Be Careful What You Wish For

Sunday links by Ben ([email protected])

At least one benefit of the Yankees come from behind series clinching win last night is that we won

Sack

Sox – Angels
The giant sack of you know what (TM Dan Shaughnessy) did it again, joining Carlton Fisk, Dave Henderson, and Trot Nixon in the annals of legendary Sox playoff home runs, although his is the first series ending walk off. The usual suspects have the game reports – the Globe

Trying to Sweep Up

The Red Sox go for the three game sweep of the Angels this afternoon at Fenway. The place will be rockin’. Stephen Harris says the Sox don’t want to let the Angels back up off the mat. Kevin McNamara notes that things a little different this postseason that last year. Paul Doyle also notes that contrast, and Alex Speier has Johnny Damon dreaming of an 11-0 postseason run. Bob Hohler looks at Bronson Arroyo, cast in the role of closing out the Angels for the series.

If you passed a newsstand and saw the cover of the Herald today, you know what the theme of Gerry Callahan’s (subscription only) column is. Go Yanks. While it might be natural to cringe at such a statement, Callahan is subscribing to the (ridiculous) theory that a World Series win without beating the Yankees wouldn’t be as good. It would lack the “same sense of accomplishment”. I don’t agree. The only downside I see is Yankee fans trying to make that point in the future…”Well you never beat us….” For that reason alone it might be worth it to beat the Yankees. Bill Simmons touched on this on ESPN.com yesterday. He says at this point in the game, Sox fans just want to win one, we’re not caught up in “degree of difficulty” just yet. Ron Chimelis also agrees that we should all just be looking at the big picture. Ed Berliner agrees…the ring is the thing. Dan Shaughnessy also wants to bring on the Yankees. He’s feeling good about things, as he says:

I say bring on the Yankees. This is the best Red Sox team in a generation. Except for the abject sloth and total disregard for rules and authority, they are almost Patriot-like. They are built to win. They will not choke.

Abject sloth? Whatever. Still, how quickly things change, not even two months ago, on August 10th, Shaughnessy was saying this about the “best Red Sox team in a generation”:

Hang down your heads, John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Theo Epstein. You too, Terry Francona. And all you guys in uniform - you just keep telling yourselves that any day now you'll take off on a hot streak. You are 45-44 since May 1 and you have a chance to be remembered as the biggest pack of frauds ever to don the Sox uniform.

Tony Massarotti says that Pedro sent a message to all with his performance on Wednesday night. Paul Doyle says that Pedro gave himself a boost with his outing. John Tomase also has an article on Pedro removing any doubts about what he has left. Jackie MacMullan looks at Trot Nixon, who very badly wants to have a huge postseason role for the Sox. David Borges adds that Nixon wants to make amends for his frustrating, injury-filled season. Sean McAdam writes about the Red Sox bullpen thus far once again coming up big in the postseason. Alex Speier and Garry Brown have more on this same topic. Tomase also looks at the performance of the Sox bullpen. Nick Cafardo looks at Johnny Damon’s migraines.

Howard Bryant (subscription only) says that the Sox are certainly in a good position right now, the best, in fact, of any team in the postseason. He calls the team “a superpower, stacked financially, with overwhelming talent.” Kevin Paul Dupont looks at now or never for the Angels. Steven Krasner looks at the reasons for the Angels downfall to this point. Rich Thompson writes about the confidence of the Red Sox as they return to Fenway. John Tomase looks at the emergence of Manny Ramirez as a playoff leader for the Red Sox. Steve Buckley (subscription only) says that last night was a night of peace for Red Sox fans. Life is good right now, but he reminds us that it can come crashing down at anypoint for the Red Sox and the fans. As he says:

Again, it all means nothing. As Michael Corleone once said, "If history has taught us anything . . . it's that you can kill anyone,'' and that surely applies to playoff hopes.

Thanks, Buck. Michael Gee (subscription only) says that Terry Francona hasn’t had to do much managing at all in this series, as he’s been in the lead, a position of strength pretty much throughout. Joe McDonald looks at how Bronson Arroyo finds himself here, starting game three of the playoffs. Michael O’Connor and Garry Brown each also look at Arroyo. O’Connor also profiles the Angels starter today, Kelvim Escobar. Bill Reynolds writes that everything is going according to plan for Theo Epstein’s ballclub. Lenny Megliola and Jon Couture look at the buzz and booming business around Fenway. Nick Taveres looks at the lie that is “the curse”.

