No Worries

A grand slam from John Olerud and some clutch starting pitching from last minute replacement Bronson Arroyo powered the Red Sox to an 8-5 win over the Minnesota Twins at Fenway last night, again demonstrating that pitching, good and bad, can neutralize the impact of outside distractions.

The Globe

We’ll Miss Ya, Ted.

A crazy Friday, despite the off day for the Red Sox. There’s coverage of the retirement of Ted Johnson, more Patriots training camp previews, more Manny talk, and some Bruins, Celtics and Media notes.

As the Patriots prepare for their first day of full workouts in Foxboro, they’ll be doing it without one of the few remaining players who has been to four Super Bowls with the club. Linebacker Ted Johnson announced his retirement yesterday, citing concerns over the number of concussions he has suffered over the years. Jerome Solomon looks at the sudden announcement and the repercussions it has on the Patriots and the rest of Johnson’s life. Michael Felger notes that Johnson just couldn’t ignore the signals his body was sending him. Tom E Curran turns in a poignant look at Johnson, remember a time in the 2003 season when it seemed that the linebacker was a bit disoriented after a game and recalling some of the great moments in his career. Kevin Mannix, presumably working freelance for the Herald after accepting the buyout last month, says that Johnson will be a tough act to follow. Mike Reiss writes that Johnson is the type of guy who is easy to admire. Alan Greenberg also reports on Johnson’s retirement> The linebacker could’ve played this season but as urged by doctors to quit before he sustained permanent brain damage. Christopher Price notes that this is a big loss for the Patriots, both on and off the field. The Herald provides a Ted Johnson timeline, citing key events in his career.

Solomon also has a good feature on Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch, who has remained humble despite his dazzling success. Felger kicks off the camp coverage citing five priorities that the Patriots have coming into the start of the season. Curran says that it is another year, another challenge for these Patriots. Eric McHugh writes that players and coaches come and go, but the Patriots are passing the test of time. He looks at 10 issues facing the Patriots and also provides a guide to fans who are planning on attending camp. With Johnson gone, Felger says that this could mean an increased role for Monty Beisel, signed away from Kansas City in the offseason, who had been told to bulk up a bit so he could take on running backs in the middle of the field. Felger’s notebook reports on long term deals signed by Jarvis Green and Mike Vrabel. Solomon’s notebook says it is still unknown whether Richard Seymour will be in camp today. Curran’s notebook says Seymour did not report and as reported by Nick Cafardo yesterday was placed on the reserve/did not report list.

Manny, Manny, Manny. Are you sick of it yet? WEEI devoted just about 18 full hours yesterday (6:00 to Midnight) on the eccentric slugger. The Globe SportsPlus on NESN and FSN’s New England Sports Tonight talked about it. The retirement of Ted Johnson was an afterthought, which is very sad. Usually the only mention of Johnson, other than on the Dale & Holley program, when the news of his retirement broke, was in comparison to Ramirez. While I understand that this needs to discussed, it is really worth 18 hours of angry ranting? Where does this just bitter, nasty anger come from? Especially from the hosts? Or is an effect of the the official WEEI mantra, which is “exaggerate everything”. You think I’m making that up? I’m not. More on that another time, perhaps this afternoon.

In any event, here’s the Manny stories for today, led by Dan Shaughnessy. Dan does talk about Manny’s “crimes against baseball”, (wouldn’t the steroid users be the real criminals against baseball?) but doesn’t place all of the blame for these incidents on Manny. He says that leadership around the Red Sox is lacking. He says none of them want to stand up to Manny and then “lose” him. They can’t really trade him because of his contract. He concludes his column thusly:

Manny is not evil. And he's not going to change. You can take it or leave it. You can endure the occasional Manny moment or trade him out of spite. From the sounds of silence echoing throughout Fenway, I'd say the Red Sox have decided to swallow hard and live with the situation, at least for the rest of this year.

I came into this column expecting a complete hatchet job, complete with the requisite “Call him a bowser…call him a cab…get him gone.” line, but it never came. All in all, it was a different perspective on the situation, not original, but different than the viewpoint being spewed on WEEI hour after hour. Now I think, if Dan really wanted to shake things up and get people talking about him, he should’ve written a piece totally defending Manny. Hey, Dave Doyle does it today. He says that all this anger towards Manny is misplaced. He makes some good points, ones you won’t hear on the airwaves. It’s interesting to hear on a show like Dennis & Callahan, the hosts saying that Manny misses so many games and gets so many days off, and guys like Damon and Renteria are really the ones who play everyday. Then when an emailer points out to them that Manny had played more games this season than either of those two, their claim is “Well, it won’t be that way in the end”. Damn the facts!

