Weekend Watch – 2007 Final Four Edition

This weekend begins what one national media columnist has anointed the best TV sports week of the year. It starts with the NCAA Final Four games tomorrow, goes through baseball opening day and week and continues through next weekend’s Masters.

There’s plenty of local action with the Celtics in action tonight and on Sunday evening, and the Bruins playing both Saturday and Sunday. Celtics fans will want to watch the Final Four games on Saturday night as a scouting exercise on Greg Oden and perhaps some of the other top players that will be in action. Red Sox fans can expect plenty of preview articles over the weekend.

A couple of shameless self-promotion plugs here, if you haven’t checked out the latest Patriots Game Day roundtable, it’s worth the read. We’re also constantly added NFL draft profiles to the page and will have a draft profile mashup at some point in April.

Also, if you missed the piece here yesterday on The Struggles of Boston Newspapers in Making the Transition to New Media, I think it’s another read worth your time.

One note from that piece, I mentioned that if you wanted to go to the archives for an article from the Globe from last year you’d have to pay up. That’s true, and it’s not true. If you follow the archive links and go to the article you’ll likely be presented with a payment page. However, of you use the search box at the top of Boston.com and find your article that way, you can go back to mid-2003 for free.

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ESPN will present the first pitch of the 2007 Major League Baseball season with a special Opening Night Built by the Home Depot telecast featuring the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals hosting the New York Mets Sunday, April 1 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2, ESPN2 HD). The telecast will feature the Sunday Night Baseball commentator team of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, who have worked together in the booth since the franchise’s inception in 1990, returning with Peter Gammons issuing reports from field level during each telecast.

ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecasts, all available in high definition, will continue to 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.

ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise five games on Opening Day (Mon., April 2), leading off with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees hosting Carl Crawford and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at 1 p.m. Karl Ravech will provide play-by-play with analyst John Kruk. ESPN’s Opening Day afternoon doubleheader will continue with David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox visiting Mark Teahen and the Kansas City Royals at 4 p.m. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan will call the game. Dusty Baker will make his debut in the booth during ESPN2’s Baltimore at Minnesota telecast (7 p.m.).

ESPN will also air the inaugural Civil Rights Game on Saturday between the Indians and Cardinals at 5:30pm. This exhibition will be played in Memphis, site of the National Civil Rights Museum, and the telecast will feature tributes to Jackie Robinson, Vera Clemente, widow of Roberto Clemente, and Negro League legend Buck O’Neill

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Bill Simmons previews the outstanding sports weekend on tap for us all.

Richard Deitsch has his Media Power Rankings for March.

Dennis Dodd has 91 year old big man guru Peter Newell eager to see tomorrow night’s matchup between Greg Oden and Roy Hibbert.

Gene Wojciechowski say Oden isn’t ready for the NBA yet.

ESPN has Chuck Klosterman blogging the Final Four.

Jeff Goodman has a Final Four preview for FoxSports.com.

Kevin Paul Dupont in a column for MSNBC has players to watch in the NHL playoffs.

Dr Z’s mailbag is overflowing with comments about Joe Theismann’s boot from Monday Night Football.

Jessica Camerato has Celtics rookie Allan Ray talking about his brief stint with Dennis Johnson in the NBA DL.

ESPN has an interesting feature from Robert Weintraub on the 1983 NCAA national semifinal game between Louisville (Doctors of Dunk) and Houston (Phi Slama Jama) and where some of those involved are now.

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Sports Media Columns From Around the Country

New England

Susan Bickelhaupt has NBC making a commitment to their NHL broadcasts and looking into flexible scheduling for games next season. Bill Doyle has Don Orsillo and Worcester Tornadoes GM R.C. Reuteman talking about their time together in Binghamton, where Orsillo started his career as a 22 year old “announcer boy.” David Scott has a look at the online war of words between Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy and Red Sox ace Curt Schilling. Andrew Neff looks at the University of Maine sports broadcasts changing addresses, but perhaps not voices.

New York

Bob Raissman says that the A-Rod follies will be a ratings boost for the YES network all season long. Phil Mushnick says that ESPN finally made the right move by taking Joe Theismann out of the booth for Monday Night Football. Richard Sandomir has the Strat-O-Matic company finally seeking an investor. He also reports on the head of SNY moving on. Pat Reichart has Joe Buck sticking to the broadcast booth for FOX’s NFL broadcasts in 2007. Neil Best checks out a new DVD release of The Natural (Director’s Cut) with 15 minutes of added footage and a reworked opening. Reichart also has 5 Questions for Peter Gammons.

More East Coast

Marc Narducci has a little bit of a different take on the MLB Extra Innings situation, noting that the MLB Channel is the bigger component in this deal. Laura Nachman has Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams landing a regular gig on “Phillies Post Game Live” this season. She also has broadcast questions heading into opening day. Michael Hiestand has NBC preparing to put the Beijing Summer Olympics online, totaling “700-1,000 hours of live online action — the first live Olympic action ever available in the USA.” Jim Williams has Bonnie Bernstein’s quest to educate the public on Deep-Vein Thrombosis. Chris Zelkovich looks at the low TV ratings for the Raptors despite having having a talented young team.

