Poor Effort in Toronto

A night after an uplifting win over a team that has given them fits all season long, the Red Sox reverted to old habits and lost to the Blue Jays last night 9-3. Couple that with a 17-3 Yankees win in Tampa, and you’ve got a margin of 2.5 games in the AL East. Michael Silverman says that the Blue Jays made this one look easy. Chris Snow says that the Blue Jays are enjoying their role as spoiler. Sean McAdam notes that this was a costly loss for the Red Sox and Matt Clement, and most of the damage was done in the second inning, as Clement was racked for five runs in that frame. David Heuschkel says that Terry Francona and the Red Sox bristle at the suggestion that they’ll be glad when they’re done playing Toronto. David Borges calls last night one of the Red Sox “more lethargic efforts of the season”.

Tony Massarotti says that despite being “only” a DH, David Ortiz deserves to win or at the very least be taken seriously as a candidate for Most Valuable Player. Massarotti labels it “discrimination” that a Ortiz might lose some consideration because he doesn’t play the field. Gordon Edes reports that there was some dissent down in the bullpen about how Terry Francona used his pitchers on Monday night. They felt they didn’t know what was going on, and that Mike Timlin getting the call in the seventh inning was a surprise, and not a welcome one among the bullpen. He also looks at the ongoing struggles of Keith Foulke. Silverman has more on Keith Foulke, who continues feisty during his struggles. Massarotti looks at last night’s starter, Matt Clement, who had a five run inning sneak up on him in the second. Thomas C. Palmer Jr reports in the Globe on the Red Sox involvement in the redevelopment of the Kenmore Square area. In Howard Bryant’s Boston Uncommon column in the Herald this morning (subscription only) he tells the story of the Black Aces club. Only 13 pitchers are in the club, with the newest being Dontrelle Willis, who gained admission after winning his 20th game last week. It’s actually a very neat story as those 13 black pitchers who have won 20 games have established sort of a special fraternity, keeping in touch with one another. Bryant points out that because of the Latin explosion, less than 10% of baseball players are African American currently and gives some reasons for this.

Snow’s notebook reports that there was no structural damage revealed in Johnny Damon’s MRI of his ailing shoulder. Silverman’s notebook has more on Damon, and towards the end, has Mike Timlin somewhat refuting the point made in Edes’ article above by saying it is his job to be ready whenever he is called into the game. McAdam’s notebook says that Damon should be back in action by the weekend. Heuschkel’s notebook has Francona hoping that Damon will be able to go tomorrow night. Borges’ notebook has still more on Damon, but also talks to Jonathan Papelbon about getting his first major league win.

Michael Felger has his Wednesday edition of Patriots Insider, where he tackles a number of topics, first of which is the cornerback position, where it appears that we’ll be seeing Asante Samuel and Randall Gay most of the time. He notes that Samuel is becoming one of the better cover corners in the league. He also looks ahead to the Panthers, has Rodney Harrison complaining about Randy Moss, and a look at Mike Vrabel’s myriad of roles. Jim Donaldson looks at one of the keys to the Patriots success, their great talent and depth on the defensive line. Eric McHugh looks at some of the things that Carolina will bring to the field against the Patriots this Sunday. Michael Parente says that the Panthers’ secondary might pose a challenge for the Patriots. Once again, no Patriots articles in the Globe. There are a pair of football columns, but neither is dedicated to the Patriots. Michael Felger’s column above was filled with idbits…the Globe can’t do that? Nick Cafardo says that many of the Panthers still have the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots fresh in their mind and plan to use it for motivation. Bob Ryan looks at a pair of new coaches in the NFL, Miami head coach Nick Saban and 49ers coach Mike Nolan. Ryan is intrigued by both of them, and feels that have “it” and might being a little something more to the table than your average head coach. McHugh also looks at the winners and losers from the weekend.

Stephen Harris looks at new Bruins center Dave Scatchard, who chose Boston because he liked their plan and how they were going about building a contender. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at the Bruins other free agent center signee, Alexei Zhamnov who also likes what the club has done. The article also looks at Shawn McEachern. Joe McDonald looks at young forward Patrice Bergeron, who looks bigger and stronger coming into his second NHL camp. Mike Loftus says the opening of camp is business as usual…holdouts and all. Harris also has a look at top pick Matt Lashoff, who has impressed early on. Harris’ notebook reports that with Andrew Raycroft holding out, that the Bruins have extended a tryout invitation to former goalie Byron Defoe. McDonald’s notebook looks at a couple of Rhode Island natives enjoying their time in camp.

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck was a guest of FSN’s New England Sports Tonight on the 6:30 edition last night and had a few items of interest for Celtics fans. He praised the work put in by Ricky Davis, who he says his kids and family say is their favorite player to be around. He says Davis has worked hard all summer, is in great shape and is developing into a leader on the club. He mentioned Davis purchasing season tickets and giving them to fans as part of his charity work in the community. Grousbeck emphasized defense as a key to the team’s success this season, that if they can get defense from Davis, Justin Reed, Ryan Gomes and Paul Pierce, then they can repeat as division champs. He praised the play of Gomes, who he says has amazed the coaching staff. They can’t believe he slipped to the end of the second round. He called Gomes a potentially great draft pick. He said that Tony Allen has learned from his experience, and is doing a lot of hard thinking. It will be used as a lesson in camp. He also said that he was told that the situation was a potential “money grab” effort by the accuser. He mentioned the club’s efforts at hurricane relief, citing that the team wants to raise a minimum of $250,000 to send down. He said that Al Jefferson and Justin Reed were both in the storm when it hit their area, but that they and their families are safe.

Michael Vega looks at the slow start for BC defensive star Mathias Kiwanuka. Fluto Shinzawa looks a Ricky Craven heading into this weekend’s Craftsman Truck Series race at NHIS.

Get the stories from the Big Apple on the New York Sports News page.

NESN has Red Sox/Blue Jays at 7:00. ESPN has baseball TBA at 8:00 and ESPN2 has Dodgers/Rockies at 10:00.

