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Sports Media Musings: Felger & Mazz on Haynesworth, Toucher & Rich’s Rise, RapSheet’s Infamous Tweets

Felger & Mazz Had A Rough Time With the Albert Haynesworth Trade (CBSBoston.com)

A Swing, And A Miss

Fat Albert and a wide receiver doubling as a (somehow) crappier version of America’s Got Talent host, Nick Cannon? To our beloved Patriots? The same team that subscribes, better yet invented, the “Patriot Way.” This is everything local media should be salivating over. Content that, for all intents and purposes, writes itself.

Or so we thought.

Sitting at work, after the Albert Haynesworth deal was announced, I was left with a choice to make. WEEI or The Sports Hub? I went with the latter, because I was interested to hear what Mike Felger had to say. As I’ve written before, the dude’s analysis of the Moss trade was soothsayer-esq, and he had earned the right to have my ears this time around.

The program opened with co-host Tony Massarotti fearfully saying, “This is a bad guy, Mike.”

(A phrase Mazz would repeat roughly 17 times….in the first hour of the show. He reminded me of Michael Myers’ doctor/caretaker trying to warn whatever town the killer was roaming of his lunacy. Relax Tony. Fat Albert isn’t going to break into your house and eat you.)

Felger then put on an exposition from the school of blowhards.

(And to answer your question, yes, Dean Ordway founded the institution in 1987.)

He read the same laundry list of transgressions on the behalf of Big Al that were reiterated to his audience all day. Then he went on to say that he liked the move, and the Patriots should use Haynesworth for one season – then dump him.

My question is if you like the move, presumably, you believe Haynesworth is going to have a good year. And the goal is to win a Super Bowl, correct? So, if the Patriots win it all, we’re supposed to dump Haynesworth?

Felger’s analogous was the mal-content (and out-of-shape) Corey Dillon who – after a ginormous year in the Super Bowl run during ’04 – got fat and happy, never regaining previous form.

In retrospect the comparison works, but in retrospect a lot of decisions look different. The verity of the circumstance is it’s a specious argument. Dillon broke the single-season rushing record for New England that year. If the front office decided to part ways with him, the backlash would have rivaled the Kendrick Perkins trade.

Moreover, Felger incessantly cited the risk that if Fat Al makes it to opening day the Pats are on the hook for his salary. This is the same guy who has killed New England’s frugality in the past, so why does he care if the Kraft’s foot the bill?

This opened up the wounds of a criticism Bruce Allen has noted in the past of Felger – his tendency to talk out of both sides of his mouth. A habit the host ascertained at the lap of his adversary, Glenn Ordway.

Speaking candidly, I’ve never felt that way. I always felt Felger’s strength was his clear-cut takes, whether true or not, and his accountability for mistakes.

(He freely admits being wrong about Julien and the Bruins, just as much as he reminds us about being vindicated in his Branch/Moss prediction.)

But Thursday afternoon this ambiguity was at the forefront of his four-hour show. I still think he’s throwing 98 MPH right now, and though his detractors will disagree with me [and I know there are many of you], if ESPN were to host a special PTI: City vs City - who would represent Boston over Felgy?

You’ve Changed Things And There’s No Going Back

(The Joker, The Dark Knight)

I’ve noticed Fred Toettcher getting more air-time on CSNNE’s Sports Tonight. In fact, the network gave the radio host a segment entitled “Get In Touch,” where hosts ask him rapid questions pertaining to each of the four major professional sports franchises.

I’m happy to see the success from Toettcher’s morning radio show – Toucher & Rich – translate to television. From “Rad Marchand” to “New-Jack Edwards”, it’s clear 98.5′s Toucher & Rich have given this market a shot in the arm that it’s never had before – no, not HGH – but quality sports talk predicated on humor.

Critics will point to the stereotypical “Morning Drive Zoo Radio Formula.” And that would make sense if T&R were two hosts yelling over one another playing obnoxious sound bytes. This is not the case though. The show’s ingenuity focuses on the ideology of grasping an evanescent event in sports, and yielding a comical skit.

It’s easy to argue the show’s lack of credibility since it derived from the now defunct alternative rock station, WBCN. However, the reason T&R has taken off has to do with the previously discussed innovative comedic talents and, more importantly, the duo’s willingness to out-work its competition.

It’s palpable how much both host’s, Rich Shertenlieb and Fred Toettcher, have improved their sports knowledge. That takes work. Shertenlieb attending a late-night Charlie Sheen performance, and convincing the crazed star to come on the show takes work. In the same token, Toettcher getting out of bed at 2 AM to do the show takes work. The two have hit their mark.

On the other hand, I think Dennis & Callahan didn’t expect worthy competition at this stage in their career. I don’t think the WEEI hosts want anything to do with it either, especially the unorthodox style T&R is broadcasting. D&C seems to impose the opposite strategy that T&R employs. While T&R produce comedy on the ephemeral, D&C harp on serious issues over LONG periods of time, to the point of exhaustion.

Adding to the Rap Sheet

In what feels like a month ago, Ian Rapoport was castigated by fans and peers this week after he tweeted inside the temple of Myra Kraft’s funeral. Rapoport defended himself in multiple mediums.

First, on his Twitter page – the origin of the scandal – he denied using his phone during the actual service:

So everyone debating has the facts: There was no tweeting during the service. Only before and after. All were respectful.

Later on, the beat reporter for the Boston Herald appeared on WEEI’s The Big Show to further address the situation and his intentions.

While I was there to pay respects to Myra Kraft, I was there as a reporter going to write a story on the funeral, on the service, which I did. So you know, what I want to do every time is bring timely newsworthy information to readers and followers and whoever else, basically in every way that’s available, and so I tweet a lot.

Rapoport did show hesitation in regards to his actions, alluding to things he could have done differently.

I didn’t tweet once [the service] began. The only thing that I’m sort of still thinking about that I think is difficult for some people to wrap their head around is I was inside the building. I was physically in the temple. …Maybe it might have been better to step outside in the reporter area, communicate the news that way and then go back in. I just didn’t want to lose my seat. So maybe that’s something if I could do it again I would consider physically where I was. I was in my seat. Would it have been better if I was in the hallway, in the doorway? I’m not sure, but those are the kind of things I’m thinking about.

Aggregate reaction was predictably harsh, before calming down. Boston.com’s Chris Gasper seemed perturbed initially, but then backed off saying “It’s a personal choice. Just not something I would have done.” Gerry Callahan said he read his colleague’s tweets and thought they were interesting.

What do I think?

Well, I hate to play the middle (it’s cop-out, to a degree), but I have to here. Rapoport’s tweets isn’t an exemplar of desecration, but I’m not going to go as far as Callahan and say, “They were worthwhile and provocative.”

I love Twitter. I think it’s a great forum for everyone (Players, Fans, Media) to interact. He was “doing his job” and letting the masses know who was in attendance. Strictly from a utilitarian point of view, Rapoport’s ‘scandal’ is not really a scandal – it’s just natural runoff from covering an event.

Although, hearing that Curtis Martin came to Myra Kraft’s funeral can wait. And, like with anything in life, there’s a sense of discretion and autonomy in play here. I doubt his editors were demanding a play-by-play of the timeline in which players appeared at the service. That’s not an attack on Rapoport. He is simply a conduit for this social media debate.

So I ask you, readers, did Rapoport go to far? At what point is the line separating immediacy of information being disseminated and humanity superseding intersected?

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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