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November 22, 2005
John Molori's Media Blitz
BY: John Molori

THIS WEEK:

- Teddy talks
- Dan’s dilemma
- Goodbye Griffith?

Sarandis returns with a look back and a step forward

It’s been nearly two months since Ted Sarandis abruptly resigned his evening slot at Sportsradio 850 and 103.7 WEEI. This week, he has resurfaced in his familiar role as play-by-play man for Boston College men’s basketball. WEEI is the flagship station for the BC hoops network produced by a partnership between Fenway Sports Group (FSG) and ISP Sports.

“I am so excited to be back calling games,” says Sarandis, who once again teams with the talented and knowledgeable Bill Ebben in the booth. “We have a terrific twelve station network throughout New England. WEEI was not interested in retaining BC broadcast rights even though they had two years left, so they handed them over to the Red Sox and ISP.”

BC basketball can be heard from Connecticut to Long Island to Worcester to Manchester, NH to Portland, ME. Games can also be heard at BCEagles.com. In addition, the ACC has signed on with XM Satellite Radio to broadcast all BC and ACC contests.

ISP Sports is based in Winston-Salem, NC and has partnerships with twenty-six schools around the country. Fenway Sports Group is run by Red Sox chief operating officer Mike Dee. As part of the deal, FSG gets the radio broadcast rights and signage at Alumni Stadium, Conte Forum and on game tickets. It is a very lucrative deal for Boston College and BC athletic director Gene DiFillippo handpicks the game announcers.

Says Sarandis, “This is the first time a pro team (the Red Sox) and a college have joined in a marketing partnership. Mike (Dee) felt that BC was an undervalued property. He couldn’t believe that the school did not have a higher profile. The power of the Red Sox and the ACC will pay huge dividends for BC down the road. Duke is coming to BC this year. The school turned down an opportunity to play that game at the Garden in order to keep home court advantage. That will be the toughest ticket to get in Boston this year.”

Sarandis is understandably enthusiastic about this year’s Eagles, ranked in or near the top 10 in nearly every national poll. Says Sarandis, “Craig Smith had a terrific summer helping the USA win a Gold Medal in the World University Games and Jared Dudley is in midseason form physically. Louis Hinnant is so solid and I really like their freshman point guard Tyrese Rice. He could be BC’s quickest player since Michael Adams and he hit on 314 three-pointers in high school.”

BC coach Al Skinner remains the ignition to start BC’s engine. “ Skinner is not a self-promoter. He is low key and cerebral,” says Sarandis, entering his 29th season as a college hoops announcer, his 11th with BC. “He is very demanding and expects this team to have a great work ethic. He is coaching in a market that has never embraced college hoops and has no recruiting base, but he has put together the best five-year run in the school’s history.”

Sarandis continues to bang the drum for college sports in New England stating, “There is an agenda with the Boston media to ignore college sports. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The media doesn’t like college sports. They are too lazy to learn about the teams, so they don’t talk about it. That is my one issue with sports talk radio. It is Red Sox and Patriots all the time. You can’t talk for 365 days about two teams.

“No one paid attention to BC last year until they were 20-0. When they went 5-5 down the stretch, people criticized them. It was unfortunate. I hope that this year the Sunday night TV shows and sports talk radio give the team more attention.”

Sarandis believes that competition for WEEI may be the key. He states, “I hope that ESPN Radio and AM 1510 stay on the air, as well as satellite radio. It’s all about options. Competition is good.”

Regarding his departure from WEEI in September, Sarandis states, “I was at WEEI for fourteen years and was the dominant nighttime presence in Boston, but I have turned the page. I do think I brought a more cerebral and intelligent approach to sports talk that was very different from the other shows at the station.”

Upon Sarandis’ departure, the October 3, 2005 edition of Media Blitz reported, “Sarandis was working without a contract at WEEI and was the lowest paid of WEEI’s regular hosts. In addition, while guests on other WEEI programs are paid $50.00 an hour or more, Sarandis’ guests went home with what have come to be known as “Teddy Twenties,” gift certificates to a variety of area restaurants.

Many of Sarandis’ WEEI colleagues regularly gibed his work and personality on the air and he had undeservedly become the butt of jokes, specifically on Glenn Ordway’s afternoon drive time “Big Show.” Word is that Sarandis expressed his dismay to programming chief Jason Wolfe on numerous occasions, but nothing was ever done.”

Sarandis would not elaborate on any bad blood with WEEI, but did say that Media Blitz’s assessment “accurately characterized” his reasons for leaving. Two WEEI sources have told Media Blitz that Sarandis’ successor at WEEI will be Mike Adams. WEEI GM Julie Kahn has confirmed that the station is “in discussions” with Adams.

