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SBD/September 21, 2012/People and Pop CulturePrint All
Longtime Boston Globe columnist BOB RYAN went into “semi-retirement” following the London Games. Inspired by the likes of JIM MURRAY of the L.A. Times and SI's FRANK DEFORD, Ryan spent his entire 44-year career with the Globe. As he heads into the next phase of his career, which includes occasional columns for the Globe as well as continued television appearances, Ryan discussed his career, the sports media industry, the Red Sox and the things he enjoys in his free time.
Q: What was it that drew you to journalism?
Ryan: It was very simple: I liked to read. My father would take me to a high school basketball game on Friday night and I didn’t feel the experience was validated until I read about it in the paper the next day. I wanted to see what was said about the game that I just saw. It’s just that simple. That’s the way I’m wired.
Q: What is the most memorable moment of your career?
Ryan: There’s no such thing, really and truly. I couldn’t say that because it’s not the way. You can talk about the top five, six, 10, 100 sporting events that I covered and we can discuss that. As far as the most memorable, I really can’t say because there are different stages of your career.
Q: Where do you see the sports media industry going in the foreseeable future?
Ryan: Digitalization is the thing, and online stuff is now the driver of the car and the newsprint is being left behind and will in time be eliminated entirely. I know newspapers are doomed. There’s no recovery process possible in my opinion because of the financial circumstances of it, the advertising that is lost and will never be regained. Plus, you can’t replenish readers; young people aren’t in the habit of reading the paper, it’s not part of their thinking, they go immediately online. There’s going to be writing opportunities, but I don’t think the sheer numbers of them will match what there would have been at the peak of the mid-20th century newspapers when every city had two viable papers and some had more. Now, you have circumstances where major cities have papers that only publish three times a week, which is a frightening thing but it’s going to continue like that. … It’s a very, very different experience writing as a generic face on a website for a national audience opposed to being the guy in the town, interacting with people on a personal basis. It’s a very different sensation. It’s not as good and it’s not as fulfilling as that newspaper experience.
Q: What concerns you about the industry and what gives you optimism?
Ryan: The Twitter world has perverted any concept of perspective. When everything is judged on pitch-by-pitch, play-by-play, moment-by-moment, that eliminates the sense of perspective and it’s extremely dangerous. It’s wrong. That’s where we are and who’s going to stop it? The idea of people who are allowed to let things simmer and play out, you can’t let things play out, you have to have an instant play-by-play of everything. That’s not the way sports should be. And certain sports are hurt more than others. When they start looking at baseball games the way they do football games, that’s a problem. Baseball needs time to play out. When that’s not allowed, it’s bad. The nature of the dialogue, the whole talk-show thing, instant analysis and the fact that in the talk-show sense, it is better to be negative then to be positive, is a problem. I don’t see it getting any better.
Q: Do you feel coverage has become angrier or snarkier?
Ryan: When I started, it wasn’t automatic that everything had to be framed who’s the good guy and who’s to blame. It used to be you played a game or had a series, you’d win or lose and you win or lose on merit and you go on. Now, it’s blame; “Who do we blame? Who’s at fault?” That’s the natural instinct, that’s the way people frame things. That’s very dangerous and that’s bad. ... I don’t know who is going to stand up and say, “Let’s stop doing this,” but no one is in position to do that.
Q: How has the relationship between media and athletes changed?
Ryan: Everybody always assumes it’s about the money. I don’t think it’s about the money; it’s just about the access. The theory was true, though, the idea was they could make money by publicizing them. We were their conduit to the fans; we would portray them in ways that would humanize them and all that. It may have been true to an extent. Now they don’t need us. They go right to their own website, they have their own ways, they can tweet with their public, so they don’t need us for that at all. A lot of them don’t see any need to have a relationship with the day-to-day print media, for example, whereas many people cover the team for radio stations or so forth or for websites. That’s the thing: they don’t need us for that. Plus, the simple access factor, the nature of how I went about my business in the 70s and 80s. Today, if I was able to demonstrate that to anybody who covers the NBA, for example, they would not believe it.
