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.