South

Dave Darling has a look at “the best week of sports television on the calendar,” which starts with the Final Four on Saturday, continues with Baseball’s opening week and then culminates in the Masters. Barry Jackson looks at FOX pulling the NFL traveling pregame show off the road and putting it back into the studio. He also reports that Joe Theismann has rejected an offer to become a college football analyst for ESPN/ABC, as he still wants to do NFL work. He remains with the network, and his departure has not been discussed. Barry Horn says Theismann is out because he wouldn’t play well with Tony Kornheiser. David Barron looks at the HD coverage of the Shell Houston Open this weekend.

Midwest

Ed Sherman says that Arnold Palmer is magnetic in a special airing of CBS’ original broadcast of the 1960 Masters, set to air next weekend. Bob Wolfley has Dick Enberg remembering his friend Al McGuire. Judd Zulgad says that ESPN’s desire for “a fresh voice to play off the colorful Tony Kornheiser on Monday Night Football” is the reason for Joe Theismann’s departure. Jeffrey Flanagan has Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre with a new outlet on Sunday mornings to discuss issues on emotional health, such as his own battled with depression and alcohol. Teddy Greenstein has former Northwestern basketball player Tim Doyle making his mark on Chicago radio and TV.

West Coast

Larry Stewart has Billy Packer and Clark Kellogg giving UCLA the edge in the rematch of last season’s NCAA championship game. Stewarts’ notebook has NBCsports.com making history by streaming this weekend’s Florida Derby online. Jay Posner has San Diego State changing radio homes. Tom Hoffarth has a feature on Angels announcer Jose Mota who has already done it all in his career – TV, radio, play-by-play, analyst, English and Spanish. John Maffei has a preview of channel 4’s 144 game Padres coverage. Joe Davidson has a soccer announcer who knew nothing about the sport coming to love the game.

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TV Highlights

Friday, March 30

7:00pm, FSN – Celtics @ Sixers
8:00pm, ESPN – Pacers @ Magic
10:30pm, ESPN – Rockets @ Lakers

Saturday, March 31

1:00pm, NESN – Thrashers @ Bruins
3:00pm, ESPN – Cavs @ Bulls
3:00pm, FOX – NASCAR Truck Series Kroger 250
3:00pm, NBC – Houston Open
5:30pm, ESPN – Indians/Cardinals (Civil Rights Game)
6:00pm, CBS – Final Four – Georgetown/Ohio State
8:45pm, CBS – Final Four – UCLA/Florida

Sunday, April 1

12:30pm – NBC – Red Wings @ Blue Jackets
1:00pm, ABC – Heat @ Pistons
1:30pm, FOX – Nextel Cup: Goody’s Cool Orange 500
2:30pm, ESPN – Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
3:00pm, NBC – Houston Open
3:30pm, ABC – Mavs @ Suns
3:30pm, NESN – Bruins @ Devils
6:00pm, FSN – Cavs @ Celtics
7:00pm, ESPN – Women’s Final Four – Rutgers/LSU
8:00pm, ESPN2 – Mets @ Cardinals
9:00pm, ESPN – Women’s Final Four – UNC/Tennessee

Sox Tuning Up For Opener.

Gordon Edes has Theo Epstein giving some thoughts on the state of his team, as the season opener looms on Monday. Jeff Goldberg has more from the Sox GM on his team. Tony Massarotti outlines three things you should keep your eye on with this edition of the Red Sox. Steven Krasner has Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen heading to Pawtucket to search for consistency.

Tony Massarotti tries to makes sense of the Red Sox payroll as it relates to the luxury tax and actual cash spending.

Edes also looks at Major League Baseball ruling once again that Johnny Pesky cannot sit in the dugout in uniform during the games. Michael Silverman looks at the outing by the club’s best pitching prospect, Clay Buchholz. Steve Buckley has the Red Sox adding 230 new seats to Fenway, and honoring Tony Conigliaro this season.

Edes notebook has the club taking a look at top prospect Buchholz by having him start yesterday’s exhibition game with the big club. Horrigan’s notebook has Jonathan Papelbon proclaiming himself OK after rolling his ankle yesterday. Goldberg’s notebook has more on Buchholz.

Japanese Baseball

The Globe also has a section on Japanese baseball, profiling some of the legends of the sport in that country. Are they selling this section in Japan?

Bob Ryan leads off with a history of the growth of the sport in Japan. Edes looks at how some Japanese stars have become stars here in the US as well. Dan Shaughnessy has a piece on the Babe Ruth of Japan, Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 home runs in his career.

Edes also examines how oddsmakers, analysts and other Baseball cognoscenti project solid numbers for Matsuzaka. Amalie Benjamin observes that those covering Matsuzaka this season are going to find it to be no easy task. Benjamin also notes that Matsuzaka isn’t the only Japanese import this season, as Hideki Okajima will also be on the Red Sox, and there are several other Japanese players coming to the US this season on other teams. Finally, Edes also notes that owner John W Henry has certainly made some pricey investments in this edition of the Red Sox, including Matsuzaka.

The section also profiles seven of the top Japanese who came to play here in the US and made an impact, one way or another. Here are the players:

(Nick Cafardo wrote all of these with the exception of Irabu.)

