Nick Cafardo gets reaction from

Nick Cafardo gets reaction from the Patriots five Pro Bowl selections, as well as several Buffalo selections, including of course, Drew Bledsoe. I need to clarify something I said yesterday about Cafardo, I used the word “lazy” when describing the article he wrote on the crowd noise at Gillette. It wasn’t meant to say that Nick is a lazy reporter, but that sometimes I find the whole idea of taking a topic that you’ve spent your afternoon talking about on sports radio and making it the subject of your column the next day in the newspaper lazy. Steve Buckley is the master of this practice. Gerry Callahan is outraged that Tom Brady didn’t make the Pro Bowl. He’s had a better year than Bledsoe, and really has nothing to work with, as Callahan breaks it down. Michael Felger has a touching story of Joe Andruzzi’s friendship with a cancer patient. Alan Greenberg notes that David Patten, like his teammates, isn’t making the plays he made last year. Ian Clark though, notes that Patten is having a career year, from a statistical standpoint. Frank Dell’Apa looks at the importance of the Jets game Sunday. Paul Kenyon looks ahead to the first matchup of Tom Brady and Chad Pennington. Felger looks at the release of Steve Martin. Loose lips sink ships, he says. Greenberg also takes a look at the Patriot Pro Bowl selections. Cafardo’s notebook looks at the injury to Otis Smith and the release of Martin. Felger’s notebook looks at Smith’s injury and the Pro Bowl selections. Kenyon’s notebook also looks at the departures of Smith and Martin from the active roster. Leigh Montville makes his weekly picks.

So Cliffy isn’t coming back. So be it. Bob Hohler examines the impact Floyd’s declining arbitration will have on the Red Sox. Michael Silverman reports that the Sox are actually very relieved that Floyd decided to decline. He looks ahead to what moves the Sox will now make. David Heuschkel also looks at Floyd and what is next. Using parts of Theo Epstein’s interview with Dale & Neumy yesterday, Art Martone looks ahead to the non-tender free agents. Steve Buckley looks at whats ahead for John Henry Williams and his baseball career. Lenny Megliola looks at former Patriot Ron Burton’s life these days as the Red Sox go into partnership with Burton’s training village. Bob Ryan looks at the Pete Rose mess. Paul Doyle remembers Dr. Strangeglove, Dick Stuart.

Stephen Harris looks at another Bruins loss, the good news is, they at least showed signs of life in the third period of this one. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell reports that the Bruins dressing room was upbeat after the loss. If the Patriots were upbeat after a loss, I think that would be reported as a negative… James Murphy looks at Joe Thornton hitting a crossroads of his career, can he handle the pressure that comes with team struggles while he is the captain? Harris’ notebook looks at Brian Rolston trying to change his luck, and Marrapese-Burrell’s notebook says surgery is in the cards for Samsonov.

Stan Grossfeld recounts the fascinating tale of Bevo Francis. I don’t know about you, but I always get Bevo Francis mixed up with Hank Luisetti. Hmmm, I’m turning into the Steve Buckley of basketball here, bringing up names from the past and tossing them around. Yesterday it was Maurice Stokes, today it’s Hank Luisetti and Bevo Francis. Can anyone tell what part of the library I used to spend my study hall periods in? Francis once scored 113 points in a college game, had there been a three point shot, his total would’ve been 164. Wow. I was pretty surprised to find out that Francis is still alive and that he’s only 70 years old. I guess that’s where the Hank Luisetti stuff comes in, because he played in the 30′s, while Francis was in the 50′s. Actually, as far as I know, Luisetti is still alive too…Not to sound too Simmons-esque, but yes, I’m rambling here. Mark Murphy says the Celtics are the anti-Patriots…beat the good teams and lose to the bad. Shira Springer looks at the reasons for the Celtics struggles. Fatigue, illness, lack of practice time are all factors. Murphy’s notebook has the Celtics, and specifically Tony Delk getting some much needed rest.

John Howell isn’t too impressed with Sean McDonough’s negotiations through the media and his radio show, and implies that McDonough never had any intentions of joining the Mets broadcast team. Jim Baker looks at Paul McGuire, and has a couple other notes. In the spirit of shameless self promotion, here’s my weekly Metro column.

FSNE has Celtics/Timberwolves at 7:30. ESPN has Lakers/Sixers at 8:00 and Suns/Clippers at 10:30.

Baseball talk continues to lead

Baseball talk continues to lead sports radio. Dale & Neumy were talking Cliff Floyd, Bartolo Colon, etc. Theo Epstein joined the program around 1:00 and talked extensively about Floyd, about procedures, Contreras, bullpen help, and addresses whether Nomar’s name came up over the weekend in Nashville. A transcript of the conversation is available on the Boston Dirt Dogs site. On with Eddie and Jags, there was a little more Patriots talk, a few New York area writers appeared on the program, but more and more, at reader Matt pointed out yesterday, the program is simply a forum for Eddie to talk to his pals on the Chrysler-Jeep- Giant Glass-KowLoon-Mohegan Sun of Belmont celebrity hotline, while Dave Jageler sits back and listens, usually silent. The one thing Jageler has been vocal about is the Bird/Belkin group not getting the NBA franchise for his former hometown of Charlotte. Jags says that the city was basically sold a bill of goods by having Larry Bird go down there, get the city excited and then the NBA goes with the Johnson group instead. Without Larry Bird’s name there would be no arena deal or NBA expansion team there. Glen Ordway returned to the Big Show today, joined by Steve DeOssie and Larry Johnson. Football was a big topic there, as was former co-host Lyndon Byers spending time in the big house. As you might imagine a lot of jokes were made at that situation. Sean McDonough was joined by Michael Smith and Kevin Paul Dupont.