Cafardo’s notebook looks at the determination on both sides going into this afternoon. Harris’ notebook looks at a stiff neck for Johnny Damon. The ProJo notebook looks at a low key, but confident trip back to Boston. Doyle’s notebook has more on Damon.

Michael Felger says the Patriot defense is working to ensure that there is not a repeat of the 2002 season. Alan Greenberg wonders if the Dolphins have any self-respect left. Tom E Curran says the only trouble Corey Dillon has caused this year has been for opposing defenses. Michael Vega has a profile of Stephen Neal. Hasn’t this story been written before? Michael Parente looks at Ted Johnson, a guy of which Bill Belichick says “I would like to have more guys like that”. Hector Longo thinks North Andover native Rob Konrad could be a key for the Dolphins. Tom King says that the matchup Sunday almost seems like a letdown.

Ian M Clark and Chris Kennedy look at the Patriots need for improvement on special teams. A story on Pro Football Talk says that Matt Light is furious with Ben Dogra for talking to Nick Cafardo about his new contract. As I said on Wednesday, Dogra is a noted publicity hound, and Light wants nothing to do with him. The Herald is going to be running excerpts from Michael Felger’s book “Tales from the Patriots sidelines” and today they print the legend of “The man in the trench coat” who ran across the field during the final play of the Patriots first ever home sellout. On NESN last night, Ron Borges continued his cry for attention by calling anyone an “idiot” who would take Tom Brady over Payton Manning – even though he was forced to admit that if he wanted to actually win a big game, he would take Brady. The incident is chronicled on Cold Hard Football Facts.

Vega’s notebook says Bill Belichick just doesn’t see what the Bills are all worked up about regarding supposed cheap hits from Patriots rookie Vince Wilfork. Felger’s notebook hints that Belichick might be a little frustrated at how fragile some of his wide receivers are. Curran’s notebook looks at the Dolphin offense.

Shira Springer looks at the progress of Raef LaFrentz. The Celtics and their fans had better hope the big man is able to contribute something, otherwise he’s just a 5 year, 55 Million dollar albatross on their salary cap. The early results are encouraging and the knee feels “better than expected” according the LaFrentz. Christopher Price also reports on LaFrentz. Steve Bulpett reports that Marcus Banks is making progress, in fact the second year point guard reports that he’s learned more in three days then he probably did all of last year. He credits the new coaching staff as well as Gary Payton. You’d think the Vermont papers would have something about the Celtics here and there, seeing as how they’re training up there. The only piece that I found was from Tom Haley who writes about the Celtics enjoying being able to get away from it all up in Vermont. Bulpett’s notebook looks at the progress of Al Jefferson and the other Celtics rookies.

John Howell has Fox Sports Chairman David Hill saying that the Red Sox, not the Yankees are the number one in the ratings…so why do the Yankees get all the prime time games? Good question. Bill Griffith looks at the late night Red Sox ratings and some of the highlights of the coverage. Jim Baker reports on ESPN Radio coming to Nashua NH, (900 AM) and also looks at the Red Sox coverage. David Scott took another trip to Philly, where they’re watching Terry Francona pretty carefully.

ESPN has Red Sox/Angels at 4:00 and Yankees/Twins at 8:00.

California Dreamin’ (updated)

Are you all hydrating? For the first time in my life I drank Gatorade in the morning. The Red Sox made it worthwhile for all the fans who stayed up until the 2:00 AM finish, scoring four runs in the ninth inning to break open a tight game and make a winner out of Pedro Martinez. David Heuschkel has probably the most complete account of the game, which gives the Red Sox a 2-0 series lead. Jeff Horrigan looks at Pedro coming up big in his first postseason start this year. Bob Hohler looks at Pedro and Manny Ramirez leading the hungry Red Sox to the victory. Steven Krasner says the Sox know this series isn’t over yet. David Borges rounds out the game stories letting us know this wasn’t quite vintage Pedro, but good enough nonetheless. Jackie MacMullan tells us that the Red Sox and their fans need to fight the temptation to think that the series is over.

Plenty of articles on Pedro this morning. Tony Massarotti tells us that last night showed us that the fires are still burning within Martinez, and offers up the speeds of his final 20 fastballs of the night, all between 90 and 95. Sean McAdam says that Pedro served up a reminder that he is still an ace with the performance last night. Dan Shaughnessy says that Pedro wasn’t dominant, but he went out did his job. Lenny Megliola says that Martinez showed us something last night, and the result is baseball at Fenway tomorrow with the Sox up 2-0. John Harper of the NY Daily News tells us that it is a new season for Pedro. Jay Greenberg of the NY Post says that if the Red Sox win it all, they will overpay Pedro and be stuck with his contract and choke the payroll. Kind of like the Post website chokes your browser with popups. Mozilla or Firefox is recommended for reading the Post. Showering afterwards doesn’t hurt, either.

