Bob Lobel Chat
"The 24-hour sports networks
can't get into the fabric of the Boston sports fan. (They) can't get into
the mind of this tormented group. But the way to do it is with a sense of
humor. We can't take ourselves that seriously. We are the home of the Red
Sox, that's a standard no one can live up to. We want to be like the
Yankees but Yankee fans want to be more like us. We're much more special
than Yankee fans. We've been through fire, we've come out hardened like
steel. They're a different way of life. It's too easy for them. And life
isn't that easy. We have to embrace the pain. We have to understand this
is not a bad thing. It defines us. It's who we are. God help us if we ever
won it. Not that it isn't worth rooting for... that's the paradox."
-- Monday May 12, 2003 - 8:30pm - 10:00pm:
from Red Sox Dirt Dog: What made
you stop Bob Ryan to clarify the smack statement... did you think it might
have been picked up by the audience and you wanted to give him a chance to
This was not any act of heroism on my part,
just knowing what's acceptable and not acceptable. He would have probably
been better off saying the F word on the air, we would have gotten a few
emails and moved on. If you're in that position, you have to know how
sensitive that subject is. He had to be given an opportunity to recant.
Live TV is a high-wire act with no net. Just a reaction on my part,
obviously I kind of laugh when the subject comes up that it's a
premeditated way to get ratings or hype the show. I'm just worried about
getting out of the segment. A lot less premeditation and a lot more
spontaneity which is what you want. He went down a road I didn't think
he'd go down. Thought we'd talk about fan behavior, he ignored that went
down his own road, which is what I love about him. He and I have had great
verbal chess matches on the air. He loves to be challenged. I like to
think I bring out the best in him, unfortunately I brought out the worst
in him. I'm sorry it happened on my watch. In one way I'm glad I was there
because and only because I think in the aftermath I think I could assist
in minimizing the damage because he's a dear friend. Had nothing to do
with show promotion, sorry to disappoint anybody.
from Red Sox Dirt Dog: Even
though is was loose language hyperbole, do you think people are justified
in being upset at the smack statement?
Yeah, it was not OK. To the extent that it was
not OK, the Globe thought it was worth a month... it was way too much
from Red Sox Dirt Dog: You seemed
quite clear in re-referencing the smack comment to Bob so there is no way
he could have thought you meant 'take back everything you said about
Joumana', he knew you asked him to take back the smack... why do you think
I can't get in his mind. I do know the minute
he left the station he knew he made a mistake. To his credit, he didn't
try to make excuses. He didn't claim anything but responsibility.
from Red Sox Dirt Dog: Some are
saying 'you smelled blood and went for it' in order to promote Sports
Final, what do you say to those people? :-)
You don't have time to smell blood when your
sitting there... you don't understand you're just trying to get through
the show, wish I had that kind of power. Wish I could go for the jugular,
it's not my nature.
from Red Sox Dirt Dog: Did you
think the fallout would be what it turned out to be? From Howard Manley to
Not in a million years. I've never seen
anything like it. It was stunning to me. Two days of constant phone
ringing from very corner of the contiguous 48 states. As if there was a
void in the world when it came to news this came in and filled the void.
Saddam out, Bin Laden out, war seems in control... let's go after Bob
Ryan. A total void and Ryan rushed in to fill it. Only a week ago the
place was in an uproar!
from Red Sox Dirt Dog: Will this
follow Ryan around when he gets back? If so, for how long? Will he curb
his writing style? Will he cut back his appearance on electronic media?
Will he be back on Sports Final?
He booked himself on Sports Final on june
8th... we accepted. You know what this is a great country and he's going
to be more popular and more visible than ever and in more demand if that's
possible. He'll do his mea culpas and get on with his life with little
interruption. He'll be able to say it, so literal with writing, that he'll
come off as a sympathetic figure, not a victim, not in contrived way... in
a natural way, he'll pull this off. It's like being John Malkovich like
being Bob Ryan.
from Red Sox Dirt Dog: The Globe
runs a commercial of Bob Ryan on their television station, NESN, making
outrageous statements in order to boost ratings. Do you think they're
being hypocritical by suspending him for being that same character they
endorse on your show?
Kind of what I asked Vince Doria of ESPN last
night. Do all these shows contribute to the difficulty of being someone on
the air, and being someone off the air, and knowing difference between the
two? Ryan himself admitted that he feared he'd say something that he'd
regret. The Globe wants it both ways. Controversy, Confrontation. They
seem to get attention. And it's now become part of our culture. Still
guidelines... can't use George Carlin's seven words although I'll maintain
that Ryan would have been better off saying those.
from Cheri: You were a pioneer
when you and Upton Bell hosted the media roundtable, Sportsbeat on TV38.
