WEEI’s Pete Sheppard confirmed at 3:55 that Flutie has signed a one year deal with the Patriots.
A rough night for the Celtics in Indy. Wade Miller appears almost ready for a spot in the Red Sox rotation, Logan Mankins meets the press, and a number of other items make up today’s links.
In another note, I’m taking my first week-long vacation in nearly 15 years next week. I will have limited Internet access if any at all. I will not be posting the daily links, Bryan (One of the weekend guys) will try to post a few updates during the week, but it likely won’t be at the regular morning times. I plan on spending some of the time brainstorming for the future of BSMW. We will have a three day mini-fund-drive sometime in May.
Thanks for all who wrote in about the Belichick article earlier this week. My mailbox was overwhelmed with the encouraging letters. I’ve tried to respond to as many as I can, but I’m sure I missed a few.
The Celtics were thumped in Indianapolis last night 99-76, falling behind in the best of seven series 2-1. If you’re a Celtics fan, you can only hope that last night will serve as a wake up call similar to the on the Pacers got in game one. “Frustrating” seems to be the word to describe the night, as described by Shira Springer in her game story. Steve Bulpett says the Celtics showed the wrong kind of fight last night, and not enough of the right kind. Jason L Young chips in a game story for the ProJo. Jackie MacMullan focuses most of her column today on the incident involving Antoine Walker and Jermaine O’Neil, which the Celtics hope will not lead to a suspension for Walker. The perception is that the Celtics were going after O’Neal’s injured shoulder last night, Mark Murphy has the Pacers center accepting that as part of the game. Hank Lowenkron has O’Neil saying the shoulder is getting better. Howard Bryant (subscription only) writes that the Celtics have made this series a whole lot harder for themselves.
MacMullan also writes a piece on Mark Blount, who has been the center of Celtics fans frustration, after signing a big contract last summer. Michael Vega looks at Doc Rivers, frustrated over his team’s lack of fire. Murphy’s Pacers notebook looks at another huge night for Reggie Miller. Young’s notebook has the Celtics looking for leadership from a variety of sources. Springer’s notebook reports that the Celtics are hopeful that Walker will be able to play game four tomorrow night. Bulpett’s notebook has a few interesting items, after looking at the Celtics quest for leadership, he reports on video of Rivers as a player getting Miller in a chokehold, and has Rick Carlisle saying that working the officials through the media as Rivers is doing doesn’t work.
Wade Miller made his second-to-last planned rehab start as he continues to get ready to jump into the Red Sox rotation. Chris Snow says Miller felt great, and wouldn’t mind skipping the last rehab start and go directly to the Majors. Isn’t going to happen. Rich Thompson and Jon Baker also have reports on Miller’s start, which has to be encouraging to the team, 5 innings, 5 hits 2 walks, 3 K’s and no runs. John Tomase examines how the Red Sox rotation has gone from crowded to empty. David Heuschkel also looks at this issue and a number of other topics. Garry Brown says that Tim Wakefield will have to step into the role of Sox ace. Jeff Horrigan previews this weekend’s series against the Rangers, the first non-AL East opponent of the season for the Red Sox.
Gerry Callahan (subscription only) writes what appears to be an answer to Tony Massarotti’s assertion yesterday that the Red Sox cheaped out in now re-signing Pedro. He says the team never had a chance of keeping him. Jim Donaldson writes a defense of fat guys. No, not the Big Show personalities, but several portly baseball players over the years who have done pretty good. Maybe Michael Gee (subscription only) was listening to WEEI yesterday, as he writes about a topic that was big on the station…Curt Schilling and his willingness to talk on any subject, and whether people like him or hate him for this. He’s talking in this instance about the Tampa Bay incident and public sparring with Lou Piniella. Snow’s notebook looks at the Red Sox calling up reliever Tim Bausher from Pawtucket.
First round pick Logan Mankins met the media yesterday. Jerome Solomon reports that Mankins needed to make a trip to Men’s Warehouse before meeting with the press. Michael Felger says that Mankins is not your typical rookie. Alan Greenberg has a pretty extensive piece on the real-life cowboy. Chris Kennedy says that Mankins hopes to make himself a good fit with the Patriots. Michael Parente has Mankins saying he doesn’t care where he plays, he’s just going to go hard. Patriots.com has the transcript of the session. Mike Reiss reports that Doug Flutie recently worked out for Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants.
The emails have been coming in…WHERE ARE ALL THE REVOLUTION LINKS. Ok. Are you sure you want this? I got a similar cry for Boston College Basketball links, and as I started posting them, the team went downhill…you’re sure? Frank Dell’Apa has a look at Revolution midfielder Clint Dempsey, who has been the target of the opposition’s rough tactics this season. Gus Martins reports on Taylor Twellman getting his 50th regular season goal in his MLS career on Wednesday night.
John Ruiz may be the quiet man, but his trainer is anything but. Ron Borges has a look at Norman Stone.
John Connolly has Bruins coach Mike Sullivan hopeful that there will be NHL hockey next winter.
Jim Baker talks with Bob Cousy about the Celtics, looks at the NBA Playoffs on TNT, and has a few other short takes. Scott’s Shots has a new look, and today he takes a look at Joe Sullivan’s one year anniversary as sports editor, who it was that Antoine was sniping at in the media session after the game, and Everquest. If you missed John Molori’s Media Blitz earlier this week, he takes a look at the draft coverage, and also has a new look to the page.
UPN-38 has Red Sox/Rangers at 8:00. ESPN has Pistons/Sixers at 8:00 and Sonics/Kings at 10:30. ESPN2 has Grizzlies/Suns at 9:00.
A bit late today, but there’s a lot to go through. The Red Sox rotation is hurting, Howard Bryant is a target, the Celtics try to rebound from a tough game two loss and a few football articles make up the links today.