Thoughts on John Dennis/Ryen Russillo

I’m sure you’ve had a chance by now to listen to the infamous John Dennis voicemail left for Ryen Russillo. You’ve probably already read the Inside Track (which has a transcript of the call) and Scott’s Shots (which appears to be on Dennis’ side in this matter).

You no doubt have been able to make your own judgment on the matter. For a guy who has run a Media/PR consulting business, John Dennis seems to need a dose for himself. Unless of course you subscribe to the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity. In fact, one could see Dennis reveling in the fact that this has come out, because it portrays the image of a tough guy standing up to a younger man who has dishonored his daughter in some way.

Is that really the case? One WEEI staffer says that “one of John Dennis’ favorite hobbies is leaving long-winded, profanity filled messages for co-workers, colleagues, and other people”. Several names at the station were listed as having been the recipients of these messages. Nice hobby.

From what I hear, Dennis left the message at 4:30 AM…on his way into work one morning. Even better. Nice effort gathering the venom needed to leave a message of that caliber at that time of the day. Edit: I’ve got a conflicting time on the original call where the message was left. It might’ve come the night before around 9:00, and then a follow up call came at 4:30 AM.

Is WEEI at all concerned about this incident and voicemail going public? There have reputedly been a few veiled references to it on the 850 airwaves, none of which I’ve heard personally. You would think that this would make fantastic “whiner line” material, but strangely enough the topic has been absent from recent editions. It has made the rounds on the internet, as the fact that the file linked above has been listened to over 10,000 times already. Someone told me that Opie and Anthony made the voicemail a point of discussion on their XM show for some time yesterday.

One reader related that he called the Dennis and Callahan show both yesterday and today about the voicemail and was told yesterday that they weren’t going to talk about it. Today he was put on hold…and never taken off.

Does Dennis have the “juice” to make a phone call and get Russillo kicked off the WBCN Patriots programming? He denies it to the Inside Track, but c’mon. He does have that juice. He’s been jokingly referred to as another one of the Kraft sons, and his relationship with the family goes back to the time when Robert Kraft partially owned Channel 7 when Dennis was the sports anchor/director for the station prior to Kraft buying the Patriots. He has also had some business relationships with the Krafts, and I have no doubt it would take one call to Jonathan Kraft, warning him about this “wild card” Russillo to thus cause WBCN to take him off the programming after he had been announced as being part of it this season. It’s not a giant leap.

This is absurd. Russillo hits on the daughter of another member of the media, who then pulls strings to get him fired from a job? Russillo is a rare species in the Boston sports media, he’s prepared, passionate, knowledgeable and articulate, something that those WBCN broadcasts are in dire need of. We need more like him on the air, not less. So why else would WBCN yank him off the broadcasts? Were they afraid he’d make the rest of them look bad? I don’t think so. What other conclusion can you come to when 1) He crosses someone with connections to the powers that control that broadcast and 2) He suddenly loses that job, just weeks after getting it?

How did the voicemail get out? It seems easy to blame Russillo for this, but a more likely series of events is that John Dennis dropped a dime on him to the Patriots/WBCN, who then confronted Russillo about it. Russillo likely gave his account of the events, adding that Dennis had left him a profane voicemail. He may have offered to forward it to them as evidence. After doing so, someone at either WBCN or the Patriots later leaked the message to the internet where it appeared last week.

Let’s be fair, neither side here covered themselves in glory with this incident, but who comes out looking worse? We don’t know exactly what Russillo said to John Dennis’ daughter. It can’t have been too terribly insulting, since Dennis hardly addresses it in his voicemail. If you listen to/read the voicemail, you see that Dennis is far more incensed that Russillo supposedly accused him of speaking badly of him. Dennis goes to great lengths to say that he knows nothing about Russillo (oldest trick in the book…Dennis knows exactly who Russillo is) and only mentions the incident with his daughter in passing. So he couldn’t have said anything too insulting to Dennis’ daughter…who is a grown woman in her own right by the way. The protective father stuff just doesn’t fly here.

On the other hand, we know exactly what John Dennis said. We have it preserved for posterity. He’s the one who left the profane, threatening voicemail. He doesn’t even deny that it is him. Nothing will happen to him. WEEI will likely even embrace this publicity and over time, Dennis will continue to evolve and benefit from his “tough guy” character on the ongoing soap opera of WEEI programming.

Ryen Russillo on the other hand, is out of job. A job he could’ve used no doubt, as I’m sure 1510 isn’t paying him an exorbitant salary (yet). He clearly got a raw deal on this. He is the recipient of an expletive filled voicemail, and yet he’s the one punished.

Such is the world of the Boston sports radio world.

Edit: This afternoon The Big Show was all over the voicemail today…several references to it, complete with a character skit. No direct mention of Dennis, however. As predicted, they’ve embraced it.

Pap, Papi, win it for Sox

David Ortiz did it yet again, hitting an 11th inning home run to put the Red Sox ahead, allowing Jonathan Papelbon to pick up his first major league win, and to do it while throwing three impressive, no hit, shutout innings after the veteran relievers had given up an earlier lead. Chris Snow notes that the legend of David Ortiz just continues to grow, while Michael Silverman observes that we might’ve seen the start of the legend of Jonathan Papelbon. Sean McAdam looks at Ortiz living up to his Superman belt buckle. David Heuschkel notes that Ortiz and Papelbon saved what could’ve been a very ugly night for the Red Sox. David Borges also looks at the big night for the duo.

Gordon Edes examines how Papelbon ended up playing such a huge role last night, and whether the youngster might be seeing more of that type of end-of-game duty here with the club in the closing weeks. Tony Massarotti though, notes that last night saw the return of one of the uglier notions in Red Sox history, that of closer by committee. John Tomase takes a look back at the incredible performances and contrasts that we saw on the mound Sunday afternoon in Yankee stadium between Randy Johnson and Tim Wakefield. The only run in that game was a home run from Jason Giambi, and Gerry Callahan (subscription only) is suspicious of Giambi, wondering just what is responsible for his incredible and sudden turnaround this season. He notes that the steroids Giambi took previously were ones designed to try and beat steroid tests, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise if he’s using another substance that doesn’t come up on tests.