Celtics

Jackie MacMullan has Paul Pierce weighing in on this season and the future for the Celtics. He would still like the Celtics to acquire a veteran player this offseason to help them go deep into the playoffs. The message seems clear…start winning next season, or risk losing Pierce.

Steve Bulpett says that without the injuries that the club suffered this season, they would just be another middle of the pack team, but with the injuries they now have a shot at a franchise player. Mike Fine has the Celtics appreciative of the fan support in this tough season. Michael Vega says that Pierce traveled with the club to Philadelphia, but whether he plays is a game-time decision.

Patriots

We’ve got a new edition of the BSMW Patriots Game Day roundtable posted this morning, looking at the team’s gains and losses in free agency and a little bit on the draft.

Shalise Manza Young says that it sure appears that the Patriots a shopping for a linebacker in the draft this year. Albert Breer reports that Chad Jackson’s knee injury made actually not be as bad as most ACL injuries are. He could actually be running by the time mini-camp comes in June. Mike Reiss has Kevin Faulk talking about his own injury in the AFC championship game, which limited him to only 10 of the teams 59 offensive plays that day.

Bruins

Kevin Paul Dupont wonders if Dave Lewis will be the fall guy for the Bruins this season.

Steve Conroyhas the Bruins falling to the Penguins once again, this time by a score of 4-2. Bud Barth notes that the loss officially eliminated the Bruins from the playoffs.

Fluto Shinzawa has Tim Thomas being awarded NESN’s Seventh Player Award for the second straight year. Mick Colageo has the fans showing their appreciation for Thomas with the award. Conroy’s notebook has more on Thomas. Barth’s notebook says it is time for the Bruins to do some more tinkering.

NCAA

Bob Ryan has a preview of the “Too Good To Be True” Final Four. Mark Murphy notes that the Final Four should be a scouting exercise for NBA fans, though he says Celtics fans should have eyes for only Greg Oden.

Globe Shuts It Down On Celtics

It appears that that Boston Globe has shut it down for the NBA season before Paul Pierce and the Celtics have. Last night’s game was an exciting, double-overtime affair, which featured a clutch performance from Paul Pierce and more encouraging play from Al Jefferson, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, yet there was no game story this morning in the Globe.

For the last few games the paper has abandoned the traditional game story/notebook format in favor of a single, notebook entry with a little information about the actual game. They did this last season as well, for both the Bruins and Celtics games.

This is interesting because there seems to actually be more interest in the Celtics this season than in past years, and even though the team is not going to the playoffs, there is still plenty to be watch and be reported on around this club. Why then, has the Globe scaled back their coverage recently? They might cite the NCAA tournament and the impending start to the Red Sox season, which will require a lot of preview articles and the usual intense coverage. The Celtics take a back seat during this time, which is understandable, but we’re not looking for five articles each day about the team, either. The paper has a Celtics beat writer, and an NBA writer. You’d think there would be a little more in the region’s largest paper about the Celtics. They’ve shut down their coverage of the team before the team has.

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  • Checked in with Mike Gorman, the FSN Celtics play-by-play man who has been sidelined with the flu recently. Gorman plans to be back in action for tomorrow night’s game with the 76ers.
  • FSN announced today that they has signed Jonathan Papelbon to be Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight’s weekly featured baseball interview for the 2007 season. Papelbon follows in the shoes of Kevin Millar (2004 & 2005) and Coco Crisp (2006) as the weekly player guest.

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FOX Sports announced plans for their NFL Broadcasts for next season. From their press release today:

After a whirlwind season on the road, FOX NFL SUNDAY, America’s most-watched NFL pregame show, and THE OT, the nation’s most-watched NFL postgame show, return to the friendly confines of Studio 2A at the FOX Network Center in Los Angeles this September. Simultaneously, Emmy Award winner Joe Buck devotes his attention to the lead NFL on FOX broadcast booth full time while FOX Sports veteran personality Curt Menefee becomes host to both studio shows. The announcement was made today by FOX Sports Chairman & CEO David Hill and Ed Goren, President, FOX Sports.

Menefee joins the stellar cast of Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, Pam Oliver, insider Jay Glazer and comedian Frank Caliendo, beginning with the 2007 season premiere on Sunday, September 9 at Noon ET/9:00 AM PT. Buck, a six-time Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Play-by-Play, continues as FOX Sports’ lead NFL and MLB voice with analysts Troy Aikman and Tim McCarver, respectively. Buck and Aikman are also expected to have an increased role on both FOX NFL SUNDAY and THE OT.

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Tom Curran has Bill Belichick saying that Troy Brown is in the Patriots plans for next season.

George Solomon offers his thoughts on his time as ESPN Ombudsman, and has some final words of advice for the network.

The Sports Law Blog re-examines their stance on contact between NBA executives and parents of college players.

Bill Simmons is looking forward to the Kevin Love era at UCLA, where he hopes to see the revival of the outlet pass.

Gordon Edes had a chat on Boston.com today.

Dan Caesar looks at Joe Buck going back to just a play-by-play role on FOX NFL broadcasts next season.

