Weekend Watch – NHIS in the Spotlight

New Hampshire International Speedway is the center of the NASCAR world this weekend with the LENOX Industrial Tools 300 scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1:00pm (TNT). The race will also see the debut of the #99 Red Sox car of Roush Fenway Racing. (There’s plenty more on the weekend at NHIS below.)

Both NBA & NHL free agency periods kick off this weekend…sort of. The NBA allows teams to negotiate with free agents, but cannot actually sign them until July 10th because of the Free Agency Moratorium when “the NBA and NBPA conducts an audit that assists in the determination of the new Salary Cap figure for the following season.” The NHL does not have that moratorium, and can announce deals immediately. Last year the Bruins made a huge splash on July 1st with the signing of Zdeno Chara.

Keep up with any news on the two winter teams at Celticslinks.com and Bruinslinks.com.

The Red Sox return to Fenway Park this weekend after two trips to the West coast in the month of June and badly in need of some home cooking. The Texas Rangers provide the opposition this weekend as they invade Fenway for a four game series. Keep up with the action at RedSoxLinks.com.

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The Hartford Courant redesigned their web page this week, and at the same time made some rather unfortunate changes and cuts.

They will no longer be doing their own coverage of the New York Yankees, but instead will be running the stories that appear in New York Newsday. Since both papers are owned by the Tribune company, it was decided to save the money and not run separate coverage of the team. Reader Representative Karen Hunter explains in her blog:

Another reader called this morning to find out if The Courant had cut staff again and why AP stories were being used to report on the Yankees and Red Sox. I offered him the explanation Sports Editor Jeff Otterbein has provided: "Newsday is now covering the Yankees games stories. We have decided, since we also are a Tribune newspaper, to not duplicate efforts, thus freeing Dom [Amore] up to do many other types of stories in New York and Connecticut.”

That did not sit well with the gentleman. We discussed why it mattered whether a Newsday story or a Courant reporter covered the game as long as there was a story in the newspaper. He explained, "That is the one thing I really liked about your paper. The New Haven Register dropped its beat writers years ago and I didn't like that. That's why I started with The Courant. It's more personal. The beat writer is going to know a lot more inside information that I care about. I think it makes a difference. If you're going to do this with the NFL too, well, this is going to make me think very hard about canceling my subscription. I know it's a money thing, but sometimes you have to spend money for quality."

BSMW reader (And Red Sox fan) Tim chimes in:

But this is horrible news. The Courant has decided to run NY Newsday Yankee stories instead of having their own beat writer…removing Dom Amore, who I believe is 2nd in seniority when it comes to Yankee beat writers. I’ve long enjoyed his work; because even though he is an actual Yankee fan, he’s probably the best and most fair beat writer they have.

Later in the blog, Representative Hunter stated that “a Courant reporter would still be covering some of the Red Sox games.” (Emphasis mine)

Followup: I’m told that the Courant plans to cover all remaining Red Sox games this season, except for a 6 game West Coast road trip in August.

Here is a follow up in the Sunday Courant on dropping the Yankees coverage.

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Bill Simmons has his annual NBA draft diary column.

Chris Mannix lists the Celtics as the top winners of draft night.

Charley Rosen says the Ray Allen trade is a steal for the Celtics.

Jack McCallum loves the deal for the Celtics.

King Kaufman, not so much.

Bill Barnwell tries to figure out what Patriots fans might be able to expect in terms of production from Wes Welker this season.

Pete Prisco examines the Hall of Fame chances of 45 current NFL stars. Brady, Bruschi, Harrison, Moss and Seymour (along with Adam Vinatieri) are all discussed.

Jesse Noyes looks at the Patriots “international marketing game plan, which stresses going long in China.”

Vic Carucci lists the Patriots among his most improved teams this offseason.

Is Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs interested in buying the Buffalo Bills?

Chad Finn checks in with Nine Innings for FoxSports.

Tom Curran notes that Roger Clemens’ return to the Yankees has not gone as planned.

Tony Massarotti picks the NL All Star team.