It’s also amusing to consider the hypocrisy. Can a radio personality who was suspended for showing up to work with a alcohol buzz really be talking about Manny’s failure to act in the best interests of the team? Can a radio host who was suspended for leaving his job early and replaying an earlier segment during the last portion of the show really be in a position to comment on Manny’s failure to hustle? Can radio hosts who were suspended for making a racial comment really comment on Manny being offensive to the game? Can they talk about Manny’s penchant for days off, when some of them basically take the entire summer off while bringing in huge paychecks…much higher than the average listener?

I guess I should clarify here that I’m not suggesting that these people cannot criticize Ramirez. Of course they can. The things he’s done warrant criticism. However, it is the hour-after-hour, constant harping on these things while standing on the moral high ground that I find just a bit hypocritical.

Chris Snow has Larry Lucchino confirming Manny’s request for a trade, but Snow notes that this is old hat for the team, and that nothing is really likely to happen. Art Martone says that Manny has revealed his uglier side the last few days. Lenny Megliola has a “From the Rolodex of the mind” column today, leading off with Manny’s dual personalities. Nick Tavares feels we could be coming to the end of the Manny era in Boston. David Heuschkel also revisits the Manny situation and wonders what his reception will be tonight. The Globe provides a Manny Ramirez timeline, citing bizarre incidents in his time here in Boston. Not included in that list is the time Manny crashed a wedding at the Ritz, as reported in the Inside Track.

To be clear, I don’t defend or excuse Manny’s actions, I might be the biggest Manny fan and defender out there and I’ve found his recent antics distasteful. Am I worked up to a froth over it, and ready to hang on hold for 90 minutes to be able to spew hatred all over the airwaves? Not quite. I just have a hard time working up that much anger over an athlete. I do think that Terry Francona should sit Manny down again tonight. He needs rest…give him another day, and perhaps a message with it.

Oh, would you like some actual baseball articles? Michael Silverman outlines the three top areas where the Red Sox need help before the trading deadline, relief pitching, starting pitching and the outfield. Steven Krasner also looks at the areas where Theo Epstein is likely to try and improve the team. Snow’s notebook has Trot Nixon hoping that Bill Mueller doesn’t get traded, and has an update on Matt Clement. Jeff Horrigan’s minor league notebook looks at outfielder David Murphy, coming on strong at AA Portland after a slow start and a rough 2004. Snow’s minor league notebook also looks at Murphy.

Kevin Paul Dupont has a feature on NHL top prospect Sidney Crosby, slated to go #1 to the Penguins in tomorrow’s draft. Some things don’t change, Stephen Harris and Nancy Marrapese-Burrell report on the Bruins apparently trying to come in with an underwhelming offer to Joe Thornton.

Gabe Kahn tries to reassure Celtics fans who feel that the club hasn’t done enough to improve itself during the offseason.

Bill Griffith takes a look at the Sports Broadcasting camp being held at BU. John Howell examines the recent bidding war between NBC and ESPN for Al Michaels.

David Scott looks at the Manny talk, new voices at WEEI, and the Patriots blog wars heating up in a Friday edition of Scott’s Shots.

An article in the NY Times says that the Mets need Manny Ramirez. There’s plenty of baseball articles, as well as coverage of Larry Brown’s hiring by the Knicks over at the New York Sports News page.

UPN38 has Red Sox/Twins at 7:00.

The Boston Phoenix on the “cartel”.

The Boston Phoenix has a feature by Ian Donnis entitled “What happens when the biggest newspaper in town owns a financial piece of the biggest story in town?”

It’s about the New York Times/Boston Globe ownership stake in the Red Sox, and how that affects the coverage given to the team. It’s sort of a follow-up to the “Cartel” piece written by Howard Bryant in the Herald a couple months ago, a column that has been the object of sarcasm on WEEI and other outlets around town since then.

This article takes a deeper look at the impact of the situation, both in the coverage of the team as well as on the day-to-day operations of the paper. Definitely worth a read.

A surprise from Patriots camp – Ted Johnson has announced his retirement.

