Max Is Getting A Raw Deal

In the crossover and into the Big Show this afternoon, Glenn Ordway went off on those who are trying to make Cedric Maxwell into a villain for the piece in the Herald by Jesse Noyes this morning about Maxwell’s comments on the air Monday night in Houston.

Ordway says the Herald got it wrong, and that this is another example of how anyone today can make a call, send an email or make a blog post and turn their business upside down. He believes Maxwell was in reality doing an imitation of Tommy Heinsohn when he made the comments about Violet Palmer, who has been a frequent target of Heinsohn in the past. Ordway played the tape on the show, which showed what Maxwell’s intent was. Maxwell made his voice scratchy to sound like Heinsohn, and in fact afterwords Sean Grande and Maxwell actually complimented Palmer, saying that last few years, every time they saw her, she was the best official on her crew.

Ordway says Noyes likely didn’t hear the remarks and merely took it off of the Universal Hub blog. He and the Big Show used that as an opportunity to go off on how blogs have a different set of standards and rules, that blogs are “dangerous” etc etc etc.

I can easily accept and agree with Ordway’s premise that Maxwell made the remarks as a joke, imitating Tommy Heinsohn. I would agree with him that this is being way overblown and that Maxwell shouldn’t be getting this sort of heat.

It’s obvious to me that Maxwell shouldn’t have to apologize for this.

I just have one issue here, however. It’s easy to put all the blame on the “blogs” but who made this a legitimate story? Was it Noyes by putting in the paper, or was it Jason Wolfe who was quoted in the Noyes story, and stated that Maxwell would be apologizing on the air tonight?

By making that statement, Wolfe is agreeing with the premise that Maxwell did something worthy of an apology, which is certainly newsworthy. He makes it a legitimate story. Should Wolfe had given a “no comment” or said that they were looking into it more before making that statement? I think so. HE gave Noyes a basis for publishing the story with his comments.

The original blog poster may not have “gotten” the comments by Maxwell, but it appears Wolfe didn’t either. He should be apologizing to Maxwell. Publicly.

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Andy Hart called into ESPN Boston yesterday to talk with Mike Felger about the combine in Indianapolis. He was asked if he had seen Bill Belichick out there, and Hart replied that he hadn’t and one of the things that he mentioned was that he didn’t know if it had to do with his “legal issues.” Other reasons were that Belichick and his staff had been at the Pro Bowl and perhaps needed some time to get back and have their their own meetings and so forth, were making other visits, and a few other possibilities. I was disappointed to hear Hart even raise the legal issues as a possibility.

As was stated here last week, Belichick doesn’t have any legal issues. He is not involved in the legal proceedings in the NJ case. Period. His name has been thrown around, and that is it.

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The Media Circus has more hate for bloggers from mainstream media and their media rant of the week, where they knock “experts” who are picking the Cubs to win it all because this is the year Prior and Wood will be healthy.

Before totally immersing himself into March Madness, David Scott has a look back at his time in Fort Myers, which includes an interesting rumor about Bill Simmons and Sports Illustrated.

The staff of Patriots Football Weekly just got back from the combine, where they filed a number of very informative reports for Patriots.com.

Mike Reiss has five questions with Matt Light.

Patrick Sullivan has a chat with Red Sox Assistant GM Jed Hoyer.

Jon Heyman has a look at the feel-good story of the spring that is being overlooked in the Dice-K mania – Jon Lester.

The BSMW Game Day page continues to pile up the draft player previews.

Frank Deford says that if he was an athlete, he would not want to play in New York. Because of the media.

Chad Finn previews the NL East.

Michael McCarthy has a look at Ohio State coach Thad Matta getting caught using the five-second rule.

Teddy Greenstein has a look at ESPN promoting Arena Football, promising non-stop action.
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After finishing their first season of Monday Night Football, ESPN is also going to be doing Monday Night Baseball, starting with the Orioles and Twins on April 2nd (on ESPN2).

All Monday Night Baseball telecasts will be available in high definition. Each telecast will also feature the use of “K Zone 2.0,” the enhanced version of ESPN’s Sports Emmy Award-winning “K Zone.” In addition to identifying the speed and location of a pitch in replays, “K Zone 2.0” is also capable of tracking the path of the ball from the pitcher’s hand through the strike zone and numerically sequencing pitches thrown.

Highlights of the early season Monday Night Baseball schedule (generally 7 p.m. on ESPN) include:

  • Winner of the 2006 A.L. batting title Joe Mauer and league MVP Justin Morneau will host Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees April 9;
  • N.L. East rivals will meet when David Wright, Jose Reyes and the New York Mets visit 2006 N.L. MVP Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and the Philadelphia Phillies April 16;
  • Perennial MVP candidate Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals will face a Milwaukee Brewer lineup featuring Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks April 30;
  • Sluggers Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and the Chicago Cubs meeting a potent New York Mets lineup May 14;
  • One of the greatest rivalries in sports will take center stage when the New York Yankees host the Boston Red Sox May 21.