Q: Which players or owners have you enjoyed covering the most?
Ryan: My most enjoyable player, by far, had the combination of his play, which was exciting and always fun to watch, and his personality, which was unmatched. I never had anyone like him -- DAVE COWENS. Dave Cowens is absolutely the most unique person in the history of the NBA as a personality. He was a completely uninhibited guy who looked at every day freshly and was intellectually curious. ... Best example of Dave Cowens, and I can give you many: he wins a championship; they beat Milwaukee in ’74. It was an afternoon game in Milwaukee and we were flying back that night. There’s a change of planes in Chicago and I caught up with him and I said, “Hey Dave, you did it, it’s over. You got it done. How do you feel?” He said, “Well, for me the fun is in the doing. I just look at this as something for my portfolio of basketball experiences.” That is the single best line I have ever gotten in 44 years and no one will ever get a better line from an athlete than that.
Q: How do you like to relax?
Ryan: I love music, it’s always been a very important thing in my life. Reading, of course. Movies -- I used to be a real big movie guy. I’ve fallen off the last couple years. Now that I’m semi-retired, I’m assuming I’ll have more time than I’ve had the last couple of years to get back into movies. And travel, of course. I’m looking forward to a lot of different travel opportunities. There’s no day, I can’t imagine growing up, that I can possibly remember the radio is on all day. I wouldn’t back out of the driveway without satellite radio. That isn’t going to happen. Or with 10 or 12 CDs in the car at any given time. That’s very standard, that’s normal living, I think.
Q: Who are your favorite musical artists?
Ryan: I’m a jazz guy and I’m a '50s and '60s rock and roll guy. My three jazz icons are COUNT BASIE, BUDDY RICH and ZOOT SIMS. And rock and roll -- nothing fancy here. THE BEATLES -- everything ever said and done by them is fantastic. They were a phenomenon unlike anything else and they were. And nothing ever matched their peak popularity. I was nine years old when ELVIS sang “Heartbreak Hotel” and I was into that. … I’m a SINATRA guy, and that’s a whole subculture that’s just beyond. My level of Sinatra knowledge is probably better than 90% of people on this Earth. But is 1/10th of 1% of the knowledge of the other 10%.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: I’m just throwing a few off the top of my head: “CASABLANCA” is my favorite. It’s such a cliché, isn’t it? But it’s my favorite movie; I can watch it once a week. “BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI,” fantastic movie; A great comedy, “LOVERS AND OTHER STRANGERS.” I loved that movie. “GUIDE TO THE MARRIED MAN” -- an hysterical movie and one that you ought to rent one day, a fantastic movie. Of course, “THE GODFATHER.” If it comes down to one, as cliché as it is, the reason is it’s so damn good and it’s “Casablanca.”
Q: Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
A: Paris. I’ve been there about 10 times. I’m going back in November. I can never get enough of Paris. That’s my favorite place of a lot of places -- the Greek Islands. For that kind of getaway, for all the kind of beachy and sun-splashed getaways to the Caribbean, Bermuda, the best one is the Greek Islands.
Q: How are you enjoying semi-retirement?
A: It’s awful early. Three of the four weeks that I was in this new status, I was on vacation so it didn’t seem like anything different. This is the second week that I’m not out of town and with a new routine. ... I’m doing a column for the Globe, 30-40 a year is what we’re talking about. ... I’m settling into this whole thing, but I have lot of TV work, fortunately, which is going to keep me occupied.
Competitor Group VP/Advertising LUCY DIAZ usually spends her weekends racing around, literally, at one of the company’s 75 Rock-And-Roll Series marathons, half marathons or triathlons country-wide. But this weekend, she will be enjoying the last bit of San Diego sun at her home near Mission Bay. Diaz can give you a run for your money on her early bedtimes, turning in early to get a jumpstart on her days with her husband and two-year-old daughter BELLA. This weekend is filled with playgrounds, gastro-pubs and -- you guessed it -- some running.
