Burned By Scorching Hot Sportz Takes

How long before all teams use the Bill Belichick/Patriots method of dealing with the media?

The day is coming, I’m telling you.

Yes, there are those in sports who enjoy using the media and cozying up to them to get fawning coverage, whether they actually deserve it or not. There are many more, I believe, who would rather just not deal with them at all.

Each time a player or team gets burned by columnists and talk radio hosts, those around them take notice. They want to avoid the same fate.

This week, Shane Victorino found himself in the cross hairs of the Felger and Mazz program.

Shane Victorino challenges Sports Hub hosts over Cole Hamels comments – Scott Lauber (who also covered Victorino in Philly) takes a look at the conflict, which occurred when the hosts took comments that the Sox outfielder made to a Philadelphia paper, and put words into his mouth.

But that didn’t stop the hosts of the “Felger & Mazz” program from accusing Victorino of lobbying the Red Sox to cast Betts aside.

“You have a 34-year-old, breaking-down outfielder whose job is potentially going to be taken by whom? Mookie Betts, or by default, Rusney Castillo,” said Massarotti, formerly a Herald baseball writer. “And so who are we talking about, potentially, in this trade? Mookie Betts. So is that the deal? Mookie Betts is going to take his job, (and Victorino says), ‘Hey, get the kid out of here, because we can win now if we get Hamels.”

To that, Felger accused Victorino of “throwing your young players under the bus.”

What a leap. Victorino never mentioned Betts. The Philadelphia writer did.

Unsurprisingly, colleagues on the air, at both stations in town, seem to side with Felger and Mazz, they defend the right to give their precious opinions. But was this an opinion? I don’t think so. It’s a clear twisting of words, and even a fabrication of them.

Lauber, in a follow-up piece (How Shane Victorino’s non-story became a big deal) notes that “Victorino’s words weren’t twisted like a pretzel; they were put in his mouth entirely.”

Which is cool, you know, because their job is just to get attention. As Felger himself says:

Say it wherever you want. I had mine, you had yours, that’s the whole idea of us. We say something, it’s for public consumption, hopefully you are listening and reacting. That’s what I want everyone to do. And I think generally this show does a pretty good job of it, and so Shane did that. He digested, he reacted, great. Fair enough. No problem.”

In that same article, Massarotti recounted a follow-up phone conversation he had with Victorino, albeit unintentionally, and described it this way:

It was like having a discussion with my wife when she’s angry. It was that sort of discussion, if you want to know the truth.

Completely dismissive of Victorino.

Yeah, Mazz, you’re a real tough guy. For a show who’s stated intention is to provoke reaction, he’s a pretty sensitive guy to reaction and criticism. He’s one of the very few people who have blocked me on Twitter. I’ve never been profane about him, insulted his family or done anything other than say how much I dislike his “work.”

That’s not the reaction they’re looking for, I guess.

This situation made even the mild-mannered Mike Reiss sit up and take notice. He wrote this article on his personal blog:

Thoughts on Victorino, sports talk radio, the media culture in Boston and more

He concludes his piece by summing up the local environment this way:

I often wonder if the hot takes would be as hot if they actually had to be accountable to those they were talking about. I do think part of what makes them willing to go as far as they often do is that they don’t have that accountability, and don’t have personal interaction with those they are talking about. It’s much easier to fire away when there is that disconnect.

And that’s what I’ve been noticing more and more, not just with that program, but other opinion-based shows on TV that are more edgy, both national and local. I think the further you’re removed from being around the game, in the locker room, at league meetings, conversing with athletes, coaches etc., you lose a bit of touch with reality. It becomes more WWE than professional sports and that can be dangerous — and most of all misleading to the public — when in the position of powerful opinion-shaper.

Is it me, or is this more extreme than ever before?

I think I know the answer, and the fact that Victorino’s passionate remarks will probably lead to skyrocketing ratings for “Felger and Mazz” today says it all.

Sadly, he’s entirely correct.

Reiss went further in his weekly chat (Chat with Mike Reiss) in which he came as close to unbridled rage as he probably can get. His responses to certain questions were edgy and not like the usual “having all these opinions makes for a great community” responses he’ll often make when gently disagreeing with chatters.

Victorino also got attacked for not going on the Felger and Mazz show to talk to them directly. Producer James Stewart tweeted that he had contacted the Red Sox about getting the outfielder on the show, but the response was that they felt he had already said his piece.

This made it a win/win for them. They tried to get him to come on the show, but he was afraid!