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Tonight

7:00pm, NESN – Red Sox vs. Twins
7:00pm, ESPN – Villanova @ UConn (HD)
7:00pm, ESPN2 – Indiana @ Northwestern
7:30pm, FSN – Knicks @ Celtics (HD)
7:30pm, CN8 – BU @ Northeastern (hockey)
9:00pm, ESPN – Maryland @ Duke (HD)
9:00pm, ESPN2 – Texas A&M @ Texas (HD)

Manny Wants To Stay

Michael Silverman reports today that after having requested a trade a number of times, Manny Ramirez is now “at peace” with Boston and would like to play the rest of his career here. The episode Silverman relates at the end would’ve been priceless to see. Bill Burt wonders why we still sweat the small stuff when it comes to Manny.

Steve Buckley says Manny is lying.

And Buck, I’m pretty sure no one has ever said Manny is “blame-free” as you claim towards the end of your column. Nice strawman. Even Manny’s biggest fans are well aware of his shortcomings.

Jackie MacMullan has Curt Schilling eager to silence his doubters. He also reiterates that he will never pitch for the Yankees. Maureen Mullen also has a look at Schilling. Jeff Horrigan has a look at the relationship on the field between Tim Wakefield and Doug Mirabelli, one that they both hope continues for a few more years. Steven Krasner makes an early assessment of the closer position for the Red Sox. Jeff Goldberg has a look at the attempts by MLB to speed up the game, however, several Red Sox players place the blame on TV for the excessive length of the games.

Rob Duca has a look at Joel Pineiro, who is considered the top closing candidate for the Red Sox. Buckley has a look at Dustin Pedroia getting set to open the season at second base, and has Mike Andrews saying that Pedroia’s situation is very similar to his own in 1967. Joe Haggerty reports on a slimmer David Ortiz this spring. Nick Cafardo reports on the veteran’s committee once again not electing anyone to the Hall of Fame. Lenny Megliola looks at Dan Duquette’s new role with the Israel Baseball League.

Horrigan’s notebook has veteran pitcher Adam Bernero feeling pain in his elbow and going to visit Dr James Andrews to have it checked out. Dan Shaughnessy’s notebook has the Red Sox trying to find a place for Wily Mo Pena on the field and in the lineup. Sean McAdam’s notebook has Joel Pineiro first in line for the role of closer. Goldberg’s notebook has Terry Francona holding Manny out of the first few exhibition games.

Bruins

The Bruins were busy yesterday, making a pair of trades before the deadline. Steve Conroy looks at Peter Chiarelli adding Aaron Ward and Dennis Wideman to his defense while giving up Paul Mara and Brad Boyes. Fluto Shinzawa has more on the trades, which came as a surprise to those involved. Douglas Flynn says that the Bruins gave up too much in these deals. Joe McDonald further examines the moves made to shore up the defense. Bud Barth calls the moves a surprise and a major engine overhaul for the Bruins.

Karen Guregian looks at the addition of Ward, who has three Stanley Cup rings, to the Bruins locker room. Mick Colageo says that by trading Mara, Chiarelli showed that he can admit his mistakes. The BSMW Power Play also has a look at the deals.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett has Al Jefferson impressing Paul Pierce with the improvements in his game and how he showed more power to his game during the West coast road trip. Shira Springer says that everything the Celtics are doing and learning right now is being stored up for the future.

Jesse Noyes in the Herald reports that Cedric Maxwell will apologize on the air tonight for his remarks that referee Violet Palmer should “go back to the kitchen” during Monday’s win over the Rockets.

Patriots/NFL

Albert Breer has comments from Rodney Harrison’s agent after the NFL Network reported that Harrison would be back for his 14th NFL season in 2007. Christopher L Gasper reports on the Patriots hiring Bill O’Brien as an offensive assistant.

Shalise Manza Young has a look at Don Shula, who still has the NFL in his blood. Kerry Byrne has a look at Shula’s newest restaurant, which just opened in Providence.

Gasper also has a piece on former 49ers assistant Robert Talley becoming the 2nd African-American head coach at a New England school, Stonehill College.

Comcast to take over FSN New England?

According to Keith Reed in the Globe today, Comcast is close to acquiring FSN New England and 60% of FSN Bay Area from Cablevision.

Apparently the move is at least in part a strategic move to give Comcast an upper hand against the increasing competition in the TV market, which has seen satellite TV becoming more popular and Verizon FiOS gaining a foothold in more markets.

Having the TV rights to all the Celtics games in the Boston market and partial rights to the Giants and A’s games and exclusive right to the Warriors and Sharks in the San Francisco/Oakland market, Comcast’s ownership of these networks would put them in a position of power. Comcast could force competitors to pay high fees for the rights to carry the networks, or as Reed points out, block them from carrying them altogether.

That seems a little heavy handed, and Comcast could face a nasty PR battle if they were to force people to change systems or pay very high fees in order to view their favorite teams. On the other hand, Comcast has made a lot of innovations in their service and generally people I’ve talked to are happy with their service. It might be a little on the pricey side, but they are always adding new things. This acquisition could be mean more OnDemand sports programming, there could be more HD programming on the FSN channels or other improvements.

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A bit of a nitpick with how certain sportsflashes are worded. All morning, Jon Wallach on WEEI’s Dale & Holley announced that “Daniel Graham will not re-sign with the Patriots and will become a free agent Friday.” The issue I have with that statement is that it should have been stated as “Daniel Graham will not re-sign with the Patriots before free agency opens on Friday.” Big difference. The first statement indicates that there is no chance that the tight end will be back with the team, when in reality, the Patriots could still sign him after he tests the market.

