By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch
• WEEI 850 AM’s Glenn The Big O Ordway, at least for the 10 minutes we could endure, just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, was trying to perpetuate the Theo Returns scenario – complete with a mysterious semi-cackle from Peter Gammons (in response to that probing investigator (hah!) Larry Johnson). This scenario, by the way, was also given a sliver of hope during the Lucky/Lobel tete-a-tete on Sunday eve. Lucky refused comment, but in a “leave the door open” kind of way. Which is to say, in a “Lucky” kind of way.
Please, stop the madness. Get a GM, a team and finish the refurbishments. We’ll check back with ya in April, okay?
• Lest we think the staffing cutbacks at the nation’s sports desks is limited to our two papers of interest, we submit this extraordinary Jeff Jacobs piece from last weekend’s Hartford Courant. Jacobs, better than anyone in recent memory, sums up the whole mess of the newspaper industry in 1,200 words or less. “Some day, the big dailies will figure out a way to maximize revenue from the same information superhighway that is threatening to make road kill out of us,” Jacobs wrote, “maybe find a way to charge a nickel or a dime for each story called up and link the number of hits to advertising revenue. Unfortunately that day won’t arrive soon enough to save many of us.”
Jacobs probably knows that few, if any, readers are going to get out the Kleenex for the downsized scribes. Shots, in fact, will go as far as to say some of the trimming might actually be for the better. And let’s face it, the old Inked Stained Wretches could have prevented some of this about a decade ago if they had started making the move to the Web back then.
Still, when you read a Jacobs-type piece and start to think about what it is we’re losing, you start to realize that everyone is losing something in this whole mess. Everyone.
• It’s looking more and more like the Globe’s SportsPlus show will be going to a nightly format sometime after the first of the year. That will be a welcome change to a promising show that often gets caught with some outdated analysis because of its double-taping schedule on Wednesdays.
The format will likely resemble what is done in Philadelphia with the on Daily News Live which airs on Comcast SportsNet from 5-6:30 p.m.
We doubt (or is it fear?) that the NESN entry will be given 90 minutes, but a 60 minute slot isn’t out of the question. Old friend Michael Barkann (the man with a radio studio in his home!) does the hosting in Philly, while Bob Neumeier would be the logical choice to stay on as host here in Boston.
The possibility of new slots opening up for reporters and guests is something we’ll need to keep an eye on. Let’s hope the rapidly rising Paul Devlin is given a larger role – he’s been on a roll lately, as evidenced by his solid Larry Izzo piece earlier this week and some other impressive Pats packages in recent days.
• Michael Silverman and Tony Mazz of the Herald and Gordon Edes gave some good blog this week from the Winter Meetings in Dallas and Edes, especially, seemed to be enjoying the free-flow forum. Winter Meeting type “events” are perfect blogging opportunities and more than a few outlets took advantage of it. Even in New York, where Peter Abraham, a Umie in enemy territory, gave not only blog updates, but also provider reader-email response. And some good humor, including the classic kicker “Thanks for e-mails everybody. Now stop sending me trade suggestions.” Ah yes, the perils of insta-journalism!
• Still trying to figure out what a ‘NOK’ is. Sure am glad the BOS beat those Nokkers on Wednesday night in OK City.
• Whether or not the message will be received by the listeners, you have to credit the conservative-leaning, Massachusetts Citizens for (traditional) Marriage for its demographical understanding and placement at WEEI 850 AM.
Think about your typical ‘EEIdiot – Bud-drinking, gay-bashing, potentially politically active consumers – with at least some disposable income. To grab air time during The Big O’s time slot, the non-profit’s founder, Mrs. Sarah Pawlick (as she’s referred to at the website), is showing an ability to target her Marlborough-based group’s message.
It should, however, be noted, that the spot, first heard by Shots on Monday afternoon, sounded sooooo different from the regular ‘EEI/Big Show ad content we’re accustomed to. For that reason alone it might have grabbed some ears. But we’re not sure how many of those ears have been spotted getting a ballot for anything beyond Bud Bowl XLLX.
