So the Red Sox GM

So the Red Sox GM scoop battle continues in the media. While WEEI and WWZN spent all day yesterday shooting down “broadcast reports” that Theo Epstein would be the next Sox GM, Butch Stearns, the one who originated the “broadcast report” dug in his heels last night on his Fox25 sportscast, guaranteeing that Epstein will be the guy. The news anchor said to Stearns: “So you’re willing to bet your house on this?” To which Stearns replied “Yes”. So we’ll see.

This brings up a major pet peeve of mine in the media. I cannot stand it when a story is broken with the opener: (insert call letters or column name here) “has learned that….” I *hate* that. Yesterday it was WEEI doing it all day. “WEEI has learned that Epstein will not be named Sox GM….” A clearly remember two years ago, after Pitino’s final full season with the Celtics when there were rumors he was talking to colleges about leaving the Celtics, a smug Gene Lavanchy with a smarmy smile on his face opened Sports Xtra by saying “WHDH-TV has learned that Rick Pitino has met with the University of whatever to discuss their coaching vacancy.” It’s stuck in my head forever and though Lavanchy might be one of the good guys in the media, I still get annoyed when I think of that. I *hate* that phrase “has learned”. It’s lazy, and uninformative. Almost an insult to the viewer or reader. We know something you don’t know, but we’re going to grace you with something special. Blah. If you ever read the words on this site “Boston Sports Media Watch has learned that…” please, just take me out back to the woodshed. Please. First give me a spoon though so I can gouge my eyes out before you shoot me.

Stepping off the soapbox…Onto the actual reports of the Red Sox GM search. Gordon Edes speculates that though Epstein may have an expanded role with the Sox, a likely scenario is having Lee Thomas take the lead position and keep it warm for Epstein, as the Sox “have cooled” on Mike Port. Sean McAdam has a brief article the on Epstein rumor denial. Tony Massarotti gives the same information in a small Red Sox notebook. Steve Buckley slams the induction of John Harrington into the Red Sox Hall of Fame while shining the boots of the new owners.

Gerry Callahan mocks Raiders fans for the second time in 11 months. (He wrote a similar article just before the snow game.) I think the first one was better, though this one is also fun to send to any Raider’s fans that you know. Jim Donaldson is tired of predictions of guaranteed wins. Kevin Faulk is the media darling of the day. Paul Kenyon notes that Faulk is tied for the team lead in touchdowns. Nick Cafardo examines the reversed roles of Faulk and J.R. Redmond. Ian Clark makes the point that Belichick is simply riding the hot hand, and the hot hand is Faulk. George Kimball concludes the series of Faulk articles. From his time in the AFC West, Christian Fauria played against the Raiders many times, and against then Bronco’s linebacker Bill Romanowski just as many times. Rich Thompson has a look at Fauria renewing old and sometimes bitter acquaintances. Michael O’Connor looks at Greg Randall (drop the Robinson) working his way back into the starting lineup. Cafardo’s notebook looks at the Patriots attitude going into Oakland. Kenyon’s notebook has more from benched J.R. Redmond. Thompson’s notebook has Belichick lauding Adam Vinatieri. Leigh Montville gives his picks.

OK Bruins fans….I hear ya…so I’ll give out some Bruins links today. Just be forewarned that this could be the kiss of death, so if they plummet in the standings the after this, don’t talk to me…Kevin Paul Dupont gives appreciation to Don Sweeney, calling him the “the bow to Ray Bourque’s Stradivarius.” for so many years. Joe Gordon also lauds Sweeney. Stephen Harris and Nancy Marrapese-Burrell provide game stories on last night’s 4-1 win, which pushed the Bruins record to a pretty amazing 11-2-2. Jim Greenidge gets some quotes from a pleased captain Joe Thornton. Bill Keefe looks at the play of the Bruins special teams. The Globe’s notebook provides some injury updates, while the Herald’s notebook looks at injured again Islanders captain Michael Peca.

