Moving up and down the dial while enjoying hearing Mike Gorman on Celtics television broadcasts for his 42nd year. Sure do miss his old partner, though …
▪ Al Michaels belongs on the hypothetical Mount Rushmore of play-by-play voices across all sports, and he still calls an excellent game at age 77. But anyone expressing surprise at his strong comments about embattled Washington owner Dan Snyder during Thursday night’s Commanders-Bears game on Amazon Prime must have a short memory.
Michaels always has been willing to share his opinion on league matters more than most play-by-play voices will, and he certainly has the gravitas to say his piece on whatever he wants. But those suspicious that Michaels, who said among other things that he believes the NFL wants Snyder to sell the Commanders, helped get out a message that Roger Goodell and the league wanted to deliver are not just playing a game of conjecture.
Patriots fans will remember the bizarre situation during their playoff win over the Ravens in the 2014 season. At the end of the first quarter as the camera lingered on Goodell and his wife, Jane, in the Gillette Stadium stands — he’s an everyman, you see — Michaels rigidly read a statement that synopsized Robert Mueller’s investigation into the commissioner’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.
Analyst Cris Collinsworth chimed in to say he never had a reason to doubt Goodell’s integrity and Michaels agreed that Goodell’s integrity was intact after the report. It remains one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen on an NFL broadcast that doesn’t involve Antonio Brown taking off his uniform and hitting the road.
▪ This is probably not a surprise, but Richard Sherman has emerged as the most interesting voice on Amazon Prime’s NFL studio programming. He had a hilarious viral moment — especially to Patriots fans — two weeks ago when his former Seahawks teammate Russell Wilson, now with the Broncos, threw an interception in overtime on a fourth-and-1 situation. “On the final play, you got to run the ball again,” said Sherman, voice rising. “… One yard. You need 1 yard. Run the ball. Run the ball!” Later, he tweeted simply, “Flashbacks,” a reference to … well, you know. Malcolm Butler’s game-saving interception of Wilson in Super Bowl XLIX.
▪ How long have 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti dominated afternoon drive in Boston? It’s been more than a decade since they finished anything other than first in a three-month ratings period among sports radio’s desired men 25-54 demographic. The last time “Felger and Mazz” did not take the top spot in the Nielsen Audio Ratings was spring 2012, when it finished third with a 6.2 share. WZLX programming was first, while WEEI’s “Ordway and Holley” finished second with a 7.9 share. WEEI got a nice boost from the Celtics’ run to Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals — it was the flagship station then, with The Sports Hub securing the rights in September 2013.
▪ For those of us of a certain age who grew up adjusting the rabbit ears on a black-and-white television to get Bruins broadcasts on Ch. 38 to at least look like they weren’t being played in a blizzard, the technological advancements in broadcasting and television quality have been a gift to hockey fans. Something like what the Bruins are doing this season — broadcasting all home games in 4K/HDR quality, an extremely sharp and detailed picture — would have been unfathomable. NESN previously launched Red Sox home games in native 4K/HDR on three TV providers — Verizon, DirecTV, and fuboTV. Bruins broadcasts will be available on those providers, but users of any provider will be able to watch in 4K/HDR by subscribing to or authenticating in the NESN 360 app if they have a 4K TV and a 4K connected device such as Apple TV, Google TV, or Fire TV.
▪ It’s fitting that Pedro Martinez sits in the Charles Barkley seat on the far right of the set during TBS’s postseason baseball coverage, because he is the star and occasional comedy relief of the show. Martinez had an engrossing, emotional interview this past week with the often stoic Albert Pujols in which the retiring slugger teared up while marveling at the life baseball gave him. “Can you imagine a Dominican little boy shining shoes, [hauling] trash every Saturday to bring some food for my grandma and my grandpa and my dad, who were struggling … [To] use my life like this is just amazing,” said Pujols. “I wouldn’t change anything.” Martinez was a sympathetic interviewer, telling his countryman Pujols, “I love you, I’m proud of you, of everything you’ve done.”
▪ Heard from a few Yankees fans who told me that they really enjoyed listening to Dennis Eckersley’s analysis on NESN’s Red Sox broadcasts. Proof, I suppose, that an informed, entertaining broadcaster transcends rivalry. Related to that, I watched a half-dozen to a dozen Yankees broadcasts on the YES Network during Aaron Judge’s pursuit of the American League home run record, and analysts David Cone and Paul O’Neill were good company. Play-by-play voice Michael Kay, not so much.
▪ A reminder, which we’ll revisit as the game gets closer: The Patriots-Bills matchup on Dec. 1 is a “Thursday Night Football” game on Amazon Prime. But in the local markets it is simulcast on Fox affiliates, so it will be available locally on Ch. 25 if you are not a Prime subscriber.
▪ Speaking of streaming and the nuisances of figuring out how to access a particular game, the Bruins play on ESPN+ and Hulu three times this season, the first on Nov. 3 against the Rangers. The other two are March 2 against the Sabres and March 9 vs. the Oilers. Those are all Thursday games and will not air on NESN or ESPN. You must be an ESPN+ or Hulu subscriber to watch.