Edes has a look at a recent Red Sox signee, Cuban defector Michel Abreu a power hitting first baseman who hasn’t played since March of 2004. Bill Reynolds looks at Curt Schilling who came up huge over the weekend with the spotlight squarely on him, which is how he likes it. Silverman and Massarotti team up for a report on Johnny Damon’s ailing shoulder, for which he will have an MRI this morning in Boston on. Steve Buckley (subscription only) writes this morning about the final weekend of the season and the possibilities it holds. It’s basically all speculation and ‘what ifs’ regarding how players will be used, if only one team has something to play for, etc. It all seems a tad premature since we really don’t know what the situation will be for that series. Jon Couture says that it will be hard to figure this race. Massarotti also has a brief item about Kevin Millar being ticked off at Randy Johnson, who was staring down Red Sox batters on Sunday.

Snow’s notebook has more on Damon, as does McAdam’s notebook, Heuschkel’s notebook and Borges’ notebook. In the Herald, Silverman’s notebook leads with an update on Craig Hansen, who may just be pitching at Fenway yet this season. The other notebooks also have information on Hansen.

Jonathan Comey goes around the NFL, looking at the big winners and losers from Sunday and providing some notes from around the league. Michael Parente says that the banged up Panthers are still going to pose a formidable threat to the Patriots this Sunday. Christopher Price says that the Panthers are going to be looking to regroup against the Patriots after their loss to the emotional Saints. Tom E Curran notes that the Panthers offense will dictate whether the Patriots use a 3-4 or 4-3 defense this week.

Karen Guregian talks to Steve Grogan who approves of Tom Brady’s vocal sideline manner when it comes to teammates, such as was the case Thursday night with he and Corey Dillon. The Globe deigns to give us some Patriots coverage today, as Jerome Solomon looks at the Patriots receivers, who shared the load on Thursday night. A post on the PatsFans.com messageboard claims to have a response from Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan to an inquiry about the lack of Patriots coverage in the Globe. The response, if genuine sheds some light on the attitude the Globe is taking towards the Patriots. Yesterday wasn’t their day, so they didn’t get any coverage. Alan Greenberg looks at Josh Miller, who knows that the Panthers strong special teams will be coming after him on Sunday. Chris Kennedy notes the focus on special teams during the Patriots preparation for this game. Parente has more on the special teams work. Guregian also talks to Rodney Harrison, who is wary of Steve Smith and the Panthers this week. Solomon’s notebook looks at the Panthers losing their top player for the season, defensive lineman Kris Jenkins.

Douglas Flynn looks at the Bruins starting a new era…which looks a bit like the old one with a couple of holdouts. Kevin Paul Dupont says that the holdouts of Andrew Raycroft and Nick Boynton are just a couple of the hot topics for the Bruins as they begin training camp. Stephen Harris notes the high expectations for the Bruins heading into this season. Joe McDonald reports that there was a buzz on the ice yesterday as the post-lockout era finally began.

Mick Colageo says that if Raycroft’s holdout turns out to be longer than expected, the Bruins have a capable backup in Hannu Toivonen. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell reports on the status of the two holdouts, noting that the club is a bit closer to signing Boynton than it is to Raycroft. Steve Conroy looks at Joe Thornton, who is eager to make things happen for the Bruins on the ice. Conroy also files a report on Jonathan Girard, who is making his return from a “horrific” auto accident. McDonald also has short story on the defenseman, who is happy to be back in action for the Bruins. Harris has a few observations from Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who was at the press luncheon yesterday.

Flynn’s notebook looks at the holdouts as well as a number of other items. Colageo’s notebook looks at Thornton hoping to continue the winning roll he got on during the lockout. Marrapese-Burrell’s notebook has more on the Bruins captain. Harris’ notebook looks at Toivonen getting ready in the absence of Raycroft.

Roy S Johnson has a good piece on Red Auerbach for CNNSI. Gabe Kahn has a number of Celtics musings over at CelticsBlog.

Bill Griffith remembers Chris Schenkel this morning, and also has a few other items, including the debut of ESPN Radio Boston’s local programming with Michael Felger.

The New York papers are busy with the retirement of Mark Messier, as well as coverage of the Jets, Giants, Yankees and Mets. Check out the stories at the New York Sports page. Get the coverage of Barry Bonds return to the lineup for the San Francisco Giants on the Bay Area Sports page.

NESN has Red Sox/Blue Jays at 7:00.

Monday Thoughts

My own version of the thoughts column for Monday

(Reminder: Red Sox Daily LinksPatriots Daily LinksNew York Daily Links)

  • Am I ever glad football is back. Yes, having the games on Sunday is great, but even better is that on Monday’s, Dennis and Callahan have Boomer Esiason and Tom Brady back-to-back in the eight o’clock hour. Easily the best segment of the week on that program. Ridiculously long questions excepted…
  • Tim McCarver needs to be put down. If I hear more “Brandon Arroyo” references mixed in with trying to be clever by mixing Manny’s name with tennis players, I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle the baseball playoffs on Fox. McCarver trying to be funny says “Manny Agassi….Manny Federov…” Um….it’s Federer, Tim”.
  • Staying on Fox, yesterday’s late game with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman commentating on the Cowboys and Chargers was nearly as bad. Plenty of miscues and gaffes there, as well. Not to be totally cynical here…(ok maybe) but if Joe Buck isn’t Jack Buck’s kid, does he rise to the level he’s gotten to? Lead announcer for Fox on both baseball and football? To me, he’s a voice, nothing more.Found myself switching, at least at the beginning, between that Cowboys/Chargers game and the mens final of the US Open on CBS, to see if Andre (not Manny) Agassi could pull off that monumental upset and complete his incredible run. By the fourth set, it was clear that it just wasn’t going to happen…fun while it lasted though.
  • Glad to see that the Globe is sticking to their policy of ignoring the Patriots. Not a single article on the team today? Are you kidding me? Is Jerome Solomon on vacation? Nothing today or yesterday from the beat writer?
  • After yesterday’s Red Sox/Yankees game, I lasted about five minutes on the WEEI programming with Mike Adams and Larry Johnson. One woman caller said that Terry Francona was the worst manager in Red Sox history. She wasn’t cut off immediately. That was enough for me. Click.
  • Speaking of Adams…what has happened to this guy? He used to be a Red Sox fan…enjoyed the team, didn’t get angry and worked up over things. As of late, he’s been on a mission…spew as much hate towards Manny Ramirez as possible. I don’t get it. Must’ve been a memo from Jason Wolfe to lose the nice/funny guy persona and get nasty.
  • It was nice of Ron Borges to inform us in the NFL notes yesterday that former Patriot Otis Smith and his family were hard hit by the hurricane and could use the help of Patriots fans. It would have been nicer had he given us an address or some way to actually go ahead and offer assistance.
  • John Dennis comes off really bad in that voicemail, (warning – offensive language) doesn’t he? Will anything happen to him? Nope.