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Sports Media Columns From Around the Country

New England
Susan Bickelhaupt has a number of media notes this week, including a look at the new ABC, ESPN and TNT television contract with the NBA. Bill Doyle in his “Tuning In” column this week, has a look at NESN’s Jayme Parker, who has been “flashing” listeners at WEEI. Tom King talks to Exeter, NH’s Jason Kosow, who pitches for the Nashua Pride, and played the role of Catfish Hunter in ESPN’s upcoming mini-series The Bronx is Burning.

New York
Phil Mushnick wonders if the Chris Benoit tragedy will finally wake up the media to the fact that Vince McMahon has been operating a death mill the past 25 years. Richard Sandomir notes that Brooklyn still has the Dodger blues, which will be stoked with HBO’s upcoming two-part documentary, Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush, which will be broadcast July 11. Bob Raissman wonders what will happen to the YES ratings numbers if the Yankees continue to stumble along. Neil Best might be on vacation this week, but he just keeps filling his blog with entries.

More East Coast
Leonard Shapiro has Sam Huff coming back for a 35th season of analyzing Redskins games. Michael Hiestand has David Stern talking about television of the future in discussing the NBA’s new broadcast deal with ABC, ESPN and TNT. Laura Nachman has Jimmy Kimmel promising not to hold back at the ESPY’s, and she also has some awards you won’t see on the broadcast. Bob Smizik has FSN Pittsburgh saying that they won’t show a proposed fan walkout of Saturday’s Pirates game. Jim Williams has Cal Ripken Jr expressing some confidence for the Orioles future in a TBS conference call. Williams also has more on the new NBA TV deal in his Watch This! blog. Chris Zelkovich has 18 year CFL vet Danny McManus heading to the broadcast booth.

South
Dave Darling talks to Chris “Mad Dog” Russo about his Orlando roots as part of a look at WFAN’s 20th anniversary. David Barron has a look at Calvin Murphy returning to the Houston airwaves. Barry Jackson has 790 The Ticket moving Sid Rosenberg to mornings to replace Joe Rose, who is expected to join WQAM. He also has former Miami coach Larry Coker heading to ESPNU as an analyst. Barry Horn has Fran Fraschilla talking about the draft.

Midwest
Judd Zulgad has a look at how important sourcing is on a hot topic story like the Kevin Garnett trade rumors, where several outlets might be reporting many different things. Teddy Greenstein has an update on the drama surrounding WMVP-AM’s franchise show, “Mac, Jurko & Harry.” Dan Caesar has Tim McKernan, who just left KFNS and his morning show “The Morning Grind,” weighing an offer from SportsNet New York. Bob Wolfley has ESPN’s Andy Katz getting it right with his call of Yi Jianlian being drafted by Milwaukee.

West Coast
Tom Hoffarth has a good look at WFAN marking their 20th anniversary of becoming the first radio station to go to an all-sports format. He also expands on the story even more in his blog, talking to WFAN’s Steve Somers for his thoughts on the anniversary. Jim Carlisle has Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken saying that they have no problem with putting Barry Bonds on the NL All Star team. Carlisle’s notebook looks at some changes at Wimbledon. John Maffei looks at a few announcing gigs being filled in the San Diego market.

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From TNT on this weekend’s coverage in New Hampshire:

This Sunday (July 1), TNT will provide exclusive coverage of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Racing from the New Hampshire Intl. Speedway with prerace coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET, leading up to the green flag at 2:30 p.m. ET. The network’s pre-race coverage includes analyst Kyle Petty visiting the Victory Junction Gang Camp, which is located in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, and was created in memory of his son Adam. The racing-themed camp serves children with life threatening illnesses and health issues to give them a magical experience full of adventures while maintaining a medically-safe environment. Petty will discuss the camp and its impact on the many children and families that have attended it in the three years since it was founded by he and his wife Pattie.

