Boston is getting another professional football team.
And despite your obvious groans about more preseason football, the Fall Experimental Football League (FXFL) is expecting that its brand of football will be better than the semi-professional kind found in other leagues.
“I mean I’m getting inundated with phone calls and e-mails from guys on NFL rosters and their agents,” FXFL commissioner Brian Woods told Boston.com. “We’re not getting guys off the street or veterans. The on field product is going to be exceptional.”
Typically, the players who will play on FXFL teams will have been cut from NFL rosters out of training camp, Woods said. NFL teams begin making cuts Aug. 26 and again on Aug. 30 to trim rosters from 90 to 53 players.
The FXFL will open Oct. 8 with one of its inaugural teams based in Boston. The Boston Brawlers will join the Omaha Mammoths, Brooklyn Bolts, and Miami Blacktips to play a six-game season for the four-team league that will begin Oct. 8. The Brawlers will play its home games at Harvard Stadium on Fridays while the league will typically play on Wednesday night.
Following a report that stated that Boston applied to host the NFL draft, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has said he would welcome the NFL’s signature offseason event as a fan of the game.
“As a Patriots season ticket holder, I’d love to host the NFL draft in Boston,” Walsh said in a statement to Boston.com. “We have the resources and infrastructure to do it — the hotels, convention space, the tourism amenities — and we would welcome the opportunity.”
There is no formal process for applying to host the draft, which has been held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City since 1965. A dozen cities have shown interest in hosting the draft, according to an NFL spokesperson, including Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, four additional locations than were named in the initial report. Mayor Walsh spoke directly with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to express his interest.
Power brokers in the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, and soccer are all present for this week’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at the Hynes Convention Center.
Among the topics of emphasis so far for the two-day conference has been wearable technology and how the technology and data being poured into each respective sport is helping to determine an athlete’s peak performance as well as health and safety.
Basically, an article is either inserted or attached on player uniforms to measure heart rate, explosiveness, or simply movement.
Take for instance Zebra Technologies International, which has a display set up at the conference to promote it’s service to teams. The Illinois based company just got in the sports tech business a little more than a year ago and currently has two NFL clients and numerous college football teams. (They won’t disclose who these clients are citing competitive disadvantage.) Zebra inserts little stickers onto players to measure the force of each activity, helping to better define player movement, hits, and, essentially, trauma.
“In college, what’s really fascinating about using wearable technologies on players is there is a lot of emphasis on health and safety,” said Jill Stelfox, vice president and general manager for Location Solutions at Zebra. “So if you’re a linebacker, I think traditionally what we want is big guys on that front line. Well that comes with a lot of force. So force is mass and speed. So the bigger you are, the more force you bring and the more force is brought on you. When you look at health and safety in linemen, for example on injuries, we can tell you on every play what the force is on any given player.”
News broke early Saturday morning that John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, had struck a deal to purchase the New England Media group for $70 million cash.
The deal includes the Boston Globe, Boston.com, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the Globe’s direct mail business, and a 49 percent stake in the Metro Boston newspaper, which is expected to close in 30 to 60 days.
Since the whispers of Henry’s desires to own the group, most notably the Globe, there has been incessant speculation on what that could mean for the paper’s coverage of the Red Sox, a local institution more beloved than any other in New England. A number of notable persons, except for Henry, have already commented on the issue. Here’s a sampling.
“We don’t know what the new situation is going to be in terms of hierarchy, but I would hope to be able to continue to cover the Red Sox the way we always have, “ the sports editor, Joe Sullivan, said.
Acknowledging the potential conflict of interest, Sullivan said, “It will be there, hanging in the air.” He said the newspaper might need to include disclaimers when writing about Henry, as it did when The Times had an ownership stake in the team for 10 years. The Times sold its final stake in the group in 2012.
Dan Shaughnessy, a Globe sports columnist and prominent critic of the Red Sox, also in the Times:
“There’s an inherent conflict of interest which no one can do anything about,” Shaughnessy said. “All we can hope for is that everyone is allowed to do his job professionally and that we are able to keep our independence.”