UP AND AT 'EM: I have a two-year-old daughter, so a lot of what we have going on revolves around her activities. But really it’s about this time of the year -- well, really, anytime of the year in San Diego -- it’s about being outside and enjoying the weather and being active. I get up really early, I always have. I’m just an early riser. So it’s sad to admit, but 11 o’clock (at night) is pushing it for me to get to bed. I like to get to bed early so we can make the most of the day. Not that we have the luxury anymore of sleeping in.
ON A MISSION: This Friday when I get off of work it will probably involve a run along Mission Bay. We live about a mile from Mission Bay and it has a running trail that goes all along the route there. So I’ll head out there for maybe a three or five-mile run with my husband and my daughter. And then there’s a little local gastro-pub in our neighborhood that we’ll probably hit afterward to have some food. Of course I’ll be home before nine o’clock. There’s a new gastro-pub that just opened that we went to last weekend that we’re going to go to again, it’s call Luce.
PLAYGROUND HOPPING: My daughter during the run is in her stroller and she is up and alert. Actually how we get her to sit still for our run is we run out and there’s a couple playgrounds along the route that we do, so we’ll run out to a playground. We’ll stop, let her run around for a bit and then we’ll come back. So it’s a little bit of a barter, negotiation with our daughter to get her to come out. She’s usually singing or her favorite thing to do is to tell me to run faster. We end on a hill that goes up to our house. She’s like, “Mommy, you should be running not walking.” So I get called out by my two year old frequently.
RUBBER DUCKY: My husband and I both run pretty avidly and we’ve taken up some standup paddle boarding. I think we’re going to go on Saturday. And our daughter sits on the top of the board. It’s kind of a funny visual, but she enjoys it. We do like to sail. My husband is getting into sailing. I grew up outside of Boston in a very kind of water-centric area. I grew up sailing with my family and we haven’t done it too much out here. But we started this summer really getting into it.
DATE NIGHT: My husband and I are going to go out for dinner. We got a babysitter and we make sure we get some adult time. I think we’ll probably go out to get dinner and some drinks. We try to do date night or getting together with friends on a pretty consistent basis. I tried to make reservations at this new place in Mission Hills called Brooklyn Girl, which I think has been around for about a year now but I haven’t tried it. San Diego has some cool little pockets, different neighborhoods that have these little eclectic eateries, so if we don’t end up there we’ll probably go to North Park.
A DAY OF REST: Sunday we’re thinking about going to the beach. We have a bit of a hot spell. We’ll go to the beach, build sand castles, body surfing, bring a picnic and get together with some friends. I read a ton of magazines, a lot of just looking at what our competitors are doing and what people in our space are doing from an advertising standpoint and also read our own magazine so I’m aware and in tune with what’s happening in the industry that we work in. So I definitely spend a lot of time and that’s what the beach is for. And those early nights I usually end up with a magazine on the couch with a glass of wine.
Delaware North Cos. announced that AMY LATIMER has been promoted to TD Garden President. Latimer has worked for the venue since '95, previously serving as Senior VP/Sales & Marketing for both TD Garden and the Bruins. In her new role, Latimer will be responsible for all day-to-day operating functions of the arena and will report to JOHN WENTZELL, the previous arena President who now serves as President for Delaware North Cos. Boston and Delaware North Cos. Int'l (Delaware North Cos.).
EXECS: The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix named Izod IndyCar Series operational expert CHARLES BURNS GM. Burns will oversee day-to-day operations of the race, which will be held on May 31-June 2 (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/21)….Texas A&M-Kingsville announced that AD BRIAN DEANGELIS has resigned “after just 80 days on the job.” DeAngelis’ resignation "was effective Wednesday and gave no reason” (MYSANANTONIO.com, 9/20)….Grand Slam Sports President & GM DAVE GREENE, whose company bought sports-talk station KFNS-AM two years ago, “is out and has been replaced” by former KMOX-AM Sales Manager KATY PAVELONIS. She has "been at the station for several months and already had assumed some of Greene’s day-to-day duties.” GSS owns both KFNS and sports-talks station KXFN-AM (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/21)….The Double-A Texas League Springfield Cardinals have named Double-A Texas League Frisco RoughRiders Group Sales Coordinator NIKI LODHOLZ Community Relations/Account Exec (THE DAILY)….The Aspire Group for its Georgia Tech athletics property has named Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission intern VIKKI CHAVIS Sales Consultant (THE DAILY).
