Thinking out loud … while wondering what has made this world go mad?
— My thoughts and prayers are extended to the families of the two TV journalists (Alison Parker and Adam Ward) who lost their lives simply doing their jobs this week, and to their fellow employees at WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. As someone who has made his living doing exactly what they were doing at the time they were attacked, words simply cannot express all of my thoughts. Like many, I’m asking only one question: Why?
— What a scary, scary world this has become. Mental health issues need to be discussed, certainly as much as gun control is talked about. Isn’t it about time we tackle this?
— After this disaster of a baseball season at Fenway, to have NESN and Red Sox brass make the move to remove Don Orsillo from the broadcast booth simply shows the side of this business that too many people don’t see. It’s ugly, largely unfair, and the price many ultimately pay for following a dream. Don is truly one of the good guys in a field full of mines, trap doors and insincerity, as well as insecurity. But he’s a big boy, too, and undoubtedly understands the business side of the equation.
— All too often, moves are made just for the sake of making them. Just to change things up. Poor ratings? Come on now, the team’s performance had more to do with that. There really isn’t any other way to rationalize the irrational. Blame it on a contract, new management, ratings, whatever you want. Everyone in the broadcast business is hired to be fired, eventually.
— Dave O’Brien, who will move over from the WEEI radio broadcast into the TV booth, will do a fantastic job. Another good guy, and superb pro — no matter the venue. I can assure you no one in this line of work likes to reap the benefit from someone else’s misfortune.
— David Ortiz‘s reaction probably put this rather sordid tale in its proper context. He told the Boston Herald, “No one is safe unless you are your own boss.” These days, I question that too, Papi.
— Orsillo is apparently under contract through December, and reportedly can’t look for another gig until then. Does that seem fair? Welcome to the realities of the broadcast world. NESN needs to do the right thing, today, and allow him the ability to seek other employment. Tom Werner and John Henry should step up and own this.
— Another reason we all liked D.O. — he was an “everyman.” And every bit a regular guy as he appeared to be on television. Genuine. It was different for many getting over Sean McDonough’s departure from the booth 15 years ago, and I suspect it will be strange not to hear Don Orsillo when 2016 rolls around. My hope is that when the baseball is bad — and it has been bad for longer than perhaps we’d like to admit — we’ll still have a reason to watch and listen. That’s what Orsillo and Jerry Remy gave us. Just sayin’.
— Tweet of the Week, from @shutiggyup: Firing @DonOrsillo after 3/4 last place finishes makes as much sense as burning your last bushel of wheat during a famine.
— More stupid TV decisions coming your way in 3, 2, 1 …
— ESPN and SportsCenter’s coverage of WWE Summer Slam further muddles the picture between fact and fiction. And with the problems ESPN faces in terms of its credibility and journalistic integrity (hello, NFL Big Brother), it’s a curious decision to move further toward the fictional world. Maybe it tells you all you need to know about where this business is headed?
— I sure understand the “why” of such a move — because the WWE is big bidness, and very popular. Yes, I still watch it on occasion, because it’s fun and often times well-written. But to send the flagship “news” program on the road to embrace the culture of make-believe? It’s just another questionable decision in an ever-growing list of poor choices the suits have made for the self-proclaimed World Wide Leader.
— The best decision? Send reporters, wanna-be wrestlers and fanatics to the event in waves, in droves. Cover it for the spectacle that it is. Treat it as an event, a show. But that’s it. Your flagship news program should rise above it all. This is theater, not a game or an actual contest. It’s a show. Treat it as such. Is that so hard to do? The ESPN folks are very, very good at blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. They want to tell you what THEY think is real, and it’s not open for debate.
— Not for nuthin’, but my time spent in Mickey’s Playhouse (aka ESPN) as an employee totaled 11 years. I remain a contractor for the company’s digital entity, primarily, to this day. But I made the professional decision years ago to keep this relationship on my terms, not theirs, while always remaining mindful of being pulled into “The Suck.” My thoughts — my words and actions — remain my own. I’m grateful for the chance and the forum to share them.
— Now, what exactly did Curt Schilling tweet this week that was so offensive? Please — like Gerry Callahan implored this week — can someone explain this to me? His comparison of ISIS (or radical Islam) to German Nazis can be interpreted in different ways, can it not? The fact he was removed from his ESPN duties for speaking his mind — which we all know he often does — and a guy like Cris Carter was not suspended for his comments to NFL rookies a year ago is one of the most preposterous decisions the four-letter network has ever made.
