Don’t forget: Chat at 2:30. So, you know, 2:35 … 2:38 at the latest.
Today’s media column on the Bruins’ massive ratings on NESN is here. Talked to Andy Brickley, not exactly a disinterested observer, about why he believes fans in Boston came back so quickly after the lockout. Here is one thought from Brick that I didn’t use in the column, on how the accessibility of the players seemed to accelerate the fans’ forgiveness.
“One of the things you try to do is expose these guys so that the fans get to know these players and their personalities,” said Brickley. “I don’t think a Belichickian approach works in hockey. Everybody knows that hockey players are salt-of-the-earth people. But they’re in the community, and fans have access. They live in town and are out and about in town but they live the right way. They’re out amongst their fanbase and you get to know them. That matters to people.”
Because today’s column was a one-topic deal, here are a few items I wanted to touch on but didn’t have the room. I may make this a regular Friday feature. Consider them the deleted scenes:
ESPN formally announced the hiring of Ray Lewis as an NFL analyst/personality this week, a story Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch was all over several weeks ago. While his history makes him something of a controversial choice, his appeal to ESPN is obvious — he’s a truly great player with the charisma to succeed. I’m curious how they’ll use him — I supect he’ll be turned into a fake-preaching cartoon character designated to give “inspirational speeches” to various teams and players. I do hope he’s not a significant part of the “Monday Night Football” broadcast — Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden tandem is just fine as is. And it will probably be an adjustment for Lewis, getting less camera time now in an actual TV gig than he did all those years playing to the cameras before, during, and after Ravens games.
The NFL Network apologized Wednesday, a day after someone on their set — believed to be Warren Sapp — commented in less-than-network-friendly language about a segment that was underway featuring Scott Pioli discussing the Patriots’ philosophy in team-building. While Pioli, who worked in the Patriots front office under Bill Belichick during the three Super Bowl victories, was talking with host Scott Hanson, Sapp The Voice could be heard whispering, “It’s the same [expletive] segment we had Mike Lombardi do. The [expletive] Bill Belichick [expletive] angle.” Chris Rose presented the apology, saying in part, “Last night during some live programming, we accidentally aired an expletive. It will not happen again.” I suppose the apology was necessary, but what the network should really apologize for is continuing to employ Sapp. It’s obvious why information about the Patriots matters — insight about what they do and how they’ve maintained their run of success for more than a decade is at a premium. No one is asking much about the 2002 Tampa Bay Bucs these days, you know?
The rumor that Bob Ryan is co-hosting a show on 1510 is not accurate. He is doing six hits a week with Marty Tirrell on Yahoo! Sports Radio’s “Calling All Sports,” which is broadcast on 1510. But it’s not a full-time thing, and he says he doesn’t want one. He is expected to join Sean Grande as the color analyst on the Celtics-Bobcats game Saturday night on WEEI, possibly in an every-other-quarter role with ESPN’s Ryen Russillo. They will be filling in for Cedric Maxwell, who is being honored by the Atlantic-10.
Regarding Bill Simmons’s three-day Twitter suspension by his ESPN bosses for a series of tweets criticizing Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s battle with Skip Bayless on the abomination known as “First Take,” I’ll stick to what I more or less said on … well, Twitter. Maybe as an employee Simmons should have had more discretion, and I’m sure he was warned before. (He was previously suspended for ripping WEEI, which has a partnership with ESPN). But man, was he ever right. Kudos to him for speaking the truth.
Dale Arnold, Gerry Callahan, and Kirk Minihane is a very good show. As we heard this morning, Callahan and Minihane alone (with the latter handling getting in and out of the breaks and other duties that the absent John Dennis does well) might be even better. If there was any concern before this week regarding how to repair the morning show, there shouldn’t be now. Seems to me they’ve found two solutions.
Looking for a Ted Sarandis update? You know you have, and we’ve got one for you. The former voice of Boston College basketball and WEEI evening host (among other gigs) will debut a new college basketball program on WATD 95.9 beginning this Sunday at 9 p.m. Titled “College Basketball Tonight,” it is co-hosted by former BC coach Al Skinner and will air through the end of the month. It also will be streamed online at hoopville.com.
Jerry Remy won’t be part of NESN’s spring training Red Sox broadcasts over the weekend. The network said it is because of a previously planned family commitment. Jim Rice will fill in tonight against the Twins. It’s one of their co-produced telecasts, so Twins analyst Ron Coomer will team up with Rice. Don Orsillo will split time with Twins play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer. Orsillo and Rice will handle Sunday’s game with the Rays. Guess a Rays legend like Ryan Rupe, Tanyon Sturtze or Julio Lugo wasn’t available to share the booth.