I got this email from a reader this morning, and thought it was a well written view from the common fan about Manny Ramirez and how he is perceived by many.

Bruce,

I am an avid reader of your site. I think you do a great job and enjoy your insight and opinions during my daily lunch break.

I’ve never written to a media member, called a talk show or anything like that. But I feel compelled to share my opinion on what I perceive as a major and anti-Manny campaign among many of the media members in Boston.

First off, I am a die hard Red Sox fan, have been since my childhood in the early 70’s and the team and sport have played a large entertainment role for me and my family. I didn’t get a chance to see Jimmie Foxx but from what I have read and heard from my father over the years there was not a more potent and prodigious right handed Red Sox bat. Until the arrival of Manny Ramirez.

I am a big Manny fan. I thought he was phenomenal in Cleveland and was thrilled when he signed with the Red Sox. In fact, when terms of his deal were announced I felt that it was only a matter of time (after three years of service) before his contract became an issue for management. I’m glad he has the contract that he has because it makes it difficult to move him to another team. I’m convinced that this off-season will finally be the end of the Manny regime. He does have the power and veto rights of a 10/5 guy but I think if Manny refuses a proposed trade then Theo is going to waive him. Obviously, I don’t want these things to happen but I am a realist and he will certainly be missed by me.

In the fans and media’s eyes virtually no athlete is worth what they are paid. Fortunately for the athlete, their market and industry is highly profitable and the owners can spend however they deem appropriate. It is crazy money but the sports industry – like the movie and tv business – is big business.

Manny came to town advertised as an RBI, HR and hitting machine amid reports of periodic quirkiness. Has he delivered as advertised? In my eyes, absolutely. I think he is one of the few free agent signings who actually lived up to his billing and the hype that came with it. Here is a high level view of some of his accomplishments:

  • During his five years with the Red Sox he has been voted to the All-Star team as a starter each year. Admittedly, All-Star voting is nothing more than a popularity contest with the fans having too much clout in the process.
  • Second only to Lou Gehrig for career grand slams.
  • All time longest consecutive game hit streak in post season play (hopefully that will continue this October).
  • Always among the leaders in HR’s and RBI’s and up until this year, batting average.
  • He won one batting title with the Red Sox and lost out by % points to teammate Bill Mueller on another (if memory serves me correctly I recall reports from that year indicating that Manny sat out the final couple of games so that Mueller could win).
  • World Series MVP. I thought Keith Foulke was more deserving but Manny won nonetheless.
  • The occasional day off (he is among the team leaders in games played each year), jog around the basepaths (I think his efforts on the base paths – although sometimes maddening – are more the rule in MLB then the exception. Have you ever seen MVP Vlad Guerrero run the bases? Pete Rose he is not.), average at Fenway and below average away from Fenway defense, and his decision not to open up or deal with the media (the fact that he is not comfortable with the media often gets over-looked).

With the exception of the latter, if any other member of the Red Sox compiled a list of those accomplishments or if Manny talked, looked, acted, or interacted with the media like Johnny Damon, Curt Schilling, Trot Nixon or Tim Wakefield there would be statues of him in every state of New England by now. Unfortunately with Manny, the media looks at him as an aloof big dollar sign noose around the Red Sox neck. They have plenty of $$. Collectively, Theo’s not so stellar procurement of pitching talent during his regime – and at times costly and without value-add (Kim, Mendoza, Suppan, Sauerbach, Halama, Mantei, Miller, Fox, etc.) often gets overlooked. The media obviously have their favorites (Schilling, Damon, Millar, etc.).

The same electronic media members and writers who are greasing the skids with Red Sox management to have him driven out of town will be the same ones 10 years from now pleading that he wears a Red Sox ‘B’ on his Cooperstown bust.

ps – What do you think the reaction would have been among the media had Manny, and not Ortiz, been given the day off yesterday? Or if Manny was quoted like Johnny Damon in Sunday’s Globe as indicating that the Angels are on his free agent list? They would have beat this into the ground from 6:00 am and first print until 7:05 pm tonight.

Keep up the good work.

Steve R

You may agree or disagree with any one of the points from Steve’s email, but overall, I think this is a well reasoned essay on Manny and his standing here in Boston. Good stuff.

Opening NFL Sunday

Quick Links for a Sunday of NFL and Red Sox/Yankees…

Dan Shaughnessy, John Tomase and Tony Massarotti look at Curt Schilling’s very impressive outing in the spotlight of Yankee stadium and a national TV game. Shaughnessy of course, takes a myriad of subtle and not-so-subtle shots at Schilling, a guy who clearly threatens him on some level. Gordon Edes says time is running out for the Yankees. Edes also files the Globe Baseball notes, where he looks at another book on the 2004 Red Sox. Massarotti has the Herald Baseball notes, where he looks ahead to what appears to be a big offseason for the Red Sox.

Check the Red Sox Daily Links page for more from today’s papers.

New York Sports News – where yesterday’s win by the Red Sox and Curt Schilling have NY a little nervous. (Murray Chass in the times is fuming, while Mike Lupica in the Daily News gives Curt Schilling respect.)

Ron Borges looks at Drew Bledsoe, Bill Parcells and the Dallas Cowboys. Guess the Globe is getting feedback that writers want to keep re-living the days of the mid-90’s Patriots rather than on the current Super Bowl champs. Either that, or the Globe knows it is getting blown out in its coverage of the team, (other than the Reiss’ Pieces blog – but that doesn’t appear in the paper) and so isn’t even trying to cover them anymore. They’ll cover the “other” stuff in the NFL..the bitter ex-Patriots and other figures from the past. The article from Borges isn’t really that bad, it’s more the philosophy that I have an issue with. John Altavilla says today’s opening day games will have memories of four years ago still lingering, especially in light of the recent disaster down south.