Sports and politics have always mixed well in this town, so it’s certainly worth a try.
• Overlooked in Tom He’sGayToGiselle’s Sports Illustrated Sportsman honor, was the fact that the 3,600-word piece was authored by the Worcester Word Warrior himself, Charles P. Pierce.
Like the FCC to Click and Clack, My Buddy Paulie Brookline cringes when he hears it: Pierce never brings anything less than spectacular to SI’s pages.
Pierce, by the way, will have a Brady book published next fall by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Shots is now officially requesting a review copy of said tome. Capiche?
• In addition to using the word crepuscular with ease, Pierce deftly paints the picture of the perfect quarterback, perfectly perfecting his craft – complete with a Plato analogy that works and some good ole fashioned goat talk.
Some other highlights, Shots plucked for your reading pleasure:
“. . . But you also walk to a place like this one, tucked into the ridges and hillsides south of Boston, looming above a nondescript piece of highway. And you arrive in games like this one, in which the New England Patriots, now nine months into the defense of their third world championship, play the New Orleans Saints, now two months into their first season in San Antonio. The Saints are 2-7. The Patriots, riddled with injuries, are a ragged 5-4. The match is such an obvious mutt that at least one New England television station is carrying another NFL game. The defending champions are playing an orphan game against an orphan team. . .
. . . ‘All I wanted was the camaraderie, to share some memories with so many other guys,’ Brady says. ‘I mean, if you choose to alienate yourself or put yourself apart, you know, play tennis. Play golf.’ . . .
. . . Brady’s stardom is unique in Boston, which has never seen an athletic celebrity like this. Ted Williams hated so much about the place that he hardly counted as one of the city’s own. Bill Russell never caught on for a number of reasons, quite a few of them involving race. Bobby Orr was a local star, but he played hockey, which, as has become apparent, might as well be played on Neptune. Larry Bird spent much of his time in Boston in seclusion, and much of the rest of the time in southern Indiana, which is the same thing. . .
. . . Perhaps the iconic moment of that (first Super Bowl) season came at the very end of it, after the Patriots’ Super Bowl win over the heavily favored the Rams. Brady, transported by what the team had done, at what he had done, grabbed Bledsoe in a ferocious embrace, but Bledsoe’s face was such a poignant mask of rueful perplexity that the two men seemed to be touching each other from different emotional dimensions. There was an arrival and a departure contained in that moment. Brady quickly turned away from the awkward embrace and put both hands on his head and smiled, his happiness reaching out to all the dark and distant corners of the Superdome, enveloping all his teammates, even the one who had to be left behind. . .”
• Speaking of the gentlemen’s titles with which Shots used to run with, it was good to see old friend, Scott Gramling, the FHM EIC, get a little Track Gals’ love a couple of weeks back. Grambo has maintained his title for an extraordinarily long time (especially in that sector) and he continues to show he’s one of the top magazine minds in all the land.
A MESSAGE FROM MEAT
• The following is an email Shots received last week from WEEI 850 AM’s angry and agitated PeteMeat Sheppard. He asked in his p.s. that I “show some nuts” and keep it between the two of us. I chose not to be so nutsy.
I submit this for your reading pleasure to allow you to understand the mindset of the loudest mouth at ‘EEI and let you decide if this is the type of ‘professional’ that Jason Wolfe, Julie Kahn and the Entercom folks should be employing.
PeteMeat is becoming so shameless in his attempt to push the envelope and play the role of the School Bully, that he is compromising the thinking-listeners’ loyalty to Glenn Ordway’s afternoon gab-a-rama. There IS another choice now, you know? And Mike Felger – if you can grab the signal – is making reasonably good radio over at ESPN Radio Boston 890 AM.
