SporTView – NFL Draft Weekend Edition

This is a weekend for the Patriots and the NFL as they go through the annual college draft to determine where those stars of the future will begin their careers in the pros. ESPN and the NFL Network will both have extensive live coverage of the selections starting tomorrow at noon.

Keep up with the coverage of the Patriots selections from the newspapers and blogs throughout New England and nationally on the Patriots Daily Links page.

For sports fans, it’s not a leap to say that this is the greatest weekend of the year for viewing. In addition to the draft there is MLB baseball with the Red Sox playing the Devil Rays in Tampa as a prelude to their first meeting with the New York Yankees on Monday and Tuesday of next week. (Red Sox Daily Links page) In addition there is NBA and NHL playoff action, with seven games scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. There is also golf, NASCAR and MLS soccer on TV this weekend.

Here is the latest ratings update from RadioandRecords. The WEEI hosts have been crowing all day today about again being number one in their slot and demographics, (18-54 year old males) however, overall the station is down nearly a point from what it was last year at this time, and with a 4.6, sits in fifth place behind number one overall, WBZ, which pulled in a 7.1. ESPN Boston, after appearing in the last two updates, does not appear in this one.

Charting out the last year is pretty startling:

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Now, as mentioned, the WEEI programs might be maintaining enough listeners in their very specific blocks that they can continue to tout the claim that they are number one. But in terms of total listeners, the above chart has to be at least somewhat disturbing to them as compared to the four stations that finished ahead of them in the overall ratings.

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*To aid with your draft day enjoyment, the crew from Cold Hard Football Facts have teamed up with Harpoon Brewery to host the first NFL Draught Day tomorrow, Saturday, April 29, at the Cask ‘n Flagon Pub, next to Fenway Park in Boston. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with beer, food and Draught Day festivities and analysis. There will be beer- and football-related trivia and prizes

*I have to say, even though they’re trying to update it more often, the Lawrence Eagle Tribune website is a disaster. Stories are posted and the links expire 3 hours later, you can get to a story one time and then not another. Sometimes columns are restricted under the “Plus Edition” login, other times they’re not…it’s an inconsistent, maddening disaster and it keeps a wider audience from reading the work of Rob Bradford, Michael Muldoon and others on the paper. Stop…I can hear the jokes now… a system which keeps readers from being exposed to the stories of Bill Burt and Hector Longo can only be a good thing…

Here’s the weekly sports media columns from around the country:

Fluto Shinzawa, Boston Globe – Another team at draft.

Jim Baker, Nashua Telegraph – Ready for marathon coverage of NFL Draft.

Andrew Neff, Bangor Daily News – Uneasiness stirs among UM broadcasters – New group’s rep seeks to quell concerns.

Richard Sandomir, New York Times – Look for Something New at the N.F.L. Draft: A Second Network.

Also from Sandomir – (Keith) Jackson Silences His Voice of College Football.

Neil Best, New York Newsday – Draft getting double coverage.

Bob Raissman, New York Daily News – Bad sign if J.D. signs off.

Phil MushnikNew York Post – Keith Isn’t All Bad, Honest.

Andrew Marchand, New York Post – Sam Has ‘Eye’ on WCBS.

Also from Marchand – Nothing Like It. (Red Sox/Yankees)

Michael Hiestand, USA Today – Whoa, Nellie! Is Jackson really gone?

Also from Hiestand: ESPN puts vast resources to work to combat NFL Network.

Dave Darling, Orlando Sentinel – ESPN has company at draft.

Barry Jackson, Miami Herald – ESPN, NFL Network doubling up on draft.

Chris Zelkovich, Toronto Star – Storm brews over major sports events.

David Barron, Houston Chronicle – Analysts say Texans right to pass on Young.

Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News – Facts need to get in the way.

Larry Stewart, Los Angeles Times – NFL Draft Hype Produces Dueling Gurus.

Also from Stewart: Jackson Didn’t Want Fuss as He Leaves ABC.

Jay Posner, San Diego Union Tribune – ESPN loses TV draft monopoly.

More links for the weekend:

Bill Simmons lists out more reasons why he loves sports.

More NFL draft coverage from the New York Sports News page and the Bay Area Sports pages.

Chad Finn is always a worthy read.

Sheriff Sully is a prolific poster and should have plenty of thoughts on baseball and the NFL draft.

If you’re worried about the play of the Red Sox the last two games in Cleveland and with the Yankees on tap next week, you can take some solace in the fact that the Red Sox have already beaten the Yankees. On Jonathan Papelbon’s Xbox. The Red Sox closer took on the Yankees’ Kyle Farnsworth using Xbox Live this past Monday, each pitcher representing their own team in the MLB 2K6 contest. Papelbon and the Red Sox defeated the Yankees in the game, 4-2. Papelbon played from Cleveland while Farnsworth was in New York city. The two went head to head to help demonstrate the online capabilities of the Xbox Live.

