By: John Molori
June 07, 2005

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THIS WEEK:

- Fox fanfest
- Verducci's vitriol
- Rising Stars, Falling Stars: Who's hot and not in Boston sports media?

FSN reaches out to fans with unique initiatives

Fox Sports New England (FSN) is putting the fan in fanfare. The regional network's "FSN Sports Nut" campaign is a rewards program designed to allow fans to benefit from their viewership.

"It simply rewards viewers for spending time with us," says FSN PR chief Skip Perham. "Fans can register online at fsnnewengland.com and win great prizes by answering our trivia questions or participating in our poll questions."

Fans who wish to become an "FSN Sports Nut" can visit fsnnewengland.com and click on the "Sports Nuts" icon. Registered viewers garner points by looking for the "Sports Nut Buster" on "New England Sports Tonight" (NEST), taking part in NEST's 100 Point Poll or answering Boston sports trivia.

Points can be redeemed for any of the prizes posted on the website. Prizes include a complete home theater setup, a concert luxury box and more. "FSN Sports Nuts" features raffles on a monthly basis. Raffle items are showcased at their website.

The program also allows FSN to offer more to advertisers. Says Perham, "Going forward, this gives us a way to demonstrate to sponsors that we have an audience. The information gathered can be used by advertisers for product surveys, etc. It is beneficial for advertisers, us and our viewers."

According to Perham, FSN is the first New England television outlet and the first regional outlet in the nation to initiate such a program. It is similar to Sports Radio 850 WEEI's "Clubhouse Insider" program or Mix 98.5 FM' s "Freeloaders" initiative.

"We are in our off-season right now with the Celtics season complete," says Perham. "But the "Sports Nut" program has been well-received by our " New England Sports Tonight" viewers. Sports fans here are so passionate. When we do our remote broadcasts from Spring Training, several people stay at Diamond Head Resort because they know we'll be broadcasting from there. Whenever you can bring fans closer to the game it is a good thing."

Currently, FSN is running some clever spots for the program created by the on-air promotions team of Jason Levine and T. J. Powers. Levine and Powers are also creating some new "Odd Couple" ads for NEST hosts Gary Tanguay and Greg Dickerson. FSN is in the planning stages of a new ad campaign, once again working with the creative geniuses at Duffy-Shanley in Providence, RI.

It has been a notable spring for FSN. Last month, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded the network with an Outstanding Sports Special New England Emmy award for "Legend of Red," a retrospective on the career of Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach.

In addition, FSN is currently featuring a special edition of their " FanCaster" program. Popularized during FSN's Celtics broadcasts, "FanCaster" gives area students a chance to jump-start a career in television.

On June 16 at "Kings" in Boston, one middle school or high school student will be chosen to interview a bevy of celebrities bowling in the inaugural "Stars & Strikes" event. "Stars & Strikes" is a celebrity bowling tournament to benefit the Massachusetts Governor's Committee on Physical Fitness & Sports. Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino will host the bowling spectacular. Jonathan Kraft, Wyc Grousbeck and Charlie Jacobs will also be in attendance.

Guests include David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Bobby Orr, Deion Branch, Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour, Lenny Clarke, Mike O'Malley and others. Student hopefuls must record themselves presenting a prepared script and send it to FSN no later than June 13. Details are available at fsnnewengland.com.

Tom's tune

Sports Illlustrated's Tom Verducci penned an interesting May 30th piece on the power drought in baseball, tying it directly to decreased steroid use.

Three items are worth noting. In the article, Verducci quotes Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa who states, "Now the good teams have to pay more attention to two areas: baserunning and defense. I think it's a better game when you know that on any given night you might see everything the game has to offer, not just home runs."

Another quote, from Cardinals' pitching coach Dave Duncan, reads, "You don't see pitchers getting beat by guys hitting homers who shouldn't be hitting homers. It's fair now. It's a better game." LaRussa and Duncan should be ashamed of themselves for their utter hypocrisy.

As manager and pitching coach of the Oakland A's of the late 1980s and early 1990s, LaRussa and Duncan oversaw the poster child of steroid use, Jose Canseco. If this pair of revisionist twits truly liked small ball, they might have pulled in the reins on Canseco as he injected himself with chemicals that would make Secretariat blush. They simply have no credibility on the issue.

The same could be said for Verducci himself who, in the same article, wrote, "Think how little baserunning and defense matter in slo-pitch softball." Huh? In slo-pitch, strikeouts are almost non-existent. The batter is going to put the ball in play, so defense is at a premium. Moreover, more baserunners means that smart baserunning is crucial.

Next spring, instead of training with the Toronto Blue Jays, Verducci should play with his hometown Rec. Softball League and learn before he writes.

Rising Stars

Greg Dickerson, FSN- While cohosts Gary Tanguay and Pete Sheppard let Sox hurler Tim Wakefield off the hook, Dickerson stood alone with pointed criticism and noted that even the streaky Wakefield has never had six straight sub-par outings.

Butch Stearns, Fox25- After the Red Sox laughable 7-1 loss in St. Louis, Stearns hit the nail on the head in describing Boston's attempts to play National League style stating, "Watching the Red Sox play National League baseball is like watching my 4 year-old daughter drive my car."

Paul McNamara, AM 1510- McNamara has purchased time at AM 1510 for a number of shows and now is a regular fill-in for Eddie Andelman in the Noon-3:00 p.m. weekday slot. His next fill-in stint is Thursday and is worth a listen.

Falling Stars

Gerry Callahan, WEEI- Last week, he cruelly referred to Bravo Network's " Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" hosts as "fruitcakes." How sad is it that such a talented man like Callahan is so deathly afraid of anyone who doesn't act, think, look or live just like he does?

Stephen King, Author- All of a sudden, King is a baseball writer participating in a Fenway Park panel discussion with the more credible likes of John Updike, Roger Angell, Michael Lewis and Doris Kearns Goodwin. In truth, King is nothing more than a clinging celebrity fan and should stick to penning about pet cemeteries and prisoners.

Alan Greenberg, NECN: Hartford Courant writer sarcastically disses Keith Foulke saying that he "only talks to the media when he doesn't get the loss." While Foulke has gotten understandably defensive with the media at times, he has been predominantly a stand up guy throughout his tough start.

John Molori's columns are published in The Providence Journal, The Boston Metro, The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, The Salem Evening News, The Newburyport Daily News, The Gloucester Times, Patriots Football Weekly, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, The RemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.


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