Also on Sunday, TNT’s Pride of NASCAR series continues with a feature on ‘Gentleman Ned Jarrett,’ a two-time NASCAR Champion with 239 career wins. TNT’s Bill Weber spent a day walking the links with Jarrett as he reminisced about his illustrious career over a round of golf. Topics discussed included Jarrett’s “early” retirement from racing at age 34 in 1966, his second career as a pioneering NASCAR broadcaster, his family (including 1999 Cup Champion son, Dale Jarrett) and his youth in rural North Carolina. Jarrett also recounted his most memorable moment in racing – calling the 1993 Daytona 500 which was won by his son. Additional Pride of NASCAR pieces featuring legends David Pearson, Benny Parsons and Junior Johnson are available to view on TNT Inside Angle on NASCAR.COM and include additional excerpts from the interviews that have not been televised.

Multi-platinum selling rock band Hinder will set the stage on Sunday as they perform a live concert at the race track in Loudon, and TNT will be on hand to air a portion of the concert prior to race. Hinder will play songs from their Extreme Behavior album, including the hits Lips of an Angel and Better than Me as well as their remake of the rock classic Born to Be Wild, which serves as the 2007 NASCAR on TNT Summer Series anthem.

Pre-race coverage will also include a segment featuring NASCAR wives, girlfriends and moms who will dish the dirt on the NASCAR men in their lives, including wives Shana Mayfield (husband is driver Jeremy Mayfield), Kim Wallace (husband is driver Kenny Wallace), Michelle Gilliland (husband is driver David Gilliland), the girlfriend of Kyle Busch, Erica Dewey, and Ryan Newman’s mother. The network will also air footage from Ralph Sheheen’s night with the drivers from Roush Racing as they headed to Fenway Park for a Boston Red Sox game. In the last year, Roush Racing and the Fenway Sports Group formed Roush Fenway Racing.

TNT’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Racing from New Hampshire begins at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR on TNT Live! and Allstate Countdown to Green featuring TNT announcers Marc Fein (host), Bill Weber (host and play-by-play announcer), Kyle Petty (analyst), Wally Dallenbach (analyst) and Larry McReynolds (analyst/reporter). The pit reporting crew of Marty Snider, Matt Yocum, Ralph Sheheen and Lindsay Czarniak will check in throughout pre-race coverage and during the race which revs up at 2:30 p.m. ET.

From ESPN on this weekend’s coverage in New Hampshire:

ESPN on ABC’s NASCAR Countdown will have a live preview at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday of the NASCAR Busch Series Camping World 200 presented by RV.com at New Hampshire International Speedway. Brent Musburger will host NASCAR Countdown from the ESPN Pit Studio, while two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Chevy Cutaway Car. Dale Jarrett, one of the founding drivers of the NASCAR Busch Series and the 1999 NASCAR Cup Series champion, will work in the ESPN booth as analyst for the telecast, joined by two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dr. Jerry Punch will handle play-by-play.

NASCAR Countdown will include segments from pit reporters Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro as the NASCAR Busch Series makes its only appearance of 2007 at the 1.058-mile New England oval.

NASCAR Countdown will originate from the ESPN Pit Studio at New Hampshire International Speedway as it sets the stage for ESPN2’s coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series race Saturday. Highlights include:

Juan Pablo Montoya: Has he arrived?
NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya won his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Race at Sonoma on June 24 – his second road course win of the season after taking the checkered flag in the NASCAR Busch Series race in March in Mexico City. ESPN pit reporter Mike Massaro will report on Montoya’s accomplishments this year and his return to the NASCAR Busch Series after a three-week break. Massaro will ask the questions, “What do these wins mean?” and “Has he ‘officially arrived’ or does he still need an ‘oval win’ to show he will be a NASCAR force?”

Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin’s win at Milwaukee
Last week’s NASCAR Busch Series come-from-behind win for the No. 20 car officially was designated as Aric Almirola’s first NASCAR Busch Series win in the record books, but NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin was behind the wheel at the finish. ESPN’s Allen Bestwick will report on Hamlin’s “unofficial win” in Milwaukee when he arrived late by helicopter to replace Almirola. Hamlin managed to come from a lap down to bring the No. 20 car to victory lane. The feature will include thoughts from Almirola on being pulled from the car even after leading a majority of the race to that point.