With undefeated Dallas coming into town for tonight’s matchup with the Celtics, Gus Martins looks at a confident Celtics team. Shira Springer also looks at the clash of the streaks. Martin’s notebook has Eric Williams pitching his theory of a 70% solution. Jackie MacMullan provides an enthralling old-style Globe feature on NBA referee Bob Delaney, who in a previous life was an undercover FBI agent. The only thing I wish this article included was Delaney’s thoughts on the NBA referees involved in the tax fraud scandal a few years back.

Jim Baker writes about Rick Middleton’s appearances on Globe partner NESN. Bill Griffith looks at WCVB’s Patriots All Access program and has some other media notes.

FSNE has Celtics/Mavericks at 8:00. (ESPN Nationally) ESPN also has Rockets/Suns at 10:30. ESPN2 has Marquette/Villanova college basketball at 6:30 and Texas/Georgia at 9:00.

Setting the stage, Mark Murphy

Setting the stage, Mark Murphy notes the hard feelings between the Sixers and the Celtics. The rivalry appears to be back. Jackie MacMullan has a piece on Larry Brown, who waxes on the topic of the Celtics, the old days, the new players, and why Allen Iverson will not play for the Olympic team. Steve Bulpett reports on the big Celtics win last night. The Sixers and their fans were looking for revenge in this game, and despite a low scoring night from Paul Pierce, the Celtics were able to handle them with relative ease. Shira Springer also leads off by the saying the Sixers took last spring’s gave 5 blowout personal. Carolyn Thornton writes that the key to the win was being able to “contain” (25 points on 24 shots, 1 assist) Allen Iverson. Lenny Megliola acknowledges the big contributions from the supporting players. MacMullan also observes that Vin Baker starting to get comfortable. Iverson is impressed with the Celtics play and reserves, as recorded by Gus Martins. Hopefully Kedrick Brown will keep his promise and get his ankles taped before every game. Yes, it’s a pain, and if you’re not used to it, it can take some adjustment, but it’s necessary. Martins has a look at the quiet second year swingman. Springer’s notebook also records Brown’s vow to tape. Megliola has a notebook that focuses on Baker. Bulpett takes a few notes on Shammond Williams, the Celtics sale and Hubie Brown.

Nick Cafardo looks at Tom Brady gearing up for the abuse from the Raiders fans. Tom Curran has a look at the Raiders, Charles Woodson’s guarantee, and the pressure on Oakland to win now. Alan Greenberg also writes about the Raiders and how their reluctance to let things go. Michael Felger gets some tales of the pleasure of playing before the Oakland faithful. Mike Reiss compiles a bunch of information about the NFL officials. Michael O’Connor says that Antowain Smith looks to again be a big factor in a stretch run. Jim Donaldson writes about NFL parity. Michael Gee writes that most rematches turn out to be anticlimactic. Into the notebooks of the esteemed scribes…Cafardo has Ty Law keeping quiet and encouraging a fellow Michigan alum to do the same. Reiss’ notebook looks at some similarities between the teams. Curran’s notebook looks at the Raiders edge in experience. Felger’s notebook has more on the officials and Joe Andruzzi.

Bob Hohler introduces a darkhorse GM candidate for the Red Sox. 29 year old A’s assistant GM Paul DePodesta. Tony Massarotti fuels the Theo Epstein rumors.

NESN has Bruins/Islanders at 7:00. TNT has Spurs/Sixers at 7:30 and Magic/Clippers at 10:00. ESPN has Louisville/Southern Miss college football at 7:30. ESPN2 has a college hoops doubleheader with Syracuse/Memphis at 7:00 and Oklahoma/Alabama at 9:00. FSNE has NE Tailgate at 7:00. HBO has Inside the NFL at 8:00.

The Shaughnessy article has inspired

The Shaughnessy article has inspired quite a bit of feedback, most stating that it is the worst column he’s ever written. While that might be stretching it at bit, dozens of e-mailers don’t think so. Many reported that they couldn’t even finish it. My personal favorite comes from [email protected], who writes: “CHB’s column today is beyond dreadful. It’s something Jim Donaldson would not write in his darkest hour.” Well said.