Curt Schilling’s ankle is once again the focus of Red Sox fan’s attention, as the team ace is headed to the disabled list with what is called a “mild bone bruise” on his right ankle. Jeff Horrigan concludes his report with the comment that the time off will be good for Schilling, as he needs to drop a few pounds. Chris Snow looks at what the Red Sox plan to do in the absence of Schilling and David Wells. Kevin McNamara looks at the announcement coming at the same time as the unveiling of the Schilling “Bobble Ankle” doll. David Heuschkel reports on Schilling getting the boot once again. Garry Brown, David Borges and Christopher Price conclude the reports on Schilling. Lenny Megliola discusses what happens now for the Red Sox pitching staff. Tony Massarotti writes that the Red Sox took the cheap way out this winter, and are now paying the price. He plays the role of the knee-jerk reactionary caller to WEEI who complains that the Red Sox should’ve given Pedro and Lowe anything they wanted over the winter. I won’t stoop to calling Massarotti a “sphincter” as John Dennis did this morning, but Tony is off his rocker on this one – Pedro wasn’t coming back here regardless, and Lowe had already turned down a good offer and was statistically among the worst starters in the league last year.
Steven Krasner feels that we shouldn’t really be all that surprised that a couple of aging pitchers with weight issues have developed injuries. Michael O’Connor has a piece on Bronson Arroyo, who just last week was thought to be quickly headed to the bullpen with all the starters The irony of Nick Cafardo saying that he chooses to be the voice of reason with others panicking about the Red Sox is too good to let pass. It’s great that he takes a reasoned approach to the situation now at hand with the Red Sox. We need that. However, you know darn well that if this was the Patriots. Nick’s hand would be all over the panic button. Speaking of panic, another well reasoned man, Buddy Thomas wonders if we’ll remember April 26 as the night that the 2005 Red Sox died. Further, Steve Buckley (subscription only) reflects that this injury will likely hurt Schilling’s Hall of Fame chances. Jon Couture isn’t quite ready to panic yet, but he could be starting down that path. Michael Gee (subscription only) says that Tim Wakefield must now pitch like the ace of the staff.
Bill Reynolds looks at what the Yankees are getting for their $200 million payroll. John Tomase talks to Sammy Sosa and Mike Port about how close the slugger actually came (twice) to becoming a member of the Red Sox, and what that would’ve been like. Kevin Gray looks at former Red Sox outfielder Darren Bragg, trying to get another shot at the majors by playing with the Nashua Pride. Bob Halloran looks at a couple of the new ballparks out West. Heuschkel’s looks at Schilling’s spat with Lou Piniella. Steve Conroy says the Orioles know that they have sent a message to the Red Sox. Snow’s notebook and Horrigan’s notebook have more on Schilling vs. Piniella. Krasner’s notebook examines how the rotation will now be juggled. Heuschkel’s notebook says the Sox rotation could be further strapped if/when Bronson Arroyo is suspended for his actions in Tampa.
One of the biggest stories on the air yesterday was WEEI hosts going after Howard Bryant for his Boston Uncommon column yesterday in which he made a couple of controversial assertions. Bryant’s column was a “subscription only” and because of that many people did not get to read it, but instead are having their opinions formed entirely by WEEI. For the record, here are a couple of excerpts that were objected to:
The Red Sox are part of the growing synergistic cartel that maintains addresses at Yawkey Way, Morrissey Boulevard and Brookline Avenue (where NESN is headquartered). The New York Times Company owns the Boston Globe, and a piece of the Red Sox, which owns NESN. The Red Sox are also business partners with WEEI, the most influential sports radio station in the region. That means that the cartel not only has the means, but a financial interest in controlling information. That includes history. Boston has always been known for its insularity, but such naked consolidation is all a little too cozy to be acceptable.
That was followed a few paragraphs later by the following statement.
The story of Earl Wilson cannot be sanitized, either. Yet when Wilson died, another partner in The Cartel, the Globe, did not even mention his defining experience with the Red Sox, an omission too glaring to be coincidence. In 1966, Wilson walked into the Cloud 9 bar in Winter Haven, Fla., with two white teammates and was not served because he was black. It was not mentioned that the Sox told Wilson explicitly not to discuss the incident. They told Wilson, a proud man from Louisiana who endured the slights of southern racism from the day he was born, to swallow yet another humiliation.
The Globe did mention the Winter Haven incident, but included it in Wilson’s obituary, written by Paul Harber and contained in another section of the Globe. Bryant’s point, and he tried to explain this on a call in to Dale & Holley, was that he didn’t feel that the incident should be separated from Wilson, as it was in the Globe. Kevin Paul Dupont’s story didn’t mention the incident at all, which I agree is indeed curious and don’t understand. Bryant was the object of much scorn yesterday and this morning on WEEI, the hosts have latched onto the word “Cartel” and have used it ad nauseum. While there is some ammunition here, I have a feeling much of the vitriol on the station towards Bryant can be traced back to his outspokenness during the “Metco” incident.
The Celtics play game three of their playoff series with the Pacers tonight, Jackie MacMullan has a piece on Gary Payton stepping forward and dispensing advice and wisdom about the NBA playoffs to his younger teammates. Jackie also does something of a mea culpa regarding Payton at the end of the article. Carolyn Thornton says that Payton has accepted and is enjoying his role with the Celtics. Steve Bulpett’s notebook also looks at Payton taking the leadership role. Shira Springer writes that the Celtics must avoid getting overwhelmed by the Indiana crowd in the next two games. Steve Bulpett opines that Doc Rivers needs to play the kids…they provide energy and a spark to the team. Tim Weisberg says that Rivers let the team down on Monday night.
Michael Muldoon writes that the Celtics need to up the pace in order to take control of the series. Mark Murphy has Jermaine O’Neal complimenting Al Jefferson, noting that “He’ll become one of those guys I have to circle on the calendar, so I know when he’s coming up”. Hank Lowenkron looks at the Pacers hoping to keep getting better despite being banged up and shorthanded. Bulpett has Rivers worried about Reggie Miller’s antics and if the officials are going to continue to fall for them. Springer’s notebook says that Al Jefferson will pass tonight if he is double-teamed rather than forcing the shot. Murphy’s notebook has Stephen Jackson ready to play for the Pacers, despite sitting out practice yesterday.
