Red Sox

Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 76- Tim Britton, Providence Journal

I am again riding solo on this week’s edition of the show as Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites had a prior commitment and could not join me.

In the news segment I briefly touch upon the flat ratings for Fox and the 2011 World Series, despite winning the battle over Sunday Night Football on NBC this Sunday.

I also look at how more regular season NBA games may be lost to the lockout and how NBC is getting set to move a portion of its sports operation to Stamford, Connecticut.

My guest this week is Tim Britton, Red Sox beat writer for the Providence Journal.  Tim takes us through his first season covering the Red Sox, his experiences on the road, and the drama that has surrounded the team since its epic 2011 collapse.

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You don’t care about steroids, right?

Drip, drip, drip … two more names from the infamous 2003 positive drug-test list — Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Given Ramirez’s suspension this year, his appearance in The New York Times report can’t be too much of a surprise. Ortiz, on the other hand, had said in February that players testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs should get a one-year ban from baseball.

But I mention today’s report not to open a debate on whether the Red Sox’s 2004 world championship was tainted, but rather to point out something you hear quite a bit whenever a new steroid-related report hits. The argument, particularly on sports radio, is how the media are obsessed with steroids in baseball while hardly any fans care. The media continue to report on steroids only because, the argument goes, it attracts attention and thus sells papers, adds to the broadcast audience or drives up page views.

What I don’t quite understand about that take is how, on one hand, you can say nobody cares about steroids, then, on the other, say the media report about performance-enhancing drugs only to draw more attention. If nobody cares, then how can the media be benefiting by running stories about the issue?

See, this is yet another reason why I could never be any good on radio.

Questioning Priorities…Again

As a journalist and editor of SMJ I respect the right media organizations have in making decisions over which content will be published or broadcast.  It doesn’t I can’t question those editorial decisions.

Case in point, what viewers of the New England Sports Network (NESN) will be facing tonight.

NESN has the television rights for both the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins.  They have been ahead of the curve in providing HD coverage of both teams (home and away) for a couple of years now.  When both teams are playing on the same night, one gets the HD coverage on NESN while the other gets telecast on a regional sports channel (not in HD) called NESNPlus.  It’s not the best of situations but one which should satisfy fans of both teams.

This scenario has come up twice over the past week as the Bruins battled the Canadiens in the NHL Playoffs and the Red Sox began its 2008 regular season. In those two instances NESN made the correct choice in deciding which game would be showcased on the HD mother-ship while the other was sent to NESNPlus.  The Bruins playoff game received the priority both times.

But for some reason NESN has changed its tune for tonight’s conflict.  NESN will be showing tonight’s Sox/Yankees game in HD on NESN while relegating the Bruins/Canadiens Game 5 (with elimination on the line for the B’s) to NESNPlus.  How can NESN justify this move? 

We all understand that New England is Red Sox Nation and this is Yankees/Red Sox.  But the Bruins are in the PLAYOFFS, in a game they must win or go home.  The Sox and Yankees will still play 13 more games this season. 

This makes no editorial sense to me.  Oh wait…I forgot it’s not about what’s the bigger story…it’s about money.  More eyes for Red Sox/Yankess than Bruins/Canadiens.  How silly of me. 

NESN has the right to make the switch.  However it doesn’t make it right.

Why Live Blog?

I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to trends in technology and the sharing of information.  Heck, I started a blog, didn’t I?

But there is one aspect of blogging that I cannot entirely embrace…the practice of live blogging.

First of all, let’s all agree that live blogging is a misnomer.  Live blogging is by no means live.  I refuse to use the term any further.  Let’s call it what it is…event blogging or, in the world of sports, in-game blogging.   By the time a blogger pens an in-game post and it’s sent to the blog, appropriate time has passed to classify the information as old news. 

I’m not saying that event blogging doesn’t have its place.  If you’re a blogger at an exclusive event, or one that is not well attended,  providing insight from that event adds some exclusivity for the blogger.  The inside scoop if you will.

Much was made last spring when the NCAA came down on Brian Bennett of the Louisville Courier-Journal for providing in-game blogging of an NCAA Regional Baseball game involving the Louisville Cardinals.  Bennett had his credential revoked, with the NCAA claiming he violated a rule of providing “live” updates of an event to which he did not have the rights. 

What I find puzzling is in-game blogging of a sporting event like the World Series.  What information can one blogging from the event provide readers that they aren’t getting from the nationally televised broadcast of the game?  It makes no sense to me.

Looking at the four major newspapers that cover the Red Sox and the Rockies in Game 1, three of the four have blogs for the teams.  Both Boston papers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, provided in-game blogging of the Sox’ 13-1 rout of Colorado.  In Denver, only the Denver Post provides a sports blog on the Rockies, but there was no in-game coverage of Game 1.

Back to Boston, Rob Bradford’s Herald Blog provided more than just what was happening on the field.  Bradford mixed in statistics and notes that was probably not noted by Joe Buck or Tim McCarver on Fox.  That’s great, but how many people were glued to their computer monitor waiting for these tidbits?  Bradford could have easily assembled those facts and posted them as part of the Herald’s online post game coverage.

The most disappointing in-game blogging came from the Boston Globe.  In its Extra Bases Blog, reporter Amalie Benjamin used the space to rehash what happened after each inning.  I’m sorry, that’s a waste of good bandwidth. 

The Herald, Globe, and Denver Post do a good job of using their blogs to provide the pre-game flavor at Fenway Park.  That’s cool.  You won’t get that information in too many places.  That has a purpose. 

The newspapers are not alone in providing this useless in-game blogging.  Many independent blogs also attempt the practice.  At least the reporters at the game can provide some insight into the action.  Independent bloggers often provide nothing in terms of pertinent information.  The independent bloggers often use this in-game blogging as a way to criticize and mock either the players, announcers, or both.  Again, why can’t they assemble this material for a comprehensive post-game post?  Why is the in-game aspect a draw?

As much as I don’t think in-game blogging is effective I would never say a blogger shouldn’t partake in the process.  I’m sure if there wasn’t an audience they wouldn’t do it.  It’s just not for me.