At some point, I do expect more and more in the sports world to eschew the media completely and bring their message directly to the public. David Ortiz did this when he wrote this week for Derek Jeter’s The Player’s Tribune:

The Dirt

He takes on Dan Shaughnessy in his column:

In 2013, I came off the DL and started hot. My first 20 games I was hitting like .400. And the reporter with the red jheri curl from The Boston Globe comes into the locker room says, “You’re from the Dominican. You’re older. You fit the profile of a steroid user. Don’t you think you’re a prime suspect?”

He’s saying this with a straight face. I had taken like 70 at-bats. Anybody can get hot and hit .400 with 70 at-bats. I was stunned. I’m like, I’m Dominican? I fit the profile? Are you kidding me?

I wanted to kill this guy. But you can’t react. That’s what they want. They want you to get angry so they can bury you. So I just smiled at him and asked for his address.

“Why do you want my address?” he said.

“Because I just got tested two days ago.” I said. “I’ll mail you the f****ing results.”

While some of Ortiz’ claims in the article are questionable – he insists he had no knowledge of the 2003 test result (from today’s Globe) until he saw it on ESPN in 2009 – his larger point about how he is viewed by many in the media is valid.

WEEI this morning wanted to know why Ortiz didn’t take this to Sports Illustrated if he wanted to put this out there. They missed the entire point. He avoided the mainstream media altogether and chose this as the independent avenue to put his message out there.

He won’t be alone in this.

Last night the Globe rushed up a quick piece on the Ortiz article. They did so without mentioning the Shaughnessy stuff at all, and filed it under “Staff Reports.”

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A few other links and notes:

Pedro Martinez a great fit with MLB Network – Chad Finn writes about the former Sox ace joining the MLB Network this week. He also touches on a few other items, including the Victorino story.

Baseball Reporting – A fascinating look on the MLB Website about the history of coverage of baseball, written by the legendary Jack Lang in the early 1990’s.

NFL taking aim at all things Patriots – Enjoyed this from Tom E. Curran, a look at how the NFL owners meetings turned into a pig-pile on the Patriots.

Ben Volin reported in the Globe this morning that Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower had labrum surgery and could miss much of training camp. The story is making the rounds on sports flashes and link compilations, but Jeff Howe in the Herald had this news over a month ago.

Patriots 2015 Mock Draft (Names-To-Positions Edition)

We haven’t had a ton of success predicting New England’s draft choices (Jake Bequette in 2012 the lone exception), but we’ve done a fair job figuring what positions they’ll look for in certain spots. We’ll keep that in mind for this spring as we take our shots.

For previous 2015 mocks, you can see our “Bare Bones” positional edition here and our “That Guy” tendencies edition here. For a comprehensive breakdown of past Patriots drafts, click for our “Round-By-Round” column here.

We have New England picking eight on draft weekend out of a possible nine picks, taking their tendency to trade into consideration. (Note: their third- and seventh-round compensatory picks can not be traded.)

DAY ONE, Round One: DE/OLB

Many (including myself as of a few days ago), considered a defensive lineman with this pick, and – though I can’t see anything wrong with getting Carl Davis from Iowa, for example, I can’t overlook the impact that linebacker/pass-rusher Jamie Collins has had on this defense. The free-agent addition of Jabaal Sheard shouldn’t get in the way of bringing more athletic, pass-rushing talent into New England’s front seven.

Possible Pick: Eli Harold, Virginia Defensive End (6-3, 247). The Patriots saw something beyond the rawness of linebacker Jamie Collins in 2013, and they may see a similar something in the athletic and productive Harold this year. He had 54 tackles, seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss last year. Totaled 17.5 sacks in his Cavalier career (his Cavareer? No? Okay). Has shown the ability to drop back in coverage. Ran a speedy 4.60 seconds in the 40 and 4.16 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle.

DAY TWO, Rounds Two and Three: OL, DB, DL 

A little of this and that for the next two rounds, filling out positions of need while bulking up the future of the roster.

Possible Pick: Tre Jackson, Florida State Offensive Guard (6-4, 330). If New England’s looking to bulk up along the interior of their offensive line, the massive Jackson fits the bill. The big fella started 42 games for the Seminoles, reaching All-American honors last year as a senior. Jackson earned consensus All-American honors and was named MVP of the South Team at the Senior Bowl in February. Played alongside current Patriot center Bryan Stork.

Possible Pick: Byron Jones, Connecticut Cornerback (6-1, 199). Jones failed to stand out in his combine 40-yard dash (4.57 seconds), which remained about the only unimpressive thing he did in Indianapolis. Jones put up an I-need-video-evidence-that-this-happened 12-foot-3-inch broad jump (and here’s that video evidence). Just for comparison, jump two feet along the ground. Now lay down a basketball hoop and jump 10 feet to the rim. You’re still short three inches. Jones added a 44.5-inch vertical leap (second-best at the combine), along with a super-quick 3.94 20-yard shuttle and 6.78 3-cone. Jones played in only seven games for UConn last season due to injury, but he managed 24 tackles, two interceptions (one returned for a TD) and four pass break-ups.