This sudden announcement further changes the face of the Patriots linebacking core. It also adds another “question” to all those training camp previews. Here’s a few more. Mark Farinella has questions on the offense, Tom King on both sides of the ball, and Eric McHugh looks around the AFC.

Manny Being Manny

Another Manny mess, a Red Sox win, good news on Matt Clement, and reporting day for Patriots training camp make up most of the stories today.

Surrounded by turmoil and chaos is when these Red Sox seem to do some of their best work, and it was shown once again yesterday as they defeated the Devil Rays 4-1 in an afternoon game in Tampa. Chris Snow has the game story for the Globe, noting the quirky lineup and even some small ball used by the Red Sox to get the win. Michael Silverman looks at Tim Wakefield again coming through for the Red Sox and pitching into the eighth inning to give the bullpen a bit of a rest after the extra inning affairs of the last couple nights. Steven Krasner notes the heads up play of Edgar Renteria allowed the Red Sox one of their runs in the sixth. David Heuschkel focuses on the job turned in by Wakefield in his game story. David Borges says that Wakefield was the perfect guy to pitch yesterday and in the process notched his 123rd victory with the Red Sox, moving him into a third place tie all time for the franchise. Only Cy Young and Roger Clemens have more wins as members of the Red Sox.

The game of course was secondary, and you will likely not hear much talk of what actually happened on the field today on the airwaves. You won’t hear about the heady play of Edgar Renteria, nor the gutty performance of Tim Wakefield. You might hear some about Curt Schilling escaping in the ninth, but I kind of doubt it. You’re going to have Manny talk…all day, probably tomorrow too, as there is an off day today. The articles in the paper today aren’t as nasty as I thought they might be, Gordon Edes writes that it’s time to stop giving Manny a free pass. His strongest word on the matter is calling it “pathetic” that Manny needed a day off yesterday after his teammate Matt Clement left the field on a stretcher the night before. Tony Massarotti provides some pretty good analysis of what Manny really is…and what he isn’t:

All of this reflects most poorly on Ramirez, who is not a bad guy as much he is an astonishingly irresponsible one. Like Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting," Ramirez does not want the burden of his talent because, you know, someone might actually start to expect something from him. So he breezes along through life, worrying only about what matters to him (hitting, most of the time) and showing little regard for the wants and needs of others.

I think that might be the best portrait of Manny that I’ve seen recently. David Heuschkel has a good piece on the Ramirez topic today as well, and he notes that the reaction in the Red Sox clubhouse to Manny’s actions yesterday “wasn’t as negative as it probably will be on the talk shows today.” Michael Silverman reports on Terry Francona’s explanation for Manny’s absence from the lineup. An emailer asked if recent events vindicate John Tomase’s article from earlier this season about Manny. My response? Since Tomase himself recently said on WEEI that his article was “needlessly over the top” in how he went after Ramirez, I say no, he isn’t vindicated by recent events.

Interestingly, the Globe’s answer to the Inside Track, the Living/Arts Names column was able to get a hold of Mrs Ramirez, who confirmed that she is pregnant, and said the couple is happy in Boston.

As for the Sports Illustrated item insinuating that the proud papa is unhappy in Boston and wants out, Juliana had this to say: "Manny hasn't told me anything about that. As a family, we love Boston and love living here."

Larry Lucchino on Dennis and Callahan this morning however stated that Manny did ask for a trade and that the team is exploring their options.

The good news from yesterday was that Matt Clement was released from the hospital, just a day after being struck on the head by a line drive. Edes and Snow have the story of the Red Sox All Star pitcher in the Globe, Tony Massarotti reports on Clement being discharged to the team’s care yesterday and flying back with the club to Boston last night. Krasner reports that while Clement is seemingly ok, Trot Nixon was placed on the DL with his oblique strain. Borges also has a piece on the two injuries and the prognosis for each. Michael Levenson reports in the Globe on reaction to Manny Decarmen’s debut with the Red Sox back in his home neighborhood of Hyde Park.

Snow’s notebook examines Nixon’s injury a little more. Silverman’s notebook has more on the Red Sox right fielder. Krasner’s notebook looks at Manny sitting out yesterday. Hesuchkel’s notebook looks at Clement being released from the hospital, but also reports that Mike Timlin has a bit of a sore elbow. Borges’ notebook has more on Manny not being in the lineup.

