The gloves are off. Vin

The gloves are off. Vin Baker is suspended, and it is open season on he and Chris Wallace. Gerry Callahan puts the blame for all of this firmly on Chris Wallace’s shoulders. Callahan on WEEI this morning described Baker’s problem with alcohol as a “lack of willpower” and repeatedly called him a “fat lazy slob”. He talked about people making up illnesses. I thought everyone said how Baker was “trying hard” this season? I did laugh though when Callahan said this morning that “it’s only a matter of time before they spank the horse and string him (Wallace) up in this town.” Steve Bulpett smells trouble from the players association on the horizon for this one. One agent can’t fathom how Baker would agree to this “suspension” when alcohol isn’t covered under the CBA. Peter May says that if the Celtics had simply called around they would’ve likely been talked out of trading for Baker. Shira Springer deserves credit for being the first one with this story, yesterday, today she again weighs in with details of the meeting. (Baker’s agent wasn’t at these meetings?) Lenny Megliola wonders if we’ll ever see Baker on the Celtics bench again. He also wonders why Baker hadn’t spoken with O’Brien yet. He gets a couple lines from Baker’s college coach, who says Vin wasn’t a problem. Jeff Jacobs and Alan Greenberg report on the matter for Baker’s home state newspaper. Jacobs says Baker needs to take as long as he needs to get himself recovered and ready to play again. Tim Weisberg looks at the Baker saga and a few other Celtic items. Carolyn Thornton has the story in the Projo, with quotes from Antoine. Walker’s quotes appear in other articles, most notably in Bulpett’s article, where Bulpett indicates that Walker has been critical of O’Brien for his handling of Baker. Michael Gee is critical of the Celtics for leaking the story that he would be suspended for alcohol before actually having the meeting with Baker. He also adds perhaps the most simple, succinct wrapup of the situation:

Baker didn't have his first beer when he got off the plane at Logan. If he had such a serious problem, and GM Chris Wallace didn't find out about it before acquiring Baker from Seattle, that's a fireable offense. Period.

Jeff Horrigan covers Pedro’s first batting practice session of the spring which left minor leaguers in awe. It certainly appears that Martinez has the old swagger back, something he didn’t have this time last year. David Heuschkel also covered the session, among other things in his story today. Howard Bryant reports on the shellacking that Jose Contreras took yesterday, but in the end, the Yankees are still happy to have him, as evidenced by Brian Cashman: “And maybe they’re smiling up in Boston, too, because he did. But I’ll say this: We’re still happy we’ve got him.” Gordon Edes looks at Rule 5 draftee Matt White, and his New England roots. Bob Hohler looks at team-first guy Bill Mueller, who, if he doesn’t beat out Hillenbrand at third base will also backup Todd Walker at second. Sean McAdam says that Tim Wakefield is very happy to know exactly what his role is – a starter and nothing else. Tony Massarotti wonders if Robert Person could be the next Flash Gordon in the bullpen. They’re very similar type pitchers, strong arm, great curveball. Karen Guregian weighs in on the Ephedra issue. Hohler’s notebook looks at the preseason opener last night. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Millar’s apology to the Japanese team. McAdam’s notebook has more on Pedro’s batting practice session.

Kevin Mannix says the heat is on Pioli and Belichick to rebuild the Patriots. Wake me when you come across something new in there. Tom Curran floats a few names that the Patriots might be interested in. Alan Greenberg takes a look at the Patriots positions of need and who might be able to fill them. Nick Cafardo provides the cap numbers for the deals restructured by the Patriots yesterday. Curran’s notebook also deals with Johnson, McGinest and Pleasant. Mannix also has a notebook in which he looks at the new deals.

Kevin Paul Dupont and Steve Conroy report on the latest depressing Bruins loss. James Murphy doesn’t know if it is right that Ftorek’s head is on the chopping block here. Dupont’s notebook looks at the return of Hal Gill, as does Conroy’s notebook.

Ron Borges, writing about something he actually enjoys, submits an extensive look at the animosity that has been festering and finally exploded yesterday between the camps of John Ruiz and Roy Jones Jr. George Kimball has a shorter look at the melee, but describes Ruiz’s wardrobe for us:

Ruiz, brandishing an oversized cigar, wore a satin jacket with a matching satin cap, tuxedo pants and black high-heeled shoes to the weigh-in. It was hard to tell whether he was trying to dress like a pimp or had just raided Don King's wardrobe.

Is the “Quiet man” trying to shake his image? Jim Baker says HBO isn’t too impressed with Ruiz as a fighter, labeling him “boring”.

The Week That Was wraps up the battles of the week in the media circus.

FSNE has Celtics/Raptors at 8:00. ESPN has Magic/Knicks at 8:00 and Clippers/Blazers at 10:30. ESPN Classic reviews game five of the 1976 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Suns at 7:00.

(Note: A few hours after

(Note: A few hours after this post, the below article was updated to say when Ramirez…”broke his finger last season”. At least they corrected it.)

No, being an idiot isn’t a talent confined to the local sports media. It only seems that way. Scott Miller of CBS SportsLine files a tired, cliche filled Red Sox preview where he proclaims they’ll never beat the Yankees, they’re cursed and that it’s all Manny’s fault. He bashes Manny for not talking to the media, questions his mental condition and goes on to add:

He's one of the most feared bats in the game, yet he hasn't proven that he's a winner.