Possible Pick: Derrick Lott, Tennessee-Chattanooga Defensive Lineman (6-4, 314). The Patriots seem as willing as most to draft smaller-school athletes (see defensive end Zach Moore out of Concordia last year). Lott, a transfer from Georgia, ran a 4.99 40 at the combine and benched 30 reps, tied for seventh among D-linemen. In his final year for the Mocs, he made First Team All-Southern Conference, tallying 41 tackles (13.5 for loss) and six sacks. He has the size and quickness to play anywhere along the line.

DAY THREE, Rounds Four Through Seven: DB, LB, OL, WR

Considered tight end here (Rutgers’ Tyler Kroft), but Scott Chandler’s signing had us looking at other areas. Looks like the Pats will consider doubling up on a few positions, which has worked well for them in the past: they took two offensive linemen in the fourth round last year, and got a starter (Bryan Stork) and a consistent contributor (Cameron Fleming). We wouldn’t be surprised (and fans might appreciate) the Patriots using these picks to trade up, as the talent of New England’s current roster makes it tough for eight potential rookies to stick around.

Possible Pick: Craig Mager, Texas State Cornerback (5-11, 201). Well, before 2014 training camp, we’d never heard of Malcolm Butler, either. Mager had a noteworthy combine performance with a 4.44-second 40, a 6.83-second 3-cone, and a 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump – all top 10 for combine corners. Mager started 48 games for the Bobcats, finishing up as a senior with 63 tackles (two sacks), 10 pass break-ups, and three interceptions.

Possible Pick: Kevin Snyder, Rutgers Linebacker (6-2, 238). Snyder fits two all-important Patriots draft categories: the Special Teams Guy and the Rutgers Guy. He ran a nifty 4.54 40 at his pro day, which would have made him the second-fastest linebacker at the combine. Also had a 7.07 3-cone (tied for seventh fastest LB) and 23 bench press reps (top 13). The career linebacker also showed scouts his longsnapping abilities by the banks of the Raritan. In 51 games for the Scarlet Knights, Snyder had 229 tackles, including 63 in 2014 (1.5 sacks). He also broke up five passes last year.

Possible Pick: Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech Offensive Lineman (6-2, 304). Hard to ignore the photo seen here of former Patriots line coach Dante Scarnecchia taking snaps from Mason, who tried to show his versatility after playing only guard at Tech. Also hard to ignore Mason’s status as an All-American, his starting at both guard spots over his career, and the fact that his status may be affected (in a good way, from New England’s point of view) by the fact that the Yellow Jackets run an option offense. Mason ran an impressive 4.89 40, which would have made him the fastest OL at the combine. He also leapt 32 inches, and put up 20 reps on the bench.

Possible Pick: DeAndrew White, Alabama Wide Receiver (5-11, 193). Now, do the Patriots necessarily need another wide receiver in camp? Maybe not, but they’ve got a recent history of nabbing smaller pass-catchers in the seventh round (Jeremy Gallon of Michigan in 2014, Jeremy Ebert of Northwestern in 2012, some guy named Julian Edelman of Kent State in 2009). His 4.44-second 40 time would make him one of the faster receivers in Gillette, while his 6.97 3-cone drill and 4.18-second 20-yard shuttle would show his relative quickness across the middle of the field. With 40 receptions at Alabama, White trailed only Amari Cooper in 2014 (albeit by a ton: Cooper had 124). White had 504 yards receiving (12.6 avg) and four TDs.

THE ONE UNDRAFTED GUY WE HAVE TO CONSIDER

Joe Cardona, Navy LS (6-2, 242). Will the Annapolis product get to play in the NFL next year? Nope. He has at least a two-year, full-time commitment to the military. Will Bill Belichick invite him to camp and keep him on military reserve? It wouldn’t be the first time. Cardona stood out as the only long snapper invited to the combine. He ran a 4.91 40 and put up 30 bench presses. Another fact to consider: Cardona was the conference MVP for his high school lacrosse team (Granite HIlls in El Cajon, CA), which can only endear him to the lax-loving Belichick. One free trip to Foxboro, coming up!

THREE UNDRAFTED PLAYERS TO KEEP IN MIND

Looking for versatility at various positions, and underdog labels to go with them.

Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo DL (6-5, 290). Described as “relentless,” Sokoli had a heck of a pro day for the Bulls, running a 4.84 40, leaping 38 inches, putting up 31 bench reps and completing a 7.19 3-cone. He had 32 tackles last year as a D-tackle (three for loss) and six pass breakups. Sokoli moved to the U.S. from Albania at nine years old and played football in high school, manning all sorts of positions: defensive end, tight end, offensive tackle – even punter and kicker.

John Lowdermilk, Iowa SS (6-1, 210). As much as we talk up the relationship between Belichick and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, Coach Bill has never drafted a player out of Iowa. We don’t expect that to change this year, but Lowdermilk could get some rookie camp consideration. His 103 tackles led the Hawkeyes last year. He also had three interceptions, six pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.

Jamon Brown, Louisville OL (6-4, 323). The monolithic Brown first gained our attention at the East-West Shrine Game. He was an All-AAC First-Team left tackle (with experience at right tackle) who reminds us a bit of current Patriot lineman Marcus Cannon in his size and position flexibility. The Cardinal ran a 5.09-second 40 at his pro day, which for a man  his size is flabbergasting, and completed the 3-cone drill in 7.36 seconds. Might end up as a guard but could get a look at the right tackle spot.

As usual, we’ll go back to our board in a few weeks. What’s the one move or player you’ll be looking for at the end of April? Let us know below.

Chris Warner tweets about sports, television, and the complexities of life at @cwarn89 

Peter King Scores Exclusive Interview With Roger Goodell, Also, Dog Bites Man.

The Celtics and Bruins both suffered discouraging setbacks yesterday with the Bruins dropping a 5-3 game to the Lightning for their fifth loss in a row, and the Celtics losing to the Pistons, 105-97.

Faltering Bruins fall to Tampa Bay – Amalie Benjamin says that this feels like the end for the Bruins. Check the rest of the Bruins stories at Bruinslinks.com.

For a long time, one of the main attractions of this site for many was the daily links. This is something that I’ve had to relinquish in recent years as time constraints have creeped up on me. Instead of links every day, I’m usually weighing in specific topics two or three times a week.

For those who want daily links which are well done and pretty complete, I can point you to three different sources (in addition to my automated Link sites listed above.)

108 Stitches by Alex Speier. – Red Sox fans will want to subscribe to Speier’s daily newsletter which provides a look at much of the content about the team out there on that day. The newsletter is also available on the Globe web site. Speier isn’t just running down the Globe’s baseball articles of the day, he’s linking to other local sites and blogs, as well as stories across the country.

Patriots News Blitz – The Patriots official website also does a daily post of all links on the team from that day.

Red’s Army Morning Dump – This popular Celtics blog has a daily post of Celtics-related news and links.

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We haven’t heard from Roger Goodell since the Super Bowl, despite the NFL Commissioner’s claim that he is available to the media every day. In the least surprising development of all time, Goodell breaks his silence with a sitdown with Water Carrier-in-Chief Peter King for today’s MMQB.

Roger Goodell, Unplugged

Goodell is predictably tone-deaf and terrible. Coming off the year he just had, statements like “We have to meet the expectation of our fans,’’ he said. “They deserve it. We have to show them that their faith and trust in us is well placed.” are completely ludicrous.

Earth to Roger: fans do not trust you or have faith in you.

When addressing the reactionary NFL Conduct Policy that the league put into place after the Ray Rice incident, Goodell says:

I’m proud of what we did. I think what we did in developing a new personal conduct policy and making the changes that we made in education and making sure that people understand this issue, the things that we did more publicly about bringing to light this issue I think will be beneficial long-term to society—those things are things that we’ll look back and be proud of those accomplishments. We’re sorry we got to the place we got to [and] the way we got to it, but that is something that we now can look back at and build on. … We’re actually starting to see it. People are saying, “People should adopt the personal conduct policy of the NFL in other institutions and other industries.” That’s rewarding to some extent.

Is he for real? He’s trying to spin that what the NFL does is not only going to be “beneficial long-term to society” but that people are actually saying that they should copy the NFL in how they’re handling and addressing these issues? Who are these people?

Then we come to the Wells investigation over the footballs in the AFC Championship Game. Goodell says he hasn’t spoken to Wells “for several weeks” but believes he’s “near the end.” OK. What makes you believe that Roger, if you haven’t spoken to the head of the investigation?

Then there’s this.

The MMQB: You know that there’s a storyline out there that you knew about the deflating and wanted to catch them in the act.

Goodell: Let’s just short circuit this a little bit. I’m not going to get into what we knew and when we knew it because that’s part of what he’s investigating. … I can tell you that I was not personally aware of it until after the game.

Colts GM Ryan Grigson told the media at the combine that the Colts had contacted the NFL with concerns about the footballs in the week before the AFCCG. King soft-shoes the question here by calling it a “storyline.” No, it’s not a storyline, it’s a statement of fact. Or Grigson is lying.