— Schilling’s comment, if it does nothing else, creates an opportunity for the subject to be on our minds, if not our hearts. I feel for those affected in the Middle East, and certainly those affected in this country and others. So how about interpreting Schill’s tweet like this, and use it as an example: “Never again.”
— As for Carter’s “fall guy” speech to NFL rookies a little more than a year ago — stupid is as stupid does, big fella. Telling rookies they need to have someone take the fall for their own misdeeds is reprehensible, and further emphasizes that our “wussification of America” is real.
— And yet, no punishment for the NFL Hall of Famer, who was wearing his gold HOF jacket when he told rookies, “I let my homeboys know, if ya’ll want to keep rolling like this, then I need to know who’s going to be the fall guy. … If you’re going to have a crew, one of them fools gotta know that he’s going to jail. We’ll get him out.” Classy stuff, huh?
— Knowing that ESPN suits are behind these decisions keeps me from actually watching that channel more than I would like to. Can’t support their decisions, and won’t support their actions. Here’s rooting for Fox Sports 1 to continue beefing up its programming so we’ll actually have a solid alternative.
— Excellent work by Forbes this week, pointing out that ESPN hasn’t had an ombudsman in place for almost a year. You know, someone to act as an actual conscience? The last one, Robert Lipsyte, said this last December: “I think that improvement is most needed in ESPN’s inconsistent execution of journalism, which does not appear to be the highest of company priorities.” Since then, crickets. And no replacement for Mr. Lipsyte.
— Political correctness has run amok. Frankly, it’s one of the primary reasons why Donald Trump’s popularity has soared well beyond reasonable boundaries.
— Did anyone else notice the item coming from the forum this week to discuss the new stadium for the PawSox, that Brown University has yet to sell the land the team needs for part of the outfield? There’s a good joke in here somewhere. Email me with your best shot(s).
— Cranston Western Little League‘s run in the Little League World Series ended abruptly, but as we mentioned last week, results don’t take away from Rhode Island’s regional dominance in the sport over the past five years. Gary Bucci, Larry Lepore and the entire CWLL organization add to the legacy that several Little Leagues have created for Rhody. There’s nothing little about Little League Baseball in the Ocean State.
— The first of many — Kris Dunn’s All-America status this week from Blue Ribbon. The annual yearbook/bible of college basketball puts Dunn in the top five nationally, which of course means the hype machine has officially been switched on. Now how does he handle it? How do teams handle him? And how do his teammates help him out?
— No surprise that LaDontae Henton has signed with C.D. Baloncesto Sevilla in Spain. Good league, great chance to earn a nice living. PC’s No. 2 all-time scorer accounted for himself pretty well during summer league play with the defending NBA champ Golden State Warriors (8.3 points, 2.8 rebounds per game), but soon had to realize his opportunity to crack that roster would be slim.
— It’s all about finding the right spot at the next level, and for Henton, Spain is it. For now. He’s a “tweener,” undersized for a big man and perhaps not quite as polished as an NBA two-guard needs to be. Tear it up overseas, LaDontae. Someone on this side of the pond will notice, if you do.
— Maybe he’ll match up against former Friar Donnie McGrath, who signed up this week to return to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It’s McGrath’s 10th pro season. Jeez, does time fly by.
— Thoughts are with former Syracuse guard Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, who had brain surgery again this week, 20 years after his first go-around with a tumor.
— Our trips to Planet Lovetron are no more with the sudden passing of Darryl Dawkins this week. Chocolate Thunder — a nickname given to him by Stevie Wonder — changed the way basketball was perceived in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with his rim-rattling, board-shattering dunks. He’s the reason rims now are breakaway, and backboards are largely shatter-proof. Loved watching him play, and loved it when I had the chance to call Sixers and Nets games in the ‘80s. He was always entertaining, never boring. He understood showmanship and made it work.
— Bristol Billy is at it again. Billy Andrade, ICYMI, won the Senior PGA’s Boeing Classic last week near Seattle. And he did it shooting a John Rooke-like seven on the par-4 fourth hole. He did say to the Seattle Times, however, that it was “the greatest seven I made in my life.” Andrade chipped in from the rough for that seven, taking a triple-bogey, and went on to claim his first individual win since 2000 on the PGA Tour.
— Reggie Wayne‘s joining the Patriots is a nice move, for the team and for Wayne. With the preseason injuries taking a toll on the receiving corps, the ability to pick up one of the greats — even if his tank is running dry — is a super PR move. Some Colts fans think he’s a traitor for having the audacity to play in New England. Some in the Indy media believe that, too. Uh-huh. And when you move to Burger King from McDonald’s for another gig, because the King wants you and the clown didn’t?