Look here for more Patriots Daily Links from today.

Tuned into NFL Sunday on WEEI this morning, and it was good to hear the old (and I mean old) duo of Kevin Mannix and Ron Hobson back on the air with Dale Arnold and Steve Nelson. I find this show a refreshing contrast to much of the sports programming in the region. There’s usually no fake controversies or arguments, no choosing up sides prior to the show and debating to death, come hell or high water. They actually sometimes try to go beyond the Patriots, looking at what is happening around the league. Compare this to the new “debate-style” programming on the Patriots pre and post game shows on WBCN and its night and day.

Stephen Harris has a look at Bruins rookie defenseman Mark Stuart, of whom big things are expected. Kevin Paul Dupont’s Sunday NHL notes leads with the contract situations of Andrew Raycroft and Nick Boynton which are getting a little uglier by the day. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at three sons of NHL players who hope to make their own name in the league with the Bruins. Mike Loftus has a preview of the Bruins as they head to camp.

Peter May has a Sunday NBA notes column where he says Dan Dickau is still headed to the Celtics, but that since Katrina, talks with the Hornets have been put on hold. No word from May (or anyone else, to be fair) on Mississippi natives Al Jefferson and Justin Reed and if they or their families have been affected by the storm.

Bill Griffith has a Sunday SporTView column, looking at NFL coverage.

NESN has Red Sox/Yankees at 1:00. CBS4 has Jets/Chiefs at 1:00. FOX25 has Saints/Panthers at 1:00 and Cowboys/Chargers at 4:00. ESPN has Colts/Ravens at 8:00. USA has the US Open Women’s final at 1:00, while CBS has the Men’s final at 4:00.

Patriots Open With a Win

“I say the day they beat me is the day I retire because I’m no longer able to play this game like I should.”
— Warren Sapp on the New England Patriots just before Super Bowl XXXVIII (Patriots v Panthers) – Jan. 2004

So is Warren going to retire today?

The Patriots defeated the Raiders last night 30-20 at Gillette Stadium in a game that had its share of fireworks, but also saw the Patriots getting a key turnover at a point where they needed it.

Mike Reiss did an outstanding job of blogging from the press box during the course of the evening.

I’ve got another morning appointment, so get (most of) your Patriots links from the game at the Patriots Daily Links page…be sure to also check the coverage from the Oakland area on the Bay Area Sports page.

Check out the Patriots Game Day Rear View for another perspective on last night’s action.

The Red Sox were shut out by the Angels last night, bringing their homestand to a close. Tonight it is on to the Bronx, with David Wells facing his old team. Get your Red Sox links for the day at the Red Sox Daily Links page. The Yankees lost to Tampa again, check out the stories at the New York Sports News page.

Mark Murphy reports that Red Auerbach’s condition has improved slightly.

Another Banner Night For Gillette

A special edition of John Molori’s Media Blitz talks to Michael Felger about his new role as host of “The Drive” the new afternoon show on ESPN Radio Boston, starting September 12th on 890 and 1400 AM. David Scott’s Shots also looks at the Felger hiring, and has more on the John Dennis/Ryen Russillo incident which surfaced again yesterday when a local website posted the expletive filled and threatening voicemail that Dennis left for Russillo last month.

The Red Sox got another strong performance from a starting pitcher, as Bronson Arroyo went eight innings last night, struggling a bit early, but recovering to only allow three runs over that span, as Boston beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 6-3. Steven Krasner says that things are falling into place for the Red Sox right now, as they’re getting the breaks and taking advantage of them. Chris Snow says that as good as the Red Sox situation is at the moment, they know it could be better. Jeff Horrigan says that this is a homestand that the club doesn’t wish to end. Shawn Courchesne writes that the Sox might as well start selling seats in the bullpen, as there isn’t a whole lot going on in there these days with all the strong starting performances. Lenny Megliola also reports on the Red Sox remaining hot at home. Ron Chimelis and Brendan McGair round out the game stories from last night.

Jackie MacMullan examines last night’s starter for the Red Sox, Bronson Arroyo, who is baffling in many ways, and not just to opposing hitters. Steve Buckley (subscription only) writes that Arroyo has put his music career on the back burner for now, which makes baseball fans happy, but says that as long as he is pitching well, Arroyo can do as he likes. Sean McAdam looks at the suddenly-hot Red Sox starting rotation, as they have now gone eight or more innings four out of the last five games. Joe Haggerty also looks at the Red Sox starters recent streak of going deep. Alex Speier has a profile of Sox prospect Jonathan Papelbon. Ron Indrisano reports on Tony Graffanino, who is glad he was invited along for this ride with the Red Sox. Bill Reynolds is tired of yet another slogan and t-shirt campaign within the Red Sox clubhouse, this one referencing a lack of respect. He says that the Red Sox need to remember and respect their fans, who made Red Sox baseball what it is today. Indrisano also looks at Angels manager Mike Scioscia getting tossed from the game after an extended argument over a checked swing by David Ortiz. Horrigan reports on the progress of Wade Miller.

Snow’s notebook looks at the continued power struggles for Manny Ramirez. Horrigan’s notebook looks at the improved starting rotation. Krasner’s notebook also leads with that theme. Courchesne’s notebook reports that Wade Miler might make a rehab start in a playoff game for AA Portland. Chimelis’ notebook has more on Miller.

It will be another banner night tonight at Gillette as the Patriots raise their third Super Bowl Championship banner and kick off the 2005 season with the Oakland Raiders. Alan Greenberg looks ahead to what is facing the Patriots, both tonight and for the season. Michael Felger kicks off the Herald’s NFL preview with a look at the evolution of Bill Belichick. Tom E Curran examines why the Raiders are a good choice for an opening night opponent this year. Christopher Price takes a look at the Patriots quest for history. Chris Kennedy looks at the challenge of defending a title, which starts tonight against the Raiders. Ian M Clark says that as usual, the Patriots are anxious to turn the page and get on with the work of beating opponents. Michael Parente looks at the Raiders as the opening night opponent and the challenges they provide.

