Losers All Around

As you’ve heard by now, Theo Epstein this afternoon resigned his position as Red Sox GM. This outcome was shocking to most, and leaves the Red Sox organization staggering. No matter what they say and do over the next few days, this day could go down in franchise history with other ownership/front office gaffes that have taken place over the years. Is Theo the next Carlton Fisk? Local guy with a spot on his home team, pushed out the door because of an extended negotiation that should have been taken care of much earlier? In these situations, when you’re negotiating with your own guy, the result you’re trying to achieve is a win-win.

Well, this situation is anything but. In fact, it leaves losers all around.

Loser: Larry Lucchino – For the rest of his tenure with the club, he will be viewed as the bad guy who forced Theo out. Can he recover from that? I really don’t think so, no matter how much PR he attempts in the pages of the Globe and on the airwaves of WEEI and various other outlets.

Loser: Dan Shaughnessy – Could Sunday’s column have been the beginning of the end for Shaughnessy in Boston? Already reviled by many Red Sox fans, fair or not, the impression is now out there that Shaughnessy allowed himself to be used as a mouthpiece and puppet by Lucchino in the “Let’s iron out some of this dirty laundry” column. Everyone that I have seen and heard thus far has agreed that the article was spoon-fed to Shaughnessy from Lucchino. I’m not just talking about the WEEI guys, but also the WFAN guys (Who are saying Theo is making a huge mistake), and Sean McAdam, who said on FSN that Shaughnessy may have to enter the witness protection program around here. It is clear though, if Shaughnessy didn’t write the article on Sunday, someone else would have.

The irony that Shaughnessy, who spent the better parts of two decades reveling in the failures of the Red Sox, should now be accused of being a mouthpiece for the club is steep indeed. Shaughnessy has made so many enemies over the years that it is hard to believe he would do this as merely out of the goodness of his heart. The article was so clearly pro-Lucchino that it is laughable. The talking points for the column were clearly outlined: Why would Theo rebel against those who brought him here? Larry is more of a “baseball guy” than Theo. There’s no smear campaign. All just as Larry would want them to be portrayed. Dan, the good “company man” went along with it.

Loser: John Henry – The Red Sox principal owner finds himself with a PR nightmare on his hands, something that I don’t think even guru Dr. Charles Steinberg can fix. For an ownership group that is said to be so “PR Savvy”, to paraphrase Kevin Mannix – they bollixed this up like amateurs.

Loser: Boston Globe – They’ve laughed off all rumors of the “cartel”. At the same time they’ve gladly continued to take the handouts of information the Red Sox feed them – but who can really blame them on that score when it gives them an advantage over their competition and is good for their bottom line and that of their parent company. (Noticed how many Red Sox articles were in the New York Times this season?) Good reporters such as Gordon Edes and Chris Snow are put in an impossible situation, and I don’t judge them as harshly as the management of the Globe and ones like Shaughnessy who have disgraced themselves and the reputation of the largest newspaper in the region by abandoning any semblance of integrity by eagerly snapping up the scraps of whatever information that Red Sox management will feed them and serving as their virtual mouthpiece.

Let’s remember something here. The Globe and its parent company own a portion of the Red Sox, not the other way around. I know it may seem like the latter is true.

Loser: Red Sox Fans – They embraced Theo as one of their own, and reveled with him as he was the GM of the team that finally won the World Series after an 86 year drought. They felt that the future of the franchise was secure with a young man at the helm that could develop the farm system and led the organization for the next 20 years if he chose to do so. Now after three short years, the reign is over, and Red Sox fans must learn to accept a new GM and begin the process of building faith in that position all over again.

Loser: Theo Epstein – He grew up dreaming of this job. He got it, and did the job. Now he doesn’t have it anymore. Was it by his own choice? Well, it appears it really wasn’t. He felt he could no longer work there. Is he going to be this big anywhere else? I don’t think so. He deserves a ton of credit for standing up for himself and letting go of all of this, but will it work out better for him elsewhere? That remains to be seen.