Remember, while you’re reading the email below, that this is the same guy who called into the morning drive, Dennis & Callahan show last week to take issue with a caller (Angry Bill), who was calling out Sheppard for what he perceived to be an attack, by Meater in the PM, on Ted Sarandis a few weeks back. Sheppard name-called and taunted the guy with such Meaty gems as a “turd,” “little weenie” and the following:
“You’re such a fraud no one cares about you. . .I’ll be here long after you believe me. . .You’re a fraud, you have no balls you’re a little weenie. Everybody thinks you’re a laughing stock. . . You’re not good enough to flip burgers. . . You call the big show next time you have some balls. . .Buddy, you name the time and place and I’ll meet you.”
Sheppard almost gives the appearance of someone who is auditioning for one of the slots that might be available with Howard Stern down the road, at Sirius. Maybe by picking fights, raising the decibel a bit and using grade school taunts, Sheppard will advance himself.
But we doubt it. Stern, unlike Wolfie and the Khanster, knows a thing or two about having BOTH style and substance.
I should note, that upon my informing Meat via email that I would be publishing his love-letter-to-Shots, he replied: “Good for you, your 5 readers will enjoy it.”
Shots has also been cautioned by some close, personal advisors, that it’s unwise to start a pissing match with a 50,000-watt-powered-windbag like Sheppard.
Fortunately, since I only have five readers, the worst that could happen is I could lose less than half my audience (Percy the Dog and The Shirl are loyal, as is Meat’s crony, and Shots email buddy, ARS630, or as I like to call him “Arsey”).
Anyway, why would someone as well-established as Meat even care about the writings and comments of a guy with a handful of readers who has “no stones, no nuts” and no chance, we now know, of a Chirstmas card from Di and the Dogs?
And now, for the Meat-mail (subject-headed: “Random thoughts”), presented in its entirety and un-edited so all of Meat’s fellow Connecticut School of Broadcasting spelling and usage mavens will be able to understand it.
(If you’re thinking that perhaps this wasn’t Meat sending the correspondence, Shots is able to confirm that the email address used by Meat in this missive was the same one used in prior communiqués we had in May. The authenticity of the email should not be in question. Unless Tiki and Torch have commandeered the Meat’s Yahoo! account.)
Below the Meat morsel is some explanation from Shots regarding a couple of the things Meat mentions.
Hey David…You phony fraud looking little toad…Normally I don’t read anything you or your little internet buddies write, because you guys are about as significant as pigeon shit…The sad part is you guys know this, you think you make a difference, you think your edgy and keeping people on their toes, but really, your nothing more little nerds who can’t get on the air..That’s fine..You keep doing what you do best with your pathetic in depth analyis of this business which overall you are so clueless about that your speculations are subject for massive humor when we eat lunch everyday, seriously, it’s that far off..The problem I have with a little piss-pot like you, is deep down, you really have no balls..Remember what a fraud you were when you met me over the summer briefly…Remember all the phony ass kissing you did??..Here’s what I’m wondering Davey….Next time you see me around town, why don’t you go out of your way and come up and say hello, we can chat about all the wonderful subjects you address in your coloumn…My guess is, you don’t have the balls…My guess is, if you ever saw me out and about Hull, that you would turn and walk in the other direction…So, here it is, next time you see my out with my friends or my wife and friends, please, feel free to show some stones, and come up and say hello..Many of them would love to tell you what they think of you…You want to be a public figure??..Fine….I’ll make you a public figure…Next time you see me, you can tell me what you think right to my face…Got the balls for it??….You let me know the time and place..I’m only about a mile from your little shanty….You see, incredibly, a couple of my dearest friends read your little coloumn every week, and they e-mail them to me..Personally, I really don’t care what you write about me or anyone else..It will never affect me, my boss, or anyone else who works at the station or at any newspaper…You are not significant, the sooner you learn that the better…Now, remember what I said about the next time you see me out and about Hull..Don’t be a pussy now and run away, come right up to me and say what you write to my face man to man…I still say you don’t have the balls for it….We will see….See you around Hull Davey…Pete . . . p-s try to keep this between us, remember, show some nuts
Shots (aka Davey) responds/clarifies:
“Remember what a fraud you were when you met me over the summer briefly…Remember all the phony ass kissing you did??..”