Otis Smith has been placed on the IR by the Patriots, ending his season. Richard Seymour, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Adam Vinatieri and special teamer Larry Izzo were named as Pro Bowlers today. Eric McHugh looks at Curtis Martin, likely licking his chops coming in, and we also hear from Patriot types who claim the run defense actually wasn’t that bad Monday Night. David Pevear also looks at the run defense. Hey, have you heard? The season comes down to the last two games for the Patriots. Tom King says so. Mike Lowe agrees with that assessment. Chris Kennedy looks at the challenges facing Tom Brady.

An interesting view on the Charlotte expansion franchise is submitted by Stephen A. Smith. Some interesting quotes in there, such as: “Thing is, Bird partnered himself with a group that didn’t have the funds, according to sources very close to the negotiations. From day one, Bird’s group appeared too eager to engage in a public relations, smoke-and-mirrors campaign.” Mike Fine submits a mini-feature on Pat Riley, his place in the NBA and his battles with the officials. Jeff Thomas looks at Travis Best coming into the Fleet on Springfield night. Fine’s notebook looks at Riley’s comments on Pierce and Walker.

Bill Simmons answers his mailbag. Addressed are questions on feeling old, wearing a suit and jinxing players by wearing their jerseys.

The Red Sox used to

The Red Sox used to have an annual tradition in which they would get slaughtered on Patriots Day. The Celtics are establishing their own tradition…once a year they lose badly an extremely ugly game to the Miami Heat at home. Peter May and Steve Bulpett report on the ten point loss to the Heat. Paul Pierce had another tough night and as Tommy Heinsohn observed, just looks really tired. Jim Greenidge and Gus Martins look at Pierce’s struggles. As predicted, by not getting the Charlotte franchise, Larry Bird’s name became a hot topic locally here. The new owners did their best to throw a wet blanket on any potential return to the hub by Bird. Frank Dell’Apa and Mark Murphy report on Wyc Grousbeck and crew being very happy with how things are being run at the moment. Lenny Megliola takes in the atmosphere of the game last night. Before the game last night, Pat Riley called Antoine Walker the best point forward in the history of the NBA. Gus Martins doesn’t concur with that assessment, but doesn’t offer any names to counter the claim, either. Tommy Heinsohn brought up the name of Maurice Stokes as someone who was better at that role than Antoine. If you’re not familiar with that name, it’d do you some good to do a little research, it’s one of the tragic stories in all of sports history. The history of the NBA might’ve been totally different had Stokes been able to play with Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas, etc. Bulpett’s notebook looks at a local son who got away this summer, Heat guard Travis Best.

Jackie MacMullan questions the Patriots sense of urgency. If they’re the defending champs, she reasons, then they should know what it takes to win the big ones. Of course the two guys she goes to for answers on the team’s performance, Steve Martin and Christian Fauria weren’t even here last year, and have never really played for a real winner. Of all the big-paper guys that are covering the Patriots, I think Michael Felger might be the most balanced. Today, instead of falling in with the popular negativity around the team, he looks at Tom Brady’s confidence and how that puts the team in good stead. It’s not an incredibly insightful article or anything, but it stands out as different because it’s not negative. In contrast to other guys in town who are all doom and gloom, Felger, who can be as nasty as any of them, is consistently more levelheaded. When they’re bad, he says so, and doesn’t hold back. But he also doesn’t always try to spin everything into the worst possible light and take cheap shots at the coaching staff. Last night on the Celtics postgame on FSNE, Felger came on, and was had to fend off Greg “82 dollar haircut” Dickerson, who accused him of making excuses for the Patriots and basically being an apologist for the team. Felger just replied that last year set the expectations for this team impossibly high, so anything they do this year is probably going to be a disappointment, and that we shouldn’t be comparing the two. Felger might not be the most popular guy among his colleagues, and when he talks baseball on WEEI, he never fails to drive me nuts, but on football he’s the best of the Globe/Herald guys. I’m not sure, but that might be termed damning with faint praise. Nick Cafardo hopes no one was listening last week on WWZN when the crowd at Gillette was discussed and if the stadium is a home field advantage. He uses that for his article today. He even quotes callers for it. How lazy is that? Tom Curran writes that both the Jets and Patriots are suffering a bit of an identity crisis. The lightbulb goes on over Karen Guregian‘s head, and she realizes the Patriots need to be able to stop the run in the final two games. Oh yeah, Alan Greenberg says they might want to run the ball themselves, too. George Kimball compares Chad Pennington and Tom Brady. Jim Donaldson sounds like Herm Edwards and tells us the J-E-T-S are not going to quit. Steve DeOssie questions the Patriots mental health. To use the current sports radio buzzword, are they “psychologically damaged”? Cafardo’s notebook looks at Pennington, J.R. Redmond and the injuries. Felger’s notebook has Herm Edwards flashing “44-7″ to his players whenever possible, and has Belichick getting a nice dig in at some of the media members. Curran’s notebook also looks at Redmond and some leftover stuff from the Titans game.

