Time Warp

So Theo Epstein is back, and he is back in the role of General Manager of the Boston Red Sox. The last 10 weeks never happened. The Red Sox issued a lengthy release yesterday which included statements from all parties involved and affected. Michael Silverman, who was first with the story yesterday, says that Theo saw the light that the Red Sox left on for him, and worked out his differences with the club so that all are on the same page now. Chris Snow notes that Epstein is now an “Executive” Vice President, rather than just a “Senior” Vice President, so perhaps he did get a little more clout, though the long release from the team stated that Larry Lucchino’s role has not changed at all. Sean McAdam says that Epstein is expected to receive $1.5 million annually – the amount the sides had agreed to before Epstein broke off the talks earlier this fall. David Heuschkel notes that we don’t know the length of the new deal, as Larry Lucchino states that the “team doesn’t reveal the duration of contracts for management.” Sounds like a new policy to me. David Borges and Joe Haggerty also look at the return of Theo as outlined in the 2,526 word press release.

Bob Ryan attempts to sort out the meaning of the slightly changed title and of the voluminous press release in which he feel John Henry contradicts himself. Steve Buckley (subscription only) writes that a lot of this all still doesn’t make sense. He’s not sure which parts to believe of the release and finds it ironic that it took the Red Sox several pages to state that everyone is on the same page. The story made the New York sports pages, with Jack Curry in the Times being one to weigh in on the return of Theo.

John Molori’s Media Blitz goes after Glenn Ordway for how he attacked Theo for leaving and returning, and the Red Sox for how they handled it. Molori notes that several Big Show staffers, as well as other WEEI and Boston media personalities have left jobs only to return to the same one later. David Scott also weighs in on the release and how the Red Sox have handled things.

Meanwhile, Theo will have some work to do as he returns to the post of General Manager. The deal with Cleveland for Coco Crisp may have hit a snag last night as it was reported by WIP in Philadelphia that Guillermo Mota had failed his physical. Chris Snow has Mota’s agent stating that his client “did not flunk his physical” but that sometimes the acquiring club is allowed to have higher standards. Silverman’s notebook states that Epstein and the Indians front office were working last night to restructure the deal. Sean McAdam also says that the Red Sox and Indians will look to restructure the deal to make it work for both parties. The Cleveland Plain Dealer also reports on the progress of the trade and what might be next for the two clubs.

Find (and get) the job of your dreams at Jobaloo.com.

The Bruins made it two wins in a row last night with a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell reports on the game, which was won on a goal by P.J. Axelsson with seven minutes left in the game. Steve Conroy also reports on the win, which moved the Bruins a bit closer to the final playoff spot. Karen Guregian weighs in on Mario Lemieux announcing his retirement yesterday. Burrell’s notebook looks at Axelsson playing his role perfectly with the Bruins. Conroy’s notebook has Mike Sullivan talking about how valuable Brad Stuart has been to the Bruins since coming over from the Sharks in the Joe Thornton deal.

Peter May looks at how the Celtics are feeling a bit better about themselves these days and feel ready to make a run at the postseason. He examines their remaining schedule as well as their roster to try to figure out if it can actually happen. Shalise Manza Young has Doc Rivers also hopeful that his young club can go on a bit of a run and make things interesting for the second half of the season. Scott Souza also look at the Celtics chances of going on a run. Steve Bulpett reports that Paul Pierce will at least get an interview from Jerry Colangelo about possibly being a member of this summer’s World Championships team and the 2008 Olympic club. The Celtics face the Wizards tonight, who currently occupy the eighth spot in the eastern conference. Bulpett’s notebook observes that a win tonight could be a big step for the Celtics in their quest towards that spot.

Bob Ryan weighs in on Kobe vs. Wilt after Bryant’s 81 point performance the other night.

Michael Felger says that if they want to, the Patriots can spend some money in free agency. He looks at where the money could come from, and examines their free agent signings of the last few years to see what type of player they could target this spring. Jerome Solomon looks at how the Steelers got off to a 7-5 start this season, but haven’t lost since. Jim Donaldson asserts that former UMass and Brown coach Mark Whipple might have a lot to do with the success that Ben Roethlisberger has had while Whipple has been his quarterbacks coach.

FSN has Celtics/Wizards at 7:30. ESPN has Maryland/Georgia Tech at 7:00 (HD) and Timberwolves/Grizzlies at 9:00. UPN38 has Boston College/North Carolina at 9:00.

