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.