Graham has been rumored as a hot property around the league, with the Broncos, (Where his Dad played and he grew up) Bengals and Vikings among those teams said to be interested. It might be tough for the Patriots to retain his services.

But nothing is official. It is not set in stone that “Daniel Graham will not re-sign with the Patriots.”

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Wright Thompson of ESPN.com writes about how the entire Red Sox organization is attempting to ease the assimilation of Daisuke Matsuzaka to America.

The Bruins Insider and Bruins Blog from the Herald and Globe weigh in on the Bruins moves today before the trade deadline.

Following up his 10 best signings from yesterday, Mike Reiss today has the 10 worst signings of the Belichick/Pioli era.

Reiss also reports on the Patriots hiring of Bill O’Brien as an offensive assistant.

Albert Breer notes that the NFL Network reports that Rodney Harrison will be back in 2007.

Bill Simmons weighs in on Greg Oden.

Tom Verducci notes that in the afterword in the new paperback edition of Game of Shadows, authors Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada document Barry Bonds’ freakish growth late in his career.

Richard Sandomir examines how the league offices of various professional sports view YouTube these days.

Neil Best reports that Bill Parcells has reached a verbal agreement with ESPN.

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Tonight

7:00pm, ESPN – Michigan St @ Michigan (HD)
7:30pm, Versus – Stars @ Lightning
9:00pm, ESPN – Florida @ Tennessee (HD)

More Manny Moments

Manny Ramirez showed up at camp yesterday, later than everyone else, but ahead of his own personal deadline set by the club.

Michael Silverman reports on the welcome received for Ramirez by his teammates and fans. Sean McAdam has more on Ramirez showing up earlier than expected. Jeff Goldberg says it was just another Manny Monday.

I’m pretty sure Jackie MacMullan and Dan Shaughnessy are slowing morphing into the same person. Why did the Globe feel they needed redundant columns on Manny’s arrival into camp? Both cover the same topics, both barely conceal their contempt for Ramirez and his agents and fans (enablers).

Rob Bradford has David Ortiz and Julio Lugo very impressed with the new and improved Joel Pineiro. Steve Buckley has Curt Schilling speaking out against unnamed front office types that are telling reporters that the club is unhappy with his conditioning. Bradford also has a look at how Schilling’s new venture, Green Monster Games took up a lot of his time during the offseason – time he’d usually spend conditioning. Rob Duca says there are plenty of stories in camp as the team gets ready to start playing games.

Silverman reports on Daisuke Matsuzaka throwing batting practice to David Ortiz and Ramirez. Steve Buckley has Ortiz giving his first impressions of Matsuzaka. Silverman also has a quick bit on Manny’s first batting practice session of the spring.

Tony Massarotti has Dan Duquette getting back into baseball…with the Israel Baseball League. He’ll serve as the league’s director of baseball operations. Garry Brown says that despite what the Veteran’s Committee may decide today, Luis Tiant deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Shaughnessy’s notebook has teammates impressed with Daisuke Matsuzaka’s stuff during a batting practice session. Silverman’s notebook has Mike Timlin dealing with an oblique spasm. McAdam’s notebook has more the session from Dice-K.

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Bruins

The Bruins suffered a tough loss as home last night, 3-2 to the Atlanta Thrashers. Fluto Shinzawa notes that a bad bounce was all it took for the Bruins to be hit with a loss. Steve Conroy says that the Bruins just cannot afford to lose games like they did last night. Joe McDonald notes that there are plenty of distraction around the Bruins right now, mainly because of the trade deadline. Douglas Flynn says that the Bruins window of opportunity closed a little more last night. Bud Barth says that games in hand don’t mean anything unless you win them.

Karen Guregian says that trading Glen Murray makes sense for the Bruins right now. Barbara Matson says that with the team in a playoff push, this loss was especially tough. McDonald has Hannu Toivonen trying to stay positive after his demotion last weekend. Mick Colageo says that Keith Tkachuk will be a big boost to the Thrashers. Mike Loftus doesn’t foresee any big moves being made by the Bruins.

Shinzawa’s notebook looks a Tim Thomas’ latest backup, Joey McDonald, acquired from Detroit last week. Conroy’s notebook says there has been plenty of talk, but little action leading up to this afternoon’s trade deadline. McDonald’s notebook has Murray just trying to get back onto the ice right now. Barth’s notebook has the Bruins latest arrivals starting to settle in with their new club.

Celtics

The Celtics salvaged the final game of their trip, coming back in the fourth quarter to defeat the Houston Rockets 77-72. Paul Pierce had 28 points and Al Jefferson had 16 with 17 rebounds.

Shira Springer looks at the win, in which the Celtics took their first lead of the night with 90 seconds to play. Steve Bulpett says that trailing by 13 with nine minutes to play, the Celtics reached into a place they didn’t know they had to pull out this win.

Did anyone hear this on the Celtics radio broadcast last night?

Bulpett looks at a rough night for Gerald Green in his homecoming. Springer’s notebook has the Celtics catching a break after Tracy McGrady sat out with flu-like symptoms. Bulpett’s notebook has Danny Ainge taking blame for how things have gone this season.