Michael Felger has a look at Patriots draftee Ryan Claridge, a linebacker whose college coach, John Robinson, feels “has huge potential as an edge rusher”. He also is willing to do anything the Patriots ask of him, including flipping pancakes. Mike Reiss has a piece on receiver/kick returner Tim Dwight, what brought him to New England, and what he sees for himself here. Felger also has a very brief note saying that Troy Brown’s status with the Patriots could be resolved soon. New guy Jerome Solomon gets his first BSMW “minus” for this line that appeared in his story on the Chad Scott signing yesterday: “The Patriots did not draft a cornerback last weekend” The team of course drafted cornerback Ellis Hobbs on the first day of the draft, in the third round. Shouldn’t he know this? Shouldn’t his editor have caught this? Still on the Globe and their coverage of the Patriots, the chat transcript from the other day with Nick Cafardo talking about the Patriots contains many head-scratchers, mostly among the questions that made it through.
Ron Borges has a boxing column on James Toney.
The latest ratings book is out, and while WEEI’s numbers are down, they’re still dominant. Here’s a look at how WEEI makes the claim of being the “Highest rated sports radio station in the country”.
(For some reason the image may not be showing up in Mozilla/Firefox browsers if that is the case, you can click here)
FSN has Celtics/Pacers at 8:30. TNT has Heat/Nets at 7:00 and Rockets/Mavericks at 9:30.
Around the country today, Bill Belichick is viewed as perhaps the best football mind in the game right now. His New England Patriots have won three out of the last four Super Bowl championships and have spawned a new wave of “Dynasty” talk, placing the team in the same echelon as the Packers of the 1960’s, Steelers of the 1970’s, 49ers of the 1980’s and Cowboys of the 1990’s. His teams play a smart, tough, efficient brand of football that is admired around the country, while at the same time the players for the most part are “character guys”, people who have avoided trouble off of the field.
You would think that with this organization in place, Belichick would be lauded nowhere more than in New England, where sports are taken as seriously as religion and politics. Curiously though, if you listen to some sports talk radio programs, or pick up newspaper articles by veteran NFL reporters, you’d think that Belichick was some sort of monster who mistreats people and is overseeing nothing more than a house of cards that is due to collapse at anytime. They constantly refer to his record in Cleveland, and most recently have started the chant that Belichick has won nothing without Tom Brady as his quarterback. You get the impression from these commentators that they would like nothing more than to see Belichick and the Patriots fail miserably.
On the other hand, you also have media members who go the completely opposite way in their treatment and coverage of the Patriots head man. In their eyes, he can do no wrong, every move is that of a genius and the mantra “In Belichick we trust” is their personal slogan. When a hot offense comes into town to face the Patriots, Bill Belichick will find a way to stop them. If there is a player out there on the scrap heap that no one else wants, Belichick will bring him in and make a player out of him. What has caused such polarization in the Boston sports media as regards this undeniably successful head coach?
When Bill Belichick resigned as “HC of the NYJ” after being appointed Bill Parcells’ successor, the Patriots didnt wait long to express their interest in him to take over their team. After some protracted negotiations with Parcells (a media favorite in New England) and the Jets, Patriots owner Bob Kraft eventually worked out a compensation package which allowed Belichick to take become the head coach of the team. Right around this time, certain media members started taking some shots at Belichick, likely because of his perceived disloyalty to the esteemed Parcells. Kevin Mannix of the Boston Herald infamously labeled Belichick “duplicitous pond scum” and a nighttime radio host on sports radio WEEI was also very vocal in his opposition to Belichick’s hiring, calling him “a despicable human being” (for which he later apologized). Michael Holley, then of the Globe, and a native of Ohio, also wrote a very negative article on the new coach. (Holley of course would later go on to write “Patriot Reign”)
Why the vitriol for someone who had just arrived in town? In addition to having crossed Parcells, who still can do no wrong in the eyes of many, there were still lingering stories among the media about Belichick’s tenure as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland media were only too happy to tell stories of Belichick as having been aloof, uncooperative and uncommunicative while having had to deal with him. To this day in fact, many of those Cleveland writers still sneer when his name is brought up. It would appear that many of the Boston writers were influenced by their Cleveland colleagues.
The Patriots went 5-11 in 2000, Belichick’s first year with the club, and while there was still a little grumbling about whether Belichick had the ability to be a successful head coach, for the most part things were pretty quiet. That spring, the team had used a sixth round draft pick on Michigan QB Tom Brady, who spent the season stashed away as the fourth quarterback, no one really paying much attention to him. After the 2001 draft, Belichick was criticized harshly by Globe writer Ron Borges for passing on receivers David Terrell and Koren Robinson in favor of defensive lineman Richard Seymour, sarcastically calling it a “genius move” in reference to Belichick’s reputation as a wizard with the playbook. He said that if you didn’t know better, “you’d think the Jets sent Bill Belichick north to destroy the Patriots from within.” The 2001 season started, and despite moving up to the backup position with a strong preseason showing, Brady seemed nothing more than a spare part behind the strongly entrenched Drew Bledsoe.
Drew Bledsoe had been the Patriots franchise quarterback since Parcells drafted him back in 1993. Over the course of his career, he was known for putting up big numbers, but also for making mistakes at the most crucial times. He was also known for standing in there?both in the pocket and in front of the press, where he always took full accountability for his miscues and faced the media without ducking the questions sent his way. This endeared him to some of the local media, who cultivated a strong relationship with him. Bledsoe was also very close to the Kraft family and was “in the loop” about many things going on “behind the scenes” with regard to the operations of the Patriots. He shared some of this information with some of the media members he was closest to. As a result, the media people always covered Bledsoe positively in their articles, even when he struggled, blaming it instead on his lack of weapons, or having had so many offensive coordinators over the years, or not having enough protection from his offensive line.
When Belichick took over, the “back channel” communications within the organization dried up. He insisted on being the voice of the Patriots, not allowing the press access to his assistant coaches, and limiting availability to his players, practice session and team executives. Even owner Bob Kraft, who had been out front and center in the past, now seemed to have disappeared. None of this pleased members of the press who had relied on these “sources” to compose their stories. The Patriots lost their first game of the season in Cincinnati and were on their way to defeat in the second game to the New York Jets when “it” happened.
Mo Lewis is held in some New England circles as a folk hero. It can be argued that the Jets linebacker’s massive hit on a scrambling Bledsoe in the fourth quarter of that game launched the Patriot dynasty. What is certain however is that the hit spelled the end of Drew Bledsoe’s tenure as the starter in New England, and also launched open season on Bill Belichick by certain members of the sporting press.