Today is reporting day for Patriots veterans at training camp and Tom E Curran knows we’re tired of the usual “Training camp questions” columns, so he starts out with some answers, and then goes into the questions. Ian M Clark says that yeah, there may be some questions, but c’mon, these are the Pats we’re talking about here. Michael Felger analyzes the special teams this morning and says there are some issues and questions there. Michael Parente also looks at the special teams, headlined by Adam Vinatieri. Nick Cafardo reports that while Richard Seymour’s contract is still up in the air, apparently the Patriots have done something to make Rodney Harrison happy. Much praise has been heaped (deservedly so) on Mike Reiss’ blog, Reiss’ Pieces, however it looks like he’s about to get a little competition, as the Projo has launched a Patriots blog with Tom E Curran, simply called the Projo PatsBlog.

Mick Colageo ponders whether the Bruins could be without both Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov come next summer. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Stephen Harris take a quick look at the schedule, which was released and has the Bruins opening up on October 5th against the Canadiens.

Shira Springer talks to the newest Celtic, Brian Scalabrine.

The Yankees lost to the Twins last night, pushing the Red Sox lead in the AL East to two games. Larry Brown is expected to be named coach of the Knicks today. Get all the stories at the New York Sports News page.

The Red Sox are off tonight, NESN has CFL football with Montreal/Toronto starting at 7:30.

Just Another Night in Tampa

Another wild and crazy night in Tampa, Matt Clement is in the hospital, Trot is injured, Manny wants out…again, another Manny comes on the scene, and there was even a baseball game.

It just doesn’t seem like the Red Sox and Devil Rays can ever just play a normal game. Weird stuff always happens when these clubs hook up. Last night…I’d be here writing through the morning if I tried to chronicle everything that happened, so I’ll leave it to the experts. Chris Snow looks at the Red Sox sticking together after losing Matt Clement to the hospital when a line drive struck him off the head. Michael Silverman writes that this one was all-century-caliber in the drama department. Steven Krasner looks at the Red Sox overcoming the loss of Clement last night, but pondering what his loss may mean for the roster if he is out for any length of time. David Heuschkel looks at the heroics of Johnny Damon in the late innings, with both his glove and his bat, to help the Red Sox pull out the win. David Borges also reports on the Red Sox triumphing over near-tragedy last night in Tampa. He says in his game story that Lenny DiNardo, who has been a starter for Pawtucket will be called up in time for today’s game, presumably to replace Clement on the roster.

Gordon Edes reports on Clement, his condition and those who spoke to him last night. He gets the opinions of a neurosurgeon and recounts similar episodes in Red Sox history. Tony Massarotti reports that the initial prognosis and reports on Clement are positive. Heuschkel also has a report on Clement, and the scary circumstances of his exit from the game. He looks over the replays and talks to some players and umpires on the field who saw…and heard…what happened. Edes also has a second article on the situation, getting reaction from Clement’s teammates and the home plate umpire about the incident. He also looks at how his teammates rallied in the late innings and what Dale Sveum was thinking when he sent John Olerud in from third.

The other news from yesterday was a Tom Verducci report on SI.com that Manny Ramirez had asked to be traded. Massarotti writes a disgusted article, not just at Ramirez but at all the Red Sox, who he likens to a “collection of irresponsible teenage nitwits“. He says that there is no escape for Manny and that despite their accomplishments, the Red Sox cannot get make “us” take them seriously. Is he referring to the media? To the fans? The other papers have their short reports on the trade request, Krasner says that if Manny is unhappy, he is typically unaffected by it at the plate. Heuschkel says there wasn’t much reaction from the Red Sox clubhouse, but no denials, either. Silverman notes that even David Ortiz was unsure of any request or unhappiness from Ramirez. Borges also has a report on the situation. The story also makes the Inside Track, where they wonder if it was they who made Manny unhappy by asking if his wife is pregnant.

When the report became known, it of course dominated the airwaves in Boston. During the Big Show, when a caller stated that Ramirez is worth the money because baseball is about entertainment, and Manny is always entertaining, after he hung up, Butch Stearns said the following:

Stearns: Oftentimes I end up in conversations, barroom type conversations, about Manny about other stuff, that we end up talking about in our business and we

Paul Attner on the Patriots

Paul Attner, football writer for The Sporting News was on with Jay Harlow and Nick Cafardo on WWZN this afternoon. Here’s a transcript of an interesting segment of their conversation:

Jay Harlow: What's the perception around the league Paul of the Patriots losing both coordinators?