Sheppard, was indeed, by the grace of some seriously demented G-d, scheduled to move into the other side of the Seaside Shanty, here in Hull, Mass. And I did, indeed, meet him when he came to look at the place on a rainy day in May.
My “ass-kissing,” I suppose, was comprised of introducing myself to Meat and Diane, offering to answer any questions they might have about the house or the landlord, or the ‘hood. In a follow-up email, I even offered my services to help him move in or hang pictures. Real neighborly kind of stuff that I suppose could be interpreted as “ass-kissing.” More likely it was just me being a friendly sort who would prefer not have an adversarial relationship with the guy who shares a building and a roof.
And just how highly must someone think of themselves to infer from a two minute conversation (and a subsequent email exchange) that the other person is “ass-kissing?” If I’m not mistaken, ass-kissing is usually reserved for the very wealthy or the very famous. Since we met in Hull and were discussing a rental property, I’m guessing no one standing outside the shanty on that day qualified as either.
What good would actually come from the almost-unmentionable task of kissing the Meat’s ass? A regular spot on the Whiner Line? Wendy’s gift certificates from the station? An autographed picture of the Big O?
The deal that had Meat and Shots sharing a common roof, eventually fell through, and Pete, Diane, Tiki and Torch decided to take another place in Hull. An awkward living arrangement was avoided, to say the least. And for that, I was quite happy.
However, in an odd twist, the moving company that wound up transporting Sheppard’s belongings from the North End was still under the impression that Sheppard was moving into the other side of the Shanty. When those confused college-aged movers arrived on Shots’ porch, I even went out of my way to try and get in touch with Meat and let him know his possessions were mis-routed. I offered help to the movers and even put them in touch with my landlord who assured them that Meat was not moving in because he, the landlord, was already living there!
I suppose, in retrospect, that too was ass-kissing, as well. Or maybe I’m just a regular guy trying to help out a fellow regular guy and hoping to ensure that his belongings actually get to his new abode. Semantics, right Pete? Ass-kisser or general do-gooder – you make the call.
“please, feel free to show some stones, and come up and say hello..Many of them would love to tell you what they think of you…You want to be a public figure??..Fine….I’ll make you a public figure…Next time you see me, you can tell me what you think right to my face…Got the balls for it??….Don’t be a pussy now and run away, come right up to me and say what you write to my face man to man…I still say you don’t have the balls for it….We will see. . . Don’t be a pussy now and run away, come right up to me and say what you write to my face man to man…I still say you don’t have the balls for it….We will see”
Ordinarily, I don’t approach people who give the impression of threatening me and offer to make me “a public figure.” The prospect of a fistfight or ugly public shouting match isn’t what I look for when I’m getting the morning paper, a muffin and coffee at Weinberg’s. But that’s just me.
If Pete would like to confront each and every one of his detractors and attempt to show his physical prowess, I’ll be glad to get in line behind any number of those folks.
If I were to run into Meat in or around Hull, I suppose I could go up and say hello again. If he really wants me to tell him, face-to-face, that it’s my belief that he’s loud, overbearing and often times obnoxious and ignorant, I suppose I could facilitate that request as well. But what would that accomplish? His job would still be to be loud and opinionated and my avocation would still be to comment on that behavior and give MY opinion. It’s called media criticism and it’s part of the job description when you are given 20-plus hours of airtime each week.
More likely, however, if I met Meat on a Hull street, I’d nod to him, acknowledge his presence and walk by.
It’s America and opinions are like a-holes, right Pete?
Which reminds me, how often do you approach and mingle with the athletes or personalities you regularly rip? I mean, I know you called in to blast Angry Bill last week during “Dennis and Callahan,” but what about some of the athletes, coaches and management that you have chided? Are you up for some discourse with all those people, too? It could make for busy off-hours for you, I suppose.
