No Homer_S_ Club

The Gray Eagle

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This is my favorite part of Nick's latest dumbass article:
"Sunday’s lineup was particularly curious because even though Rays starter Jake Faria is a righthander, he’s been able to eat up lefthanded hitters, holding them to a .179 average and a .559 OPS last season. Lefties hit .135 against his virtually unhittable changeup. Only Max Scherzer (.110), Stephen Strasburg (.128) and Carlos Carrasco (.130) were nastier.

Cora decided to sit Andrew Beinintendi, who has started the season 0 for 11. Faria exited after allowing a J.D. Martinez RBI single in the fifth inning, but he held lefthanded hitters to 1 for 8 with three walks. The only lefthanded hit off him was an opposite-field hit by Swihart in the fourth inning."

Does Cafardo think Benintendi is a right-handed hitter? Benintendi's name being spelled wrong may be a clue that he does. (Though to be fair, if there was a copy editor, they would have caught the misspelling, and it's a tough name to spell.)

If Cafardo knows that Benintendi is a LHH, then the whole two paragraphs makes even less sense.

Then there's this bit of terrible writing:
"Don’t know about you, but these games with Tampa Bay were awfully close, much closer than they should have been..."
Well, are you awfully close? Closer than you should have been?

The article as a whole is so pointless. If the Sox had started 1-3 or even 2-2, then maybe you'd expect this ridiculously premature "everything lasts forever!" type of article from a dunce like Cafardo. But they're 3-1 and in first place and the only game they lost was directly the fault of the bullpen, not the offense. What is even the point here?

Then he finishes with some classic passive-aggressive nonsense:
"Then again, the pitchers are ahead of the hitters. Tampa Bay’s pitchers were really good. We’ve heard it all before, but it’s too early to complain, right?"

"Wah, nobody likes my stupid take! But I am going to give it anyway! If this slow offensive start continues, then get ready to hear about how I Told You So!"

Everyone who reads Cafardo is dumber for it, so my lost brain cells are my own fault. Guess that's the price I have to pay for hate-reading his awfulness.
 
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John Marzano Olympic Hero

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"Don’t know about you, but these games with Tampa Bay were awfully close, much closer than they should have been..."
Well, are you awfully close? Closer than you should have been?
Since the Pats' first Super Bowl and the unusual dominance of the four Boston teams since then, Boston writers have turned into figure skating judges. No longer is it okay to win, there has to be some sort of undefined way of winning. The Sox go 3-1 against TB to open the season and Wilbur has his panties in a bunch about how the games were "awfully close".

The fuck does that mean? No one knows except Cafardo.

If the Sox had smoked the Rays 4-0, and outscored them by 20 runs a game, Cafardo would have written, "Well, the Rays aren't a real major league team, so Boston fans shouldn't get so cocky about beating Tampa Bay." It's the classic Boston writers' trope, fans can never be happy about anything. Losing a game, the sky is falling. Winning a game by a run, the sky is falling because it was too close. Winning a game by more than x runs, the other team sucked and the sky is falling because the home town team isn't quite as good as you think.

It's all a shell game. Felger does this well. Shaughnessy is okay at it. But when other people try, it's usually pretty bad. Cafardo is exhibit number one.
 

JayMags71

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It's the classic Boston writers' trope, fans can never be happy about anything. Losing a game, the sky is falling. Winning a game by a run, the sky is falling because it was too close. Winning a game by more than x runs, the other team sucked and the sky is falling because the home town team isn't quite as good as you think.

It's all a shell game. Felger does this well. Shaughnessy is okay at it. But when other people try, it's usually pretty bad. Cafardo is exhibit number one.
Mazz has to be number 2, right?

While you’re right about the “shell game” theory of sports “analysis”, is this style unique to Boston writers? It seems you’re describing a pervasive “hot take” culture in all sports writing. Perhaps you could even extend it to politics and the arts.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Mazz has to be number 2, right?

