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Great Moments in talk radio: talking team chemistry with some Boston yakkers

Sep 17, 2013, 10:32 AM EDT

I wrote that thing yesterday about how maybe, just maybe there is more going on to make Boston awesome this year than Jonny Gomes‘ beard. The radio folks in Boston didn’t like that very much. I was taken to task on some show last night and then, this morning, Dennis and Callahan of WEEI asked me to come on to defend myself. So I did:

Best part was when they asked me to name a team that had done well with players not getting along in the past 40 years. I cited the early-to-mid 70s Oakland A’s and was about to cite the 1977-78 Yankees, but they cut me off and changed it to “the past 30 years.” They didn’t give me a chance to mention the 1986 Red Sox or mets or the 2002 Giants. Oh well.

From there on it just devolved into their assertions that Jonny Gomes was a good luck charm while they rarely let me talk. At one point they said that Adrian Gonzalez is magically no longer a team cancer because he’s back in California and players from California are happier in California. I pointed out that Jonny Gomes was from California but that didn’t go over too well because, you know, facts. I didn’t get a chance to mention that Gomes’ “wins everywhere he plays” only works when you cut out the bulk of his career spent in Tampa Bay with the Devil Rays.

But hey, just because they call it talk radio doesn’t mean everyone gets to talk. There are some folks who, when they invite someone on who doesn’t agree with their nonsense, change it to “only I talk” radio.

  1. bgeary8 - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    That’s tough to sit though. That’s also why I listen to Toucher & Rich instead.

    • baseballici0us - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Ugh! Toucher & Rich are even bigger clowns!

  2. cur68 - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    See? This is why we should all have a blog. You can win. One can now invite these three guys to comment on your blog, ask them questions then write whatever you want. In fact, by advertising their show, you’re doing them a favour anyways, so they can’t complain without being seen as ungrateful jerks. They now owe you. Ironically, if they’d actually let you answer the questions asked, you’d have shown them up in their small market. Now, since they talked over you pretty much constantly you can invoke your bloggy powers and write the whole thing up for the world to see. Ah, blog given powers….I hope they’re being used responsibly.

  3. rollinghighwayblues - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Not being from New England, that’s the first time I’ve listened to those guys. Talk about two sharks..

    • gloccamorra - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Being from New England, I can tell you they are typical of Boston sports radio. They, and their newspaper colleagues, are the reason a certain percentage of Red Sox fans are nuts.

  4. crispybasil - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    John Dennis and Gerry Callahan are easily two of the worst hosts on sports talk radio today. Their reactionary political views drive almost all of their discussions and “analysis,” and their pitiful collective sports IQ is exemplified by how they treat any caller or guest with views that oppose their own.

  5. dawgpoundmember - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    They didnt have to prove they are right, just you are wrong, which they did by not letting you talk I guess.

  6. butchhuskey - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Craig, you came off very well in this appearance – you articulated your points rationally and thoroughly. The other guys sounded like blithering idiots who wouldn’t even let you finish your answers.

    • baseballici0us - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:04 AM


  7. jm91rs - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    I understand that chemistry doesn’t have a stat, and doesn’t have a major role, but I do believe it exists. A good team can win without it, a bad team can lose with it, but I bet it’s worth a few games. A guy that shows up to work happy and excited to do his job does it better, and that’s probably worth a win or two.

    The Red Sox are not more talented this year than they were last, but the team was an absolute mess and that carried over to the field. This year they aren’t bickering and that allows them to play with a clear head. That is not the sole reason for the turn around, but it does do something.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      Bill James once said something like, “Just because we cannot measure things like team chemistry is not the same thing as saying these things don’t matter.” And I think that’s a reasonable proposition. What’s unreasonable is to look at a good team and assume that they’re winning because they have great chemistry, and to end the discussion there.

      And it’s a shame that a discussion like “Craig v. chemistry” is what defines sports talk radio, because there’s so many interesting things to say about this Red Sox team (or any other team). Concrete, measurable things. Why would anyone want to cut off that discussion?

  8. baseballici0us - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Boston Sports-Talk Radio is an embarrassment to the city.

  9. anotheryx - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    At least you didn’t abruptly hang up or cry, which is already better than average D&C interviews.

