By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

Mr. Bryant is still on schedule to go to Washington, even after meeting with Hank Herald on Tuesday. Translation: Howard Bryant is a “negative” urine sample away from becoming the Washington Redskins (co-)beat writer at the Washington Post.

Two Shots’ emails to Herald sports editor Hank Hryniewicz went unanswered this week. Understandably so – Hank Herald has bigger things on his plate than Shots’s annoyances. However, Shots has been told by a high-ranking Post sports desk, insider that the newspaper hopes to make a formal offer to Bryant “early next week.” The Globe’s living section space “Names” reported on Wednesday – and Shots has confirmed – that Post company policy does not allow an offer to be made until a drug test is administered to a prospective hire.

The news of Bryant’s imminent departure from the Boston Herald surprised more than a few locals and brought a flurry of mail and discussion to the overworked Shots ‘Horde’ inbox. Not so much because Bryant was a lightning rod in the city, we suspect, but because of what it might say for the state of affairs at One Herald Square where the Yellow Boxers just got a whole lot whiter and a little bit lighter.

In addition to having some teeth in his steroid reporting, Bryant was also, if you hadn’t noticed, a black voice at a city-centric paper – always a good ingredient for a fine, upstanding, tab like the Heraldo.

Now, the Herald staff has lost its “minority voice” and the city, once again, is without a black, general sports columnist (the Globe’s three general sports opinionistas are all Caucasian: Bob Ryan, Jackie MacMullan and Dan Shaughnessy. The Globe’s Pats’ rookie, Jerome Solomon, represents the lone African-American, Big 4 beat writer in the city. Shots won’t pass judgment on whether that’s a bad or good thing, but I think we all can agree that having minority views represented by actual minorities always seems to be the best equation for balanced criticism.

Also, the Bryant move is raising industry-wide eyebrows because it is perceived by some that Bryant is taking a step back in order to avoid being on the Death Staff of the Herald. Even 10 years ago, the observers suggest, it would have been unheard of for a major daily columnist to leave his position of relative comfort, in a two-paper market no less, for one of the daily grind on a difficult beat. (The Post and the ‘Skins have an awkward, uneasy relationship for some time now.)

The numbers – if you’re hung up on those – would seem to indicate, however, that Bryant’s “step back” is well-calculated and timely. The Post is a Top 5 paper by circulation (740,000+/-); the Herald is Top 50 (235,000+/-) – the Globe, for comparison sake, is Top 15 with 415,000 +/-. The Post goes around a million on Sunday, the Herald drops to 150 K and the Globe jumps to 665 K-ish on Sundays.

(Even with this week’s reported circ. decreases at the Globe, those are still good ballparks for the three “major metropolitan papers” in discussion.

The Top 5 newspapers by daily circ. are: USA Today (2.2 million), The Wall Street Journal (2.1 million), The New York Times (1.1 million), the Los Angeles Times (900,000) and the Post.

In all, about 100 of the nations newspapers have reported circulations over 100,000 – The Hartford Courant, for instance is around 200,000 during the week and the Providence Journal hovers near 165 K. (Shots used mean, but not nasty, numbers from both the Audit Bureau of Circulation and BurrellesLuce, a combined system that we hope would make The Harris Poll people proud! We also remind you that circ. numbers are similar to other ambiguous numbers such as: foreign players’ ages and HS football recruits’ heights, weights and 40-times.)

. . . With the Washington Times being Howie’s new cartel competitor, we journeyed over to see who his comp. will be on the Skins beat. Ryan O’Halloran and David Elfin provided the Monday ‘Skins coverage for the WT, proudly, “America’s Newspaper.” (The WashTimes’ website, by the way, is just ridiculously putrid. No design, no pictures and no effort, it seems. They’re certainly not “America’s website.” The Post’s is an industry standard for what websites can be for newspapers.)

. . . A clarification is necessary regarding the Shots’ word usage, on Monday, of Herald editors “refusing to comment” on the Bryant situation. Shots emailed the two, top Yellow Box sports editors and did not receive a response from either. Therefore, technically, we are told by a couple of folks, the Herald “did not reply to an email request from Shots.” In other words, they refused comment.

. . . Old friend, Michael Gee, couldn’t resist chiming in on the Bryant move over at www.sportsjournalists.com. On Tuesday afternoon he posted this: “The publisher of the Herald walked into the newsroom yesterday to announce that three of his investors had cashed out, but that not to worry, everything was just fine. Howard is way too sharp to fall for that one. He also, oddly enough, likes being a daily newspaper guy.”