Here’s a shot of Papelbon in action against Farnsworth:

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Have a great weekend, I’ll be back on Monday with a look at the Patriots draft coverage, and then it’s a short week for me on the site…

Feeling a Draft

The NFL draft is this weekend, and it is a highly anticipated one for Patriots fans. With personnel losses to free agency this spring as well as other holes to fill, it appears that New England will be looking to add players who can step in and begin to play right away. Michael Felger looks at four Patriots on the current roster who might have cause to be watching this weekend’s selections very closely. Eric McHugh goes position-by-position through the Patriots defense and looks for prospects who might be able to fill holes on that side of the ball. Jerome Solomon has the Patriots attempting to fill some needs at certain positions this weekend, and takes a look around the roster for those holes. Chris Kennedy also examines what the Patriots thinking might be when it comes to the draft this weekend.

Felger also says that the Patriots shouldn’t trade away picks to make a giant leap up in the draft. He feels it isn’t worth it, and that there is enough talent in this draft to help the team, so they should make as many picks as they can. Rich Garvin says that the Patriots are likely to make trades in order to move up and get the players they want. Tom E Curran gathers together a few mock drafts and tries to see if there is any agreement on who will be available when the Patriots go to pick at #21. Dan Pires asserts that the Patriots should be in the market for a shutdown corner, and lists out some potential candidates for that role. Hector Longo says that the Patriots need to draft offensive weapons to surround Tom Brady. Jim Donaldson laughs at NFL draft “experts”.

Jerome Solomon talks to various NFL types about the proper mix of brains and brawn to make a successful NFL quarterback. Then he goes and looks at the top quarterbacks available in this draft. John Tomase looks at some of the kickers who are out there and might be considered a candidate to be the long-term replacement for Adam Vinatieri here with the Patriots. Michael Parente also looks at possible replacements for Vinatieri. Albert Breer has a look at Oregon State receiver Mike Hass, who fits the Patriots no-respect mantra. Breer also has a look at Tennessee safety Jason Allen, who is on the Patriots radar as well. Kevin McNamara looks at Providence native and Boston College receiver Will Blackmon, who is something of a mystery man in this draft. Steve Conroy says up to five BC players could get selected in this draft.

The CBS4Boston website will have a special NFL draft webcast at 12:45 today.

Josh Beckett and the Red Sox got walloped 15-3 by the Indians last night in Cleveland. Chris Snow has the gruesome details from Jacobs Field. Jeff Horrigan has more on the worst start of Josh Beckett’s career. Joe McDonald also examines the start from Beckett, before which he seemed loose and raring to go, but couldn’t locate anything where he wanted to once the game got underway. David Heuschkel says things started bad for Beckett and only got worse as the night went on. Phill O’Neill looks at Beckett appearing like a batting practice pitcher last night against the Indians. David Borges has Terry Francona noting that Cleveland is a good fastball hitting team and Beckett couldn’t do anything with his off-speed pitches last night.

Gordon Edes says that the Red Sox need to get this game out of their minds and focus on reviving their offense, which currently sits 23rd in the majors. He concludes his piece by looking at an apparently content Manny Ramirez. Steve Buckley (subscription only) has Curt Schilling holding court on retirement, the Yankees and Roger Clemens. McDonald has more from Schilling, as he recalled his greatest baseball moment – pitching Yavapai Junior College to the Junior College World Series in 1986.

Steve Buckley has Geno Petralli offering to assist Josh Bard with learning how to catch the knuckleball. Buckley also talks to Alex Cora about pitching, the backup infielder nearly got called into the game to throw an inning last night.

Snow’s notebook looks at Craig Hansen getting promoted to Pawtucket for the next phase of his development. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Hansen moving up the chain. McDonald’s notebook has Matt Clement remembering the scary incident in Tampa last summer which could’ve gone much worse for him. Heuschkel’s notebook has Terry Francona expressing confidence in Josh Bard. He also clarifies an incident mentioned in Horrigan’s notebook where it appeared that Julian Tav

Sox Passed By

When Tim Wakefield is on the mound this season, there have been a couple trends in play. 1) The Red Sox don’t score a lot of runs. 2) Josh Bard struggles hanging onto the ball. Both trends held last night as the Indians defeated the Red Sox 7-1 and Bard’s fielding line in the box score looks something like this: PB: Bard 4 (10).

