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Friday Four-Pack 5.12.23
Fred Toucher back but where is Rich? Derby recap! Tatum!
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Things I’ve been wrong about over the years:
#102,202 - Rob Gronkowski will be a great actor.
#102,203 - Tom Brady will eventually do NFL games for Fox as contracted.
Noteworthy that ‘Brady Bud’ Seth Wickersham is also listed as a contributor to the story. Basically means it’s a lock.
I mean I guess he could still call games as scheduled for Fox…
It's believed that Brady's 10-year, $375-million contract with Fox, which is due to start in 2024, would be unaffected by an investment in the Raiders. A source told ESPN that Fox has "blessed" the arrangement. Sources said that league policy about team ownership overlapping with media employment only comes into play if the owner holds a position of authority at the media company and could impact broadcast rights negotiations. Fox and the NFL agreed to an 11-year rights deal in 2021.
But he won’t, right?
He’s already bought into a WNBA team (Vegas). He’s already pushed his start date back for Fox. He has the TB12 brand - although his Boston location closed abruptly this week.
The idea of him calling games weekly for Fox seems less and less likely every day.
Maybe on desk for pregame? Some sort of hybrid on-air role where he does sit-down interviews and watches tape with QBs? Sounds like a copy of the “Gruden Bus” stuff they used to do on ESPN but I’d watch Brady going over film with Josh Allen or Aaron Rodgers. Wouldn’t you?
He can do that and also help Fox schmooze with clients and partners. Sweet deal for Tom at almost $400 million!
Meanwhile…why the hell aren’t the Pats pushing for Brady to join their ownership group? Maybe they are/did but the Vegas thing is more appealing to Brady? Too much baggage in New England? This has to annoy Bob Kraft at some level.
Lots to get to in this week’s Four-Pack.
On the return of Fred Toucher…
On Thursday morning Fred Toucher made his return to Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub. He had been in and out of the show over the course of the last few month. He had been completely off the show the last three weeks with what he said was diagnosed as leukoplakia - a condition caused by smoking.
While he wasn’t on the air over these last three weeks he was certainly busy on social media, suggesting among other things that his co-host Rich Shertenlieb and other show members had not reached out to him while he was out.
Last Friday Fred took to Twitter to admit that was not true.
There was no heartfelt apology to Rich Thursday morning when Fred returned. There was no fighting, no laughing… no anything with his radio partner.
Because Rich was not there.
Out with what the 98.5 The Sports Hub told the Boston Globe was a “sick day.”
So instead of two radio guys hashing out whatever their issues are on the air - we got Fred’s side of the story.
Fred detailed his cancer scare, the timeline of events (that was a little hard to follow), not being able to talk for two weeks. And eventually getting the diagnosis of leukoplakia and the green light to go back on the air Thursday. His voiced sounded much better than what we heard over the last few months. It seems like good news that this was something apparently caused by smoking and will continue to get better without cigarettes - Fred vowed never to smoke again on the show Thursday.
So…what about Rich?
What we know-
Real tension between the Fred/Rich on the air recently.
Fred taking to social media multiples times to accuse Rich of not reaching out during the illness.
Fred then admitting that was not true. From Thursday’s show.
“[The tweets were] completely unfair,’’ Toucher said. “I talked to Jon, I talked to Rich, [he] had offered his connections at Dana Farber [Shertenlieb’s wife, Mary, is a cancer survivor], he had offered these things. In retrospect, it was a stupid thing to do. … I was sitting home scared of all this happening, not that this is an excuse. So there you go.”
When Fred announced his return Wednesday night, the Toucher and Rich twitter account made zero mention of it. Kind of a big deal since Rich runs that account. If you were pumped about your co-worker coming back you’d probably mention it there. Maybe I overrate Twitter but this was telling.
Rich was out “sick” on Thursday, Fred’s return.
Rich was out Friday, Fred’s second day back.
Rich is scheduled to work on Monday…when Fred is scheduled to be off. Fred is going to the Sox/Cardinals game and does not want to get up early Monday. His word from the show, not mine.
What we’ve heard-
Rumors of meetings, real anger, vows to never work with Fred again (from Rich).
Rumors of co-workers taking sides of Team Fred and Team Rich.
Fred said Thursday he was not getting paid while he out and that he was out of sick days. Was Beasley really not paying him? Why would he lie about that there in that spot? Seems wild if true. Putting this here since we don’t “know,” but I’ll say personally that would add to my stress/pressure in life if I was out with this major voice issue and my employer was not looking to help me out. In this case is Fred rushing back to work even with Rich not fully on-board yet because he needs to get paid?
What we think-
The fact that Fred did not mention (other than in passing) Rich not being part of the show yesterday is the ultimate sign this is real. Either he knows how tenuous this is and stayed away himself. Or management said we’re not talking about this. Either way Fred promised a “real” conversation when he retuned. Didn’t get any of that when it comes to he and Rich on Thursday.
You can work with people you don’t like. Happens all the time. But both people have to be in the same room (studio in this case) for that to work. And based on the above Rich has no interest in working with Fred right now. How does management fix that? Is is fixable?
Feels like at this point Rich needs some massaging and assurances to come back to work. And a big open apology from Fred. Would that be enough? Would Fred do that to make it work?
Just hash it out on the air. Good for you. Good for the audience. This used to happen in radio. Not sure it still works that way.
Too much money for this not to work out. 60/40 they find a way to stay together thru the end of the football season.
They’re “scheduled” to work together next Tuesday. If that doesn’t happen all bets are off and this thing is really falling apart in front of a huge, huge audience.