Eager to get reaction to Jim Baker’s slam at him in the Herald this morning, I contacted the offices of Bill Simmons for comment. The following release was sent over: “It’s always been my dream to get slammed by a reporter who once co-wrote a book with OJ Simpson.”

Speaking of Simmons, a feature of his old Digital City days that was the very popular was the “Brushes with greatness” sections. In a shameless ripoff, I’m going to do something similar, so if you have an experience with someone famous or even semi-recognizable, (media or non) send them in.

More evidence that WEEI listens to WWZN. This afternoon on WWZN, there were trivia questions, and segments where the callers guessed the voices of Celtics and Bruins players, all for various token prizes. On WEEI later, when a caller says he has a piece of trivia, Ordway says “Hey…that’s a great idea, why don’t we do whole show with a bunch of trivia and give out cheap prizes to listeners?”

Doesn’t appear the the favor is returned, however, as only Pete Sheppard on WEEI had the breaking news of the Patriots playing the Rangers on Sunday night. Candy on the Mike Adams morning show did break the news that “He (rock celeb Prince) changed his name to a symbol you can’t even pronounce.”

Rob Bradford has more on the rapidly-dropping-off-the-radar Billy Beane situation. Mike Fine previews Celtics/Sixers. Eric McHugh has more on the comeback in Chicago. Mark Farinella looks at another comeback, that of artificial turf. Jonathon Comey looks at the QB controversy. In St Louis.

Did anyone enjoy Dan Shaughnessy

Did anyone enjoy Dan Shaughnessy this morning? I thought the piece was dreadful and demeaning, but maybe that’s just me. Perhaps I should give credit to Dan for trying to keep things light, but he’s jaded me so much that I’m suspicious of everything the guy writes. My cynicism and Shaughnessy radar tell me he’s discrediting the snow game and the comeback in Chicago, implying that the Patriots aren’t truly deserving of either win, and by extension the Super Bowl. Maybe I should give him credit for having the talent or persistance to sneak a Buckner reference into a Patriots column. Or maybe this has something to do with me watching JFK the other day on cable…

Michael Smith gets the Patriots/Raiders fires burning with word of Charles Woodson guaranteeing a Raiders win on Sunday. Michael Felger notes that the Patriots have a lot of improvements to make if they want to go on the type of run they did last year. One question…why would the Raiders give that Brady video to Phifer when he visited them as a free agent this past offseason? Did they think that would be an inducement to get him to sign with them? Alan Greenberg can’t make heads nor tails of the AFC and provides some notes from around the NFL, including Terry Glenn’s premature Lambeau leap. Joseph P. Kahn has a interesting Globe feature on Jonathan Kraft. Rich Thompson takes a look at the Patriots backs, who are able to take the short dumps and turn them into big gainers.

Bob Hohler wonders if the Red Sox could go right to Theo Epstein for the GM position. Testimony from around the league seems to say he could handle it. For what it’s worth, Butch “Jim Thome to the Red Sox is a done deal” Stearns reported last night on Fox25 that Epstein would be named Red Sox GM within the month. I talked about my Shaughnessy radar earlier. I’m also developing a Steve Buckley radar. Today he compares Mike Port working with Epstein to “Tony Bennett performing a duet with Eminem”. I kid you not. Sean McAdam updates the GM search and has info on the Sox new bench coach. Yesterday, John Tomase had Lucchino ruling out Epstein as a candidate. Hohler’s notebook has media pal J.P. Ricciardi speaking for Beane. Tony Massarotti has a couple bullpen names the Sox seem to be interested in, Tom Gordon and (ugh) Roberto Hernandez.

Gus Martins previews tonights Celtics/Sixers matchup. Michael Muldoon writes about the suddenly passing fancy, Paul Pierce. Frank Dell’Apa looks at the activation of the not-ready-to-play Kedrick Brown and also previews the Sixers. Martins’ notebook deals with the difficulty of getting the ball in to the low post in today’s NBA.

Despite an owner that has alienated their fan base, the Bruins keep rolling. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has details of last nights 4-3 win in Buffalo. Steve Conroy views it as escaping with the win after a dreadful start and poor finish. Dan Hickling’s notebook in the Projo looks at Robbie Ftorek’s lineup tweaking. Conroy’s notebook has rookie Ivan Huml taking a seat to watch the game from above the ice.

