Press-Box Confidential: Beating on a Beat Writer, a Blogger Lands Credentials, and Mike Francesa Implodes

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Today's assignment: Describe what you see here in 70 words or less.
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The Rangers’ regular season doesn’t open until tomorrow — high noon against the Tampa Bay Lightning — but new Daily News beat writer Michael Obernauer already has some catching up to do in the eyes of some fans. He’s been taking a beating in the Daily News’ comments section (and elsewhere on the Internet) for his report on last Tuesday’s exhibition game, which came in at just 69 words. “Why don’t you just hand in a haiku, you lazy son of a b***h?” writes one commenter,” while another chides him for not including any quotes from players or the coach. “We need [John] Dellapina back,” writes a third, referring to the team’s former beat writer, who left for a job with the NHL this summer. There are some mean ones, too.

A few things to point out here. First, the article appeared in the actual, hard-copy Daily News, where — we measured — it was given one-and-three-quarters inches of column space. Second, this allotment of space was certainly not the decision of Obernauer, but of the paper’s editors. (Puck Daddy tackled the question of local hockey-beat coverage this week, but that’s not really the issue here; the News’ Rangers coverage is typically solid.)

But look, this was an exhibition hockey game … in Switzerland! Half of the team responsible for this post is a big hockey fan, and even he can’t really fault the paper for not devoting more coverage to this. Maybe we can give Obernauer a break before trying to run him out of town like a bunch of nutty Redskins fans? (And in case you really need an in-depth game report, Blueshirt Bulletin was in Bern and live-blogged it and everything.)

Look, Bloggers With Press Passes! How do you know the Knicks are desperate to win back some positive coverage of their team? They’re resorting to the desperate final option: giving press passes to bloggers. Specifically, Posting and Toasting, a devoted Knicks blog, has been filing reports from practice all week. It’s clear that the Knicks are being looked upon with a kinder eye by P&T than the traveling press, who famously called covering the Knicks “miserable” and “the Gulag.”

Some excerpts from Posting and Toasting:
• “Patrick Ewing, Jr ... is probably going to break a backboard this year.”
• “Zach [Randolph] may have dropped some weight, and he's running the court surprisingly well.”
• “Jerome James ... can get rim. Just saying.”

Posting and Toasting is a fine site, and you have to love anybody who interviews Knicks players while wearing a Free Darko T-shirt. But when you compare P&T’s coverage of the Knicks to pretty much every newspaper’s coverage of the Knicks … well, you can probably expect more bloggers to get access in the future. The Knicks need all the good press they can get.

Mike Francesa Is Imploding Before Our Eyes. We're willing to give Francesa a pass for his (admittedly crazy) thoughts on the Mets trading David Wright — though we'd be the only ones — because, hey, what's sports-talk radio without some harebrained opinions that can't really be justified? We'll even give him a pass for claiming that Ryan Church "hated" playing in New York, when the exact opposite is apparently the case, because, hey, what's sports-talk radio without a little distortion of the facts to justify a harebrained opinion? But we're really starting to worry about Francesa. On air this week, he ripped fellow WFAN host Craig Carton, saying, "If I want to take care of him, I could do it in five minutes." Presumably he means having him fired, but it's entirely possible he means having him eliminated. Fair warning to anyone who disagrees with Mike on Wright or Church: You're officially on notice.