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Sports Media Musings: Felger Relents, Sticks & Stones Debut, Links, Red Sox Thoughts

John Henry with David Ortiz (

Putting Out the Fire

Michael Felger called his implication of Heidi Watney into the Red Sox mess “regrettable.” I thought it was wrong for Felger to talk about the alleged Watney-Varitek affair, and wrote as much yesterday.

I understood his larger point: If the Red Sox are going to air out Terry Francona’s dirty laundry, then lets take a look at everyone’s issues.

Felger has also been riding the “Where were the media while Beckett & Co. were eating KFC, drinking BLs, and playing Halo in the midst of an epic collapse?” bus. And, to his credit, Felger didn’t fully concede his point.

He stuck to his guns saying Watney is a team employee; therefore, should be subjected to some deal of scrutiny. Moreover, she was part of the aforementioned media who failed to serve the public on what was going on in the clubhouse.

To a degree, Watney perpetuated the scarlet letter stigma by going on WEEI’s “Planet Mikey” show last night. She had already said her piece on “Toucher & Rich” and the issue was cut and dry — Felgy was in the wrong.

One odd angle to the ordeal is Felger’s reaction to Joe Haggerty getting involved. He seemed perplexed his fellow CSNNE personality decided to give his two cents. Maybe Haggs saw it as an opportunity to kick CSNNE’s competition, NESN, while they were down. Or, maybe, the answer could have to do with their new partnership on “Sticks & Stones.”

Names Will Never Hurt Me

First they produced “Celtics Now.” Then they came out with “The Baseball Show.” Lastly, the largely successful “Quick Slants” debuted last fall. This week came the last of the “Big Four” sports franchises to have a program dedicated to it via CSNNE, as their new hockey show, “Sticks & Stones” debuted.

The show itself features host, Michael Felger, talking Bruins hockey. The show has an interactive twist with fans (a la “Quick Slants”); a player interview with Shawn Thorton (Think Jerod Mayo with Tom E. Curran. Again, a la “Quick Slants”); a national segment where Felger spars with writers in different cities (Sort of like his “Sports Sunday” segment, I think named, ‘Conference Call’); and finally a portion named, “Offsides with Joe Haggerty” — where Felger and CSNNE hockey insider, Joe Haggerty, dish with one another.

(Presumably, not about Heidi Watney. Though, that isn’t confirmed.)

The show will be fine. Another smart move by CSNNE for a few reasons:

  1. The NBA lockout creates a massive hole in programming for the network. Thus, coverage has to be allocated to other teams.
  2. It shows a committment to their “news gathering” agenda. The move also shows that CSNNE is serious about covering all four teams equally.
  3. After basically earning a draw in coverage after the Bruins Game 7 Stanley Cup victory with NESN, CSNNE has found a niche. This show will further explore how much of the Bruins fan-base the network can captivate (sans in-game coverage, of course).
  4. NBC & Versus own national coverage of the NHL. CSNNE , being a sister station, is wise to dedicate programming to hockey as it helps pool resources and bolsters advertising on both national and local scale for the product.
  5. The simulcast of “Felger & Mazz” on both 98.5 The Sports Hub and CSNNE is ideal. “The Sports Hub” was a major part, along with the team’s success, in the Bruins renaissance in recent years. “Felger & Mazz” and the rest of “The Sports Hub” line-up talk a great deal about the team since the station carries the games. “Sticks & Stones” reinforces continuity and synergy in the growing relationship between the radio station and cable network.

Things I’m Reading

Chris Gasper

I thought this was the best column I’ve ever read by Chris Gasper. Enjoyed the “Horrible Bosses” line and liked the sarcastic use of “magnanimous.” The only road I won’t travel with Gasper is his comparison of the Sox recent struggles to the Patriots playoff win drought.

The Red Sox won 89 and 90 games the last two seasons. The Patriots were 14-2 last year, and are 4-1 this season. Yes, neither team have done much in the way of post-season success — but the Patriots have sustained a Super Bowl contender in a league the eats, sleeps, and breathes parity.

On the contrary, the Sox play with the second-highest payroll and can’t even make it to the dance.

Still, I really liked the piece.

Michael Schur

The Grantland scribe wonders how things would have been different if the Sox had won one more game here or there; then hypothesizes Boston is headed back to the good old days of pain, suffering, and negativity.

Ty Duffy

Duffy — who SI’s Richard Deitsch noted as rising star in a recent column –reaches a bit here, but questions ESPN’s influence on conference alignment and in particular Boston College.

The Last Something That Meant Anything

(I usually write about the media here. Like Tito did at the infamous presser, I’m going to deviate a tad. Please don’t pull a smear job on my way out)

I became a baseball atheist around 2008. The reason? Do you care? In that case..

  1. The game moves to slow.
  2. There are to many games in the season.
  3. The players aren’t relatable.

Don’t get me wrong, I still watch the Sox. I suppose this is (mostly) for two reasons: 1.) I write about sports; 2.) Sports in general are great conversational talking points — If you are at a bar or forced into conversation a great ice-breaker is “Did you catch the game last night?”

But, for the most part, baseball is monotonous to me. It’s NPR. And, worse off, things like Jack McKeon’s mandated bathroom pass with the ’03 Florida Marlins doesn’t even phase me.

(And that should phase me. What other profession requires a bathroom pass?)

The other three professional sports teams in the Hub? I’m all-in on. I watch the Patriots every Sunday with the intensity of a 20-year-old girl watching Kim Kardashian’s wedding special on E! Same goes for the Bruins and the Celtics.

When thinking of why the vigor became indifference in terms of my fandom of the Sox, I think of Pedro Martinez leaving. Shortly after, I recall Keith Foulke turning from Godsend to the jerk that called the “Dale & Holley” show once a week.

Then I think of Man-Ram leaving. About .022 seconds later, I think of Man-Ram failing his drug test. I don’t remember David Ortiz admitting to using PEDs, but I don’t remember him denying it either.

The 2004 World Series victory was like every New Years Eve. There is so much anticipation built up: What are you going to do differently this year?  What are your resolutions? After all, tomorrow is a new year, and a fresh start.

Only ’04 felt like the turn of the millenium, we weren’t quite sure what to expect with Y2k.

With two outs left in the 9th inning (or 10 seconds left in the year), more and more anticipation built up. Until, finally, the clock hit midnight Sox won the whole freakin’ thing. It was a new day!

Well, not really. You see, all of the incidents mentioned in the aftermath sullied one of the greatest sports moments in my whole life. The memories are furthermore tarnished with our Boston-bred GM, Theo Epstein, leaving then coming back — only to leave again.

 Not to mention the final days of Terry Francona being portrayed like a hapless manager dealing with a pill addiction and a failing marriage.

I’m not blaming ownership. Whether you like (or I like it) this is the group which broke the curse (twice, actually). And if you asked any Sox fan after Aaron Boone sent them into near-lunacy in 2003, they take all the bad that has happened in a heartbeat.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this — I’m not mad at the 2011 collapse. I’m mad the 2004 euphoria feels aloof, both in spirit and in accomplishment.

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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