Ash Thompson Has A Plan To Improve The Detroit Sports Media Landscape.
Sunday, the New England Patriots will beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
A day or two later, the Detroit Free Press will report on the NFL’s worst-kept secret and announce the hiring of Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as their head coach.
As soon as Patricia is hired, the paper should immediately begin plans to trade Carlos Monarrez to the Boston Herald in exchange for Karen Guregian.
All right, all right. Settle down.
If you’re a Detroit Sports fan or a Boston Sports fan, you’re probably hyperventilating right now. Take it easy and just breathe. If you’re not feeling well, put your head between your legs and consult your physician before reading the rest of this column. Side effects may include finally seeing the light, coming to your senses and agreeing with me.
The Reason For The Trade
Let me start by saying this isn’t about Monarrez. A lot of people think Lions fans don’t like him because occasionally we’re a teensy bit critical of him. That’s true. I don’t like Monarrez. We don’t really know him, but we seem to have little in common. Only one of us has any interest in a Lions team that wins.
Now, the trade. Like any possible trade, it seems ridiculous and impossible — but we can dream. Like the Green Bay Packers trading Brett Favre. Like the New York Jets trading Bill Belichick. Like the Lions trading Bobby Layne. No one sees a big trade coming until it happens.
I’ll take a stab at what the trade could look like. Peter Bhatia and Sean Leahy likely do not know each other. Trading Guregian would be enormously unpopular in New England. So Bhatia would have to offer Leahy something he couldn’t refuse: a click farmer. That would come in the form of Monarrez.
Do you think that’s not enough? If this were 2015, the Detroit Free Press would still be interested in producing quality sports journalism rather than poorly imagined trash aimed purely at generating advertising revenue. Surely the Herald would love to alter its format to boost its clicks.
So what would the Detroit Free Press get in return? Just Guregian, The sort of sports journalist that Detroit fans wish Monarrez was. Guregian has been on the Herald’s sports staff since 1984 in a wide veriety of positions. She has covered the Patriots full time since 2007 both as beat writer and columnist.
But Why Would This Happen?
Simple. The Herald and the Freep both win. Let’s start from the side that’s holding all the cards: Leahy and the Herald. Guregian is a two time Boston Magazine “Best of Boston” award winner in the outstanding sports reporter category. She has covered Superbowl, Stanley Cups, World Series, NBA Finals, golf and tennis majors and the Olympics during her Herald career.
The Herald already knows the ending of “Tom vs. Time” — Time will win, eventually. If we know anything about Leahy, it’s that he plans on making his paper money after the Patriots dynasty ends. He wouldn’t have moved over from the USAToday if he were planning on just leaving the sports department as is at the Herald.
Leahy’s plan is almost certainly not as simple as hiring recent college graduates from journalism schools and hoping they work out. He knows he has a willing trade partner in Bhatia, who would likely love to go back in time and hire Justin Rogers when he left Mlive for the Detroit News. Getting Monarrez would give Leahy the best combination of a click farmer who doesn’t know the business side of the sport he covers works, has experience but is still on the young side and should thank his lucky stars every day for the fact that he remains employed.
You also have to consider the fact that hate clicks have a very short-term advantage. The growing discord between Lions fans and the Detroit Free Press goes back to a time before Monarrez came to Detroit. There’s disharmony between any fanbase and the news outlet that employs the city’s most anti-team beat writer, but the man who held that title in Detroit for a very long time was a much better journalist. He built his anti-Lions sentiment honestly and had a history of calling out a team that could not have been worse. The Freep has never been the warm-and-fuzzy sentimental outlet. There was a time however when their Lions coverage was second to none.
How about the Freep side? Why would they mortgage their click bait by dealing Monarrez?
Because Bhatia is trying to be a part of Detroit’s rebirth. But trying to be a part of changing a city’s identity while clinging to a model that capitalized on larger social and economic difficulties and the need for the people of Detroit to vent is folly. It’s the reason that Monarrez has not been able to get Lions fans on his side. He is a good writer, but he’s no Sharp. Monnarez hasn’t earned the trust of Lions fans. He is a man throwing crap at a wall and hoping that it will stick.
But, Really, Could This Ever Happen?
“So which scenario do you think is more likely?
Scenario A: A first-time head coach will lead Stafford and the Lions to years and years of success.
Or scenario B: A first-time head coach finds instant success with a Hall of Fame quarterback who is familiar with him, the GM, the organization’s ‘Patriot Way’ philosophy and even George Godsey, a former Patriots assistant whom the Lions reportedly just promoted to QB coach, which is the No. 2 offensive coaching job.”
Think about it. The reason Monarrez writes words like this is not that he has a unique or interesting perspective. He can try to copy the “SOL” methodology all he wants, but without over a decade of complete ineptitude from the team, it will never work.
If you believe that quality journalism can happen in Detroit, this is the very small window anyone has to finally shed the mentality that nothing the Lions do will ever work. Read beat writers like Dave Birkett, Kyle Meinke, Justin Rodgers rather than Monarrez. Read the guys over at lions wire, side lion report, Detroit jock city, Pride of Detroit, and the ever-growing stable of writers at our own site. Value your time more than the Freep currently does, because all of those writers and most of these outlets are at least trying to give you an honest look at the team.
Will this happen? I don’t have enough faith in humanity to believe that everyone will choose to turn their back on the lowest common denominator. But a man can dream. If what you really want is better coverage of the team you can only vote with your clicks.
If the Freep truly wants to provide quality journalism, rather than trotting out a tired old formula. This is the kind of deal that could do it.