Gerry Callahan (subscription only) writes that the Patriots will spoil the NFL’s opening night party, simply because the festivities don’t interest them. They’re only concerned with winning tonight’s game, as they are each week. Lenny Megliola writes that the Patriots and the NFL provide a nice escape from the devastation of New Orleans for a few hours. Dan Pires looks at the relationship at the top of the Patriots, the friendship of Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli. Albert Breer looks at how the newcomers to the Patriots are fitting in. Greenberg looks at the progress of Chad Brown and Monty Beisel as they continue to learn the inside linebacker spots for the champs. Parente’s notebook looks at the progress of the new faces. Jerome Solomon’s notebook looks at tonight’s festivities.

For some reason this morning, the Glove coverage appears to be more about the Raiders than it does about the Patriots. Ron Borges submits a mini-feature on Randy Moss, while Nick Cafardo, in a classic Globe and Cafardo move, talks to as many ex-Patriots around the league as he possibly can, and finds that they ALL have no regrets about moving on from the Patriots. Seriously, what are these guys supposed to say…”No, it was really dumb to leave New England, because I’ve found out that my new team stinks and doesn’t have a prayer of beating the Patriots.”? This is just a perfect example of why the Globe Patriots coverage is so bad. It’s just a kick in the teeth to Patriots fans. Here the squad is about to raise their third banner, and go on a quest to do something no team in NFL history has ever done…win three straight Super Bowls…and the largest newspaper in the region trots out a few articles on the opponent, and one on all the bitter ex-members of the Patriots? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m getting angrier the more I think about this. It gets a little better when Cafardo compares the Patriots dynasty to that of the 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Borges has an article on how to build a winner in today’s NFL, and notes that one of the ways that the Patriots have done this is by “not burdening themselves with the kind of dead money that forced the 49ers, Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, and several other franchises to strip their rosters and start over almost as if they were a expansion team.” Yet Borges continually accuses the Patriots of being “cheap” when in reality they’re doing what he just praised them for. For MSNBC Borges authored a piece outlining five ways to beat the Patriots.

The Herald does its usual quantity of preview articles this morning, cranking out from my count, no less than twenty-two Patriots and NFL articles. There’s no way I can link to them all individually, so you can browse through them at the Patriots page in the Herald sports section.

You can find more previews of tonight’s game over at the Bay Area Sports news page.

Bill Griffith previews the NFL and Patriots coverage for this coming season.

Peter May reports on the declining health of Celtics president Red Auerbach, who has been “in and out” of the hospital for the last month of so. Mark Murphy reports that a tape is being sought in the Tony Allen civil suit. May also has a report on the ugly situation. Paul Pierce’s name has popped up in another trade rumor, this time with Denver. Celtics Blog has more on the latest rumor surrounding the Celtics captain.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has Bruins GM Mike O’Connell insisting that the Bruins will indeed be a contender this season. Amalie Benjamin reports on Andre Agassi coming from behind to beat James Blake in a nearly three hour match at the US Open quarterfinal last night.

You can find more US Open coverage, as well as baseball and NFL stories at the New York Sports Headlines page.

NESN has Red Sox/Angels at 7:00. ABC has Patriots/Raiders at 9:00.

“The Greatest Clutch Hitter in the History of the Boston Red Sox.”

What more can be said about David Ortiz?

“The Greatest Clutch Hitter in the History of the Boston Red Sox.” I guess that about sums it up. Even before last night’s bottom of the ninth heroics, Ortiz had that title. So much so that Red Sox ownership had a plaque made up with that title inscribed on it. Chris Snow reports that after Ortiz hit a walk-off home run last night, it was decided to present the slugger with the plaque now instead of waiting for the offseason. David Heuschkel has John Henry noting that Ortiz is the best he’s ever seen with the game on the line, as well as being one of the nicest guys around. Jeff Horrigan has manager Terry Francona saying that you just never get tired of this stuff. Steven Krasner paints the picture of yet another walk off homer by Ortiz. David Borges reports on Ortiz and the Red Sox shocking the Angels once again.

Lenny Megliola says that simply put, Ortiz is Mr Clutch. Dan Shaughnessy gushes about Ortiz, as he writes his usual post-Labor day column directed towards the new college students in the area. Jon Couture records a nice conversation between Tim Wakefield and Manny Ramirez, the knuckleball pitcher told Ramirez that Manny was going to win the game for them. Ramirez replied that Ortiz had already staked that claim. We know what happened next. Joe Haggerty writes that last night was a familiar story for the Red Sox and their fans at Fenway. David Ortiz once again is the hero.

Tony Massarotti notes that before the Ortiz home run, the Red Sox did all the little things right in order to get themselves in position for the win. They pitched well and played defense. Sean McAdam looks at the strong performance of Wakefield, who held the Angels to two runs in a complete game performance, picking up his 15th win of the season. Tony Chamberlain focuses on Wakefield’s teammates putting him in a position to pick up the victory. Horrigan looks at Wakefield getting a Big assist from Papi.

Alex Speier examines what manager Terry Francona is going to manage fatigue and exhaustion over the course of the long season for his club. An article with no byline in the ProJo says that you cannot compare Jonathan Papelbon to Francisco Rodriguez. (Sean McAdam’s name has been added to the article since this was originally compiled.) Shaughnessy writes that this series with the Angels is a fall preview of things to come. Horrigan has a brief bit on Kelly Shoppach rejoining the big club. Borges reports that Shoppach is glad to be back with the club, despite nearly being traded last month. Howard Bryant (subscription only) examines how athletes and ESPN have reacted to the tragedy of hurricane Katrina, he starts with David Ortiz, who quietly writes a check for relief, but otherwise keeps quiet on his feelings about the quality of the coverage given to the event and the makeup of the victims. Bryant notes other athletes contributions to the cause and makes suggestions for others. Mark Shanahan in the Globe has an interview with the former wide of Jose Canseco, who is coming out with her own tell-all book.

