So did the Yankees really

So did the Yankees really cancel their game quickly so they could avoid facing Roy Halladay last night and also reshuffle their rotation for the Sox this weekend? That was the half-kidding speculation on NESN last night, and on the WEEI broadcast, Jerry and Joe said the Yankees game canceled “awfully quick”. Who knows. The Sox took care of business again, beating the Tigers in between the raindrops. Sean McAdam says good teams beat the teams that they should beat. Jeff Horrigan says the Sox wanted to get last night’s game in and keep their momentum going. Bob Hohler notes that another Grady Little shuffled lineup was able to get the job done. David Heuschkel says it was a familiar tale against the Tigers. Dan Shaughnessy looks at Nomar on his 30th birthday. A generally positive piece, Shaughnessy essentially notes at one point that the media can spin player quotes whichever way it suits them. Sox pick up a lefty specialist, Michael Silverman reports on the acquisition of Scott Sauerbeck. McAdam notes that this trade adds a missing ingredient that the bullpen had lacked. Hohler looks at the trade in all its parts, which had the Sox giving up Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez and picking up Sauerbeck and hard throwing AAA prospect Mike Gonzalez. Heuschkel says the Sauerbeck is already looking forward to playing in Fenway and facing the Yankees. Down in NY, George King reports that Sauerbeck was the first choice of the Yankees, but the Pirates told them the Yankees they didn’t have what it took to acquire him. The Yankees instead picked up 46 year old Jesse Orosco. Kevin Gray feels we should thank Brandon Lyon for all he did for this team this season. Tony Massarotti looks at Derek Lowe, who still made some mistakes last night, and continues to have trouble with left handed batters. Shira Springer says that Lowe has figured out his mechanical problem. Silverman says the Sox will not look past the Devil Rays the next two nights in preparing for the Yankees. John Tomase looks at Carlos Pena, who is on the right path in his big league career. Springer also writes about Gabe Kapler, who is happy with his role here in Boston. Matt Eagan continues his Q&A with Red Sox ownership, talking about the future of Fenway. McAdam’s notebook looks at a cancer-free Tony Cloninger, and has the Sox interested in purchasing some prospects. Horrigan’s notebook says the news on Cloninger was certainly a relief. Hohler’s notebook has Epstein feeling pretty good about the Sox chances. Thank goodness he didn’t say he was feeling a little dangerous right now…

Summer’s over. The Patriots start training camp today. Tom Curran tells us ramblings-style what will and won’t happen during training camp. Michael Smith notes that Pats training camp will have all the comforts of home. Michael Parente looks at how the offseason moves and work have all been preparations for what starts today. Michael Felger looks at the Patriots preparing to bounce back into contention this season. Alan Greenberg looks at some questions and concerns heading into camp. Jon Wallach asks if you’re ready for all of this to begin and lists some things to look for. Dan Pires has 10 questions facing the Patriots as they begin camp. Shane Donaldson has an interesting look at technology in football, how the use of it has changed in the game over the years and what we might see in the future. Ron Borges on MSNBC picks the Pats to finish third in the division. Mike Reiss says this is truly Bill Belichick’s team now. Mark Farinella says this will not be a simple or easy camp for the team. Curran looks at Stephen Neal’s injury and how that impacts the offensive line. Nick Cafardo has part of a 1-1 interview with Matt Light that will appear on the Globe SportsPlus on NESN. Felger completes his camp preview with a look at Special Teams. Cafardo’s notebook has his first controversy and slant against Belichick as he reports on a feud between the coach and team’s field superintendent, leading to the latter’s resignation last week.

Reports last night had the Celtics agreeing to terms with Travis Best, but apparently that is not the case yet. Mark Murphy and Shira Springer report on the courting of the free agent point guard. Christopher Price talks to Marcus Banks about his week in the Reebok Summer league.

Lenny Megliola writes about Phil Burton, making a name for himself in the TV world here in Boston. Jim Donaldson wonders if “Seabiscuit” could mean a boost to local racetracks.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00. ESPN has Cubs/Phillies at 7:00. ESPN2 has Royals/Twins at 7:00. FSNE has Revolution/Crew at 7:30.

I’ve added a few more

I’ve added a few more comments from people regarding yesterday’s letters posted on the web site. I’ve marshaled all of the responses onto another page, where the discussion continues.