“. . . which overall you are so clueless about that your speculations are subject for massive humor when we eat lunch everyday, seriously, it’s that far off..The problem I have with a little piss-pot like you, is deep down, you really have no balls”
A “piss-pot” with “no balls.” Precious. Again, I’d be interested to see the reaction by a multi-million dollar corporation like Entercom upon hearing that one of their personalities is choosing to address a local sports media critic (with an estimated five readers) in such a fashion. The lack of decorum and professionalism is simply astounding. Shocking even. Disagreeing with criticism is one thing; making written threats with any number of undertones is quite another.
(Shots would have asked ‘EEI bigwigs, Jason Wolfe and Julie Kahn about their thoughts on employee conduct, but neither have ever replied to a request from this address, so we didn’t waste our time. Evidently, they are not two of our five readers.)
Put it this way, Shots has been contacted by dozens of the local media folks since this space started some 30 months ago. Some have been angry with what I wrote, some have been perplexed and others have praised it (yes, even people at ‘EEI, Meat). But never have any of those Professionals attacked us so angrily and with such a lack of common respect. None – not one – gave the hint that they’d like to do bodily harm. And none, that I can recall (not even Michael Gee), called me a ball-less “piss-pot” (although Gee did mention a testicle necklace of some sort).
Have I been critical of Sheppard and others at WEEI? Absolutely. Will I continue to be? No doubt. I have both praised ‘EEI’s numbers and popularity and I have criticized its content and its management. I have been as fair and balanced as one, small, trying-to-get-bigger, “blog” can be. If my “kill-to-praise” ratio has been a bit front heavy, maybe it’s for the same reason Pete gets his points across: I’ve raised my voice a few times. Amped up the verbiage a bit.
But has any of that criticism merited such an angry attack as the above email would seem to suggest? You tell me. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe ‘EEI wants to intimidate everyone into submission and Meat’s their messenger. Nice business plan, Entercom.
If this guy were the No. 1 personality at the station, it might be somewhat understandable. But he’s not. Not even close. He’s a glorified Flash Guy who should be counting his blessings that the trend in local, sports talk radio is for loud, brash and boisterous. His act would last about a week in the New York market and maybe slightly longer in any other major, metropolitan city. Being the loudest just doesn’t cut it everywhere. In Boston, at this moment in time, for some odd reason, it does.
Still, at some point, you’ve got to be able to have genuine discourse and self-effacing moments of levity. It’s sports, not war, folks.
You’ve got to be able to entertain and inform not just scream and bully. Instead, Meat bellows “you’re a gutless turd,” to a caller like Angry Bill (a flawed character though he may be). Or questions my manhood for daring to comment on the daily offerings from the region’s sports talk leader. The sooner Sheppard understands he can’t fight everyone that says a disparaging word about him and that such threats make him (and his employers) look thin-skinned, juvenile and borderline psycho – the sooner Boston sports talk radio can move forward. Instead of the backward direction Sheppard now tugs it with each afternoon of work in the booth.
• Wow – that’s a lot of Meat right there on that plate. But an email like that can’t go unanswered. Not from this seat, anyway. Not when we’re dealing with an adult bully with a big ego and false sense of invincibility.
And now, back to more enjoyable topics:
Shots’ Field Trip Through College Hoops Country:
Last weekend, the Scott’s Shots Caravan headed south for a weekend of high, high major; mid, mid-major; and regular, mid-major college hoops. Beginning at the Mecca of college hoops on Saturday at noon, we caught: Drexel fall to LaSalle at the Palestra; Villanova vanquish Oklahoma at The Pavilion and finally, on Sunday, the undefeated and receiving votes, Iona Gaels, beat the gritty Catamounts of UVM.
If that doesn’t sound like Heaven on a Stick to you, feel free to scroll down to the next single-bulleted item below.
The rest of us are gonna revel in the glory of college ball for 1500 words or so.
We’re going semi-chronologically here, but mostly we’re just deciphering the chicken scratch from our Staples-purchased. Roaring Spring mini legal pad, made, it needs to be noted, in Roaring Springs, PA:
•• The Drexel band was kind enough to play the theme from Rocky with 15:15 left until tip-off of the Drexel contest – the first of the day’s throwback, single admission, double-header at the Palestra (Penn fell to Temple in the daycap). In fact, the second game started a tad bit early (prior to the scheduled 2:30 start) as to, we assume, allow everyone ample time to be in position for the 5 p.m. ‘Nova tip.
