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Friday Four-Pack 3.24.23
WEEI in the news. Jaylen Brown is gone. Sportsbook ads everywhere.
Emotional morning in the Mutnansky Home as my 10-year-old woke up to the news that his UCLA Bruins - a team he watched exactly zero minutes of during the regular season but picked to win it all in his Family NCAA Bracket - fell to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 late last night.
There were tears. Bracket busted.
We’ve all been there. If you’re like me and backed Will Zalatoris in the WGC Match Play this week, you’re crying too. Learn to putt, Willy!
The good news is there will be no house divided Saturday night for UConn/Gonzaga.
Onto the Four-Pack.
On the suspension of Chris Curtis…
Quick background for those not locked into this one.
There’s a lot to unpack here.
My former WEEI teammate Chris Curtis got himself in trouble this week when audio and video surfaced of one of the most poorly timed and conceived “jokes” of all-time.
The punchline in the “joke” Mina Kimes is an NFL Analyst for ESPN. She’s below on the right alongside actress Mila Kunis.
So that clip above happened on Tuesday’s show and went virtually unnoticed until Kirk Minihane Show producer Dave Cullinane posted the clip Wednesday morning.
Wednesday afternoon Twitter started to weigh in.
By Thursday the video had over THREE MILLION views. Curtis apologized to start The Greg Hill Show that morning and then started a week-long suspension.
That apology did not do much to take the attention away from Curtis or the story.
"We were discussing the potential ban of nips in Boston, and we got into which ones were the best or our favorite, and in a pathetic failed attempt at a one-liner, I attempted to bring up Mila Kunis, which was not really that funny. Sophomoric and sexist. But for reasons I don't understand, I said Mina Kimes," Curtis said at the top of "The Greg Hill Show" on Thursday.
Ah, the old “Hot Girl Nipple apology.” A classic.
After that the Greg Hill Show went on as usual - into a sports update and then into the normal show. With host Greg Hill reminding his audience over and over that Curtis had been suspended - for something that until Cullinane tweeted about no one even noticed.
Like I said, a lot to unpack.
Have had plenty of time to think about this. I’ll try and work through my thoughts here in bullet form.
IT DOESN’T MATTER…but I don’t think Curtis made the joke as a racist slur. Which it is. Something I didn’t really process the first time I saw the video. But having worked with Curtis for years - to the point where I would have called him a great friend - do I think he was trying to make a derogatory reference to Kimes’ Korean heritage? No I don’t. It was a terrible “joke” gone terribly wrong. He deserved the suspension. But it’s not ALL his fault. More on that below.
To her credit, I think Kimes handled this really well.
A subtle troll of Curtis with the Mila Kunis Twitter avatar. A dunk on Jason Whitlock
And that was really it. If she wanted to, she could have made this an even bigger story by condemning the comments in a tweet or statement. She could have called for Curtis’ job. Either publicly or privately.
Instead she appears to have made a few jokes, shrugged her shoulders and moved on.
The defense - “I’m sexist and stupid not racist,” is a tough one to process. But in this case I actually believe it.
Will Mila Kunis ever chime in on this? We can only hope.
Three days later I remain fixated on the way the whole thing happened from a radio show prospective. Curtis said something that in the moment - a discussion of the best “nip” alcohol bottles - MADE NO SENSE. None. And rather than stop and ask Curtis what the hell he was talking about, the joke doesn’t land and they blow right through it.
Obviously, based on my current employment status I don’t know everything about radio. But I know this - you have to listen.
If Greg stops the show there and makes Curtis explain what he’s talking about - this thing never becomes a story. Or if fellow producer Chris Schiem mocks him for messing it up? They all realize the mistake, joke about it and make fun of him for the rest of the show. Still sexist, but not a three million view video.
Greg and the rest of his show should take some blame for this. For not listening to a host on their own show.
To his credit, I’ve heard Marc Bertrand do this all the time on The Sports Hub. Scott Zolak (Zo) will say something completely nonsensical. Or mispronounce a word. Bertrand (or Hardy) will stop whatever they’re doing and make Zo explain what he’s talking about. Or correct him. It’s funny. It makes for good radio.
Hell Kirk and Gerry did this with Curtis and I on a daily basis. And the audience loved it.
But you have to listen and be invested in the show. Should not be that hard but in this case it kind of buried Curtis.
Pretty wild that as best I can tell WEEI never issued any sort of statement on their end. As of Thursday night the audio and video could still be found online.
I did hear from my “moles” that at least one WEEI employee tweeted something about this…was chastised for it and asked to take that tweet down.
What about the ESPN/WEEI relationship?