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Tonight

7:00pm, NESN – Penguins @ Bruins
7:00pm, ESPN – NIT Title Game – Clemson/West Virginia
8:15pm, TNT – Pistons @ Bulls
10:30pm, TNT – Suns @ Warriors

The Struggles of Boston Newspapers in Making the Transition to New Media

I came across an interesting article this morning entitled 10 Newspaper Myths Deconstructed.

There is a lot of talk out there about how the newspaper industry is in trouble. Some feel that newspapers will be obsolete in the near future, and that they are struggling to keep up with new media.

This article outlines 10 major misconceptions held by publishers and executives that hinder newspapers from keeping up with the new media party.


I’m going to look at the points and offer some comments and observations based on the Boston area…mostly in the context of the Boston Globe, (because you might soon see some reasons why that unit of the NY Times is struggling so badly) but also the region’s papers in general.

Myth1 : We pay for printed content
Fact 1: News content was always free

The point is made in the online column that the 50 cents that you slapped down for a newspaper in the past was to cover the paper and printing…all the content, editing and delivery are paid for by advertisements. So the notion that papers should be charging for their content online doesn’t work. Remember when the Globe flirted with the idea of taking its sports content to a pay model? If they still decide to go through with that, it will likely be a disaster. The Boston Herald used to charge for to read content from columnists – an idea that was dropped in time.

Myth 2: There is not enough money in online ads
Fact 2: Newspapers don’t care about online ads

One of the notes that the original article makes about online ads:

And once and for all: No popups. Everybody hates popups and companies that use popups to advertise their stuff make us angry.

Boston.com (Online home of the Boston Globe) uses pop-up ads. In fact they’re pretty aggressive with them. I have various popup blockers on my Firefox browser, which is good to begin with at blocking popups, and still the ads get through from time to time. It doesn’t endear them to me, or most likely anyone else browsing the site. Advertising is necessary, being intrusive is annoying.

Myth 3: Newspapers need on- and offline identities
Fact 3: Newspaper need one identity

The article uses The New York Times as a good example. They have one identity. The online Times and the print Times are one entity. So why does their New England unit not follow that example? You’ve got the Boston Globe print edition and you’ve got Boston.com, which are two separate entities, even if they share content and office space. As the article states:

The “special” online identity communicates: “This is not the real thing. It’s a sloppy version of the paper.” Get rid of that silly “online” or “.com” or “.co.uk” or whatnot attribute after your precious brand. The New York Times got it right.

Ideally there should be the Boston Globe newspaper and the Boston Globe website, seamlessly integrated into one cohesive organization and brand.

Myth 4: Newspapers need closed archives
Fact 4: Closed archives destroy access

Want to look up a Globe or Herald article from last year? Ante up.

Do the papers make a lot of money charging for access to their archive? I doubt it.

Are they losing out on tons of traffic (and income) that would come in through search engines like Google? No doubt about it.

Why can’t they see that?


Myth 5: Newspapers pages need to burst with stuff
Fact 5: Readers want nicely presented information

Many newspaper web sites are disasters. They obviously view the web site as an afterthought. They’re losing out. The Boston.com and Herald websites are actually pretty good in presenting information and content, but some of the other local websites, especially the ones associated with smaller papers, are a nightmare.

Myth 6: People are stupid, Journalists are smart
Fact 6: The collective is smarter than you

Was this written with certain Globe writers in mind? They writers note that using “the intelligence of your readership is far more economic than insulting it.”

On one hand you have Dan Shaughnessy routinely insulting bloggers and “fanboys” and on the other you have Mike Reiss taking feedback and suggestions from readers, and getting the information they’re looking for. Which is better for business?

Myth 7: Journalists=professional, bloggers=smearers
Fact 7: Bloggers are journalists

Like it or not.

Myth 8: The web is just a trend. No need to panic.
Fact 8: Change or die

Embrace the web, blogs and new technology. Don’t mock it. It’s not going away, and if you’re not able to adapt to it, you’re surely not going to adapt to what comes after it.

The last two points are not as germane to the discussion of sports media, but interesting nonetheless:

Myth 9: Without paper journalism&democracy die
Fact 9: Social news is democratic news

Myth 10: Newspapers need to become social networks.
Fact 10: Newspapers need to become wikis

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Newspapers all over the country (not just New England) are struggling to adapt to the new age of media we find ourselves in. Some are doing better than others. The Boston.com website is actually pretty progressive, with chats, blogs, videos, podcasts and slideshows integrated nicely into the content. However, based on the points above, the Boston Globe and other papers in the region are still struggling in grasping how to best adapt to the modern environment. Monitoring how they’re progressing in this adaptation should certainly be interesting over the coming months and years.

Celtics Show Some Magic in OT

The Celtics once again showed some determination and desire against a team fighting for a playoff spot, as they outlasted the Orlando Magic 105-96 in double-overtime last night at the Garden. Paul Pierce led the way with 32 points, Al Jefferson had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Kendrick Perkins, whose game was maligned on the Dale & Holley show yesterday, finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 assists. He played very good defense on Magic star Dwight Howard, who only finished with 12 points. The win closed the gap between the Celtics and fast-sinking Milwaukee Bucks to only 3.5 games for the second worst record in the league.