Did you ever in your wildest dreams think the media would someday become
media darlings, and at times be the story (i.e., Ryan and Buckley)? Do the
fans really care what the writers think about social issues, or what Mike
Timlin has in his locker?
Not in any wildest dreams did I think the
media would become a cottage industry and at times be the story. No way. I
think the fans, I think there's a little voyeurism in all of us and I
think the fact that Mike Timlin had something very visible is an item of
interest. Not as important as the shape of his arm but it is an item of
interest whether we admit it or not. And let's face it, here it's about
the media and baseball players: we all want to be them. You can deny it
deep down, but we all want to be them. Not sure its case with NFL or
hockey players but when it comes to baseball at some basic level... and
why wouldn't we? Wouldn't you want to be? Really..
Lanternjaw: Yeah... to stand on
the mound at Fenway!
from InstantKarma: How has the
advent of 24-hour sports networks affected sports programming by local
Local sports will always be covered by local
channels. In fact a town as provincial as Boston demands it. The idea is
to separate your coverage from the national coverage and make it relevant
to your audience. I think the best way to do it is with a sense of
humor... after all we are the home of the Red Sox. The 24-hour sports
networks can't get into the fabric of the Boston sports fan. (They) can't
get into the mind of this tormented group. But the way to do it is with a
sense of humor. We can't take ourselves that seriously. We are the home of
the Red Sox, that's a standard no one can live up to. We want to be like
the Yankees but Yankee fans want to be more like us. We're much more
special than Yankee fans. We've been through fire, we've come out hardened
like steel. They're a different way of life. It's too easy for them. And
life isn't that easy. We have to embrace the pain. We have to understand
this is not a bad thing. It defines us. It's who we are. God help us if we
ever won it. Not that it isn't worth rooting for... that's the paradox.
Lanternjaw: And what if we won it
all? how would a Red Sox celebration compare, do you think, to a Bruins,
Celtics or Pats championship?
Bob Lobel: This is pure
speculation obviously because I still have a bumper sticker that says 'not
in our lifetime'... I think this would be one of the great bonding
experiences that the entire region will ever share. Followed by the
realization that by winning, we've lost something very special followed by
a general depression... my opinion only.
Lanternjaw: Fair enough... so how about
from Philly Sox Fan:
Were you in the press box during Game 6? What was the mood like in there?
Bob Lobel: We were all ushered
under the stands by the Red Sox locker room where the dugout runway came
up. The only way we knew what was going on in the field was because
someone had a transistor radio, none of us ever saw it. I got to peek in
the Red Sox locker room, they were putting up plastic covering over the
lockers to keep the clothes dry from the champagne. I saw them wheel in
the champagne. I saw them bring in the championship trophy. I saw Haywood
Sullivan and John Harrington walk Mrs. Yawkey into the runway. I saw Bob
Costas go in and get ready for the interview. And then... well... let's
put it this way, it took 45 seconds to remove all of the above. I have no
idea what happened to Mrs. Yawkey. I will never ever forget that surreal
experience. I do remember this though, the game was on NBC. We were an NBC
affiliate. We were going on live after NBC was done. And I do remember
saying, "none of the Red Sox are coming out... and I'm not going in..."
this is true.
Lanternjaw: It was bad enough to
witness it at home... can't imagine first hand -- ack!
from possumbait: Who is your
favorite print reporter? Is there anybody out there who you think to
yourself "wow, he just gets it right?"
Bob Lobel: Well, McDonough was...
I always considered him the best reporter, he had agendas but I could
filter those out pretty well. I think Borges is one of the toughest
writers in town now. I miss the humor, I think more than anyone else Ryan
still has his fastball and his A game. I miss the humor of Ray Fitzgerald
and Leigh Montville... it's what made Jim Murray so great. I just think
that for some reason humor is a gift of the Gods and right now I don't see
a lot of it... that's why I love Dirt Dog's headlines so much, they make
me laugh even through adversity... we just all need to have a better sense
from Rough Carrigan: Do you think
you and your fellow Boston Media colleagues are more cynical than the
press in other markets?