Sean McAdam has a very nice article on the new, outgoing Manny Ramirez, who was actually chosen by the Red Sox to represent the team at the pregame press conference. Alex Speier writes that Terry Francona is still in the process of proving himself as a postseason manager. Jackie MacMullan says that Francona has been unruffled in the postseason thus far. David Heuschkel says the postseason will be the basis on which Francona is judged. The Sox have gotten a 2-0 series lead on the road. The last time that happened, was of course, the 1986 World Series. Gordon Edes catches up with John McNamara, who reflects back on that time in his life. Howard Bryant (subscription only) has a piece on Johnny Damon, who is really the catalyst to the Red Sox offense, a go-to guy in the clubhouse, and it all stems from him being comfortable with this team and city. Steve Buckley (subscription only) tells us that the Angels are worthy of respect, with all they’ve battled through in terms of injuries and how they’ve dealt with problem players in the clubhouse is a model blueprint worthy of imitation.

Steven Krasner says that Damon should merit MVP consideration. Jackie MacMullan and Steve Buckley look at the big hit and steady night for Jason Varitek. Reid Laymance says that the Red Sox bullpen is ready to pick up where they left off last season. Tony Massarotti writes about Gabe Kapler who is happy to be in Boston and doesn’t mind taking a lesser role (and money) to be a part of what is happening here. Howard Bryant looks at some of the mistakes both teams made last night. John Tomase says Orlando Cabrera has made Nomar just a a memory around Boston. That bases loaded triple in the ninth certainly didn’t hurt his cause…Ron Chimelis says that the glimpses of “small ball” are encouraging.

Chris Berman takes a lot of heat for his performance on the ESPN telecasts. While his act may be old for some, I will still take it any day of the week over the Fox duo of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. The ESPN booth of Tony Gwynn and Rick Sutcliffe along with Berman may be a little annoying at times, and Berman’s constant song and music references are tired, but at least they’re not openly rooting for and constantly praising one of the two teams. I actually like listening to Gwynn. I cannot listen to Buck and McCarver. If I do, I have to mock them the whole game, otherwise I’ll go crazy. I’m thankful Fox didn’t have that Yankees game last night, with Jeter hitting an early homerun and the Yankees coming back to win in extra innings, it would’ve been insufferable. If given a choice, I’ll take the lesser of two evils.

What got me was the FSN show immediately after the game. It’s after 2:00 AM and these guys still have the energy to work up fake anger and controversy. Mike Felger was hammering the home plate umpire for squeezing Colon all night. Maybe he was, but the energy level of the show was just a bit too much for me at that point of the night. Amazing. ESPN’s K Zone showed that the umpire actually did a pretty good job. But hey, NESN was showing an eBay infomercial at that time, so FSN deserves some props for being on the air.

The Red Sox notebooks all lead with Curt Schilling’s ankle. Hohler’s notebook also looks at the Sox pitching plans and Manny’s press conference. McAdam’s notebook looks at Mike Timlin’s continued October success. Heuschkel’s notebook has more from Manny. Borges’ notebook has a little on former Red Sox Curtis Pride.

Kevin Paul Dupont says that a less-hefty Bartolo Colon has been pitching like an ace again. Steven Krasner writes that Vladimir Guerrero is worth all the millions that the Angels invested in him. Michael Silverman looks at the Angels bullpen having their thunder stolen by the Red Sox relievers. Dupont looks at the Angels ‘pen coming undone. Krasner’s Angels’ notebook looks at their game three starter, Kelvim Escobar. Silverman’s Angels notebook looks at the team’s travel plans back to Boston. Dupont’s notebook also looks at Escobar.

Bob Ryan and John Powers look at another postseason comeback for the Yankees. Ryan says the Twins have a simple formula…fundamentals. Those who think the Globe is wasting Ryan sending him out to cover another series, take heart, he’ll be back in Boston for the rest of the Red Sox/Angels series. Powers’ notebook looks at Kevin Brown getting the call for tomorrow’s game three.