Paul Attner: You know, I think that the feeling is that they can easily overcome losing Romeo, not that he's not really good coach, but obviously that is Bill's specialty. But I really really continue to be amazed by the respect that Charlie has among front office people around the league. People I really respect and who have been in the business for a long long time think a lot of his ability. I think there really are questions among a lot of them whether anyone could've made up for his absence, but that fact that Belichick thinks that he can do it...is going to be interesting to watch. You know again, these guys really think that Charlie was an extraordinarily talented offensive mind and you just don't replace that. I happen to think, for what it's worth, that right now Belichick can do just about anything he wants and it's hard to bet against him. We talk about that a lot Nick...

Nick Cafardo: Sure

Attner: The guy, whatever he touches, just works, he obviously thinks he can do it. He's worked with the quarterbacks, all this other stuff, so we'll see. I mean Charlie, he really is viewed internally as a really really good coach in the league and you don't just lose guys like that and just automatically make up for it in their absence. I don't know.

Cafardo: Yeah, I've gotten the same kind of feedback on that, Paul, from other GM's and vice-personnel people around the league, and it's true, especially the in-game aspect of it, you know, he's just a terrific in-game coach and he just knows what to call at the right time, you know, and maybe Belichick can do that and maybe he can't I don't know, maybe someone else on that staff, you know, can do that at some point, but there was just something great about Charlie's timing, especially with some of the trick plays he ran, you know, they always seem to come at the right time.

Attner: What's interesting now is, first of all is Belichick going to wear headphones all the time? I'm used to seeing him kind of isolated there like the lonely soldier, you know and will they actually have like a game plan for him...?

Cafardo: Yeah, that's going to be interesting to see...

Attner: Yeah, he never had any of that stuff, he would just sit there with his hands in his pockets, and kind of, you know, the lonely guy...

Cafardo: Yeah...

Attner: I guess he did have the headphones before, but I guess it just never seemed...he was always isolating himself from everybody, so I guess he could view and think, but he can't do that now...if he's going to run this offense, he's got to be directly involved in every aspect of that game.

Cafardo: See I get the feeling Paul that in his mind, or he may have already done this, I think he's already kind of assigned someone on that staff to be the guy, you know maybe calling the plays, and maybe he's not going to tell us who that is.

Attner: Yeah.

Cafardo: You know, maybe he's going to take the heat, for that guy, whoever it is that's actually doing it. And I just get the feeling that's what he's doing. He wants to take the heat because you know, he couldn't find an offensive coordinator after Charlie left...you know, to suit that offense or whatever.

Attner: You know it'll be interesting, might be a great thing, one of the great mysteries, I guess of the season and for guys like us to find out, right?

Cafardo: Yeah, that's right.

Attner: Who really, really is doing this? You know that's interesting, I hadn't really thought about it, if that does become the case, I think that's really doing an injustice to the guy that's calling the plays, I mean, that guy ought to get credit for it, you know?

Cafardo: Yeah

Attner: The other aspect we haven't discussed is that Charlie did have, it seemed to me, from the outside and Nick you would know this better than I, but it seemed that he did have a pretty good relationship with Brady, they always seemed to get along very well and had a way of working with each other and you know, I don't see Belichick having nearly the same kind of personality as Charlie,

Cafardo: No.

Attner: It'll be interesting to see that dynamic, you know, I've talked to a lot of quarterbacks over the years, and a lot of them have really relished special relationships with either head coaches or coordinators or whatever and I think it's helped the development and Tom, at least in my presence he's talked a lot about how much Charlie's helped him, so it'll be interesting to see it that effects what Brady can do.

Extra Painful

Finding themselves in their first extra innings of the season, the Red Sox fell to the Devils Rays 4-3 in Tampa. The Patriots have their entire draft class under contract, and there are a few hockey, basketball and media stories out there today as well.

Trot Nixon figured in a couple big plays on either side of the ball in the Red Sox first extra innings play of the season, but neither play was a positive one for the Red Sox right fielder. In the tenth inning, after having stolen second, and accounting for the go-ahead run, Nixon was hit on the leg by the a grounder off the bat of John Olerud. In the bottom of the inning, Nixon could get to an Aubrey Huff drive to the wall, which then rolled away from him, allowing the winning run to score from first. It was a couple of plays so frustrating, that it is little wonder that as David Heuschkel notes, Nixon did not make himself available to reporters following the game. However, as Steven Krasner notes, it was a lot of little things that added up to to this loss for the Red Sox. David Borges refers to the Devil Rays as Boston’s true “blood rivals” for the intense games these clubs always seem to play, as well as the hostilities which often ensue. Chris Snow notes that the Huff winning hit deprived us a chance to see if Curt Schilling could’ve gone three innings for the first time. Michael Silverman says that the Red Sox need to play to the level of their own talent, not that of the opposition.

