Every newbie watching the Bruins on NESN since 2008 has shared the same ‘wait whut?’ moment: when did NESN start participating in MIT Job Fairs? Who’s this Bruins locker room reporter speaking in a tone like she’s in the tower at Augusta and conducting interviews as though she knows the game? Why are the players smiling and unguarded when she talks to them, do they know and like her or something? And there doesn’t seem to have been the slightest attention paid as to whether or not my fourteen year old nephew is downloading her. Something is amiss.
Yeah, no, that was Naoko Funayama. NESN fired her last week, wanted to go in a “different direction.” And since Funayama was already doing informed, smart interviews with players who liked and respected her… we’re not sure what that ‘different direction’ is but we’re pretty sure boobage will factor.
Liked/loved/respected by all. This is who you hire and try to keep. This is not who you fire.
Hey NESN: nobody likes organizations who are pricks to their employees.
And also, nobody likes prickish orgs who are also simultaneously stupid and transparently greedy. And finally, when your organization isn’t a real ‘self-built’ business but a pre-funded manifestation of the local teams’ fans’ affection… in that uniquely gifted instance… the first bullet on your mission statement should read: “Don’t be pricks.”
But no. It turns out the execs at NESN are too smart to be constrained like that. Smart like WEEI was before they had competition. Smart like if NESN execs were reviewing this post they’d tell me to change that last sentence to ‘wicked smaht’ you know, because Boston types like to be provincial, and also shouldn’t I have a cheerleader poll in the sidebar cos page hits?
Sadly, the firing of not-hot/flirty-enough Funayama is no surprise. A quick look at the Red Sox side of the house is instructive. (more…)
NBA draft experts, you’ve been played.
NBA GMs… not so much.
When Chris Grant took UNLV’s Anthony Bennett #1 last night, the goal of a month of misdirection was partially realized. Partially because he got his guy; not entirely because he was unable to execute a trade-back to do so.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. But with a record like Grant’s, even sports journos start to get wary (see Katz’ tweet at right). And of course no GMs want to get the executive equivalent of posterization like Mitch Kupchak did last year. (The 19 starts by Ramon Sessions cost him Sergey Karasev.)
The narrative of “Mel Turpin with asthma” worked to some extent. Jacob Rosen’s mock draft muncher showed zero out of 40 mocks with Bennett #1.
So, good job, good effort, Mr. Grant.
Unfortunately your well-earned reputation preceded you.
I don’t know enough but that won’t stop me from weighing in…
Bennett looked like a good basketball player to me in my casual fan watching research. That is: not a tall guy who blocks shots, not an athletic freak of nature. Rather a conventionally tall person who’s good at basketball. As a parallel, I keep coming back to Charles Barkley and I’ll try to do better. Barkley was a guy who didn’t impress with his size or conditioning or any other combine measurables. Just a baller. (Barkley went 5th overall in the super-stacked 1984 draft; I wonder if he’d have gone #5 in today NBA that looks so much harder at physical measurables.)
I had a little back and forth with @WFNYCraig and @ClevTA on this last week. See right, that’s as far as it went.
I mean… I pulled that thread, looked into Bennett. All I found “good player but fat and lazy.”
On his defense:
It’s hard to avoid hyperbole here: Bennett might be the single most unaware defensive prospect I’ve ever seen. There is nothing he does well on this end, and those shortcomings are due entirely to his effort.
Bennett has an abysmal defensive reputation and looks like a poor man’s version of the Beasley, Derrick Williams, “Big Dog” … class of players who have historically done really well in my models but not in the NBA. I would have a tough time passing on him after the 10th pick or so, but I really worry about his bust potential in the top 5.
On his weight: (more…)
Have I mentioned I like Chris Grant? I do. A lot. Today I want to sift through his transactions with eye toward whether I’m right to feel this way. Because I can’t think of a Chris Grant transaction that has been bad.
[And don’t you say “waiving Danny Green” because the Spurs did the same. Twice.]
It makes me wholly mellow about how tomorrow’s draft will go down.