A couple weeks ago, leading up to the second Buffalo game, “while listening to Phil Simms drone on about how good Buffalo was” Geoffrey Crawshaw snapped … and created this website. The purpose is to rate local and national media members on their bias for and against the Patriots. No surprise that Ron Borges leads the “against” crowd and Pete Sheppard is the leader of the “for” group. You can add your vote. Makes you wish the Globe hadn’t pulled it’s writers from the Big Show. Imagine seeing Pete Sheppard and Ron Borges go head to head on the Patriots? This needs to happen.

The Bruins also continue to struggle. How soon before some wiseguy media guy says we’ve returned to “loserville”? Steve Conroy and Kevin Paul Dupont provide game stories. In the notebooks, both the Globe and Herald look at Samsonov facing surgery on his wrist and what possible moves that could trigger.

Gordon Edes reports on the Red Sox losing out on Jeff Kent, but now getting word that they’ll likely be free to start negotiating with Cuban ace Jose Contreras very soon. Michael Silverman has a similar article, but leads with Cliff Floyd having until tonight to accept arbitration from the Red Sox. Edes also reports on the signing of Damian Jackson yesterday.

NESN has Bruins/Capitals at 8:00. (ESPN Regionally) TNT has Lakers/Nets at 7:30 and Kings/Spurs at 10:00.FSNE has NE Tailgate at 7:00 and ESPN has the Pro Bowl selection show at 7:00.

A pretty slow day on

A pretty slow day on the sports radio airwaves thus far. Eddie and Jags have submitted an utterly forgetable show thus far…literally. I’ve had it on almost all afternoon and can’t remember anything they’ve talked about. I do recall they had ML Carr and Jan Volk on as guests, both to talk about the Bird/Belkin group, with which they were both associated with, not getting the Charlotte NBA franchise. Volk recalled being told just a day or two ago by someone on the committee after his groups presentation that there “wasn’t much of a choice to make”. He took it as a good sign. Apparently it wasn’t. Pete Sheppard once again filled in for Glen Ordway on the Big Show and was joined by Steve Buckley and Sean McAdam for a lot of baseball talk. Talking about Roger Clemens, Buckley talked about his huge house in Texas with the gym and all, and added at the end, “He hasn’t done too badly for himself since he left here.” Well, Buck, seeing as how the Red Sox twice made him the highest paid player in baseball, he didn’t do too badly while he was here, either. Ron Borges and Steve Burton joined Sean on The McDonough Group. After a slow start, Borges came on strong in the second hour to tell us all the things he told us early in the year about the faults of this Patriots team. Nobody does “I told you so” quite like Ronnie.

Eric McHugh looks at the playoff picture. Jonathan Comey says stick a fork in ‘em. Mark Farinella makes the case again for Gino Cappelletti for the Pro Football Hall of fame, and also takes a shot at Gerry Callahan.

Tim Weisberg says Pierce and Walker can’t do it by themselves forever. Del Jones says that these losses to lesser opponents could prove costly.

Bob Halloran has a theory on short names and greatness.

Things are not looking good

Things are not looking good for the Patriots. They have no chance of winning their final two games and making the playoffs. Start making your plans for those weekends in January. Why? Aren’t they 8-6 and have their two remaining games at home? Well, yeah, but Ron Borges tells us that they can’t win them. The Jets are suddenly formidable, and the Dolphins look the the unstoppable ’72 edition. Pats have no chance. Unlike others who say the Patriots didn’t come to play Monday night, Borges indicts them more harshly by saying they did come to play, and played hard. They just stink. Even Gerry Callahan, who has been a Patriots supporter in his columns this year, is down on them. Do you get the feeling that Nick Cafardo is mocking Bill Belichick in his article today? Alan Greenberg also reminds us of all the bad things about the Patriots. Tom Curran paints a picture of a team in denial. The report card Kevin Mannix files today is predictable. Michael Felger attempts to put things into perspective, but even he can’t deny the warts. Kevin McNamara says the Patriots have already put the Titans game behind and have full focus on the Jets. Steve Buckley says the border war with the Jets is still alive and kicking. Ian Clark says the Patriots don’t fit the definition of a good team. Cafardo’s notebook has J.R. Redmond asking for his release after the season. Felger’s notebook has the Jets looking for revenge.

