17-0

Newsflash: Fred Smerlas makes point that causes Glenn Ordway to stammer momentarily. During yesterday’s Big Show, a couple minutes were spent talking about how only the Patriots are worthy of discussion right now. The Celtics and Boston College were brought up, and Ordway says why WOULD you pay any attention to them? Smerlas said “Well, BC is 16-0″, which caused Ordway, for just the tiniest moment to hesitate and stammer…”Ahh…” and then he moved on to talking about the Patriots again. After last night’s win over Providence, the Boston College men’s basketball team is now 17-0 on the season. Is it worthy of sports radio discussion? Probably not still, unless you’re listening to Ted Nation. The newspapers however, are paying more attention to the Eagles.

Mark Blaudschun, Mike Shalin and Kevin McNamara all have game stories on BC’s 78-75 win at the Dunkin Donuts center in Providence. The columnists are paying attention too, as Bob Ryan has a look at how BC is winning these games, and calls 6-10 freshman Sean Williams “an embryonic Emeka Okafor.” Jim Donaldson gets into the act as well, noting that BC does all the right things down the stretch of games. Shalin also has a quick look at freshman Williams, who caught a Providence shot out of the air last night, astounding his teammates. McNamara’s notebook looks at a big game from Providence junior Donnie McGrath. Shalin’s notebook looks at another big performance from Jared Dudley, who hit the winning shot with 80 seconds left in the game last night.

Your First Place Boston Celtics

Staying on the hoop theme, the Boston Celtics are in first place all to themselves in the Atlantic Division. Given the teams that comprise that division, that’s not all that impressive. What is impressive is last night’s night’s 100-86 win over the Indiana Pacers. Shira Springer, Mark Murphy and Carolyn Thornton have the details of the victory. Steve Bulpett has a look at second year center Kendrick Perkins, who with Mark Blount in foul trouble last night, stepped in and put a body on Jermaine O’Neal, even blocking two of the Pacers center’s shots. Paul Harber looks at Perkins and Raef LaFrentz coming up big last night after rookie Al Jefferson went down with an ankle injury. Mike Fine looks at former Celtics guard Dana Barros, who sometimes still has the itch to play. Barros however has other things to keep him busy these days, including the opening next month of the Dana Barros Sports Complex in Mansfield. Harber looks at Pacers forward Stephen Jackson, who played his first game last night after serving a 30 game suspension for the brawl with the Pistons and their fans in November. Murphy’s notebook looks at the injury to Jefferson. Springer’s notebook has Walter McCarty embracing the idea of a trade to Phoenix.

Dynasty Talk

Oh yeah…the Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl a week from Sunday. Nick Cafardo has Tedy Bruschi saying that the Patriots are not in the dynasty class just yet, an opinion shared by Cafardo on NESN last night. I agree with Nick on this one. I’m wary of the dynasty label. It’s early yet. Just as long as we keep calling them “The Champs”… Cafardo also had a chat on Boston.com yesterday at noon. Alan Greenberg has more from Bruschi, who dynasty or not, sure isn’t tired of winning. Tom E Curran talks to Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who is a fan of Bill Belichick and what he has accomplished with this Patriots franchise. Kevin Mannix looks at how the Patriots have reloaded and made changes on the fly to their championship squads. Eric McHugh has a good piece on how the Patriots have become more than just “one hit wonders”. Michael Felger refutes Lawyer Milloy’s claims last week on WEEI that the Patriots are a cheap organization. He looks at how the Patriots have achieved “salary balance”. Michael Parente says that Tom Brady’s ability to throw deep could be an early key to the Super Bowl. Buddy Thomas attempts to duplicitously jump onto the Patriots bandwagon. Felger’s notebook has the Patriots preparing for Terrell Owens whether he actually plays or not. Curran’s notebook has Tom Brady’s dad confirming that his son really was sick last Saturday night before the AFC Championship.