Joe McDonald believes that eventually Bard will get comfortable as Wakefield’s catcher, but for now, the knuckler is getting the better of him. David Heuschkel has more on a tough night for Bard and the Red Sox. Chris Snow observes that not having Jason Varitek’s bat in the lineup on the days that Wakefield pitches could be a big factor in the lack of offense on those days. Jeff Horrigan looks at Wakefield once again pitching pretty well, but suffering because of the passed balls of Bard. David Borges however, says that Wakefield was more to blame for this loss than Bard was. Phil O’Neill has more on a tough night all around for Bard, Wakefield and the Red Sox.

You can check the Cleveland coverage in the Plain Dealer.

Gordon Edes looks at the Red Sox options should they decide to go in a different direction with Bard. He notes that they have a catcher at Pawtucket who can’t hit a lick, but has been shown an ability to catch the knuckler of Jared Fernandez. Steve Buckley (subscription only) reports on Bard’s teammates coming to his defense regarding the passed balls and notes that Bard is what he is, a steady solid backup catcher, who is adjusting to catching the knuckleball. Edes also looks at Wily Mo Pe

Manny Happy Returns

The Red Sox picked up an 8-6 win over the Cleveland Indians last night at Jacobs field as Manny Ramirez hit a three run homer in the eighth inning after the Indians had intentionally walked David Ortiz to get to him. Keith Foulke again looked pretty good out there, with his changeup tailing away from batters and he picked up the win in relief of Curt Schilling, who struggled a bit for the first time this season.

Jeff Horrigan looks at Manny coming to the rescue of Schilling with his eight inning home run. Chris Snow looks at “a long, sometimes unclean, but ultimately triumphant night of baseball.” Joe McDonald reports on Schilling coming up short in his bid to start the season 5-0 in his first five starts, but the Red Sox getting the win nonetheless. David Heuschkel focuses on Schilling as well as on the heat Terry Francona will likely take for leaving him in the game for so long. David Borges reports on Manny returning to his old haunts to lift the Red Sox to victory. Phil O’Neill looks at a night full of Manny moments.

You can check the Cleveland coverage in the Plain Dealer.

Gordon Edes talks to Al Nipper about the chances that his good friend decides to join the Red Sox for his final season in baseball. Nipper believes that the Red Sox have a very good chance to land the services of Clemens, and he has been pitching the idea hard to the Rocket. Garry Brown says that the Red Sox need the Rocket. Steve Buckley has a look at former Sox prospect Kelly Shoppach, now with the Indians. McDonald also has a look at Shoppach, who has room to grow with the Indians. Horrigan looks at another solid night of work for the bullpen.

Edes also looks at Schilling throwing 133 pitches last night and chiding the media in advance for the big deal they will make about it. Grabbing the bait, Steve Buckley (subscription only) says that it was “colossally dumb” to have Curt Schilling throw all those pitches on a cold April night. He says that since Schilling said the media shouldn’t blame Francona that Schilling should take the heat. Jim Donaldson says that some Red Sox players are star-kissed (Jonathan Papelbon) while others are star-crossed. (Wily Mo Pena)

Snow’s notebook looks at Kelly Shoppach, who is enjoying his time with Cleveland, even if he doesn’t get to play a whole lot behind Victor Martinez. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Terry Francona adjusting his rotation a bit, and as a result Matt Clement will pitch in Tampa for the first time since getting hit with a line drive there last summer a day earlier than originally scheduled. McDonald’s notebook has more on the rotation flip-flop. Heuschkel’s notebook looks at Jonathan Papelbon notching his ninth save of the season last night, leading the majors and tying a rookie record. Borges’ notebook has more on Shoppach. O’Neill’s notebook has more on Clement and Lenny DiNardo switching slots in the rotation.

Jerome Solomon today profiles USC safety Darnell Bing, who could be one of five Trojans taken in the first round of the NFL draft this weekend. Could he be someone that the Patriots could be interested in? Michael Parente says that the Patriots could be interested in getting a young safety to develop, but doesn’t mention Bing in his article. Solomon says Texas safety Mike Huff is a guy who should go in the top 10 and who Pat Kirwan says is the safest pick in the draft. Solomon also looks at a third defensive back, Richard Marshall of Fresno State, who is good friends with James Sanders of the Patriots.

John Tomase notes that the draft is loaded with linebackers, another area of need for the Patriots. He looks at some of the top prospects available. Chris Kennedy says that linebacker is definitely an area of need for the Patriots, who find their talented core getting up there in age. With A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter getting all the attention, Albert Breer says that a third Ohio State linebacker, Anthony Schlegel could also be a solid pick and pro and notes the attention that the Patriots have paid to him.

Tim Weisberg says that the age and health of Corey Dillon could also force the Patriots to look at running backs in the draft. He examines some of the possibilities. Tom E Curran looks at Memphis kicker Steve Gotkowski in his draft card today.

Steve Bulpett looks at Danny Ainge pondering his options for the draft. Should he add another young player, or perhaps package the draft pick in a deal for an established veteran?