Other

Albert Breer has Daniel Graham set to test the free agent waters as no deal with the Patriots is likely to get done before Friday. In the Point After blog, Breer looks at rumors that two of the top linebackers on the market – Adalius Thomas and London Fletcher-Baker – might off the market before the market even opens.

Manny Shows Up, Raises Suspicions

The power of the press to slant opinion was evident this morning, as Manny Ramirez reported to camp. The accounts on blogs such as the Globe’s Extra Bases, described things as “terse” and that Manny spoke “sharply” to Jackie MacMullan. This led Dale Arnold on WEEI to extrapolate that into his own interpretation of how Manny “snapped” at MacMullan, and then to speculate as to why Manny was so angry and that this could only mean bad things, and how he is sick of the whole Manny experience.

This led to a lengthy discussion on the the topic, all based on the wording of writers. How do we know how Manny actually sounded when he spoke to MacMullan? The ones writing those words have the power to shape not only public opinion, but also sports radio discussions as well.

To further illustrate this point, note the AP version of the encounter with MacMullan as noted on CNNSI.com:

"Please move," he told a reporter politely. "I need some space."

So did Manny “sharply” ask MacMullan to move, “snapping” at her, or did he ask her “politely?”

Which is the better (and easier) story for the media? For Manny to have “snapped” at her, of course.

In any event, more easy talk show fodder has been found. Glenn Ordway feels that Manny showing up now is “suspicious.”

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Can I also say that I am disgusted by some of the questions asked by the reporters at the brief press conference held by Manny’s agents? Check them out, especially the fourth and fifth questions, which were apparently asked by Johnny Miller of WBZ radio:

Manny is 34 now. Do you think it’s time for him to be more accountable instead of being babied like a 12-year-old?

Do you think since he’s your meal ticket, you should try to help him grow up?

And the media wonders why so many hate them. Even Michael Holley says these were “dumb” questions.

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Fred Smerlas and All Pro Productions get more bad publicity. This time they are the focus of a Team 5 Investigation on WCVB after the company was hired by the Police Relief Association for a fundraising campaign.

Team 5 investigates reviewed the state’s most recent fundraising report and found startling numbers. More than $14 million was raised in 2005 in the name of police, firefighters and paramedics, but less than $4 million actually went to the groups. The rest — more than $10 million — went to the telemarketers.

The largest company, All Pro Productions, raised $5 million in 2005 and on average gave 37 percent to charity. The contract in North Andover was for 40 percent.

The Team 5 investigates crew attempting to talk to Smerlas about the situation and reports thusly:

Smerlas wasn’t available for an on-camera interview but in a telephone conversation, he acknowledged confusion over who’s calling, but he defended his telemarketers saying they identify themselves are monitored and read from scripts, although All Pro refused to provide one.

Smerlas called All Pro’s 60 percent return reasonable considering fund-raising expenses. As for the complaints received by Stanley, Smerlas denied responsibility, saying there are dozens of competing campaigns going on every day.

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Seth Mnookin offers proof that “Boston is, without a doubt, the city most in need of some perspective of the relative importance of baseball.”

Peter King has his weekly edition of Monday Morning Quarterback from the scouting combine.

Richard Deitsch has his media power rankings for February.

Chad Finn previews the NL Central.

Mike Reiss looks at the 10 top free agent signings of the Belichick/Pioli era. Interesting that all of them are from prior to the 2003 season.

Jackie MacMullan had a chat on Boston.com this afternoon. She describes Manny as “curtly” asking her and Shaughnessy to give him some space. Shaughnessy wasn’t mentioned in the earlier reports.

Richard Sandomir reports on a viewing of NBC’s broadcast of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series and notes how much things have changed since then.

David Barron looks at fan concerns over a pair of pending deals – first between Major League Baseball and DirecTV for the Extra Innings package, and also the pending merger of Sirius and XM satellite radio.

Bob Raissman says Versus messed up by promoting the Tommy Morrison comeback fight heavily and then not showing the actual fight.

Michael McCarthy looks at ESPN’s newly announced weekday series College Football Live.

Sox and Pinstripes is a new blog that promises to be “devoted to all things Red Sox and Yankees.”

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Tonight

7:00pm, Versus – Thrashers @ Bruins (Channel 65 on my Comcast system)
7:00pm, ESPN – Georgetown @ Syracuse (HD)
8:30pm, FSN – Celtics @ Rockets
9:00pm, ESPN – Kansas @ Oklahoma (HD)
10:00pm, Versus – Ducks @ Sharks

Sox Looking Closer

David Scott enters his last day of spring training blogging, and hopes to have another post or two today before heading home.

Gordon Edes has a piece on Sox closer candidate Joel Pineiro, who finished with the worst ERA in the AL last season, but the Red Sox think he can be very effective in short stints out of the bullpen. Jeff Horrigan looks at Manny Delcarmen, who may not be a serious candidate for the closer role, but is someone the Red Sox have high hopes for. Steve Krasner has an article on Dustin Pedroia, who is being handed the keys to the Red Sox second base position at the age of 23. Joe Haggerty has the Red Sox feeling their way towards finding a closer.