To wrap things up, I’ll turn to Howard Bryant once again, as he responds to many of the points brought out on the above page:

It strikes me that one of the central disconnects in this whole discussion is in how it is framed, that the very phrase "CBC" infuriates because it is not wholly accurate, and thus has become part of the media schtick. Using that abbreviation gets the discussion off on the wrong foot, usually irreparably.

As I've said in the past, I AGREE with the James argument that the closer should be used best when the game is on the line. What has always perplexed me is that everyone knows that the save statistic is essentially meaningless, yet executives have allowed it to raise the salaries of relief pitchers for the past 15 years. But the Red Sox first attempted this new strategy without a proven closer at all. The theory is solid. The execution was not.

Should people apologize for being wrong on the bullpen? Of course, not. They *weren't* wrong, because the current 'pen is very different in personnel and in use than when the season began. The club remained flexible in trying to solve the problem, and it appears that they have.

That's what good organizations are supposed to do.

As for the rest of the discussion about our business, I've found it very interesting being back in Boston how much time is spent on the personalities of the writers, a phenomenon very different than in other cities I've worked.

Someone asked how I feel about a writer calling someone a "piece of junk." I don't advocate that, and I wouldn't do it.

Another person suggested that sports reporters aren't "serious" journalists, for those folks are covering the "real world." I don't think that is particularly fair.

When I worked in Oakland, I stopped covering murders b/c it hurt being in a woman's house minutes after her eight-year old was killed in crossfire, asking for quotes.

I covered technology for the San Jose Mercury News, responsible for networking and explaining the ramifications of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was daunting and I think made me a better reporter.

I switched to sports not because I couldn't handle it, or wanted to watch Jason Giambi stand around in his underwear, but because I wanted to write a book on the history between black players and the Red Sox, and being in the game was the only way to reach those sources. Are there people in the biz who cover sports 'cause they like being around this lifestyle? Absolutely yes. Are there writers who don't have the chops to cover complex subjects, so they cover sports? Yes, to that. But people cover different subjects for different reasons. Bob Hohler at the Globe covered the Clinton White House. My favorite assignment was covering the video game industry, because of the wonderfully creative people, and because playing games for a living was *fun!* And when someone died, you could hit the reset button and start again.

Sorry for the long post!

HB

I want to thank Howard for taking the time to respond both to the original piece and to the reactions that it spawned. He brought up a couple things that I was going to mention, namely that he himself had covered news other than sports, and that Bob Hohler came over from the news side of the business. Hohler certainly didn’t make the change because he couldn’t handle what he was doing.

I think this exchange has been productive. I wish other media people would take the time to attempt to explain some of their viewpoints, and help the readers to understand where they’re coming from on different issues. A couple writers in the past had agreed to answer a few questions for this site, in which I hoped to let them do just that. They never answered the questions I sent to them. Others have offered to do a chat type discussion here, and I may take them up on their offers.

Bob Hohler says at least

Bob Hohler says at least the Tigers can take their whippings like men. Michael Silverman says the Sox offense is alive and well. In the same article, John Burkett notes his stellar record when the Sox score 10 or more runs for him…Paul Kenyon says Grady Little is among those surprised at how well his team can hit. David Heuschkel notes that this one was put away early. Kevin Paul Dupont provides some musings over Fenway and baseball. Yes, he does tell us again that Pedro and Manny don’t speak to the media. Some of the others are fairly interesting, in a 1960′s sort of way. Rich Thompson says John Burkett is making it difficult for the Sox to replace him. Sean McAdam expands on that, noting the Sox might be best off just sticking with the Mike O’Connell lookalike. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell also chimes in on Burkett. Matt Eagan has the script from an hour long discussion that John Henry and Tom Werner had with Courant reporters and editors yesterday. Issues discussed include NESN and minor league baseball in CT. Mike Shalin looks at trying times for Alan Trammell. Kelvin Ma looks at Todd Walker finally breaking out of his slump. Michael Gee’s pay column tells us that Grady Little did all he could not to run up the score and have to apologize to another opposing manager. Thompson also has a piece on Damian Jackson, who accepts his role and will play and do whatever he is asked. John Tomase looks at the transformation of the bullpen, and debunks at least one myth that Bill James critics like to espouse. Ma also has a bit on former Sox farmhand Mike Maroth, who is eager to face the Sox at Fenway tonight. The Herald notebook reports that Tony Cloninger is cancer free. They also have the Sox looking at a couple of Reds relievers. Hohler’s notebook has Jeremy Giambi looking to break out of a season long funk. Kenyon’s notebook says that Giambi was able to get off to a good start with last night’s performance. Heuschkel’s notebook also looks at Giambi.