. . . While we did mention David Aldridge as a branch in the ‘Skins’ Post beat writer tree, one Shots’ loyalist wanted to let us know that Pulitzer-winner David Remnick, currently the grand poobah at the elite New Yorker, was once a Post football scribe as well, (and even had some USFL stories under his belt). Other names that came up when researching the Post’s Redskin writers from years past include: Paul Attner, Mark Asher and of course, the incomparable Shirley Povich. Who can forget this classic from Mr. P: “Cleveland Browns runner Jim Brown integrated the Redskins’ end zone”?. . . And Bryant also joins the best 1-2 columnist punch in the nation, Korn and Wilby, the PTI Guys. . . Bryant, for those of you who wondering (and he you won’t get him to admit this during football season) is a Temple Owl. Shots has always said that John Chaney makes up for about 50 years of awful football on his own merits. So being an Owl ain’t nothing to be ashamed of.

• Two telling headlines from the week in media news: from Wednesday, ‘Boston Globe’ Circ Drops; from Thursday, Google revenue up 96%; profit easily tops estimates

Don’t you dare tell me they’re unrelated either: As the second, above story states: “Nearly all of Google’s revenue comes from advertising sales.”

ESPN Radio Boston’s Mike Felger managed to grab Bill Belichick for a drive-time, prime time (5:30 p.m.) interview during Thursday’s “The Drive,” along with co-host Kevin Winter. ( Jersey Bob Halloran might have been there too, but we think Mike and Kev handled the coach by themselves.)

Belichick also appeared on Providence’s ESPN affiliate, WSKO 790 AM’s, revamped “SportsBeat” with Scott Cordischi and Bryan Morry on Thursday, and that inerview (Part 1) can be heard here. Belichick chuckled that Morry, the former Patriots Football Weekly writer and Pats web star, was “a long way from the Coach’s Corner we (used to do here).” Cordischi good-naturedly egged on a somewhat jovial Belichick to note how tough the loss of Morry was to the team. “He’s a hard guy to replace – big shoes,” Belichick joked.

It would appear to be a bit odd for two competing, (relatively) in-market radio stations to be allowed to interview the coach – a premium for which WEEI pays handsomely. (Belichick appears on the Big Show every Monday at ‘EEI 850 AM.) One industry insider in another NFL market that Shots spoke to on Thursday evening, said that common practice with such “exclusive” appearance agreements with coaches or players is to “limit” other, in-market radio interviews to a handful or less during the season. That’s likely the arrangement Belichick and ‘EEI have worked out as well, thus allowing for the Double-B, double-shot, on the also-ran stations.

Said Pats spokesman Stacey James, via email from his bye week getaway down south: “The 890 and WSKO calls that coach made (on Thursday) were long overdue requests from two former beat writers (Felger and Morry). They had initially made the requests when their shows launched. Coach made time to call both after his football commitments (this week). . .That’s all.”

James also noted he does not see contract agreements for such arrangements as Belichick’s with ‘EEI, so he could not comment on language specifics.

(A separate phone call, on an unrelated matter, to WEEI’s Jason Wolfe was not returned from earlier this week. So Shots gets the distinct impression that JDub is ignoring us. If only it were that simple to ignore his station during the afternoon drive. But we digress. . .)

It’s no secret that Felger has fostered a good (if not great) relationship with Belichick, so the coach was clearly comfortable in chatting up Felgie and his partner-in-radio, the emerging Winter. (One rumor Shots heard this summer even had Felgie sharing time at the Nantucket summer pad of BB.) Morry also cultivated his Belichick relationship throughout his in-house years in Foxboro. It almost seemed as though Belichick was more relaxed and revealing with 890 and 790 than he usually is with the Meaty, Monday Gang of Four at 850.

Belichick, who calls Radio Mike by his birth (and newspaper name) “Michael,” answered questions for about 15 minutes and was able to address the Ty Poole situation that Globie Mike Reiss had been reporting on during the day. (Additionally, Reiss had the Poole comments from Belichick’s interview up at his “Pieces” blog by 6 p.m.) “Thanks Michael and Kevin, good talking to you,” said a gracious Belichick before hanging up.