Snow’s notebook examines how Johnny Damon just keeps playing through all the nagging injuries he’s had to endure this season. Horrigan’s notebook looks at the sterling defense turned in by John Olerud at first base, and also notes that Craig Hansen will likely not be called to the big club this month. Krasner’s notebook looks at the case for MVP for David Ortiz. Heuschkel’s notebook looks at another strong outing for Tim Wakefield. Borges’ notebook looks at Roberto Petagine gathering splinters on the Red Sox bench. Couture’s notebook looks at relief coming from Pawtucket to help the regulars get a little rest now and then.

Michael Felger looks at former Patriot Bobby Hamilton coming back to town with the Raiders and having to struggle with his emotions a little bit in the process. He also looks at linebackers coach Dean Pees and how he is splitting the play calling duties among his linebackers in the absence of Tedy Bruschi. Chris Kennedy looks at the difficulties of preparing for a season opener. Jerome Solomon looks at Corey Dillon, who feels faster and stronger than he did a year ago, and has the advantage of being in the Patriots system for a full year. Ian M Clark examines the high hopes that the Patriots have for tight end Ben Watson. Felger also looks at Bill Belichick and the Patriots getting antsy for tomorrow night to come.

Alan Greenberg and Michael Parente each analyze Randy Moss, what he brings to the field, good and bad, and how the Patriots are preparing to cover him. Tom E Curran looks at the monstrous size of the Oakland defensive line, which he dubs the Santa Claus four – they’re old and they’re fat. Eric McHugh notes the Raiders fascination with players who have “measurable” qualities, such as size and speed. The bigger the better, the faster the better. You can get a lot more information on the Raiders at the Bay Area Sports page, where many of the papers are serving up Raiders and NFL previews today.

Felger’s notebook reveals that we still don’t know who is going to start at cornerback for the Patriots tomorrow night. Curran’s notebook says that this time around, we know what we can expect from Corey Dillon. Parente’s notebook says that we could see Mike Vrabel in any number of positions and roles on the field this season. Kennedy’s notebook tells us that Vrabel’s versatility is a strength for him and the club. Solomon’s notebook reviews the injury report for the Patriots.

Gabe Kahn looks at how the Celtics roster might shake out, as the club has 18 players under contract for only 15 slots. Mark Murphy reports that Tony Allen is facing civil action for an event that took place in Chicago on August 28th. Mike Bogen has a story on Hubie Brown, who enjoys teaching the game that he loves so much. Brown is a member of the 2005 basketball Hall of Fame class.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at Bruins prospect Brad Boyes. Michael Vega looks at BC running back J. Survival Ross. Bud Collins weighs in on tonight’s quarterfinal match between Andre Agassi and James Blake, which has the makings of a classic.

The Yankees lost to their nemesis, the Devil Rays once again last night. Check the coverage at the New York Sports news page. There are also a number of NFL preview articles in there.

John Molori’s Media Blitz has more on ESPN Radio Boston, as well as a look at Cold Hard Football Facts, and analysis of Dennis and Callahan’s criticism on figures in the New Orleans relief situation.

NESN has Red Sox/Angels at 7:00. ESPN has Mets/Braves at 7:00.

Hard Going on Labor Day

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the special Sunday edition of Scott’s Shots, where plans for the new ESPN Radio Boston featuring Michael Felger are discussed.

The Red Sox and White Sox made up their August 14th game which had been rained out with the White Sox ahead 5-2, and Chicago won this one, 5-3, behind rookie starter Brandon McCarthy, who dazzled the Red Sox over seven innings. Curt Schilling made the start for the Red Sox, and while he game up four runs and nine hits, David Heuschkel notes that there was plenty of positive reaction to his performance in the Red Sox clubhouse. David Borges says that yesterday’s game wasn’t worth the wait for the Red Sox. Chris Snow reports that Schilling showed progress yesterday, getting life on his fastball (topping out at 95) and stretching out to 117 pitches, while showing improved command. Michael Silverman says that the Red Sox needed this one as they begin a tough stretch with games this week against the Angels and Yankees upcoming. Steven Krasner says that the proverbial glass was half-full after yesterday’s action, because of the improvement of Schilling as well as Keith Foulke.

Jon Couture writes that Schilling made some progress yesterday, but he and the Red Sox still have work to do. Lenny Megliola says that Schilling still has a ways to go to be back up to his old standards. Steve Buckley (subscription only) writes this morning that the Red Sox aren’t ready for October, and its because of their pitching. He concludes his article by saying:

But until there appears on the mound the old Curt Schilling, the tough-talking, get-out-of-my-way, I'm-in-charge, you-can't-catch-up-to-my-fastball-and-my-splitter-will-have-you-for-lunch Curt Schilling, it's premature for anyone around here to talk a lot of smack about October.

(Is that a record for most dashes in a sentence?) Gordon Edes writes that the Red Sox really felt the absence of Johnny Damon from the lineup yesterday, as he had hurt his other shoulder on Sunday after diving back into second base. Interestingly, Edes notes towards the end of the article that the Red Sox are “bent on re-signing Damon” after the season, as they view him the same way they viewed Jason Varitek last winter. Silverman has a brief article on the Red Sox struggles against young pitchers that they’ve never faced before. Buckley also turns in a brief report on the encouraging outing of Keith Foulke yesterday afternoon. Murray Chass in the New York Times writes about a former Red Sox security supervisor who is bitter and now hates the club because he didn’t get a ring.

Snow’s notebook looks at the improvement on the changeup for Keith Foulke, who was able to control the pitch much better in his outing yesterday. Krasner’s notebook also reports on the erstwhile closer. Heuschkel’s notebook says the timetable is uncertain for Foulke’s return to the closer role. Borges’ notebook reports on the improvements of both Foulke and Schilling, while Silverman’s notebook reports on Johnny Damon’s injured shoulder.

The Patriots attention has fully turned from putting their team together, to focusing in on the Oakland Raiders, who come in on Thursday night to open the NFL season. Alan Greenberg examines the challenges of game planning for a season opener. Michael Parente says that Bill Belichick is impressed by the new look, “big and fast” Raiders offense. Jerome Solomon looks at the Patriots defensive backs as they prepare to go up against the bigger Raiders receivers, including 6-4 Randy Moss. Tom E Curran says that Moss will certainly get attention from the Patriots, and notes Belichick’s reactions when asked if the troubled receiver could play for him. Michael Felger discusses how Dan Koppen plans to handle Ted Washington, who outweighs him by 75lbs. Albert Breer looks at the challenges the Patriots face in the re-tooled Raiders offense.