Couple items of note from Jim Baker. He’s got Joe Theisman talking about the tuck rule and Patriots/Raiders, in addition, ever since the breakup of the Madden/Sumerall duo, we’ve heard how Heinsohn/Gorman is the longest running broadcast duo in sports. It’s just been accepted as fact by everyone. Turns out, everyone was wrong. Apparently Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren have been calling Atlanta Braves games together for 28 years. Most, if not all of those right in front of a national audience on TBS. Baker also manages a major slam at Bill Simmons with his concluding line: “Word that Bill Simmons is LA-bound to join Jimmy Kimmel has prompted good-riddance reactions.” Man. Talk about a blind, uncredited blanket slam.

FSNE has Celtics/Sixers at 7:00. ESPN has Spurs/Nets at 7:00 and Warriors/Kings at 9:30. ESPN2 has Panthers/Flyers at 7:30.

Yes…Eddie Andelman did actually use

Yes…Eddie Andelman did actually use the word “sluttiest” on air twice today. Way to raise the bar, Eddie. And yes, I know that the “raising the bar” tagline only applies to The McDonough Group AND only when Sean is actually hosting said program. And yes, John Dennis did insist that the Bears coach should’ve challenged a call with under a minute left in the game. Greg Dickerson did try to correct him on the fact that under two minutes only the officials themselves can call for a play to be reviewed, But Dennis would have none of it. By the way, wonder what Dickerson thinks about having his name on the 1510 website as being included in their poll for an upcoming show…and finally, if you came to this site this morning and found a Muslim porn site…well I don’t know what to tell you. Actually, what might’ve happened is my sometimes unpredictable host server will serve up seemingly random sites, including, I guess what at least one person saw this morning. That probably also explains the one who saw the page with the bullet in the corner. If you get a weird page when visiting here, simply reload the page. At some point in the future, I plan on moving this site to a higher end hosting company, but looking for some funding first…

Mike Fine looks at the venerable Stockton and Malone. Chad Finn weighs in on Billy Beane and looks ahead to the Red Sox offseason moves. On the possibility of trading Nomar: “If he ever left Boston, it would be a baseball tragedy of Babe-to-the-Yankees proportions. I can almost see Shaughnessy smirking from here.” Jon Couture has an original thought….give the job to Mike Port. Eric McHugh looks at the heroes of Sunday’s comeback. The always entertaining Tuesday Morning Quarterback by Gregg Easterbrook seems even longer than usual this week. Wouldn’t you love to see this happen in Boston?

Kevin Mannix is fairly generous

Kevin Mannix is fairly generous with his grades in his report card today, considering the team played pretty bad for nearly three quarters. Tom Curran has some good Looney Tunes references in regards to the Patriots. (Side note…did you know that the Looney Tunes….Bugs Bunny and crew…are not available on DVD? That’s a crime.) Nick Cafardo gives a detailed look at the comeback. Alan Greenberg points to the officials calls and Bears’ coaches mistakes as why the Patriots are a “more mediocre than dominating” 5-4. Ron Borges says lets not get all caught up in the comeback, they played horrid for three quarters and benefited from “some of the worst officiating at the end of a game in recent history.” Kevin McNamara chronicles how things went right the Patriots way. Rich Thompson has more on the planning that went into the game winning TD. Lenny Megliola peeks ahead to Patriots/Raiders. Cafardo’s notebook looks at Andruzzi’s sore knee and Vinatieri’s golden leg. Thompson’s notebook also features Vinatieri. High School coaches grade the Patriots for the Union Leader.