Links thus far: Michael Silverman’s piece which was the first put together once the news broke. (Was it a coincidence that the Herald got Theo’s news first after all this?) Eric Wilbur says Theo cared too much about putting a baseball team on the field in an organization that cares more about real estate development. Theo Leaves Club – credited to “Globe Staff” Decidedly anti-Theo.

Patriots Escape

It’s the only word that can really be used to describe last night’s 21-16 Patriots win over the Buffalo Bills at Foxboro. Escape. For much of the game the two time defending champs were thoroughly dominated by their division rival, yet made enough plays in a few minute span in the fourth quarter to score a pair of touchdowns to move from a 7-16 deficit to the eventual 21-16 winning score. Game stories are served up by Jerome Solomon, John Tomase, Tom E Curran, Alan Greenberg, Tim Weisberg, Mike Lowe and Michael Parente.

Michael Felger says that the Patriots still have quite a ways to go if they harbor championship ambitions. They’re going to need to fix a lot of things with unbeaten Indy coming in next Monday night. Christopher Price knocks out the 10 Things That We Learned Last Night. Bob Ryan says that the Patriots got the win, but that this remains “a flawed, highly human, and completely vulnerable team”, with a long way to go before facing the Colts next week. Albert Breer notes that while it was great to have Bruschi back on the field, his presence does nothing to mask the problems of the secondary, as we saw last night.

Ron Borges tells us that Tedy Bruschi “survived” (tough word choice there, don’t you think?) his comeback last night and that his team is likewise in the game. Borges tells fans to hold onto those two things, because they’re about all we have right now. Jim Donaldson says that Bruschi is right up there with Lazarus when it comes to comebacks. Karen Guregian says that no Boston sports comeback compares with what we saw from Bruschi last night. Rich Thompson gets a little fan reaction to the return of Bruschi. The night may have been all about Bruschi, but Lenny Megliola says that the Patriots linebacker did a great job of seamlessly blending in with his teammates in last nights win. Dan Pires notes that even though Bruschi was around the team all season, last night he finally became a Patriot once again. Steve Solloway looks at Bruschi back living life the only way he knows how.

Dan Ventura reports on Tom Brady, who was able to put together a fairly decent second half after hardly touching the ball in the first half. Breer looks at Deion Branch coming up big in the second half as well. Mike Reiss looks at the combo of Brady and Branch hooking up to get the job done in the second half. Nick Cafardo has Brady hoping that the Patriots can finally take off this season and string some wins together. If they’re going to do that, Brady says the team needs to have some of its younger players step up. Shalise Manza Young looks at how the injury to Patrick Pass forced Corey Dillon onto the field, where he managed to do the job quite well in the second half, rushing for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Mike Lowe looks at Dillon being able to contribute at the right time last night. Young also looks at the play of Deion Branch, who helped lead the comeback and to finish off the Bills with a couple of acrobatic catches.

Fluto Shinzawa looks at the huge play from Rosevelt Colvin, who sacked Buffalo QB Kelly Holcomb at a critical junction of the game (and while ESPN was playing a Bob Kraft interview and had no live audio of the play) and stripping and recovering the ball. The Patriots defense finally forced a pair of turnovers last night, with Asante Samuel coming up with an interception in the third quarter. Steve Buckley (subscription only) has more on the big play from Colvin, who made a recovery of his own, both from his own major injury and of the ball he stripped out at a key juncture last night. Colvin was near the quarterback several times last night, and the Patriots could really use the speed and rush that he brought during his glory days with the Bears. Curran provides his weekly game analysis, looking at the play on both sides of the ball.

Reiss looks at the Patriots continued problems with giving up the big play. Reiss notes that it isn’t just the long plays that are killing the Patriots, it’s that they can’t stop the opposition once they’re in position after those big plays. Felger looks at the Patriots being able to put the clamps on the Bills exceptional kick returner Terrence McGee for most of the night. Shalize Manza Young notes that while the Bills came into the game ranked near the bottom in passing offense, they still pretty much had their way with the Patriots secondary. The ProJo lists out the noteworthy quotes from the postgame locker room sessions.