“We have no plans whatsoever to change our Red Sox coverage specifically, or our sports coverage in general, nor will we be asked,” Globe editor Brian McGrory said Saturday. “The Globe’s sports reporting and commentary is the gold standard in the industry.”
There have also been several articles analyzing the sale and what it will mean for our journalists.
As someone who is in the sports department as an employee of Boston.com, I’m sure there is far more to be concerned with than the our day-to-day Red Sox coverage. Instead, it will be more interesting to see how the Globe’s coverage of Henry’s other financial interests — the street closures around Fenway Park, his stake in other sports franchises — is handled going forward.
I do look forward to Henry becoming owner of the Globe because he is local and he represents a clean slate for the business interests of the New England Media Group. That brings excitement, but also fear of the unknown. The latest news is that he will be at the Globe on Monday. It’s my day off, but I think I will venture in to see what, if anything, he has to say.
You sort of knew this was coming, that Curt Schilling would lash out at somebody — anybody. But still, it boggles the mind that he could double down in the midst of this failed enterprise. It doesn’t bode well for his loan repayment plan.
It’s not often I comment on the dealings at the Boston Globe. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve been sort of an ambassador for newspaper dealings. That all ended when I left The Union.
But today marks a pretty historic day for the Globe and the communities it serves, as the BostonGlobe.com paywall finally goes up and the Globe completes the splitting of the paper’s online news brands.
This is significant for more reasons than opening a new revenue stream. (BostonGlobe.com will cost $3.99 a week — $0.99 for the first four weeks — but will be free to subscribers.) The deployment of a second website is a unique strategy, spearheaded by publisher Chris Mayer, that depends on both Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com to find separate niches, voices even, to serve the same communities. Boston.com, which will still carry breaking news, sports coverage and select Globe stories, is supposed to be the voice of Boston with community bloggers, photo galleries and other features that tap into the heart of New Englanders. BostonGlobe.com will carry the weight of the Globe’s newspaper content, with exclusivity in some areas and also breaking news. The new website, hailed for its design and scalability between smart phones, tablets and computers, is still changing. But its main thrust is dependent on its reading experience and being New England’s No. 1 news source.
So, basically, we’ll see where things go from here.
A couple of things that have gotten lost in the public’s conversation on the new site:
Stories of importance, or considered of public service, will be made available on Boston.com. So the whole Priest scandal thing, or the probation department fiasco, and stories like them will be made freely available.
Sports coverage, with the exception of enterprise pieces, will be available on Boston.com.
Current subscribers don’t have to pay anything for access to BostonGlobe.com. (Weirdly, this is confusing to some.)
I’m excited about this. And not just because I’m an employee of the company, but because this represents another domino in a long line of newspapers that need to start charging for what they’ve been giving away for free. The New York Times took the plunge, the Globe has taken the plunge, and I don’t believe it’ll be long before many other newspapers find a strategy that works for them to charge for the content that they produce.
Now with that said, there are a number of things the Globe needs to do in order for BostonGlobe.com to be a success in its own right and so it will not compete with Boston.com, and vice versa. Mainly, the new site has to give up its current sports centric focus. Given the availability and popularity of sports on Boston.com, it doesn’t make sense.
Instead, BostonGlobe.com should focus on its exclusive content and hesitate at all points to mirror what Boston.com does, particularly for sports. So in the evening, when readers visit BostonGlobe.com and see exclusive previews for content in the next day’s paper from our acclaimed G section or an editorial on a pressing topic, the company is doing what needs to be done in order to be successful. But on Monday, in the morning, the last thing the new site should be doing is featuring New England Patriots content as if it isn’t plastered all over Boston.com already.
It is my belief that for BostonGlobe.com to be successful — whether that is in terms of monetary value, protecting a sliding newspaper circulation, or web traffic — it has to break away from what Boston.com does and provide value to a distinct audience, one that despises Boston.com already. In the two years I’ve worked at the Globe, one of the constant complaints about Boston.com is how much of the newspaper’s content is buried online while readers eyes are diverted to photo galleries and other non-newspaper content. The new site is designed in a manner in which that will no longer be the case, catering to a large number of people already discontent with Boston.com. But I also believe a large number of these readers will never venture to the new site if, in essence, its homepage reflects the content on Boston.com. That’something the masters of the Globe — editor Martin Baron, Boston.com editor Ron Agrella and BostonGlobe.com editor Jason Tuohey — have to hash out. With time, and proper focus, I’m sure two distinct voices will form. That’s the hope I have for the company and this two-brand strategy.
