Smear Campaign?

Tony Massarotti comes out swinging this morning, saying that since Theo Epstein has dared to stand up to the mighty Larry Lucchino, that the latter is using his influence with the media, namely the ownership stake of the Boston Globe and the broadcast rights negotiations with WEEI to conduct a “smear campaign” against the Red Sox GM. Dale and Holley did tackle this subject yesterday on their program, noting how the Globe worded their headlines (“Epstein rejects upgraded offer from Sox” vs “Epstein, Sox getting closer to middle ground” for the ProJo) and placed the stores on their pages. Massarotti however, notes that:

So, for an assortment of reasons, the two most powerful media outlets in New England are not about to challenge the words or methods of Lucchino and the Red Sox. (Not really.) And that is OK so long as we recognize there are conflicts of interest everywhere now and the truth will be distorted as a result of it.

I applaud Massarotti for writing this piece, not because he’s taking a few shots here at the Globe and WEEI, but because in a sense, he’s almost breaking ranks here. The media doesn’t generally talk in such detail about such things. While Dale and Holley’s focus yesterday was on the Globe, and their ownership stake and what they’re doing, they didn’t come right out and accuse Larry Lucchino of pulling all these strings, as Massarotti is doing. In the Globe today, Gordon Edes reports that Epstein is expected to make his decision today on the matter. David Heuschkel also has a report today on the situation, basing his piece on the reports of the Globe from yesterday. Heuschkel does make the claim that “Lucchino is despised by Red Sox players.” Bob Ryan also weighs in, noting that there has to be a power struggle going on between Epstein and Lucchino and that can be the only reason that Theo hasn’t signed the Red Sox offer. He says Theo is the perfect man for the job, but he doesn’t have a very good marriage with Lucchino.

Chris Snow got David Ortiz’s thoughts on the 2005 edition of the Red Sox, and the slugger says they he knew this team had some flaws, especially in the pitching area. Massarotti also has a bit on Ortiz weighing in on the Sox. Buddy Thomas claims to be besieged by questions from people wanting his opinion on what the Red Sox should do this winter. He addresses several of the issues facing the club this offseason. Kevin Gray looks at Butch Hobson taking steps to try and land a job with the NH Fisher Cats. Robert Carroll looks at Bronson Arroyo’s plans for an upcoming musical performance in Plymouth.

Two fake curses down, one to go. The Chicago White Sox won their first World Series since 1917 last night, finishing off a four game sweep of the Houston Astros with a 1-0 victory. Jeff Horrigan, Gordon Edes and Dom Amore have the game stories from Houston. Bob Ryan says that the White Sox are no longer second fiddle in Chicago. Amore looks at Jermaine Dye, who was voted series MVP. Massarotti looks at the Astros coming up empty, while Chris Snow says this one was a killer loss for the killer B’s Bagwell and Biggio. Edes’ notebook looks at a New Englander who had a lot to do with the White Sox finally winning it all. Horrigan’s notebook ponders what the future holds for Brad Lidge.

Tedy Bruschi took another step forward yesterday practicing with the team in full contract drills. John Tomase reports that things went well and signs are pointing towards the fact that we’ll be seeing the Patriots linebacker on Sunday night out on the field. Jerome Solomon has Bruschi leaving that final decision up to the coaches, who had him practicing with the first unit yesterday. Alan Greenberg says that Bruschi could very well be back in business. Chris Kennedy says that all eyes have certainly been on Bruschi this week. Michael Parente reports that there were no problems encountered by Bruschi in his work this week, both yesterday and in a Monday session that was closed to the media. Eric McHugh reports that the Patriots are pondering some changes on defense. Bruschi could be key among them.