. . . ERB, is, by the way now streaming with better success and connectivity than had been the case over the last month. Also, the “personalities” page now lists, as the local talent, Felger, Winter, Russ Francis and the locally-bred, anchor/reporter Mike Salk. Not quite sure of his role from the bio provided, but he is pictured sitting in front of a microphone. . . The fledgling line-up at ERB now looks like this (notice the impressive title for former Zoner Michael Winn and the absence of Jessamy Tang’s name from the “Contact Us” link at the site, Guess she’s staying “behind the curtain”: Anchor/Reporter, Salk; Producer, Karen Young; The Drive host, Felger; Anchor/Reporter, Winter; Producer, Ross Carey; Sales Manager, Jim Cande; Program Director, Doug Tribou; Senior Director of Business Development, Winn; Director of Marketing, Kevin Gabbay; Traffic and Production Manager, Dee Simpson; Senior Account Executive, Arthur Katz; Account Executive, Brian Horan; Account Executive, AJ Nicholson; Account Executive, Joseph Mastrorio; Account Executive, Mike Torelli.

• Here’s how bad Phil Simms was on Sunday during the CBS past/Broncos tilt: he made Jim Nantz look bad – and Nantz is one of the Top 5 sports media personalities in all the land. Simms “elbow” discussion during the game was painfully poor. He appears to be suffering from post-career reverberations from distant sacks. ESPN’s Joe Theismann suffers from the same, sad affliction.

• Because of my increasingly odd sleep schedule, I managed to stay awake for the ESPN Contender rematch production that was foisted upon an unassuming public on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Bill Simmons gave this account of the night in his Wednesday space, but let’s face it, the guy gets a check from ESPN every two weeks or so. He couldn’t tell you what a true joke the whole thing was. Providence pride, Peter Manfredo Jr., was not only robbed on national TV, he was embarrassed and fleeced. And Dan Patrick, Sly Stallone and Mark Burnett were all in on it. Don King might have been embarrassed at this one, folks. Boxing’s got enough problems with the “real” belts, now we have to worry about the bastardization by ESPN? Where have you gone Al Bernstein, and gasp, Max Kellerman?

• Nice to see old friend, KMac, the Providence Journal’s Kevin McNamara getting into the blog thing with his updates from Pats practice on Wednesday. Talk about a guy who “gets it” – KMac is one of the region’s most underappreciated and unheralded talents. Oh, and he knows his college basketball, which never hurts in the Shots Favorability Index.

• Nice work also by Brockton Enterprise Pats guy, Glen Farley, the long, lost Farrelly brother, on his pool reports from Camp Tedy.

Herald hockey head Stephen Harris reported on the rumor of Ray Bourque joining the Bruins coaching staff in his notebook in Wednesday editions of the Herald.

Problem was, the Herald Hockey blog, written by Douglas Flynn had reported on Tuesday afternoon that: “The rumor of Ray Bourque joining the Bruins coaching staff, as reported on Ch. 25 last night, remains just a rumor at this point. General manager Mike O’Connell made a (sic) offer to Bourque to join the staff three years ago when Bourque retired, and that proposal remains a standing offer on the table.

“According to Bruins media relations director Heidi Holland, O’Connell has made no recent overtures to Bourque and the Hall-of-Fame defenseman has made no indications that he has changed his mind about joining the Bruins coaching staff. The Bruins remain open to the possibility, but at this point there are no immediate plans to have Bourque join the staff.”

Might be a good idea for the hockey folks to get on the, ah, same page, or pages.

• True, Shots gave credit to co-BSMW-habitant John Molori last week for his Hazel Mae ‘piece.’ But Globie Bill Griffith took it to extremes on Tuesday when he re-published Molori’s findings and then got predictable responses from A Woman Who Watches The Biz and A Man Who Does same (Joanne Gerstner and Frank Shorr).

We’ve learned this from both of the Mae Missives: Mae is a master manipulator. She clearly wants a radio gig. She clearly has visions of grandeur for herself – likely on a larger stage. She clearly is selling her image (the pub shot the Globe used must have come straight from Maxim’s photo library).

. . . If ‘EEI had any sense at all, they’d pair her with Mike Adams for the night-time show for a year commitment and see what they get. Shots would listen for the first few shows anyway. And we bet a few other folks would as well. “Mike and the Mad Mae” – it’ll be a cross between the Big Show and Howard Stern. (Scott’s Shots: For All Your Programming Needs and More. . .find us in the Yellow Pages.)