Gerry Callahan says Kobe has finally been exposed for the phony that he is. His pay column looks at Kobe’s carefully crafted image and the press conference with his wife, which Callahan describes as a “bad school play”. He says:

It was all up to Kobe, who sure was glad he didn't throw out last year's Christmas cards. Where else could he have found this kind of prose? I mean, Kobe, come on. You are the air that I breathe? Was that your idea? A piece of my heart? My backbone? A blessing? Where did you get that, from one of Air Supply's greatest hits?

"You're the strongest person I know,'' Kobe said, directly addressing his wife.

That probably means she could go to Colorado for three days without jumping on the front desk clerk. In Kobe's world, that's real strength.

Jim Donaldson goes after Lawyer Milloy, saying he is all talk, and that his numbers don’t indicate that he is worth anywhere near what he is getting paid. Basing performance on statistics? The horror. Michael Felger looks at the secondary for the Patriots with Milloy and Ty Law both perhaps entering their final season with the Pats, are replacements being lined up? Tom Curran looks at the release of Derek Watson, and the signing of all the draft picks. Shane Donaldson provides a Patriots Checklist heading into training camp. He looks at players with something to prove, sleepers and competitive positions. Nick Cafardo looks at the deal signed by top pick Ty Warren, which contains protection for both the team and player. Felger’s notebook looks at an injury to Guard Stephen Neal, who may miss up to three months of the season. He also looks at other injuries on the O-line.

Mark Murphy looks at the mutual interest between Travis Best and the Celtics. Lenny Megliola wonders if the Vin Baker story can have a happy ending.

Frank Dell’Apa looks at a US tour of the elite soccer clubs of Europe.

Bill Griffith looks at coverage of the Tour De France.

NESN has Red Sox/Tigers at 7:00. TBS has Cubs/Braves at 7:30.

A few items for people

A few items for people trying to escape the Kobe talk…

After the letter this morning, here are a couple rebuttals, First as presented by Matthew Martinelli:

The letter published today on your website by Kevin Gilligan is not only an insult to those who have entered the journalism field, but also an insult to those who drop a few quarters down each day to read those journalists. His shoddy stereotyping of all writers as not very bright and his claim that no sports writer ever got a job awarded on merit is one of the most outrageous claims I have ever heard. To let you know how the process usually works it is basically, a few years covering high school sports at a minor paper, then covering major league sports at a minor paper and then a jump to a major metro.

It is utterly ridiculous how much flak sportswriters in this town get. Have Boston sports fans ever read other papers? The quality of the coverage in the Boston Globe and the Herald far surpasses just about any other papers in the country. The constant criticism of hall-of-fame caliber writers such as Shaughnessy and Ryan may sometimes be merited, but it is often not. The criticism comes from an interior feeling in some sports fans around here that they know more about the local teams than anyone else. They're simply jealous of many sportswriters for having a pretty nice job.

Note: Mr. Gilligan, who wrote the letter from this morning, has a doctorate in molecular biology. While that may not qualify him to judge sports writing, I feel fairly certain that he is happy with what he’s accomplished in life, and isn’t too jealous of the sports writers. I would also concede that the Boston writers for the most part, are far above the quality found in many other cities. That’s not the issue here. At issue is the personal attacks and negative reporting style that flourishes among them.

Next, Howard Bryant, who has been critical of Bill James in the past, has a response to the letter of this morning. With his permission, here it is:

I wanted to respond to your item today about Bill James. I know you or the letter you quoted doesn't refer to me by name, but I thought for clarity's sake, writing might do some good.

First, I am not a Bill James hater, or a basher, or a person who has any real philosophy about his value. I wrote critically last week of him not because of his theories, or his intellect, but of his lack of tact. There is a big difference there.

James, this season, has been on a real and noticeable campaign to draw attention to himself and by doing so is fair game to be scrutinized. Just like everyone else. His joint-book tour with Michael Lewis, I thought, was inappropriate, as is the Red Sox decision to let Lewis throw out the first pitch this Friday against the Yankees.

What I don't understand about him is why he _ and the writer of the letter in today's article _ needs to attack the intelligence level of people who disagree with him. Why is his word unassailable? Why can he call Don Zimmer a "Neanderthal" but cannot be questioned himself? This, I don't understand.

The comment that people who cover sports "aren't very bright" offers the kind of "axe-grinding" James-bashers are supposed to be guilty of. I never said I was smart, or played baseball at a high-level, but neither has Bill James.