•• The throng of NBA scouts in attendance – we got numbers between 26 (at the Palestra where Explorer Steven Smith convinced quite a few of ‘em of his protential) and 40 at the Pavilion (where no fewer than five NBA-level kids were on the floor at one time or another).
Shots thought ‘Nova’s Kyle Lowry was the best of any of the NBA hopefuls auditioning last week in Philly Proper and on the Main Line. He’s a sophomore for crying out loud. But Oklahoma’s Taj Gray could have the most up-side, especially with potential all-interview-team, Coach, Kelvin Sampson, pushing the buttons. Sampson was, perhaps, the happiest losing coach in the history of college basketball. He could STILL, this very day, be standing near the press room answering questions and it wouldn’t surprise us one bit.
Sampson wasn’t phased at all by the game being held in the on-campus Pavilion other than it deprived him of the chance to play at The Palestra: “I wanted to coach in two buildings – Madison Square Garden and the Palestra. I got MSG, but I’m still waiting on the Palestra,” said Sampson, who paused at one point during his post-presser, presser to shake the hand of exiting Villanova guard, Mike Nardi and say: “I like your team, man. Good luck.”
He also reminded us that the year his squad went to the Final Four (2002), they had played a similar contest at Michigan State and lost. “This is a win-win game. This game will help our guys come March.”
Indeed, the ‘loss’ only dropped Oklahoma three spots in the coaches’ poll, as they remained a Top 10 team. Nice to see a coach with that kind of perspective. Refreshing even.
•• There was a tie for “Best Media Game Notes” nugget of the weekend: From Oklahoma, we got answers to the OU Player Poll. Typical and atypical questions like ‘Who’s the best video game player?’ and ‘Who’s the biggest trash talker?’. About two-thirds of the way down comes the question, ‘Who has the most girlfriends?’ The answers look like this Everett (9), Carter (2), Bookout (1). But after further investigation, we realized the parenthetical number wasn’t the actual number of girlfriends for each player, but the amount of teammates who voted that person as the category’s leader.
But with a game like Terrell Everett’s, we kind of think one shy of double-digits might be just about right.
And, from the Iona notes, a gem compiled by ex-Gael Media Relations guru (and current Marquette Lady Warrior publicity man) Mike Laprey, who discovered, via an informal poll of all 326 D-I SIDs, that Iona’s Steve Burtt, Sr. and Jr., are the all-time leading father and son scoring duo in NCAA history with almost 4,000 points between them. Other familiar names on the list include: The Ferrys, The Barrys, the Collins, the Szczerbiaks, the Waltons, the Dunleavys and the Bibbys. The only other duo with an active son playing, form the list, is Brendan Winters (Davidson) and South Carolina’s Brian Winters (1971-74).
•• The Big Five is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and Hall of Fame Dinner on Friday, January 27, 2006 at the “cathedral.” We’re thinking about toying with the idea of heading back down, but we might just wait for the above-linked documentary to fill our needs. So much so, that we’re linking it again and wishing the film’s producers all the best of luck.
•• Within about ten minutes of entering the building, I safely determined that I was born about 15 years too late and in the wrong suburb of the wrong urban area. Yeah, I agree, the Garden was a treat and I’ll never trade any of those early memories. But the Palestra, man? Come on – it’s a college hoops den that would put The Cage to shame. (Not that Curry Hicks has anything to be ashamed of – it’s just an indication of the Power of the Palestra.)
•• LaSalle, and former Maine coach Dr. John Giannini, are on the uptick or “relevant again” as Andy Katz surmised for ESPN.com, and part of the relevance is the play of waterbug guard, 5-8, Richard “Tabby” Cunningham.
•• Shots’ unsung writer of the weekend award goes to Jennifer Wielgus of the Bucks County Courier Times . Great lead, tight gamer and good use of the quotes she brought forth during the presser.