After knocking the Patriots and their coach a bit last week, Hector Longo reverses field and showers them with praise in his preseason report card, handing out straight A’s, with the exception of linebacker, which he grades a B. Felger briefly reports that Mike Vrabel is “ready to go” for Thursday night after getting injured in the first preseason game. Dan Pires does a follow-up on receiver P.K. Sam, who was released by the Patriots on Saturday. Sam accepts blame for his short career in Foxboro, but also apparently feels a little bitter about his time here as well. Eric McHugh looks at undrafted Mike Wright making the 53 man roster. Christopher Price looks at the Raiders talented number two receiver, Jerry Porter.

Felger’s notebook has Bill Belichick’s thoughts on Randy Moss. The Patriots coach compares Moss to Lawrence Taylor in terms of someone who had off the field problems, but who the other team had to account for on every play. Curran’s notebook has Raiders coach Norv Turner talking about the Patriots own top receiver, Deion Branch, despite not having played in the preseason. The Globe notebook looks at Jarvis Green and others on the Patriots trying to help out Katrina victims. Punter Josh Miller has volunteered use of his Boston home to any family that needs a place to stay.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com noted this gaffe from the Globe’s Jerome Solomon in yesterday’s Patriots notebook. Solomon wrote:

Interestingly, receiver Michael McGrew, who has been seen around training camp with a cast on his arm though he was released a few days before two-a-days began, was in the locker room yesterday. His name and jersey number (15) are on a plate in the locker room.

Florio notes:

From the "Dude, You Really Should Focus On Checking Your Facts When Your Beat Includes Only One Team" file, Jerome Solomon of The Boston Globe found the recent presence of WR Michael McGrew in the Pats' locker room "interesting," given that the team has released him; actually, the Patriots previously placed him on IR.

File under: Ouch.

Note: There seems to be some dispute as to whether McGrew is actually on IR. CBS Sportsline places him there, but other outlets such as CNNSI have him as released. Ryan Claridge is the only one listed on IR at Patriots.com.

It was perhaps a rough day for the Boston Globe sports pages, as Peter King also seemed to take a bit of a shot at the paper, noting the vast difference in the coverage devoted to the Red Sox and Patriots in the newspaper. King curiously though doesn’t mention the ownership ties between the Globe’s parent company and the Red Sox. He notes that the articles about the Red Sox go beyond just the sports section, but doesn’t mention the ownership angle as a possible reason for it.

Jim McCabe reports on Olin Browne breaking through and winning the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton yesterday. Steve Bulpett, Bruce Berlet and Paul Kenyon also file reports on the first PGA win for Browne since 1999. Bob Ryan has more on Browne, who has had to beg his way into events by means of sponsors exemptions this year. Jim Donaldson likes that Browne can speak in complete sentences, unlike many of the athletes he has to cover. Kevin Paul Dupont and Tony Massarotti report on the play of Bill Andrade, while Fluto Shinzawa reported from the 18th hole. Kevin McNamara followed Rhode Island natives Andrade and Brad Faxon. McCabe says that Tiger Woods is in line for a much needed vacation.

Bulpett’s notebook reports on Brad Faxon, and notes that Walter McCarty was in the crowd as well. McCabe’s notebook has more on Faxon. Kenyon’s notebook reports that even while out of contention, Tiger Woods still drew a huge crowd.

Plenty of stories in the New York Sports News page, including the above Chass column. The Bay Area Sports page looks at the impending return of Barry Bonds, the retirement of Jerry Rice and the Raiders preparation for the Patriots. The Raiders notebook in the Mercury News reports on how Bill Belichick was a candidate to become head coach of the Raiders back in ’97.

NESN has Red Sox/Angels at 7:00.

ESPN Radio Courting Felger

Donate to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Head on over to a special weekend edition of Scott’s Shots for a BSMW exclusive report on the new ESPN Radio Boston reaching out to Herald football writer and frequent WEEI and FSN co-host Michael Felger to head up their new afternoon drive program.

There’s also some news on changes at sports radio The Score in Providence.

A busy day yesterday with the Red Sox holding on to beat the Orioles and the Patriots cutting down their roster. You can get your Red Sox and Patriots links for today at the following pages:

Red Sox Daily Links

Patriots Daily Links

In a few Patriots links not appearing on the above page, Alan Greenberg and Michael Parente look at the cuts, including that of David Terrell. Ian M Clark says that the Patriots are well equipped to make a run for their third straight title. Jonathan Comey writes that the Patriots are peerless and that all they lack is a rival. Tim Weisberg looks at the talent that the Patriots continue to put around Tom Brady. Albert Breer has a quick look at the final roster for the Patriots. Chris Kennedy says that the Patriots seem to handle every curve thrown at them.

Shira Springer has a sit-down with Celtics coach Doc Rivers as the green sit a month away from beginning training camp.

Stephen Harris has an NHL notebook where he takes a thinly veiled jab at Globe writer Kevin Paul Dupont for his suggestion during the 2004 playoffs that Joe Thornton be stripped of his Captain’s role. He looks at Jumbo Joe growing into the role, and looks at the Bruins trading away prospect Yan Stastny to the Oilers, who believe they got a steal. He also looks at Eric Nickulas returning to the club he grew up rooting for. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell also has a Sunday NHL notebook, with the lead topic being Hal Gill’s assessment of the current Bruins roster.

Michael Vega, Lenny Megliola and Steve Conroy report on Boston College opening its season with a road win at BYU yesterday afternoon.

Bill Griffith talks to Dave Jageler about his first season during play-by-play for the Pawtucket Red Sox and has a few other media related items.

Check the headlines from the New York Sunday papers at the New York Sports News page. You can also get West Coast reports on the Yankees and A’s series, as well as the Raiders getting ready to face the Patriots on Thursday night over at the Bay Area Sports page.