The seventh annual New England Sports Survey, conducted by Sudbury-based Channel Media and Market Research, was released Monday. And as usual, the results are mostly logical, but with a few surprises and bewilderments mixed in.
Here are a few things I took away from the survey, the results of which were generated by an e-mail poll of more than 16,000 New England sports fans from Aug. 9 to 20:
■ Patriot games: OK, this is interesting. Robert Kraft was chosen as the owner who has done the best job with his franchise over the past year, with a solid 44 percent. But, context: That’s down 31 percent from last year, 23 percent from 2016, and 21 percent from 2015 for the Patriots owner.
The slippage was even greater for Bill Belichick. He was the top answer to the question about which team’s leadership has done the best job over the past year, but he fell from 75 percent last year to 44 percent.
(Shoulda played Malcolm.)
Danny Ainge, who should have won this category in a such a blowout that there should have been Gino Time at the end, tied the Red Sox’ Dave Dombrowski at 25 percent.
|Bill Belichick, Patriots||42%||77%||70%||69%|
|Danny Ainge, Celtics||25%||13%||13%||14%|
|Dave Dombrowski, Red Sox||25%||5%||13%||2%|
|Cam Neely, Bruins||6%||3%||2%||9%|
|Brian Bello, Michael Burns, Revolution||2%||2%||2%||6%|
There’s little doubt that the Patriots dip is backlash to the drama that surrounded the organization late last season regarding the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers and the complicated relationships between Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Kraft documented in Seth Wickersham’s seismic ESPN story in January.
Fans still love Kraft and Belichick, as they should. But the palace intrigue grew tiresome.
Still, through all of the turbulence, the Patriots still nearly won a second straight Super Bowl. You’d think Kraft’s approval rating would have been lower in 2015 when he kow-towed to Roger Goodell during Deflategate.
■ Still, it’s a football town: The Patriots do remain the most popular team in Boston, earning 47 percent of the vote. That is down from 51 percent last year and ends a stretch of three straight years in which their popularity grew. I hope people aren’t starting to take this prolonged era of excellence for granted. The Red Sox checked in second at 30 percent, up six percent from a year ago. I suppose that’s the natural result of being 40-something games over .500 — or perhaps just replacing John Farrell with Alex Cora. I’ll admit to having no clue why the Celtics get just 14 percent of the vote. That’s up four percent from a year ago but still ridiculously low for a team of their appeal and promise. The Bruins got eight percent of the vote, and the Revolution one percent.
■ Right manager for the job: Last year, Red Sox manager John Farrell received a whopping three percent of the vote as the answer to the question, “Which coach/manager do you most admire for the way they coach/manage the team?’’ Three percent? For Farrell? Seems high. His replacement and stylistic opposite, Alex Cora, fared much better, with 20 percent of the vote. Belichick was first at 45 percent. And again, an are-you-paying-attention-to-the-Celtics lament. How does Brad Stevens (26 percent) not get at least 40 percent in this thing?
■ The next duck boat parade will feature . . . : The Red Sox, or so says the largest percentage of the exactly 16,007 surveyed in this thing. While there’s a long way to go to get to October, the Red Sox’ record pace (they entered Wednesday’s game 18 wins short of their franchise record of 106, with 35 games left to play) translates to them earning 51 percent of the vote as the answer to the question “Which team has the best chance of winning a championship the soonest?’’ The Patriots, who never fell below 59 percent from 2014-17 and peaked at 83 percent last year, plunged to 36 percent in this poll.
■ Colorful Eck: Dennis Eckersley was best known for collecting saves in his Hall of Fame baseball career, but he’s piling up the wins in this category. Eck was named the favorite television play-by-play announcer or color analyst for the third year in a row, and for the second straight year he earned 25 percent of the vote. Dave O’Brien, his partner on NESN’s Red Sox broadcasts, was second (22 percent). No word on how the write-in campaign for Don Orsillo fared. Celtics voice Mike Gorman, who is as good as it gets on NBA play-by-play, was third (14 percent). This really ought to be broken up into separate play-by-play and analyst categories.
■ Radio waves: The top four favorite local radio personalities all came from 98.5 The Sports Hub: Michael Felger (20 percent), Marc Bertrand (15 percent), Scott Zolak (15 percent, and also voted the favorite radio play-by-play voice or color analyst), and Tony Massarotti (11) percent. Lou Merloni was the first WEEI personality on the list, at 10 percent. But WEEI’s “OMF’’ show, which includes Merloni, Christian Fauria and Glenn Ordway and recently moved into afternoon drive in an attempt to challenge The Sports Hub’s long-dominant “Felger and Mazz’’ show, did come in third in most popular show (17 percent), trailing Felger and Mazz (24 percent) and Zolak and Bertrand (22 percent). The two highly-rated morning shows – 98.5’s “Toucher and Rich’’ (12 percent) and WEEI’s “Kirk and Callahan’’ (11 percent) – were fourth and fifth. I’d be curious to see what the order would look like if the question were regarding the show you liked the least.
■ A few scattered results: Strangely, the decision to sign J.D. Martinez — rated on a scale of 1 (poor) to 7 (excellent) — earned just 68 percent in the excellent category. I suspect the two percent that graded it a 2 confused him with J.D. Drew somehow . . . Jackie Bradley Jr. was fourth, behind Martinez, Mookie Betts, and Chris Sale, as the most admired Red Sox player, at six percent. Seems to me he’s at zero percent among sports radio callers . . . The least-popular decision made by the Patriots this year is not the Garoppolo trade (graded 34 percent poor) but the decision to turn Malcolm Butler into a bystander at the Super Bowl (36 percent) . . . The Celtics player most admired for his contributions to the team? Jayson Tatum, at 26 percent. Funny how no one complains about Danny Ainge trading that No. 1 overall pick to the Sixers anymore . . . Xavier Silas garnered five percent of the vote on the question of which Celtic did not meet expectations. There are Xavier Silas haters out there? He played seven minutes over two games on a 10-day contract. Harsh . . . The opposing player fans would most like to see on the Patriots? Texans pass rusher extraordinaire Jadeveon Clowney, at 22 percent. Second? Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who is still going to be showing up on this survey years after he has a bronze bust in Canton.