Last thing on Mae: She’s setting herself up nicely for a correspondent’s gig on a national show like “ESPN Hollywood,” wouldn’t you say? She’s got Tinsel Town written all over her.

• The problem with mentioning Seth Davis’s decidedly dull tour of college hoops hotbeds is that you might actually click over and see if anything can be as bad as Shots deems this to be .

On Thursday, Lanny’s kid was begging for credit because he got up at 5 in the morning for a Kelvin Sampson, Oklahoma practice. Not to mention he had to drink 7-11 coffee. Must not have been a Starbucks for miles. Poor fella.

Great, Sethy Pooh – neither the early wake-up nor the java helped your lame-ass explanation of the practice proceedings.

Come on – go to TV full-time, would you? Shots briefly caught your act on CSTV the other night. You’re completely bland and monotone there as well. But I can largely avoid CSTV for non-event viewing. I can’t avoid the Yahoo! Sports page that links to your consistently drab offerings and screams out for me to mock you.

Who, pray tell, but you and your tie-sharing ThanksDad, would possibly care about this: “. . . I once played in a foursome with (Sampson) and we finished 18 holes in three hours flat. We were helped that day by a super-powered, crimson-colored golf cart Sampson shared with OU football coach Bob Stoops.”

Just what was the most pompous part of those two sentences? The name dropping or the unnecessary tale of golfing with coaches?

Davis has about as much chance of conveying the passion and promise of October college basketball practice as the Globe had of getting me to read a Sunday takeout on SportsTurf by Amalie Benjamin titled “Magic Carpet.”

• (Which reminds us of three other oddly allotted and placed sports stories from the Green Boxers this week: The tasteless headline, “No legs? No problem” that accompanied the re-tell of a Sports Illustrated story about a legless, high school football player in Ohio, wasn’t the only problem with the story. But it was the most glaring (space given equaling 2.5 pages being the other).

Then on Monday, the business section had an interesting read on Andover-PO Box-based Scouts Inc. from staffer Sasha Talcott . It would have played much better in Sunday’s sports section instead of all those wasted words on fake grass.

The final oddity of the week was the Living section placement of the Jack Thomas Travis Roy story (10 years since his horrific accident) on Thursday. That would have had best served the readership if it were given the space that say, the legless player story was given.

Is it possible that the rest of the Globe is actually doing enterprise sports reporting better than the actual sports section?

• Great, great moment when ESPN’s capable Karl Ravech was interviewing conquering hero Craig Biggio late Wednesday night and Bidge started shedding a tear when Ravech asked about what it would mean to the ‘Stros’ children. Terrific TV.

Bidge is one of the true good guys from Shots’ all-time roster of interviews. So much so, that we’ll even mention the Sunshine Kids web site again and urge you click over and learn about a wonderful group of people who help some truly special children.

• At this time of year, to share a phrase, Globie Chris Snow is hardly a rookie. He’s playing like a sophomore now, at the tail end of his debut “season.” And the love is starting to roll in for the first-year Sox beat guy. Mark Jurkowitz’s “Future 10” in his “Don’t Quote Me” space for the Boston Phoenix is one indication of Snow’s early impact. Although the other nine honorees are a mixed bag at best.

Symbiotically, here was the outstanding lead from Snow’s Thursday re-cap of the Astros clinch:

“ST. LOUIS — She looked her best, the 39-year-old lady in red. She beamed for the flashbulbs that flickered throughout the evening. She took in the warm air, full of anticipation and excitement. She wanted one more night, one more dance. She wanted to be 39 forever.”

For all the crap this web address gives to Joe Sullivan and his desk, it needs to be pointed out that he got the Snow hire right in a big way. The Kid’s gonna be great.

Good luck keeping him when your old buddies in Bristol come a calling at some point. Sorry – had to have some balance to the feel-goodiness of it all.

• The Rob Bradford news of his impending move to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune was met with general joy in the very same Shots’ inbox that heard the Howie comments. Bradford seems to have made a lot of friends along the way.

One valued emailer wanted to point out that while the hard numbers suggest only a 10,000 person increase in readership from the Sun (50,00 to 60,000), the EagTrib offers a bigger overall platform through its pro sports inclusion in the Essex County Newspapers group. ECN papers use ET sports copy. Valid point, but the base numbers are what we tend to deal with when discussing circ. Still, the increased audience probably went into Bradford’s decision-making when he was weighing the Sun vs. the ET. . . As for Lowell Sun replacements for Bradford’s slot, there’s been a fair amount of lobbying into the Shots Official Job Lobbying Inbox (a separate, secret entity altogether) for Alex Speier, Joe Haggerty and one wise acre who thought Michael Gee might be ready to get back into some beat writing down in Spinner Town.