Joined Cavs in 2005; GM in June 2010.
June 2010, that’s a lifetime ago, no? Hell of an orientation. “Hi Chris, congrats on your promotion. Be sure to join the Koffee Klub in the cafeteria, buy ten coffees and the 11th is free! … we do a ‘casual Friday’… The best player of this generation just left the team. And that’s about it.”
- LeBron. Chris Grant’s first move was to persuade Dan Gilbert to trade LeBron rather than let him leave and get nothing back out of pique.
“Traded LeBron James to the Miami Heat for a 2011 2nd round draft pick (Milan Macvan), a 2012 2nd round draft pick (Jae Crowder), a future 1st round draft pick and a future 1st round draft pick. Cleveland also received a trade exception from Miami. Cleveland had the option to swap 1st round draft picks with Miami in 2012 but did not do so.”
- Signed FA Samardo Samuels.
- Trade Telfair and West for Hollins, Sessions, and one of this year’s high second round picks.
- Waived Danny Green. ah well.
- Signed FA Alonzo Gee.
- Trade: Moon and Williams for Baron Davis and the pick that became KI.
- Drafted KI, TT.
- Drafted/traded Justin Harper for Magic 2013 2nd round pick (31 overall).
- Traded Hickson for Casspi and future first round pick.
I’m checking all number reference sites and I’m still foggy on if Cavs still have Miami’s MLE and it looks from here like the Cavs hold Miami’s unprotected 2015 first round pick. (Haha, the 2015 Heat first round pick! I smell high lottery.)
But I don’t think WHAT Grant is as important as THAT he got something. Maybe Dan Gilbert settles down after The Decision and would decide to face reality pragmatically without Grant’s help. But also, maybe Gilbert would have just been, “Eff it, I’m not dealing with Miami.” However it happened, the Cavs pulled something out of the LeBron thing and I’m giving Grant some credit. His asset-hoarding tendency reveals itself in the first couple weeks on the job.
The rest of the year? Small deals at the time which become franchise changing. Bassy Telfair and Delonte West aren’t in the league now; but Chris Grant got this year’s 19th pick from them. Alonzo Gee is on the books for $3M; started 82 games this year. And of course Mo Williams and Jamario Moon turned into Kyrie.
Pretty good first season there boss. (more…)
6/25: See update below for Noel's reaction to the rumors. Noel’s moving up on my draft board just based on how this chapter is playing out. I’m currently loving the hell out of him.
This will be quick. It’s longer than a tweet and I’m not sure I’m interested enough to build it into a piece.
By now we’ve heard about Nerlens Noel’s posse and how it’s creating bad buzz with NBA teams. We take these reports with a grain of salt and hope you do too. Agents policing agents…? Page-hit-seeking bloggers repeating rumors…?* Yeah ok.
So far Noel seems to have blown off Worldwide Wes and Rich Paul. This doesn’t rise to epically bad to us. Not saying there might be some other bad dudes out there; not saying blowing off big name agents is smart. Just saying Worldwide Wes complaining about following rules is very much a “Hello Mr. Kettle, you’re looking black today” thing.
Still… we did do some poking around and found this from a year ago:
… topics [NCAA] officials were planning on inquiring [at Everett HS] about included Noel’s relationship with Chris Driscoll, a former Providence assistant who is close to Noel. Driscoll was barred this year from campus at the Tilton School, the New Hampshire boarding school where Noel has spent the past two years and is completing his final year of high school.
Tilton officials expressed concern earlier this year that Driscoll did not have Noel’s best interests at heart. Driscoll has denied the allegation, and he did not return a call seeking comment. — 5/8/2012, Thamel, NYT.
Flash forward twelve months and Chris “did not have Noel’s best interests at heart” Driscoll is now the head of Noel’s management group. He’s not Noel’s agent; he’s the guy announcing who Noel’s agents are. He was formerly an assistant coach at Providence College; a position Driscoll got in the midst of Noel’s recruiting.