Lenny Megliola looks at how Jacksonville is pumped to be hosting the Super Bowl. Karen Guregian says that we need Terrell Owens to add some drama to this Super Bowl. Chris Snow says there is still no definitive answer as to whether Owens will play or not. George Kimball (subscription only) also reports on Owens, who if he does play, it will be against the advice of the doctor that has been treating him. Since we’re on a subscription only column, now is a good time for me to bring up a minor pet peeve of mine. The Herald regularly uses some of their subscription only columnists to fill in on a “beat”, be it the opposing team, as Kimball is today, or even the home team. These reports are still only available to subscribing customers. (of which I am one) However, that doesn’t seem to make much sense, as these reports are not columns, nor are they “premium” content. I understand the Herald wishing to require payment to read their columns. But when a columnist is writing a non-column article, it shouldn’t be lumped in the “premium” section, as Kimball’s is today. Minor point, and it doesn’t even really affect me, but I thought it should be made. Parente’s notebook has more on Owens, and then goes into some Patriots items. Snow’s notebook looks at Eagles tight end LJ Smith, suddenly the starter with the injury to Chad Lewis. Kimball’s notebook (not lumped in the subscription columns) looks at newly signed Eagles tight end Jeff Thomason.

Eyechart Gone

Doug Mientkiewicz was officially traded to the New York Mets yesterday. Gordon Edes notes that now all the players acquired by the Red Sox at the trade deadline last year are gone. Tony Massarotti says that in the end, it was an easy decision for the Red Sox to keep Kevin Millar over Mientkiewicz. David Heuschkel also looks at the reasons the decision to trade Mientkiewicz was made. Sean McAdam and Jeff Horrigan also have reports on the trade. David Borges looks at the success enjoyed by the new rookie orientation program that the Red Sox put into place last year. He also has a few other Red Sox items in the piece.

Quote Box

Yesterday a prominent member of the Boston sports media emailed me to express an objection over a quote that appeared in the random quote generator in the upper left hand corner above. It was not a quote from the emailer. The quote was one of a few featured after the Red Sox lost 19-8 in game three of the ALCS. The emailer was making the point that the quote shouldn’t be featured because no one in the world could’ve said, or did say that the Red Sox were going to come back and win the series. My response to that is that while many of the quotes are placed in there because they are outrageous, or just plain stupid, the quotes after game three remain there because they represent a turning point in not only the series, but Boston sportswriting. They’re noteworthy in that regard. The end of an era. So when one of them is presented to you in the box, it’s not to mock the writer. It’s just a glimpse at the final moments of a past era in Boston Sports History. Over time, some quotes have been removed and replaced with others. Some however need to be preserved as they capture moments and feelings in time.

Tonight

TNT has Pacers/Pistons at 7:00 and Kings/Spurs at 9:30. ESPN has Michigan/Michigan State at 7:00. ESPN2 has Cincinnati/South Florida at 7:00 and DePaul/Memphis at 9:00. NESN has game 7 of the 1986 World Series at 7:00. ESPN Classic Drive Through at 9:00 is the 1979 NCAA championship between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

Wintry Wednesday

Limited links today as having to leave earlier for work because of the weather has put a cap on my time today. But then again, there really aren’t a whole lot of stories in the local papers today. I think I got most of the major ones. On another note, is it too much to ask for a little balance on the airwaves? Everything is put in black and white terms. Hyperbole is rule number one, whichever way it goes. I can tell you this…I don’t want the on-air personalities of this market representing on a national level the feelings of the average fan of the Patriots. I’m embarrassed by most of them.

Nick Cafardo has a nice piece on the Patriots who are going to their fourth Super Bowl together. Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider has a look at Scott Pioli’s huge role in the Patriots success and ends with the Patriots getting the last laugh on the Steelers once again. To partner with the Pioli article, there is also a piece that breaks down how each player on the Patriots roster arrived here in New England. Dan Shaughnessy gives us a good look at Steve Belichick, father of Bill. Karen Guregian says that winning never gets boring for the Patriots. Chris Kennedy has a look at how the Patriots secondary has changed, and will likely change more with the probably departure of Ty Law. Steve Buckley (subscription only) tells us that these Patriots are giving the younger generation of Boston sports fans tales to tell about the “glory days” when they get older.

