By: John Molori
December 06, 2005

Filling the Patriots' needs: No. 2 Linebackers
Rob Gronkowski says he'll be back with Patriots
Buckley: Perfect celebration of Gil Santos’ life
Plenty of option plays for Patriots
Rob Gronkowski tells Patriots he will play this season


- Simpson's trials
- Horrid headlines
- Dale's dilemma

Spouting off on a bevy of sports media tidbits

On a recent "Sports Final,” Bob Lobel stated, "Maybe we are over-crediting Theo Epstein. It's overblown. I don't credit him for winning the World Series (in 2004) or for going out in the first round (in 2005).” Gordon Edes defended Epstein saying that he did engineer the Nomar Garciaparra trade. To that, Lobel replied, "Didn't John Henry tell him to do that?” Strong, but accurate words from Lobel. As we have already seen with the Josh Beckett deal, Epstein was a key cog in the machine, but hardly an irreplaceable part.

Not to pile onto the Bruins' 2005 woes, but NESN's "Bruins Breakaway” with Rob Simpson has been a disappointment. Simpson regularly wears a Bruins jacket making him look more like a giddy fan than a reporter. Moreover, his voice-overs are too slow and his on-camera introductions to segments are amateurish and boring. Recent features at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and at a Philadelphia insectarium were supposed to be humorous, but were instead tedious. Overall, it's a laborious task to sit through the entire half-hour.

More and more, I am failing to see the humor in the "Headlines” segment on Sports Radio 850 and 103.7 WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan” show. One recent story dealt with a driving instructor who exposed himself to a student. Gerry Callahan asked if the student was female. John Dennis said that it was a girl and implied that the act was OK. Another item dealt with a man named Ferry who sexually assaulted a 14 year-old girl. Callahan said, "I thought he was a fairy.” The entire segment consistently borders on hate and homophobia, and sits just below "The Jerry Springer Show” on the media food chain. How would Dennis or Callahan feel if these things happened to their children?

ESPN Radio Boston program director Doug Tribou on the station's broadcast signal: "I hear from listeners about our signal issues. It's a better signal than AM 1510 has. We are working with the FCC for possible upgrades, but it is a long process. We regularly test the signal. We are aware of the problem and we are working on it.” Tribou was proud that ESPN Boston reporter Mike Salk broke the American League MVP voting story first back on November 14.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Sean McDonough call play-by-play for ESPN during the recent Maui Invitational college hoops tourney. As always, McDonough was insightful and entertaining. He also deftly set up analysts Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery, two men with vastly different styles. No one mixes the technical aspects of play-by-play with light banter better than McDonough.

Word is that Red Sox Spanish Baseball broadcaster Uri Berenguer may not return to the booth in 2006. Two sources have told Media Blitz that the Red Sox are concerned that the talented Berenguer has become too friendly with several Red Sox players. Berenguer took over play-by-play duties from J.P. Villaman who was tragically killed in an auto accident last May.

WEEI's Pete Sheppard did an excellent turn on FSN's "New England Sports Tonight” last week. His caustic analysis of the Bruins was right on target. Sheppard pointed the finger at the yet to be traded Joe Thornton as a reason for the B's problems. Greg Dickerson interrupted Sheppard's tirade and said that the underachieving Thornton was not a problem, but a solution. The next day, following the trade, Dickerson said, "(Trading Thornton) makes them a better team on paper, but it's still a bad deal.” Huh?

James Murphy might just be the most versatile radio host in Boston. He has hosted baseball and football shows on AM 1510 and now has teamed with Kevin Greenstein for the " Hour” beginning December 10 at 6:00 p.m. on AM 1510. Says Murphy, "Kevin has a reputation for bringing insightful observations. His columns are a must-read for any hockey fan or anyone involved in the game. This will also be evident on-air.”

The day before Joe Thornton was traded, a caller to WEEI's "Dale and Holley” show asked Dale Arnold why he is not more critical of the slumping Bruins. As usual, Arnold got needlessly defensive and began to grill the caller on his knowledge of the Bruins. When the caller said the team looked terrible in a recent loss, Arnold badgered him asking, "Who did they play?” and "What was the score?” When the caller answered both questions correctly, Arnold and Michael Holley accused the caller of reading his answers from the newspaper. Another caller questioned Thornton's physicality and Arnold again got very defensive. It is an easy shot to accuse Arnold, the Bruins' NESN play-by-play man, of favoring the Bruins, but in many ways, Arnold is his own worst enemy. His emotional response to critical callers only serves to further pigeonhole him as a Bruins booster.

Memo to the NFL Network, please stop the Patriots "Big Man Dance Contest” promo featuring Dan Koppen, Richard Seymour and Willie McGinest. Koppen is out with injury. Seymour has been banged up and the team can ill-afford to lose McGinest due to an injury from a pirouette gone awry.

WEEI features terrific sport-specific national guests including Boomer Esiason, Peter Gammons and Peter King. ESPN's Michael Smith is also a regular guest on "Dale and Holley,” but frankly, I don't see why. Smith, the former Boston Globe scribe, lacks charisma and his insight is limited. Simply put, he doesn't tell me anything that I don't already know. Last week, Smith was asked if the Colts can keep Edgerrin James after this season. His answer? "I think they will.” Smith elaborated, but without any unique or entertaining facts. Smith is a capable reporter and a plus on ESPN's "Around the Horn,” but I would not classify him as a football expert or a much sought-after personality.

CN8's "Sports Pulse” will premiere "Free 4 All” this Thursday at 10:00 p.m. This is the first time we're trying something like this,” says host Ed Berliner. "Unlike our nightly show concept, we're going to pick the issues without telling our guests, who will be from different sports and non-sports backgrounds. One of the best shows I have ever seen was "The Sports Reporters" on the old SportsChannel. You never knew where the discussion would take us, and it made for entertaining television. We'll do it, only better.” "Free 4 All” will feature a new look set. Yours truly and Jimmy Myers will join Berliner for the premiere edition.

The mass media has not made nearly enough of the Patriots' unprecedented 2005 injury woes. Kudos to and HBO's Peter King for calling attention to the fact that New England has lost 40 starter games this year to injury. Their injury list reads like a Pro Bowl roster and still, they are capable of winning ten or eleven games. If they do, Bill Belichick should be the NFL 's Coach of the Year.

John Molori's columns are published in The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, The Providence Journal, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, New England Ringside Magazine,,,,,,, and Email John at [email protected]