Tom E Curran says that the Patriots could cure a lot of ills against the Bills this weekend. Karen Guregian explores why Eric Mangini has escaped blame when the Patriots defensive woes are discussed. Albert Breer says that the Patriots saving grace might be the weak division they play in. Christopher Price looks at the Patriots facing old friend Lawyer Milloy this weekend. Bill Burt says there is no quit in Rodney Harrison, as the Patriots safety wants to return to the field for the fans of New England. Dan Pires says there have been plenty of old jokes surrounding Corey Dillon, but the guy can still play.

Breer looks at the return of Hank Poteat. Guregian has Monty Beisel clarifying some of his earlier remarks which had caused a stir. Tomase has Tom Brady taking comfort in finally facing a familiar division foe. Guregian has more on Old Man Corey Dillon. Solomon’s notebook has more on Dillon. Curran’s notebook has still more on the Patriots running back, as does Parente’s notebook. In a bit of a surprise, Tomase’s notebook has Tyrone Poole suiting up for practice yesterday.

The Celtics finished off their preseason schedule with a 101-100 win over the Cavaliers at the Garden. Paul Kenyon and Steve Bulpett have brief recaps of the game. Mark Murphy looks at Justin Reed showing some offense last night for the second string Celtics. Peter May has Doc Rivers saying that he has his roster all figured out. Lenny Megliola feels he can make a pretty good guess as to what the roster will look like as well, along with who is going to play and how much. Bulpett notes that the Celtics could have five second round picks on their opening night roster. The trend seems to fit as Doc Rivers was himself a second round pick. (As was Danny Ainge)

Mike Fine says that Gerald Green (Who hit the game winning shot last night) is going to play somewhere. Whether that is with Boston, or down with a NBDL team remains to be seen. Murphy reports on a November 15th hearing date for Tony Allen. Bulpett looks at the continued struggles of Dan Dickau on the defensive end, a weakness that is going to cost the guard playing time. Bulpett’s notebook reports that the team’s decision on whether to use the NBDL is still up in the air.

David Scott reports on the FSN Celtics Media lunch, an event which I also attended.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Stephen Harris look at the Bruins once again losing in overtime. This time it was 4-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes. Burrell’s notebook looks at how P.J. Axelsson is showing much more of his offensive skills under this new system of play. Harris’ notebook looks Peter Laviolette having to split his attention somewhat as coach of both the Hurricanes and the US Olympic team.

With BC playing tonight on ESPN, I’ll try to get you links as soon as I can. Running a little behind this morning.

NESN has Bruins/Maple Leafs at 7:00. ESPN has Boston College/Virginia Tech at 7:30. TNT has Heat/Magic at 7:30 and Warriors/Suns at 10:00.

The Theo Watch, T-Minus 5 Days

The Theo Epstein watch continues. Sean McAdam seems to have perhaps the best sources in this situation, as he has another report this morning on the situation, saying that there was some progress made in the talks yesterday. (McAdam had a report in yesterday’s ProJo, but due to a publishing oversight, it did not appear on the Projo website until about 4:00 PM.) McAdam’s report today deems it “moderate” progress that was made towards getting the Red Sox GM a new deal. Meanwhile, the Globe combo of Gordon Edes & Chris Snow reports that Epstein yesterday rejected an offer of three years at 1.2 million from the Red Sox. The Herald doesn’t have a report on Epstein, but Jeff Horrigan does have the tidbit that Assistant GM Josh Brynes is a top candidate to become GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Gordon Edes, Jeff Horrigan and Dom Amore report on the White Sox taking a 3-0 World Series lead with a 7-5 win over the Astros in 13 innings last night. Bob Ryan writes that this game may have been long, hard work, but it made for great baseball. Tony Massarotti notes that the game went so late that many in New England likely did not see the conclusion. Chris Snow has a piece on Scott Podsednik, who is leading the White Sox to a World Series victory.