While you’re right about the “shell game” theory of sports “analysis”, is this style unique to Boston writers? It seems you’re describing a pervasive “hot take” culture in all sports writing. Perhaps you could even extend it to politics and the arts.
Mazz is number two with a bullet and is angling for the number one spot, no doubt. He relies a lot on optics which is especially rich since he rarely stays up to watch the games. "I don't know Mike, it just feels that the Red Sox were lucky in that game last night." "Yeah, totally, did you see that play in the third?" "No. I didn't get to watch the game, actually."

I'm not sure about other writers nationally, but it seems like this has become big in Boston. And I agree that you can extend this to politics and the arts, but sports has a clear scoreboard. You either win or you lose. Ninety nine percent of the time, you win because you make more plays than the other team. Every once in awhile, something whack-a-do happens and you steal a victory that you clearly didn't deserve. Mazz and Cafardo think this happens every single time one of the local teams wins. Every time.

"They were playing Miami."
"They were playing Tampa."
"They were playing at home."
"Playing in Baltimore is practically playing in Fenway, of course they'll get the calls."
"The other team isn't very good."

And I'm not saying that people who cover the team have to be Pollyannas, but a win is a win.
 

JayMags71

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Great post. Like I said, I’m not sure that level of analysis is endemic to Boston sportswriters. But, I’d sooner subject myself to binge-watching a Two and a Half Men marathon, or thanksgiving dinner with Gerry Callahan than research whether or not you’re right.
 

Humphrey

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I've never seen the start of a baseball season where one of the primary topics is that a team "hasn't played anyone yet". Shank has taken Nick's ball and run with it.
 

Reverend

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Mazz has to be number 2, right?

While you’re right about the “shell game” theory of sports “analysis”, is this style unique to Boston writers? It seems you’re describing a pervasive “hot take” culture in all sports writing. Perhaps you could even extend it to politics and the arts.
Mazz is number two with a bullet and is angling for the number one spot, no doubt. He relies a lot on optics which is especially rich since he rarely stays up to watch the games. "I don't know Mike, it just feels that the Red Sox were lucky in that game last night." "Yeah, totally, did you see that play in the third?" "No. I didn't get to watch the game, actually."

I'm not sure about other writers nationally, but it seems like this has become big in Boston. And I agree that you can extend this to politics and the arts, but sports has a clear scoreboard. You either win or you lose. Ninety nine percent of the time, you win because you make more plays than the other team. Every once in awhile, something whack-a-do happens and you steal a victory that you clearly didn't deserve. Mazz and Cafardo think this happens every single time one of the local teams wins. Every time.

"They were playing Miami."
"They were playing Tampa."
"They were playing at home."
"Playing in Baltimore is practically playing in Fenway, of course they'll get the calls."
"The other team isn't very good."

And I'm not saying that people who cover the team have to be Pollyannas, but a win is a win.
Great post. Like I said, I’m not sure that level of analysis is endemic to Boston sportswriters. But, I’d sooner subject myself to binge-watching a Two and a Half Men marathon, or thanksgiving dinner with Gerry Callahan than research whether or not you’re right.
Start a thread!

I think there are strong regional differences and I have found what glimpses I've had of it and its relation to local culture fascinating.

If only there was some media where people interested in such a thing might congregate and share insights from different geographical places, yeah?

I'd start the thread but, frankly, I think @John Marzano Olympic Hero is the man for the opening post.
 

dcmissle

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Mazz has to be number 2, right?

While you’re right about the “shell game” theory of sports “analysis”, is this style unique to Boston writers? It seems you’re describing a pervasive “hot take” culture in all sports writing. Perhaps you could even extend it to politics and the arts.
I’ve lived for decent intervals in NY, DC, Cleveland, Seattle, Miami and Boston and have seen nothing like it in the first five places — the unquenchable thirst to take the local teams down a few pegs, and when they do fall short, to glory in the misery.

I’m not sure what to attribute it to, though there may be two distinct strains in the cases of the big three killjoys.