Scott Souza has the recap of the win, and Paul Pierce again talking about shutting in down for the season as he says his body can’t take much more. Steve Bulpett has the Celtics taking the opportunity late in the season to learn how to win games. Bill Doyle leads off by saying he doesn’t want to hear any more talk about Pierce shutting it down. Well, that talk dominated the stories this morning as Pierce hinted that last night might’ve been his last game of the season. Michael Vega has Pierce mulling a shutdown after last night’s win. Shalise Manza Young says that Pierce and the Celtics didn’t get the memo about their lottery chances last night.

Doyle does also write about whether Paul Pierce is done for the season. Souza’s notebook has Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck praising Doc Rivers for his “trending upward” Celtics. Bulpett’s notebook has more from Pierce on shutting it down for the season. Doyle’s notebook compares and contrasts Dwight Howard and Al Jefferson, two big men who came out of high school in 2004 to go pro. Young’s notebook has the Celtics broadcasts moving over to WEEI.

Red Sox

A few members of the Red Sox media were invited to have lunch with pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, and their two interpreters yesterday. Michael Silverman leads off with Matsuzaka banging his elbow on the table while talking about Pedro Martinez redirecting Don Zimmer to the ground during the playoff series in 2003. Dan Shaughnessy sat next to Matsuzaka and describes the experience in some detail, right down to the stubble on his chin. Tony Massarotti wonders what was really going through the mind of the pitchers during the session with the “group of gaijin that Johnny Pesky frequently refers to as ‘the carnivorous Boston press.'” Sean McAdam has more on the luncheon and Jeff Goldberg provides a Q&A of the session.

Alex Speier talks to Brendan Donnelly about how his brief stint with the Nashua Pride was a crossroads for his career. Stan Grossfeld examines some of the superstitions that members of the Red Sox have had and current have. Jeff Horrigan has Kevin Youkilis enjoying a productive spring as one of the more unheralded players in the Red Sox lineup. Joe Haggerty looks at Alex Cora playing the role of utilityman to perfection with the Red Sox.

Bill Doyle has Don Orsillo and Worcester Tornadoes GM R.C. Reuteman talking about their time together in Binghamton, where Orsillo started his career as a 22 year old announcer boy.

Horrigan’s notebook has Schilling feeling good about his tune-up start yesterday for Monday’s opening day start against the Royals. Shaughnessy’s notebook has the Red Sox taking back the Mayors cup last night. McAdam’s notebook has more on Schilling and the Red Sox looking good last night. Goldberg’s notebook has more on a favorable outing from Schilling in preparation for Monday.

NFL

Mike Reiss looks at NFL commissioner addressing the issue of player personal conduct.

Reiss’ notebook has more college players scheduled for visits to Gillette stadium and Troy Brown saying that he’d like to play this year, but hasn’t decided for sure yet.

Celtics Back on WEEI

Wyc Grousbeck was a guest on WEEI’s Big Show this afternoon, and announced that the club’s radio broadcasts will be moving from WRKO 680 over to WEEI for the next two seasons.

The release from the club is pasted follow the TV listings below.

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated served as an umpire in last Friday’s Red Sox exhibition game against the Orioles. He writes about in this weeks edition of the magazine, on newsstands today. His story has his account of J.D. Drew thinking that he is a real umpire and asking him for a ruling on a play that he really doesn’t know the answer to – when the ball is wedged under the fence.

“Uh, did it go under the fence at all?” I ask in an attempt to avoid his question. “Because if it goes under the fence it’s a dead ball even if he fishes it out.”

“No,” Drew says, more impassioned this time. “The ball got stuck between the bottom of the fence and the ground. What’s the ruling?”

“The ball’s in play unless it goes completely under the fence,” I reply, in full filibuster mode as I return to the under-the-fence diversion.

“No, not under the fence,” Drew says again, more confused than annoyed about not getting a direct answer from an umpire. “What’s the ground rule here on a ball stuck under the fence?”

He relates getting rescued by a real umpire just in time. He notes that he went to Drew the next day, who said he didn’t recognize on the field.

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Chad Finn has a new post up on his Touching All The Bases blog and among the usual entertaining items is some good news; he’ll be doing a weekly column for FoxSports.com and he mentions that he’ll soon have “some sort of affiliation with Boston.com.”

Finn needs a larger audience just so they can read stuff like this:

His Idiot’s Guide To Plagiarism was one thing, but yesterday’s suggestion that the Celtics might want to consider trading for pretty-close-to-untouchable Jazz star Carlos Boozer made it official: Butch Stearns has officially passed Steve Burton as the frontrunner for our annual TV Sports Dude Who Was Most Likely Dropped On His Head As An Infant award. Stay tuned.

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The Red Sox held a media lunch today for several of the reporters covering the team, as an opportunity to meet with Japanese pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima and their interpreters. The accounts:

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Bill Simmons unveils his plan to save Holy Cross basketball.

Murray Chass continues his obsession with the Red Sox and J.D. Drew.

Andy Hart answers a bag of PFW email.

Joe Theismann says he has been offered a job as a college analyst for ESPN/ABC, but isn’t sure he wants to take the job, saying “It would be like training to be a doctor or a lawyer and having them say, ‘we would like you to change to another profession.”