In case you missed it, Jim Nantz is speaking out of his hat again. Yesterday on the Tim Brando show on Sporting News Radio, Nantz had the following to say about Bill Belichick:

I have zero knowledge of this, okay, and I know Bill Belichick real well. If he wins the Super Bowl, which I believe he will, why wouldn't he retire? No one has raised that and here's why: you've won three out of four Super Bowls; you have done all you can do when you've won three out of four Super Bowls. You know - and I got into this last night in the broadcast - that is the definition of a modern-day dynasty. I asked him because if you say, hey, is this a dynasty you're building, he won't even answer you. But, I said, 'in your scope, your 30-year history of being around the league, what would you say qualifies as a dynasty, what you've watched?' And what I was doing was getting Bill's definition of a dynasty. The first team he mentioned - the Dallas Cowboys because they had won three well, he didn't say it but I knew it. They had won three out of four. So, if the Cowboys were a dynasty, then, my goodness, Bill has it in his head that this would be, yes, a dynasty. He's going to lose Romeo Crennel, his defensive coordinator. He's going to lose Charlie Weis. He's going to Notre Dame. He's probably going to lose another assistant or two, like a Pepper Johnson may be gone with a Romeo Crennel. You've won three out of four. You now have passed (Vince) Lombardi. You're the winningest coach in the history of the postseason. Go take some time off.

Of course, just the day before, Belichick said in his press conference that he liked his job, and wasn’t “ready to graduate” just yet. But Nantz knows Belichick “real well”. I think this is the very definition of a media member just “throwing it out there”.

Michael Parente takes a look at the Eagles, their roster and what they’ve accomplished. Nick Cafardo has an update on Terrell Owens. Micheal Gee (subscription only) attempts to tell readers of the Herald all they need to know about the Eagles, including comparisons to the Patriots, what their strengths and weaknesses are and some trivia. Jim McCabe looks at the Eagles pulling tight end Jeff Thomason out of retirement for the Super Bowl.

On another note, the following email came into my inbox the other night:

I am a reporter with the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, and I'm coming to the Boston-area this week for some pre-reporting before the Super Bowl. I'm interested in finding fans from your area who are traveling down to Jacksonville for the game. I'm particularly interested in fans who have traveled/will travel to the three recent Super Bowl appearances. I stumbled across your Web site and it looks like you have your finger on the pulse of the Patriots. If you can help me, I would really appreciate it.

If you fit those terms, or know someone who does, who would be willing to speak to this reporter, please send me an email with the contact information (phone # included) and I’ll forward them onto the reporter.

The Celtics finally won a game on the road last night, albeit against the expansion Charlotte Bobcats. Peter May and Steve Bulpett report on the victory. Both May’s notebook and Bulpett’s notebook look at the possibility of Walter McCarty getting dealt to the Suns for a second round draft pick.

Thanks to ESPN Radio 900 in Nashua for a shout out last night. “The Marty and the MuttMan” show which is on weekdays from 5-6 has saved my drive home on a few occasions recently. They have Bob Ryan on the show on a weekly basis, and last week’s visit with Mike Lupica was terrific as well.

FSN has Celtics/Pacers at 7:00. ESPN has Marquette/Louisville at 7:00 and Maryland/Duke at 9:00. ESPN2 has Notre Dame/Villanova at 7:30. NESN has *gulp* Game 6 of the 1986 World Series at 6:00.