Dan Shaughnessy submits a solid piece on another bullpen candidate for the Red Sox, former Angel Brendan Donnelly. Steve Buckley looks at the Red Sox trio of pitchers over the age of 40, each of whom is vital to the success of the club this season. Jeff Goldberg has Jonathan Papelbon eager to begin his stint as a starting pitcher for the Red Sox.

Buckley also has Kevin Youkilis proclaiming his willingness to play anywhere on the field that the Red Sox would need to put him. Jeff Howe has David Murphy doing what he can to try and stick the Red Sox this season out of camp. Horrigan has a quick note on Mike Timlin’s sister, who is starting a 2000 mile walk to benefit ALS research.

Edes’ notebook has Luis Tiant not confident that he’ll get a call from the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee tomorrow after their vote. Horrigan’s notebook has Daisuke Matsuzaka headed back to the mound today for a session of batting practice that will include David Ortiz. Krasner’s notebook has Timlin starting to feel the effects of age.

Patriots

John Tomase has the Patriots heading to free agency with money to spend, but attempting to keep their salary cap philosophy the same. Albert Breer follows up his analysis of the Patriots offense yesterday with a breakdown of the Patriots defense today, noting that a lack of speed at linebacker and depth in the secondary lead to problems when the Patriots face a balance offense. Tomase’s notebook has signs seeming to point to Troy Brown calling it a career.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett notes that while Paul Pierce is back for the Celtics, he’s still a ways away from being himself, and that has translated to a 1-6 record for the team since he returned. Shira Springer has the Celtics unable to find any answers, and notes that the only good news is that every day the season is closer to the end.

Tim Weisberg’s Free Throws column looks at the NBA least eventful trade deadline since 1995, and has a few other NBA notes.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa notes that despite a rough start and ending, the Bruins recent road trip can be labeled a success. Stephen Harris says that the Bruins must now focus on taking care of things are home. Mike Dunshee has a look at an up and down weekend for the Bruins on the BSMW Power Play blog.

Mick Colageo’s Rick Rap column has the league watching out for “predatory” hits.

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Sunday Notes Columns – 02.25.07

A few links and notes for today.

David Scott has been filling up Scott’s Shots with Spring Training observations. He just might be the most prolific blogger during his time down there, and that’s saying something, considering the efforts of Rob Bradford.

Scott Benson on the Patriots Game Day page has the first in the series of quick draft profiles of players the Patriots might be interested in drafting come April. The first profile is of Purdue LB-DE Anthony Spencer.

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Here’s a roundup of the notes columns from today’s papers:

Globe Baseball Notes by Nick Cafardo. (Wells weighs in on Boston)
Herald Baseball Notes by Tony Massarotti. (Lowe gets a high sign)
MetroWest Baseball Notes by Art Davidson. (Seeing Reds)
Standard-Times Baseball Notes by Jon Couture. (AL East’s other three remain just that)

Globe Football Notes by Ron Borges. (There will be Bills to pay)
Herald Football Notes by Michael Felger (Dillon filled his part)
MetroWest Football Notes by Albert Breer (Offense in need of an upgrade)

Globe Basketball Notes by Shira Springer (Kobe, the restored version)
MetroWest Basketball Notes by Scott Souza. (Wallace searching far and wide for the next great Celtic)

Globe Hockey Notes by Kevin Paul Dupont. (DiMaio’s picture still fuzzy)
MetroWest Hockey Notes by Douglas Flynn. (Baby B’s ready to contribute in Boston)

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On TV Today

The highlight for Boston fans might be another chance to salivate over Greg Oden. The Celtics, winless thus far on their West coast trip (0-4) continue their march towards a date with the ping-pong balls.

Noon, CBS – Louisville @ UConn (HD)
12:30pm, NESN – Boston University @ Albany
1:00pm, ABC- Bulls @ Pistons (HD)
2:00pm, CBS – Duke @ St. John’s (HD)
2:00pm, NBC- Accenture Match Play Championship (HD)
4:00pm, FOX – Nextel Cup: Auto Club 500 (HD)
3:30pm, ABC – Cavs @ Heat (HD)
4:00pm, CBS – Wisconsin @ Ohio St (HD)
5:30pm, NESN – North Carolina @ Maryland
8:00pm, ESPN – Kings @ Pacers (HD)
8:00pm, FSN – Arizona @ Arizona St

Weekend Watch – College Hoops Heating Up

We’re deep into college hoop season as the sport dominates the weekend. We’ve also got NBA, NHL, Golf and NASCAR schedule for the next few days.

Be sure to check in with Scott’s Shots this weekend as the updates from Fort Myers will continue.

If you didn’t get a chance to check out the mock draft mashup put together by Scott Benson on the Patriots Game Day page, it’s worth a look.

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For the first time Patriots All Access will be doing original programming year round. The plan is for the show to air once a month during the off-season.

The first off-season show is this Saturday night from 7-7:30 on WCVB Ch 5.

This week’s show features a behind he scenes look at the Pro Bowl with Bill Belichick and his staff. The show had unlimited access to Belichick as he worked his squad out during the week. He was mic’d up for practice, meetings and the game, and you’ll hear from Peyton Manning and LaDainian Tomlinson, among others on what it was like to work with Belichick. It promises to be a show worth catching.