01.24.06 Afternoon

A few afternoon links to pass the time for you…

(updated 4:30 PM) Michael Silverman on the Herald Clubhouse Insider blog reports that Theo Epstein will be named Red Sox GM with pretty much the same role and power he had before.

Mike Fine looks at the Celtics win over the Hornets last night, and notes that with this Boston team, you have no idea how they are going to play from one night to the next. Jim Fenton looks at the Celtics reaching the halfway point of the season, and urging us not to hope that they can make a second half run like they did last year, which resulted in an Atlantic division title. Fine’s notebook looks at the hot streak Ricky Davis had last night, and how he had to keep pushing it until he finally missed. CelticsBlog takes a look at Gerald Green.

Rob Bradford has another look at Coco Crisp today as the outfielder awaits word as to whether he is officially a member of the Red Sox. Bob Stern and Alan Greenwood also have articles on Crisp. Chad Finn weighs in with his thoughts on Crisp, as well as on Alex Gonzalez and the return of Theo Epstein. Chaz Scoggins looks at how the Red Sox are attempting to develop young players, save money and remain competitive all at the same time. The Boston.com Extra Bases blog has a recap of this morning’s Curt Schilling appearance on Dennis & Callahan.

Mike Reiss takes a look ahead to the Patriots offseason plans in today’s edition of the Ask Reiss Mailbag.

Deadspin trots out another edition of “Why Your Hometown Columnist Sucks” and this week it features beleaguered Globe scribe Ron Borges.

Double Wins for the Locals

The Celtics used a third quarter burst keyed by some hot shooting by Raef LaFrentz and Ricky Davis to cruise to a rare easy victory last night 91-78 over the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. Peter May, Steve Bulpett and Shalise Manza Young all report on the same from TD Banknorth Garden. Ricky Davis most decidedly did not “suck” in the second half last night, lighting up the scoreboard for 23 second half points, including 17 in the third quarter alone. Mark Murphy and Lenny Megliola report on the hot night for Davis after a few less than stellar games from the Celtics swingman.

Dan Shaughnessy looks at how Hurricane Katrina has affected the Hornets, who have been displaced every bit as much as the New Orleans Saints, but with less fanfare. Bulpett looks at Paul Pierce, whom Doc River feels is a different player from the one who had issues during the 2002 World Championships and deserves a second look from the national team. Murphy gets some reaction from the Celtics regarding Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game the other night. May’s notebook and Young’s notebook each have more reaction on Bryant. Bulpett’s notebook says the trade winds are quiet for now, though he does bring up the name of Seattle’s “Flip” Murray as someone the Celtics might be looking at.

It’s a rare night these days when both Boston winter sports teams come out with a victory, but thanks to the Bruins’ 3-2 victory in Washington over the Capitals, that’s exactly what happened last night. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell, Steve Conroy and Dan Hickling report with details of the Bruins going up 3-0 and then hanging on for the victory with Tim Thomas in net. Conroy reports on the defense of P.J. Axelsson being a big factor last night. With two goals last night, Wayne Primeau has shown more scoring that the Bruins could’ve hoped for when they traded for him. Hickling’s notebook and Conroy’s notebook each look at the tenacious Primeau. Burrell’s notebook looks at what another new addition, Marco Sturm has done for the Bruins since coming over.

Jeff Horrigan says that the additions of Coco Crisp and Alex Gonzalez to the Red Sox are imminent, and examines what Crisp will bring to the Red Sox. Rob Bradford had a profile of Crisp in yesterday’s Eagle-Tribune, with the scout who originally signed him saying that they are going to love him in Boston. Dan Shaughnessy has a short report stating that the Red Sox will issue a statement, rather than hold a press conference to outline what Theo Epstein’s new role with the Red Sox will be. David Borges looks at some minor league veterans signed by the Pawtucket Red Sox that could see time in Fenway this season. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that this years version of the Red Sox is an upgrade on the field over last year’s edition. The column is basically a rebuttal to what Ken Rosenthal wrote for FOXsports.com yesterday.

Ron Borges notes that the Seahawks struggled against the only 3-4 defense they faced this season, and now they are going against “perhaps the best 3-4 defense in football” in the Pittsburgh Steelers. He looks at how they must address this potential problem. Jonathan Comey says that the Steelers are going to win this game as it is clearly their year. Jim Donaldson has a “thoughts” column where he says the Seahawks are being disrespected. John Altavilla has some ideas for those who can’t go without football for the next 12 days.

NESN has Bruins/Thrashers at 7:00. ESPN has Kentucky/Auburn at 7:00 and Indiana/Iowa at 9:00. (HD) OLN has Coyotes/Wild at 8:00.