Grading day

The hype machine and gimmicks are already starting. We’ve already been prepped to prepare for hearing media people complain about their rooming accommodations, we’ve got Jon Meterparel transparently pretending to believe that the Eagles are going to win this game – not because he really believes that, but just to generate callers and attention. The hosts are already bored and lusting after some controversy. We’ve got our storylines….the last game for this coaching staff together. Will T.O. play? Are the Patriots a dynasty? Boston vs. Philadelphia.

The grades are in. Kevin Mannix hands out a “C” and “C-” to the Running backs and Offensive line respectively. All the rest, with the exception of Special Teams (B-) received an “A”. The ol professor tries to be a bit of a prankster in initially giving Tom Brady a “C”, but then says he’s just kidding and that the QB really gets an “A”. What a cut-up that Mannix is! Michael Parente lists all “A’s” and “B’s” in his version of the report card. Ron Borges meanwhile, doesn’t have a report card, but he takes a look at the play of the Patriots on the nose tackle, specifically rookie Vince Wilfork. An interesting look at the inside play, and complements are handed out to all involved, including Jarvis Green and Ty Warren. I guess maybe Wilfork wasn’t a “makeup” pick for Warren after all. Seriously though, when Borges writes pure football without his bias showing, there’s no one better in town. Mike Reiss tackles the same subject, namely the play of the Patriots defensive line.

Bob Ryan compares Bill Belichick to Red Auerbach, and actually calls and gets the thoughts of the legendary Celtics Patriarch on the head coach of the Patriots. Glenn Ordway picked up on this next theme yesterday afternoon, and Lenny Megliola writes about it today. The premise? These Patriots are more dominating and more popular than the 1980’s Larry Bird led Celtics. Bill Reynolds explores what makes Belichick so successful. Alan Greenberg says that the Patriots coach is at the top of his game, as evidenced by the postseason play of his team. Michael O’Connor looks at Belichick putting the Steelers behind him and getting to work on the Eagles. Michael Parente also looks at Belichick reviewing the Steelers game and looking forward to the Eagles. Michael Felger contemplates that after the Super Bowl, these Patriots will never be the same, as Charlie Weis will be gone and likely Romeo Crennel as well. O’Connor has a brief sidebar of Belichick reflecting on that fact.

Nick Cafardo notes that the last time the Eagles and Patriots played in a meaningful game, it was a new beginning for the Patriots. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that the last two games for the Patriots point to the Super Bowl being a blowout in their favor. He also looks back to meeting in September 2003 between the clubs, noting how it turned things around for the Patriots. He says the Eagles will be happy to just be in the Super Bowl. Jim Donaldson says that the Patriots don’t ever get sick of winning. Jon Couture looks back at yet another amazing, yet predictable win for the Patriots. Ian M Clark looks at the difference having Deion Branch made to the Patriots offense. Garry Brown says Branch is another one of the versatile Patriots, he can catch and run with the ball. Joe McDonald looks at the worn out Patriots getting ready to prepare for the Eagles. Fluto Shinzawa also looks at the early preparations. Chris Kennedy says that the Patriots always seem to get the last laugh. Jim Fennel says that with a win on Feburary 6th, the Patriots will take their place in history.

Tom E Curran has thoughts and reactions from the losing Pittsburgh locker room, which wasn’t a happy place yesterday. George Kimball (subscription only) also looks back at the hard to take loss for the Steelers.

John Altavilla and Frank Dell’Apa look at Eagles coach Andy Reid.

For articles from the city of brotherly love, you can look at the sports section of Philly.com, which has the articles from both major dailies. In one piece, Phil Sheridan plays the role of Mike Vanderjagt and says the Patriots are ripe for the picking.

Peter May looks at Tony Allen, who has played his way into the starting lineup, providing much needed energy and defense. Steve Bulpett says that Paul Pierce knows he needs to step up and be a leader. Bulpett’s notebook has more on Allen’s stay in the starting lineup.

ESPN has Kentucky/Tennessee at 7:00 and Illinois/Wisconsin at 9:00. ESPN2 has Georgia/Florida at 7:00.