Calm before the storm

The Red Sox enjoyed their (second to) last night off during the regular season (Thanks Ryan.) while getting ready for tonight’s series opener against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Yesterday was a chance for everyone to take a breather while getting ready for the final push to the postseason. Tony Massarotti looks at the Red Sox advantage they possess at Fenway, and ponders whether the Sox should want to face the A’s or the Twins, or win the division or go in as wild card. In the end, he can’t decide himself, and just says they should keep winning and play as many games in October at Fenway as they can. Bob Hohler writes today that the Red Sox will not be content with slipping into the playoffs as the wild card, they will fight for the division title right down to the last game of the season if needed, not resting anyone. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says the Red Sox best postseason scenario is to overtake the Yankees and have the Twins overtake the A’s. He says winning the division this year would be bigger than other years, and sending the Yankees to Minnesota while the Sox face the A’s would be the best of all worlds for Boston fans. David Borges says that like Vijay stalking Tiger, the Red Sox will be hunting down the Yankees for the top spot in the East.

Art Martone says that the Yankees have had a much easier schedule than the Red Sox have faced this season. The Red Sox have been better against the better teams than the Yankees have been, but haven’t been as good against the bottom feeders, which the Yankees have really beefed up on. David Heuschkel has a nice look at Orlando Cabrera, who has stepped right into the Red Sox world, and produced in all areas. He also has fit in nicely with his new teammates. Jeff Horrigan looks at Trot Nixon and Pokey Reese as they try to adjust to playing part time as they return from injuries. Garry Brown says that the Sox need to keep their attention focused on the Devil Rays before looking ahead to the Yankees. Bob Halloran says no matter what his numbers look like, Tim Wakefield has to be on the postseason roster for the Sox. Bill Reynolds tries an experiment in writing…the Boston sports shrink. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but I HATE this stuff. More tired garbage about how Boston fans want misery and how they’d be lost without it and how we all wouldn’t know what to do if the Red Sox won it all, and that the sports shrink would be out of business. Did I mention I hate that stuff? The miserable, fatalistic attitude? Just get rid of it already, people. Jeff Sullivan looks at the firing of PawSox Manager Buddy Bailey. Hohler’s notebook looks at Bill Mueller’s rising batting average. Horrigan’s notebook looks ahead to the Yankees.

Jim Donaldson says the Patriots and their fans have absolutely noting to worry about this Sunday in facing the Arizona Cardinals. Nick Cafardo though says the hiring of Dennis Green has brought optimism to the perennially downtrodden franchise. Michael Parente has a good look at the Cardinals, and says they could give the Patriots a run for their money this Sunday. A much better and balanced look than the dismissive article by Donaldson above. Mike Reiss says that the Patriots will be heading out to Arizona earlier than they usually do for away games in an effort to get adjusted to the hot, dry climate. Rich Thompson says the Patriots have been focusing on Red Zone defense and it’s an area in which they will continue to work at. Alan Greenberg has a look at undrafted rookie cornerback Randall Gay, who not only made the team roster, but got in some action on Thursday night. Cafardo’s brief notebook also looks at the early travel schedule and at newly signed running back Rabih Abdullah, who has a little bit of a troubled history.

Kevin Paul Dupont looks at Joe Thornton dramatically adjusting his game while playing for team Canada. Steve Conroy also has a look at Thornton’s new role. Conroy also urges hockey fans to watch tonight’s World Cup championship game because it’s likely the last high level hockey game you’re going to see in some time with the lockout looming.

Stan Grossfeld has a Globe feature on…Manute Bol? The seven foot seven inch Bol was severely injured in an auto accident June 30th and is in the process of learning to walk again.

John Molori’s Media Blitz has a look at NESN and Sam Adams teaming for another Broadcaster for an Inning contest, a look at NESN’s new version of SportsDesk and a review of the HBO Documentary “Nine Innings from Ground Zero”. Bill Griffith also looks at the new SportsDesk and has some NFL viewing notes from the weekend. The NFL Network has been a rousing success thus far. Ed Waldman of the Baltimore Sun (free registration required) reports that:

Yesterday, barely 10 months after its launch, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the network has been so successful that televising regular-season games is an option that is being seriously considered. The NFL might even think about making less money from television over the short term to get its own distribution system up and running, he said.

That obviously would be a HUGE development in the future of sports and television. It was also briefly mentioned by Griffith in his above article.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00. ESPN2 has the World Cup of Hockey Championship game, Canada vs. Finland at 7:00. CN8 will have Shira Springer among the guests on the 10:00 SportsPulse. ESPN Classic with have a Carl Yastrzemski SportsCentury at 11:00.

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