While Bledsoe was recovering from his internal injuries, which nearly cost him his life, Tom Brady stepped in and led the Patriots to a 5-2 record. There was considerable talk during this time on the radio, TV and in the papers about what would happen when Bledsoe was ready to return. While Bledsoe was out, some other things changed around the team. Bledsoe had always held his mid-week press conferences at a podium, where he was the focus, away from his teammates. Brady opted to hold his sessions at his locker, with his teammates around him in the room. Bledsoe talked during this time about when he recovered and got “his” job back. The medical staff declared Bledsoe fit to play, but on Monday, November 19, 2001, Belichick declared that Tom Brady was his starter for the “foreseeable future”.
This marked another very clear turning point in the relationship between Belichick and certain members of the press. By this time, many had taken their sides. They were either “Brady guys” or “Bledsoe guys.” Interestingly, many of the “Bledsoe guys” were the veteran reporters that had been around the team for some time. Guys like Ron Borges and Nick Cafardo of the Globe and Kevin Mannix of the Herald, men who had developed a strong relationship with the quarterback. The “Brady guys” were some of the younger, newer guys on the beat, such as Michael Felger of the Herald. The Bledsoe backers immediately cried foul at Belichick’s decision. Ron Borges wrote in the Boston Globe of November 22, 2001:
So the facts are simply these. He lied to Drew Bledsoe about what the competitive situation would be when the quarterback regained his health. There was no miscommunication. There was no misunderstanding. There was no hedging of the bet. He fibbed.
Whereas Borges had been somewhat critical, but at times supportive of Belichick up to this point, from that day until now, Borges has been on a seeming crusade to discredit everything the coach has done. Belichick had lied to his friend, Drew Bledsoe. Belichick had now crossed two of the media’s favorite people in Bledsoe and Parcells. Borges made numerous attacks of the coach and young quarterback for the remainder of the season. The Patriots made it all the way to the Super Bowl and as a show of his displeasure with the team, Borges in his pick for the game said that the Rams would win 73-0.
The Patriots of course won the Super Bowl, defeating the Rams in one of the most thrilling games in the history of the event. In the weeks following the win, Borges and cronies continued to try to discredit the victory and both Belichick and Tom Brady, saying that they only won by a field goal, and that Tom Brady?s winning drive was nothing special, as he didn’t even have to go half the field. Brady was dismissed as nothing more than a “system quarterback” who can only “throw sideways.”
That spring, Drew Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills. The critics had a field day on this one, criticizing Belichick for only getting one first round pick for the quarterback and worse, trading him within the same division. This they said, was the ultimate sign of Belichick’s arrogance, which would certainly come back to bite him. The Patriots went on to a 9-7 record in 2002, tying for the division lead and missing the playoffs by a tiebreaker. The critics were gloating. The Patriots were a one-year wonder. Brady was just a system quarterback. (Despite throwing for 28 TD’s and leading the league in that category) In addition, Bledsoe got off to a fast start in Buffalo, which just fueled the fire of the skeptics.
The following season, the Patriots signed safety Rodney Harrison in the offseason, and people wondered where they would play him, as they already had a top player at that position in Lawyer Milloy. The week before the Patriots regular season opener in Buffalo against Bledsoe and the Bills, Belichick announced that the team had released Milloy after failing to come to a contract adjustment. The critics were all over this. Kevin Mannix led off his column the next day in the Herald thusly:
Bill Belichick is pond scum again. Arrogant, megalomaniacal, duplicitous pond scum.
It was again open season on the Patriots coach. To top matters off, Milloy went off and immediately signed with the Bills, who then trounced the Patriots in the season opener, 31-0. ESPN analyst Tom Jackson made his infamous remark that the Patriots “hate their coach.”
Not much has gone wrong for the Patriots since that day, as they have only lost three games since and have won consecutive Super Bowl Championships. Yet the bashing and shots at Belichick continue. The Globe writers have written repeatedly about Belichick’s policies of not allowing his assistants to speak to the media, arguing that hindered their ability to get head coaching jobs. Yet this season, both of Belichick’s coordinators were hired as head coaches, Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and Romeo Crennel with the Cleveland Browns. Now that those two are gone, the critics question how Belichick will do without them. They still constantly bring up Belichick’s tenure in Cleveland, even recalling negative events from that period to use today, such as a piece that ran in the Sunday Globe this spring that brought up a time that Belichick supposedly scolded now-Dolphins coach, then Browns assistant Nick Saban for something he said to the media. We’re also reminded that the Patriots have won three Super Bowls by the margin of a field goal. As if that should somehow take away from the achievement.
It seemed like for a while there were weekly reminders in the some articles that Belichick’s career record was right around .500. The last two seasons have quieted that particular item, but the newest one that is heard daily on the Eddie Andelman show now is that Belichick has never won without Tom Brady, and that his record without Brady is 16 games under .500. I can tell you that right off the top of my head because it has been repeated so many times on that radio show. Of course, the irony here is that these are the same people (i.e. Borges) who were calling Brady a “system quarterback” a couple years ago and saying the team made a huge mistake in trading Bledsoe. Now he, not Belichick is the one most responsible for the success of the franchise. He is also accused of mistreating and underpaying his stars and heartlessly cutting players who have meant a lot to the franchise. This is an attempt to appeal to the emotions of the fans, who have attachments to the players. In reality, Belichick has yet to release a player who has gone on to really burn him. Most of the time, his assessments have been dead on, and the team’s salary cap has benefited as a result. Yet to writers such as Nick Cafardo, who pride themselves on getting close to players and agents in the game, the Patriots business-like manner of approaching things is distasteful. They would rather see “their guys” get taken care of. It seems like they have no concept of the salary cap.
It certainly seems curious that such a successful coach who seems to do things the “right way” would come under such constant negative scrutiny and criticism from certain people. Why do these people continue? At times they seem like the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” They have had all their arguments cut out from underneath them, yet they continue to stubbornly refuse to retreat. It can be traced back to a few things already mentioned. First, Belichick crossed their darlings, Bledsoe and Parcells. Secondly, they’ve gone this far in their stance, its too late to change now?besides they get attention they seem to crave so desperately by being “different” and standing out from the Belichick admiration. Third, Belichick has proven them wrong time after time, made them look foolish. For them this is enough reason to hate the man. Fourth, he doesn’t make their job easy. He doesn’t feed them “she” quotes and fill up their notebooks with glib quotes. Access is limited to his coaches, practices and team. The media is forced to do some work to get their stories. Some reporters thrive with this, (see Reiss, Mike) while others chafe and choose to complain instead. Fifth, things change in the NFL, this we know. At some point, the Patriots are likely to have a down year, or heaven forbid, suffer a key injury to someone they cannot afford to lose (Brady) or just get beaten by a superior team on a given day. When that day comes, you can be sure that the critics will be there, declaring that they were right all along. Bill Belichick is merely overseeing a house of cards up here in New England.
