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Sports Media Musings: Celtics buy into CSNNE, WEEI/Sports Hub Hate?, Grading Former Athletes in Media

So many personalities - How do they feel about one another? (BostonHerald.com)

Ruh-Roh! Felgy, Get Your Green Pajamas Out!

I’m weary about the news that the Celtics and CSNNE are extending their partnership, and thus giving C’s ownership a 20% stake in the network. I like CSNNE. Their approach to both sports news and programming is well conceived. However, the new deal with the Men in Green could create a conflict of interest.

As I’ve written before, there is already Celtics bias entrenched in CSNNE. Does that get amplified with C’s management dishing out pay checks? People are clamoring whether or not Mike Felger’s disdain for the Celtics will be muted on message boards. I’m not saying this will happen, it’s just something to keep on eye on.

(Note – although there is already C’s bias present in CSNNE, I praised their Celtics coverage for refraining the bias to the level of propaganda disseminated on NESN, in regards to the Red Sox)

Two for the Money?

I find the perceived “animosity” between hosts of each station more disingenuous with every viewing of Sports Tonight. Every day, I listen to each station make crass remarks about one another. And that’s fine, I get it, controversy creates publicity. It’s very essential to what these people do. “We’re number 1!”…”No! We’re number 1″…And so on and so forth.

(Though, after the last ratings book came out, The Sports Hub’s claim is true, while WEEI’s equivocal statements are somewhat delusional.)

My contention is – and I broached this topic on my podcast with Chad Finn – that these personalities have the relationship of cops and criminals throughout the day, and all of the sudden, turn into Franklin & Bash at night while on various CSNNE shows. The transformation shows, above everything else, the goal is strictly monetary-driven and the aforementioned venom is somewhat fabricated.

Except for John Dennis, Andy Gresh and Glenn Ordway. Everyone can all agree on hating them.

Hot Sports Takes!

With all the new media outlets launching in Boston, opinions often are consumed, regurgitated, and consumed again. It has to be expected with two radio stations, an abundance of websites, and CSNNE which converges all of the talent.

This week hilarity ensued as virtually every radio show on both The Sports Hub and WEEI gave listeners some form of, “No one wants to say it, but we’re straight shooters – the United States blew the women’s World Cup last Sunday. We know it’s weird to think of things in those terms – because they are women – but we’re the platform that tells it like it is. BOOM!”

Someone needs to sit both stations down, and advise personalities to refrain from presenting content like they’re shock jocks.

Commenting on the, uh, Commentators!

Doc Emrick is leaving MSG Network to work full-time at Versus and NBC. I never thought I would take to a hockey play-by-play guy like Gary Thorne, but Emrick seems likable and his frantic pace is doting to the common viewer. It’s a good move for both the aging talent, and NBC (I don’t get to say that often). Eh, Enzo?

Additionally, I caught wind from Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch that old friend Sean McDonough is being assigned the lead college football afternoon game on ABC with color commentator, Matt Millen.

(Is it weird, even though McDonough called World Series games and the Sox for over fifteen years, the moment that resonates most with me is this gem from a college football game? Fast forward to 25:30.)

On Twitter, Deitsch was lamenting about Millen’s presence in the broadcast, because of his failures as the winless Detroit Lion’s general manager.

Millen earned his bones as a player first and foremost, which provoked me to pontificate about former athlete’s in Boston and their role in the media.

Scott Zolak – Zo has been a presence in the market since his retirement from football, frequently appearing on Patriots 5th Quarter. Additionally, the eccentric ex-signal caller has been a radio personality both in Providence, and now in Boston middays with Andy Gresh at 98.5 The Sports Hub. I think Zo’s football knowledge is worthwhile, but isn’t substantial enough to justify a radio show year round. Bottom Line: Although his enthusiasm for radio is endearing and borderline infectious, a guest host is a better suited role for Zolak.

(*Also worth noting: His rambunctious persona would fit in with, dare I say it, The Big Show).

Lou Merloni – While playing for the Red Sox “Utility Lou” was lauded for getting the most out of his abilities. He was never a stud prospect, which is ironic, because decision-makers in both television and radio fawned over Merloni. In fact, it’s been said The Sports Hub wined and dined Merloni trying to bring him on board to spar with Mike Felger in the afternoons. WEEI thwarted those attempts, giving Merloni a slot in the revamped midday show Mutt & Merloni. And while I think Merloni has tremendous upside as a host and analyst, he needs to add more insight and conviction in his work. Bottom line: Merloni belongs.

Brian ScalabrineI’ve written about his transient endeavours in media before. Bottom Line: As I wrote in the linked piece, Scal could be a rich man’s Merloni; conversely, his worse-case upshot is Merloni’s ceiling. Consequently, Scanilla Ice belongs.

Jermaine Wiggins – Maybe not as grating, but unfortunately Wiggins is the Mike Adams of 98.5′s afternoon drive show. He either struggles articulating his point, or doesn’t have one — I still am trying to figure out which it is. Bottom line: “Wiggy Wednesdays” are as entertaining as the pending NFL lockout.

Speaking of the lockout…

The NFL’s labor strife has turned into a will-they-won’t-they soap opera of epic proportions. It’s like an episode of Entourage. And I hate Entourage.

Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I love writing and reading about these negotiations. Frankly, the lock-out has joined the pantheon of topics that I refuse to talk about in even the most colloquial circumstances.

(Note this is a prestigious group: The lockout joins such subjects like Brett Farve’s penis, anything related to Tiger Woods, the economy, the Kedrick Perkins trade and Adrian Gonzalez playing right field as issues I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole.)

The immediacy of Twitter, which is doubling as a news gathering entity, exacerbates the blurriness between news and rumors.

With all that being said, I think we – as consumers – have to give some adulation to Mr. Albert Breer for his persistence during this ordeal. Breer’s efforts to keep readers informed is unparalleled. And, granted, his access through his employer (NFL Network) certainly behooves his purpose -he still deserves credit. Breer has been crushing it on the beat, telling us about each and every meeting, any advance in discussions, prevalent issues, and the like.

Even former co-worker and peer, Chris Gasper, gave his support of Breer’s work on the lockout.

@AlbertBreer You are the hardest-working man in NFL journalism. Almost home, man. Hang in there.

In his time at the Boston Globe Breer wasn’t exactly beloved like Bob Ryan. I got the sense readers felt he was a bit smug in his tone. I never got that sentiment, though.

So I ask, what say you readers? Was Breer under-appreciated, or did he just need a new forum to thrive?

Things I’m Reading

The Big Lead’s take on ESPN trying to capitalize on Twitter. An acute look at the motivations, pitfalls, and benefits of the four-letter network’s new initiative.

Peter Abraham gives us an idiot’s guide to the trading deadline.

David Shoemaker, of Deadspin and Grantland (Funny, right?), helps explain the new era of professional wrestling. (I know, I know – not really sports related. Consider it alternative viewing.)

About Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is the author of the weekly Sports Media Musings column at Sports Of Boston. Hadfield is known as one of the top sports media critics in Boston. He also contributes to Boston Sports Media Watch. In November 2011, Hadfield helped launch the new SoB Point Taken blog featuring his podcasts & musings on sports, media and culture. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

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