So we’re going to believe that in the days before the AFC Championship game, with a Super Bowl berth on the line, one of the teams brought forward serious allegations against their opponent, and the Commissioner of the league was not aware of this fact?  

How is that possible?

Goodell tries to dodge the question somewhat, saying he’s not going to get into what “we” knew, but then claiming “he” was not “personally aware” of it until later. He’s either not telling the truth, or he is completely incompetent. You pick.

Shooting From The Hip…

A few things on my mind this week:

After 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired this week at the age of 24, citing the risks of the game, many in the media used this as an opportunity to laud Borland and use their platform to lecture the public on the dangers of the game. Some tried to tie in other offseason retirements of young players with the dangers of head trauma as well, even though those situations were all different.

I’m not going to debate the dangers of brain injury in football. They exist. Players are aware of the risks. Chris Borland felt the risks outweighed the rewards and made the decision to walk away. It took guts to do that. Anyone can (and should) admire that.

Some in the football media are very aggressive in pointing out the dangers of football, and applauded Borland for his stand on the issue and his integrity for walking away from the game. They’ve made football into a morality play.

For instance, everytime I turn on the WEEI morning show lately, I’m hearing how Kirk Minihane will not allow his son to play football, and I’m hearing the hosts reel off concussion data and make all sorts of connections to head trauma. When I look on Twitter, I see people covering football making sweeping statements about the dangers of the game.

My question is, if these media people feel so strongly about the dangers and morality of the game and risks to brain health, do any of them consider quitting their jobs covering the game? They’re not in any physical danger, obviously, but if they really are concerned and disgusted by the dangers of the game, can’t they take a stand, too?

Or do they value the “prestige” that comes with covering the NFL more than their integrity on the matter?

You should read former Patriot Matt Chatham’s take on this issue: Borland’s Retirement Brings Out Worst in NFL Media

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Are the Celtics for real? Glad you asked

I’ll give the Globe this, they’ve done a good job of bringing in writers on the Celtics beat as of late. I thought Baxter Holmes was excellent in the short time he was here, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Adam Himmelsbach thus far.

The Celtics are fun. They’re not a true contender in any sense of the word – I don’t quite get the point of the segments out there asking “If Celtics make playoffs, are they one and done?” Now they’re supposed to beat a top seed? Of course they probably lose in the first round. If they even get there. Baby steps.

I’ve never been a proponent of tanking, my feeling is that any playoff experience, even a playoff race that falls short is good experience for young players. This summer should see a bigger influx of talent onto the roster than we’ve seen in some time, and the future is looking up for this team.

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Should the Patriots even bother to take the field this fall? Based on what I hear on sports radio, probably not. Apparently the AFC East has morphed into the 1980’s NFL East overnight and the Patriots have no cornerbacks after cheaping out on Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.

I’ll admit, the outraged guy on Twitter who asked Tom E Curran if the recent recall of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was the reason why Bob Kraft wouldn’t pony up a couple million dollars more for Revis made me laugh a bit. As did they guy who said “What do you mean, wrong Kraft?” when Curran corrected the first guy.

What is amusing is that the people leading the charge in wailing over Revis and Browner, are the ones who early last season were first saying that Revis had lost a step, and then were saying that he wasn’t giving full effort on all plays. These same people complained all season long about the penalties that Browner was flagged for. Eventually he’s going to cost them a game, caller!

With Revis apparently headed back to the Jets all along, the Patriots knew that they would not be able to get another cornerback of Revis’ man-to-man coverage ability. Thus they would probably be playing more zone defense, which made Browner’s price tag way too high for someone who would then be more of a situational guy. If Revis was still here, Browner probably would be too.

It’s always fun to hear the screaming pulling-out-their-hair types in March. There’s a long time to go before they actually start playing games.

2015 Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part I

As hundreds of NFL combine invitees demonstrated their abilities at Indianapolis this past February, hundreds more prepared to show what they could do at their respective schools’ pro days. These snubs have a tougher road ahead in terms of making themselves visible, but many have the types of days that help them go pro.

Some snubs we’ve mentioned in past years currently work at Gillette. Practice squad receiver Jonathan Krause got written up here for his 4.35-second 40, while practice squad linebacker Eric Martin got noticed for, among other things, his 6.63-second 3-cone drill, which would have qualified him for third best overall at the 2013 combine.

Special teamer Don Jones, who played nine games for New England in 2014, showed up in our notes for his 42-inch vertical. Other pro-day proponents who got a cup of Patriots Place DD-to-go include cornerback Stephon Morris, running back Stephen Houston and returner Reggie Dunn (spring 2013’s fastest 40 at 4.25 seconds).