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Bill Simmons remembers Dennis Johnson.

Chad Finn also pays tribute to DJ.

John Walters says DJ left behind a lasting legacy.

Jessica Camerato has another good piece remembering Johnson.

Adam Reilly acknowledges DJ’s greatness as a player, but feels that his 1997 domestic abuse arrest shouldn’t be glossed over. While I agree that the incident shouldn’t be ignored when considering DJ as a person, the guy just died for crying out loud.

Reilly also has Globe editor Marty Baron explaining why the story of Tom Brady’s impending fatherhood was considered front page, above the fold news by the paper.

Cold Hard Football Facts claims that Brady makes Boston relevant nationally.

Curt Schilling (Gehrig38) weighs in on the attention his contract situation has gotten on SoSH.

Jon Heyman thinks that Manny’s latest incident might finally lead the Red Sox to trade him, possibly to the Rockies.

Dr Z has a mailbag this week, allowing the readers to chime in on lousy announcers and other topics.

Mike Freeman writes a typical Manny Ramirez column.

The Media Circus has a look at the media hot stove and bizarre mismatched musical acts at various sporting events.

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890 ESPN Radio Boston is sponsoring “Half Minute Ticket to Fame,” a contest where entrants create their own 30 second video commercial. The winner will also have the chance to appear in the final ad, which will be produced by 890 ESPN Radio Boston and aired on TV.

From the Patriots and Red Sox to 890 ESPN Radio Host Mike Felger – all relevant subjects are up for grabs when it comes to the content of the winning commercial. There is a March 8 deadline to the contest and entries have begun to arrive, and will be posted on the 890 ESPN You Tube page as well as at www.890espn.com for viewing, commenting and voting.

To enter 890 ESPN Boston’s “Half Minute Ticket to Fame” Contest and for complete contest rules, visit www.890espn.com.

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In Through the Fire: 2-Disc Special Edition, ESPN tells the story of high school phenom Sebastian Telfair (now with the Celtics) and his jump from high school basketball to the NBA. This special edition release of its 2006, award winning predecessor includes two of Telfair’s high school games and an inside look at how he and his family have faired in the nearly three years he’s been in the league with a specially featured round table discussion. Through the Fire 2 Disc Special Edition DVD is in stores nationwide; $27.99 SRP.

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Sunday’s Outside the Lines (9:30 a.m.) will examine what impact the NBA age-limit rule is having on college basketball. The new rule mandates players must be at least one year removed from high school before entering the NBA, and this week Texas Tech coach Bob Knight said it is ”the worst thing that’s happened to college basketball since I’ve been coaching.” Knight will be interviewed on the show to discuss the topic.

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FOX Sports will unveil its brand new, high-tech “Hollywood Hotel” traveling NASCAR prerace studio this Sunday as host Chris Myers and analysts Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip move into the next generation mobile studio unit prior to FOX Sports’ live coverage of the Auto Club 500, Powered by Q Motor Oil on Sunday, Feb. 25 (3:00 PM ET).

The new studio’s enlarged desk has room for up to five people and is now situated in front of two massive 71-inch plasma screens. The plasma displays have the ability to combine and offer a single visual image that stretches an incredible 142 inches, and also the flexibility to offer multiple visual feeds across the field to illustrate the subject matter currently under examination. To the left and right of these screens are additional flat-panel displays that feature supplementary visual content, including highlights, graphics and statistics. Above all this runs a scrolling LED ticker that is capable of exhibiting the upcoming race’s starting grid, as well as the current championship points standings, running order, or other pertinent information.

Sports Media Columns from around the country:

New England

Susan Bickelhaupt has a look at planned coverage of the NFL combine in Indianapolis by the NFL Network which will devote 27 hours of programming to the workouts. Bill Doyle has a look at WEEI’s fifth annual “Whiney Awards” which will take place next Tuesday night at the TD Banknorth Garden. David Scott has been filing media reports from Red Sox spring training, and will continue to do so over the weekend. Friday’s installment has a look at a new NESN show planned for May” “The Globe 10.0″ airing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 5:30pm.

New York

Phil Mushnick takes apart a college basketball announcer (ho happens to be Red Sox NESN broadcaster Don Orsillo) and a SportsCenter anchor for not knowing what they’re talking about. Each announcer proclaimed a recent home win by a pretty good team “a huge upset” when in reality they were anything but. Richard Sandomir reports that MLB’s deal with DirecTV has gotten F.C.C. attention. Pat Reichart reports that Bill Parcells to ESPN is 99.9% done. Neil Best has a look at growing pains for college sports networks ESPNU and CSTV, and praise for the book Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich by Mark Kriegel. Rob Raissman looks at the overkill of the A-Rod/Jeter soap opera in the New York media. Reichart has Five Questions with Mets analyst Ron Darling.

More East Coast

Aaron Bracy says good bye in his final column for the Courier-Post. Laura Nachman has a look at Jon Slobotkin, vice president/executive producer of live events for Comcast SportsNet, who worked his way up through the business from the bottom. Bob Smizik has a piece on Penguins announcer Mike Lange, in his 29th season calling games for the club, but first on the Penguins-owned radio broadcasts after being fired by FSN on the TV broadcasts. Jim Williams reports on Tony Kornheiser returning to local radio. He also has a look at the Mid Atlantic Sports Network’s coverage of the Nationals and Orioles. Michael McCarthy says former coaches turned analysts can be good if they’re completely candid. Michael Hiestand has Johnny Miller saying that match play is a “crapshoot.”