A pair of ugly losses for the locals last night, one obviously more crushing than the other. There are NFL draft leftovers, and some Comcast HD talk today.
The Indiana Pacers came out of the gate on fire, knocking down threes from everywhere. The Celtics hung tough, and eventually took the lead. In the third quarter, the Celtics seemed to take control, and seemingly had the game in hand as the last five minutes approached. Then in a stunning turn of the events, they coughed up the game, unable to execute down the stretch. On the other hand, Shira Springer looks at the Pacers making the plays when they needed to. Steve Bulpett says this was not the same Celtics team we saw in game one. Carolyn Thornton looks at the Pacers turning the tables on the Celtics. Lenny Megliola and Jeff Goldberg also chip with stories on the game, with Goldberg looking at the play of the wily Reggie Miller, who says the Boston crowd was “child’s play” compared to New York and Philly. Christopher Price says timing is everything, and the Celtics didn’t have it last night. Jackie MacMullan writes that after game one, you knew the Pacers would come to play in this one, and suddenly the Celtics are in trouble. Howard Bryant (subscription only) and Bill Reynolds each look at Miller, who got worked up thanks to the crowd and the taunting of young Celtics like Tony Allen. Michael Vega looks at Miller’s role in slowing down the tempo of the game to the Pacers’ liking. Mark Murphy looks at a bruised Ricky Davis after a night of chasing Miller through borderline illegal screens.
Peter May looks at the man who “summarily destroyed” the hopes and dreams of the Pacers this season…not Ron Artest, but David Stern. Um, Peter, Artest and the Pacers made their own bed this season. Don’t blame the commissioner. Murphy also has a look at Stern holding his ground when it comes to the Pacers. Vega looks at Jermaine O’Neal playing through obvious pain last night. Fluto Shinzawa looks at Pacers point guard Anthony Johnson, one the crew who spearheaded the comeback in the final minutes for Indiana. Michael O’Connor has Paul Pierce saying that the Celtics just need to clean a few things up to rebound in the series. May also has a look at rough nights for Raef and Ricky. In the notebooks, Springer’s notebook looks at Danny Ainge keeping a low profile recently. Bulpett’s notebook looks at the quiet night for Raef LaFrentz and also has the Larry Bird/Antoine Walker mutual admiration society. Thornton’s notebook looks at rookie Al Jefferson’s decline in minutes last night, the young forward did not even play in the second half. Tim Weisberg also files a game recap and notebook from last night.
After shutting out the Orioles in a pair of games last week in Baltimore, the Red Sox gave up eight runs to the birds last night. David Wells struggled and left the game after 3 2/3 innings with a sprained foot, having given up six runs. Chris Snow looks at a rough night all around for the Sox. Michael Silverman has more on the loss. Kevin McNamara says that the night added injury to insult for the Sox. Tom Yantz says that Wells fell well short of being the first Red Sox pitcher since Roger Clemens to throw three straight shutouts. Garry Brown and Andy Vogt wrap up the game summaries. Alex Speier and Joe Haggerty have more on the game, but focus on the injury to Wells. Tony Massarotti looks at the continued rough start to David Wells’ Red Sox career.
Jon Couture looks at the Orioles “O” finally waking up against the Red Sox. Jeff Horrigan looks at Red Sox short timer Bruce Chen shutting down his former team last night. Paul Harber also looks at Chen. Paul Kenyon looks at Kevin Millar giving Manny a break in the outfield. Brown also has an article on Millar going to left field for the evening. Johnny Damon was on base five times last night. Steve Conroy looks at the Red Sox centerfielder. Wells wasn’t the only Red Sox pitcher to leave the game with a foot injury. Matt Mantei suffered a sprained ankle in the seventh inning. Conroy also has an update on pitcher Wade Miller, who will be starting for Pawtucket. Snow’s notebook has word of a small fine for Terry Francona for his criticism of umpire Greg Gibson. Silverman’s notebook looks at Millar, Ramirez and Ortiz switching positions last night. The Projo notebook has more on Miller. Yantz’ notebook looks at Jason Varitek, who provided one of the few highlights for the Red Sox. Brown’s notebook looks at a slow recovery from the flu for Bill Mueller.
Kevin Paul Dupont and Steve Buckley (subscription only) remember former Red Sox pitcher Earl Wilson, who died at the age of 70 over the weekend. Dupont talks to Frank Malzone and Johnny Pesky about Wilson, who pitched a no-hitter at Fenway in 1962. Buckley’s article focuses more on Wilson’s role in fighting racism in Boston, as he was the second African-American to suit up for the Red Sox, but receive little support from the organization, which traded him in 1966 a few weeks after he spoke out about not being served at a bar during spring training because of his race.
Jerome Solomon and Michael Felger report on the Patriots hosting free agent linebacker Chad Brown at Gillette. Solomon’s piece also has word that cornerback Aaron Glenn of the Texans has the Patriots on the short list of teams he’d like to be traded to. (Although it appears he could be heading to the Cowboys.) Michael Parente says that the Patriots filled needs with their draft picks. Eric McHugh wonders if linebacker Ryan Claridge could be the Patriots latest second day draft find. Bill Burt and Lenny Megliola look at first round pick Logan Mankins, while Felger looks at both offensive linemen picked by the Patriots. Hector Longo takes an overall look at the draft and future of the Patriots. Mike Reiss’ blog entry from yesterday fills in a few tidbits leftover from the draft. Zach Lowe has look at Bill Belichick’s appearance at a March of Dime fundraiser in Connecticut. A couple amusing anecdotes in that account.
Bill Griffith looks at the new DVD Three Games to Glory III, which according to Griffith, takes things to a new level.
