09.15.04 Afternoon Links

Some news and notes from the afternoon papers. Mike Fine looks at the rookie pitchers that have done in the Red Sox this season. The list isn’t pretty.

Roberto Novoa of Detroit, Kevin Gregg of Anaheim, Jimmy Gobble of Kansas City, Erik Bedard of Baltimore, Bobby Madritsch of Seattle and now Scott Kazmir of the D-Rays have stuck it to a team that one wouldn't expect to be a stickee.

Likewise, Chaz Scoggins jokes that perhaps the Yankees should bring up their AAA starters for this weekend series. Bob Stern says that the Devil Rays were supposed to be easy pickin’s for the Sox. Guess not. Yeah…the Rays laid down nicely for the Yankees last week…Alan Greenwood also has a look at the frustrating loss at Fenway last night. Eric Wilbur insists “this is not a Pedro-Roger (Clemens) comparison”, yet that’s exactly what he does, spending 700 words on the subject. Scott Kerman has a look at Nomar in Chicago. Fine’s notebook looks at the rotation for the upcoming Yankees series. Greenwood’s notebook also looks at the rotation.

In the Patriots links department…Mark Farinella has a look at the NFL Network and the future of NFL broadcasting. A pretty good and informative article if you can get past the digs at Bill Belichick.

Let's face it, the people in the NFL Network's front office must wince every time they run one of Bill Belichick's monotone monologues. The league has the likes of Andy Reid, Jon Gruden, Dick Vermeil and Bill Parcells in its coaching ranks, all of whom are more entertaining on their worst days than Belichick on his best, but none of them have won two Super Bowls in the past three years.

Was that necessary? Later he makes reference to Belichick “droning on”. His inclusion of Andy Reid in that group is curious as well, as Dave from Philly Sports Media Watch has told me that reporters down there hate dealing with Reid. He gives them nothing and is totally boring. (As evidence, check out yesterday’s post mortem of Reid’s press conference.) So what’s Farinella basing things on? From that link it appears he’s pulling names out of the air. I would disagree that Belichick is boring in his press conferences, most of the time its idiot questions that bring down the level of of the sessions. Give Belichick a good question and the answer can be fascinating. Here’s an example from yesterday’s press conference:

Q: Can you talk about the maturation of Eugene Wilson?

BB: Well, I think Eugene was able to spend a lot of time this year during training camp at the safety position, something he didn't do last year. He spent really all of his time at corner. This year we kind of split it between safety and corner. He still has some corner responsibilities even when he plays safety, and we know that if we have to play him at corner that he's trained to do that and has the skill and confidence to do it. I think his versatility back there has been a really big plus for us defensively. I thought he played well against the Colts. But that's one of those positions where, you talk about situational players, that's really what a safety is. He gets four, five, six plays a game, usually, that he can be a factor on. How he does on those handful of plays determines whether he plays well or not. The other 50 can be great, but if he's not really threatened or challenged on those plays, it doesn't really make any difference. I could be back there. If the ball never gets there, it doesn't matter. Those handful of plays when he has to make the play or is involved in the play, then those are big plays. If he missed them we give up a lot of yards or a lot of points. If he makes them, we don't. I'm not saying just Wilson, any safety. That's the nature of the position, so it's very situational. Sometimes the best thing a safety can do is not be involved in any plays. That means he's in position. That means that the quarterback isn't trying to challenge him in that part of the field because it looks like it's pretty securely defended, and [it means] in the running game that the people up front are doing a good enough job at keeping the ball from getting back to him. It's hard to evaluate a safety just on production alone. You get into that a lot in college when you're evaluating guys. A guy has a lot of production, well, sometimes that's good thing, and sometimes that isn't a good thing. It just depends on the circumstances that that production is coming in. But it can be frustrating. I think that's why those guys have to play with a lot of discipline. I think Eugene does that. For a young guy he's pretty smart, and he's pretty disciplined and pretty mature that you try to run around and make plays that you shouldn't be making and pretty soon you end up giving up plays that you really shouldn't be giving up. There's an element of playing the defense, playing within the system, being there to make the plays that you need to make without taking yourself and exposing the position to try to do something that isn't really your primary responsibility. So, that level of maturity and understanding and discipline is a key for that spot.

Real information, some humor, yet largely ignored. Reading some of the transcripts of the conferences is very educational for a football fan, yet very little of it gets into the papers. Why? Because the writers job is to get news and sensational items into their stories. Belichick won’t give that to them. But he will share deep thoughts on the technical aspects of the game and what happens on the field. Yet you rarely see those thoughts in the paper. Editors must’ve concluded that that the average Patriots fan is too dumb or disinterested in that part of the game and wouldn’t read it. So the writers like Farinella complain that Belichick is monotone and makes their job harder. Crybabies. You get paid to write about sports for a living. You’re covering a championship team, and you have to harp on the fact that you don’t think the coach is fun to listen to.

Eric McHugh looks ahead to what should be the keys to Patriots/Cardinals on Sunday. Sports Illustrated looks at Ty Law’s offseason training. McHugh’s notebook looks at the rotation of the offensive lineman last Thursday night. In other news, Belichick and Carolina coach John Fox will be featured and interviewed on “60 Minutes” this Sunday night.

Win Bates looks at the NHL as it readies to put itself out of business.

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