No Homers Allowed

Between thinking Doug Risebrough's laughing at Wild fans right now and actually agreeing with Patrick Reusse for once, it's hard to know what's going on with my sanity.

Hopefully it's not going faster than Minnesota's playoff chances but apparently that's not the proper thing to say.

Reusse, a columnist in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and curmudgeon of the nth degree, wrote an article the other day ripping Fox Sports North's coverage of Minnesota sports, including the Wild. His main point is that in years where things don't go right, asking questions and not being a homer can get you replaced (as was the case with Frank Mazzocco with Gopher hockey).

Photo from (appropriately) nohomers.net
More on FSN, homerism and managing expectations after the jump...

Although the article mainly focuses on the Minnesota Twins and Gopher hockey, Reusse saves a place for the Wild television duo of Mike Greenlay and Dan Terhaar (or as many on HF Boards have nicknamed, "Dumb and Dumber"). He has this to say:
Try as they might, Bremer and Blyleven have been second-rate homers when compared to Mike Greenlay (analyst) and Dan Terhaar (play-by-play) on Wild telecasts.

I'm not sure which number is consistently higher: Tiger Woods' estimate of his putts that "lipped out" after a poor round of golf, or the total number of penalties per game that Greenlay sees as being missed against an opponent and/or unfairly called against the Wild.
No one will deny that Terhaar and Greenlay aren't the best hockey duo in the NHL. They aren't even close. It has nothing to do with their homer tendencies because there is always going to be some bias in any local broadcast. Honestly, I find some of those to be hilarious to the point where we created #fsnbingo (for those wondering, having "Terhaar misidentifies a Wild player" next to "Moorhead native Matt Cullen" is always key to victory).

What does bother me about Terhaar, Greenlay and Fox Sports North's broadcasts in general are the fact that they sound like propaganda at times. For all the normal bias calls regular announcers have, the ongoing narrative and sell job FSN tries to do - if you watch their pregame shows, it's all promotion towards other FSN properties with no talk about what's gong on in the rest of the NHL - is appalling. Minnesota has had a rough sports year and trying to sugarcoat things about the present while ignoring the fact that there are success stories (other than in the contrived "Face Off" segment) makes no sense.

The irony of a fan blog calling out another group for being homers is not lost. As much as it pains my normally optimistic outlook though, Reusse's negativity is right.

Look at the last few weeks. Minnesota has fallen, in Dan's words yesterday, "having participated in what could be one of the most unbelievable collapses in NHL history." You wouldn't know it by watching Fox Sports North because every game is focused on the newest call-up or an injury excuse (or in the case of any Northwest Division team, selling a rivalry which doesn't exist) and the analysis/questions pre and post-game from them are softer than Charmin. They lob more softballs than a slow-pitch beer league. Their questions are easier than pie.

I can't wait to see what happens tonight against Philadelphia in the first game since Minnesota announced Mikko Koivu was out for 4-6 weeks. It's a big blow, as Giles Ferrell of Team of 18,0001 put it:
This is the worst news the Wild could have received. Koivu is their leader and best player. And as we have seen in previous years, the team has not done well without #9 in the lineup. And to make things worse, the team has won just once in the month of January, with him in the lineup, and they get to finish out this four game road trip against the Flyers (26-13-4) and Maple Leafs (22-17-5) without their captain.
This isn't a defenseman playing bad, not playing or not talking about how bad he's been playing. No one, not even Fox Sports North can ignore Mikko Koivu. He has played his best hockey over the last two months, rightfully earning his first All-Star game berth, and in a season which has seen a thin Wild corps depleted Koivu is the biggest loss of them all to a team battling for a playoff spot.

Yes, battling for a playoff spot. After starting the year being called the worst team in the NHL and starting December as the best, these expectations were not managed properly (to quote Risebrough) and fans are looking for their first run in four years.

It's actually funny. Despite Koivu and all Minnesota's injuries, which have been used as another sugarcoating excuse by FSN, if you asked Wild fans at the start of the season about their team the answer is exactly what is on the ice. A team with little depth to avoid injuries, two good goalies, a couple scorers in Dany Heatley, Guillaume Latendresse and Mikko Koivu and battling for the eight spot in the playoffs if everything goes well in preparation of the next generation of prospects.

That's what's happened. The little depth has been wiped out with injuries to half the top-six, players have been inserted in roles which overstretch them and despite  Doug Risebrough and those "advanced geek  'regression' folks" (oddly those numbers have gone up in spite of losing) laughing at fans, everything is the same as it was in September.

And honestly, the fans know that. They knew that when the team was on top and they know it now.

There's nothing wrong with adversity or pointing out when things go wrong. If the Wild entered the season looking at being Stanley Cup contenders or getting them excited while preparing them for the next few seasons; in fact, Minnesota did that on their own with "Becoming Wild." Unfortunately Fox Sports North is under the belief that sugarcoating fans' expectations is the only way to get them to tune in and sadly they can pretty much do what they want with a monopoly on the local sports broadcasts.

(In fairness to FSN, if someone from there wants to comment on any of these points please be my guest. There are things I like about your broadcasts, especially with Gopher hockey, but that doesn't stop wanting the regional sports network to change things; especially with their Wild coverage and promotion.)

I'm not a columnist "whose perspective is uniquely different than those of the fans." With the Minnesota Wild, I'm just a fan who knows sugarcoating homerism when he sees it; even if it goes against everything "proper." It may be affecting my sanity, it may have me agreeing with people who I normally wouldn't but at least there's always another option for accepting that Minnesota has adversity to overcome and wanting to watch how Mike Yeo and company tackle it.

Thank you KFAN.

3 comments:

  1. It says "NO HOMERS." You're allowed one.

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  2. Oh.

    Either way a broadcast put on by hundreds of people and a dozen on-air personalities shouldn't count as one person.

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  3. I don't think the FSN Objects are homers, so there's that. Mostly because they aren't ever allowed to express an opinion. If they even have opinions.

    I can't even tell which dork is talking during the broadcast. They're both so boring I can't stand it.

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