Felger and Mazz cut their baby teeth at WEEI. Before that, they were competent but nondescript beat writers. They were beaten to a pulp at “EEI as designated stand-ins. In fact, they were humiliated, regularly, by Ordway and his goons (Sheppard, DeOsse and Smerlas) on The Big Show. The goons were homers in all caps. F and M pointed that out — and to their credit, resented it. And like all callers to the show who were not sufficiently worshipful, Felger and Mazz were verbally pistol whipped for it. The great majority of this was Patriots related, though F& M also resented the smartest-kids-in-the-class, rough elbowed Boston Lucchino/Theos as well.

The humiliation at “EEI did not end with Glenn and the goons. Late in the game, Felger seemed to disappear from the air altogether and was relegated to a blog. A fucking blog.

‘Shank, unlike the other two, was a gifted writer — baptized then confirmed in the national cathedral of much more gifted writers called the Boston Globe. The whole stable was fed well by heaven — the Curse, a couple of clown ownerships, and a bushel basket full of preposterously disappointing season endings throughout the 70s and 80s. These writers did not need the help, but they produced a glorious hymnal chock full of misery music — navel gazing, woe-is-us stuff. The stuff was inspired, appropriate and beautifully written. But times changed, the other writers departed or changed their tunes, and Shank was locked in the church alone.

Edit. The bottom line seems to be that there is no homer problem in Boston. The local writers, if anything, seem to be waiting in trepidation for the roofs to fall. There also is no smartest-kid-in-the-class problem. Bob Kraft and John Henry are remarkably humble. B.B. is the smartest kid, but doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about him. Ainge is coolly competent, and the designated assholes have long left the Red Sox.

So the killjoys are serving no market need. But there is also no disincentive for sucking. I mean Felger totally soils himself on a team and its season, and the Bruins make him the centerpiece of a commercial. Bad publicity does not exist.
 
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John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Start a thread!
Good thinking!

Late in the game, Felger seemed to disappear from the air altogether and was relegated to a blog. A fucking blog.
You're partially correct about this. The first time he left EEI, he went to start his own show on a station that no one could get and fewer cared. It crashed and burned within 18 months (I think) and he came back to EEI with his tail between his legs as, you said, a blogger. Being a blogger on EEI at the time was like having lice and scurvy.
 

edmunddantes

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I’ve said it in a couple of the media threads at different times.

Boston media is toxic. You never really notice it until you live outside the market for long periods. I almost never am exposed to it anymore though, thankfully. Thus I don’t have as many good examples, but they are out there. I’d have to go back and dig up some posts to find them, but it’s not really worth it.

Team wins are never good enough. Great playoff victories can and are followed immediately by a postgame show where the hosts rip into the refs for giving the game to the home town team. For the first whole segment before they even get to any discussion about the team or players.

The team is never good enough. The other shoe is ready to drop any moment. A win is never really savored at all. There is always some doom and gloom to be had.

And it’s not just a no homers thing. The media is actively antagonistic. It’s bizarre. There are a few standout guys that I’ll still read, like a Reiss or a Hurley, but the rest is a wasteland.

What really drove it home was living in the Bay Area last year as the Giants somewhat unexpectedly threw up all over themselves. Yes KNBR went after the team when they deserved, but there was always looking for silver linings. There just was a different edge to it. They weren’t out looking for blood or scalps. There was good analysis. There was room for venting. People weren’t celebrated simply for hot takes for the sake of hot takes.

It’ll be interesting to see how this year goes if the Giants suck again.

Boston media got lazy. Stories wrote themselves. There were old standbys to go to when the teams threw up on themselves again. Then the golden age came, and few Boston media knew how to navigate that world. They still don’t.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Do you think that the majority of the Boston sports media feels like that they have to take this tactic with the professional teams? Like the myth of the rabid, tough as nails, overly cynical Boston sports fan (really it's more a North East thing -- Philly and NYC included) desires this type of coverage?

Because I'm not sure if that type of fan is real anymore. I think that it might have been 20 years ago when we were watching shitty teams in all sports play terribly and we get sold a bill of goods in the guise of people like Rick Pitino or Pete Carroll or Jeremy Jacobs or John Harrington as "smart guys who know what they're doing". I think most sports fans can smell that bullshit on a poseur a mile away, but look around at the four teams -- the Sox are 5-1 and you could make an argument that they're still the furthest away from winning a championship (but not by much). And this is a good thing because all four Boston pro teams are really good.