Matt Light’s contract extension is still the talk around the papers this morning, and the Patriots also quietly extended Larry Izzo for two more seasons as well. Michael Felger looks at how Light decided that some things are more important than just accumulating a ton of money. He quotes Light as saying: “To me, this is the classiest, best-organized NFL team out of all 32. Why not stay here?”. Hmmm. Don’t let certain reporters hear you say that, Matt. Nick Cafardo also writes about Light’s decision to stay in New England, and puts Adam Vinatieri out there as the next Patriot hoping for a new deal. Christopher Price notes that with his new deal, Light faces an immediate big test in the person of Jason Taylor on Sunday. The Dolphins are struggling mightily, Ron Borges and Chris Kennedy look at the woes of the proud Miami franchise. Tom E Curran says the Patriots and Dolphins are heading in two very different directions.

Watching Sunday’s game, as Terrence McGee ran back a kickoff for a touchdown, I said right away “Shawn Mayer is cut this week.” (cue the Buckley horn) I’m definitely not bragging, because I’m sure thousands of Patriots fans said the exact same thing. Well, it happened. Michael Parente looks at Mayer filling the role as sacrificial lamb this week, sending a message to the entire special teams unit. Mike Reiss says even though the Patriots are 3-0, they have problems, and they know it. He looks at what they’re doing to correct the problems. Alan Greenberg has a really good article on Roman Phifer, and how the Patriots linebacker just keeps going on and on, and what an influence he is on the younger players. Felger’s notebook says a matchup worth watching on Sunday is Rodney Harrison vs Randy McMichael, round three. Cafardo’s notebook looks at the emphasis on special teams this week, including bringing back Je’Rod Cherry to replace Mayer. Curran’s notebook has more on the new deal for Matt Light, a subject also in the lead of Kennedy’s notebook and Parente’s notebook. Reiss’ notebook explores who is next in line for a new deal from the Patriots.

By the way, don’t expect Tom Curran or Eric McHugh to be stepping up and filling the post vacated by Michael Smith at the Globe. A source around Morrissey Blvd says that upper management…not Joe Sullivan…are actively looking for a minority candidate.

Shira Springer looks at the battle for a starting spot between Jiri Welsch and Ricky Davis. Coach Doc Rivers says that the choice will come down to chemistry, whoever fits in better with the other starters is the one who will get the nod. Mark Murphy reports that Raek LaFrentz is encouraged with how his knee has been feeling and holding up early in camp. Michael Muldoon looks at the instant leadership provided by Gary Payton.

ESPN has Braves/Astros at 4:00. Fox has Cardinals/Dodgers at 8:00. NESN will have “Sox Talk” a two hour call-in show hosted by Tom Caron, starting at 8:00.

10.06.04 Afternoon

Quick afternoon links while trying to figure how to work in an evening nap. Mike Fine says that the Red Sox believe Pedro Martinez is going to be ready to take care of business tonight. Bob Stern looks at the Red Sox opening up the series with a bang. Bill Simmons was a little nervous during the game and will tell you that he is still a nervous wreck because of last year’s playoffs. Tom Caron’s mailbag tells us to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Fine looks at the mentality of the California fans. On the other hand, Peter DeMarco looks at Boston fans making the trek out west. Gordon Edes had an online chat this afternoon about the game last night and the rest of the series. I introduced a Steve Buckley column this morning by portraying that he was making a big deal about Pedro not showing up for the pregame press conference. Buckley dropped me a very pleasant note to clarify that he was more talking about Pedro not taking part in the pregame introductions. He stated that we laud the Patriots when they get introduced as a team, shouldn’t we perhaps question when a guy is a lone holdout during another pregame ceremony. I’m not sure I concur with everything he said, but I appreciate his input.

Eric McHugh notes that the Patriots are improving their third down efficiency, and actually becoming more of a clutch team. The headline of Mark Farinella’s column pretty much tells you all you need to know about it. “FARINELLA: Patriots taking the joy out of winning.” A couple people have asked about an apparent discrepancy between Mike Reiss and Nick Cafardo’s columns this morning about the Matt Light deal. Reiss said Light’s agent is Jim Steiner, while Cafardo stated it was Ben Dogra. The simple answer is that both agents work for SFX. Steiner is actually Light’s agent, but is currently out of the country. The way I hear it, Light really doesn’t want Dogra handling any of his business as the latter is something of a publicity seeker and the type of leaky “source” that certain writers love to talk to. (Where you do you think Nick got/gets his Damien Woody information from?)

Michael Muldoon looks at the impact Gary Payton could have on the Celtics.