Lenny Megliola takes a look at Curt Schilling, a man he calls a walking paradox for the Red Sox, but noting that whatever he is, he holds the key to the Red Sox success down the stretch. Tony Massarotti notes that while he hasn’t been terrible out there, Schilling hasn’t exactly solved the Red Sox bullpen woes. Gordon Edes talks to David Wells and others about the Devil Rays, why they’re so pesky and whether Lou Piniella actually holds them back from getting better. In addition, Wells calls the current Red Sox, the “best bunch of guys” he’s ever played with, including his time with the Yankees. Brendan McGair looks at how the Red Sox ownership group has reached out to former team legends, anticipating that that will also be the case with Roger Clemens.

Joe McDonald looks at Red Sox phenom Jon Papelbon, and how he is trying to pattern himself after Roger Clemens. Massarotti takes a look at the Red Sox clubhouse as the players dig in this week and wait and wonder about the inevitable trades and how the team will be different at this time next week. Gerry Callahan, (subscription only)looks at whether Theo Epstein will be able to make a deal with the impact that last year’s trading deadline deal had, which essentially re-made the Red Sox and set the tone for the rest of the season. Epstein notes that it is a difficult trade market this year, but that he and the Red Sox don’t plan on failing this season. Bob Halloran says that the Red Sox didn’t need to trade Nomar last year to win it all because the team was good enough. He doesn’t believe this years team can win it all, and that there isn’t anyone out there that help them to win it all.

Silverman’s notebook reports on Boston native Manny Delcarmen being promoted today to the Major League roster. Snow’s notebook also reports on Delcarmen. Krasner’s notebook looks at Wells being unable to finish off the Devil Rays. Heuschkel’s notebook has Curt Schilling unfazed after taking the loss last night. Borges’ notebook looks at how Dale Sveum and Rocco Baldelli will always be linked in Red Sox lore.

Jerome Solomon submits an interesting feature on Patriots Defensive Coordinator Eric Mangini, who started his coaching career by accident in Australia. This is the best work we’ve seen yet from Solomon, who is still getting his feet wet on the Patriots beat since joining the Globe after the Patriots latest Super Bowl win. Alan Greenberg takes a look around the 2005 AFC Training Camp headlines. Michael Felger’s daily training camp preview looks at the running backs today and the battle to be Corey Dillon’s top backup. Michael Parente looks at the linebacker position, where even though Tedy Bruschi’s emotion, skills, instincts and leadership are going to be sorely missed, the Patriots still have a very talented group.

The Patriots signed first round pick Logan Mankins yesterday, becoming the first team to sign a first rounder, and the first team to sign all their draft picks. The sticking point was the number of years, and the Patriots eventually came down to five from their original wish of six. Felger says that this could be because of the new, unsigned CBA, which will only allow teams to spread a signing bonus across five seasons. However, Tom E Curran reports that number as four seasons. It’s not clear who is right here, but either way, it makes sense as to why this was the reason that the Patriots only went five years.

The guys on the early FSN New England Sports Tonight show had a faux argument (The type I hate) over this topic last night. Mike Reiss was on with Greg and Gary and Reiss started wondering what precedent this was going to set with the Patriots and that guys like Benjamin Watson and Vince Wilfork would be upset that Mankins got five years when they had to take six. As was pointed out to Reiss, there isn’t much they can do about it. Reiss then worried what the future impact would be, that the Patriots wouldn’t be able to hold the line at six years in the future now that they’ve given Mankins five. (Even though Daniel Graham got five) The obvious (to me) point that they were all ignoring, and thus why I call this a faux argument, was the fact that this five year deal was likely a direct result of the rule changes mentioned by Felger and Curran above…Reiss even mentioned it on the program earlier. They were getting semi-heated over this topic, when the subject was likely moot. The Patriots may not insist on six year deals in the future because of the salary cap implications. Have I mentioned I dislike fake controversies?

The Mankins signing is also reported by Solomon, who takes a short look at the character and makeup of Mankins, Greenberg, who says that Mankins will likely challenge for a starting position, and Parente, who says there will be no rookie holdouts this season.

