept Secret

BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst non-beat Sport Specific Writer

Today we’re going to check out a category with a name with might initially sound confusing. The non-beat, sport specific writers. These are writers who fall in between the role of a beat writer and a full fledged columnist. These writers usually focus on one specific sport, but are not the beat writers for their papers in their sport. They offer more opinion and analysis than do the beat writers, and their pieces are often mini-features. They usually compile the Sunday notes columns for their respective sports, going beyond the local teams and looking at the entire league.

These are some of the more controversial writers in town, probably because their roles are not clearly defined. Some expect them to be reporters focused on facts and events, like the beat writers, while some feel that since they’re practically columnists that their pieces are going to be filled with strong, polarizing opinion.

Here’s how the voting went for the best of this category:

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Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal was the top pick here, grabbing an impressive 46% of the total vote. McAdam has a reputation as a good reporter, who has his opinions, but is also usually very reasonable and even-keeled, even on the most volatile of subjects. McAdam also has national recognition with his work on the ESPN.com webpage. He is very visible, making the rounds of the various media outlets with regularity.

Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe placed second, getting 25% of the vote. Edes is another solid reporter, who generally provides solid, instructive and well-written analysis of not only the Red Sox, but also all of Major League Baseball. Edes has worked in several cities during his career, and this serves him well in terms of contacts around the game.

Reader Comment: I would have liked to have voted for Mark Blaudschun here. I think he fits into this category, and he's an easy winner over these guys in my eyes.

Now to the worst of this category:

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Ron Borges of the Globe picks up 710 votes for 51% of the total. He was the only writer to earn recognition in this category as the “no one” vote was the next highest amount with 18% of the vote.

Borges’ axes when it comes to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are well-documented. It’s unfortunate that this is what he is known for, as he is without question a solid reporter and gifted writer. He has sullied his own reputation with his dislike of how things are done down in Foxboro.

Reader Comments: Allow me to plug for Nickles Cafardo in the worst category. As detestable as Borges can be with his intentionally contrarian stance, Borges is worlds better than Cafardo when it comes to writing, reporting, and creativity. Cafardo is the laziest and deserves this award. You don't even have to read Cafardo's columns to know where they're going - ex-Bostonians, agents, nostalgia...over and over again.

Tomorrow: In-Game Color Analysts