I love how it was reported as fact that Theo Epstein broke a chair in his hotel room in anger over losing out on signing Edgardo Alfonzo. In fact, David Heuschkel reports that today. However, Michael Silverman has a little note at the end of his article today on Cliff Floyd stating that the chair was “already a bit damaged when Epstein’s assistant, Craig Shipley, rendered it useless merely by sitting on it.” Which is the real story? Silverman’s article has another confusing pair of sentences. In one he writes that “The Red Sox were cautiously optimistic last night that Floyd would wind up signing a three-year deal with the Dodgers”, then later he writes that “The Red Sox will not consider it a catastrophe if Floyd does wind up with them, although indications point toward them preferring it does not happen that way.” So are they cautiously optimistic that he’ll sign with the Dodgers, or do they not want that to happen? Gordon Edes & Bob Hohler report on the Sox holding serious talks with Jeff Kent. Tony Massarotti says that the owners have finally figured out that they can save themselves a lot of grief by not signing the huge free agent deals that have marked the Winter Meetings for years. Dan Shaughnessy kidnaps Theo on-board the flight home from Nashville.

As reported by Peter Vecsey last week, (and mentioned here and in my Metro column) the Charlotte NBA expansion team went to the Bob Johnson group. Peter May has the story of the “heartbroken” Belkin/Bird group. May doesn’t feel there is room with the Celtics for Bird, but the speculation will begin. Gus Martins says that Antoine is not happy with the Celtics 16-8 record. May also reports on Jim O’Brien’s thoughts on getting ejected last week and Pat Riley’s recent comments on the officiating.

FSNE has Celtics/Heat at 7:00. NESN has Bruins/Sabres at 7:00. ESPN has Pacers/Rockets at 8:00. ESPN2 has the GMAC Bowl at 8:00, Louisville vs Marshall. Those interested in painful Boston hockey memories can tune into ESPN Classic at 9:00 for the 1979 Bruins/Canadiens game 7.

Surprise, surprise. Patriots lose, and

Surprise, surprise. Patriots lose, and who reappears out of the woodwork? After disappearing during a three game winning streak including a win over his boy, Drew Bledsoe, Ron “I’d rather be covering boxing” Borges, returns after last night’s pathetic Patriots performance to proclaim once again, that this team is no good, and that he’s been telling you that all along. This is a tired old theme, sort of like Borges himself. I’ll let him have his satisfaction and quit beating the dead horse. Kevin Mannix jumps aboard the now-full “Patriots can’t beat good teams” bandwagon. Alan Greenberg says actually the Patriots showed us a lot last night. All of it bad. Michael Felger tries to be less negative then most, but that’s a difficult task given the performance. Tom Curran questions a group of seemingly confused Patriots. Nick Cafardo says not only was the score 24-7, the Titans can beat the Patriots 24/7. Dan Shaughnessy says that the Patriots have used up the last of their good luck. Sean McAdam says this team is just a colossal collection of question marks.

So what was the deciding factor in the game? Michael Smith looks at the huge difference in time of possession. Jeff Horrigan says the battle was lost on the line. McAdam says that two wrong turns decided the game. Howard Bryant says the defensive front was porous, allowing huge gains. Greenberg says the defense was just pushed around. Horrigan also writes about Buckley coughing up the one big chance the Patriots had. A Belichick disciple runs the Titans defense. George Kimball looks at the key passes by Brady that didn’t connect. Gordon Edes looks at Steve McNair. Smith also looks at Eddie George. Cafardo’s notebook has no answers to the tough questions. Felgers notebook leads with some contract decisions looming.

Another familiar scene the last few years is the Celtics struggles against the Bulls. Last night continued that theme. Steve Bulpett and Shira Springer report on the frustrating loss in Chicago. Peter May looks at the looming decision on the Charlotte franchise and Larry Bird’s thoughts on it. Bulpett also looks at Antoine Walker being honored by the NBA, a topic also leading off Springer’s notebook. Bulpett’s notebook looks at the absence of Tony Delk last night and how it hurt the team.

No deal with Montreal yet. Bob Hohler says the Sox are in a battle with the Yankees over who gets to trade with the Expos. Jeff Horrigan doesn’t seem to think that any deals for the Red Sox are imminent. Sean McAdam isn’t optimistic either. Gordon Edes floats Jeff Kent’s name out there as a possibility for first base for the Red Sox. I think there’s a better chance of Nick Cafardo saying that trading Drew Bledsoe to the Bills was a good move, then Kent coming here. After criticizing him on the radio yesterday, Tony Massarotti praises Theo Epstein today, calling him “no fool” and “very shrewd”. Hohler’s notebook looks at the Rule 5 draft pickups. McAdam’s notebook just about closes the door on a Clemens return, and tells us who the new hitting coach will be. Horrigan’s notebook also focuses on the Rule 5 pickups.

Bill Griffith looks at HBO’s “Real Sports” show tonight focusing on Martha Burk and the Augusta National controversy. The interview with Burk is riveting. Griffith also has a piece on last night’s MNF telecast. Over in the Herald, Jim Baker also focuses on the HBO show, has word from Melissa Stark and has a line or two on the Sunday night shows. John Molori profiles a few he labels “hidden gems” in the Boston media. Youngster Jon Couture enjoys the broadcasters in Boston and feels lucky to have the ones that have been here for so long. Especially Tommy.