For an overview of combine and pro day testing events (40-yard dash, 3-cone drill, etc.), you can view the NFL’s page here.)

Kudos, as always, to Gil Brandt, whose diligence this time of year on his pro day blog deserves a ton of credit.

Some performances of note over the past couple of weeks: [Read more…]

Revis Fallout Continues…

The Bruins and Celtics have had exciting wins this week, and the Red Sox are ramping up towards opening day.

But still much of the local talk this week has centered on the bumbling, incompetent, cheap, Super Bowl winning franchise that plays NFL games in Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots have had five players from their Super Bowl team sign elsewhere – Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Shane Vereen, Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas. They also parted ways (at least for now) with Vince Wilfork.

As of now, the only signing of note that the Patriots have made is linebacker/DL Jabaal Sheard, who should make a nice impact in the front seven. Their other signings have been depth and special teams guys.

But, we’re entering the phase of free agency where New England usually makes their moves. The silly money has been spent, and there are still productive players on the market looking for jobs.

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It sure was nice of Felger and Mazz to license their show for Dan Shaughnessy to use almost word-for-word as his column today.

I’m curious though, just where are these Patriots toadies who are trashing Revis right now and saying that he can’t play and how he only had two interceptions this season?

Did Dan make them up like characters in a Mike Barnicle column? Because I haven’t heard them. It’s been pretty universal to me that fans wish the team could’ve found a way to keep Revis.

Also – if Robert Kraft was truly “needy” about being “more special and smarter than the competition” and being “loved and admired” wouldn’t he have just paid Revis whatever he wanted?

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A few links, items of interest from this week:

Katie Nolan to debut talk show on Fox Sports 1 – Chad Finn looks at the Framingham native and rising star getting her own show, and also examines some numbers from last weekend’s prime time boxing telecast for NBC.

NESN to feature Worcester State duo – Bill Doyle looks at the “NESN Next Producer” contest, and the entry from a pair of students about the “Death and Rebirth of Baseball in Worcester”

The Red Sox will finally formally introduce Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada at an 11:30 press conference this morning.

The story behind how Yoan Moncada landed with Red Sox – Rob Bradford has a good look at how the deal between the club and the player came together.

Scouts say Mookie Betts poised for ‘All-Star’ year – Alex Speier has baseball evaluators very high on the Red Sox young centerfielder.

Tuukka Rask turns mistakes into wins – Fluto Shinzawa has a couple of hot games from the Bruins goaltender putting hope into the team’s chances for the postseason.

Celtics set bar even higher after beating Memphis – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics getting a signature win this week, one that can only raise their own expectations for themselves.

‘It Was Like Living in a Video Game': An Oral History of Larry Bird’s 60-Point Game – A must-read from Finn yesterday on the 30th anniversary of the Legend’s 60-point game. Almost all the principals from the game participated in the article, even benchwarmers Carlos Clark and Greg Kite.

Here We Go Again…

Some people will never learn.

Granted, after the Patriots won the Super Bowl (which they indeed DID do, by the way) I did not foresee the parting of ways with Vince Wilfork, Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis as the first moves towards the team’s title defense.

But if there is one thing that we’ve learned in the last 15 years, it is that these guys generally know what they’re doing, right? I don’t think that’s a ‘fanboy’ take, it seems pretty rooted in line with facts.

Did they want to keep Revis? I’m sure they did. Would it have made sense to match what the Jets gave him? They would’ve had to have shaved off even more salary in order to do that, and still needed more to sign anyone else or their rookie class. Yet, you’ll see and hear various ignoramuses spouting that they ‘should’ve just paid the man!’

It doesn’t help that there are willfully ignorant sports radio hosts leading the charge on this, with their thinly veiled borderline anti-Semitic comments about the team owner. “They have a budget, Tony, and they stick to that budget…”  Others insist that the Patriots are still paying Revis $5 million this season to play for the Jets.

So what is the plan? I really have no idea. Are they going to start their title defense with Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan as their starting cornerbacks? I don’t think so, but who knows?

I do know that they valued Devin McCourty enough to make the huge financial commitment to. He, along with Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower are the key cogs to this defense and they are 28, 25 and 24 years old, respectively. They’re the current and future leaders of this group. Chandler Jones is 25 as well and Sealver Siliga is 24. All of those guys will have paydays coming up in the next few years.

It’s tough, but that’s how the salary cap works. Name me the last team to go “all in” on the first day of free agency and win the Super Bowl. It doesn’t work that way. Team that spend a lot in the first days of free agency are generally lousy teams who have a lot of cap space because they don’t have good enough players on their own team to pay.