•• One-time Shots FOX NewsChannel foil (and shouting partner), Howard Eskin, was in the postgame presser wearing a loud and proud Eagles jacket. Something about a loser in loser’s gear came to mind, but then I remembered that I already have one unstable radio personality making a bee-line for me. I probably shouldn’t provoke any others.
•• Drexel’s manager emeritus and No. 1 Fan, Calvin Hicks, was in fine fiddle on Saturday afternoon with his shrill shrieks of DEEEEEEE-FEEEEEEEEENCE emanating from behind the Drexel bench. Calvin and Dragon assistant Tony Chiles were apparently visiting the same tailor as both did the blue on blue ensemble with the blue ties. Chiles, for the record, was the slimmer, more handsome fella promoting the virtues of truth well into the late Saturday evening/early Sunday morn. Once on the side of truth, ALWAYS on the side of the truth . . The rest of the Drexel staff – many of whom had once drank the Gatorade at Billy Bayno’s old Amherst digs (or heard stories thereof), refused to come out and see Shots. The list includes Colonel Mustard (another sartorially splendid chap), BG, Brian Gorman; Mikey Mike Connors and Our Babul, Mike.
In all fairness, the Dragons were an exhausted lot after a brutal non-conference run-up, but the fact remains that Gorman specifically instructed Chiles to “Keep Dave Scott out of the city limits.” Hater.
•• Speaking of the Old Days – Coach Cal and Pals are back this weekend for a match-up with the struggling Friars of Providence College at The Dunk. The combined level of shadiness in suits on the two benches will be historic – and we say that affectionately. The Tigers, pubbed eloquently by the multi-talented Tar Heel, Lamar Chance, should make short work of the undermanned Friars.
•• And then there are the other Old Days – the ones Shots spent in Westchester County, hard by the MetroNorth rails and just a bounce-pass from Iona’s fabled Mulcahy Center where Jeff Ruland’s Gaels stand at 6-0 and are poised for the Big Man’s career-making season.
New additions to the Gaels’ Den include a full 20-strong dance team that is the mid-major equivalent of the old Cincy Bearcat Dancers squads of the early 90s. Head Gael Media Relations guy, Brian Beyrer, was kind enough to give Shots preferred seating at the midcourt line, a perfect viewing area for sports of all sorts. . . Also still dancing around the Gym That Valvano Built, is JB Buono, the Trainer Emeritus of the Gaels who once taped the ankles of Ruland as a player. JB is aging well – like a fine scotch – and his pants from 1973 are still, remarkably, in one piece, somehow resistant to both moths and cleaning detergent. The Old Man – who legend says once may have had a social dalliance or two with Ava Braun – is a piece of Gael history now and forever. A treasure might be stretching it, but a character would be undervaluing the guy. YeahhhMannnnnnnn. . . The Catamounts came out for pre-game warm-ups to chants of “You’re ALL White,” from the hungover, Iona student section. In fact, Vermont is NOT all white. But pretty damn close. . . AP’s Jim O’Connell made it to the Mulcahy for the afternoon tilt – he too was at ‘Nova the night before along with AK47, Andy Katz and the No. 1 ESPN team of Dan Schulman, Doris Burke and Dick Vitale. . . Ruland’s Gaels are at Louis Orr’s Seton Hall Pirates on New Year’s Eve Day at noon, and it’s already being billed by some as an audition piece for Ruland. Orr is in trouble in the swamps of Jersey and Ruland, with a 20-win season, could become a hot, Metropolitan, commodity, the same way Bobby Gonzalez was two seasons ago. . . December 23, Ruland takes the Gaels to Kentucky for a match-up with Tubby Smith’s Wildcats. The Gaels will be battle-tested and Tourney-ready come March.
••Here we go: The gussying up and pimping of the Final Four has begun in earnest.
•• Jeff Goodman’s ACC basketball notebook (found this week in Monday’s Herald) is quickly becoming must-reading for any college hoops fan. Goodman gets it and that will mean good things for the Herald’s understaffed college hoops ‘department.’