Not a lot of support

Not a lot of support for the moves by the Red Sox on radio today. On WWZN Eddie and Jags were both rather down on the Red Sox and the moves they’ve made, complaining about the lack of defense. Tony Massarotti came on the program and said outright that he doesn’t like the moves. It appears Tony is carving out for himself the role as Theo’s harshest critic in town. Tony as a heavy, that’s rather amusing. Eddie continues to hammer away at the Red Sox management, criticizing them for being too PR conscious. How strange is it that the previous regime was always criticized for being inaccessible, now there is the opposite and that gets knocked as well. Eddie says this Red Sox team will set the record for most press conferences. About the moves over the weekend, Eddie says he doesn’t like the Bill James hiring or having his input into deals, and he doesn’t “have a good feeling that the Red Sox know what they’re doing”. Of course, when a caller asked about the Rule 5. draft, neither Eddie nor Jags had a clue what it was all about. After a while with help from Debbi Wrobleski, they figured it out. They reported throughout the day seemingly as a fact, that Cliff Floyd would accept arbitration from the Sox. Over on WEEI, Dale & Neumy talked a lot of baseball as well, being the first to report several moves during the day. Stanton signing with the Mets, possible deals with the Rockies and Mets, etc. They did know about the Rule 5. draft. They also reported Cliff Floyd coming close to agreeing to a deal with the Dodgers if they are able to shed some payroll. This contrasts with WWZN reports that Floyd would simply be accepting arbitration from the Red Sox. We’ll see who is right.

One thing strikes me with the Red Sox and media coverage of them. For years, seemingly all we hear is how they have no prospects in the minors, perhaps the worst farm system in baseball, etc etc etc. How then, do they manage to keep trading minor leaguers for established veterans? Three deals last year, two more this offseason, not a single guy off their major league roster, and they’ve picked up Embree, Howry, Floyd, Walker and now Giambi. Then they also had two more players taken off their system in the Rule 5. draft today.

For the second week in a row, Peter King takes a shot at Manny Ramirez in his Monday Morning Quarterback column. I think he’s being contaminated by being around Boston media members too much. I sent Mr. King an e-mail attempting to reason with him on this topic. I’ll let you all know if I get a response from him.

Sports Business Daily today awarded its 2002 Sports Industrialists of the Year Award to Patriots Owner & Chair Robert Kraft and his son, Patriots Vice Chair Jonathan Kraft. The press release on this event reads in part:

“The Krafts, who operate the Kraft Group, which owns the Patriots, MLS Revolution and Gillette Stadium, were recognized for the on- and off-the-field successes of their sports properties, overseeing the opening of the NFL’s first privately-financed facility, aggressively and creatively marketing and promoting their sports operations and their contribution to league and community affairs.

“The Krafts’ storybook year is the result of nearly a decade of strategic planning, sound financial management and masterful marketing,” said Marcus DiNitto, Managing Editor of The Sports Business Daily. “The Krafts have taken the Patriots, previously one of the most moribund professional franchises in sports, and made them into a thriving $1 billion sports and entertainment property producing record revenue. By running their sports operations with modern-day business principles, the Krafts have significantly increased the value of their investment, while delivering a quality product and experience for their consumers.”

Previous winners of the award include David Stern, Paul Tagliabue, and ESPN President George Bodenheimer.

Eric McHugh looks at Bill Belichick’s 33 career appearances on Monday Night Football. David Pevear looks ahead to tonight’s game, and notes that Patriots fans no longer dread their team playing in these games. Jonathan Comey tries to figure out the playoff picture, including how the Patriots can clinch a playoff berth next week. ESPN.com has a few different previews and articles looking towards tonight on its MNF page.

Somewhat abbreviated links today, just

Somewhat abbreviated links today, just focusing on the two big stories of the day:

So is Jeremy Giambi an “on base machine” as Theo Epstein describes him, or is he just another good stick, terrible glove, slow running hitter without a true position in the field? A player the Red Sox in the past seemed to have the market cornered on. In Theo I trust. So how soon before Shaughnessy cranks out an article about the Red Sox once again getting the inferior brother in the rivalry with the Yankees, or mentions the Derek Jeter play in the playoffs a couple years back? Oh, whoops, I just looked, Dan says today that the Sox got the wrong brother. I swear, I didn’t even look at Shaughnessy’s article before now. That was my easiest call in weeks. Dan also shows his prejudice against numbers when he remarks: “Some of us find it a tad frightening that the Sox made a big deal of Giambi’s on-base percentage when announcing the deal. It’s easy to see Bill James’s fingerprints on this trade.” It’s the future Dan, welcome to it, and get used to it. Bob Hohler looks at Jeremy Giambi, addressing concerns about his glove, and his character. Sean McAdam gets thoughts from Billy Beane on Jeremy Giambi, Jeff Horrigan terms this trade a small step, with the Sox still hoping to make a bigger splash. David Heuschkel also looks at Giambi. Gordon Edes looks at other possible Red Sox moves by trader Theo. Tony Massarotti isn’t too pleased that “the Red Sox seemingly have abandoned any pretense of defense.” Massarotti also has a brief piece on the Red Sox interest in David Justice, and of course, can’t let it slip by without a gibe at Dan Duquette. The whole Grissom/Justice thing, as I understand it, stems from an incident when Grissom and Duquette were at Montreal, and Duquette decided Grissom was better off in the 9th slot in the batting order, rather than the leadoff spot. Grissom was angered by this, went to his agent, who couldn’t get Duquette to back down, and so made this clause in Grissom, and then Justice’s contracts that they couldn’t be traded to a team that employed Dan Duquette. Funny thing is, not long after, when Grissom was playing for Cleveland, he was removed from the leadoff slot and moved down to 9th. The Globe notebook by Hohler and Edes, looks at Cliff Floyd’s likely return to the Red Sox, while Horrigan’s notebook has Shea Hillenbrand as his lead topic. McAdam’s notebook looks at the possible deal with Montreal.

