By: John Molori
March 31, 2005

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THIS WEEK:

- Lucky seven
- Masters plan
- Who's Number One?

Taking the good with the bad in sports media

Sports headlines often come with a dilemma. They elicit both positive and negative vibes. Here are some recent stories that present such a quandary.

Good news: Channel 7NBC is searching for a new Sports Executive Producer Bad news: The job description talks about overseeing content and production, managing on-air talent, breaking stories and developing content, but it should read: Have the ability to get more out of a talented on-air and producing crew. Hire a full-time cohost for "Sports Xtra," someone whose lone job is to tick people off, be emotional and take a stand. Suggestions include Pete Sheppard, Gerry Callahan, Andy Gresh, Michael Felger, Ryen Russillo or Tony Massarotti. Find angles to stories that are edgy, unique and provocative. Put the emphasis on opinion, passion and debate.

Give Joe Amorosino the power and exposure that Bob Lobel and Mike Lynch have. If he cannot handle it, shake hands and say good-bye. Speaking of good-bye, re-assign David Briggs and hire CN8's Ed Berliner as a reporter and anchor. Simply put, 7NBC has fallen behind WBZ, WCVB, Fox25, WB56, UPN38, NECN, NESN and FSN on the Boston sports media buzz meter. Light a fire under this unsung crew or sharpen the guillotine.

Good news: Sports Radio 850 WEEI will resume streaming on the Internet at WEEI.com on April 4. Bad news: Now, we have another source from which to hear the normally cerebral Craig Mustard and Larry Johnson continue their inane assault on Barry Bonds.

Last Saturday, Mustard criticized Bonds for bringing his son to a recent press conference. Johnson has stated that Bonds has never been affected by racism because of his wealth. Here's the scoop. Mustard constantly references his marriage and teaching career during his show. He should not trash Bonds for involving family in a press conference. Johnson should know that wealth may shield a person from poverty, but pure racism pays no deference to a person's bank account.

Good news: Rico Petrocelli will join Eddie Andelman on AM 1510 every Tuesday during the baseball season from Noon-3:00 p.m. Bad news: No doubt this entry will be met with the typical flurry of anti-Andelman venom that permeates many facets of the Boston media. Andelman is not the "sports radio godfather" that he once was, but he still knows more about the business than most ever will and his ability to sell radio and incite callers remains sharp. Petrocelli will serve as a nice sidekick. Don't get sucked in by jealous types. Give them a listen.

Good news: ESPN Radio will soon be coming to Boston on AM 890.

Bad news: The station has absolutely no chance to make a serious dent in the Boston sports radio marketplace. WEEI has a Jim Jones-like hold on Boston's sports psyche and more listeners are swallowing the cyanide with each passing ratings book. AM 890 will have the power of ESPN behind it, but that doesn't go very far in provincial and parochial Boston. Just ask the folks at AM 1510 Sporting News radio. New voices are welcome, but expectations must be managed.

Good news: Ex-Celtic boss Rick Pitino has Louisville back in the Final Four. Bad news: Pitino has also returned to the dialogue of Boston sports talk. On WEEI, Michael Felger ignorantly stated that Pitino is not a great coach. Both Pete Sheppard and Glenn Ordway disagreed. Bill Burt said that if Pitino had gotten Tim Duncan in the 1997 NBA Draft, his coaching tenure in Boston would have been successful. Probably not. Remember that Pitino had talents like Ron Mercer, Chauncey Billups, Danny Fortson, Antoine Walker, David Wesley and Paul Pierce, and won squat. Ted Sarandis wants to forgive and forget, but given the hype, Pitino was unquestionably the biggest failure in Boston sports history.

Good news: The Masters starts next week with first and second round coverage on USA Network April 7 and 8 at 4:00 p.m. Third and fourth round coverage will be on CBS4, April 9 at 3:30 p.m. and April 10 at 2:30 p.m. Bad news: This probably means that PGA Tour pro Brad Faxon will be speaking to WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan." Faxon is very critical of his peers and does not mince words in commenting on fellow players. This would be fine if he was retired or merely a commentator. As a current player who is currently 75th on the money list and who has won as many major titles as I have, he should talk less and practice more. Faxon's only shot at a green jacket is a gig spritzing radishes at Shaw's.

Good news: The Red Sox and Yankees resume their rivalry on Sunday at 8:05 p.m. on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball." Bad news: The rivalry has become more about the media than about the game. From Fox's Joe Buck awakening the echoes of Babe Ruth ad nauseam to constant replays of A-Rod's ball slap to the off-season anti-Yankee babble of Trot Nixon, Kevin Millar and Bronson Arroyo to Larry Lucchino's Evil Empire rants, it's silly. Forget Red Sox Nation and Yankee Pride. Just play the damn game! One more bad news item, the voice of Sean McDonough will grace ZERO local Red Sox games this year. 17 years of excellence comes to a sad end for viewers.

Good news: Red Sox centerfielder Johnny Damon is in a contract year so expect a terrific season. Bad news: Regarding his impending free agency, Damon told Scripps Howard's Sean McAdam and other reporters last week, "I know (the Yankees are) waiting for me. I'm going to be a big target of theirs. I bring that extra baseball dimension, that market appeal." Hmm. In 2003, Manny Ramirez said that his boyhood dream was to play for the Yankees and was vilified by the Boston sports media. I haven't heard the same kind of outrage from Damon's statements. It's just another example of how the local media pick and choose their villains, and it reinforces the mostly mythical view of Boston as a racist city.

Good news: Former Celtic Dee Brown is the latest ESPN "Dream Job" winner, earning the right to be an NBA analyst for the network.

Bad news: Stephen A. Smith, one of the judges on "Dream Job," was boorish, overbearing and rude. Moreover, his criticisms of Brown, especially, were incorrect. Smith is very good at what he does, but his limited on-air background hardly makes him an expert in the field. The "Dream Job" concept is a good one, but the judges need an upgrade. If you are going to partake in media criticism, you better have some form of pedigree.

Good news: The engaging Trey Wingo hosts "Who's Number One?" a new series premiering April 11 at 9:00 p.m. on ESPN2 Bad news: The program is merely a rip-off of Fox Sports Net's (FSN) "The Sports List" with Summer Sanders. Wingo will count down the all-time Top 20 in various categories including Best Masters, Best Cinderella Stories, Best Rivalries, Best College Bowl Games, Most Controversial Sports Personality, Most Underrated Athlete and Worst Tantrums. Guest experts will also chime in with their thoughts. FSN didn't invent the genre, but Sanders has been counting down the all-time Top 10 in similar categories without guest opinions. ESPN will make this work, but I wish the concept were a bit more original.

John Molori's Media Blitz column is published in The Providence Journal, The Boston Metro, The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, The Salem Evening News, The Newburyport Daily News, The Gloucester Times, The Lowell Sun, Patriots Football Weekly, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, PatsFans.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com, RedSoxNation.net and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.


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