Stephen Harris looks at the Bruins progress towards rebuilding their roster as they talk to a couple of old faces about a possible return. Shira Springer reports that the Celtics are close to a deal with second round pick Orien Greene.

Bill Griffith looks at an ESPN Radio legend signing off just as the network reaches Boston for the first time. John Molori’s Media Blitz looks at upcoming Patriots training camp coverage by the local and national media, as well as WEEI’s new ratings numbers and lists out his top 10 Patriots commentators in the area. Not mentioned in the coverage is the fact that BSMW will be launching an expanded “Game Day Rear View” this season, which should be enjoyable for Patriots fans.

The New York Sports Headlines are full of trade talk for the Yankees and Mets, more speculation on Larry Brown talking to the Knicks and a few NFL and NHL articles.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00.

Mankins Signs

The website Profootballtalk.com was the first to report that the Patriots and first round pick Logan Mankins had come to an agreement.

Patriots.com has the official news on the signing. The signing puts into question a couple things that appeared in the local media yesterday.

Nick Cafardo in his NFL Notes yesterday:

The Patriots appear confident they'll get No. 1 pick Logan Mankins signed to a six-year deal by the time training camp opens, which is far more optimism than many agents and teams can muster concerning first-round picks. As of Friday, none had been signed. Most agents are waiting for the hierarchy -- the Alex Smiths of the world -- to get signed, so they know where their player is slotted. Even though in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement teams can only prorate five years of the signing bonus, the Patriots aren't budging on their six-year demand, which gives them control of the player well into their unrestricted free agent years.

More from Nick yesterday:

Ben Watson, Ty Warren, and Vince Wilfork all signed six-year deals. The only player who escaped it was Daniel Graham, who signed a five-year deal, but the Patriots only did it because they weren't as sold on Graham as they were their other first-round picks.

ESPN’s report today on the Mankins signing:

The Patriots became the first team to sign a first-round pick by reaching a five-year, $6.4 million deal with guard Logan Mankins, the 32nd pick in the 2005 draft.

So did the Patriots budge off their six year demand, or was the demand never there? Or are the Patriots not sold on Mankins and are thus only offering him a five year deal?

ESPN didn’t get it all correct though.

The key to the agreement was getting the Patriots not to force a six-year contract on him. Last year, the Patriots signed tight end Daniel Graham, their first-round choice in 2004, to a six-year contract. His agent at the time, Tom Condon, refused to sign a contract that long for a pick that low in the first round and resigned as Graham's agent.

Graham didn't sign until Aug. 16, after an 18-day holdout. He played in the season opener, was inactive for the second game and was then placed on injured reserve for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Whoops. That’s supposed to be Benjamin Watson, boys.

A final thought on Cafardo’s Notes from a message board poster:

VERY late to the party on this one, but as I read in stunned silence the umpeenth Nick Cafardo NFL Sunday notes update on how Ty Law is feeling great and on (fill in the blank, but usually 6) number of teams radar screens, I wondered if Nick doesn

Feeling the Heat

A hot day in Chicago leaves the Red Sox wilting. The buzz around the Patriots picks up as they prepare for their first days of training camp. A review of a few Sunday articles and Lance Armstrong completing his quest make up this Monday edition of the links.

The Red Sox went into yesterday’s game attempting to take three of four from the team with the best record in the American League. They had to settle for splitting the series as Bronson Arroyo struggled early and the Red Sox fell to the White Sox 6-4. Chris Snow takes note of the oppressive heat out in Chicago, hottest in at least ten years at U.S. Cellular Field. Paul Doyle says that the four game series revealed nothing about either team’s postseason chances. Steven Krasner notes that neither team was really able to make a statement this weekend. Michael Silverman notes that the Red Sox squandered plenty of opportunities yesterday. David Borges says that we can’t point to July 24th of this season as a turning point.

Turning point. The above articles from Borges and Krasner both reference last July 24th, which has gone down in legend among fans and media as the “turning point” of the Red Sox season. It was indeed perhaps the most memorable day of the regular season, as Jason Varitek scuffled with Alex Rodriguez and then Bill Mueller hit a game winning home run off of Mariano Rivera. John Tomase wrote a whole feature on the game and it’s significance yesterday. It’s been mentioned in this space before, but today is a perfect time to mention it again. The media loves “turning points”. Go back over the coverage of the team from this season or any season, and note how many times a writer will speculate that THIS game could be the turning point of the entire season. Whether it is a need to simplify things and be able to point to and anoint an exact moment when a team came together or just simply overanalyzing the impact that singular games and moments have on a club, I’m really not sure, though I suspect the former.