As for the Patriots, the good news is Nick Cafardo has picked against them on WWZN for at least the third week in a row. The bad news is, one of these days he might actually be right, and we won’t hear the end of it. When he is, expect his triumphant return to Sports Final that week…(He wasn’t on last night, either) Cafardo submits a pretty generic article today previewing the game. Kevin Mannix attempts to inject some reality into the Patriots hopes down the stretch. Mannix also has his game day preview today, in which he picks the Titans. Tom Curran looks at all the playoff scenarios, and adds it can all be moot if the Patriots win out. Karen Guregian goes behind enemy lines to cover the Titans. Alan Greenberg, Michael Smith and Guregian also look at the toughness of Steve McNair.

FSNE has Celtics/Bulls at 8:30. ABC (Channels 5 & 9 in much of New England) Has Patriots/Titans on Monday Night Football at 9:00. ESPN Classic will show NFL Films Patriots programming from 7:00 -8:00.

Sunday Night Sports Shows Sports

Sunday Night Sports Shows

Sports Sunday on Fox25 led off with Butch Stearns pleading all to stay to the end of the show as another Red Sox trade could be done by then. Stearns mentioned the Giambi trade earlier today, and said the next trade could be for Javier Vazquez. A clip from Theo Epstein was shown talking about the Giambi trade, that Jeremy is ecstatic to be coming to Boston being a part of the Yankee rivalry and the added aspect of his brother being there. Then Wendy Nix (formerly of FSNE) reported in from Nashville, talking about the Expos getting ready to make a trade, but they’re playing the offers off each other right now. She’s hearing Vazquez for Hillenbrand could be done, but that the Expos want Fernando Tatis taken off their hands, and that the Red Sox will not take on that salary. Nix talked about Hillenbrand being mentioned in many trades, Arizona prominently. Stearns mentioned something he heard that if the Yankees get Vazquez, Roger Clemens will likely be done in New York and might sign with the Rangers. Cliff Floyd appears to be coming back to the Sox next year as he hasn’t received any significant offers.

NFL highlights from the other AFC East teams in action today followed, then a look ahead to tomorrow night’s game. Stearns feels the Patriots can and should win. Levan Reid made that observation that if the Patriots lose tomorrow night, and both teams finish at 10-6 and neither team wins their division, that the Titans would win the tie breaker over the Patriots. (Only problem with that theory is that if the Patriots finish at 10-6 after losing to the Titans, it will mean that they did win the division, having beaten Miami.) Reid had Patriots perspectives on Steve McNair. Reid feels if the Patriots keep blitzing and hitting hard they should do ok. McNair has sore ribs. Donald Hayes could be a big factor on offense, Tom Brady talked about Hayes’ confidence growing and that he’s getting better each week.

Ted Johnson was on the show next, this season has been rewarding for him personally. He’s made himself a valuable asset to the team, he’s gotten more playing time, and his happy. Stearns said he won’t asked what happened at the beginning of the year when he walked out, but asked what he would tell people who say he walked out on the team, Johnson said that’s fair, but that no one knows all that happened, that he just felt it was something he had to do, a line was crossed and he needed to do that. He feels the same type of momentum as last year, and it’s fun. He likes Gillette stadium, it was like playing at the old stadium. Stearns picked up on that, as this was a big topic on WWZN Friday, asked if it was an advantage. Johnson said it was. Stearns asked about being booed at home, Johnson said it shows that the fans care. Stearns pushed it, laughing, saying c’mon, they booed you after a bad series….Johnson said that’s New England, there are high expectations here, and at times they’ve deserved the boos.

B.C. Hoops highlights followed, with focus on Troy Bell for going over 2000 points in his college career. Last Blast was a Pete Carroll clip during a recent celebration where Pete says “If New England could see me now…” Stearns closed the show by saying “late word” was that the Red Sox were backing away from having to take Fernando Tatis in a deal for Javier Vazquez. (That’s what Wendy Nix said on the show earlier) He added that if the Yankees get Vazquez that could possibly lead to Roger Clemens coming back here.

WBZ’s Sports Final promised an inside look at the GM meetings in Nashville, as well as the Patriots playing in Nashville tomorrow night. Dan Roche was reporting live from the Winter Meetings, he had a look behind the scenes at the meetings, showing Theo’s arrival at 5:30 AM Friday, and heading right to work. The went inside the suite talking about players, for the minor league draft coming up. Showed Theo talking about a player, (not named) who might be a prospect, who had hit the weights too much and lost his “looseness”, became a connect-the-dots type delivery when he throws the ball now, they get him off the weights, he could come around. They showed Theo walking to the press conference for the Giambi trade today. Jeremy is in the best shape of his life, ready to play everyday and capitalize on this opportunity. Asked if there were more trades, Theo said they were still working on something, “so don’t hit the bar yet”. Peter Gammons was interviewed talking about a possible Vazquez trade, the Yankees have the prospect, the Red Sox have the money. He also talked about Clemens, and how his agents are asking Gammons if Boston would be interested in him, saying of the places he played, Roger enjoyed Boston the most. Didn’t like management, but loves the city of Boston. Asked his assessment of Epstein’s work here, Gammons said as expected, Theo came in phenomenally prepared. Surrounded himself with great talent evaluators, Bill Lajoie, Shipley, etc.