I don’t know what you have to do to get kicked off campus at Tilton High School. I don’t know what led Tilton to believe Driscoll didn’t have Noel’s best interests at heart. Thamel, again, is -suspiciously- on the job an offers a clue in his a piece from last summer.
Tilton coach Marcus O’Neil, who was one of two Tilton officials present at the August meeting, spoke extensively about Noel’s relationship with Chris Driscoll, a former Providence assistant who has been a primary figure in Noel’s life. In the article, O’Neil said that Driscoll once told him about Noel: “Nerlens is my last chance. I need to score and I need to score big.” Driscoll later told O’Neil about Noel: “You’re either with me or against me on this.” Driscoll did not return a call to his cellphone seeking comment. — 8/22/2012, Thamel, si.com.
Frankly I was expecting a human trafficking plus meth lab scenario. I have my big media filter on and it suggests that Thamel may have learned this data from bigger and competing-for-#1-overall-in-NBA-draft agents WWW and Paul. i.e., if Driscoll is kicked to the curb by Noel, cui bono?
Because: an agent hanging on to his best hope for success might be bad, but not epically bad. Not even necessarily bad. In fact, give it a treatment from Cameron Crowe and it could be a career launcher for Cuba Gooding and Renee Zellweger. For all we know maybe Chris Driscoll is simply a better Jerry Maguire or maybe Nerlens Noel’s handshake, unlike Beau Bridges’, really is strong as oak.
I still prefer the Cavs take Alex Len for reasons I laid out a month ago. More important, I’m happy to abide by Chris Grant’s decision because he hasn’t made a bad call yet.
But when I look for a reason to dislike a Nerlens Noel pick, it starts and ends with skinny-centers-without-offense don’t appeal to me.
The ‘epic bad dudes in posse’ storyline isn’t scaring me off. Not yet anyway.
Back when I was researching how the Inside Zone Read works, I wound up engaging with the proprietor of FishDuck.com, a leading site for Oregon Ducks football and analysis. Da-dada-da-duh,, now I'm pitching in with some contributions there. Here's a short piece I submitted for Ducks fans and which might be of interest here too.
Athletes and twitter. “With great power comes great responsibility.” If only all our favorite players had Peter Parker’s uncle on their shoulder.
In case you missed it, LeBron James got his second ring last week. It wasn’t easy, great series, congrats, etc. But in an interesting side story, a couple Browns players started a twitter slap-fight with their followers through their LeBron luv. Certainly no one wants to tell anyone who they should root for. But if you’re a pro-athlete in Cleveland, if you’ve got 20,000 followers and 19,000 are Clevelanders… you’ve got know when you’re stirring it up. You have to know when you’re trolling.
Josh Gordon: your tweets about going to the Miami Heat victory parade are like two in the eyes to most of your followers.
I’m sharing this story on FishDuck because Duck fans might be interested to know that one player got it right on twitter and it was your own TJ Ward. 600 retweets and 300+ favorites is the twitter non-verbal communication of THANK YOU, TJ.
Ward’s tweet is not out of character. Since being drafted high in the second round in 2010, Ward has become a leader in the young Browns’ locker room. From the fan perspective, he does the right things as far as showing up at Indians and Cavs games; being all about the Browns and all about Cleveland and all about winning.
It’s a big year for Ward. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The Browns are installing an attacking 3-4 hybrid defense (sound familiar?) this year and we expect to see more TJ in the box, more TJ rushing the passer, and -we hope- get back to seeing more of TJ-the-beast that fans in Eugene remember.
As your resident FishDuck Browns fan, I’ll look forward to reporting more good news on TJ as it happens. Stay tuned!
UPDATE 7/29: Two more yellow boxes. Fenwick and Welch pled guilty, it was reported today.
DOJ is up to five guilty pleas in the PFJ fraud investigation. Adding in CHS-1 and CHS-2 (Greco), that adds up to seven cooperating PFJ employees in the investigation. I thought it might be useful to see where these people are in the org chart and check into how it’s mapping out. In particular, are there are any straight lines to Jimmy Haslam?
