Dear Jim Palmer: There is not an incendiary device at the end of my last name.

June 1st, 2008 → 5:36 pm @

Love, Jonathan Papelbon.

Post Categories: 2008 Season & Broadcasting & Jonathan Papelbon

I sympathize with his frustration…but come on

May 2nd, 2007 → 11:26 am @

Yes, I’m getting to this a bit late — I’m about to get to a lot of things a bit late — but I want to make one last comment about the whole Schilling/bloody sock imbroglio. In his always entertaining, usually insightful blog, Schilling couldn’t help but use his brush to paint reporters with some broad strokes. “If you haven’t figured it out by now, working in the media is a pretty nice gig,’’ he wrote. “Barring outright plagiarism or committing a crime, you don’t have to be accountable if you don’t want to. You can say what you want when you want and you don’t really have to answer to anyone.”

This shows, more than anything that a) Curt would do well to do what I try to do when I get really upset: write down the first thing that pops into my head and then throw it away (I’m not always as successful as I might like) and b) he has very little understanding of the media.

There definitely are reporters that seem to have a questionable relationship with reality, just as there are those reporters who appear to use their columns to grind their assorted axes — I’ve been railing on Murray Chass for both of these sins for some time now. There are also those situations, and they seem to occur more frequently in the sports pages, where accountability is lacking. (Anyone remember when Jayson Stark said the Kenny Rodgers-Dirtgate controversy would rival steroids?)

But for the most part, there’s an enormous amount of accountability in the media — more so, I might add, then in the world of professional athletes, whose whims are catered by any number of people. (The whole media accountability thing is a subject I know something about.) And working in the media is, more often than not, not a pretty nice gig. Take baseball beat writers. Their hours suck: 3pm to midnight. Their people they cover (and are surrounded by) view them as annoyances…or worse. They’re fed an endless diet of stunningly unappetizing food and spend countless days crammed into coach and countless nights in crappy hotels. They make a couple of trips to Cincinnati (or Arlington, or Kansas City, or Detroit) every year. And their audience either thinks they’re supercilious pricks or pathetic suck ups.

All this for the privilege of working in an industry that looks to be in a death spiral. Oh, and earning about 140 times less per year than people like Curt Schilling. If they’re lucky.

Can reporters screw up? Of course. Can they be unscrupulous? Absolutely. Are they ever careless with the facts? Well, duh. But Curt’s blanket statement is about as accurate as saying my saying that working as a professional baseball player is a pretty nice gig because you get paid tens of millions of dollars to shoot up with ‘roids.

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Broadcasting & Curt Schilling

NESN gives Boston fans reason to believe the Sox are just as selfishly stupid as they’ve always suspected

March 19th, 2007 → 5:19 pm @

I’m far from the only person who finds baseball’s exclusive deal with DirectTV to be, frankly, offensive. (The recent quasi-compromise is a complete smokescreen.) MLB has officially gotten itself in the business of forcing consumers to choose between two competing distribution channels. This is an effort to make a lot of money, yes, but it’s also an effort to bring more consumers to, which shows the Selig’s deputies don’t have the best grasp of their audiences viewing habits. The DirectTV deal not only pisses me — and you, and everybody else who currently has cable — off, it’s yet another example of baseball’s time-honored tendency to win the battle and lose the war. As John Henry told me in Feeding the Monster, baseball isn’t just competing with football and basketball and hockey for people’s attention, it’s competing with The Departed and the new Halo and YouTube and every other of the million entertainment options out there. And when you take away the opportunity for people to spend more time watching baseball, you’re simultaneously giving them more time to enjoy some other form of entertainment. The web has long prized the notion of “stickiness” — how much time a user spends on any given site. That’s an increasingly important metric across all entertainment options. Baseball is losing out on a chance to stick itself to me. And if I can’t watch the three weekday games and get to know the players and heighten my involvement with my team of choice, my overall connection to MLB is going to lessen. What’s more, online TV still has a long way to go, and MLB’s audience isn’t all that likely to sit in front of their computers for poor picture quality and choppy feeds. So, sure, baseball is making some money now, but it’s not going to accomplish one of its main goals — getting viewers to migrate over to — and it sure could end up making fans feel less connected over time.

But so what, right? It’s not like this story is just breaking. But another one is, a story in which NESN is showing it has internalized MLB’s battle/war valuation all too well. According to an article in today’s Herald, NESN (which the Sox own 80% of) will no longer permit local stations to air highlights while a game is still in progress. Think about that. You’re watching American Idol and at the tail end of an ad break, there’s a teaser for that night’s newscast. But now you won’t get, “Papi hits another two homers as the Sox face off with the Jays; full report at 11.” (Or at least you won’t get a video clip to further draw you in.) That means you’ll see less of those teasers. That means fewer people are likely to stay up and watch the sports highlights. And that means fewer people are going to realize in the middle of the game that, hot damn, they’d rather watch Ortiz crank some into the bleachers than be bored by Paula and Simon bitching at each other. And that means it’s likely that NESN’s boneheaded move with actually translate into fewer people tuning in to the team’s broadcasts. (Can you imagine another TV network actually telling its competition that they were not allowed to run what amounts to free ads in the middle of the programming? Neither can I.)