Last night’s FSNE Celtics broadcast contained many tributes to Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn, who were broadcasting their 1000th game together. Tributes poured in video form from Red Auerbach, Danny Ainge and NBA Commish David Stern. Bill Walton was present and read a letter from Larry Bird. Walton also sat in for part of the telecast, and let the halftime ceremony that included the Stern video, congratulations from Paul Pierce, and others. Various vintage Celtics clips from the ’80s and ’90s were shown throughout the night. (Many more from the ’80s…understandably)

Shira Springer has the story of the game, a game that featured runs on both end in the first half, and the second half saw the Celtics pull away. Steve Bulpett covers the game for the Herald, noting the irony of the grizzled Jazz coming in on Veteran’s day. Paul Kenyon’s game story focuses on the performance of Paul Pierce. Peter May has a look at Karl Malone. Gus Martins also examines the overall production of Paul Pierce. Bulpett’s notebook has Bill Walton weighing in on Vin Baker, and has a peek at the halftime ceremony. Springer’s notebook also has Baker feeling more comfortable, and Pierce giving his thoughts on a myriad of topics. Kenyon’s notebook looks at Stockton and Malone and ends with Jim O’Brien noting that Kedrick Brown has likely lost his spot in the rotation due to his injury.

Bob Hohler chronicles the Billy Beane saga, including the tidbit that Red Sox partner Tom Werner had Katie Couric call Beane’s wife and sing “Happy Birthday” to her as part of the wooing process. Steve Buckley says Hey, it’s ok to change your mind. He even uses this premise to bash Manny. “And how about Manny Ramirez? If Ramirez had been able to look inside his own heart the way Billy Beane did early Sunday morning, he’d have remained with the Cleveland Indians. He’d have been happier, and, as things have happened, so too would Sox fans.” All I can say is, Buckley, you don’t speak for me. (My initial thoughts were somewhat stronger, but I tempered them for the sake of the children reading.) Sean McAdam hits the reset button on the Sox GM search. David Heuschkel looks at the search and the remaining options. Tony Massarotti says the Sox have been jilted and jolted. Jeff Horrigan also looks at the agonizing of Beane before turning the job down. Seeing Ralphie killed on the Sopranos somehow consoled him that he had made the right decision. Go figure. Hoher also reports on free agent Cliff Floyd, searching for a big contract. Gordon Edes has a notebook containing a Tim Wakefield contract extension and a new bench coach for Grady Little. Kevin Provencher reports the Sox are disappointed, but not devastated at the Beane snub. Michael Silverman looks that remaining candidates.

Bill Griffith has a look at tonight’s HBO OJ Simpson documentary, and other media notes. John Molori catches up with former 1510 Celtics Rewind host Marty Tirrell, now over at 1590 in Nashua. Tirrell questions 1510′s finances in this interview, the article also looks at the new Mike Adams morning show.

NESN has Bruins/Sabres at 7:00 ESPN2 has the Harlem Globetrotters taking on Maryland at 7:00. ESPN has Miami (Oh)/Marshall college football at 8:00

Today being a holiday, I

Today being a holiday, I slept in. Here’s a few quick links on the two big stories of the day. Wonder how much Dan Shaughnessy really had to change his Billy Beane column today, which parts do you think were in the original? You think the Pitino reference was in there? I’m betting it was. Tony Massarotti & Michael Silverman team up to report the story for the Herald. Bob Hohler has more for the Globe. As this story broke late last night, expect more stories tomorrow.

On the Patriots, Nick Cafardo has the details of the scintillating Patriots win, Kevin Mannix writes about the magic of Brady. Tom Curran writes about this character building win. Michael Smith reports on a weekend of comebacks for Kevin Faulk. In addition to the Patriots, His college team LSU, defeated Kentucky on the last play of the game. Smith could’ve mentioned also that Faulk’s distance cousin Marshall, also had a part in a Rams comeback that was every bit as dramatic and impressive as that of the Patriots. Ron Borges provides some detailed, serious analysis of the defense. The article is free of the agenda driven drivel of recent times. Alan Greenberg looks at the close calls at the end. Michael Felger has just another chapter in the miracle champions storybook. Jim Donaldson looks at the crucial defensive stop. Will McDonough weighs in on the game, noting that all bad teams will find a way to lose if you let them. There are plenty more articles in the Herald and Globe, but most deal with smaller angles of the game.