So, basically, we’ll see where things go from here.
Editor’s note: If I ever wrote a column again, it’d be here on Wednesdays. In fact, that’s what I plan on doing. Starting next week, right here, my thoughts. You know the topics: Giants, 49ers, Warriors and journalism. Screw the Raiders. (OK, maybe some Raiders. But definitely screw the A’s.) This is long overdue.
This comes at a time when the New York Times Company has not put the Globe up for sale. Instead, the group, The 2100 Trust, is looking to protect the interest of the community, so to speak, buy buying the Globe as some form of community trust. Hence the name.
The 2100 Trust, a Massachusetts-based limited liability company, is putting together a community-focused investor group to submit a letter of intent to purchase The New England Media Company, including The Boston Globe and all its associated properties from the New York Times Company.
The Boston Globe has been a pillar in the city, the Commonwealth and the region for more than a century. We believe that The Boston Globe’s strongest days can be ahead. It is essential that the Globe be positioned for its next 100 years. This will require the significant long-term investment that we intend to make. One of the principal areas of investment will be the newsroom, which is due for a significant increase.
Mayer responded in a memo to the Globe about the advance, which the NYT co. still has not received.
“While we can’t stop others from having interest in our business, I’m viewing any potential outside interest in the Globe as a reaffirmation that we’re doing all the right things and moving the business forward,” Mayer wrote. “We have a solid strategy. Let’s stay focused on our success.”
The idea of having two websites at the Globe was a hot topic in the hallways last week. Everybody wants to know how it’s going to work out. And, as Mayer has said before, all the answers have not been determined yet. But this renewed interest in purchasing the Globe, something which was broached in 2006 and in 2009 when the Times threatened to shutter the Globe, seems to be an obvious response to the new strategy. I say obvious without actually knowing what’s in the minds and hearts of the individuals encompassing The 2100 Trust. However, this group’s timing could not be any more questionable.
This also comes at a time when the union is negotiating the Globe’s contract before it expires at the end of the year.
What does all of this mean for me?
It means that I’ll be working for both of the websites going forward, producing content for both. There’s a lot of gray right now, but I’ll be one of the many producers and editors for the website that determines what content goes to each website and what goes on both. (Yes, there are some items that will be on both.) My job will not drastically change. I’ll still be producing journalism with my eyes on serving New England fans for both high school sports and wherever else needed.
Eastie-Southie game hitting home
I recently moved from East Boston to South Boston. So went from hanging out in Eastie, to now living Southie. (Explaining this for the non-New Englanders.) Anyways, it means that I now have a rooting interest in watching the Eastie-Southie game on Thanksgiving Day. Or at least I can pretend. Either way, I miss the house in East Boston. But the move was warranted. They were selling it. I’m very happy with the new home and it’s actually pretty cool to be two minutes away from the office. In eight days, I will have been in New England for an entire year. I flew in on a blustery night, Oct. 28. In the past 12 months, I’ve lived in three different places. Hopefully, I’m here in Southie for awhile.
Alex Smith sucks
One game doesn’t change my opinion of a man. Nor does two. In fact, his entire body of work is what I’m thinking of when I say I think he’s a rotten QB and should be tossed out on his hindquarters. But it’s not my team, now is it. The 49ers won their first game on Sunday despite Alex Smith. However, the embattled QB did not throw an interception. He had averaged 1.8 interceptions a game up until the Battle of the Bay. It was another milestone for what has been a terrible season for Mr. Suck. But he is getting better. In fact, the comeback attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles was his first signs of real life to me, throwing two touchdowns in a what eventually was a 27-24 defeat including a — you guessed it — interception to end the game. The whole incident in which he argued with Mike Singletary and fought to go back in the game after getting pulled was the first time Smith actually appeared to be a sympathetic figure to me. He wasn’t just arguing for a few minutes of reserve time. Smith was arguing for his career right then and there. You could see it in the urgency of his body language. You could see it in the urgency of his play after he called David Carr back to the sideline. He was a man on a mission to save his career. That was interesting. But two games doesn’t change my opinion of Alex Smith the QB yet. He still sucks.