Leonard Shapiro has a good column on ESPN’s Pam Ward.

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Tonight
7:00pm, NESN – Red Sox/Twins
7:30pm, FSN – Magic @ Celtics
8:00pm, ESPN – McDonalds All American Game
10:00pm, Rockets @ Clippers

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Celtics/Entercom Press Release:

BOSTON (March 28, 2007) – The Boston Celtics and Entercom Boston announced today that they will move the broadcasts of Celtics games from Boston’s Talk Station, AM 680 WRKO to Sportsradio 850 WEEI beginning with the 2007-2008 season through the term of the current agreement. For the past two seasons Celtics games have been broadcast on WRKO.

“While we have enjoyed a fantastic partnership with WRKO, we couldn’t be more pleased about moving our broadcasts to WEEI,” said Rich Gotham Celtics Chief Operating Officer. “WEEI is the number one sports talk station in the country and provides an ideal flagship for both our game broadcasts and Celtics talk for our loyal fans.”

Both Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell are expected to remain as the play-by-play team. Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge and Head Coach Doc Rivers will continue to make their weekly appearances on WEEI during the season. In addition, the Celtics and Entercom will continue to promote the team’s games across Entercom Boston’s network of stations including WRKO and WAAF and the WEEI New England Network made up of WEEI FM 103.7 in Providence, WVEI 1440 AM in Worcester, and WVEI FM 105.5 FM in Springfield will serve as regional affiliates of the broadcasts.

“I’m very excited about the return of the Celtics to WEEI,” Jason Wolfe said, Entercom Boston Vice President of AM Programming. “We have developed an outstanding partnership with the team over the last two years on WRKO and I’m looking forward to continuing that great work next year and in the years to come.”

“The Celtics are a world class organization and I am thrilled we will be broadcasting their games on WEEI,” Julie Kahn said, Entercom Vice President and Marketing Manager. “Entercom and the Celtics have achieved tremendous mutual success with our relationship the last few years and I‘m anxiously anticipating the future.”

Sox Roster Set

Michael Silverman looks at Craig Hansen, who was sent to the minors yesterday, and might be there for some time to give him time to develop. Dan Shaughnessy has a look at Coco Crisp, who faces the pressure of needing to produce this season, or perhaps be moved. Jeff Horrigan has Daisuke Matsuzaka upset at his “struggles”, (one hit allowed in his last 10 innings) and notes that it is all likely part of his adjustment to the American style of baseball. Jim Donaldson wonders if Terry Francona and the Red Sox will be over-managing Jonathan Papelbon because of his shoulder condition and putting him back in a role they previously said could shorten his career.

Sean McAdam has the Red Sox finalizing their 25 man roster, with no real surprises. Horrigan also reports on the opening day bullpen roster spots being settled with some fairly unusual results: three lefties in the bullpen to start the season. Jeff Goldberg looks at Kyle Snyder making the opening day roster as the feel-good story of the staff this spring. Alex Speier says Snyder offers some depth to the Red Sox staff, should something happen to one of the starters. Silverman has Tim Wakefield ready to get the season started.

McAdam’s notebook has Matsuzaka blaming a lack of focus for his struggles. Shaughnessy’s notebook has Delcarmen and Hansen being sent down, and Snyder and Lopez staying with the big club. Horrigan’s notebook has Jon Lester scheduled for another minor league spring training start before starting the season with Gabe Kapler’s Single A club in Greenville.

Patriots/NFL

John Tomase has Brian Billick gushing about Adalius Thomas and all the things that he can do on the football field.

Do the Ravens get any heat for not re-signing their own players? Are they “arrogant” and think that they can just keep winning regardless of who the players are? Is this cheapness and arrogance going to catch up with Ozzie Newsome and Brian Billick? Sure, getting rid of Jamal Lewis might be one thing, but Adalius Thomas was the ideal Raven and they just let him walk for nothing? The comments from Billick in the above article sure sound a lot like what was said around here the last couple years for different players…”Great guy, everything you want in a teammate, player and person, we wanted to keep him, but it just didn’t work out that way…”

Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots possibly exploring their options in the draft at running back with the injury to Laurence Maroney. Mike Reiss has the NFL owners voting yesterday to make instant replay a permanent part of the game. Reiss’ last paragraph has the NFL director of officiating Mike Pereira noting some points of emphasis for the officials this season, which include not calling as many roughing the passer penalties for minimal contact.

Tomase also has Marvin Lewis downplaying Thomas’ stints in the secondary, saying that the sight of that made he and his staff with the Bengals smile and throw the ball downfield. The comments from Lewis sort of seem to confirm the notion that it was Lewis who was the “AFC North Executive” who Ron Borges went to for quotes in his negative piece on Thomas in the Globe the day after the Patriots signed him. (Which was also the same day his plagiarized NFL notes ran.)

Tomase’s notebook reports that Troy Brown is actually coming back from a ruptured patella tendon, and will not make a decision on returning until he is closer to being able to get on the field. Reiss’ notebook has more on Brown, and has Eric Mangini gushing about his new hire, former Patriots assistant Brian Daboll.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa and Steve Conroy have the Bruins finally showing some effort and determination in beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 last night.