I don't know what motivates these guys to get out of bed every day (aside from money, I suppose). Every time a Boston sports commentator watches a game and the home team loses, it's like the team personally shit in that dude's Cheerios. They take it as a personal affront. Or maybe that's just how they were brought up to commentate on the local teams and they never changed gears. The newer generation seems less cynical, so maybe once these dinosaurs go away, there will be a different perspective.

Or perhaps it's just the easy answer that negativity sells?
 

Haunted

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Personally I think your last question nails it. I hate to think that it's that simple and that un-nuanced. But I wonder if the calculus is simply:

Piss people off with hot takes, get them to call in and yell at you. Then people who actually agree with you (and there are some) will call in and yell at them, and away we go.


I've cut back significantly on my sports media intake. The negativity doesn't interest me. Small sample size and all, but the few times I do pop it on I swear every caller is either "Felgah you ah retahded" or "Felgah these green teamahs ah retahded". I know callers are not particularly representative of listeners, but the ratings suggest that people are listening in large numbers...
 

dcmissle

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They compose an island of misfit toys.

They could never compete in the world of NY/Philly negativity. The next time they produce something as wickedly funny as the back page of the Daily News or NY Post will be the first time. In those towns, the negativity is leavened by a healthy sense that some things are ok with some teams. The naysayers are always in on their jokes.

In Boston they try to slay dragons that are mostly illusory and long ago died out in any case. There is no culture of entitlement or arrogance. The pink hats are safely behind us; The Big Show is ovah.

In what other city is one owner a guy who once planted his ass on ice cold aluminum seats? Or a shy genius who submits himself to a radio interview in which he confesses doubt as to whether he is fully up to owning the signature franchise in town?

It’s laziness, as noted above. There is inspired work to be done; the killjoys don’t want to do the work.

You should send them to Washington, where two teams are forever trying to get over the hump, another is stuck in mediocrity, and the storied franchise has been run, until recently at any rate, by a punk who drove them into the ground and sought to kill a local city paper via a trumped libel suit, adding spurious charges of anti-semitism.

That is a reasonable, though far from perfect, approximation of the dark days of Boston sports. Yet the three killjoys would be lost in this target rich environment. They are third rate.
 

8slim

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Growing up in Mass. in the 80s I always got the sense that people felt there was a certain nobility in not being a homer. Being critical of the hometown teams was a badge of true fandom because you were signaling that you weren't being naive or duped.

I haven't lived near Boston since the mid-90s but it seems that dynamic still exists, and that is what the media is feeding off of. Talk radio hosts and columnists see themselves as heroes, protecting the public against the dastardly teams who are trying to pull the wool over their eyes. It's oddly antagonistic and confrontational, but rooted in a long regional history.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Growing up in Mass. in the 80s I always got the sense that people felt there was a certain nobility in not being a homer. Being critical of the hometown teams was a badge of true fandom because you were signaling that you weren't being naive or duped.
I don't disagree with you, we all bought into the idea that Boston fans were "the smahtest in the country" and that was okay when the Pats were routinely winning three or four games a year, Harry Sinden was pinching pennies and saying that Nevin Markwart is going to be the next Wayne Gretzky and the Red Sox continued to have their collective heads up their collective asses (the Celtics were the Celtics, of course).

But that narrative has changed. There's no need to wear that badge of honor, because it makes you sound like an idiot. "The Pats are 14-2? What the fuck? They suck." "Danny Ainge hasn't won every single trade he's made? Same old 'Danny Panic'!"

And like I said we are in violent agreement about this being rooted in the region, but that tree is dead, man. It will probably come back one day, but these are the "Good Old Days". I know that it's boring radio or reading or TV to sing Kumbaya every day and night, but at the same time, Pitino was right about one thing: the negativity in this town.
 

8slim

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I don't disagree with you, we all bought into the idea that Boston fans were "the smahtest in the country" and that was okay when the Pats were routinely winning three or four games a year, Harry Sinden was pinching pennies and saying that Nevin Markwart is going to be the next Wayne Gretzky and the Red Sox continued to have their collective heads up their collective asses (the Celtics were the Celtics, of course).