Word is that you should have TNT-HD on Comcast channel 833 today. Comcast, high priced as it may be, deserves some credit for its continued rollouts of the HD tier in time for sports fans to enjoy the High Definition experience. They added UPN38-HD in time for the Red Sox opener, and we should now have TNT-HD to enjoy the NBA playoffs on. One note of complaint however, in nights like last night when both the Red Sox and Celtics are playing in games that are available on HD, it seems you only get one…whichever game they deem more important. It’d be nice if they could use 881 along with 882 to show both games. I understand bandwidth and contractual obligations may play a role, but I’d like to be able to see both my teams in HD at the same time. Now that TNT is going to be available, perhaps that might solve the issue for the remainder of the playoffs anyhow. However, Comcast does lose points for yanking NBATV. (As mentioned by Ryen Russillo and Anthony Pepe yesterday on WWZN) I think they did it to fit in bandwidth for TNT-HD, but for subscribers to lose something they paid extra for doesn’t seem quite right.
NESN has Red Sox/Orioles at 7:00. TNT has Nets/Heat at 8:00 and Kings/Sonics at 10:30.
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An extremely busy Monday has the Red Sox brawling in Tampa, the Patriots drafting for aggressiveness and the Celtics preparing to take on the Pacers tonight in game two of their playoff series. Bobby Orr also speaks out on the sad state of the NHL.
The Red Sox and Devil Rays concluded their three game series in Tampa this weekend, and after dropping the first two games of the series, the Sox were not about to be swept. They weren’t. The Red Sox win 11-3 in a wild game that included a beanball war and the benches being emptied. Nick Cafardo, Jeff Horrigan, Steven Krasner, David Heuschkel and David Borges have the game stories from a wild afternoon in Tampa. Gordon Edes looks at Trot Nixon, who despite not being one of the players hit by a pitch over the weekend, was front and center in the brawl that ensued yesterday. Michael Gee says that try as he might, Bronson Arroyo can’t hide the purpose of his final pitch of the afternoon. John Tomase salutes Tim Wakefield for being rarity in professional sports…in many aspects. Ron Chimelis wonders if Joe Torre’s job could be in danger in NY. Cafardo’s notebook says that Jay Payton should be just fine as a fill in for Trot Nixon should Nixon be suspended for his actions yesterday. Payton’s grand slam replacing Nixon after his ejection showed that. Horrigan’s notebook has David Ortiz placing the blame on Lou Piniella for yesterday’s events. Krasner’s notebook has more on Nixon’s ejection. Heuschkel’s notebook says that Nixon and Arroyo probably will face suspensions for their actions. Borges’ notebook says there has been bad blood between these clubs for some time.
The NFL draft wrapped up yesterday afternoon and Kevin Mannix hates the Patriots high picks, specifically Offensive Lineman Logan Mankins. This isn’t really a surprise here, as Mannix seemingly every year trashes the Patriots draft. He did so most notably in 2003, and that draft was one of the best the team has ever had. Mannix today says the Patriots did merely ok in the later rounds…
But that didn't make up for the fact that the Pats bollixed up that first pick like amateurs.
I wonder how much time Mannix actually spent on the draft…what preparation did he do? I’m guessing very little. He relies on the scouting reports of others. It’s a tried and true strategy to pan a draft. In the past, no one would dig it up and throw your predictions back at you. If the picks did turn out to be busts, you could then thrust your chest out, thump it, and say “I told you so!” Whereas if the picks turn out to be good, then the fans are happy, and no one notices, or cares, that you nastily panned the selection in the first place. It’s even easier when the pick is at the end of the first round, and is an offensive lineman, who might take some time to develop. I’m guessing Mannix is playing the odds, throwing stuff out there, and hoping it sticks. It’s his custom when it comes to the draft, and he also has the habit of coming out with a March column declaring that the Patriots have fallen behind in free agency. It’s a tradition. Not to toot the BSMW Draft Central horn too much, but they had Mankins rated as the top guard in the draft for the Patriots system. Ron Borges seems to think that the Patriots did pretty well for themselves, observing
The defending champions had needs at linebacker and in the secondary, but coach Bill Belichick refused to reach and ended up with what appears to be a two-day haul of the kind of players who have made his team a dynasty for the New Millennium -- versatile ones who give him flexibility.
Borges also looks at how the other AFC East clubs did for themselves. Michael Felger writes that the Patriots thought that this was a weak draft, and so they loaded up on aggressiveness and intangibles. Tom E Curran looks at the Patriots going with players from smaller programs and conferences. Alan Greenberg says that the Patriots didn’t go sexy in the draft, they just made solid picks to fill holes. Mike Reiss says that this draft was worked with an eye for the future, as the Patriots filled some holes, but also acquired some picks for next year. Ian M Clark looks at the Patriots draft, and also notes that the team was looking to the future. Christopher Price has a good look at Mankins.
Curran says that because of their track record, even the experts can’t really second guess the Patriots, using Mel Kiper Jr as an example. By the way, does Kiper think Mankins was a reach, or not? In his final draft wrapup, Kiper says
Guard Logan Mankins was a reach in the first round but the Patriots obviously like his size and nastiness, and he will help fill the void left by Joe Andruzzi's departure via free agency.
but on his Saturday first round wrapup, Kiper says
I thought Mankins would be a second-rounder, because he missed the entire 2003 season due to a knee injury, but he is a good player and this is not a reach
Which is it? (Those were both from ESPN Insider articles) Dan Pires says the Patriots just keep everyone guessing with their methods, and notes the apparent opening of a new college pipeline to replace LSU, now it’s Fresno State. Jerome Solomon looks at fourth round pick James Sanders. Chris Kennedy looks at the Patriots seventh round picks, which included a backup QB from USC and a tight end from a school no one has probably ever heard of before. Rich Thompson has more on that Tight End, “Mr Irrelevant” Andy Stokes from William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He also looks at some of the other picks. Fluto Shinzawa and John Connolly look at Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick getting picked by the Rams in the seventh round. George Kimball (subscription only) writes about Tedy Bruschi, no one around the Patriots will still make any comment or speculation on his future, but Kimball does, saying
In the most likely scenario, he will eventually announce that he's going to sit out this season while he makes up his mind, collect $2 million for passing Go, and, eventually, officially announce his retirement.