Schefter has come on in mornings for years when big Patriots/NFL news breaks. It’s a big deal to get him on in those spots right away.
Dan Orlovsky is a weekly guest. Sean McDonough - who does Sox games for WEEI and is the lead hockey PBP guy for ESPN - appears on The Greg Hill Show weekly. Hell, McDonough went on Wednesday morning basically as this whole thing was starting to break - I’m sure he was thrilled to be thrown into the eye of the hurricane.
ESPN was pretty harsh in their push-back on this. Will they continue to let ESPN names on WEEI?
I felt pretty confident when we wrote about the Tony Mazz comments how the whole thing would play out. Just like we said - Mazz would come back, take some Twitter shit every now and then, but the show would ignore it. Move on and keep putting up 25+ ratings every week.
This one…I don’t know. It was still the No. 1 trending story on The Boston Herald website Friday morning.
What if there are more stories like this? If Kimes does decide to talk about it more? If the Globe decides to dig in?
The RedSox have famously liked to weigh in on things they hear on WEEI. Do they condemn the “joke?” What if advertisers start to walk - from the show that far and away bills the most on that station.
Any or all of that and Curtis is probably gone.
Not advocating or rooting for that but it’s much more likely in this case than it was with Mazz a few weeks back. Does not feel like this one is over.
Okay that’s entirely enough words on a former Battle of the Brainless winner.
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On Jaylen Brown’s future…
I felt for a couple of years that this was inevitable. The Celtics were going to focus on building around Jayson Tatum - which they should. Brown would realize he’d never be the No. 1 in Boston. He’d eventually be non-committal to the team about signing here long term and the Celtics would trade him.
But his late-season media tour talking about basketball - and a lot more - seals the deal for me.
There was the basketball part in the Ringer piece on Brown.
When asked whether he wants to stay in Boston long term, Brown is noncommittal.
“I don’t know. As long as I’m needed. It’s not up to me,” he says. “We’ll see how they feel about me over time and I feel about them over time. Hopefully, whatever it is, it makes sense. But I will stay where I’m wanted. I will stay where I’m needed and treated correct.”
And there was the and a lot more stuff in the NY Times piece.
Other athletes have spoken about the negative way that fans have treated Black athletes while playing in Boston. Have you experienced any of that?
I have, but I pretty much block it all out. It’s not the whole Celtic fan base, but it is a part of the fan base that exists within the Celtic nation that is problematic. If you have a bad game, they tie it to your personal character.
I definitely think there’s a group or an amount within the Celtic nation that is extremely toxic and does not want to see athletes use their platform, or they just want you to play basketball and entertain and go home. And that’s a problem to me.
Brown goes out of his way to make sure you know he’s good with his teammates and his coach. He is less enthusiastic when it comes to showing any love to the Celtics front office, fanbase or the City of Boston.
The timing of these pieces is a little weird with the Celtics struggling and the playoffs starting next month. But it sort of feels like that was planned right?
Planned or not this stuff can actually turn into a positive for this team.
WIN ONE WITH JAYLEN
Cheesy? Yep. But it seems like this is a close-knit Celtics team. If they’re all on the same page that this is probably the last hurrah with JB as a teammate - is it crazy to think they would rally around that idea in the playoffs?
That’s one way this thing actually helps them. Refocus a team that has been way too up and down the last month.
Of course the flip side is he plays poorly, his teammates blame a playoff loss on him being more focused on his future than the team’s present…and well he’s still gone.
Celtics fans will be hoping it’s the former not the latter.
On sports betting here in Massachusetts…
The Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy weighed in this week - decrying the deluge of sports betting ads here in Massachusetts.
It was a mailed-in, probably composed in less than 10 minutes type of column from Dan. But it’s a popular sentiment - to the point where Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing how to handle it going forward.
It’s a matter of when not if government cracks down on sportsbook ads. Which to me is crazy. But it’s coming.
One note from Shaughnessy in his Friday column I actually agree with.
The Scal stuff is WAY too forced. Borderline fake. Enough with the player props that you’re probably not really betting on. It’s a major tune out. And I’m in the sports betting space! Kind of.
Let people who are passionate about it talk about it. Let the people who are informed do the predictions. You hurt the product having these celebs and athletes do more than just promote and put their name to it.
On this tweet…
It’s true. As someone who pushes analytics and numbers and common sense…I change clothes to turn around bad betting luck.
Anything to get a bet home. It’s science.
On that note we’ll preview the the two Derby Preps this week - Louisiana Derby and the Jeff Ruby Steaks - in a Saturday Derby Prep post here tomorrow.
Comments are open below. Thanks for reading. Good weekend