Idiots 9, Angels 3

The Red Sox got themselves off to a quick start in Anaheim yesterday, roughing up the Angels 9-3 to take a 1-0 lead in the best of five series. Bob Hohler says the Sox may appear to be a team of “idiots” but they sure played like savants yesterday. Jeff Horrigan says the idiots are now not going to be satisfied with just getting a split out West. Steven Krasner notes that the Sox played both long ball and small ball with the Angels yesterday. David Heuschkel says getting a big lead early was key for Curt Schilling, who didn’t have great command of his pitches. David Borges looks at the Sox managing to keep the rally monkey and thunderstiks quiet for the Anaheim fans. Jackie MacMullan says that yesterday’s game couldn’t have gone any better for the Red Sox had they drawn it up on the board. Sean McAdam says that even though the Sox managed to come back from an 0-2 deficit in their last two ALDS, they didn’t want to have to do it again. Dan Shaughnessy looks at Curt Schilling, finally taking the hill for the Red Sox in the postseason, 18 years after first joining the organization.

Steve Britt says that getting game one was important, but now tonight’s game immediately becomes the big one. Pedro will be taking the mound tonight, and if you had Steve Buckley in your pool as the media member who would make a big stink about Martinez not being available to the media before yesterday’s game…congratulations, you’re a winner. David Heuschkel says perhaps Pedro was taking a little quiet time in preparation for tonight. Alex Speier says Pedro’s teammates are confident he will answer the challenge tonight. Tony Massarotti thinks Martinez just might be building a little adversity for himself to then strike back and answer. Gordon Edes, in fact, deems it a “strong likelihood — that he will deliver one of the signature games of his career.” Michael Silverman says that Bartolo Colon will be under pressure tonight to shut down the Red Sox lineup while going head to head with Pedro. Garry Brown says the Sox are hoping to make quick work of the Angels.

That’s all tonight, back to yesterday for a bit, Howard Bryant (subscription only) writes that Schilling’s outing was a remarkable performance, up there with the great ones, simply because he didn’t have his best stuff and still managed to shut down the Angels in a playoff game. Alex Speier says that Schilling was eager to get out on the mound and get the postseason started. Sean McAdam says that after the game, Schilling was his own toughest critic. David Borges has more on Schilling and his ankle injury. Tony Massarotti looks at Orlando Cabrera’s great day in the field, while Steven Krasner looks at some defensive miscues which cost the Angels dearly in game one. Kevin Paul Dupont and Michael Silverman also look at the Angels throwing it away. Steve Buckley (subscription only) has a look at the defensive work turned in by Kevin Millar…not one known for his glovework. Reid Laymance also looks at the afternoon for Millar, which included a two run homer. Howard Bryant also has an article on Manny Ramirez outshining his MVP rival Vladimir Guerrero in yesterday’s series opener. Dupont also looks at Guerrero, who was perhaps a little too eager in his first playoff game.

Horrigan’s Red Sox notebook looks at the “tweak” to Schilling’s ankle. Heuschkel’s notebook looks at the Sox playing a little small ball to get every run they can. Borges’ notebook looks at the confidence that Pedro’s teammates have in him for tonight’s game. Krasner’s notebook opens with a similar theme. Hohler’s notebook has Scott Boras in attendance, checking out two his free-agent-to-be clients, Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe. Silverman’s Angels notebook looks at the rough afternoon for Jarrod Washburn.

John Powers has the game story from New York, where he and Bob Ryan report on Johan Santana and the Twins shutting out the Bombers at the Stadium. Don Amore looks at wasted chances for the Yankees. Jack O’Connell looks at a grieving Jacque Jones, who after losing his father to cancer last week, flew into New York on the day of the game from California and hit a home run. Will Jones be elevated to Brett Favre-like status by the national media for this? Probably not. He should be though. Ryan also has a piece on Brad Radke, a pitcher who may have saved the franchise for Minnesota, and who will be a free agent following the playoffs. Powers’ notebook looks at the Yankees putting El Duque on the playoff roster ahead of Jason Giambi.

The Patriots snuck under the radar last night and signed up Matt Light to a six year contract extension. Mike Reiss and Nick Cafardo have short accounts of the signing. I’ll refrain from wisecracks about the way they do things down there for now. Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider tells us that the fish rots from the head down, and no where is that more true than in Miami. He also looks at Stephen Neal and the Bills’ dumb playcalling on 4th and 2. Jonathan Comey outlines a scenario in which Drew Bledsoe would still be the QB of your New England Patriots. What a different world we would have then…he also has a number of NFL notes and his weekly power rankings. Michael Parente also looks at the struggling Dolphins. Michael Vega finds one word that describes linebacker Tedy Bruschi – playmaker. Steve Conroy has former Dolphin Jed Weaver feeling the pain for his former teammates. Jim Donaldson has former Miami coach Don Shula praising the Patriots and saying that if anyone can pull off a perfect season, it’s the Pats. Chris Kennedy also says Shula is a fan of the Patriots. George Kimball (subscription only) wonders is J.J. Stokes is going to be getting another call from the Patriots to bolster their injured receiving corps.