Quick look at a couple Chicago articles that skewer the officials and the Bears coaching staff. Jay Mariotti is especially harsh on Dick Jauron, and calls Brady “America’s coolest 25 year old quarterback.” Rick Telander reports that Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache challenged some members of the media to meet him outside later. Imagine if that happened here? Romeo Crennel, sick of Borges, says “meet me behind the stadium in an hour.”

Interesting that Sports Final split up the combatants last night. Borges and Cafardo had no contact with Felger or DeOssie. Wonder if this was in reaction to the uproar, the fact the Sports Xtra has consistently beat them in the ratings despite having (in my opinion) an inferior show? Or perhaps was this perhaps a mandate from the Globe. It’s well documented that the Globe strives for an appearance of decorum from its writers when they are not on the pages of the newspaper. Was it either this or the banning of all Globe writers from Sports Final? One interesting note is that last week Borges said that the Patriots were only a good team when they had a lead. They did pretty good coming from behind yesterday.

NESN has a Bruins/Oilers holiday matinee at 1:00. FSNE has Celtics/Jazz at 7:00. ABC has Raiders/Broncos at 9:00.ESPN Classic has a Bill Parcells SportsCentury at 8:00 and 11:00.

Butch Stearns started off reporting

Butch Stearns started off reporting on Fox25 Sports Sunday that Billy Beane has turned the Red Sox down and will not be their GM after all. He’s quoting Fox25 sources, but the AP and ESPN are also reporting the same thing at this hour. Stearns says that Beane agreed earlier in the day to a deal with the Red Sox, but called back later in the day to say that he changed his mind.

Sports Extra on Channel 7 with Gene Lavanchy also led off with Billy Beane withdrawing his name from consideration for the Red Sox GM job. Onto Fred Smerlas and Tim Fox about the Patriots. Coming back on the road like that says a lot, according to Smerlas. Lavanchy said he doesn’t know what else Brady can do to prove himself to people. Fox, sounded like he’s been hanging around Borges too much on WWZN, said he is very disappointed in this win, as it shows the Patriots are a mediocre team. They should’ve won easily against a very poor Chicago Bears team. Smerlas pointed out that this is a mediocre league, no dominant teams. The Patriots are getting the breaks again, the calls and mistakes by the other team and taking advantage of them. Fox says the Bears coach Dick Jauron doesn’t look good after this one.

A couple Tom Brady plays were mentioned, first he shoved the lineman in the pile, and also tried to strip the ball in the interception that was reversed on replay. Showed character. Fox says they just used the same game plan they used last week at Buffalo, and they need to game plan individually for each teams. Lavanchy said that Vinatieri is a future Hall of Famer. Kevin Faulk’s emergence was discussed, as was the pass Brady made to him on the hotread off the blitz. Fox said both the team and Faulk are gaining confidence in Faulk. Stopping the Bears on second and one and third and one was critical, do or die time. Smerlas said it was a real fun game to watch except for Randy Cross, who drove him crazy. Fox hopes that the coaches and players learn something from this game. Only then is the win a positive. He said if they play like this next week, they will not win. He emphasized that they need to establish the running game. Quit passing on third and one, give it to Smith and let him build confidence.

Tony Massarotti was in next to talk about Billy Beane. Tony said it was a done deal, the hairpin turn at the 11th hour is startling. But he thinks the person who looks the worst in all of this is Beane. He kept going to the owners asking for permission to talk to the Red Sox, and then when it is granted, he backs out. He said the Red Sox look good in this, they played their cards right in sticking through this. For Beane to put the pressure on Oakland ownership and then pull out defies logic and makes no sense. Now Mike Port and Lee Thomas come back to the forefront. They will be an easier sell than someone like Mike Arbuckle now. The Red Sox went above and beyond what they needed to do to get this done they don’t suffer from this. Tony says we’ll know in the next 10-12 days for sure who will be the new GM, he says Port or Thomas, Lavanchy says Port.