Horrigan reports on Major League Baseball’s decision to keep the roof in Houston open for the games played there. This was after the Astros played almost the entire season with the roof closed. Now while the decision isn’t such a big deal, I’m getting uncomfortable with how much Bud Selig and his regime need to have control over everything. If Sean McAdam’s source is correct that Selig also weighed in and urged the Red Sox not to give Theo Epstein a larger deal because he wants to keep executive salaries down, then the commissioner is not just a control freak, he is also flirting with collusion. Bob Ryan has a second piece today, this one an opinion bit urging baseball to take a second look at instant replay. Events of this postseason have shown the need for a new way to review controversial calls. Kevin Gray reports that Nashua Pride manager and former Red Sox player and manager Butch Hobson would like a shot at managing the NH Fisher Cats. Massarotti has a brief look at the pitching matchups for game four. Horrigan’s notebook reports that if the Astros make it to a game five, they’re still hoping Roger Clemens will be able to go. Edes’ notebook has more on the roof situation.

The Celtics, despite letting a 20 point lead get away in a 118-116 OT loss to New Jersey last night, still had a pretty good night. Their regulars were strong and outplayed the regulars of their division rivals. Steve Bulpett has a short report on the game, noting that the OT experience was good for the young players.

One area which is becoming more clear is the point guard spot, where it seems that Delonte West and Orien Greene will get most of the minutes. Shira Springer has a piece on West, who appears to have won the starting position with Greene being the first guard off the bench. Mark Murphy has a mini-feature on Paul Pierce, who is successfully working at repairing his image after his playoff performance and is growing into the role model that this young Celtics squad really needs. Bulpett also has an article on Brian Scalabrine, who went back to his old haunts last night, and played pretty well. The article gets Nets President Rod Thorn’s thoughts on the forward, and how he’ll do in Boston. Jackie MacMullan reports on NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik announcing his retirement effective at the end of the season after 30 years with the league. Inside Hoops has a question and answer session with rookie Gerald Green. Bulpett’s notebook has more on the point guard situation, and has Doc Rivers giving his players a lesson on Rosa Parks.

Michael Felger has Tyrone Poole responding to his article from last week in which the Herald writer suggested that football was not a priority for Poole and that he was taking his time in coming back from his injury. The Patriots cornerback strongly speaks out about that article and that claim by Felger. Nick Cafardo looks at the Patriots situation coming out of the bye week and preparing to face Buffalo this Sunday night. Overall, it’s a fairly positive article, but in both this one and in Cafardo’s notebook, Nick makes sure to point out that Bill Belichick and Nick Saban share a disdain for the media. Way to work those both in there, Nick. The notebook otherwise is a look at what Tedy Bruschi’s status and role might be for Sunday, as well as more on Poole, and a number of other items. Chris Kennedy says that the Patriots need to find a way to stop the big play. Christopher Price notes that other than Tom Brady, the AFC East is not the place where quarterbacks develop and thrive. John Altavilla reports on the death of Wellington Mara.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Stephen Harris report on the Bruins narrowly escaping tragedy yesterday as the drive of their team bus just managed to avoid a high speed accident in Toronto. Mick Colageo believes that the introduction of the shootout in hockey could just be the start down a slippery path that could ruin the sport as we now know it. Harris notes that the Bruins still have plenty of work to do on getting their defense up to par. Harris’ notebook says that Nick Boynton appears to be finding his legs and timing after coming back from his holdout.

BC wide receivers are in focus today as Steve Conroy has a piece on Kevin Challenger, while Michael Vega profiles Tony Gonzalez. Both notebooks look at the status of Mathias Kiwanuka. Conroy’s notebook reports mixed signals, while Vega’s notebook says that the team is being cautious bringing the defensive end back to play.

NESN has Bruins/Hurricanes at 7:00. FSN has Celtics/Cavs at 7:30. FOX has White Sox/Astros at 8:40.

Adams in, Bryant out…

Three entries in one day here?

John Molori has sources telling him Mike Adams is in as the new WEEI nighttime host, taking over the slot formerly held by Ted Sarandis.

David Scott reports that Howard Bryant is officially going to the Washington Post, and has the internal email to prove it.