• Some self-omsbudding is in order after the Jim McCabe/Transparency item form last week’s Shots. More than a few Globe insiders (and outsiders) were outraged that someone would have the gumption to call-out one of their writers AND to have the nerve to suggest a different way of doing things, i.e. putting disclaimers on feature stories in addition to Sunday notebooks.

Insular insecurity from those folks aside, the easiest thing I can do to re-state my position, is to give all of you the response I gave a respected veteran of the local media scene, who courteously contacted me last weekend. The writer began his note to Shots by asking “What was your inference on (McCabe)?” To which I offered this explanation:

“It wasn’t an inference on McCabe. It was an indictment of the paper’s non-policy, policy.

“Go ahead and look at both stories if you haven’t already. The two giveaways to me that (McCabe) incorporated (which of course is FINE) AP material are the Morgan Pressel quote from the Fortune story AND the Tiger Woods’ quotes which AP had the sense to say: “Woods said last week.” McCabe made it seem as thought Woods had said them that day, which of course is not a mortal sin.

“MY SOLE POINT was that there has to be more transparency at ALL levels. Otherwise you guys – the Old Media – are risking a loss of the readers’ trust, which has already eroded quite significantly (and, if I may ramble more, has led to the community, or blog, “journalism” that now exists).

“I think the worst part of the whole item was the late and lame response by (Globe sports editor) Joe Sullivan. I’m sure he was put off that piss-ant like me would question the attribution methods of one of his best writers. But I was simply trying to show that you can save a lot of headaches later on, if you simply disclose where it is your writers’ are getting their info. Cover. Your . Ass.”

I’d also add now that I really went out of my way not to “slime” McCabe as one corresponder put it, I was illustrating the belief that ALL media needs to be more “transparent” in their presentation of information. I personally believe a little more of it is better than a little less of it, especially at huge media corps like the NYT or ESPN.

• Despite some humorous elements within the storied chronology of last month’s WFAN/Sid Rosenberg break-up, the sad truth is Rosenberg is showing signs off (again) heading down a dangerous path.

It was reported late last week by the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand that Rosenberg was headed to 790 AM The Ticket in Miami.

This week, however, Shots has learned that those negotiations for a night-time host’s spot are stalled and Rosenberg and his agent may be looking at some satellite radio opportunities with either Sirius or XM. From a programming sense, the loose cannon that is Rosenberg, is much better suited for the FCC-less airwaves. He’s got equal parts Opie, Anthony and Howard Stern to his sports-savvy shtick.

But the fast-talking Rosenberg’s very appeal (including his oft-tabloided drug and gambling past) may ultimately be his own undoing. It’s worth keeping an eye on even if it is an “out-of-market” story. Stories of addiction and/or fame always are, aren’t they? Sad, but true.

• Here’s what Shots believes to be the most pompous comment of the week uttered on sports talk radio in Boston:

Former Globie Golden Boy, Michael Smith, was apparently having some microphone issues during his in-studio drop-by for Tuesday’s regular look at the NFL (with Dale and Holley on WEEI) when he uttered: “Oh, sorry. I’m used to the mike being on my coat.”

Translated: I’m on TV regularly and you’re not. Hah! And it’s ESPN! Double Hah!

Truth be told, Holley and Smith are fairly humorous together, but Dale ruins the moment more often than not. Smith’s definitely made progress since he was thrust prematurely into the ESPN fire. He’s still got a ways to go to catch up to the now-polished and engaging, Holley. . .Maybe Boston’s diversity is just shifting, not necessarily disappearing? Hmmmmmmm.

• Here’s folk and jazz music’s version of Michelle Wie. Name’s Sonya Kitchell . An old soul and a sweet voice. Ahh.

• McCabe’s assessment of the SI’s Michael Bamberger/Wie incident, by the way, was spot on in Thursday’s Globe.

• That was an awful lot of Shots this week, eh? More than 6,000 wayward words even. It’s okay, My Boss Bruce says I can put in for overtime. He’ll ignore it, but I can still put in for it. Love that guy.
Enjoy the Bye Week. Bye, bye.

David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shots@bostonsportsmediadotcom