Why is a person who is skillful at analyzing data untouchable in evaluating the full scope of a baseball player, the heart, the preparation, the desire, the mentality? Like virtually everything else, James offers a valuable perspective that should be respected. but he can be disagreed with, can't he? To say that clutch hitting, as James and Billy Beane do, is merely luck, is nonsense. Does that make me an idiotic James basher who simply is too unevolved to know better?

No matter how you choose to interpret it, the CBC, as applied by the Red Sox this season, was a failure. Does this mean James is a failure? No. Does it mean we can all gloat about it? No. Does it mean that with better pitchers, it will still fail? No. But it does mean that during the winter and at the beginning of spring training, he and Theo Epstein not only promulgated an idea, but did so with an intellectual smarminess that offended many people in the game. That's a fact.

We all have our axes to grind, no question about that. James does, too, especially (and sometimes rightfully) at the Lords of Baseball for how they treated him over the years. But I think it is quite simplistic to take issue with James critics as knuckle-dragging morons. That sounds more like how James himself would consider any one who differs from he in opinion.

Fair enough. I suggested to Mr. Bryant that perhaps the average fan or reader might not be aware of the things that he describes here. They just read James’ book, and then read unflattering things about him in their local newspaper. They’re not sure of the reasons why, and thus conclude that the writers must be threatened and scared by James’ intellect. (Which still might be a factor in the whole equation.) Bryant then told me to feel free to put his thoughts on-the-record.

Couple other things. Remember the big stink Gordon Edes made about the Red Sox lack of African-American players? The Toronto Blue Jays have been fighting similar accusations. Boston media pal J.P. Ricciardi has been under a small spotlight in this area. Bob Elliot reports on the story. One paragraph:

This spring a scout cracked "so how are things covering the Boston Celtics?" The implication was that new Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, highly unpopular in the scouting fraternity after firing so many scouts in 2002, was making the Jays like the Celtics, who concentrated on white players.

The issue, similar to the Red Sox this spring, appears to have no real legs, though I wonder if the recent Stewart for Kielty trade raised any eyebrows. (Thanks to Ryan Baker for the article.)

Jeff Merron of ESPN Page2 grades Fenway Park.

Got in late last night,

Got in late last night, so missed on the Sunday Night shows, and the morning links. Just a few quick notes instead.

John Molori has the story on 1510. Does Sporting News Radio have any idea how to run a station? Or is Eddie Andelman serving as the Vin Baker of the station, where his huge contract prevents them from keeping, or bringing on better talent?

I’m growing increasing annoyed at how almost each reporter covering the team has to inform us each day that Pedro and Manny are “refusing” to speak to the media. Kevin Paul Dupont does the deed today. What is the purpose of telling us everyday? I’m sure the fans are aware of the fact that those two haven’t cooperated with the scribes this season. It’s growing into a big pet peeve with me.

Have you ordered food at Fenway via your cell phone yet?

I’m guessing Howard Bryant isn’t buying Manny’s story about his mother fainting. In his pay column this week, he talks about the rough week John Henry had:

Henry emerged from the All-Star week somewhat bruised for dismissing the Manny Ramirez Hall Pass Controversy as a mere blip during a slow news week.

Bryant goes on to say:

The cacophony aside, if there is a reason to be discouraged by leadership's passivity in handling Ramirez, and to a far lesser extent Pedro Martinez, it is in the potential consequences that might surface, the most significant being the frame of mind of the fastidious shortstop, Nomar Garciaparra.

He wonders how Nomar felt at the special treatment given Pedro and Manny while he played on.

I also thought I’d take the opportunity to publish this letter that was sent to me last week, regarding the Bill James bashing in the media. I think the writer, Kevin Gilligan, makes some very good points.

I have been noticing a great many negative references to Bill James in the press lately. You already know about the Shaughnessy ones. Ralph Wiley mentions him today in an ESPN column, suggesting a kind of racist bias on Bill's part because he doesn't think much of stolen bases. A couple of weeks ago, Tim McCarver cheap-shotted him on Fox during a telecast, putting words in Bill's mouth to the effect that a good bullpen isn't important! And it seems that many in the New England press seem to deliberately misinterpret the bullpen strategy of the Red Sox in a way to maximize criticism of Bill's contribution to the team.

What gives? Has the press taken collective leave of their senses? Why has this man become such a lightning rod for every sports scribe in the country with an ax to grind?