Solomon’s notebook says the Patriots were swapping picks left and right this weekend. Felger’s notebook says that recently released Seahawks linebacker Chad Brown could be a fit for the Patriots. Curran’s notebook has more on the Fresno State pipeline.
You can’t go wrong with a Larry Bird column. Dan Shaughnessy talks to the Legend about Boston, competing against the Celtics, how Larry’s favorite baseball player is Manny Ramirez, and many other topics. Great stuff. Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics need to keep the same up-tempo game going in tonight’s game two that they had Saturday night. Shira Springer says that the Celtics must stay focused and not get overconfident after their big win in game one. Michael Vega and Mark Murphy look at the Pacers as they prepare to come back in game two tonight. Peter May and Howard Bryant (subscription only) each have articles on Marcus Banks, who was a difference maker in the game one victory, provided full court pressure and a spark off the bench. Carolyn Thornton also has a look at the second year guard. Springer’s notebook Springer’s notebook has Doc Rivers being a little pick-y over some non-calls. Bulpett’s notebook says that the Celtics veterans are preaching caution after the game one blowout. Vega’s notebook says that the Pacers are already battling a steep history stat after just one game. Murphy’s notebook has Bird confident that Rick Carlisle will make the needed adjustments tonight.
Yesterday’s Lawrence Eagle-Tribune had a guest column from Bruin’s legend Bobby Orr, who spoke out about NHL work stoppage and what needs to get done.
Yesterday’s Globe had a story from Joshua Glenn on the “50 most loathsome Bostonians” on the list were Gerry Callahan, Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon and Jimmy Fallon, and in the top 20 there was a Globe Sportswriter who Glenn refused to name because of “space constraints, as well as a disinclination on my part to reveal the identities of those nominees I have to work with”. Give me a break.
FSN has Celtics/Pacers at 7:00 (TNT Nationally) TNT has Rockets/Mavericks at 9:30. Word is that Comcast will be adding TNT-HD in the Boston area sometime tomorrow on channel 833 in time for the rest of the NBA playoffs. NESN has Red Sox/Orioles at 7:00. ESPN has Braves/Mets at 7:00.
I asked for your reaction to the local media coverage this weekend. Here is a sampling of the responses I received.
To begin, Tim took issue with my criticism of the Celtics coverage in Saturday
(Sunday links by Bryan, email@example.com)
Some abbreviated links this Sunday evening after watching back-and-forth beanballs and ejections during the Red Sox-Devil Rays game …
There have been several interesting articles today from the local press. The NFL Draft, Celtics, and baseball are all on tap. One last call to e-mail me your thoughts on the media coverage this weekend. I’m hoping to put together a mailbag of sorts later tonight.
Young guns spark Celtics
The playoffs began in roaring fashion for the Celtics with a 102-82 pasting of the Pacers last night at the Fleet (box score). The Boston bench, which broke open the game in the second quarter, is the subject of much praise by Jackie MacMullan. A column from Dan Shaughnessy, meanwhile, notes that the victory was the 12th straight in the playoffs for Boston’s major sports teams. Like MacMullan, Howard Bryant (online subscription required) is impressed with the Celtics’ second unit, and he writes that the fortunes of Al Jefferson, Marcus Banks, Delonte West, and Tony Allen have come a long way in the past year.
The NFL Draft is complete, and Mike Reiss continues to provide the most up-to-date local coverage of New England’s selections in his Reiss’ Pieces blog.
On to the analyses of team’s performance yesterday, when the Patriots drafted Logan Mankins in the first round (No. 32 overall), and Ellis Hobbs III (No. 84) and Nick Kaczur (No. 100) in the third round.
Ron Borges delivers a positive review in the Globe:
When you are picking dead last, it is difficult to maximize your position, but Belichick and player personnel director Scott Pioli appeared to do that, then improved the team further with a solid trade, holding the Ravens up for three picks so they could get a shot at a player they wanted at the tail end of the second round.
It’s a decidedly different tune from the Herald’s Kevin Mannix. While he doesn’t bash the talent of Mankins, Mannix does question the wisdom of taking the offensive lineman in the first round:
Nobody's perfect, even three-time Super Bowl champions.
That's pretty much the bottom line on the Patriots' first day of activity in the NFL draft. When your first two picks net you a projected interior lineman (Fresno State's Logan Mankins) and an undersized, unheralded defensive back (Ellis Hobbs III) you haven't gotten the value of either pick.
In the ProJo, Tom E. Curran writes that Mankins will slide in nicely on the left side of the Patriots’ offensive line. Christopher Price also has a look at Mankins and his propensity for delivering “pancake-knockdown” blocks. Lamar Lopez reports on the Lankins selection for the Fresno Bee.
Lastly, Cold, Hard Football Facts examines the very inexact science of mock drafts, and rates the accuracy of this year’s first-round predictions from Borges and Mel Kiper, among others.
The best baseball read of the day is found not in a Boston paper but in the New York Times Magazine. Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, has the story of two players’ journeys through the minor leagues (one is disabled Kansas City rookie Mark Teahen), and the pressures they face to abandon their natural hitting styles in favor of swings that will produce more power. As part of his article, Lewis also writes that organizations still struggle to accurately project a prospect’s professional baseball future.
While Lewis focuses on offense, Karen Guregian writes about defense in the major leagues, and more specifically, the lack of attention paid to accurate outfield throwing in today’s game. Guregian has former Red Sox right fielder Dwight Evans lamenting teams’ failure to practice this seemingly lost defensive skill before games.
In their Sunday notes columns, Tony Massarotti and Gordon Edes both lead with reports on the fast start by the LA Dodgers. Without mentioning Bob Ryan’s controversial Friday column by name, Edes also has this:
Garciaparra has had a startling run of injuries, but in the absence of any evidence, it is treading very dangerous ground to suggest that they were the result of his intense training program, or the muscle-building supplements (like creatine) that he has acknowledged using, or illegal substances he has vociferously denied using, an assertion backed up by Red Sox medical officials and teammates.
The Ryan column was also a point of discussion on a Sunday NFL Draft edition of the “Dale and Holley Show” on WEEI earlier today. Expect the conversation to continue tomorrow.