The team will play a different style come fall. They’ll have to. I think they’ll figure something out. That’s not blind faith. That’s looking at an established track record and having confidence in the leadership that put it in place.

So the lunatic fringe of Patriots nation (h/t to Kerry Byrne) can howl and whine and moan, and the Jet fans can gloat over another offseason victory, but in the end, I’m pretty confident they’re all going to end up looking stupid.

Again.

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By the way, how’s that tampering case coming, Roger?

Tampering accusations are going to be dismissed as “sour grapes” by many, but there seems to be a clear pattern here that led to Revis returning to the Jets.

First, Woody Johnson “accidentally” let slip that he’d really like to have Revis back with the Jets.

Since then there have been reports in the New York media that the Jets were working furiously to come up with a plan to sign Revis away from the Patriots should they decline his option. The NY Daily News has been leading the way on this, reporting that Johnson was having  intense internal discussions to bring back Revis.

How do reports of those discussions make it into the media? Someone leaked them. Tampering.

Even this from the other day – If money is equal, Darrelle Revis will choose Patriots: sources – seems like the media being used to drive up the Jets price, and then today the story was different – if the offers were similar, Revis would’ve still chosen the Jets because he loves New York. OK then.

I call shenanigans. I’m not the only one.

I’m not sure you could have a more textbook case of tampering than what went down here.

No big deal? You can say that Revis would’ve ended up with the Jets anyway, but that really is not the point.

What would the national reaction have been if the roles in this affair had been reversed?

I suspect Goodell will do nothing. He claims it’s his job to investigate when rules are broken, just as he claims he is available to the media every day.

Twitter, Cap and JaVale, Oh My!

Help me out here.

So John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, who were once suspended for making racist remarks on the air, Kirk Minihane, who was suspended for calling a woman a “gutless bitch” and saying she should “drop dead” on the air, and John Tomase, who forced his paper to issue a public retraction and apology for a story he wrote, (but kept his job) have been the ones leading the charge for accountability for Twitter trolls?

Has anyone looked at John Dennis’ Twitter account? At times, he’s barely a notch above the idiots they’ve been condemning all week.

I have no issue with Curt Schilling putting the misogynistic morons who defamed his daughter on blast. (Though, if he’s as experienced with the Internet as we think he is, didn’t he realize something like this was likely to happen?) I recognize that D&C&M and Tomase have the audience and platform to bring attention to this situation.

I just wish they weren’t such blatant hypocrites.

Chad Finn looks at the Schilling story as well as another Twitter snafu from the week:

Sports incidents provide cautionary tales on Twitter

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The NFL salary cap is complicated and confusing, there’s no doubt about it. Cap space, cash spending, carryover, signing bonuses, Top 51 rule -it’s easy to get things mixed up.

Enter Miguel Benzan. His Patriots Salary Cap Information Page has long been an essential resource for any Patriots fan. Also, his blog on Patsfans.com provides outstanding breakdowns of individual situations and he’s a must follow on Twitter, as well.

It’s been good to see him getting more and more credit and recognition from the mainstream media, and watching him (gently) correct reporters on the facts in their coverage is fun.

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There was an interesting media story around the Celtics yesterday, as it was reported early in the morning that the team would be signing free agent center JaVale McGee to a contract through next season. Jeff Goodman of ESPN was the first on the story. Other outlets confirmed the story, and even Danny Ainge himself sort of confirmed it on his appearance on 98.5’s Toucher and Rich program.

Outlets went about producing content to reflect the signing, and what it would mean for the team.

But later in the day, the venerable Steve Bulpett of the Herald broke the news that McGee would not be coming to the Celtics, that the two sides could not reach agreement on a contract.

There followed a bit of confusion online, the Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach was on an airplane and continued tweeting as if the deal was going through, and promoted an updated story on the situation, before realizing the deal had fallen through and having to correct himself, but having no access to a phone to confirm.

In many ways this incident was a symbol of the new media world we inhabit. In the “old” days, the story wouldn’t have even been reported until the next day, and would’ve just been a footnote, with the team coming “close to signing” McGee but ultimately not being able to. The need for constant, real-time content isn’t always conducive to accuracy.

No one is really to blame for how the reporting was done, Goodman went with what he knew, and others confirmed it, but it wasn’t final yet, and things happen. In the end, the real scoop went to Bulpett.

Young Celtics Can’t Hang On Against Warriors

The Celtics ran out to a 26 point lead against the team many believe is the best in the NBA right now, the Golden State Warriors.

The Celtics didn’t so much lose that lead and eventually the game, as they did return to the mean.  What they did in the first half wasn’t really sustainable, but they remained competitive right to the end, and still had a chance to pull out the game in the end.  (Check CelticsLinks.com for all coverage.)

