Brawl, Draft and Playoff

An extremely busy Monday has the Red Sox brawling in Tampa, the Patriots drafting for aggressiveness and the Celtics preparing to take on the Pacers tonight in game two of their playoff series. Bobby Orr also speaks out on the sad state of the NHL.

The Red Sox and Devil Rays concluded their three game series in Tampa this weekend, and after dropping the first two games of the series, the Sox were not about to be swept. They weren’t. The Red Sox win 11-3 in a wild game that included a beanball war and the benches being emptied. Nick Cafardo, Jeff Horrigan, Steven Krasner, David Heuschkel and David Borges have the game stories from a wild afternoon in Tampa. Gordon Edes looks at Trot Nixon, who despite not being one of the players hit by a pitch over the weekend, was front and center in the brawl that ensued yesterday. Michael Gee says that try as he might, Bronson Arroyo can’t hide the purpose of his final pitch of the afternoon. John Tomase salutes Tim Wakefield for being rarity in professional sports…in many aspects. Ron Chimelis wonders if Joe Torre’s job could be in danger in NY. Cafardo’s notebook says that Jay Payton should be just fine as a fill in for Trot Nixon should Nixon be suspended for his actions yesterday. Payton’s grand slam replacing Nixon after his ejection showed that. Horrigan’s notebook has David Ortiz placing the blame on Lou Piniella for yesterday’s events. Krasner’s notebook has more on Nixon’s ejection. Heuschkel’s notebook says that Nixon and Arroyo probably will face suspensions for their actions. Borges’ notebook says there has been bad blood between these clubs for some time.

The NFL draft wrapped up yesterday afternoon and Kevin Mannix hates the Patriots high picks, specifically Offensive Lineman Logan Mankins. This isn’t really a surprise here, as Mannix seemingly every year trashes the Patriots draft. He did so most notably in 2003, and that draft was one of the best the team has ever had. Mannix today says the Patriots did merely ok in the later rounds…

But that didn't make up for the fact that the Pats bollixed up that first pick like amateurs.

I wonder how much time Mannix actually spent on the draft…what preparation did he do? I’m guessing very little. He relies on the scouting reports of others. It’s a tried and true strategy to pan a draft. In the past, no one would dig it up and throw your predictions back at you. If the picks did turn out to be busts, you could then thrust your chest out, thump it, and say “I told you so!” Whereas if the picks turn out to be good, then the fans are happy, and no one notices, or cares, that you nastily panned the selection in the first place. It’s even easier when the pick is at the end of the first round, and is an offensive lineman, who might take some time to develop. I’m guessing Mannix is playing the odds, throwing stuff out there, and hoping it sticks. It’s his custom when it comes to the draft, and he also has the habit of coming out with a March column declaring that the Patriots have fallen behind in free agency. It’s a tradition. Not to toot the BSMW Draft Central horn too much, but they had Mankins rated as the top guard in the draft for the Patriots system. Ron Borges seems to think that the Patriots did pretty well for themselves, observing

The defending champions had needs at linebacker and in the secondary, but coach Bill Belichick refused to reach and ended up with what appears to be a two-day haul of the kind of players who have made his team a dynasty for the New Millennium -- versatile ones who give him flexibility.

Borges also looks at how the other AFC East clubs did for themselves. Michael Felger writes that the Patriots thought that this was a weak draft, and so they loaded up on aggressiveness and intangibles. Tom E Curran looks at the Patriots going with players from smaller programs and conferences. Alan Greenberg says that the Patriots didn’t go sexy in the draft, they just made solid picks to fill holes. Mike Reiss says that this draft was worked with an eye for the future, as the Patriots filled some holes, but also acquired some picks for next year. Ian M Clark looks at the Patriots draft, and also notes that the team was looking to the future. Christopher Price has a good look at Mankins.

Curran says that because of their track record, even the experts can’t really second guess the Patriots, using Mel Kiper Jr as an example. By the way, does Kiper think Mankins was a reach, or not? In his final draft wrapup, Kiper says

Guard Logan Mankins was a reach in the first round but the Patriots obviously like his size and nastiness, and he will help fill the void left by Joe Andruzzi's departure via free agency.

but on his Saturday first round wrapup, Kiper says

I thought Mankins would be a second-rounder, because he missed the entire 2003 season due to a knee injury, but he is a good player and this is not a reach

Which is it? (Those were both from ESPN Insider articles) Dan Pires says the Patriots just keep everyone guessing with their methods, and notes the apparent opening of a new college pipeline to replace LSU, now it’s Fresno State. Jerome Solomon looks at fourth round pick James Sanders. Chris Kennedy looks at the Patriots seventh round picks, which included a backup QB from USC and a tight end from a school no one has probably ever heard of before. Rich Thompson has more on that Tight End, “Mr Irrelevant” Andy Stokes from William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He also looks at some of the other picks. Fluto Shinzawa and John Connolly look at Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick getting picked by the Rams in the seventh round. George Kimball (subscription only) writes about Tedy Bruschi, no one around the Patriots will still make any comment or speculation on his future, but Kimball does, saying

In the most likely scenario, he will eventually announce that he's going to sit out this season while he makes up his mind, collect $2 million for passing Go, and, eventually, officially announce his retirement.

Solomon’s notebook says the Patriots were swapping picks left and right this weekend. Felger’s notebook says that recently released Seahawks linebacker Chad Brown could be a fit for the Patriots. Curran’s notebook has more on the Fresno State pipeline.

You can’t go wrong with a Larry Bird column. Dan Shaughnessy talks to the Legend about Boston, competing against the Celtics, how Larry’s favorite baseball player is Manny Ramirez, and many other topics. Great stuff. Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics need to keep the same up-tempo game going in tonight’s game two that they had Saturday night. Shira Springer says that the Celtics must stay focused and not get overconfident after their big win in game one. Michael Vega and Mark Murphy look at the Pacers as they prepare to come back in game two tonight. Peter May and Howard Bryant (subscription only) each have articles on Marcus Banks, who was a difference maker in the game one victory, provided full court pressure and a spark off the bench. Carolyn Thornton also has a look at the second year guard. Springer’s notebook Springer’s notebook has Doc Rivers being a little pick-y over some non-calls. Bulpett’s notebook says that the Celtics veterans are preaching caution after the game one blowout. Vega’s notebook says that the Pacers are already battling a steep history stat after just one game. Murphy’s notebook has Bird confident that Rick Carlisle will make the needed adjustments tonight.

Yesterday’s Lawrence Eagle-Tribune had a guest column from Bruin’s legend Bobby Orr, who spoke out about NHL work stoppage and what needs to get done.

Yesterday’s Globe had a story from Joshua Glenn on the “50 most loathsome Bostonians” on the list were Gerry Callahan, Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon and Jimmy Fallon, and in the top 20 there was a Globe Sportswriter who Glenn refused to name because of “space constraints, as well as a disinclination on my part to reveal the identities of those nominees I have to work with”. Give me a break.

FSN has Celtics/Pacers at 7:00 (TNT Nationally) TNT has Rockets/Mavericks at 9:30. Word is that Comcast will be adding TNT-HD in the Boston area sometime tomorrow on channel 833 in time for the rest of the NBA playoffs. NESN has Red Sox/Orioles at 7:00. ESPN has Braves/Mets at 7:00.