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The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Peers & Jannarone cite sources as saying that News Corp. is "planning to give JAMES MURDOCH ... oversight of the Fox Networks Group, which includes the Fox broadcast network and cable networks." Murdoch already serves as News Corp. Deputy COO, but the new role "will give a clearer picture of his responsibilities." Fox Networks Group Chair & CEO PETER RICE will report to Murdoch. The new role "isn't expected to be confirmed until later this year." Murdoch is the son of News Corp. Chair RUPERT MURDOCH (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/21).
ADVISE CORNER: INSIDECOUNSEL magazine's Ashley Post profiles Nets and Barclays Center Exec VP/Business Affairs & Chief Legal Officer JEFF GEWIRTZ. Post asks what advice Gewirtz would "give to a young person who wants to become involved in sports law." Gewirtz said, "The easiest route, frankly, is to go to the best law school you can, get the best grades you can, go to the best law firm you can -- preferably a law firm that has sports industry clients -- get exposure to those clients, and then ultimately impress those clients and hope to get an offer to move in-house." Post also asked Gewirtz what his "dream job" would be if he did not work in law. Gewirtz replied, "My dream job would be to be the CEO of the ATP World Tour" (INSIDECOUNSEL, 9/ '12 issue).
'STACHE BASH: Former MLBer and SportsNet N.Y. analyst KEITH HERNANDEZ said that he is going to have his mustache "shaved off at Citi Field next week to raise money for the Jacquelyn Hernandez Adult Day Health Center, which aids Alzheimer's disease patients and others with dementia." The shaving will occur "outside Citi Field's Jackie Robinson Rotunda on Thursday before the Mets' final home game of the season, vs. the Pirates." Schick Hydro has "agreed to bring in a barber -- and a barber chair -- for the event" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/21).
MANNY BEING MANNY: A federal judge has ordered boxer FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. to “pay about $114,000 for avoiding questioning from rival fighter MANNY PACQUIAO’s lawyers in a defamation case.” Pacquiao’s attorneys earlier “lost a bid to end the lawsuit with a more severe sanction -- a default judgment for Pacquiao.” But on Monday they “won more than $113,000 in legal fees and $774 in costs for what U.S. District Judge LARRY HICKS bluntly called ‘Mayweather’s obviously intentional decision not to appear for his court ordered deposition'" (AP, 9/19). Meanwhile, Pacquiao has been in discussions with rapper 50 CENT about "doing a 'couple' of co-promotions together, perhaps even one before the end of the year between Pacquiao's MP Promotions and the rapper's The Money Team outfit." Pacquiao said, "We're talking to each other. But right now, I'm kind of busy and we (haven't) finalized anything. We can do good business together" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/21).
NAMES: Univ. of North Carolina men’s basketball coach ROY WILLIAMS “has been released from UNC Hospitals, one day after he underwent a three-and-a-half hour operations to remove a tumor from his right kidney.” UNC Senior Associate AD/Communications STEVE KIRSCHNER said that doctors “didn’t yet know whether the tumor was malignant or benign,” and that it could take doctors “a week or more to determine that” (NEWSOBSERVER.com, 9/20)….Golfer STEVE STRICKER was awarded the Payne Stewart Award for his “respect for traditions of the game, support of charitable endeavors and professionalism” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/21)….AdWeek named NASCAR Senior VP & CMO STEVE PHELPS one of its ’12 “Brand Genius” winners (AdWeek)….NFL Jets QB TIM TEBOW appears in the October edition of Vogue. Tebow said of he is looking for in a future wife, “Obviously, looks play a big part, but there’s also so much more than that for me. It’s about finding someone sweet and kind -- and that has a servant’s heart” (VOGUE, 10/ ’12 issue).