When Ramirez (owner of a .185 batting average in five divisional championship series with Cleveland and a .182 average in two World Series, by the way) pulled a hamstring last season, the Sox began to wonder if he ever was coming back. It was one thing to give it time to heal, and the injury-rehabilitation trip to Triple-A Pawtucket certainly was to be expected.

But he became so comfortable in Pawtucket, hanging with friends, that the poor Red Sox were tempted to file a missing persons report.

Someone please inform Mr. Miller that Manny was injured with a broken finger, not a hamstring? Good research, pal. Didn’t we go over all of this last summer? Manny got injured, the doctor said it would likely be six weeks before he started playing again. Manny started his rehab assignment after 4 weeks and joined the big club almost 6 weeks to the day after his injury. He clearly struggled, both in Pawtucket and back up in Boston, showing the injury was probably still bothering him. The postseason stats Miller provides are also self serving, as he includes divisional series and World Series, but not League championship series. (In the ’98 playoffs, in 10 games, Ramirez hit .345 with 4 HR, by the way)

Del Jones wonders where the Celtics fit in in the Eastern Conference. Mike Fine looks at praise for Walter McCarty. Jeff Thomas provides one more recap of last night’s game.

After logging another DNP-CD, Vin

After logging another DNP-CD, Vin Baker will sit down with the Celtics today to discuss once again what his future is. Shira Springer drops the bombshell, however as, citing “sources close to the situation” she reports he will be suspended for at least two weeks for alcohol-related issues. Jackie MacMullan cites Springer as her source in discussing what happens next in this disastrous situation for the Celtics. MacMullan writes a balanced, thoughtful piece on the subject, focusing on Baker the person, rather than Baker the salary cap albatross. Meanwhile, Mark Murphy knows the Celtics are sitting down to talk with Baker, but there is no mention of alcohol, instead the ongoing “medical issues” which lead to speculation of a buyout or medial retirement. As for the game itself, Walter McCarty was the hero hitting a late three to give the Celtics a two point lead. After trading a hoop and a couple free throws, the lead was still two with 4 seconds to go. After pushing Pierce to the floor, Reggie Miller got a wide open three. Jim O’Brien’s thoughts were the same as mine, and likely yours. “We lose”. Miller, however, airballed it. Peter May wraps the game for us, noting that the Celtics still feel they can win the Atlantic, and have that as their goal. Steve Bulpett reports on the game for the Herald. Carolyn Thornton looks at the importance in the game of the man Antoine calls the team MVP…McCarty. With the low score and general ugliness of the game, you’d think Ron Artest was out there, causing havoc, but as Murphy explains, Isiah Thomas and the Pacers are trying to show Artest “tough love”. Artest is also the lead topic of the Globe notebook. Bulpett’s notebook addresses the issue of Isiah’s coaching in the all star game, specifically the minutes he gave (or didn’t give) to Pierce and Walker.

Howard Bryant writes a lengthy look at an unrepentant Dan Duquette. Twins GM Terry Ryan is about the only baseball executive in the piece that was willing to attach his name to items, but then again, he has mostly positive things to say about the Duke. On the one year anniversary of the new ownership, the Herald has a couple articles looking at the tenure to this point. Tony Massarotti asserts that we still don’t know if these guys are here for the long term, and that they can only prove themselves by sticking around and winning. Steve Buckley tries to be a bit more positive by saying that this group has shown that they have a vision and have made great strides in one year. Derek Lowe’s diet is the other big story of the day, with no less than four stories talking about it. David Heushckel notes that Lowe was a man of routine in his eating habits last year, with trips each day to Dunkin Donuts and Bertucci’s, and hopes to continue. Steven Krasner says that routine helped Lowe find a comfort zone. Jeff Horrigan and Bob Hohler repeat the tale. (Not to totally nitpick, but Krasner and Horrigan report that the Bertucci’s is in Braintree, while Hohler claims that it is in Kenmore Square. There is no Bertrucci’s in Kenmore Square.) Gordon Edes writes about David “Dan Shaughnessy called me a ‘huge sack of you-know-what’ on several occasions” Ortiz, who, as Edes notes was by far the most popular player in the Twins clubhouse last year. Sean McAdam’s notebook has Grady Little saying he just wants the team to be healthy and lists out the pitching rotation for the next few days. Bob Hohler’s notebook looks at Ryan Rupe battling for a bullpen slot. Horrigan’s notebook also has Little wanting a healthy squad and Horrigan gets to be the first to use the “Missing Person report” heading in a column after Robert Person missed workouts for personal reasons.

Nick Cafardo speculates on what the Patriots might be shopping for in free agency. He lists possibilities at all the teams positions of need. Michael Felger also looks at the shopping list. Both articles also report that the team has signed long snapper Lonnie Paxton of snow angel fame to a five year contract totalling about three million, making him the highest paid long snapper in the history of football. Felger lists the terms of the deal, while Cafardo says they are unknown. Ron Borges looks at the free agent market for MSNBC.

Bruins/Rangers will be on ESPN tonight at 8:00. TNT has Rockets/Wizards at 7:00 and Kings/Mavs at 9:30. ESPN2 has Marquette/Louisville at 8:00 and Hawaii/Tulsa at 10:00