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On the Celtics and Sixers…
Same as it was here two weeks ago when we wrote
“It will be seen as a massive choke if they don’t win it all at this point. And it will probably be fair.
If they don’t it will be because of one of two things. Maybe both.
Joe Mazzulla blows it.
Jayson Tatum shoots under 40% from the floor and under 27% from three. Like he did in games 3 thru 5 against the Hawks.”
And that almost happened. Until Tatum hit a pair of threes and it didn’t.
Hopefully that unlocks him. It’s been painful to watch someone as good as Tatum struggle so much in this series offensively. Some buzz he might have been sick for games four and five. Can’t be a factor for Game 7. The illness, not Tatum.
And hopefully Mazzulla doesn’t stand by idly if things get off to a slow start Sunday. He has to be more involved in stopping 76ers runs with timeouts and substitutions.
Maddening team. Unstoppable at times. Unwatchable at others.
Feels like a 40-spot for Tatum Sunday in a Celtics win.
On the state of horse racing in America…
Kentucky Derby Week + has not been good for horse racing.
In the lead up and through the day of the most important horse race in America, seven horses died.
Five horses died from physical injuries sustained from racing or around racing. Four of those died in connection to catastrophic leg injuries. One came from a neck injury sustained before a race.
Because of the injuries the horses were euthanatized. From Churchill Downs on two of the horses - both of which raced on Derby Day.
“In the interest of pursuing the most humane treatment for each horse, the owner, trainer, and private veterinarian, in consultation with a board-certified equine surgeon, made the difficult decision to euthanize."
The other two deaths came from horses under the care of trainer Saffie Joseph. Those two horses just dropped dead after competing in races last week at Churchill Downs.
And just Thursday (yesterday)- six days after the Derby - it was disclosed publicly for the first time that Derby favorite Forte (who was a vet scratch in the Derby) tested positive for a regulated anti-inflammatory after his win in the Hopeful Stakes last September in Saratoga. It is a minor infraction that will cost trainer Todd Pletcher $1000 and a 10-day suspension. He is appealing the penalty. The trainer not the horse. The horse can’t talk.
From Team Pletcher.
Pletcher’s legal team made Dr. Steven Barker, a former director of a testing lab in Louisiana, available for questions during a Thursday afternoon conference call with a select number of reporters. Barker, who frequently appears as an expert witness for trainers in regulatory hearings or court cases, said that the amount found in the samples could not have produced an effect in Forte in the Hopeful.
“The level of medication gave him no advantage,” Barker said. “It didn’t endanger the horse. It didn’t endanger anyone else in the race. It didn’t do anything. It just happened to be there.”
Fine. But why does racing allow the adjudication of these things to drag on for NINE months. Minor or not, you look like you are trying to hide something with a process like this. Bad bad bad for the sport.
I can’t defend it. As I can’t defend the look of a trainer having two horses just drop dead on the track. Two athletes just drop dead. If you followed the trials of criminal trainers Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro you know this all sounds familiar.
According to court records and recorded phone calls, sprinter XY Jet was given PEDs by Navarro in 2019. The horse died of a heart attack in early 2020. These drugs cause those type of deaths in horses.
Again, no defense of it. Zero. As we wrote here last week, get the cheaters out of the game for good.
The sport has become more safe over the last ten years - with on track and training deaths about cut in half. That’s where I will defend racing. There will never be zero deaths but there has been progress in making the sport safer for horses.
But until the cheaters are out of the game and the public (the bettors) are given better communication, there is a lot of work left to do. And a lot of criticism to level at the sport as a whole. A bigger discussion we’ll have later this summer here.
On the 149th Running of the Kentucky Derby…
When the dust settled Saturday night…it was a hell of a race.
We got the predicted fast pace we talked and wrote about here last week. But rather than Angel of Empire bring the one to take advantage, Mage got the jump on that one and powered home to an upset win in Derby 149.
The horse who ran “the best race” was Two Phil’s. Just off the hot pace was able to grab the lead at the top of the stretch. I thought he was home. But Mage just kept on coming. A horse who did not run as a two-year-old and was making just his fourth career start. Great ride by Javier Castellano.
Angel of Empire had no excuse. Maybe moved a little slow to get into the race and let Mage beat him to a good spot. But no better than third best on the day.
Disarm was our live longshot. Ran a strong fourth.
To be honest…we handicapped the hell out of the race.
In the end I’ll end up on the horse who is doing well, has run fast and comes into this race on an upward trend
Angel of Empire (#14)
Tapit Trice (#5)
***Update - The Fotre Scratch - Brutal break for the connections. The vets scratched Forte - have to imagine the deaths there at Churchill played some sort of factor.
Helps the chances of our top pick Angel of Empire. But really, really hurts the price. 3-1? 7/2? The likely favorite. He’s still my key horse for the race.
Two Phil’s elevated for me. But my top three stay the same.
Didn’t bet it very well but proud of the analysis.
Glad someone was able to score out. I bet the race pretty poorly. But we walked away with a Derby Day profit.
The Derby Bash at Mohegan Sun’s FanDuel Sportsbook was awesome. The whole sportsbook was all racing, all day. Credit to Brad, Zak and the entire staff. Amazing day.
They’re going to start taking reservations for Belmont soon so I’ll keep you updated. Hopefully Mage wins the Preakness and a Triple Crown is on the line! Can’t wait to get back.
Thanks to everyone who listened, watched and read last week. A record week at MutStack! Lots of Preakness coverage scheduled for next week. New microphone included!
Happy Mother’s Day Weekend to all the MutStack Moms. Including my mom Ellen. And the mom of Carter and Bennet, Jess.
Thanks for reading. Good weekend.
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