South

Barry Jackson has Michael Irvin remaining upbeat despite losing his ESPN job. He also reports that a Miami TV station will not bring Tim Hardaway back as their Heat playoff analyst due to his comments from last week. Dave Darling lists out the 10 best, 5 worst and 5 most overrated sports movies. David Barron notes that this Sunday’s Rockets game will not be on local TV for the first time since the late 1990’s due to a scheduling quirk.

Midwest

Teddy Greenstein has Tom Waddle preparing for his new show on WMVP. Dan Caesar looks at KMOX remaining atop the St Louis sports radio ratings despite not having any of the pro sports teams on their airwaves. Bob Wolfley has the University of Wisconsin and Marquette men’s basketball teams getting into the national spotlight the next two weekends. He also looks at the Brewers TV lineup. Paul Levy tries to solve the mystery of the voice of Bill Woodson heard on voiceovers during Twins broadcasts.

West Coast

Larry Stewart says FOX is still very bullish on NASCAR and doesn’t see a way they can lose with the sport. Jim Carlisle says that match-play golf can be risky business for television. Stewart’s notebook agrees with that premise. Tom Hoffarth catches up with longtime USC announcer Tom King, and has the top 10 and bottom 5 play by play announcers in the LA market. John Maffei has NBC hoping that Tiger Woods can stick around to play in the match-play rounds they’re showing this weekend. Joe Davidson is disturbed by the growing trend by prep coaches and administrators to try and control information the same way their college and pro counterparts are.

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TV Highlights This Weekend

Friday February 23rd

7:00pm, NHPTV – Providence @ UNH (Hockey)
8:00pm, NESN – Bruins @ Lightning (HD)
8:00pm, ESPN – Wizards @ Bulls (HD)
10:00pm, FSN – Celtics @ Lakers
10:30pm, ESPN – Jazz @ Nuggets (HD)

Saturday February 24th

Noon, CBS – Oklahoma St. @ Texas Tech (HD)
Noon, ESPN – Syracuse @ Providence
Noon, NESN – Miami @ Virginia Tech
Noon, CN8 – Drexel @ Towson
1:00pm, TV38 – Clemson @ Boston College
2:00pm, NBC – Accenture Match Play Championship (HD)
2:00pm, CBS – Pittsburgh @ Georgetown (HD)
2:00pm, ESPN – Illinois @ Penn St
3:30pm, ABC – Georgia Tech @ Virginia
4:00pm, ESPN – Rutgers @ Villanova
4:00pm, ABC – Florida @ LSU (HD)
5:00pm, ESPN2 – Wichita St. @ Creighton
6:00pm, ESPN – Iowa St. @ Kansas
6:00pm, FSN – Stanford @ UCLA
7:00pm, CN8 – Vermont @ Boston University (hockey)
7:00pm, NHPTV – UNH @ Providence (hockey)
7:30pm, NESN – Bruins @ Panthers
7:30pm, ESPN2 – Busch Series Stater Bros. 300 (HD)
9:00pm, ESPN – Indiana @ Michigan St (HD)
9:00pm, FSN – Celtics @ Jazz

Sunday February 25th

Noon, CBS – Louisville @ UConn (HD)
12:30pm, NESN – Boston University @ Albany
1:00pm, ABC- Bulls @ Pistons (HD)
2:00pm, CBS – Duke @ St. John’s (HD)
2:00pm, NBC- Accenture Match Play Championship (HD)
4:00pm, FOX – Nextel Cup: Auto Club 500 (HD)
3:30pm, ABC – Cavs @ Heat (HD)
4:00pm, CBS – Wisconsin @ Ohio St (HD)
5:30pm, NESN – North Carolina @ Maryland
8:00pm, ESPN – Kings @ Pacers (HD)
8:00pm, FSN – Arizona @ Arizona St

DJ Remembered

A busy day today in the world of Boston sports, unfortunately, it’s not all good times.

Steve Bulpett reports on the shocking death of Celtics great Dennis Johnson at the age of 52, and gets reaction from his teammates from those great 80’s teams. Shira Springer looks at the death which shocked and saddened many around the NBA. Desmond Connor says that there are players with more natural talent than Dennis Johnson, but they don’t compare to him. Lenny Megliola has a farewell to the player Larry Bird called the best he ever played with.

Jackie MacMullan has a tremendous piece on DJ, and how he always rose to the occasion when it mattered most. Bulpett also has a very nice appreciation piece on Johnson, and how his memory will stand forever in the Celtics pantheon. Mike Szostak remembers DJ for his free throws, socks and playoff performances. Tim Weisberg says that Johnson provided himself to be two things over the course of his career, a fighter and a winner. The Herald has a page of reaction to DJ’s death from friends and colleagues.

I’d like to give a nod to Big Show producers Andy Massaua and Brett Erickson, as well as the whiner line callers, for the tribute to DJ in that segment of the show yesterday. It got a little dusty in my car in those minutes yesterday. Well done guys.