  10. Jack Marshall - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Dennis and Callahan!!!!!

    What, pray, did you expect? They used to run ads on NESN promoting the pair like they were a combination of Bill James and the Algonquin Roundtable, and the ads would include clips of one of them saying “Wow, Papi is AWESOME!!” or something moronically equivalent. I mean, if that’s the cleverest comment marketing department can dig up from show tapes…

    The Sox clubhouse chemistry theme is already old, and I expect to be throwing bricks at the TV if the Sox go deep in the post-season. Winning teams always have better chemistry than losing teams, because winning is fun and losing’s a drag. Boston sportswriters love the myth of chemistry (Pete Abraham as late as yesterday again blamed last season on Bobby Valentine, because, you know, he injured all those players,made Beckett, Lester, Bard, Buchholtz and Dice-k pitch like crap, and he waived a white flag on the season in August with the—great–trade to LA) flows from the bad old Red Sox Yawkey days when the team’s talent and pitching deficits were blamed on “25 guys, 25 cabs.”

    Nobody ever accused Teddy Ballgame of being a “clubhouse guy,” or Yaz, and they’re erecting a statue of him. Games are won on the field, not in the clubhouse, but as my dad liked to say, “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up.” The Boston sportswriter’s motto.

  11. girardisbraces - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    D&C are a pair of ass clowns. Back in the early 2000s, they (and WEEI) were at the top of talk radio in Boston. I guess over time they must have become self absorbed pricks. They’re just jokes now. When my brother in law was still on the show I’d listen in every now and again and I couldn’t STAND them.

  12. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    The guys on MLB Network radio were talking about the Sox a week or two ago, and one of the bobble-heads said that the Sox would win the World Series this year…(and I shit you not…) because the team chemistry is so amazing that they have had several team dinners where 20 or more members voluntarily showed.

    I was flabbergasted. Apparently having dinner together = wins. How could we never have made this connection before? Skill, luck, ability, all have NOTHING to do with it. It’s all about who can get the most guys to break bread together.

    • km9000 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      Didn’t last year’s Giants have a reputation for good chemistry? They mostly stayed together, and, well, you know how that’s worked out.

      If chemistry were that significant, it’s funny how the exact same group of guys can be horrible one month, unstoppable the next, and mediocre after that.

      • gloccamorra - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:30 PM

        Good chemistry is very helpful, but not as much as a four ace rotation and a shutdown closer.

  13. rugby8man - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    That show is terrible. It’s got too much political crap. If I wanted to listen to that, I wouldn’t be tuning into a sports radio station. Second, they rip the hell out of liberals/Democrats, etc. in a solid blue state and they wonder why they’re losing listeners.

    From the sound of things, they’ll be off the air soon enough:

    • tadthebad - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      I’m in general agreement about the show, though I like Kirk Minihane who is a relatively new addition. However, for the past few years much of the political stuff has been snuffed out, due in large part to loss of listeners. Also, be advised that the column you reference was exposed as an agenda driven piece – the writer apparently took the opinion(s) of at least one friend and presented it as unfiltered. Also ignored revenue comparison in which WEEI trumps the CBS affiliate. This isn’t to say WEEI is in fine shape or D&C aren’t dinosaurs who have trouble dealing with opposing perspectives based in fact…

  14. offseasonblues - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    You did pretty well, Craig, because you exposed what they are.

    But it’s too bad. I’ve been waiting for the media to jump in the chemistry debate and so far nobody I’ve heard or read has managed to comprehend that many things have to go right for a team to have a season as enjoyable as the Red Sox are having. And the fact is that Cherington did consider character / personality when signing the new guys.

    • Jack Marshall - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      Well, sure—in any organization, you want positive personalities. But nobody seemed to complain about Alfredo Aceves in 2011 when he was the most valuable pitcher on the team. That ray of sunshine David Ortiz managed to be not such a great clubhouse guy in 2012, when he was injured and the team was losing. Wasn’t Lackey supposed to be poison? Now he’s pitching well, and he’s another rah-rah “presence.” Read the pre-season hype on Crawford and Gonzalez in 2011. They were supposed to be character guys, according to Theo.

      The ’75 Red Sox were a great clutch team, and one of the grumpiest, least fun groups imaginable–that’s why Bill Lee stood out (and was unpopular with management). Yaz, Rice, Evans, Fisk–these are not warm and cuddly competitors. And so what?

