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March Madness once again reigns this weekend as the field will be pared down to the Final Four come Sunday afternoon. The NCAA Hockey playoffs are also in swing this weekend, being shown locally on CN8.

If you haven’t already, please go and vote in the 2006 BSMW Awards. We’ve had a great turnout thus far (around 1300 voters as of this writing) and are looking to get the largest possible sample size. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get as many people as possible to cast their votes. A week like the one we just went through should really be an impetus for many to let their voice be heard.

Because of the length of the survey, we broke it out into three sections. You can do one section at a time, or all at once. One thing you need to remember, however, you cannot start one section, then submit it, and then go back to finish it. Once you’ve started a section, make sure you answer all the questions in that section before submitting it.

As mentioned, the voting will be open until March 31st. Then during April I’ll be writing up recaps of the voting, and posting them in May.

Here are the sections of the balloting:
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2006 BSMW User Poll – General & Radio

2006 BSMW User Poll – TV & Game Broadcast

2006 BSMW User Poll – Newspaper & Internet

Some links for the weekend:

Patriots Daily Links page

Red Sox Daily Links

EagleAction.com

New York Sports pages

This week was a wild one in the Boston media, we had it all. Early in the week, talk centered around the trade of Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena. People questioned whether the Red Sox were dishonest and disloyal to their former pitcher who signed a trade-friendly contract in the offseason. Then as the afternoon wound down on Tuesday, Michael Holley broke the news on the Big Show that Adam Vinatieri had agreed to join the Indianapolis Colts. That dominated the airwaves for the rest of the week, and my thoughts on the coverage are below.

Holley also had word later in the week that Troy Brown was going to re-sign with the Patriots. It took him a full year, but Holley has finally been delivering the Patriots scoops that many thought he would bring to the program when he joined the station last year. On the day that Willie McGinest signed with the Browns, Holley had reported on the air that McGinest would be visiting the Jets. That visit didn’t come about since the former Patriots linebacker signed that day with the Browns. Holley then had the Vinatieri story and the Brown story. Was there a common thread that could reveal where Holley’s sources where? All three players were being represented by Gary Uberstine, which may or may not mean anything. Other than that, it has been rumored that Holley has a new project in the works as a follow-up to “Patriot Reign”. Could he have connections/access from that?

Media Coverage Following the Adam Vinatieri Defection

Jim Baker has a look at how the local media outlets handled the news of Adam Vinatieri leaving the Patriots and signing with the Indianapolis Colts. He takes them to task for their coverage, saying that the viewer/listener got no information as to why Vinatieri left. While I agree that the coverage this week was awful, I think Baker’s focus is off here. Vinatieri is gone, so I’m more focused on understanding why the Patriots let him leave instead of why the kicker left. It seems fairly clear that Vinatieri did what was best for himself. He got more money from the Colts, he gets to kick indoors in a dome for at least half the season, and the division road games are in the southern part of the country, meaning less chances of inclement weather. He could easily extend his career. Should the Colts break through and win the Super Bowl, his legacy will be extended even further. As a guy from the Midwest, he you could see the endorsement coming his way out there pretty quick as well. It’s not hard to see things from his perspective. Yes, he likely was a little upset at the Patriots for having franchised him in the past, but I think he took a more business-like approach to his career and what would be best for it.

I’m more interested in analysis of what the Patriots are doing and what their plan is. This is where the local media has utterly failed the consumer. There is little to no insight offered, especially on television. Instead of reasoned analysis of the team in the big picture, we get hysterical screaming by reporters who tell us the sky is falling, that Bill Belichick has “personality flaws” that the Patriots organization is “arrogant”, (term used on more than one show this week) “cheap”, and “bottom feeders” and that the team is falling apart. In indignation of these so-called “experts” is nauseating. Michael Smith on Friday’s Dale & Holley show was one of the worst offenders. The ones who attempt to rationalize what the Patriots are going don’t show any great grasp of the matter either. They mostly repeat the same statements about how the Patriots won’t “set the market” for any player, and that they “set a value for each player and won’t go beyond that.” Shouldn’t there be some more detailed talk about the approach that the Patriots use to build their roster? More specifically why that approach meant they would let Vinatieri walk?

The word “cheap” is thrown around quite a bit when it comes to the Patriots. However, is it that hard to understand that when you overpay one player, it means you have to underpay another guy on the roster? An ambitious reporter would do well to pour over the NFL rosters and see that the Patriots pay the middle to lower end of their roster as compared to the league average at those slots. It’s not too hard realize that their numbers for those players are likely going to be higher than other clubs. They may pay their “stars” a bit less, but the overall depth of the roster can be better because they can pay those players more than other clubs do. The depth and talent on the roster is what has made the Patriots Super Bowl champions three times this decade. I really don’t think that concept is that difficult to grasp, however many media people in this region seem to be just unable to understand that. That’s why the term “bottom feeders” is the most ludicrous of all, since the bottom of their roster is likely better paid than most clubs.