It has pretty much been universally accepted that the July 24th game of last year was the turning point for the 2004 Red Sox. It may have been, at least for the club’s own confidence against the Yankees. But in the big scheme of things was it? Well in the two weeks following the brawl, July 25 – August 7th, the Red Sox went 6-5. They went 11-8 until August 16th, which if you solely look at the standings and W-L records, might be called the true turning point of the season, as that is the date they started a 16 of 17, 19 of 21 streak which propelled them into the playoffs. So really it was about three weeks after the so-called “turning point” of the season when the Red Sox fortunes really did turn. But it’s a much better story to put the turning point on that July 24th game with the Yankees. That game might’ve given the Red Sox a spark to believe they could beat the Yankees, but it took a little while longer for things really to kick in for the Red Sox in 2004.

Tony Massarotti writes that the White Sox are “simply not that good” and should not scare the Red Sox and their fans. Gordon Edes looks at Bronson Arroyo and others sweating it out as they await the trade deadline this coming Sunday. Silverman looks at Arroyo, who while warming up yesterday discovered that he was without his trademark pitch, his sweeping curveball. Massarotti reports on how the Red Sox players were able to deal with the heat yesterday.

Snow’s notebook reports on rookie closer Craig Hansen, who signed over the weekend and is reporting to extended spring training in Fort Myers, Florida to begin work on his pro career. Silverman’s notebook looks at Alex Cora playing well at shortstop while giving Edgar Renteria a day off. Krasner’s notebook examines Arroyo having a bad feeling while warming up, and realizing he had no curveball. Doyle’s notebook looks at the Red Sox heading down to Tampa next, hoping to cool off a little bit.

Jerome Solomon looks at the Patriots rookies running around as they reported over the weekend for training camp. First round pick Logan Mankins remains unsigned. Michael Felger examines the tight ends and receivers for the Patriots, an area of strength (like many others) for this team. Felger has already predicted at least a couple times that veteran tight end Christian Fauria will be a casualty of camp. Michael Parente looks at the offensive line, for the most part a group of veterans that should keep Tom Brady safe and open holes for Corey Dillon. Alan Greenberg says that despite losing Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, the Patriots still have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and that might be enough to allow them to make history this season. Other than the always entertaining Willie McGinest, Nick Cafardo’s Pro Football Notes in the Globe yesterday held true to form, praise for Tom Donahoe in Buffalo, plenty of agent and contract talk, and speculation of Roman Phifer returning to New England, something that Felger has been talking about for months. I love the Daniel Graham comment, claiming that he only got a five year deal because the Patriots weren’t sold on him. And yet they moved up the draft to select him.

Also be sure to check out Jackie MacMullan’s feature yesterday on Doug Flutie and the battle his son and family face with Dougie Jr’s battle with autism. You might think you’ve heard this story before, but you haven’t heard it to this degree. A great job by MacMullan, and a glimpse at what we used see from the Sunday Globe on a regular basis.

Yesterday’s NBA notes held an interest contrast in conclusions. The negative Peter May writes that the young Celtics will never develop into more than just Clippers East, while Steve Bulpett, who was actually in Vegas and saw these young players with his own eyes…something May didn’t do…says that; “The more one sees of the young Celtics, the more it seems the best thing that could happen to this team would be for 2007 to get here in a hurry.” That seems to indicate that there is plenty of promise for this young team.

The Bruins got what they wanted out the labor deal, now the question is going to be whether anyone wants to play for them. Russ Conway attempts to answer that question in his Sunday NHL notes.

Bonnie DeSimone looks at Lance Armstrong finishing his quest for a seventh straight Tour De France and riding into the sunset as a champion. There are plenty more Armstrong stories on the New York Sports News page.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00. ESPN has Orioles/Rangers at 7:00.

Sox Lose But Maintain Their Lead

Another loss for the Sox as they continue their win a few/lose a few pattern of the past month. Inconsistent starting pitching has been a large part of the problem and that was the case last night as Tim Wakefield surrendered a couple three run home runs in the sixth inning to the Major League leading White Sox and the Sox fell 8-4. The Boston Globe