Football was up next, Zolak, Felger, DeOssie, with Burton and Lobel. Season ends today, Patriots are in, they play Indy in the first round. They then looked at the Titan’s schedule this year. Not a whole lot of wins against teams with winning records. Looking at the Patriots, Zolak says the team is focused on getting a bye. Lobel feels better after looking at the schedule that the Titans played this year. DeOssie says none of the playoff teams really scare him, Of course the Raiders and Dolphins are tough, but no one is unbeatable. Burton chimed in that you can’t tell what is going to happen, cited the Jets losing to the Bears today. Felger noted that the Patriots have the longest winning streak in the AFC right now, playing well at the end is important. Felger again emphasized the importance of getting that first round bye. DeOssie talked about how tough it is to win a Monday Night Game on the road, but he picks the Patriots to win. Zolak is liking the Patriots chances better, but he’s picking the Titans. Felger likes how the Patriots match up with the Titans, and picks the Patriots to win, as does Burton.

Alice Cook was live in Nashville, with Dan Shaughnessy, who noted the only people working around the place right now are Boston reporters. Onto football, Dan says the Dolphins are not folding in December this year. They beat possibly the best team in the AFC today. Tomorrow will be tough, as the Patriots haven’t beat a hot team at home since winning in Buffalo. The Patriots are coming together, things are falling into place, getting breaks, only thing not working is that the Dolphins are still winning. Dan says Brady is better, better than earlier in the season, and better than last year. Shaughnessy predicts that the Patriots lose tomorrow night and we see where we go from there.

Dan Roches was back up with Gordon Edes and Sean McAdam. Talks are still ongoing at this moment with the Expos, though Edes isn’t as optimistic as others about the possibility of getting something done with Montreal. McAdam talked about the Expos playing the Red Sox and Yankees off of each other. As for the moves to date, Edes says there is a lot more to do. Giambi won’t be an everyday first baseman, Cliff Floyd situation is still up in the air, no offers on the table right now from the Red Sox, or anyone else. the Orioles and Dodgers have both backed out, and the Red Sox might be left “holding the bag” if Floyd accepts the arbitration offer. McAdam feels that the Red Sox have gotten better offensively, but they’re looking very shaky defensively in that infield.

WHDH’s Sports Xtra also had a Nashville flavor to it, with live segments from there. A Patriots segment was up first, looking at the home stretch and the importance of the last three games. Fred Smerlas and Tim Fox were in, homefield advantage in the playoffs is the most important thing, win the final three games and things will take care of themselves. Fox says the team is playing better than it was, hopefully they can keep it up. Smerlas noted that since Miami beat the AFC west teams, if they finish behind the Patriots, they’ll still likely be in as a wild card. Titans don’t make mistakes, Lavanchy brought up again that the Patriots can’t put teams away. Fox says that’s Belichick, he’s conservative, he gets ahead he’s not going to take any chances.

Onto the Winter Meetings. Gary Gillis reported from Nashville, noting that there is a lot of “hurry up and wait” going on. A report on the day’s activity, with the Giambi trade today, Theo noting that he is “an on-base machine” and is not being viewed as a safety net, he is going to be a weapon for them. Tony Massarotti joined Gillis, and noted that at one point this year his on-base percentage was 200 points higher than his batting average. Massarotti then questioned the infield defense once again, going around and noting how bad it will be. As for giving up Hancock, Tony said there were a couple people from other organizations with “raised eyebrows” over Epstein giving up Hancock, but noted that perhaps the new GM might not have loyalty to the minor leaguers from the previous regime. As for Montreal, nothing seems imminent, especially in view of the possibility of Floyd accepting arbitration and taking up all the money they had left for the offseason. They’re talking with Montreal still for Vazquez, hesitant to talk on other salary. For relief pitchers, Massarotti says they have talked to some clubs about pitchers, but there are more options in free agency, and after the meetings are done there will likely be more signings. As for other’s impressions of Theo, most view him as an impressive young man, and that clearly he believes in offense, if that is effective remains to be seen.

Back to Smerlas and Fox, a look at the division standings, with the Jets basically getting knocked out today. Smerlas says the Patriots need to run the table, he likes the matchup with the Titans, they don’t do a lot of fancy things, the Patrios could be physical with them. Lavanchy discussed the schedule of the Titans and that it isn’t all that impressive. Fox feels playing on Monday Night is a little of an advantage because there is less of a home field advantage, the Patriots are going to give the Titans and McNair a lot of different looks, change things up, he mentioned McGinest as a key to the game. A fluke thing could turn the game, fumble, turnover, etc. Fox also noted not having Bruschi is a blow to the Patriots because of his speed if needed with McNair. But Ted Johnson is better at the run, and Smerlas feels if you shut down Eddie George completely, and make McNair beat you by himself, you’ll be in good shape. They compared the two teams and the players, noted similarity in stats, They also looked at the Wild Card standings, Patriots lose tomorrow, and they are in big trouble in that. Fox says forget about the Wildcard and take care of the division.