Allow me to speculate. First, I believe most sports journalists aren't very bright. They have a bachelor's degree in journalism or English and were able to snag a job out of a summer internship or through nepotism. To my knowledge, unlike most professions, no sports reporter has ever gotten his job by demonstrating expertise in the field they are required to expound upon. In other words, they have no real knowledge to trade. So what we get instead are a witches brew of gossip, half-baked opinions, trite quotes and indignant diatribes. Before long, they become aware of what a cushy gig they have, doing little real work while enjoying the considerable perks of watching, then expounding upon, the world of professional sports with no one to answer to except their editor, who doesn't really care what they write as long as it is submitted on time and creates a buzz for whatever organization they work for. Then along comes Bill James. Working alone and having little or no attachment or dependence on the existing sports information power structures, he writes a brilliant string of abstracts and books on baseball that knocks out the fans of the sport and leaves them screaming for more. Many reach the New York Times bestseller list. Even more unsettling is his use of empirical data and statistical formulas in objectively trying to address the questions about baseball he happens to be interested in. So Mr. Sports Columnist/Announcer wakes up one day and finds that his readers know more about his subject than he does. Needless to say, this reality is very threatening because it renders Mr. Sports Columnist/Announcer unnecessary. And he can't correct the situation without additional training, which he is too lazy to do (Oh no! I have to learn math?!). So he uses to only weapon he has left, the dissemination of misinformation by any means at his disposal to discredit the source of his discomfort.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the summer wears on, now that the problems in the bullpen seem to be solved. If the Red Sox beat the Yankees to first place (which, as things now stand, they seem likely to do), then the Jamesbashers will be required to convincingly explain how they accomplished this feat despite the input of the "stats geek". Furthermore, if the Red Sox were to actually go all the way (I can dream, can't I?) for the first time in 85 years, I can see this splitting the local media right down the middle between the reluctant converts and the Luddites. Then we should really see some fireworks.

Eddie Andelman started his 1510

Eddie Andelman started his 1510 the Zone show today talking about his experience with the ESPN Pete Rose trial last night. He mentioned he had to “slap a woman down” in the jury room last night. He said she was trying to get a bigger role in the production.

Can you say “Bob Ryan”?

That coupled with his comments that Manny and Pedro should be grateful for their green cards got him off to a rousing start.

Just one thought on the ESPN trial, did anyone there even consider how much of a sham it was to have the jury foreman on a “trial” involving gambling being someone who delights in his relationships with Las Vegas insiders and numbers guys as much as Eddie Andelman does?

Eric McHugh discusses 10 points from the AFC. Ian M. Clark has a bit on Bill Belichick’s film session with the media, and also a report from the print/broadcast media football game yesterday.

Mike Fine says the Sox are poised for second half success, last night notwithstanding. Kevin Gray looks at last night’s loss. John Tomase says the Sox will make the playoffs. Alan Greenwood says the early departures of Manny and Pedro are no big deal.

Del Jones looks at Kedrick Brown’s growth in the summer league.

Austin O’Connor comments on the addition of Rush Limbaugh to ESPN’s NFL Countdown.

I’m going to be away for the next couple days, probably without access to a computer. If the message board crashes, it’ll have to wait until I get back. We’re hoping to get the new tagboard in place really soon.

Not the start the Sox

Not the start the Sox wanted for the second half of the season, and it’s Pedro and Manny’s fault. Jeff Horrigan says that while Derek Lowe certainly didn’t have his good stuff out there, Roy “Cy Young” Halladay certainly did. (Is it possible that Halladay was just too good last night, and that it wasn’t really Manny and Pedro’s fault? More on that later.) Kevin McManara notes that Halladay’s complete game drew praise from the Red Sox. Joe Burris covers the game for the Globe today, (Hey, is Bob Hohler late coming back from the All Star break? Star treatment…) David Heuschkel mixes game coverage with the Manny and Pedro story. Mike Shalin says Halladay is a nine inning, throwback pitcher. Lenny Megliola also looks a “Doc” Halladay and what he means to the Blue Jays. Alex Speier and Aaron Harlan conclude the Halladay articles. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell writes about Lowe’s rough outing. Shalin also writes about Todd Jones, having passed his audition on the road trip, now gets to play at Fenway. Now we get into the Manny-Pedro articles, which of course are almost more numerous than the game stories themselves. Shira Springer has Pedro attempting to defuse the media bomb. He feels his leaving was made a firestorm because he’s refused to talk to the media as much this year. Jim Donaldson indicates that Pedro is nothing compared to the perfect, all universe Roy Halladay. Bob Halloran is becoming jaded by being a member of the Boston media. He declares that Pedro is “almost singlehandedly ruining one of the most enjoyable and exciting Red Sox seasons in recent memory.” He goes on to say Pedro hasn’t pitched well enough to win more games, he’s won exactly as many as he should have. Maybe that’s true, but how about this next bit:

What scares me is that Pedro has become so obsessed with his own health that he won't put himself at risk; EVER. Here's the nightmare: Game 7 of the World Series. Pedro's pitching a beauty. But with all his strike-outs and a couple of early inning jams, he's thrown 121 pitches through seven innings.