Sarandis says he is looking ahead. “I am working on a number of projects. I am a student of the military and I am hoping to do some work regarding the ongoing war on terrorism. I also am an entrepreneur and I have some opportunities in minor league baseball.” At one time, Sarandis was involved in a real estate deal involving a minor league baseball team coming to Manchester, NH.

As for a return to the Boston sports talk airwaves, Sarandis says, “I am not sure I’d want to jump back into doing five hours a day, five days a week, but I am working on some college sports TV projects. I would also be more than happy to participate in any of the Sunday night shows as a guest. I am not sure they’d want me because I always tweaked them about not covering college sports, but I would be thrilled to get a shot to do that.”

Dan’s day

In the ongoing soap opera that is Theo Epstein’s resignation as Red Sox general manager, the chief villain has been Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy. If you listen to WEEI’s Gerry Callahan and Glenn Ordway as well as many others, Shaughnessy’s October 30, 2005 column caused Epstein to reconsider staying with the Red Sox.

“There wasn’t much said about the column the day it was written,” says Shaughnessy. “It wasn’t until Theo left that it exploded. Eighty percent of the information in that column I had written before. In fact, a lot of it was in my book “Reversing the Curse.” My point was simply that Lucchino was as astute a baseball man as Epstein.”

The most sizzling part of Shaughnessy’s infamous column related to the Red Sox botched trade with Colorado this past summer. Many believ e that Shaughnessy’s assessment that Larry Lucchino took the fall for Theo Epstein’s errors came directly from Lucchino and caused Epstein to resign.

Says Shaughnessy, “I didn’t realize that it had never been written before. Maybe I did say too much, but not one person said that what I wrote was not true. The only person who said that was Curt Schilling and he doesn’t know anything. Schilling is talking out of his hat. Like I said before, tell Curt to go ask the people who paid him $13 million to win eight games last year.

“The truth is that Theo needed ownership to take the hit in the Colorado deal. As for any leaks, Theo didn’t mind when it was leaked that Nomar Garciaparra turned down $60 million for four years. My opinions are mine. Take them or leave them. No one tells me what to write.”

Shaughnessy has become public enemy number one with the bulk of WEEI callers and hosts, as well as with several Internet media critics. He has been accused of being both negative toward Red Sox ownership and a puppet for Red Sox ownership. In addition, the Globe struggles with conflict of interest charges because of their financial ties to the Red Sox.

Says Shaughnessy. “I would love everyone to love me, but as long as the Globe is happy and I have my family and friends, that’s what’s important. You can get a persecution complex. Bob Ryan told me that if he had written that column, no one would have said anything about it.

“When I broke in, people liked a critical eye cast on the teams. Now, there is a movement toward the media becoming boosters or fans of the teams. It is a new culture compounded by these fan websites. If you are a fan, you cannot be an objective reporter.”

The charge that Shaughnessy’s column alienated Epstein and caused him to resign is even more foolhardy given the fact that Shaughnessy and Epstein spoke after Epstein quit. “His voice mail was full when I called,” Shaughnessy explains. “But we ended up having a good chat. I thanked him for everything. My column had nothing to do with his resignation.”

WEEI’s Glenn Ordway has been especially brutal to the Globe and to Shaughnessy in the wake of Epstein’s departure. “The Boston Globe does not need to be lectured on journalistic ethics by WEEI,” says Shaughnessy. “I’d like to fire back at Glenn, but anything I say will just get mocked. I’ve been on his show before and I would love to go on and have a real give and take.”

Bill paying

It appears that fellow sports media columnist Bill Griffith will be leaving his full-time post at the Boston Globe, taking the newspaper’s buyout offer. Griffith has been at the Globe for 40 years in a variety of roles.

The possibility of Griffith’s departure was made public in an online media column after Griffith jokingly alluded to his departure during a media-only college basketball conference call.

Says the 58 year-old Griffith, “I was a little upset because it ticked off the Globe. No one ever called me to confirm what I said and I never thought it would be made public. Thirty-five positions have been eliminated in the newsroom, more than five-hundred overall.”

According to Griffith, Globe staffers dating back to 1992 are exempt from layoffs, but could be moved or reassigned. Griffith says he will submit his paper work to the Globe on November 21 and the paper has seven days to rescind. He has been offered a package that will allow him to stay on the Globe’ s medical plan until he is 65.

“I can’t believe I’ve been here 40 years and it’s been a great ride,” says the affable Griffith, a Northeastern grad who joined the Globe in 1965. “I have talked to the Globe about continuing the (SporTView) column on a freelance basis, but we’ll see. The newspaper business will be OK. I think the New York Times (Globe’s parent company) will be around for a while.”

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, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com, BostonSportz.com and DiscoverTheValley.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.


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