Shira Springer and Mark Murphy report on Gary Payton’s first day of practice with the Celtics, and note that he was very vocal, but encouraging of the younger players and his new teammates. But as Springer notes, it’s early yet. Christopher Price says that after a tulmutuous season last year, Paul Pierce is ready for a fresh start this year. Murphy’s notebook states that because the players have been working out for a month already, the coaching staff is able to get right into teaching and coaching and not so much conditioning. Springer’s notebook looks at the view the coaches have with the new three hour practice rule.

ESPN has the baseball playoff tripleheader today. Astros/Braves at 4:00, Yankees/Twins at 7:00 and Red Sox/Angels at 10:00. Channel 5 Boston is broadcasting the Sox game over the air for those without cable.

And so it begins…

So here it is. It all begins this afternoon and by all accounts, this is what the Red Sox have been waiting for all season. Curt Schilling is ready, even jumping back on-line to open the posting thread for today’s game on SoSH. The media is ready, with the Boston Herald having no less than 20 articles on the Red Sox in today’s paper. No way I can link to all 20, but that link will take to the page where they all are. Gordon Edes outlines reasons why the Sox feel they are the team that no one wants to face in the postseason. Sean McAdam gives five keys to success for the Red Sox in this series against the Angels. Tony Massarotti says the Angels are going to be a tough opponent. David Heuschkel and David Borges look at Curt Schilling as he prepares to go out and do what the Red Sox acquired him for. Jackie MacMullan has an article on Pedro, and says that you just don’t know what’s going to happen with him, either tomorrow night or after the season. Jeff Horrigan looks at Schilling, resting and eager for this afternoon. Dan Shaughnessy says that the Red Sox have been planning for this day ever since…well, you can guess when they started planning for today…Bill Reynolds writes about how things could be very different for the Red Sox right now. Bob Ryan reminds us that the Yankees are still the class of the American League.

Howard Bryant says that having one or even two aces doesn’t always translate to postseason success. Steven Krasner writes that both teams know that the key to postseason success is momentum. Bob Hohler looks at a eventful year for a maturing Manny Ramirez. Sean McAdam, Tony Massarotti and the Globe all break down the matchups for this series. Paul Doyle looks at the personality and grooming of this Red Sox squad. Alex Speier looks at a couple NH natives playing a big role in the Red Sox front office. John Tomase says that the pressure is on Pedro for the postseason. Bob Halloran says that if the Sox don’t win it all this year, they’re definitely heartbreakers. He says they’re the best team in baseball and should be expected to win it all.

Steven Krasner says that the Angels are going to be running all the time on the Red Sox. Steve Britt looks at two aces with one goal for the Red Sox. Tony Massarotti also has a look at the 1-2 punch for the Sox. Jon Couture says the Sox hope Pedro can show glimpses of the old Pedro this month. Joe Haggerty has an article on Orlando Cabrera, who is pumped and jacked to be playing in the postseason for the first time. Bob Hohler looks at the confidence of the Red Sox heading into the postseason. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that the late night starts, such as tomorrow night aren’t fair to the fans, especially the young ones. Think of the children, will you, Fox? Howard Bryant (subscription only) looks at Terry Francona making it through the regular season, but notes that the playoffs will be a whole new test for the Sox skipper.

Hohler’s notebook has Curt Schilling, ready to carry the Sox through the postseason. Horrigan’s notebook looks at last minute roster tweaking for the Red Sox. Krasner’s notebook says this is just like Theo Epstein and Curt Schilling talked about over Thanksgiving dinner last fall. Borges’ notebook says the Sox are wary of the force that is Vladimir Guerrero.

Need more Sox links? I didn’t even come close to getting all the ones in the Herald, which have a lot of individual profile pieces, key moments of the season, and looks at the Angels. I didn’t link to the Globe stories from the Angels side either. Just didn’t have the time to get to them all. My thinking is that you’re going to see the pieces in those two big papers anyway, I’m trying to bring you the stories from all around New England and some of the smaller papers that you might not regularly read.