While the Celtics are a long ways from being a contender again, I’ll take their situation over just about any other “rebuilding” franchise in the NBA. They’ve got a bold GM, a very good coach who is getting better, some decent young talent under control, and tons of upcoming cap space and draft picks, not to mention trade exceptions.

If you think teams like the Knicks, Sixers or Lakers are going to become contenders before the Celtics, I’ll politely mock you and move on.

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The Bruins will look to make a final splash to determine the future of their season today with the NHL trade deadline coming down at 3pm this afternoon.

GM Peter Chiarelli made a move for the future overnight, trading picks for Tampa right wing Brett Connolly.

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The Patriots are are facing a deadline today with the 4pm deadline for designating Franchise players. While many think that S Devin McCourty is the prime candidate for this tag, Mike Reiss tweeted this morning that his intelligence suggests that K Stephen Gostkowski is more likely to be tagged.

I’m not sure what that means. Do they think they can work something out with McCourty before free agency starts next week? Does it mean they’re close with Revis and can’t make both moves right now? Could they lose both McCourty and Revis next week? I don’t think so, but I shudder at the possibility.

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Former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling is in the news this morning after his post on 38 Pitches last night (yes, it still exists!) about a situation that arose after he tweeted congratulations to his daughter for being accepted to college.

The world we live in…Man has it changed. ADDENDUM!

Wow. Sadly though, the types of Tweets Schilling is talking about, are all over the place. It’s the downside of social media, for sure.

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Speaking of idiots on social media, we have Peter King. The MMQB leader seemingly can’t go more than a couple of weeks without putting something absolutely tasteless or irresponsible out for public consumption.

The 21-year-old son of ESPN’s Ivan Maisel has been missing for a week now, and media types all over the country have been raising awareness of the case and expressing their concern and hopes.

King naturally, tries an awkward attempt at injecting himself into the topic and relating to the situation:

Ugh.

Does King even for a second consider how he comes off here? People I respect a ton have said that we shouldn’t get on King for this, as he no doubt is concerned about the Maisel family.

I don’t know that. To me this is King injecting himself into a topic that in no way involves him. If he wants to express sympathy for the family, there were a million better ways to do it. How about reaching out privately?

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A couple other links:

Why do media need to talk to athletes? – In like of the previously affable Kevin Durant going off on the media over All Star weekend, Bob Ryan examines why talking to the media is a part of the job for pro athletes.

A call to give Dick Vitale one more Duke-North Carolina game – Richard Deitsch’s SI Now media column looks at the big stories of the week.

Dale and Holley Sticking Around A Bit Longer

A bit of positive news, in my opinion, from Chad Finn this morning, (Dale Arnold-Michael Holley reunion has worked for WEEI) as he reports that Michael Holley is about to sign a new deal with WEEI and that he and Dale Arnold will be remaining together in the afternoons on the station – along with Jerry Thornton.

Holley has his flaws, but in my limited dealings with him, he’s always been one of the more thoughtful and self-aware guys out there. The show is a nice contrast to the daily bombast of negativity that is the Felger and Mazz show, and their ratings are reflecting that. While still trailing F&M by over 5 ratings points, Dale and Holley posted a strong 8.0 rating in the fall book.

There are plenty of vocal haters out there of both Dale and Holley, but I find myself appreciative of their style and I’m glad WEEI management is recognizing their success and keeping the show going.

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It’s early, but I think the Marc Bertrand/Scott Zolak pairing on 98.5 mid-days is going to be fine, and perhaps even an upgrade on the year-round basis. The football stuff might take a small step back, but Bertrand has a better all-around sports knowledge base and ability to talk about other sports than Andy Gresh did.

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But we can trust these guys to be objective when talking about the team? Klemko himself said the Patriots should lose all of their 2015 draft picks and railed about them cheating and getting away with it.

He should probably stick to beating up cab drivers and stealing cabs.

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It was somewhat odd to hear Danny Ainge trash the conditioning of Jared Sullinger yesterday morning on the Toucher and Rich show on 98.5. While it is no great surprise to anyone who looks at Sullinger that he would have issues with conditioning, it is rare to hear a team executive in any sport so publicly criticize his own player in this manner.

Ainge is no fool though. For the last few years he managed to keep Rajon Rondo’s trade value at least somewhat level by defending the player at every turn. If he’s saying these things about Sullinger, there must be a reason for it as well. The trade deadline is past, no further moves are going to be made until after the season. Sullinger isn’t going to play again this season, so the comments by Ainge likely were meant to attempt to light a fire under the talented yet seemingly unmotivated young forward.