The org chart is based on the info in search warrant linked here; it’s a best effort, but in some cases I’ve guessed who reports to whom. (Stinnett is a question; I’m assuming discounting coordinator is part of accounting and rolls up to the CFO.) If you’re not up to speed on the case, here’s the best review I’ve read on it.
Who has pled guilty?
- Arnie Ralenkotter, Eastern Regional Sales Director based in Hebron, KY (Cincy suburb). Uttered the immortal line, “He thinks you’re fuckin’ em. So you might as well be fuckin ’em.”
- Ashley Judd, Inside Sales (unclear whose account she handled). Judd told CHS-2 that if anyone ever came in the office that that file would be first one that Judd would burn.
- Kevin Clark, Sales Rep based in KC. Unlucky for him, his boss was a DOJ informant and was rolling tape when Clark said: “You’re gettin’ like cost-minus-1 but we were really givin’ him like cost-plus-3. And the fucker never checked in the optimizer! To me, I felt like sayin’ Well you’re the moron that didn’t check it!”
- Jay Stinnett, unclear his official role or who he reports to. He was an outside rep, was promoted, and was at Freeman’s lake house meeting with other sales directors. As near as I can tell, he seems like a Sales Productivity and/or Training jack-of-all-trades. He didn’t teach the manual discount break-out session, but he planned it. Among his damning tape: “Our advantage is their ignorance.” (Male voice) “Yeah, AKA, we’re fuckin’ ‘em. (Laughter.)”
- Holly Radford, Inside Sales for Hanscomb. In the fateful breakout session she coined the phrase, “Welcome to the gray side.” She also handled Stinnett when he was on the road and ‘kept his shaved accounts straight.’ (more…)
Jason La Canfora, first with the Lombardi-to-Cleveland rumor, is out with a grotesquely biased assessment of the talent pool Tom Heckert bequeathed to his boy. It reads like Mike Lombardi submitted an article to CBS which Jason La Canfora posted under his name. Worse, Lombardi wrote it such that it reads petty and small and brimming with axe-grinding. It’s also just factually wrong.
Here’s the key takeaway:
Just be sure to delineate what is the result of the men now calling the shots there, and how much they are paying for the misdeeds of those who came before them.
Grotesquely biased? Pre-emptive bar-lowering? Lazy, sloppy, corrupt?
Yes, yes, yes.
Here’s the translation: listen you reactionary Browns fans, be indefinitely patient and less inquisitive about the new guys’ activities. You should applaud the coaching hires and FA pickups on defense. You should blame the other guys if the offense sucks. (But if the offense happens to be good, you should credit the new coaches.)
Sorry Jason, that’s too big an ask. There’s too much to question with the new guys. The old regime’s misdeeds don’t seem especially heinous.
Even Grossi can see through what JLC’s piece is:
Don’t want to jinx anything but.. the Bruins are looking really strong after last night’s shutout. The local radio had some stats about how the team who wins a 3OT game almost always wins the next game and are 5-2 winning the series. That hasn’t happened with the Blackhawks. What has happened is the “Ken Dryden effect.” Throw enough shots on goal that are saved and it gets in your head and you start trying to be too fine picking corners. I think Rask has gotten to the Blackhawks; I know he got to the Pens.
Anyhoozles… if you’re watching any hockey playoffs and you’re not a hockey guy.. you’re noticing pesky Brad Marchand. His line (centered by Patrice Bergeron with Jaromir Jagr on the other wing) is the #2 Bruins line but my favorite. (I’m a big Bergeron fan.) Marchand is getting his points but mainly, Marchand is doing his usual bugging-you-by-out-working-you deal. If you’re just noticing Marchand, you’re a tad late to the party. At least one noteworthy casual hockey fan knows Marchand:
“Brad Marchand went into the season playing on the fourth line, but the Little Ball of Hate shrugged off the rookie jitters and—” Barack Obama wheels to locate him, “What’s up with that nickname, man?—scored five goals in the last five games of the final series … to lead the Bruins to the championships.”
But speaking of Marchand’s rookie year, let’s do go back to 2011. It created one of the great sports radio moments in my memory and set the bar for ‘good sports radio talk’ that hasn’t been matched.