Nick Cafardo speaks out on

Nick Cafardo speaks out on the Sports Final no-show by himself and Borges. He says:

“There was a lot of interest this week on why I did not appear on Sports Final last Sunday Night and face the music on Drew Bledsoe and my stance that the Patriots did not make the correct move in trading him to a divisional rival. Unfortunately, I had a sickness in my family that required my attention, otherwise I would have made the show and continued to defend my position. (And by the way, there were a few cheap shots taken at Ron Borges for his absence on Sports Final. He was in Las Vegas covering a fight.) Now, some of you believe that because the Patriots beat Bledsoe twice that the Patriots made the right decision. That was the clincher. That’s an interesting short and narrow view. And if that’s how you judge congratulations, you’re right and I’m wrong. But I would rather take the longer view. First of all, the trade made the Bills better; it did not make the Patriots better. The Patriots have the same record without Bledsoe as they did with him last season. The trade enabled the Bills to accelerate their rebuilding. In the Bledsoe deal, they were able to accomplish several things: they kept their fourth overall pick and chose offensive tackle Mike Williams. They took on Bledsoe’s salary and a very manageable cap number of $5 million, which now gives them space to go out and sign defensive free-agents to boost their team for many years to come. If they had not acquired Bledsoe, they would have signed Tony Banks and quite frankly, the feeling in Buffalo is they would have had to expend a No. 1 pick this season on a quarterback. So now, Tom Donahoe, who may be the executive of the year in the NFL, can concentrate his second round pick and beyond to strengthening depth issues and the defense. Donahoe built great teams in Pittsburgh and now that he has the hardest part of the puzzle to find – a quarterback – he can proceed toward making the Bills a contender next season.”

So did Nick just say that now the Bills aren’t saddled with that pesky first round draft pick, they can concentrate on working on the rest of their draft? Also, as e-mailer Jason notes, “That is the most short sighted view ever. Fifth place schedule vs. 1st place schedule. They weren’t in first at this point last year. Bledsoe didn’t PLAY last year. And Buffalo isn’t much better. They’ll finish 7-9. They could have easily done that last year with just a few breaks.” E-mailer J Davis adds: “Didn’t Cafardo say before the game that if Drew beat the patriots the trade would be considered one of the worst ever? Now he says he likes to look more long term. well, maybe if he keeps it up someday he might be right about something.”

A rebuttal is offered by C. Matthews, who notes:

“The Bills had the toughest schedule in the NFL when the season started, some 5th place schedule! Well considering tie breakers, the Pats are not in first place right now, and if the Playoffs started right now, they would not be in them. And a few breaks the wrong way, and the Pats could be 6-7 (KC & Chicago) instead of 8-5. If Jay Fiedler doesn’t break his thumb, the Pats thoughts of a Division title and maybe a first round bye would have been all but lost right now. Conversely the Bills could have been 8-5 (1st Jets & KC) if they had a few breaks go their way.

You can play “a few breaks” game with almost any team and magically make a teams current record look much worse or better depending how you want, not a strong point to stand on when making this argument. Are we to believe that “J Davis” would not be upset with the trade had Bledsoe Bills defeated the Pats Sunday?

Does “J Davis” not realize that Buffalo is a better team now and for the next few years because of this trade, or does he share a narrow view like e-mailer Jason and play the “few breaks” game to ignore this fact? I can’t believe that people won’t give the fact the Bills are a better team now because of the trade, and if they rely on a few breaks theory, then I guess the Pats didn’t win the Super Bowl because a few breaks went their way so it invalidates their road to that great victory in New Orleans! I doubt
“Jason” thinks this way about the Pats, but seems to have no problems with the Bills, Hmm? I wonder why? Is it a bad trade? I don’t know, (time will only tell) but for anyone to deny that this trade didn’t help the Bills (and maybe to a lesser degree hurt the Pats), is someone that doesn’t know football”

Nick also answers all the usual questions in his weekly mailbag. Mostly Pat Patriots questions along with complaints by readers about how long other readers letters are. Two readers tell Nick that he is the best thing since the Boston Sports Guy. Somewhere, working on a skit involving midget flypaper, Bill Simmons is feeling very sick.

Eric McHugh looks at the impact Jevon Kearse might have on the game Monday night. Tom King says the Patriots are wary of the hobbled Steve McNair. Hector Longo urges people to vote for Roman Phifer for the Pro Bowl. Rob Bradford has a piece in the Lowell Sun talking about Labron James and how he puts Antoine Walker on hold. Bill Simmons passes on some advice on making fantasy league trades. Sean McAdam, in a piece for ESPN.com, says Pete Rose won’t have trouble finding a job should he be reinstated. Here is a transcript of the Todd Walker interview on Dennis and Callahan this morning. (In between Cardinal Law talk)