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Friday Four-Pack 11.10.23
The end of Toucher and Rich. Bill Belichick (allegedly) in the wild. Joe Mazzulla v. The Media. NFL Picks! (Updated 11/12/23)
This is allegedly Bill Belichick. ALLEGEDLY.
If it is - and it sure does look like the greatest NFL coach of all-time shirtless in the early morning hours - it fits well with that was been a very weird run for the Patriots.
Going back to the off-season:
Announce publically that assistant coach Jerod Mayo is staying and has a new deal.
Promise to season ticket holders via press release (and email) that the product will be better.
Do very little to actually upgrade the offense on the field.
At one point rookie Malik Cunningham is active and the only backup to Mac Jones. In a real game. Not preseason, a real game.
Bench multiple players for team violations and not acknowledge it - even when the players are sort of acknowledging it themselves.
Look like a team going nowhere on the field.
The newly-single head coach ends up shirtless on a ring camera. Allegedly.
I’m sure there are things that I’m missing, but you get the idea.
More and more it feels like the end for Belichick here. Specifically, because the owners promised the fans a better product on the field - and it’s been worse.
Tom E. Curran’s reporting has been pretty clear on this - he believes Belichick’s contract runs through next season. If that’s the case, I have to believe that if the current trend continues and the team wins four or five games, Bill is out.
BUT…let’s say they get embarrassed in Germany this weekend. Fall to 2-8. And we hear more about players and discipline and the whole Patriot Way thing falling apart. Bye-week next week. Mayo waiting in the wings. I’d say a good 10% chance Belichick is out. One in ten chance. If those above things happen.
Hell of a game, Pats and Colts, to outsource to Germany. Woof.
Lots to get to on a busy Friday, where we start with huge breaking news in Boston media.
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On the ‘official’ breakup of Toucher and Rich…
After months of chronicling here at MutStack both the open and not-so-open tension, we found out early Friday morning that it appears one of the most successful radio shows in Boston history is no more.
98.5 The Sports Hub’s Fred Toucher told his audience in the first segment of Friday's program that he was told yesterday was the final show for co-host Rich Shertenlieb.
He then teased sports talk and played Bruins’ highlights.
But before those Bruins highlights, Fred monologued for 25 minutes or so on the history of Toucher and Rich, giving Rich credit for the show’s beginnings, key bits and large success over many years.
Eventually, he got to the last year or so as Toucher described a work-only relationship, one where the two didn’t talk off the air.
“I’ve known Rich for 20 years and don’t know much about him. Do you guys feel like you know a lot about him?”
The show’s producers agreed with Fred’s sentiment.
Fred, who a few times reminded people he was only speaking from his own perspective, acknowledged the tension between the two stemming from things first Rich said on the air and then things he texted privately to Rich.
That led to a meeting with management that Fred called “bizarre.” Coming out of that meeting, Toucher says “he agreed to certain things” and he thought the show would be business as usual. But the two did not talk off the air.
After years of negotiating together, the two negotiated separately with Beasley Media for their new contracts. Shertenlieb’s agent suggested this, per Toucher.
Fred got a new deal - one that was announced without any mention of Shertenlieb or Toucher and Rich.” “My negotiation went well,” Fred told his audience on Friday.
Negotiations did not go as well for Shertenlieb, who according to Toucher turned down a “multi-year deal for more money” from Beasley.
“Will I ever talk to him again? Not anytime soon,” Toucher said of his now-former co-host.
We have covered this for months, but among the many, many recent breadcrumbs that suggested a breakup was imminent came again yesterday via X.com.
That’s the news. As for my opinion? I was WRONG. I thought the money would be too good for Rich to walk away from. Instead, it feels like he decided he no longer wanted to work with Fred or for Beasly. Period.
Fred suggested he heard nothing about an “it’s him or me” type of ultimatum from Rich to management, but boy it feels that way. And I guess management chose Toucher.
Listening to Fred on Friday, he sounded relieved to move on from this. And excited about his new show, set to launch on January 2, 2024.
My friend Kirk Minihane battled Toucher and Rich for years on Boston radio before taking his world to Barstool Sports. We would have talked about it anyway, so we talked about it early Friday. There is much rumor and gossip and innuendo. And you can listen in. Just push play.
Thanks to Kirk for joining me before his show Friday.
Update: Well, this happened fast.
Someone that would know reached out to tell me that Rich Shertenlieb was in the WEEI office Friday morning meeting with Market Manager Mike Thomas.
Rich has since tweeted about his departure.
We will update today’s Four-Pack with more news over the weekend.
Update #2 (Sunday Morning)
We can start here. I guess former Kirk Minihane Show producer Dave Cullinane is outing himself as a source on this post on X.com from Boston Radio Watch?
I’m confident Dave has excellent sources on this. He has been all over this story on TikTok. I am not yet on TikTok.
Chad Finn of the Boston Globe has his reporting on this story as well, including a denial from WEEI sources that Rich was in the building Friday.
I have no reason to think the information I have that Rich was indeed there at some point Friday was wrong.
I guess we have My Sources v. Dave’s Industry Insiders v. Chad’s sources.
I’ll just add three things:
It doesn’t do any good for anyone at WEEI to acknowledge he was there considering if they do hire Rich or are even talking to him now, someone(s) in that building will have their professional lives (likely) drastically affected.
Then there is the chance Rich has a non-compete and he’s technically not allowed to be talking to anyone right now.
Finally, having been there, there was open buzz around the office last year around this time about people in the WEEI building who for sure were not WEEI employees at the time. So this would not be something totally random, in my opinion.
Either way, Mike Thomas’ “no comment” really means they’re interested but he can’t say that, again, because of the ripple effect it will have in his own building.