Shinzawa’s notebook has Bobby Allen feeling like he belongs on the ice more for the Bruins, but not wanting to cause any waves. Conroy’s notebook has Patrice Bergeron wanting his teammates to show a little more emotion on the ice.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers stating that his club should be in the playoffs next season, even if they don’t add a single player to the roster this summer. Shira Springer has Kendrick Perkins looking at the team’s stats rather than his own, and focusing more on areas where he can contribute on the court beyond statistics. Scott Souza has Doc Rivers continuing to be upbeat and positive even as his team struggles to the second-worst record in the NBA. Jessica Camerato has Sebastian Telfair feeling like an old man on the Celtics.

Misc

I take everything that the Inside Track says with a grain of salt, and so should you. That out of the way, they say that WBCN might be trying to lure Dennis & Callahan away from WEEI this summer as they try to go to a “man radio” morning talk show.

Bob Hohler examines the lack of racial diversity in the Harvard athletic program.

ESPN Boston Makes Another Move

First, from ESPN Boston:

Beginning on April 3, fans can catch “The Boston Baseball Pre-game Show,” which will air every Monday – Friday from 6pm – 7pm. The show, hosted by 890 ESPN’s Kevin Winter, will provide fans with everything they need to know about the upcoming Red Sox game, and will highlight news from around the league. The show will also feature insight and interviews with some of the game’s most respected reporters including – Peter Gammons, Buster Olney and other Boston and ESPN baseball insiders. Gammons will also have three weekly call-ins to 890 ESPN programming, including one to “The Mike Felger Show” on Thursdays at 4:20 pm.

The Boston Baseball Pre-Game Show makes for a great addition to our already extensive baseball programming,” said program director Len Weiner. “And it’s great to have experts like Peter Gammons and Buster Olney to provide so much baseball insight and analysis.”

The show will also feature the latest news from Fenway Park, as 890 ESPN’s Baseball reporter Mike Salk will provide live reports during the show. When the Red Sox are on the road, Winter will talk with beat writers and play-by-play announcers from the city where the Sox are playing. As a result of the show being added to the station’s lineup, “The Mike Felger Show,” which currently airs from 4 pm – 7 pm, will air from 3 pm – 6 pm.

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Boston Magazine has a pair of Red Sox related stories this month. The first is How the Red Sox Got Their Groove Back from Seth Mnookin.

The second is a piece from Tony Massarotti’s new book Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits. The magazine piece is titled The Papi Monologues.

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The BSMW Game Day page has version 2 of our Monster Mock Mashup.

Tom Verducci has learned that Daisuke “Matsuzaka’s gyroball is nothing more than media mythology, a promulgation the pitcher delightfully enjoys.”

Jessica Camerato has Doc Rivers enjoying watching his young team win.

David Borges has a look how the small town of Camden produced two big league announcers in Joe Castiglione and George Grande.

Mike Fine says that the Celtics might’ve learned a good lesson from last Wednesday night.

Bill Simmons answers some questions, serves up some links, and talks Holy Cross hoops.

Jared Puffer goes behind the scenes with Patriots defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith.

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Tonight

7:00pm, ESPN – NCAA Women’s Regional Final – Tenn/Miss
7:00pm, ESPN2 – NIT – W. Virginia/Miss. St.
7:30pm, NESN – Bruins @ Senators
7:30pm, Versus – Devils @ Islanders
9:00pm, ESPN2 – NIT – Clemson/Air Force
9:00pm, ESPN – NCAA Women’s Regional Final – Purdue/UNC
10:30pm, Versus – Kings @ Sharks

No Tanking This Time

The Celtics welcomed the Atlantic Division leading Toronto Raptors into the Garden last night, and came away with a 95-87 win in which five Celtics reached double figures, led by Paul Pierce’s 23 and Al Jefferson’s 22.

Scott Souza notes that after the fiasco that was the Charlotte game last week, there will be no tanking talk on sports radio and television after last night’s game. Bill Doyle has the Celtics playing some uncharacteristic defense last night, putting the clamps on Chris Bosh and holding the Raptors to 40% shooting. Shira Springer has a game story/notebook combo and looks at the Raptors sustaining a loss in the standings and on the court after Jorge Garbajosa went down with an ugly injury. Mark Murphy has the Celtics making a bit of a statement with the win last night, which included a dunk by Rajon Rondo in the face of Bosh.

Mike Petraglia has Paul Pierce still going full tilt, and setting the example for his younger teammates. From yesterday, we’ve got a look at what life would be like for the Celtics with…or without Greg Oden or Kevin Durant on the FSN Nothing but Net blog. Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers with eyes for only his son at this weekend’s Final Four.

Souza’s Notebook has Leon Powe getting a chance at a larger role down the stretch here of his rookie season. Doyle’s notebook has Doc Rivers planning on going to the Final Four to root on his son, and stay away from Greg Oden. Murphy’s Notebook has Pierce leading the way once more for the Celtics, and another veteran shutting it down for the season.