There's still no score in the game. Pedro doesn't come out for the eighth inning. I'd be surprised if there's anyone who doesn't think that's a distinct possibility. Pedro's all about pitch counts these days. But don't you want a performance like Jack Morris when he threw 10 shutout innings to win Game 7 for the Twins in 1991?

A paragraph or two later, Halloran dismisses Pedro’s game five performance of the 1999 Divisional Series, saying that that Pedro no longer exists. I don’t think anyone has any doubts that Pedro would let it all hang out in a game seven situation. Dan Shaughnessy begins laying the groundwork for his new book…”The curse of the star system”. He questions Pedro’s manhood, (“A true stopper would have pitched on regular (four days’) rest”) and dismisses Manny’s excuse for leaving. Of course, it was the manager who made the decision not to pitch Pedro in the first or even second game back from the break, but it’s much easier to just take a shot at the player. As for Manny, why not have the stones to just come out and say you don’t believe him, Dan? Instead of just lumping Manny in with Pedro on the “Star System”, which by doing he indicates he doesn’t believe Manny, but it saves him the trouble of coming out and saying so. Gordon Edes tells us absolutely nothing new or informative. Just read his stories from the last three days on this topic and you’ll have the same thing. Steve Buckley’s pay column says he didn’t have any problem with Pedro leaving early, but that he should’ve been back on time. (Airline delay or no Airline delay.) But the controversy’s do come down to winning, he notes:

Again, it's so very simple: The Red Sox can win, in which case nobody will complain about who's sneaking off to the airport, or they can lose, in which case headline-hungry editors and live-at-5 producers will assign people to keep track of the time clock in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Howard Bryant’s pay column is about Manny, it’s an up and down piece, sort of like Manny’s tenure with the Sox. He talks about Manny being “irresponsible”, but also has Kevin Millar, who says:

Let me tell you something about Manny,'' Millar said. ``He's the greatest teammate I've ever had. He's the greatest hitter I've ever seen. There are a lot of people out there who say they care about other guys, but they really only care about themselves. This guy cares, trust me. He's the real thing.

Bryant notes that Manny was the only player who jumped out of the dugout when Millar was drilled in the head by Roger Clemens a couple weekends ago. McManara’s notebook also has updates on Pedro and Manny, Heuschkel’s notebook looks at the return of Fossum and Giambi, Edes’ notebook also looks at the return of Fossum. Horrigan’s notebook says Red Sox management will not interrogate Manny for his absence.

Will Waltah remain a Celtic after all? The team is stepping up it’s offer to the free agent forward, though I’m inclined to just let him go. Steve Bulpett reports on the three year offer made to McCarty. Peter May reports on the McCarty offer and also on other possible Celtics moves including a trade that could bring forward Mike Batiste here from the Grizzlies. For some reason I thought that the trade exception that the Celtics possessed was more than the 615K that May mentions. I had the figure of two million in my head. Guess I was wrong. Christopher Price looks at the flood of ex-Celtics in the coaching ranks. Bulpett’s notebook says the Celtics will not be in the luxury tax bracket this year, and that “All of this shoots holes in the oft-stated theory that Gaston ordered the Baker deal to make the team more sellable.” He also reports on the games yesterday, noting another strong outing by Brandon Hunter who outplayed the Knicks first round pick, Michael Sweetney

Michael Felger looks at the Patriots receivers in the third part of his training camp preview. Michael Parente looks at the Tight Ends and Wide Receivers in his continued camp previews. Aaron Harlan looks at Antwoine Womack, who feels ready to make a push for a spot on the team.

Bill Griffith reports on TNT’s coverage of the British Open. John Howell looks at some thinking outside the box at ESPN. I haven’t had a chance to watch the Pete Rose trial yet, but I do have it on tape and will look it over soon.