Bob Lobel: I can't honestly
answer that because I don't know a lot about the other markets. Hard to
imagine any place else as cynical as the media here. Too much cross
pollination. It's come to the place that most of these guys, as valuable
and talented as they are, have become cottage industries unto themselves
and are vying for appearances and slots... hate to say paychecks but...
we've never restricted, we've never said "Steve DeOssie you can't appear
on such and such." We've always felt it was a privilege to have them on.
I'm really in a quandary now by wondering what we're promoting by having
them on. I think they bring a lot to the table but they're on in so many
places. It's really gone unchecked. I'd love to get a combination and
stick with it. But they're all really good. They all bring different
things to the table. I know fans disagree, they send me emails. The most
negative emails I got were about Borges, consistently, but I still think
he qualifies as one of the best reporters in town now that McDonough is
gone and of course Will had his agendas too...
and another from Rough Carrigan:
This off-season, the print and TV media all unquestioningly reported the
story when the Sox announced that the price of upper bleacher seats was
being reduced from $18 to $10. There were quotes in the papers and on
local news sports reports about what a grand gesture this was toward
making games affordable. There were inconsistent mentions of the numbers
of seats affected. Just a few weeks later, fans learned why. Most all of
the upper bleacher seats had not been reduced in price but increased, by
redefining them as lower bleacher seats now costing $20 instead of the old
$18. The red seat in right field marking Ted Williams' 502 foot homer, for
instance, is now a "lower" bleacher seat. So are the several rows of seats
behind it which have yet to be reached by a batted ball in 90 years of
play. The Red Sox did not give fans a break as the media reported. They
instituted a ticket price hike. The only seats for which prices were
reduced were a couple hundred seats literally beneath the scoreboard in
center field. The media barely, if at all, mentioned this. Does the media
not have the attention span necessary to follow stories like this and
report what the Sox actually did?
Bob Lobel: Classic newspaper
story, not a television story. Does not lend itself, don't think it's lack
of attention span. It's the attention span of the viewer that would come
from Montana Fan:
Did you flyfish with Ted in Maine or Canada? If so on what river? What was
his go to fly? What is yours?
Bob Lobel: I went bass fishing
with him as part of shooting a commercial with him in Florida. He was
cranky that day. Crankiest I've ever seen him that day. I learned a whole
series of words that even would have gotten Bob Ryan into more trouble had
he said them.
from PaulM: Howard Bryant's book,
"Shut Out" details some of the animosity between Will McDonough and Peter
Gammons over race and its place in Boston Red Sox history. Recently you
had Michael Smith of the Globe and Bryant on to talk about race and the
media. As you noted, that wouldn't have happened as recently as 1993. In
your opinion, is race still a concern for the Boston Red Sox and the way
baseball/sports is covered today in Boston?
Bob Lobel: I think were a
prisoner of our heritage. I think only now are the Red Sox emerging from
those white Yawkey years. Boston as well is a prisoner of its heritage.
And the comments by Byron Scott only prove to me that people outside of
the area seem to revel in the fact that Boston has this stereotype. I
think we constantly defend ourselves because were constantly attacked by
it and it becomes a vicious cycle. To truthfully answer that you have to
be a minority or African American living in the area. As a white reporter
you really speak with a lack of credentials. It seems to be better but I'm
on the outside looking in.
from BigMike: Have you ever done
a story that you wished -- after the fact -- that you didn't? If so what
Bob Lobel: Believe it or not,
this summer will be the tenth anniversary of Reggie Lewis' death. I did a
story with Howard Manley who at the time worked for the Globe but was also
close to the situation when we went to the cemetery looking for Reggie
Lewis' headstone. That was probably three or four years ago. And there was
no headstone. While that was a fascinating story to do it wasn't something
I was particularly proud of. However without knowing what I would find if
I went back I'm betting nothing has changed.
from Lanternjaw: How about
something fun? Tell us something about a Red Sox great that would shock or
surprise us... a favorite story.
Bob Lobel: I interviewed Dom
DiMaggio in his home in Florida when his brother Joe was on his death bed.
and Dom's wife Emily regaled me with stories about Marilyn Monroe when Joe
would bring her to visit. Obviously its pretty fascinating stuff you
wouldn't hear anywhere else. There's always the Ted Williams stuff... one
other moment I can remember that I can never document on tape but was a
great personal memory, I ended up driving Bobby Orr and Carlton Fisk to
Nashawtuc Country Club from the Cape thinking almost the entire drive that
I was in the presence of two guys that probably gave Boston their two
greatest moments in Boston sports at the time. And what would the headline
ever be if the car ever crashed? It was a pretty amazing moment having
those two guys in the car, but it was just a very personal thing. I
remember when i was in Fisk's kitchen when he got the call for the Hall of
Fame, that was really a thrill. But there have been so many thrills like
that I can't even begin. We were the first ones to interview Don Zimmer
after Bucky Dent's home run. Upton Bell was in studio and I put Zimmer on
the phone with him from his office, we didn't have cell phones back then .