•• Team Green State’s outstanding PR man, Bruce Bosley, was good enough to update us on the whereabouts of last year’s feel-good stories of the Catamounts: Taylor Coppenrath is with AEK Athens and TJ Sorrentine (The Kid who hit The Shot vs. Syracuse) is with Banca Nouva Trapani in Italy’s Lega II.
•• On more things from up Ben and Jerry way: Coach Tom Brennan’s debut on ESPN’s college basketball coverage this past Wednesday was a rousing success, as we knew it would be. Brennan was at ease, comfortable and full of insight and analysis. Even when his ear piece fell out early in the evening, the ex-UVM mentor and still-AM-radio-in-Burlington host, pushed through as though nothing were wrong.
Teamed with always solid, Doug Gottlieb, later in the evening, the duo meshed nicely with good levity and super play-breakdowns. Brennan will only get better, of course, but his starting point is so far in front of most ex-coaches that he will write his own ticket for many, many years to come.
A Star, we should note, is born.
•• Shots got some time sitting next to former BC head hoops coach, Bob Zuffelato (a Torrington, Conn. native), at the Villanova/Oklahoma dandy last weekend. Zuffelato is now head scout for the Toronto Raptors and needs to be given some credit for believing in former Husky, Charlie Villanueva, ho has had a nice rookie start on an overall, awful team.
• Some other work this week allowed for some catching up with retired USA Today sports media critic, the irreplaceable Rudy Martzke. Martzke has found retirement to his liking down in Florida and in addition to consulting work (hear that Bill Griffith?), Martzke is also on the Capital One Bowl committee, where his alma mater, Wisconsin, will face Auburn in an intriguing, if not lopsided, match-up.
• Speaking of the Cap One extravaganza Smiling Sam the Minuteman is soliciting votes to be the Mascot of the Year in a battle with Herbie Husker.
I suppose it’s all Umies’ patriotic duty to vote for the oversized, overstuffed soldier, but really, how is it that our Mascot plays big time football while our football team wallows at 1-AA?
• Anyone have the heart to tell the Globe and Bob Duffy that the Rammer, Jammer, Yellow Hammer review they did last Sunday was on a book that has been out for no less than a year? It’s been in paperback for months. Are they trying to tell us there aren’t enough recent books to review? I’d beg to differ.
That entire “On Further Review,” Sunday addition has been largely a waste of space. It’s like watching the nerds get drunk for the first time at college: they’re so awkward and clumsy with everything they do, you kind of forget to give them credit for cutting loose at long last. It’s painful to watch the Globe try and get “trendy” and fail miserably with almost every effort.
• How about this breakdown of Bill Parcells from last week’s Sunday NYT and David Leonhardt? The numbers are staggering, eh? And I’m a Tuna guy.
How about this kicker from it: But he is 64 years old, and the Cowboys are potentially the last team he will lead. The most interesting part of their stretch run this season may be the chance it gives their coach to emerge from Belichick’s shadow, as odd a notion as that once would have been.
• Shots’ fave, the NY Post’s Mike Vaccaro, appeared with Stephen I Need A. Bodyguard or Two Smith on Wednesday and Vacs actually displayed the rare ability to make the show watchable. His Mets breakdown and Yankees assessment were – GASP! – lucid and rational. Vacs said the “culture of winning” with the Yankees still gives the Steinbrenners the advantage as the city’s best team – but that it’s closer than it has been in a long time.
• Maybe it’s just me, but all these rumors and scenarios of Winter Meetings time, bug the crap out of me. Show me the baby, I don’t need to see the process.
• Shots will be heading down south on a combo biz/pleasure trip to the Tampa-area next week. Because of that, we will be preempted next week – unless, of course, Meat shows up at the Shanty demanding a loser-leaves-town Sumo Match at the A Street Pier. In which case, we’ll pay-per-view the event and alert all of you to its occurrence.
Otherwise, think warm thoughts and know that Shots will be thinking of you while he’s gone.
David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shots@bostonsportsmediadotcom