Surpsing the “experts”, as usual, the Patriots selected offensive lineman Logan Mankins of Fresno State with their first-round pick (No. 32) overall.
(Saturday links by Bryan, firstname.lastname@example.org)
A full plate of coverage this Saturday morning, as the Celtics open the NBA playoffs, the NFL draft begins at noon, and the Red Sox fall in Tampa Bay. We also have news of disciplinary action (not a firing) against Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom.
I am also looking for your feedback on the media coverage this weekend. See the end of today’s posting for more. To the links …
We’ll begin with the media coverage of the Celtics, who meet the Pacers at 8:00 tonight at the Fleet in Game 1 of an opening-round, best-of-seven series. What, no special playoffs section in the Globe for the event? The paper has only four stories from staff writers (plus one AP notebook article) and nothing from its three main columnists; Howard Bryant does weigh in for the Herald, but the tabloid offers us only three other stories from its own reporters (plus two wire articles). It’s not really a surprise, but it is disappointing.
Tony Allen is the subject of the lead basketball story in the Globe, Herald, and ProJo (curious, no?). Shira Springer, Mark Murphy, and Carolyn Thornton spotlight the rookie guard, who returns to the starting lineup tonight and draws the assignment of defending Reggie Miller.
Murphy has the traditional position-by-position matchup article for the series in the print edition of today’s Herald, though I’m not seeing a link online. Murphy gives the edge to the Celtics at power forward, small forward, and point guard, and he favors the Pacers at center and shooting guard. Boston’s bench beats out Indiana’s, according to Murphy, while Rick Carlisle holds the advantage over Doc Rivers.
Peter May previews all eight of the NBA’s first-round series, picking the Celtics over the Pacers in seven games. He also predicts that the Pistons will ultimately face the Spurs in the NBA Finals, and that Detroit will repeat as league champions.
If you went out and bought the Herald this morning, as I did, you could read Howard Bryant (available online by subscription only) wishing that Reggie Miller could close out his NBA career with a first-round playoff game against the Celtics at the original Garden. A good column from Bryant here, as he recaps some memorable Miller moments.
Here’s wishing that Bob Ryan could have skipped his column of steroid speculation on Nomar Garciaparra yesterday (see reaction from Nomar below) and instead written his thoughts on the Celtics as they begin the playoffs. In his weekly segment on WROR Thursday morning, Ryan essentially said that he didn’t know what to expect from this likable-but-unpredictable bunch.
Do you have your NFL mock draft cards filled out? Today is Day 1 of the 2005 NFL draft from New York, and the Patriots check in at No. 32, the final pick of the first round. Be sure to check out Scott’s Shots throughout the weekend, as David Scott blogs his way through what he calls the “Most Overhyped Non Event”. BSMW Draft Central is also a good reference for reading about potential Patriots picks.
More stories on this weekend’s draft, and speculation on how the Patriots will proceed:
* Tom E. Curran wants the team to select linebacker Odell Thurman of Georgia, but predicts they’ll instead take LSU cornerback Corey Webster.
* Eric McHugh looks at several “wild card” players the Patriots could consider.
* Michael Parente writes that New England is drafting for depth.
* Jerome Solomon expects that the Patriots will simply select the best overall player available when their turn comes up.
* Michael Felger speculates that the Patriots’ first pick may be for offense, particularly if all of the top defensive players they like are off the board.
* Mike Reiss wonders whether New England will trade up for one of the top-tier cornerbacks.
* In a good leftover from yesterday, Reiss also serves up 32 “pre-draft pieces” in his Reiss’ Pieces blog. Look for frequent updates from Reiss throughout the weekend.
Finally, Nick Cafardo takes a look back at the Patriots’ 2004 draft class.
Devils Rays top Red Sox in 9th
A walkoff home run on the first pitch in the bottom of the 9th by Eduardo Perez lifted the Devil Rays over the Red Sox, 5-4, last night at the Trop (box score). Steven Krasner, Cafardo, and Jeff Horrigan have the game stories.
Gordon Edes looks at the towering game-winning blast by Perez, the son of Hall of Famer and former Red Sox Tony Perez.
Michael Gee (subscription only) has a column about the three walkoff homers allowed by the Sox bullpen so far this season.
In a story that may develop some legs on the local sports media scene, Garciaparra reacts to Ryan’s column from yesterday. It’s only a wire-service article this morning, but it certainly isn’t a stretch to suggest that discussion of both the original column and Garciaparra’s response will gather steam over the next few days.
(Afternoon update:) Dan Kennedy, in his Media Log for the Boston Phoenix today, offers his thoughts on the column, saying he doesn’t quite know what to make of it. He includes an excerpt on Nomar from a February 11 Gerry Callahan column (online subscription required).
In the Hartford Courant, David Heuschkel has quotes from several Red Sox players criticizing steroid allegations against their former teammate.
Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom and four other staff members have been disciplined by the paper over an April 3 story. Publisher and editor Carole Leigh Hutton has a letter to readers. She doesn’t detail the disciplinary action beyond the short-term suspension of Albom’s columns, nor does she name the other staffers.
Four NBA games today as the playoffs get underway:
3:00pm, ABC: Philadelphia at Detroit
5:30pm, ESPN: Houston at Dallas
8:00pm, FSN, ESPN: Indiana at Boston Celtics
10:00pm, ESPN: Sacramento at Seattle
Four more games are on tap tomorrow:
3:00pm, ABC: Game 1, New Jersey at Miami
5:30pm, TNT: Game 1, Washington at Chicago
8:00pm, TNT: Game 1, Denver at San Antonio
10:30pm, TNT: Game 1, Memphis at Phoenix
ESPN has the NFL draft beginning at noon today, and ESPN2 picks up the coverage at 5:30pm. Patriots.com will have streaming audio of the draft from 3:00-6:00 today, and from 12:00-3:00 tomorrow. Tomorrow, ESPN continues its draft coverage at 11am.
NESN has a pair of Red Sox games this weekend, at 6:00 tonight at 2:00 tomorrow afternoon.
What do you think?
Send me your thoughts on the media coverage this weekend, and I’ll publish a sampling of your e-mails tomorrow night. The NFL Draft, Celtics-Pacers, Red Sox, WEEI, Ryan/Garciaparra, and local papers are all fair game. My e-mail: email@example.com