An interview with Paul Pierce was up next. He feels like he’s really entering his prime now. Just scratching his potential. He feel he’s more than just a scorer. He feels he’s a top defender, can pass the ball too. He talked about guys like McGrady, Kobe etc overshadowing him, they’re more of high-flyers, highlight reels. Paul is faster than people might think, and he feels he’s smarter than most players. Paul says Antoine is at his best when he’s pushing the ball, when he’s hitting the three, he’s unstoppable, Paul said he’s a 2002 Magic Johson with a three point shot. He can handle the ball, pass, rebound, post up or shot from outside. Pierce did acknowledge that at times he might cringe at some of the threes that Walker might take, but that he should be taking them, and when he hits them you can’t stop him.

WBZ’s Sports Final, Bob Lobel said it just isn’t easy being a sports fan in Boston. The comeback was amazing and now in the NFL almost all teams are either 5-4 or 4-5. Dan Roche reported from Champaign, providing the game story. (Ho-hum, another Patriots miracle win) There was even a “live” shot during the game, immediately after Patten’s TD catch, while they were reviewing the call Roche went to the spot and pointed where Patten’s foot dragged across. Michael Smith and Michael Felger joined him. Smith noted there is a lot of things they still need to improve, but a win is a win. Felger said this is one of the most clutch teams in the NFL, they do this sort of thing consistently. They win a lot of one on one matchups when it counts. Smth noted one or two plays or games in the course of a season is going to make a difference with all the teams so close. Felger noted the Patten touchdown call by the official was very gutsy, it was a very quick play, and had it been called the other way, it might’ve been tough to overturn with the video available. Felger also noted the mistakes by Chicago giving the the Pats extra plays, and Brady going to Weis and suggesting the winning play. As for next week, going to be a hostile crowd, Smith isn’t too intimidated by the Raiders after their recent struggles. Felger likes their chances next week as it will be an emotional game.

Upton Bell joined Steve DeOssie and Scott Zolak with Lobel. Zolak noted that this team only plays good when they’re ticked off or odds are stacked against them. Bell said that the league and players are just mediocre. He knew the Patriots could come back on such a poor team. DeOssie clarified mediocrity versus parity. Bell went on bashing the Bears, pointing to each panelist and asking them if they though this was a good or even mediocre Bears team. How did this happen, Lobel asked? DeOssie noted that they just opened it up, and they were successful moving the ball. Bell is concerned about the defense, he doesn’t think it’s a good defense. Lobel chastised him for having a swarmy look while bashing the Patriots defense. Zolak said the Bears lost the game on the Faulk TD off the zone blitz. He says that’s the one play that lost the game for the Bears. Results of a viewer poll where up next. 600 people, 72% said the Patriots will make the playoffs, while only 35% say they will repeat as champs.

Onto the Beane situation. Lobel says the deal was done earlier in the day and read a quote from Beane saying the Red Sox were willing to pay him more than he could’ve believed, but it was about more then just money. Shaughnessy joined Lobel and Rob Neyer from ESPN.com was tied in. Neyer was surprised that Beane pulled out, he says the public reason will be about his daughter, though Neyer mentioned the grumblings around the league about Lucchino being difficult to work with. He added that the Red Sox may not need a powerful GM with all the talented people they have. It may not be that important who the GM is right now, The Sox are almost set up like the Yankees are right now, if they get a guy who can work within the system, they’ll be fine, plenty of smart people there. Shaughnessy is mad because he has to change his column for tomorrow. He thinks it has nothing to do with Lucchino, he thinks it’s about the personal situation. He might’ve been feeling guilty about being the highest paid GM and felt the pressure would be too much here. Bell wondered why they need Beane if they have Lucchino, Epstein, etc. Lobel had a copy of Bill James’ book, and asked why he would join the Sox, Neyer said that James wants to be a piece of the action, wants to see if he can have an impact on the field. Shaughnessy is concerned about this whole “stat man” thing. (“Gimble was an idiot”) He doesn’t like statistical analysis, he goes by what he sees. He added that John Henry made his living off numbers, but that he should stick to the pork bellies.