Trust me, current employees are very interested in how this plays out.
It’s impossible to imagine WEEI would break up The Greg Hill Show to bring in Rich. Would Rich want to go to afternoons to battle Felger? Could you move Wiggy to afternoons with Rich and somehow make that work? Given their current stock price, is there even a local budget to bring Rich in?
All reckless speculation. We’ll save more of that for next Friday.
On Joe Mazzulla v. The Media…
Are we really going to do this again?
CLNS Media posted the above video. Watch the beginning.
It’s Celtics’ head coach Joe Mazzulla’s postgame Wednesday after his team fell to the 76ers 106-103.
He was asked by veteran Celtics reporter Gary Washburn about his team settling for too many three-pointers.
But forget the stats and the questions; this is much more about the sensitive reaction.
Rather than just answer the question from Washburn - a fair one a night the C’s shot 15-47 (31.9%) behind the arc - Mazzulla goes on the obviously premeditated offensive about something Gary wrote back in 2016.
I thought Joe might have been humbled after his team fell behind 3-zip to the underdog Heat before eventually losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals this past spring.
Pushing back awkwardly is not a new Mazzulla Move. There was this weird exchange about Robert Williams last year. Or the time he DROPPED THE MIC on the media and went on the offensive after a win over Philadelphia.
But when his team lost as big favorites, you figured he might try a new approach. Especially considering in more than one playoff game, he was a major reason the Celtics lost (CALL A TIMEOUT, JOE!).
Instead, he’s bringing up columns from last decade and complaining about officials. In November.
“The one thing we have to teach our bigs is to stay in the paint on defense and not move and we just got to be able to do that and protect the rim,” Mazzulla said sarcastically. “There is a rule called [defensive three seconds], but I don’t know if it’s a rule anymore. But I have to look it up.”
As long as the players go to bat for him, he’s not going anywhere.
But waiting in the wings as a new part of the Celtics’s staff…
The Celtics are good. Really good. Is Mazzulla a good coach? Jury is still out.
Just like last year, you have to have some doubts. Especially if he’s going to be this sensitive before we even get to Thanksgiving.
On our Week 10 NFL Picks…
Clean sweep, 3-0 Week 9.
I am legally obligated to post 33 green checkmark emojis, per the rules of sports betting social media. I mean, did you even win if you didn’t post green checkmarks after the fact???
Week 1: 2-1
Week 2: 3-0
Week 3: 0-3
Week 4: 3-0
Week 5: 2-1
Week 6: 0-3
Week 7: 1-2
Week 8: 0-3
Week 9: 3-0
PACKERS +3 AT STEELERS. (+100, BetMGM) How are the Steelers a FG favorite here? We mentioned last week the allure of betting on the best QB on the planet (Mahomes, duh) laying less than a FG. The same thing applies here - how can you not bet against one of the worst QBs/offenses in the league when they’re a silly favorite? Almost 50%!!!! of the Steelers’ drives this season end in three-and-outs. Not just punts, three-and-outs! And we’re supposed to believe that the offensive coordinator being on the sideline was the big fix? Not buying it. The Packers are nothing special, but I have to take the points here.
PACKERS AT STEELERS UNDER 39. (-110, BetMGM). Even when the Packers play well, they play slow. DVOA pace numbers have them second-last in the NFL in neutral-situation pace. The Steelers check in a respectable 9th, but that’s aided because they’re #1 when they have the lead. They drop to 17th when trailing - almost like they have to hold their QB’s hand to set up the passing plays, and just tell him to hand it off then they’re winning. I think they’re trailing in this game - and will struggle as usual in the passing game. So yeah, we’re on the Packers and the under here.
JARED GOFF OVER 23.5 COMPLETIONS. (-108, DK). In what feels like the potential shoot-out of the weekend, the Chargers are likely to score at home against a Lions defense that has become a sneaky pass funnel. Even with David Montgomery back, Goff should be forced to throw - and you can against the 21st-ranked pass defense per DVOA. Goff has cleared this number pretty easily in the last three weeks.
On a sports betting ‘secret’ you should know…
This is something that will not be well received by sportsbook management that might subscribe to MutStack. But if I were a recreational gambler and didn’t know this, I would have been pissed if someone didn’t tell me.
There is a sportsbook ad that runs A LOT on NFL Network. It has a line that says, “Seeking quick pick action? *Redacted* offers you the most popular games in the market, already built for you and ready to bet.” Gee, thanks!
All the books do this - pre-built, same-game-parlays - posted for almost every game on the board.
These are promotional tools, not good bets.
They have a massive takeout/hold, first of all. Secondly, with a lot of these, there’s added juice. Not ALL, but a lot of them.
Like, if you went and built the same parlay yourself, IT WOULD PAY MORE. Test it out this weekend, you’ll see.
I just priced a “quick pick” being offered on one of the big retail sports books v. building it myself through their app. Same bet.
“Quick Pick” odds +154
Built out myself +178
I drove 40 minutes round-trip to save $5 on vacuum bags Thursday, so I sure as hell am not taking worse odds on a bet because my favorite radio show has some picks on the game.
Please don’t bet real money on these. At any book. Unless there is some boost that is actually helping you out. That can happen, sometimes. Rarely, but it happens.
And if you do bet them blindly, please play them for fun. And know it’s a losing proposition in the long run.
We’ve covered a lot today. If you missed it Wednesday night, Eric Church and Morgan Wallen teamed up for a live performance on the CMAs. It was tremendous.
“Man Made a Bar” is a future No. 1 and more importantly, the performance might signal a 2024 Church/Wallen Tour. The song as a single - and the tour - are things I have been pining for over on X since late October of 2023.
Thanks for reading. And subscribing. Good luck with all your bets. Comments open below to keep the conversation going.