Kevin Mannix’s report card hands out a special teams “F”, but otherwise has pretty high marks for the Patriots. Michael Parente also trots out his own version of the Patriot report card. Without saying it, Nick Cafardo wonders if Tom Brady is just a “system” quarterback, a product of the brilliance of Charlie Weis. Mike Reiss looks at how the Patriots offense has evolved from a “horizontal” attack, to one that is much more “vertical” and not afraid to take shots down the field. Tom E Curran looks at the perhaps overlooked job done by Tom Brady on Sunday.

Rich Thompson looks at the Patriots preparation for the Dolphins. The Pats expect plenty of pressure from Miami. Kevin McNamara and Steve Conroy both look at Tedy Bruschi, who will stop at nothing to make the big play when it counts. Alan Greenberg has yet another article on how the streak isn’t affecting the Patriots. Michael Gee (subscription only) says that success has changed Patriots fans. They’ve forgotten what failure is like. They’ve come to expect success and have become smug…like Yankees fans. Christopher Price says that a big part of the Patriots success is coming through in the clutch. Cafardo’s notebook looks at the injuries to the Patriots wide receivers and speculates that Scott Pioli will be tapped to run a team elsewhere next season. While that might be the feeling around the league, I sense that Pioli is quite happy here, and he’s characterized himself as Bill Belichick’s best friend. I say he’s here for a while yet. Reiss’ notebook looks at the Patriots success on third down. Thompson’s notebook has more on the streak. McNamara’s notebook has Ty Law in awe of the Dolphins perfect season. Parente’s notebook looks at Stephen Neal’s big play on Sunday.

The Celtics had their media day to start training camp yesterday, and guess who showed up? Gary Payton was in the house, saying all the right things. If you’re optimistic about the Celtics chances this season, noted cynic Peter May even tries to list out some reasons for hope this year. After listing a bunch of “ifs”, May concludes: “then the season may be better than even the most starry-eyed optimist envisions.” Mark Murphy, Shira Springer and Carolyn Thornton all report on Gary Payton’s arrival to Boston and what his thoughts are on being here and for the season. Lenny Megliola also weighs in on Payton and says that the Celtics are taking a huge roll of the dice here. Springer’s notebook looks at rookie Tony Allen, who spent some time in the offseason with some guy named Jordan. The Herald notebook has a look at the persuasion job done by Danny Ainge on Payton.

Bill Griffith looks at the baseball postseason braoadcasting options and has some other media notes. John Molori looks at Mark Ockerbloom moving from NECN to Fox25 in this week’s edition of Media Blitz.

ESPN will have Red Sox/Angels Game one at 4:00. NESN will have the pre and post game shows. ESPN also has Dodgers/Cardinals at 1:00. Fox will have Yankees/Twins at 7:00.

18 In A Row

So much for the bulletin board material. As much as Mike Mularkey and Nick Cafardo tried to make material in Patriot Reign an issue before yesterday’s game, the only thing the Patriots 31-17 win proved was that most of the assessments made in the book were correct. And as author Michael Holley pointed out on the Big Show Friday, what do the Bills do now that that is the case? This one was a close one through three quarters, but the Patriots once again found a way to win, overcoming their own mistakes in the process, and putting up a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Game stories from Ralph Wilson stadium are trotted out by Michael Felger, who still wonders just how this Patriot team keeps doing it, game after game. Tom E Curran notes that the Patriots put an end to a streak of another kind by winning yesterday. He also looks at the breaks the Patriots got and at how Drew still thinks he could’ve made that naked bootleg on fourth and two. Alan Greenberg notes that by shutting down Travis Henry in the second half and turning up the pressure on Bledsoe, the Patriots managed to come out with the win. Michael Parente says that once again, a few key plays made the difference in this one. Nick Cafardo says that had a couple plays gone differently, the outcome would’ve been reversed in this one, also noting that the Patriots were all trying to dodge the media after the game. Chris Kennedy says the happy days in New England continue on.

