Sports Media

Edwards is ready for ice time

Ken Burns’s latest documentary, “The Tenth Inning,’’ was not a hit with everyone. Ken Burns’s latest documentary, “The Tenth Inning,’’ was not a hit with everyone. (Josh Reynolds/Associated Press)
By Chad Finn
Globe Staff / October 1, 2010

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Turns out the whimsy that Jack Edwards likes to bring to his Bruins telecasts on NESN extends to other forms of communication.

During an e-mail exchange with this reporter while trying to set up an interview, Edwards sent along this unsolicited note riffing on the Bruins’ decision to not keep an intriguing prospect on the roster:

I am currently in mourning over Ryan Spooner being returned to his junior team. I mean, think about it. Spooner ladles it into the corner, Seguin with the saucer pass, Spooner forks it back over, Seguin knifes through the D, puts it on a platter, and Spooner sticks a fork in ’em! The kid is not only a great prospect but he has the name of which play by play dreams are made. Yup, it’s safe to presume he’s eager for the season to begin — a sentiment shared by a fan base that flocked to the Garden for a pair of rookie scrimmages. Perhaps it’s because of the arrival of Tyler Seguin, but it’s remarkable that there is no apparent hangover from the Bruins’ historic loss of a 3-0 lead to the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring.

“The degree of optimism? It is very pleasing, but it is surprising,’’ Edwards said. “I think people see the new blood, the young blood, the return of so many of the crucial veterans, and they get excited.

“They look at Tuukka Rask taking over in net and acquitting himself so well in the second half, and yet they also know Tim Thomas plays his best when he’s being doubted. They look at Zdeno Chara coming off an off year and getting on the bike and doing all the training he has in offseasons that he couldn’t do before last year, and David Krejci is getting healthy, and it becomes obvious that there are a lot of great parts in place to have a memorable season.’’

But Edwards and his NESN partner, Andy Brickley, won’t be there when the puck drops Oct. 9 in Prague and the Bruins take on the Phoenix Coyotes. While NESN has sent reporter Naoko Funayama overseas, along with a director and videographer, Edwards and Brickley will call the games from NESN’s Watertown studios.

Edwards skates his lane when he explains the decision.

“Would we rather be there? Yes, of course,’’ he said. “But would you rather have us spend the money on a full high-def telecast from Vancouver later in the year when it really matters, or do you want us to spend more than twice as much as it would cost to do a North American road game to go do one game that begins at noon on a Saturday, head to head against college football, and another one at 10 a.m. Sunday that goes head to head with not one, not two, but three network pregame NFL shows that run pretty close to kickoff?

“You’re looking at getting buried in the ratings. If I’m making the financial decision, I understand why we don’t.’’

Grating voices
The anticipation in this space for a couple of films that look back on the 2004 Red Sox’ run to the World Series title has probably been obvious.

Now that we’ve watched both — Ken Burns’s two-part “The Tenth Inning,’’ his four-hour coda to his 1994 documentary series “Baseball,’’ and “Four Nights in October,’’ the latest installment in ESPN’s “30 for 30’’ series — it’s disappointing to report that both are plagued by the same flaw: stale and/or self-aggrandizing talking heads.

When “The Tenth Inning’’ turns toward the ’04 Sox with a lengthy retelling, only columnist and author Howard Bryant, formerly of the Herald, stands out as a media voice with a fresh perspective. Not coincidentally, his commentary is not a meandering first-person soliloquy, but has genuine insight and well-considered anecdotes.

As for “Four Nights in October,’’ let’s just say the inclusion of comedian Lenny Clarke as a “voice of the fan’’ is roughly the equivalent of having Gilbert Gottfried become the new voice of NFL Films, and leave it at that.

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