The Morning Press box signed off of WWZN this morning with class and dignity. They will be missed, as they did fill a void for sports talk in the morning for Boston. They were silly at times during their tenure, but did talk sports, and did a good job at it. Here’s hoping they land on their feet.

UPN38 has Red Sox/Blue Jays at 7:00. ESPN has Cardinals/Dodgers at 10:00. The Rebook Summer league is on Direct-TV as well.

The good news was the

The good news was the Bob Neumeier didn’t spend fours pontificating about Manny and Pedro, although the topic did come up again. The bad news is that most of the rest of the show was about NASCAR. I’ve got nothing against NASCAR talk, as my dad is a big fan. But get somebody who knows what they’re talking about to come on the show…

Eric McHugh looks at 10 things to look for in the NFC this season.

Del Jones says Marcus Banks in born to run. Bob Stern looks at Brandon Hunter, out to carve a spot for himself on the Celtics roster as a Dennis Rodman-like rebounder.

Garry Brown says the Sox have hope going into the second half. Todd Jones says the All Star mess needs to be fixed. Clark Booth assesses baseball at the All Star break.

Fans of the Red Sox

Fans of the Red Sox are eagerly awaiting the first pitch tonight. Not so much for the return of baseball, but to put an end to the nauseating Manny/Pedro talk. No one can take a topic and drive it into the ground like WEEI. The Big Show wasn’t all that bad yesterday, but Bob Neumeier was at his pompous worst yesterday in declaring Manny’s absence responsible for everything except causing world hunger. (I believe Neumy is working on that connection for today’s show.) It’s still an important topic to Gordon Edes, which disappoints me, as I’ve felt Edes was one of the more reasonable and levelheaded members of the press corps. But this obsession, coupled with that spring training article talking about the Red Sox not having any African-American players, makes me think Gordon is being affected by the people he has to hang around with in the press boxes.

Tony Massarotti says the Sox need to go against their trend of recent years and have a strong second half to the season. Art Martone says the Sox don’t always struggle in the second half of the season and looks at a few other misconceptions that are out there. David Heuschkel says the Sox might have their bullpen in order, finally, and that bodes well for the second half. Gordon Edes looks at the pitching possibilities that the Sox might be able to get in trades. Jeff Horrigan lists what went right and went wrong in the first half of the season. Horrigan continues the hip media trend of bashing Bill James whenever possible, lumping him in the group of What went wrong:

BILL JAMES may be a respected statistician and historian but his formulas don't always produce accurate results. Psssst, Bill, there's a reason why dozens of teams had given up on pitchers Bruce Chen and Rudy Seanez.

How about the focus on getting players with high OBP, has that been successful? What other things has James contributed behind the scenes that we don’t know about it? This James bias is pretty silly at times. Ralph Wiley on ESPN.com Page2 the other day basically accused James of racism:

It is usually the American-born blacks' records and place that are resented instead of celebrated. For example, it's the stolen base that is denigrated as a weapon by baseball sabermaticians like Bill James, at precisely the time when a Rickey Henderson steals 130 bases in a season.

This might be one of the dumbest things that Wiley has ever said, and that is saying a lot. Bill James has been a huge Rickey supporter through the years. James has stated not that steals themselves are bad, but that unless you’re great at it, they’re not worth the risk. Who is better in baseball history at the stolen base besides Rickey? Back to the Boston stories, Michael Silverman takes a look at the trade market. Bill Reynolds is sick of hearing about the curse. I just wish he had taken a few shots at a certain curly haired writer who has lined his pockets with proceeds from spreading the curse. Steve Buckley’s pay column tells us that there will be no dog days in August, the schedule has no easy pickings. That month will either be a lot of fun, or torture for the Sox. Kevin Gray says at long last, the Sox have some relief. Horrigan also takes a look at The Minors. Martone’s notebook has Jeff Suppan targeted by the Sox. Bill Griffith says the All Star game wasn’t the ratings bonanza that Fox hoped for.