As the Herald notes, this move could very well be an antecedent to the day when NESN only allows local stations to air highlights if they license — i.e., pay for — them. If that’s indeed true, I’d expect there to be a helluva fight. There are plenty of implications here, not the least of which is U.S. copyright law’s fair use doctrine, which states that the use of copyrighted material for “purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting…is not an infringement of copyright.” Two of the four considerations the law lists as factors in this type of fair use are “the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation” to the work as a whole and “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.” There’s not a chance in hell that the Sox will ever be able to argue that a minute or two of highlights are a substantial amount of the entire game or that watching the evening news somehow threatens NESN’s ability to benefit from its copyright. (In fact, I’m surprised none of the local stations have brought this up in relation to the use of clips that are aired while the game is still being played…but that could be because promotional ads (“news at 11…”) are, by definition, commercial in nature, while the newscasts themselves would certainly count as “news reporting.”)

I usually defend the Sox when they’re accused to trying to soak every last penny from their franchise; after all, I’d be thrilled if the team sells a million more Red Sox Nation memberships if that translates into more money for the team’s baseball operations. But this feels like one toke over the line. And it feels remarkably stupid as well.

(I’m not a big believe in the cabal — sorry, Tony — but it is interesting that this story doesn’t seem to be on the Globe‘s Red Sox homepage. The Globe, of course, is owned by The New York Times Co., which also happens to be the largest minority owner of the Sox. Or, to simplify things: the Times Company makes lots of money off of NESN.)

Post Categories: Boston Globe & Broadcasting & Cable & & NESN & New York Times

If you had one shot, would you capture it (and if you did, would anbody bother tuning in?)

October 23rd, 2006 → 11:56 pm @

This should surprise exactly no one: the Detroit-St. Louis matchup has topped last year’s Chicago-Houston contest as the least watched World Series in history. Kind of give a new meaning to the notion of losing yourself, eh?

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Broadcasting & Oblique References to Eminem Lyrics

Wolf Blitzer desperately wants an actual situation for his room

October 11th, 2006 → 4:17 pm @

Wolf Blitzer: “Are there ambulances that you can see? We can hear the sirens behind you.”
Anderson Cooper: “Actually what you’re hearing probably behind me is a parked car — the alarm just went off.”

And: Wolf just told viewers that the Bel Air is a building with “two- and three-bedroom apartments valued as high as 1.5 million dollars which is not unusual for a two- or three-bedroom apartment in New York City.” Clearly, Wolf hasn’t been on the market for a new apartment for some time; in August, the average price for a two-bedroom apartment on the UES was $1.8 million; for three bedrooms it was $2.5 mil.

Post Categories: Broadcasting & CNN

CNN’s Richard Roth proves he’s fit to broadcast baseball games

October 11th, 2006 → 4:02 pm @

More gems from today’s coverage…

Around 3:15, CNN’s U.N. correspondent Richard Roth began reporting on-air. From him we learned that:

* When a plane crashes into a residential building, longtime enemies find a way to get beyond their natural animosity: “New York is a tale of many cities, and there are people who would rather, on the East Side rather fly to Chicago than go to the West Side of Manhattan, that’s the way New York is, but obviously it’s a cause for concern for everybody.”

* When the in-studio anchor said the accident scene was not far from LaGuardia, Roth took the opportunity to bitch about New York traffic: “In rush hour it can take forever.” Roth, pro that he is, did recover, and once he realized he was being asked if the accident site was far from LaGuardia via plane, he said, “It’s a great view at times but some painful memories.”

* And finally, it’s gotten harder and harder to buy a quart of milk at 2 am: “New York skyscrapers, it’s certainly a building boon in Manhattan over the last few years especially, even after 9/11. Downtown has got more construction and uptown you can’t walk a block in Manhatan without running in to major construction crews. Small stores and neighborhood stores keep closing in areas and you wonder how they get supplied with food and all that because you’ve got apartment buildings going up nonstop.”

Apparently, it’s not only the Bush administration that feels the U.N. doesn’t need to be a top priority.

Post Categories: Broadcasting & CNN & Media reporting

Dave Henderson might be the worst broadcaster ever.

August 26th, 2006 → 11:46 pm @

Sure, his run in the ’86 playoffs was as good as, say, Mark Bellhorn’s in 2004. But man, does he suck in the booth. He makes Ron Gant look like Howard Cosell.

Post Categories: Broadcasting