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The sorry state of Boston sports writers
January 29, 2013 8:42 AM   Subscribe

From the most recent Boston Magazine. "The Boston sports media, once considered one of the country’s best and most influential press corps, is stumbling toward irrelevance. The national media not only seems to break more big Boston sports stories than the local press, but also often features more sophisticated analysis, especially when it comes to using advanced statistics. To put it bluntly, “The Lodge”—as Fred Toucher, cohost of the 98.5 The Sports Hub morning radio show, mockingly refers to the city’s clubby, self-important media establishment—is clogged with stale reporters, crotchety columnists, and shameless blowhards. " There's even a whole blog dedicated to hating Dan Shaughnessy, Dan Shaughnessy Watch, aka the CHB.
posted by Melismata (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
local = newspapers. Hard for young hungry writers to get in at a newspaper these days. The old guys are just playing out the string. The new guys work elsewhere.
posted by JPD at 8:50 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The CHB story:
Perhaps the best-known of these was [former Red Sox OF Carl Everett's] denial of the existence of dinosaurs. He was quoted as saying, "God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and the earth, and then made Adam and Eve. The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can't say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Somebody actually saw Adam and Eve. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus rex." He also derided fossils of dinosaur bones as man-made fakes. In reference to these comments, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy dubbed Everett "Jurassic Carl." Everett, in turn, referred to Shaughnessy as the "curly-haired boyfriend" of Globe beat writer Gordon Edes.
posted by The Michael The at 9:22 AM on January 29, 2013


Bill Simmons started out writing as "Boston Sports Guy" in like 1995, and moved to AOL, and then on to some other place. He was a Holy Cross student who loved the local teams but had stuff to say that the Boston Sports Establishment were not saying. Now he has books and Grantland and even was ESPN's "page 2" columnist for a while -- arguably reaching a much larger audience than Shaughnessy & Co.

So I guess I agree with JPD: there are other voices, but they have side-stepped (thrown a lateral?) the local papers & TV stations and gone onilne.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:24 AM on January 29, 2013


This is a fairly silly article. It's true that Dan Shaughnessy is crap, but there are a lot of good writers at the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. I'm not a great hockey fan, but Fluto Shinizawa's coverage for the Globe is consistently excellent. Nick Cafardo is a good, solid writer on baseball, and the younger guys who do Red Sox coverage and features are just fine. Greg Bedard's football writing is solid, and I think Zuri Berry is a younger writer to watch.

I don't read the Herald as often, so I don't have a list of favorites, but I think their sports coverage continues to be good.

I do think the Globe's core problem in sports, as in pretty much everything, is being owned by TimesCo. The TimesCo buyouts hit the sports staff particularly hard--the paper just hasn't been the same without Jackie Macmullan. Michael Holley's departure was also a big blow.

And as JPD says, there's a lot going on outside of the two dailies. The best-known sports writers in town, apart from Shaughnessy---Macmullan, Holley, and Charlie Pierce---aren't working for the newspaper. Macmullan's on TV, Holley's on radio, and Pierce's main local outlet is the insufferable NPR show. Bigger media world now.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:35 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Boston sports media, once considered one of the country’s best and most influential press corps

I am tickled/saddened/tackdenled by a sports media being among the best press corps in any given nation.
posted by forgetful snow at 9:37 AM on January 29, 2013


Nick Cafardo is a good, solid writer on baseball

One of the article's points is that he's not.
posted by The Michael The at 9:40 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mike Reiss is good.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:48 AM on January 29, 2013


It is a somewhat silly article, I agree, at least with respect to criticizing Boston. The article makes some valid points about the state of sports reporting in general and about sports reporters' methods and diligence, but it opens by decrying Boston's supposed lack of opportunities for young writers and then closes with a litany of recent writers who got their start in Boston before moving on to bigger, better gigs.
posted by cribcage at 9:54 AM on January 29, 2013


Pierce also write quite a bit for Grantland.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:12 AM on January 29, 2013


> There's even a whole blog dedicated to hating Dan Shaughnessy, Dan Shaughnessy Watch

Back in the Geocities Era I had a "Leah Watch" feature on my page devoted to Leah McLaren's columns in the Globe and Mail.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:30 AM on January 29, 2013


One of my points is that I disagree with that assessment of Cafardo.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:31 AM on January 29, 2013


And I read Cafardo every day he writes, which is usually six days a week. I don't think Siegel's complaints about him are accurate. Maybe he's a big jerk in person, I've only met him in passing, but I don't think Siegel's characterization of his writing is accurate.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:34 AM on January 29, 2013


I do agree that several Boston writers are totally in the pockets of Red Sox ownership, as witnessed every time a player leaves and the sliming machine suddenly spins up. I'm surprised Manny Ramirez wasn't airbrushed out of World Series photos like the USSR used to do to those who'd fallen out of favor.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:52 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nick Cafardo is a good, solid writer on baseball, and the younger guys who do Red Sox coverage and features are just fine. Greg Bedard's football writing is solid, and I think Zuri Berry is a younger writer to watch.

We're reading different writers. Nick Cafardo is terrible, and a lazy writer. I'm not even sure how this is even questionable.

As far as the 'younger writers', if that includes Abraham, I'll disagree again. When he covered the Yankees, he was even worse. His grasp of baseball in general is sketchy, he frequently attacks fans that disagree with him and then deletes the comments, and his ego is off the charts. Many writers today seem to believe they're the big story (Abraham once claimed the Red Sox should let the Boston writers meet with a possible manager before making a hire), and Boston definitely has their share of them.
posted by justgary at 11:02 AM on January 29, 2013


I don't think that the issue is newspapers vs. the internet. The issue is that the same group of blowhards or what-have-you are not letting anyone else in to become a local reporter for local sports. Ok, so good young writers are bypassing the system to report on Boston for a national news organization. But is that better? Do we really want generic reporting from people who don't understand the local culture and pronounce the players' names wrong? Why can't the 'younger writers' just stay here?
posted by Melismata at 11:27 AM on January 29, 2013


The Boston sports media, once considered one of the country’s best and most influential press corps

I stopped there.

I do agree that several Boston writers are totally in the pockets of Red Sox ownership, as witnessed every time a player leaves and the sliming machine suddenly spins up.

No need for collusion with owners. It's simple pandering to the audience, and sportswriters live and breathe it.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:10 PM on January 29, 2013


Wasn't including Abraham, whom I'll agree is sloppy. I think that Cafardo's error ratio has to be stacked up against the sheer volume of writing he does. Yes, he sometimes fucks up spectacularly, but he writes a ton and most of it is engaging and solid in my opinion. (Lifetime baseball fan, sister and daughter of onetime sports writers, cousin of a former BWA president, journalist myself though I haven't covered sports outside of writing up high-school summaries for a local weekly).
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:18 PM on January 29, 2013


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