I made it down to UMass-Boston to check out the Summer League last night. The young Celtics got their heads handed to them by the Spurs junior varsity. Marcus Banks, Kedrick Brown and Brandon Hunter were really the only guys who showed anything. Hunter needs to make this team. He brings something they need, a widebody to battle under the hoop, he was relentless under there. Bruno Sundov might’ve turned in the worst performance in the history of summer league basketball. He ended up with 7 fouls, (no disqualifications in summer league) missed numerous layups and dunks, had passes go through his hands, and got lit up by players much shorter than he. When you’re 7-3, you’d think you’d have a few more blocked shots. In frustration, he also decked a guy half his size and earned a T. I’ll run through the articles of the day, and add anything I think relevant. One disappointment I had was not getting to see Kendrick Perkins. The young center sat out with an ankle sprain. I didn’t see him in warmups, and then he came out in a walking cast towards the end of warmups. Mark Murphy reports on Perkins. Peter May has the story on Chris Herren, looking to get back into the NBA. Celtics made their free agent splash yesterday, inking Mark Blount to a two year deal. Shira Springer and Carolyn Thornton report on the Blount signing. Marcus Banks was impressive last night, not just from his numbers, Lenny Megliola reports on the Celtics rookie point guard. There was a buzz whenever had the ball, whether he was pushing the fast break, or performing a nasty, Iverson-like crossover in front of a helpless opponent, or taking the ball to the rack, he was impressive. In the second half, with the Spurs well ahead, and the crowd a little dead, Banks did his crossover, took the ball to the hoop and attempted to dunk it over the big guys. He got fouled, and missed the dunk, but almost the entire crowd was immediately up and applauding. He was up high enough to dunk, and had he not been fouled, it would’ve been a spectacular play. Rick Carlisle spent most of the first half seated next to Danny Ainge on the sideline, and John Wallace came and sat on the other side of Ainge midway through. A few seats down was Kenyon Martin, who got booed vociferously as he entered. A fan went across the building and sat down behind Martin and started taunting him, he apparently got to Martin, who turned and had a few words for him. Eventually security asked the fan to leave the area. Zach Rocha looks at Luke Recker, who did play some last night, and looked ok, he displayed some spark on defense. Springer’s notebook looks at John Wallace’s presence last night. Shira was an active presence on the sideline during the second half, talking with Ainge, Wallace and Carlisle among others. Murphy’s notebook also looks at Wallace. Thornton’s notebook features Ainge with some praise for Kedrick Brown’s offseason work. The Spurs summer league coach was quite dramatic during the game, putting on a show at halfcourt as if this was the seventh game of the NBA finals. It was hard to see what he was getting so upset about, as the foul calls seemed clearly to favor the Spurs. Danny Ainge was even seen engaging one of the officials in conversation during the game. Spurs reserve Kaspers Kambala received some razzing from the crowd for his large tattoo with the name “Jessica” on his arm, which quickly became his nickname. David Aldridge was seen roaming around, and doing multiple takes for his SportsCenter segment. Bob McAdoo was very visible, and Dave Jageler walked by to a chorus of “Free Jags!”, to which he smiled. Steve Bulpett was around, seated next to Ainge for much of the second half. (Nice shorts, Steve.) He also talked to Martin for a bit.

Tom Curran reports that the Patriots are getting closer to signing first round pick Ty Warren. Michael Felger looks at the Running Back position, which is still headlined by Antowain Smith, who faces his annual battle with the conditioning test a week from today. Aaron Harlan has a look at Ted Johnson coming into camp with a new contract, a new wife, and having just turned 30. Michael Parente starts his training camp preview with a look at the QB position, with the focus of course on Tom Brady. He also looks at the Running Back position, and with this year being a huge one for Smith.

Bob Ryan warms us up for “The” Open.

Bill Griffith looks at D-Day for WWZN tomorrow.

NESN has Red Sox/Blue Jays at 7:00. ESPN Classic is showing game seven of the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Celtics and Hawks at 9:00. ESPN has the “Pete Rose on Trial” show at 7:00

A further programming note, if you’re out of town and have got Direct-TV, you can watch the Summer league games on NBATV, I think it will be channel 601.

Just back from a day

Just back from a day away from the computer. Found the following email in my inbox:

Bruce,

Instead of agreeing with Peter "I'm great at writing obvious columns about 3 months after I should have written them" May, you should be asking these 2 questions:

1. Why did it take the current group of Boston basketball writers nearly half the summer to wonder why the new Celtics owners weren't throwing their hats in the ring for Payton, Howard, Arenas, Olowokandi, Brad Miller, Andre Miller, Corey Maggette and every other FA who could have helped the team with the FA exemption? They haven't courted one free agent other than Karl Malone, and we're not even sure if that story is true. There's a story here. There's even an answer. Why isn't anyone pursuing this?

2. Has the current state of basketball writing and reporting EVER been worse in this town? What happened to the Globe? Have they just given up? I read better coverage when I was editing field hockey and women's lacrosse columns in college.

This never would have happened if Don Skwar was still alive. Please say hi to everyone back home.

--SIMMONS