Tomase’s notebook looks at the inactives for last night, which included Richard Seymour once again. Solomon’s notebook examines what the Patriots addressed during the bye week as they improved to 4-2 coming off the bye under Bill Belichick. The Standard-Times notebook also reports on the absence of Seymour from the lineup, as well as Troy Brown.

Gotta give credit to the Boston Globe for their coverage today of the game last night. It is the most complete of any paper out there. They have several strong, complete articles, instead of the “quick hit” variety employed by the Herald. I expect a lot out of the Globe and do hold it to a higher standard than the other papers, and they did a good job with their coverage this morning. I wish I could say the same of ESPN’s coverage last night. It was in a word, awful. Twice the network went to extended interviews/sideline reports during the action, and ending up missing live play-by-play of a key turnover. During the Brady fumble, Suzy Kolber was reporting on Bruschi’s comeback, and kept right on talking through the play, through the replays of the play and up to the commercial break. Rosevelt Colvin’s sack and strip of Kelly Holcomb was shown in a split screen (though it was the bigger screen) while an interview with Bob Kraft was being played. Combine that with the usual inane analysis from Paul McGuire (When he said he was sure that the Branch catch would be overturned, my friend Tim said immediately that he now felt much better and knew that the catch would stand) and you had a frustrating night from the coverage as well. I’m usually not a basher of the ESPN Sunday night crew, as I like Mike Patrick, and think Joe Theismann has his moments as well, but last night too much emphasis was put on subplots (Bruschi)and outside news (Giants winning in memory of Mara) rather than on the game. There’s no doubt the Bruschi story is huge and deserves a ton of coverage, but not at the expense of the game coverage.

Get the view from the opposition with the stories in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and the Buffalo News.

Chris Snow & Gordon Edes report that Theo Epstein has agreed to a three year contract extension with the Red Sox that will keep him with the club through the 2008 season. Michael Silverman on the other hand, reports that no deal is complete, and that Epstein was expected to sleep on the club’s latest offer and give his decision today.

Mark Murphy has a look at Kendrick Perkins, who had his option for next season pick up this weekend. Perkins is OK with continuing to learn behind Mark Blount and to grow and work on developing his game here in Boston. Shira Springer reports that legend Bill Russell is no longer serving with the team as a consultant, due to the increased demand on his time that the league is asking of him as part of their legends tour. In an article that is more than a bit tongue-in-cheek, Jeff Goldberg talks to world-renowned fashion designer and lifelong Celtics fan Joseph Abboud about the league’s new dress code. Murphy’s notebook has Ainge talking about the decision not to pick up Marcus Banks’ option for next year. Be sure to also check out a BSMW Full Court Press article on Paul Pierce posted last night.

Links from yesterday included Peter May’s NBA notes, which look at the Spurs and their quest to repeat. The Spurs are coming off a 1-7 preseason, but are still most people’s favorite to win the title again. Mark Murphy had more on Banks, who feels that he could still return here next season. Scott Souza listed out four main things you need to know about this years Celtics team.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at Sergei Samsonov rounding into form with nine points in his last seven games, including six goals. Steve Conroy looks at rookie defenseman Kevin Dallman receiving a vote of confidence from head coach Mike Sullivan. Be sure to check out some eye opening analysis from the weekend on the Bruins inability to hang onto the puck over at the BSMW Power Play blog.

Michael Vega says that Boston College still has plenty to play for despite their loss to Virginia Tech last Thursday night. Mark Blaudschun has a look back at the weekend of college football.

John Molori has a great Q&A session with David Halberstam, author of the new book on Bill Belichick. (Available for purchase below)

ABC has Ravens/Steelers at 9:00. OLN has Canadiens/Rangers at 7:00.