But that narrative has changed. There's no need to wear that badge of honor, because it makes you sound like an idiot. "The Pats are 14-2? What the fuck? They suck." "Danny Ainge hasn't won every single trade he's made? Same old 'Danny Panic'!"

And like I said we are in violent agreement about this being rooted in the region, but that tree is dead, man. It will probably come back one day, but these are the "Good Old Days". I know that it's boring radio or reading or TV to sing Kumbaya every day and night, but at the same time, Pitino was right about one thing: the negativity in this town.
I certainly wasn't defending the current state of media toxicity, I hope that was clear. Just offering up my personal past experience.

The Boston-based media I regularly consume is Toucher & Rick, Mike Reiss, Alex Speir, and the writers of the Boston Sports Journal. The latter three are either straight news and analytics, or level-headed insights. T&R make me laugh, and their occasional hot takes are pretty harmless in the grand scheme. I've cut out everything else in Boston because it's all tedious, predictable and exhausting. Life is wayyyyy to short to spend even a few seconds being worked up by Felger & Mazz.
 

Van Everyman

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I loved in 2012 when the ‘EEI set tried to invoke the return of “The Bad Ol’ Days” – as if chicken and beer and even Bobby the Fifth could erase the joy of 2004 and established winning culture that became evident in 2007. Thankfully, 2013 coming when it did shut those guys up forever.

That said, parochial negativity remains a badge of honor in Boston and it goes beyond sportswriters. Whether it’s our sports teams or our politicians, the 2024 Olympic bid or the Big Dig, it’s always a some combination of “we are smarter than you” and “you’ll never amount to anything.”

And as I’ve said elsewhere, nobody does it better than Shank. That guy is a pro’s pro when it comes to this stuff and periodically shows off the chops he has to prove it.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Joy of Sox posted this on a main board thread today talking about the time the 2003 Red Sox beat the Marlins 25-8 or whatever it was. Check out the vintage Red Sox hate from the local media:

"Tony Massarotti and Steve Buckley of the Herald also decided the Red Sox had disgraced themselves with their disgusting run-scoring. Massarotti spoke of "a night for shame ... Red Sox ruthlessness on the basepaths ... no compassion ... tactless." Buckley added: "... your beloved Red Sox didn't exactly cover themselves in glory last night. They had this game in the bag in the first inning, and then spent the rest of the night taking the extra base, trying to score on close sacrifice flies ... boorish ... the Sox made ... asses of themselves."
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Joy of Sox posted this on a main board thread today talking about the time the 2003 Red Sox beat the Marlins 25-8 or whatever it was. Check out the vintage Red Sox hate from the local media:

"Tony Massarotti and Steve Buckley of the Herald also decided the Red Sox had disgraced themselves with their disgusting run-scoring. Massarotti spoke of "a night for shame ... Red Sox ruthlessness on the basepaths ... no compassion ... tactless." Buckley added: "... your beloved Red Sox didn't exactly cover themselves in glory last night. They had this game in the bag in the first inning, and then spent the rest of the night taking the extra base, trying to score on close sacrifice flies ... boorish ... the Sox made ... asses of themselves."
I remember the days after that game and there were a lot of Boston scribes wagging their fingers at the Sox. I believe Leyland was still the Fish’s manager and he was crabbing about it too. Boston reporters were falling all over themselves agreeing with “real baseball man” Jim Leyland.

It’s a weird double standard.
 

Harry Hooper

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Yes, McKeon played Grady like a fiddle for over-scoring and stole a win the next game.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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Yes, McKeon played Grady like a fiddle for over-scoring and stole a win the next game.
Ya, I remember that. Marlins came back from a 9-2 deficit at the start of the 8th inning to win the game after all the whining about how unsportsmanlike it was for the team with the big lead to continue trying.
 