— WEEI.com’s Chris Price put out some excellent numbers this week on what can reasonably be expected of Wayne, as he will turn 37 in November. Terrell Owens caught 72 passes for 983 yards when he was 37, which is the top performance for a receiver at that age. While few believe Wayne will be targeted like TO was in 2010, it is possible — if he stays healthy — for Wayne to be a factor.
— Tweet of the Week II, from @BGlobeSports: No Patriots wideout older than 35 has ever caught 10 passes in a season.
— Jimmy Garoppolo’s improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 was palpable. He almost looked like a different player out there. If that’s a sign of his true ability, and a sign of things to come, the Patriots won’t skip a beat when TB12 hangs ‘em up. Unless of course, that isn’t for another five to seven years. Jimmy G won’t stay here as an understudy that long.
— Think Devin McCourty liked his move back to cornerback from safety? In a word, no. But he’s a team guy, and his versatility is important to the secondary from a matchup standpoint this season. There will be an occasion or two when he’ll be one-on-one with an opposing receiver, more as an element of surprise than anything else.
— Monday isn’t necessarily “D-Day,” as in Decision Day, for Tom Brady as he appears in a New York federal courtroom again. But at the very least, we’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel, with the hope Judge Berman renders his decision by Sept. 4 as he has maintained he would. And with the hope that light is not an oncoming train.
— Whether you’re watching HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this year or not, the program has provided some interesting insight to not only how the Houston Texans operate, but how the Patriots potentially go about their jobs as well. Texans coach (and former Patriots assistant) Bill O’Brien curses like a sailor but has a great sense of humor. Defensive coordinator (another former Patriots assistant) Romeo Crennel is greatly respected. Mike Vrabel is a solid coach for the linebackers. And Brian Hoyer beat out Ryan Mallett for the starting QB job. Anyone surprised by any of this?
— And J.J. Watt is a beast. That is all.
— Former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis never really made it as a head coach, although he did have some successful moments at Notre Dame. But his last stop in Kansas was disastrous, and the Jayhawks program is in shambles. Only four starters return this year for a new staff after a 3-9 season a year ago. Weis was fired last year after the team started 2-2.
— Randy Moss‘ new DirecTV commercial — with Petite Randy Moss — is LOL funny. And I hate using the term “LOL.” Reminds me of Penny Hardaway’s “Lil’ Penny.”
— So Los Angeles is ready to step into the breach of Boston’s failed 2024 Olympic bid? Of course it is, and it should. L.A. has everything in place that Boston does not. If the U.S. Olympic Committee had been a bit smarter, it would have realized this before putting its now-cracked eggs in the Boston basket. The USOC hopes to finalize the new bid in the next week, as the deadline for submission to the International Olympic Committee is Sept. 15.
— Having worked with the L.A. Olympic Organizing Committee in 1984 myself, it was quite the honor then, as it still would be today. But those L.A. Olympics showed what was possible through smart planning and marketing, with little-to-no tax burden on the public because of infrastructure already in place in Southern California.
— I’m all for trying new things, and the Olympics in Massachusetts sure would have qualified. But not at the expense of those of us already living here, and that’s what it came down to. Congrats to the pols who figured this out, by the way, rather than stuff it down our collective throats. Keep this in mind, Rhode Island, when it comes to the new stadium deal for the PawSox, will ya?
— My buddy Statbeast sez he likes to try new things, too. Like honesty with Mrs. Statbeast. Instead of blaming his poor memory for missing their anniversary, he was honest. “I can remember the theme song to Gilligan’s Island, the address of the first girl I ever kissed, and the license plate numbers of every car I’ve owned. But I just forgot our anniversary, so I got you these roses.” Translation: “The girl selling flowers on the corner was a real babe.”
— We do live in a world gone mad, at times. I try not to get on a soap box and use this forum as a bully pulpit, but this I believe: We all need to communicate. Better. More often. I’m not certain anything could have been done to prevent the on-air murder of two television news employees this week, but I do know one thing. Vigilant, I will always try to be.
— Mark from San Diego posed an interesting question on Facebook this week: “What are the odds that Roger Goodell thinks he is going to attend Game 1? Apparently he thinks he can do anything he wants.” Mark, I honestly can’t imagine he’ll want to attend, especially if Judge Berman rules against the NFL in Tom Brady‘s appeal. There’s a difference between chutzpa and stupidity. An invitation to sit in the owner’s box? Doubtful. Sit in the stands with fans? Unlikely. He’d need an army of security guards to protect him. His appearance at Gillette Stadium would not be in the game’s best interest — something he says he puts first. Maybe we’ll find out what he really thinks?
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