      The 2013 Sox penchant for getting clutch hits, pinch-hit homers and grand slams is as much good fortune as ability—last season, better hitters than Gomes and Mike Carp, like Adrian Gonzalez, never seemed to get the key run in when it mattered. Like the Orioles this year, if the Sox assume that the good feelings will generate the same results in 2014, they are likely to be disillusioned.

      • offseasonblues - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        As I said, it takes a lot of things going right. I’d list them, but it would take too long. I assume nothing about next year, and I loved that ’75 team.

  15. fenway22 - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Dennis and Callahan is one of the lowest rated and worst radio shows in Boston and their station, weei is a sinking ship. You might have been their very last interview ever because it won’t be long before they are canned.

    But don’t worry about doing a ‘poor’ job with them, no one listens to them anyway. I bet more people heard the interview on this webpage than on their station live.

    • jcmeyer10 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      Yah, I stopped listening a while ago. I listen to NPR more often than not and tune in to 98.5 for interviews with Chiarelli and Mikey from the Celtics.

      Other than that, not a lot of sports talk to love in the AM hours in Boston.

      • fenway22 - Sep 17, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        Try living in W. Mass where the 98.5 signal doesn’t reach. Thankfully I have SiriusXM in my car. Every once in a while I’ll flip weei on but there is not one show on that station I can listen to for more than 5 min. Mutt and Lou use to be the worst… then came Mike Salk…… D&C I don’t even count.

  16. sisqsage - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    In fact, Gomes and his beard are from Petaluma, Calif. baby. He used to be dirt poor. Now he’s living the good life in The Fens.

  17. jcmeyer10 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Sorry Craig. You picked the wrong guys to talk facts with. Come back to Boston radio soon!

  18. baseballici0us - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    For the record…can we throw a little love to the rest of the beards?

  19. eagles512 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Talk show hosts are in general the most clueless people in the world.

  20. jbriggs81 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Boston talk radio… LOL. Always has been and always will be a total joke

  21. aceshigh11 - Sep 17, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    What a couple of degenerate, reactionary assholes.

  22. pastabelly - Sep 17, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Craig, you did agree with them that the Sox more congenial clubhouse and better manager contributes to the success of the team. All of you agreed on that. You canont quantify intangibles because they are intangibles. Cherrington purposely dealt away malcontents and negative leaders and was ridiculed for overpaying what many experts deemed to be marginal players who were good clubhouse guys. How do you quantify John Lackey and Jon Lester showing up this year in shape? How do you quantify rookies and first year players being welcomed the right way? You can’t put a number on any of that. The Red Sox have more depth this year. They also got rid of negative leaders on the team and replaced them with guys who love the game. The A’s teams of the 1970s, which you like to bring up, had guys who loved the game and just couldn’t get along. The 2012 Red Sox, as managed by Bobby Valentine, seemed to play as if they were going through the motions. It was awful.

    • Jack Marshall - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      I watched the 2012 team. It was injured and disrupted from the beginning. What exactly was Valentine supposed to do? He was saddled with a coaching staff that wasn’t his, and one by one, every asset got hurt or tanked. You know that lousy start? You know how could have made it a lot better if he hadn’t thrown batting practice during late innings of close games? Understudy closer Mark Melancon…you know, the guy’s who’s unhittable now? Was that Valentine’s fault? Bulletin: until Ortiz and Middlebrooks went down, with all the injuries Valentine still had the team within shot of a wildcard…then he had nothing, Cherrington pulled the trigger on the Dodgers trade, and let Bobby twist in the wind for more than a month.

      ESPN’s clowns on Sunday kept marveling how Girardi had the Yankees functioning when “their starting line-up has never been on the field.” Well, the 2012 Sox starting line-up was never on the field either, and their second baseman was hurt and having his worst season, not one of his best like Cano, and their closer and set-up men were never on the field either. The Yankees aren’t going to be in the play-offs any more than the Sox were—the difference is that because NY wasn’t willing to leave Joe with fumes and give up on the season, the Yankees are screwed next season too.

      Valentine is being used as a scapegoat, and it’s ridiculous. No manager who ever lived could have kept the 2012 Sox out of last place.

  23. moogro - Sep 17, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Wow. Stake out some random position and then defend it at all costs for some reason.

    This hurt us all a little bit, but thanks for showing us that world, Craig.

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