The hosts of the show did their best on the topic, but it was a day in which Glenn Ordway would’ve shone with his stories of the 1980’s Celtics. Pete Sheppard did a good job of leading the discussion, but Larry Johnson and Steve Buckley weren’t always up to the task. When Cedric Maxwell was on the show and mentioned that he had just talked to Gerald Henderson, Johnson asked if they had talked about “that great game where Bird stole the ball” and passed it to DJ…Maxwell gently reminded him that neither he nor Henderson were with the Celtics at that point.

Bulpett has Danny Ainge feeling OK that he didn’t make a trade before yesterday’s deadline.

Patriots

Mike Reiss reports that Corey Dillon has asked the Patriots for his release, which will be granted and he intends to retire. However…Albert Breer reports after talking with Dillon’s agent, that the running back will see what other opportunities are out there in the NFL during the free agent period. In either case, it appears that Mike Felger won’t have to fear going by #28 locker anymore.

If you’re curious about who the experts think that the Patriots might draft in April, stop by the Patriots Game Day page, where Scott Benson has compiled six of the more accurate mock drafts together into one sheet and tried to come to some sort of consensus on the players the Patriots would be interested in.

Eric McHugh looks at the apparent decision by Tedy Bruschi to return for another season with the Patriots.

Red Sox

A cynic might think Curt Schilling is pretty mad that DJ died yesterday and pushed Schilling off the headlines and airwaves. After his announcement on the Dennis & Callahan show that he would file for free agency this fall, WEEI had been all Schilling talk prior to the news that Johnson had died. Many callers and most of the hosts were of the opinion that the Red Sox were making a mistake in not extending Schilling now.

Gordon Edes looks at the decision by the Red Sox not to extend Schilling until after the season. Jon Couture says that there is just no point in the Red Sox rushing to sign Schilling at this point. Jeff Horrigan has Schilling a little irked by the “business decision” made by Theo Epstein and the Red Sox management. Steven Krasner has more on the Red Sox decision not to extent Schilling. Tony Massarotti examines the Red Sox wait and see tactic with Schilling. Jeff Goldberg notes Schilling’s resolve to test the free agent market next fall after the Red Sox decision. Joe Haggerty looks at Schilling being set to walk after 2007.

David Scott reports from Spring Training with a look at the goings on yesterday, as well as a look at the FSNNE operations in Florida.

Krasner has a look at Daisuke Matsuzaka taking a heavy workload early on in camp. Massarotti says that the Red Sox are OK with the latest Manny Ramirez drama. Haggerty has Manny’s mates, including Mike Lowell support him. Horrigan has teammate reaction to Manny.
Dan Shaughnessy tells us that covering the Red Sox is like doing layups on an eight foot rim. There’s always something going on which makes it so easy he can do it in his sleep. Which he apparently does pretty often.

Edes’ notebook has Daisuke Matsuzaka dreaming about the Red Sox signing Ichiro Suzuki after the latter becomes a free agent next fall. Horrigan’s notebook has Matsuzaka extending his bullpen session to 103 pitches. Most pitchers at this stage are throwing 35-40 pitches. Krasner’s notebook says that Manny won’t be going to the car auction tomorrow after all.

Bruins

Stephen Harris reports that a new contract for Marco Sturm is all but done. Fluto Shinzawa has Peter Chiarelli surprised that none of his colleagues made a deal at the recent GM meetings.

DJ Passes Away At 52

WEEI just announced that former Celtic Dennis Johnson has passed away this afternoon at the age of 52 after collapsing during a pickup game while coaching the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. Online reports thus far do not mention a pickup game, merely that Johnson has died. (An Austin reporter now says he was just messing around after practice, not playing hard or anything.)

Truly a big loss. DJ was one of my favorite members of the 1980’s Celtics…

They talked to Cedric Maxwell shortly afterwards, who expressed that he was “totally numb” at the news, and had some nice words and stories on his former teammate.

You can check the Austin American-Statesman for updates on the story.

I’ve got a quick post on the FSN Celtics Blog on DJ.

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Curt Schilling announced on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan this morning that the Red Sox will not offer him a new contract before the end of the season. He expressed his disappointment and his wife’s anger at the decision, and said that he will test free agency at the end of the season.

Having previously said that money wasn’t “a big deal” to him, it will be interesting to see how things play out at the end of the season.

WEEI hosts for the rest of the day rejoiced as they had an easy topic for their programs. The news of Dennis Johnson’s passing changed the tone and subject of The Big Show show abruptly, however.

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Jason Whitlock apparently had two separate takes on NBA All Star weekend. Read his Kansas City Star column, and then check out his AOL Sports column.

Mike Reiss has an offseason edition of the Ask Reiss Mailbag.

Rob Bradford talks to Julian Tavarez and learns that the pitcher never went to school a day in his life.

Lee Jenkins in the New York Times attempts to solve the mystery of the gyroball.

John Clayton has a First and 10 from the Indianapolis Combine.

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Tonight

7:00pm, ESPN – Rice @ Memphis
7:15pm, TNT – Bulls @ Cavs
7:30pm, NESN – Vermont @ BU
9:00pm, ESPN – Duke @ Clemson
9:30pm, TNT – Heat @ Mavs
11:00pm, FSN – Washington St. @ Oregon