Zimmer happened to like Upton.
from SullySox: Where do you come
down on the Red Sox forward-thinking regime? Gimmicky or trendsetting?
Bob Lobel: I like these guys. Of
course time will tell. I think they're committed to winning and doing it
the right way as opposed to the real Evil Empire which was the previous
administration. You can tell my personal bias. I think these guys will
make some mistakes, they already have. They'll make some good decisions,
they already have. As a fan, I just want them to be as competitive as they
can be. winning or losing will just happen. i think that's what they're
committed to. You're only as good as your players, trite sayings but
that's what it is. You can't have enough information its just where you
prioritize that information. I call it where the rubber meets the road.
Where managing by feel meets the statistical reality. Somewhere in between
lies the truth. Unless you have both available the truth will be more
elusive. I like information, you can always choose not to use it.
from Morass of Negativity: Watching the
interactions between Edes, Buck, Shank, Felger, Cafardo, and Borges often
appears very tense. Are these guys actually making it appear more intense
for the show or do they really dislike each other? Also, do they simply
take the alternate side of an argument b/c they work for competing papers?
Curious to know if anything is said or done off the air.
Bob Lobel: last question first...
we basically give them an outline of what we have in mind for the show and
where they fit in the show timeline and who they're going to be with. we
try to limit discussion about the topic before the show so its as
spontaneous as possible no idea where these guys will come down. I wish I
had a camera in the sports office before the show started cause we missed
a lot of good arguments. some guys truly don't like each other. In some
cases its personality issues. in some cases its newspaper loyalty issues.
in some cases its jealousy issues. and in some cases its just anger at
another writer who took a shot at another guy on the show in a column. I
think we've had many serious arguments on the air that have ended
peacefully over a beer at the bus stop bar behind the station at 1 o'clock
in the morning. i will say this... the guest writers have become
increasingly aware that a good argument beats a hug any day on television.
I've absolutely noticed that they've learned very quickly... it's not
something we tell them to do I promise you that but its not something we
I'm up against the 10:00 news... I can do one
more... it's an honor to be invited here because this is a very select
group and I'm honored to be invited here. I feel like I've been allowed to
come into a clubhouse...
Lanternjaw: Bob, you must have a
Bill 'Spaceman' Lee moment... care to share? or have you ever sat down for
a few beers with Bill or any of those 70's Sox?
Bob Lobel: yeah I went to the
first fantasy camp in winter haven and Russ Gibson was there... Lee was
there... Gary Bell, George Thomas... Lonborg was there.. I spent a lot of
time with Yaz. We played a lot of golf in the fantasy camp. We played the
St. Louis team and I got a base hit... really very proud moment... Darrell
Bucky Brandon was there... pitched to me, had no shot... you see one Bill
Lee moment you've seen them all right? Before he became Chairman Mao...
he's just... he can't be anymore outrageous than he is... I've seen it all
Lanternjaw: okay -- heard you'd
have some fun with this one: when will you know when to hang it up?
Bob Lobel: I'll know... I'm not
quite ready yet... I'm definitely on the back nine for sure... I cant see
ever not working in some capacity, it's just not my nature but i do think
there will be some changes in my future and honestly I cant tell you what
those changes are. I have a year and a half left on my contract here. I'm
not trying to be cute but I have no idea what's going to happen.
Anything's possible. To have done this has been a gift. I have a masters
in education I wanted to be a college administrator. How did I wind up
here? I have no idea. I've seen some of the greatest things. Some of the
saddest things. Been in the middle of huge moments, got to know some of
the truly great performers and yet it almost seems like it never really
happened. seems like it happened to somebody else. Doing this in this city
has been well... you fill in the blanks.
Thanks everyone. I hope this was as much fun
for you as it was for me. I'd love to repeat it again. It was an honor to
be here and I have to thank my personal guru Dirt Dog... who I steal
headlines from every night... with his permission of course...
Lanternjaw: Thanks a bunch for
your time, Bob... it was a whole lotta fun. Looking forward to doing it