Quick Boston radio history.
Felger and Mazz do the drive time show for 98.5 The Sports Hub (get it? Hub? Boston is the “Hub of the Universe?”). Mike Felger covered the Pats for the Boston Herald; Massarotti was the Sox beat guy for the Herald first then the Globe. (more…)
How about a grab bag of quick hitters this afternoon? Here’s some randomness and some items from my favorited tweets file.
Does TBDBITL take requests?
When I workout, there’s usually fair amount of light cardio preceding some weight circuits. When I’m doing cardio, I listen to a workout playlist set to random. Don’t judge me … but KC and the Sunshine have an underrated gem in their catalog.
I like Hang On Sloopy as much as the next guy. But tell me “I’m Your Boogie Man” wouldn’t be perfect with OSU horns.
Wait, wait hear me out. Go two-thirds in, (actually, go 2:45 in) where there’s a piano and when it starts its crescendo. Not hard to picture mellophones, then flugelhorns, then trumpets… then the cornets knocking it out of the park. Fits neatly into a punchy minute or 30 second version too.
I dunno man. I think it’d be speck-tack.
(I’d also be in favor of working Bruce Channel’s Hey! Baby into the repertoire although I think it’s in circulation at other schools now, isn’t it?)
These are the things one thinks about in a 45 minute Cybex session.
Best Ohio High School stadia.
#10 Grove City;
#8 St. X;
#2 Massillon, annnd… (more…)
I didn’t want to get busy with Josh Gordon’s problems. We’ve all been young, we’ve all made stupid choices over the course of our lives. I don’t buy into ‘three-strikes’ type jurisprudence and don’t apply it here.
But damn. This is deeper than the three failed drug tests at two colleges that we knew about and the insulting “narcotics prescription for strep throat” “confession.” This is mid-stage self-destruction and someone in his posse should be planning an intervention.
Lamar High School star.
Josh Gordon was a pretty big deal in high school in Houston.
Gordon led the Lamar HS Redskins to an 8-2 record and the second round of Regional III DI playoffs as senior in 2008, including a 4-1 record in District 20-5A. He was named first-team All-District 20-5A after totaling 25 receptions for 531 yards (21.2 average) and nine touchdowns as a senior.
Physical gifts like this get you on college recruiting maps and Gordon had that. This same report lists: Florida, Michigan, Florida State, USC, OSU, Texas Tech, Houston and Texas A&M as interested. Gordon himself says, “Florida and Michigan are my two favorites. My family is from Michigan and we like to sit and watch their games. Florida, they produce so many athletes and I like how they play.”
That’s an impressive list.
But flash forward to December 2008 and we see “Texas Tech and Missouri, his favorites during the season, seem to have lost interest.”
Move to late January and Michigan never made him an offer. He picked Baylor over TAMU (in spite of never visiting Kyle Field).
Could be nothing but.. damn.. you’re a fast, graceful, 6’4″ pro-calibre high school WR. First team all-Texas, 20+ yds/catch, nine TDs. How do you turn off so many programs?
South Beach Strep Throat
So the high school recruiting period was strange. The suspension at Baylor happened, the transfer to Utah happened as well as another failed drug test. But you can’t teach AJ Green clone and the Browns drafted Gordon with a high second round pick.
How has Gordon been working out for Browns? Well he just got suspended for two games for failing a drug test. Gordon also was fined two additional game checks.
About that suspension. We’ve got some issues with the explanation offered by Gordon. Here’s what he says:
In February, I was diagnosed with strep throat for which a doctor prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine,” Gordon said. “Apparently, the medicine I took contained codeine, which is prohibited by the NFL policy. The policy terms are strict about unintentional ingestion, but the NFL has not imposed the maximum punishment in light of the facts of my case. Therefore, I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation. I sincerely apologize for the impact on my team, coaches, and Browns fans. I look forward to working hard in training camp and pre-season, and contributing immediately when I return in week three.
We call bullshit. (more…)