NASCAR driver Jon Wood Returns to Racing at Daytona
ESPN pit reporter Dave Burns will have the first sit-down interview with NASCAR Busch Series driver Jon Wood, son of legendary owner Ed Wood, who is set to return to the No. 47 car next Friday at Daytona. Wood has been absent from the NASCAR Busch Series for more than a month, after dealing with a misdiagnosis for ADD.

Companion Weekend: NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Races at New Hampshire
After three straight weeks of stand-alone NASCAR Busch Series racing, the series rejoins the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup at New Hampshire International Speedway. NASCAR Countdown reporters and analysts will report on the chances for a win for NASCAR Busch Series regulars Stephen Leicht, Steven Wallace, Jason Leffler, Marcos Ambrose and others while many of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers will pull double duty at the track, including NEXTEL Cup driver Tony Stewart, who had a win at New Hampshire in 2005.

Ray of Hope for Celtics?

The Celtics made their big deal for an veteran All Star last night, and did not give up Al Jefferson, Gerald Green or the contract of Theo Ratliff – should be a no-brainer, right? Yet the acquisition of seven time All Star and UConn alum Ray Allen was met with only a lukewarm response from many last night.

The Celtics shipped the fifth overall pick in the draft last night, (Which turned out to be Jeff Green) plus Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West to Seattle last night in exchange for Allen.

Shira Springer says that the addition of Allen to go along with Paul Pierce and Jefferson could “perhaps will be a slight improvement from last season.” Steve Bulpett says that there could still be some large moves remaining for the Celtics this offseason. Tim Weisberg says that Allen is “the perfect compliment to Pierce without getting in the way of superstar-in-waiting Al Jefferson.” Mike Anthony has the Celtics turning to the former UConn guard as the answer to their efforts to maximize the career of Paul Pierce. Kevin McNamara says that the second-guessing can begin now that Danny Ainge “bypassed a high pick in one of the deepest NBA drafts in years.” Scott Souza reports on the Celtics getting the veteran player that Pierce and many of the fans wanted…just a different one from what many expected. Bill Doyle notes that Pierce got his wish, if not his demand with the trade for the veteran Allen. Dave Willis looks at the Celtics pulling off the draft night blockbuster.

Dan Shaughnessy pans the trade, saying that Ainge “caved to Paul Pierce and the howling masses,” has abandoned the youth movement (even though they still have all their young players with the exception of West and they drafted two more) and that this move feels like bringing in Dominique Wilkins in 1994. He’s also got Tom Heinsohn and Bob Cousy questioning the decision to make the deal. Lenny Megliola says that this trade is no big deal, and it is unknown as to whether it actually makes the Celtics any better. Peter May wonders if the Garnett deal might be back on the table, since Ray Allen is now a Celtic, and more importantly, Szczerbiak is not. Bulpett has Allen not coming in to take over, knowing that this is still Paul Pierce’s team.

Daniel Malloy looks at two Boston College players getting drafted in the first round – something that has never happened before. Jeff Goodman has more on the B.C. pair.

Susan Bickelhaupt has a number of media notes this week, including a look at the new ABC, ESPN and TNT television contract with the NBA.

The Herald notebook has a look at the player the Celtics passed on at #5 in Jeff Green, and also has Robert Parish talking about Al Jefferson and the current Celtics. The Globe notebook has a look at the Celtics second round selections, which were Southern Cal guard Gabe Pruitt and LSU forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Weisberg also has a look at the Celtics second round selections.

Red Sox
Gordon Edes says that despite the losing record on the most recent road trip for the Red Sox, there were many positives to choose from as well. Jeff Goldberg however, says that the Red Sox are in the midst of a good old fashioned June swoon. Michael Silverman looks at a couple of factors that are working against Daisuke Matsuzaka’s All Star chances. Sean McAdam notes that the upcoming schedule is certainly favorable for the Red Sox. Garry Brown says that the Red Sox are coming back to a feast at home.

Alex Speier says that something is always happening -good or bad – around Manny Ramirez. Bill Ballou has a look at Julio Lugo’s dreadful 0-31 slump. Brendan McGair has a look at Adam Stern’s return to McCoy stadium. Joe Haggerty looks at Sammy Sosa, fresh off his 600th career home run, coming to town with the Rangers. Sarah Green notes that counting your chickens before they are hatched is a baseball tradition.