Red Sox

Michael Silverman has Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching five no-hit, no-run innings, but displeased with his control and refusing to speak with the media afterwards. Dan Shaughnessy has more on Matsuzaka’s struggles with delivery and his decision to not talk to the press afterwards, prompting even more discussion. Jeff Goldberg has more on the performance of Dice-K. Maureen Mullen also looks at the unbalanced performance from the Japanese ace. Tony Massarotti says there is still good to take from Matsuzaka’s performance, most notably the ability to change pitches and still get batters out when one or two pitches aren’t working.

Sean McAdam looks at a poor performance from Craig Hansen, who suffered through some severe wildness yesterday. Massarotti also has a look at the self-destructive performance yesterday by Craig Hansen, who was charged with five runs yesterday, bringing his spring ERA over 15.00. Joe Haggerty has a look at the next generation of Red Sox stars making their way to Fenway Park.

Silverman’s Notebook has Jonathan Papelbon adjusting his arm slot for his delivery, and the results looking very impressive yesterday. Shaughnessy’s notebook has more on Papelbon’s impressive relief inning.

David Scott weighs in on the internet brawl between Shaughnessy and Schilling.

Patriots/NFL

John Tomase has Bill Polian praising the Patriots offseason moves, showing that a Super Bowl title might be able to mellow anyone. Mike Reiss has the NFL owners approving a new revenue sharing system. Albert Breer has the Patriots scheduling Tennessee wide receiver Robert Meachem for a visit to Gillette Stadium next week.

Thomase’s Notebook has Drew Rosenhaus believing that Donte’ Stallworth will be with the Patriots for more than one season. Reiss’ notebook has a follow-up on the story first reported in the Herald yesterday about Laurence Maroney’s shoulder surgery. He says the running back is expected to be fully recovered and ready to go full speed for the 2007 season.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa has coach Dave Lewis working his team hard as the season approaches the final weeks. Steve Conroy has more on Lewis cracking the whip at practice after a series of lackluster blowout losses by his club down the stretch.

NCAA

Mark Blaudschun looks at plots thickening the NCAA tournament even as the field is thinned to the Final Four. Lenny Megliola has Florida Assistant A.D. Chip Howard – a Northborough native, enjoying the recent success of the Gators in the basketball realm. David Sandora has a quick look at the John Thompson III/Patrick Ewing Jr Georgetown revival.

Paul Kenyon has a look at Steve DeOssie and Fred Smerlas and their new steakhouse in Rhode Island.

Jaworski in, Theissman out on MNF

ESPN made a change in their Monday Night Football broadcast team today by announcing that Ron Jaworski will replace Joe Theismann in the booth for next season.

Norby Williamson, who serves as executive vice president, studio and remote production for ESPN made the announcement today and said that the network is attempting to retain Theismann in another prominent football role, though he would not comment on what that role might be, if it might be as an analyst on college games or doing studio work similar to what Jaworski was doing previous to this. Williamson was clear, however, that ESPN wishes to retain Theismann in some capacity.

As for questions as to why Theismann is being replaced, there were no answers forthcoming. Williamson insists that they are not unhappy in any way with the performance of the former Redskins quarterback. Several times mention was made of bringing the broadcasts “to the next level.” He said that Jaworski “helps take the broadcasts where they want to go.” Their goal is to have the viewer learn something in the broadcast and that it about the games, the league, the trends and Jaworski helps in those areas. He confirmed that Jaworksi was the only guy he had in mind to replace Theismann.

Jaworski said that he was told of the offer at halftime of a Philadelphia Soul game, the AFL team in which he has a minority ownership stake and serves as team President. He said that he and Theismann have been friends for three decades and that while he hasn’t spoken to him yet, he plans to do so very soon. He also talked about looking forward to working with the Monday Night Football crew, many of whom he has worked extensively before. He noted that he has considered Tony Kornheiser a friend for over a decade now, as he was a frequent guest on Kornheiser’s radio program and also on Pardon The Interuption.

The point was made several times about the focus of the broadcasts being on the games, and that prompted the question about whether the 2nd quarter interviews in the booth with various celebrities would continue. Williamson stated that the interviews will continue, but that the network will perhaps be a little more selection about who gets into the booth.

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FireJoeMorgan takes apart Dan Shaughnessy’s column from this morning, specifically his belief that blogs are for nerds who live in their mom’s basements.

Curt Schilling of course, does have a response to Shaughnessy on 38Pitches.

On the FSN Nothing But Net blog there’s a look at Oden, Durant or…neither.

Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback looks at issues on the table at the NFL annual meetings this week.

The Globe and the Herald are both at the NFL meetings, and Mike Reiss has Bob Kraft’s Q&A session with the media and John Tomase had things seen and heard thus far.

Sports Media Journal offers their thoughts on the WEEI lineup.

The blog Shea Faithful has an interview with Bill James.

Bill Simmons looks at the rebirth of the NCAA tournament this year.

Jeff Gordon on FoxSports.com debuts a weekly sports planner, with storylines to watch in the world of sports for this week.

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Tonight

7:00pm, ESPN – NCAA Women’s Regional Final
7:00pm, Versus – Ducks @ Red Wings
7:00pm, ESPN2 – AFL – Dallas Desperados @ Orlando Predators
7:30pm, FSN – Raptors @ Celtics
9:00pm, ESPN – NCAA Women’s Regional Final