Much of the media coverage this week has been self-serving, lusting after “storylines”. Thing that will make their jobs easier. The possibility of Mike Vanderjagt kicking for the Patriots was quickly eliminated when he signed with Dallas, but in the interim you had media guys saying it would be great to have him in the locker room to see what he would stir up in there. You had others hoping for Keyshawn Johnson to come in. When did we reach the point in sports coverage when the media is calling for players to be brought in, not because they’d be a good fit for the team, but because they would give great quotes and make their jobs easier?

Chad Finn tries to collect his thoughts on this whole Adam Vinatieri situation, but can’t quite figure everything out right now.

Sports Radio NH

Sports fans in Southern New Hampshire will soon have another option in sports radio. WKBR AM 1250 in Manchester, which had been operating under an “Oldies” format is converting to an all-sports format. The station will be a Fox Sports radio affiliate. National programming will be mixed in with local shows, one of which is “The Home Team” with Michael Mutnansky and Pete Tarrier which is currently broadcast from 4-6 PM weekdays on ESPN 900 in Nashua. The show will be simulcast between the two stations, according to General Manager Jerry DiGrezio. Mutnansky incidentally has been heard doing weekend sports flashes on WEEI in recent weeks. “Game Night NH” with Tarrier will also be simulcast on the two stations. “Game Night NH” airs from 6-7 weekdays. Fox Sports Radio national programming is currently airing on 1250, and simulcasting will begin on April 2nd.

Painful Radio Moment of the Week: Despite the Adam Vinatieri hysterics, Dale Arnold skinning the cat story wins top honors. The story, which originated out of an innoculous reference to the saying “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”, involved a high school aged Arnold and friend finding a roadkill cat, taking it to school, boiling it in a pot in the Home Ec classroom, and then trying to gut and skin the poor deceased creature. Ugh.

Gordo’s Not Happy

In response to a question in a Boston.com chat earlier this week, Gordon Edes appears to have “issues” with a fellow media member. The question was about David Wells making an “idiot” comment directed towards Terry Francona, and why that term is used so much in regards to the Red Sox. Edes’ answers:

You may have noticed that you didn't read about the 'idiot' business under my byline for the last week, and that was not by accident. I think the whole thing was a manufactured attempt at controversy created by a reporter who began the week with a sensationalized story about Wells not in camp, implying that he was unhappy. Turns out that Wells had an excused absence to attend a charity event on the other side of the state, which the reporter eventually got around to reporting. Then, IMO, he misrepresented some stuff that Francona had said to Wells-- who we all know has a big mouth anyway, and Wells popped off. The whole thing was bogus. In any event, Wells met with Francona and apologized. The one thing that was true is that Wells didn't want to get skipped over in the rotation, but now he's accepted that his first start will come April 12.

David Heuschkel of the Hartford Courant had the Wells/Francona “idiot” business last weekend. It appears that Edes believes Heuschkel made too much of the incident.

Sports Media Columns

Mike Reiss, Boston Globe – Packer picks apart matchup.

Andrew Neff, Bangor Daily News – Sea Dogs undergo changes.

Richard Sandomir, New York Times – Waiting on Deck in Rights Lineup.

Bob Raissman, New York Daily News – Yank voices avoid ‘roids.

Neil Best, New York Newsday – Mets covering Hispanic bases.

Phil Mushnick, New York Post – ESPN Hits New Low for ‘Highlights’.

Andrew Marchand, New York Post – NFL Net Huddles with Bryant.

Michael Hiestand, USA Today – Wallace raring to add insight to IRL races.

Jim Williams, Washington DC Examiner – Tark not shocked by mid-major success.

Dave Darling, Orlando Sentinel – Nantz, Packer stand firm.

Chris Zelkovich, Toronto Star – Fans take advantage of Mouse Madness.

Barry Jackson, Miami Herald – ESPN’s Stark apologizes for Cuba remarks.

David Barron, Houston Chronicle – Thrills keep coming for Tournament viewers.

Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News – Packer backers few and far between.

Larry Stewart, Los Angles Times – Sunderland Moves On After His Laker Setback.

Jay Posner, San Diego Union Tribune – Chandler cooks up tasty tales of Padres.

Extras

This week’s issue of Sports Illustrated contains an article entitled “Writing up a Storm” with Bill Simmons featured prominently as someone who put internet sports writing on the map. The Bill Simmons interview link which was posted here yesterday was the entire session that Simmons had with the author, Chris Ballard. Much of that interview did not appear in the SI article

The Article contains a box entitled “Welcome Sites” which they tout as “SI’s list of go-to dotcoms.” Here are links to the sites on the list:

Newsprint Alternative

SportsPages.com

Hard-Core Gossip

HoopsHype

ProFootballTalk

Softball Gossip

BenMaller

SportsByBrooks

Humor

SportsPickle

Field Guides

Ballparks

GolfClubAtlas

Surfline

Police Blotter

BadJocks

Way To Get To Know An NBA Owner

BlogMaverick

Reference Libraries

databaseBasketball

BaseballLibrary

Pro-Football-Reference

HockeyDB

High School Coverage

Scout

Rivals

Insight Into The Media

SportsJournalists

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