Hendu and Spike

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A very relevant thread about how negative and joyless the Boston media (and fans) are compared to other cities.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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That's the fans, not the media. And I wonder if this is anecdotal info or if thousands of fans were doing this.
Not that it surprises me, it's the midwest, and it's not as if any Minnesota teams have done much winning recently
 

m0ckduck

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That's the fans, not the media. And I wonder if this is anecdotal info or if thousands of fans were doing this.
Not that it surprises me, it's the midwest, and it's not as if any Minnesota teams have done much winning recently
No, it’s everyone there. I moved directly from Boston to Minneapolis in the 90s and can attest that Minny fans — esp Twins fans — are too far in the other direction. They are the dipshit, credulous rah-rah homers that Boston fans want to distinguish themselves from... only to run headlong into Shank’s arms, per 8slim’s astute posts above.

The tolerable middle ground among US cities I’ve experienced first-hand is the Bay Area.
 

Reverend

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Since the Pats' first Super Bowl and the unusual dominance of the four Boston teams since then, Boston writers have turned into figure skating judges. No longer is it okay to win, there has to be some sort of undefined way of winning. The Sox go 3-1 against TB to open the season and Wilbur has his panties in a bunch about how the games were "awfully close".

The fuck does that mean? No one knows except Cafardo.
The classic:


"What do you want from me?"
 

Quiddity

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Dave Brown's series of tweets from Friday put it perfectly, the way the media these days, when there is a big victory in this town, it is relief moreso than joy that you feel, because the media has poisoned things so much. For example, when the Pats beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, such a large part of my happiness from it was not that my team won the championship, and had done so in such amazing fashion, but that the media and the fanbase of other teams would have to shut up over their "No championships in 10 years! Belichick and Brady suck!" or "No championships since Spygate!" narratives. Especially after what had been at the time 2 straight weeks of everyone focusing not on the game, but the insanity that was Deflategate, which was mostly manufactured by fake and misleading media reports.

I look at someone like Jim Murray, a guy who just doesn't appear to have any real talent, who had to resort to going to I think ultra boring Atlanta to be able to do sports radio, who gets an amazing opportunity to come back here to a media market with such success and obsession from the fanbase over sports and be on the highest rated afternoon drive sports show in the market, and what does he do? Endlessly complain and hate over everything. Proclaim just this past week about how the Patriots are these massive underachievers, who last year ranted non-stop about how no matter anything the Celtics did, we shouldn't pay any attention to them because they are not winning the championship (and proceeds to tell callers who disagree that he hopes they outlive their kids). What in the world did this market do to deserve to get someone like this in such a major role in sports media?
 

dcmissle

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Since the Pats' first Super Bowl and the unusual dominance of the four Boston teams since then, Boston writers have turned into figure skating judges. No longer is it okay to win, there has to be some sort of undefined way of winning. The Sox go 3-1 against TB to open the season and Wilbur has his panties in a bunch about how the games were "awfully close".

The fuck does that mean? No one knows except Cafardo.

If the Sox had smoked the Rays 4-0, and outscored them by 20 runs a game, Cafardo would have written, "Well, the Rays aren't a real major league team, so Boston fans shouldn't get so cocky about beating Tampa Bay." It's the classic Boston writers' trope, fans can never be happy about anything. Losing a game, the sky is falling. Winning a game by a run, the sky is falling because it was too close. Winning a game by more than x runs, the other team sucked and the sky is falling because the home town team isn't quite as good as you think.

It's all a shell game. Felger does this well. Shaughnessy is okay at it. But when other people try, it's usually pretty bad. Cafardo is exhibit number one.
This fine column is written by a solid ESPN beat writer who covers the Redskins.

It finds a natural home here, and in a thread pertaining to two Boston radio jackasses I refuse to listen to, as well as a thread dedicated to a Boston columnist I generally refuse to read.

http://www.espn.com/blog/washington-redskins/post/_/id/36240/10-titles-to-none-bostons-boom-vs-washington-d-c-s-bust
 

Merkle's Boner

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I need to give a shout-out to my personal binkie, Alex Speier, who just comes across as so thoughtful and fact-based in his takes. He really is a voice in the wilderness and I always wonder what chats in the coffee room between him and Shank and Cafardo are like.