After a commercial break. Pedro was the topic. Lobel asked what difference does it make if he wins the Cy Young or not. He put up Pedro’s quotes about wanting to make that last start, and his comments about the Dominican players being the top ten. Lobel called those last remarks “out and out racist” by Pedro. He said Pedro threw his manager, pitching coach and trainer under the bus with the first comments. Shaughnessy says Pedro is wading into Roger Clemens territory with those comments. Neyer does believe Zito was a proper choice, most of the time the voters go with the guy with the most wins. To close out the Beane talk, Neyer said people change their minds all the time, they’re all humans. Shaughnessy says Larry looks like he can’t get a date for the dance. He thinks there will be a GM by committee until Theo is ready.

Back to Champaign, where Roche was joined this time by Borges and Cafardo. Guess they’re separating them from Felger now. Cafardo is excited about the division, the Patriots have put themselves in a position where they can lose to Raiders and not have it matter too much. Borges pointed out that sure the Patriots are in first place, but they’re also a game out of last place. Cafardo said they came out very flat today, but maybe they have the swtich they can turn on against subpar teams. (Borges later noted that the switch is a bad thing, they might try to turn on the switch against a good team and it’s not goign to work.) Borges liked the defense at the end of the game. Noted stopping the Bears after they had a second and one where if they gave up the yard, the game was over. Cafardo noted Vinatiari’s record kick. Borges is concerned about them not beating the good teams in the league. He doesn’t know if the Raiders even qualify as a good team. Lobel asked about the tie game in Pittsburgh and what effect that could have on the playoff situation. As it isn’t a loss, it helps the Steelers. Asked if the Patriots can distinguish themselves amidst the mediocrity, Both Borges and Cafardo said they can be better than mediocre, but not sure about being a good team. Bell chimed in about the defense being lousy, Borges said they’re just about the same as they were a year ago. Cafardo doesn’t think they’re nearly as good as a year ago. Bell singled out Seymour as playing poor. Borges and Carfardo said they were in the press box asking “Where’s Seymour?, Where’s Seymour?” Borges said his technique is very poor right now. Roche noted that Belichick pondered the plaque of Red Grange for a good five minutes.

Lobel had some memorabilia to show off, a 1972 Bruins Stanley Cup Ring owned by Dallas Smith that is being auctioned off. They also showed Ty Cobb’s bat from 1926. A Lacrosse helmet worn by Jimmy Brown, and a Pete Maravich basketball that he used to the break the NCAA scoring record with. They also had a Maravich LSU jersey, that has already bids over 40 grand on it, they even had a Maravich Celtics jersey. They showed a Tom Heinsohn Celtics jersey and a 1969 All Star uniform worn by Bill Russell. Lou Gehrig’s pants from 1931 were shown, as were Jackie Robinson’s 1949 uniform pants. They had a Superman cape and outfit that Christopher Reeve wore in the movies. Lobel joked about buying the tights for his wife. These items are all available at grayflannelauctions.com

Billy Beane talk dominated the

Billy Beane talk dominated the Mustard and Johnson program on WEEI. ESPN reported at 9:30 this morning that the A’s and Sox have already agreed on a compensation package for Beane. Talk on M&J revolved around what the package will be. When told a minor league third baseman was involved, Mustard showed his devotion to the Yankees and lack of knowledge of the Red Sox by saying it must be Tony Blanco, was terrible at Single A ball this year. In reality the prospect the A’s covet is likely Kevin Youkilis, who the A’s tried to get from the Red Sox earlier this year. Note the second item on this Peter Gammons article from August.

A couple of items of

A couple of items of interest on this Saturday. First of all Murray Chass of the NY Times is reporting that the A’s have granted the Red Sox permission to speak to Billy Beane. (free registration required or view the ESPN story of the report.) Doesn’t look good for the Boston media, which is supposed to be so thorough and diligent, to be behind on something this big. The headline to this Projo article reads that “It appears one of the game’s most sought after general managers will eventually land in Boston.” The article goes on to speculate as to what it will take to land Beane, including players with large contracts the Sox may have to take off the A’s hands.

Second is Nick Cafardo’s mailbag from yesterday. As usual, it’s chock full of various items. Nick seems to let loose in here a bit more than he does in his stories, but is less antagonistic than his Sports Final persona. (Which is one of the items he addresses here. He seems to indicate changes are coming and Sports Final will be calmer.)