How about ‘dem Giants?
I can’t help but think about the inevitable argument on sports radio here in Boston when the San Francisco Giants make the World Series. These guys are gonna bring up all the reasons why the Giants shouldn’t be there. How the Red Sox could beat ’em and yaddy ya ya ya. I hate this line of argument. It’s all about the American League being better than the National League. I get it. AL cities have a superiority complex. Fine. But let’s not let the conversation fall into what the Sox, or any other AL team would do, when they’re not even in the dance. That’s just stupid. If the Red Sox were to be included in the argument, they’d first have to go back and win a couple of regular season games and then win a couple of series against some of the best teams in baseball before even being mentioned. I have no problem with the Yankees, Rangers, or even the Phillies, beating the Giants as the world crams it on the Black and Orange about how they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. But those are playoff teams. And as far as I’m concerned, they’re the only ones that matter.
Jason Campbell sucks
But you know this, right? And to think, I had lobbied for the 49ers to actually trade for Jason Campbell. But after the stinker he put up against the 49ers (8-of-21, 83 yards, 2 interceptions, 10.7 QB rating), I’d be remiss to say that wasn’t one of my better ideas. I mean, he did that against the 49ers. I’m not saying the 49ers defense is bad (10th in yard allowed per game), but they aren’t the Chargers (1st in yard allowed per game, 1st in passing yards allowed per game).
Crackdown on the crackdowns
I used to blow guys up all the time … OK, I’m lying. I used to cheap shot guys as my teammate ran up and down the sidelines for a league-leading 32 touchdowns. But you know what, I never once hit a guy helmet to helmet. Not on purpose. I did so one time on accident. Guess who got hurt? I did. Sorta Dunta Robinson like. It made me woozy for at least two more plays as I stayed in the game trying to stop a team from scoring on us. I don’t think it was a concussion, but it would explain a lot. Either way, this crackdown needed to happen. These guys are physically talented enough at the NFL level to tackle people by aiming for the core of the ball carrier’s body, rather than the head or neck. For guys like James Harrison to consider retiring because he may not know how to play the game is absolutely idiotic. But then again, he’s the same guy who said he wouldn’t go to the White House and meet the president (Obama and Bush) after winning the Super Bowl because “they weren’t for the Steelers.” We’re not talking about the smartest Golden Girl here.
— Be sure to follow along on Twitter as I tweet about things related to Massachusetts high school sports and other stuff. I like the other stuff, but Mass High sports are cool too. It’s football season, ya know.
I really shouldn’t be the one to write this, but it’s the dominating thought on my mind right now. Things are heating up between three of the major outlets in Boston sports media and it’s all sort of happening below the radar. Continue reading “Competition heats up in Boston”
Editor’s note: This was originally posted on Addisports.com, headlined “Writing our online obituary.”
Nobody’s died. At least not a person. But in a few days, I’m going to end the life of AddiSports.com for reasons that should be apparent: I just don’t have any time or energy for it.
This is very unfortunate because I kept thinking that with enough attention to the site and the proper love and devotion one would need to give in order to expand their online presence, it would grow into something fortuitous and possibly generate secondary income. Alas, that is still possible. But my time for such endeavors is not. Continue reading “End of an era, a personal death”
As someone who has worked in customer service before, I understand simply that the help doesn’t want to be subjected to my crappy mood. If I’m ready to breathe fire and spit tongue lashes on the account of my personal issues, I shouldn’t take my foul outlook on the world to the restaurant or the coffee shop or the dentist’s office.
You know I’m right because if you’re like 80 percent of the world’s population (or at least America’s) you’ve worked in some form of customer service before. It’s also the majority of jobs available.
(Don’t worry about the numbers. Just focus on the point.)
But there’s an added tangent to the customer-server relationship: The tip.
See, the basis of a customer’s relationship does not live or die by the customer’s behavior, but that of the server. Excellent service and a warm attitude is rewarded handsomely, while poor service and a shitty attitude gets no dinero.