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Tony Massarotti: Success of Felger & Mazz Has A Lot To Do With Timing

“There is a certain amount of timing in these things that nobody really can control, right? As much as we like to think we do a good show, people have to care.” 

Ricky Keeler

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Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti have been on the air for 13 years on 98.5 The Sports Hub. The two of them pride themselves on trying to give listeners the perspective of the beat reporter while also examining how fans feel. 

Massarotti was a guest on the latest episode of the Takin A Walk podcast with Buzz Knight and he said one of the goals of the show is to examine why fans might feel a certain way about an issue in Boston sports and that he and Felger can give great insight on a situation based on their past experiences as beat reporters.

“One of the things we really try to examine on the show, and Mike is excellent at this, is sort of the feeling of things and what the genesis of those emotions is and the conflict that exists both in terms of what’s inside any fan and what’s inside any organization. He and I were both beat reporters for a really long time and I think what that does is give you insight into how a sports team works and what types of stuff goes on inside the wall, whether it be at Gillette Stadium or Fenway Park because there’s a lot of politicking and angling and conflict and resolution that goes on that most fans aren’t privy to and we both were.”

Felger and Massarotti have seen a whole lot of winning in Boston since their show began and Massarotti knows that timing has been key to the show’s success because of the fans’ interest in talking about winning teams.

“Felger and I have talked about this a million times. Boston had not won a championship in a long time before the Patriots won in 2001, Mike was on the Patriots beat at the right time. Then, the Red Sox won and I was on the Red Sox beat at the right time. There is a certain amount of timing in these things that nobody really can control, right? As much as we like to think we do a good show, people have to care.” 

This year, Massarotti got the chance to be in the booth as a color commentator for some Boston Red Sox games on NESN. It was an opportunity that even surprised him, but he told Knight he enjoyed being back at the ballpark again since his days as a Red Sox beat reporter.

“It kind of came out of nowhere. I was surprised, I did not see it coming. My relationship with the Red Sox over the years has been, as you expect, hot and cold. Along the way, there were times when the relationship was tense and still are. Obviously, they own NESN. They have a say in who does their games. I was both floored and impressed. I give them a lot of credit for being willing to entertain it. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a fun year. Where it’s leading, I have no idea.”

Jason Barrett Podcast

Jason Barrett Podcast: Jeff Smulyan, Never Ride a Roller Coaster Upside Down

Jason Barrett

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There would be no sports radio if not for Jeff Smulyan. He takes JB through the triumphs and disappointments of his career and explains why he is sharing so many stories in a new book, Never Ride a Roller Coaster Upside Down. To pick up your copy, click here.

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Zolak & Bertrand: Kirk Herbstreit’s Comments A Wake Up Call For Patriots Fans

“Next time you feel like they shouldn’t be booing them, there’s someone from a national perspective – who has been calling games now in the NFL for at least all of this year – but is very familiar with the league and all the different cities and he’s been in college environments for a decade plus, and said their fans aren’t angry enough.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Zolak and Bertrand

Things appeared to come to a head for the New England Patriots and their fans last week as the team fell to the Buffalo Bills 24-10.

Many fans of the Patriots with the loss seem to have accepted the fact that the glory days of the franchise are officially over. Thursday Night Football analyst Kirk Herbstreit even noted that it was off-putting that fans near his broadcast vantage point were fine with the Pats coming out on the losing end.

“I just felt the sense of acceptance of where they are,” Herbstreit said during a Friday appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. “It really shocked me. I’m just so used to the Patriots’ 20 years of excellence, and not just the NFL in all of professional sports. And to see their fan base just like, we suck, whatever, game’s over, like early they were like that.”

On Zolak & Bertrand Monday, co-host Scott Zolak disagreed with Herbstreit’s take.

“I don’t know what you want from a fan base to do after that when the game’s over, and the place starts to dump out,” he said. “The game was well in hand.”

Zolak’s cohort Marc Bertrand felt differently, praising Herbstreit for offering that sort of perspective.

“Next time you feel like they shouldn’t be booing them, there’s someone from a national perspective – who has been calling games now in the NFL for at least all of this year – but is very familiar with the league and all the different cities and he’s been in college environments for a decade plus, and said their fans aren’t angry enough,” Bertrand said. “They let ’em off the hook.”

Bertrand felt like Patriots fans had every right to be pissed off with the product the team put on the field last week and have done so far this season. Especially when people are paying top dollar for admission to games.

“That product doesn’t match those prices last Thursday night,” he said, continuing to agree with what Herbstreit said. “You don’t hear that a lot around here. So I thought it was a nice change up.”

Zolak and Bertrand both seemed to determine that perhaps it was a case of fans being too nice and being willing to accept failure from head coach Bill Belichick and his staff.

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Paul Finebaum: ‘I’ve Been Accused Of Giving Up Objectivity For Nick Saban’

“I’ve been a flag waiver for Nick Saban since the day he got there.”

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People not from the state of Alabama may not realize that there was a time when there was no more vocal critic of the football team than Paul Finebaum. On Monday morning, he told Cole Cubelic of JOX 94.5 in Birmingham that his perspective began to change in January 2007.

“I’ve been a flag waiver for Nick Saban since the day he got there,” Finebaum admitted.

To be fair to Finebaum, Saban and the Crimson Tide have won five national championships and eight SEC championships since his arrival. It has been way easier to wave the flag than find fault.

Paul Finebaum says that some people don’t see it as that simple though and he has had to learn to accept some criticism.

“I’ve been accused of losing all my objectivity and focus to support Saban,” he said. “I believe in that because I believe he has completely transformed that school into what it is today.”

Acknowledging that Saban has been a game changer not just for Alabama football, but for the university itself, doesn’t mean that Paul Finebaum never has anything critical to say about the coach and his team. In fact, he told Cubelic that he was really put off by the way Saban campaigned for Alabama to be included in the upcoming College Football Playoff.

“For a coach of Nick Saban’s intellect to go on national television and use the point spread as a reason for entrance, when he was a big favorite in the two games he lost, he was an overwhelming favorite at Texas, the game where he needed a last-second field goal, and probably was the game that cost him the birth in a TCU head-to-head comparison.”

Saban appeared on multiple television shows and halftime shows stating that if you put Alabama up against any of the other teams in consideration for the final two spots, they would be the favorites. Finebaum thought it was a step too far.

“I want to make it clear,” he said. “I understand Nick Saban standing up for his program. I’ve hear people say ‘well, every coach would do that’. Well, you know what? I didn’t see Ryan Day doing that. I didn’t see Josh Heupel doing that. I saw Nick Saban doing that and I think that is what was so startling to me.”

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