Bob Ryan says that the Patriots don’t deserve to be 3-0 and that they’re playing as it it’s still the preason. Kevin Mannix takes a very short look at the Patriots struggles on special teams. Jim Donaldson is another who says the Patriots arguably should have lost this game yesterday. Michael Gee (subscription only) looks at the strange goings on in Buffalo yesterday, but notes that the Patriots practice for the irrational, and it pays off in games like yesterday. Stephen Neal said after the game that they’re told that if the opposing team recovers a fumble, they should trying to knock the ball through the end zone, which is exactly what Neal did. (While also almost knocking Bethel Johnson through there with the ball.) Ron Borges has a good article today, he focuses on the Drew Bledsoe fumble recovered by Richard Seymour for a 68 yeard touchdown and uses it point out the differences between the Patriots and Bills. Scott A Benson rightly points out that none of these wins comes easy, but perhaps that’s how it should be. George Kimball (subscription only) looks at another rough afternoon for Drew Bledsoe against the Patriots. A rough day indeed, but Kimball has Bledsoe, as always optimistic that he and the Bills can correct their mistakes and turn things around for the season.

Ian M Clark writes that the Patriots used a tried and true formula to get to their 18th straight win. Adam Kilgore and Bill Hoppe focus on Corey Dillon’s fumble at the 3 yard line. Curran looks at the Patriots’ depth, something that allows them to keep going at a high level even as they keep losing players. Michael Gee looks at how Tom Brady was able to handle to blitzing Buffalo defense all day without getting sacked. Alan Greenberg also looks at Brady, who got hit yesterday, but not sacked. Jim Donaldson looks at the New England defense, keeping the Bills winless on the season. George Kimball looks at the mistakes and penalties which brought the Bills down. Kilgore writes that the fourth quarter really showed the difference between Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe. Hoppe looks at the Patriots receivers, who despite being shorthanded, made the big plays when needed yesterday.

Cafardo’s notebook looks at former wrestler Stephen Neal making a football instinctual play by knocking the ball from London Fletcher and through the end zone. Felger’s notebook has a look at Richard Seymour getting his first NFL touchdown. Curran’s notebook looks at the poor performance on special teams by the Patriots. Parente’s notebook looks at the Patriots’ depth coming through. Kennedy’s notebook looks at Tedy Bruschi once again coming up big.

California, here we come. That’s the anthem for the Red Sox this week as they head out to Anaheim to play the Angels in the ALDS starting tomorrow afternoon. Dan Shaughnessy recaps the season and says the Red Sox have some playoff experienced veterans to rely on for the postseason. The obligatory Babe Ruth and Bucky Dent references are scattered throughout, so feel free to scroll on by. Tony Massarotti hands out his regular season report card for the Sox, wondering how much better the team with the third best record in baseball would’ve been if they showed up in May, June and July. David Heuschkel looks at the Red Sox wrapping up the regular season with a loss in Baltimore. Jeff Horrigan compares yesterday to a high school graduation. Sean McAdam has the Red Sox confident heading into their series with the Angels. David Borges says the Red Sox have said all year that the toughest team they face this year was Anaheim.

Howard Bryant (subscription only) has people from the A’s saying that the Angels don’t want to face Boston, and that their pitching won’t be able to handle the bats of the Red Sox. He also points to a series with the Angels as being the turning point of the season for the Red Sox. Jon Couture says that these Red Sox can hit a little bit. Kevin Paul Dupont has the Angels’ pitchers a little wary of the Boston lineup. Steve Buckley (subscription only) talks to various Red Sox players about what surprised them the most about this season. Mark Bellhorn and Bronson Arroyo were popular choices. Buckley also gets a to write a story he’s been trumpeting almost all season, the monster seasons of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. David Borges looks at Johnny Damon keeping his promise of a terrific season. Del Jones says Angels/Red Sox should be a terrific series.

Heuschkel’s notebook has more on Johnny Damon’s season. Bob Hohler’s notebook has Derek Lowe proclaiming himself not angry about being relegated to bullpen duty for the first round. Horrigan’s notebook looks at David McCarty getting some pitching work in yesterday’s game. Horrigan also has a brief sidebar noting there has still been no decision on Scott Williamson. McAdam’s notebook leads with more on Lowe, as does Borges’ notebook.

Mark Murphy reports that Gary Payton has agreed to play for the Celtics and will be in attendance for media day today and the start of training camp. Tim Weisberg isn’t thrilled about having Payton on the Celtics. Gabe Kahn says the Celtics are a mystery heading into training camp.

ABC has Chiefs/Ravens at 9:00. CN8′s SportsPulse will have Shira Springer on to talk about the Celtics and media day and will feature Hector Longo as their new Patriots Insider at 10:00.

14 Days Never Seemed So Long

Saturday links by Ben ([email protected])

Although many in New England will keep one eye on the Twins-Indians’ and A

Bill and the Bills

Saturday links by Rich ([email protected])

Pats
The big (and somewhat tired) storyline for Sunday