Michael Vega looks at the unveiling of the #99 Red Sox car of Roush Fenway Racing, which will run this weekend at the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Rob Bradford looks at how much Jon Lester has changed and progress as a pitcher in the course of a year. Amalie Benjamin leads off her minor league notebook with a look at Single A outfielder Bubba Bell. Jim Donaldson looks at PawSox pitcher Craig Breslow, who studied molecular biophysics at Yale and throws in the 90s.

Patriots
Bill Burt advises Asante Samuel to show up for camp on time and in the best shape of his life, have the best season of his career, and then name his price. John Tomase has a scout saying that one of Randy Moss’ biggest strengths is his ability to read defenses. He also says that Moss doesn’t need an “attitudinal” makeover.

Looking at Celtics Draft Night

Despite the immense disappointment of the May 22nd Draft Lottery, Celtics fans are still very worked up about what Danny Ainge and company are going to do with the #5 pick in the draft tonight. (ESPN, 7:30pm)

The rumors are flying fast and furious, and trying to keep up with them all will just give you a headache.

Here’s a little primer on some resources to keep you informed up to the moment during the draft tonight.

CelticsLinks.com – Your no-frills source of Celtics headlines, updated automatically. Includes feeds from the Globe, Herald, Projo, ESPN, FoxSports, Celtics.com and many Celtics focused blogs.

CelticsBlog.com – Like BSMW, CelticsBlog has had some server issues as of late. These are continuing, mainly due to the enthusiasm that Celtics fans are displaying at the site. There is even a post up today urging people to slow down a bit tonight on the site, in an effort to lighten the load on their new server. (Another move is already planned.) If you can get to the site, this is one of your best sources of information and discussion.

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As part of the CelticsBlog coverage CelticsStuffLive is going wall-to-wall with their draft night broadcast. Here are some of the guests they’ll have during the course of the night:

From the Boston media: Steve Bulpett, Mike Gorman, Sean Grande, Mike Fine, Scott Souza and Tim Weisberg.

From the non-local media: Henry Abbott (big shot ESPN blogger), Eric Weiss (Live from the Draft), Eric Pincus (Kobe rumors anyone?), and Jeff Goodman (Foxsports.com’s Sr. College Basketball writer and a local guy) .

Representing blogs: Tenacious T (Celtics 17), Elrod Enchilada (RealGM), TJ and Alex (Celtics 24/7), Fabio (Italian Celtics Pride), Red (Red’s Army) and Loyalist (Loy’s Place) .

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Over at FSN New England, Hosts Gary Tanguay and Greg Dickerson anchor FSN New England’s coverage and will update fans with the latest trade rumors and news on the Celtics potential pick beginning with a special one-hour edition of Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Celtics telecast tandem Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn will report live from Celtics draft headquarters at the TD Banknorth Garden and Foxsports.com’s Jeff Goodman will report from the draft in New York.

During the one-hour draft special, Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, Coach Doc Rivers and Managing Partner Wyc Grousbeck will talk about the Celtics’ game plan. FSN’s in-studio analyst Donny Marshall and ESPN Radio’s Ryen Russillo will also contribute to Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight’s coverage.

On the Late Edition of Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight at 10 p.m., Tanguay and Dickerson will provide fans with a local perspective on the night’s activity. Tommy and Mike will have reaction from Ainge and Rivers, and Marshall, Russillo and Goodman will contribute their opinions.

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National Links:

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Elsewhere:

Danny The Dealer or Danny The Drafter? – Bob Ryan.

Decision time for Celts – Steve Bulpett

Ainge says Celtics likely to take the fifth – Shira Springer

Ainge says he knows who he’s going to draft – Mike Fine

Trading pick C’s quick fix – Jim Fenton

Jessica Camerato examines whether Yi or Green is a better fit for the Celtics.

Bill Simmons and Chad Ford mock draft

Andy Katz says that the Celtics have a tough choice to make at #5.