Jon Couture says that the Bruins have rapidly become the region’s biggest joke.

Mark Blaudschun looks at Fox Sports already putting together their plans for airing the newly revamped Bowl Championship Series games next winter.

NESN has Red Sox/Indians at 7:00. TNT has Grizzlies/Mavs at 8:00 and Lakers/Suns at 10:30. OLN has Devils/Rangers at 7:00 and Stars/Avalanche at 9:30.

Hot Start Examined

John Molori’s Media Blitz reports that it might not be a pleasant working atmosphere over at ESPN Boston. How much of those feelings can be attributed to sour grapes, I’m not sure, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless.

Tony Massarotti has a nice feature on Jonathan Papelbon in today’s Herald. He looks at how the youngster is handling his success thus far and that he “is rapidly becoming a cult figure on a team that desperately needs one.” Chris Snow examines how much the Red Sox have missed having Coco Crisp at the top of their batting order. He compares how Crisp did in his few games to how his replacements have done since he injured his finger. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that David Ortiz did the right thing by dropping down the bunt on Sunday afternoon. He says that Ortiz proved that he is a selfless superstar more interested in winning games than padding his stats. He asserts that Ted Williams should’ve done what Ortiz did on occasion. Garry Brown notes that pitching and defense have been the keys to a strong April for the Red Sox.

Gordon Edes has a look at Kevin Youkilis, who is working out very well at his new position of first base. It is to the point that Terry Francona may be bringing in J.T. Snow late in games more to keep him involved rather than for a significant defensive upgrade. Michael Silverman notes that Youkilis has been among several stellar performances which have fueled the team’s quick start this April. Silverman charts out who has measured up and who hasn’t during this beginning stretch to the season. Joe McDonald says that in order for the Red Sox to keep pace with their quick start, they need Curt Schilling to continue his own fast pace. David Heuschkel examines Schilling’s start tonight in the context of history.

Snow’s notebook has a look at Curt Schilling trying to tie some history tonight by attempting to go 5-0 in April. He’ll try to do it against the only AL team he has not beaten as a member of the Red Sox. Silverman’s notebook has the Sox making preparations should Lenny DiNardo falter in his next start.

Jerome Solomon has a profile of Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter this morning. He says Carpenter appears to be a very good fit for the Patriots, and it doesn’t hurt that his father has known Bill Belichick for 25 years. Solomon also looks at another linebacker with ties to Belichick that the Patriots could be interested in. John Tomase looks at the defensive line prospects, an area which the Patriots might look to add some depth to in the early rounds. Dan Pires agrees that the Patriots might look to add depth on the defensive line, and says they could use another pass rushing End at that position. Chad Greenway played for former Belichick assistant Kirk Ferentz at Iowa.

Bob Ryan examines the uncertain process which is the NFL draft, in which someone can spend months studying intensely and still have no clear idea of who will go where, or which players will be stars. Michael Parente examines what options the Patriots have to replace Willie McGinest, and also looks at what smaller defensive ends are available in the draft who might be able to step into that position. Tom E Curran profiles Idaho State offensive lineman Darryn Colledge in his draft card for today. Alan Greenberg rates the defensive backs that are available in this year’s draft.

Mark Blaudschun reports on the investigation involving Reggie Bush and possible NCAA violations.

Steve Bulpett says that Al Jefferson’s mission this summer is to prove all his doubters wrong about him and his game. Mike Fine hands out a season ending report card on the 2005-2006 Celtics. Mark Murphy has a look at the eight youngsters on the Celtics roster, where they stand, and what the future could hold for each of them. Be sure to also check out a season recap from the BSMW Full Court Press crew, who look back on a building season for the green. Chad Finn also has a final look at the Celtics.

Lenny Megliola looks at the “Be a Bruin” NESN reality show, where they are holding tryouts for anyone willing to pay them $100. Three finalists will be invited to training camp in September.

NESN has Red Sox/Indians at 7:00. TNT has Wizards/Cavs at 7:00 and Kings/Spurs at 9:30. OLN has Senators/Lightning at 7:00 and Red Wings/Oilers at 10:00.

The Tangled Web of the New York Times Co and the Boston Red Sox

Check out the Red Sox Daily Links page for coverage of the Sox against the Blue Jays this weekend.

At the prompting of BSMW member Jeff, I’ve been looking at the New York Times 10-K Filing for 2005. As the member pointed out, there are a few nuggets of interesting information buried within the massive document.

I don’t pretend to be an expert analyst when it comes to business or accounting, but here were some things that seemed to be interesting.

The first area is circulation. The Times saw theirs go up a bit in 2005, while the Globe’s declined. The filing notes:

The decreases in weekday and Sunday copies sold in 2005 compared with 2004 were primarily due to a directed effort to reduce the Globe's "other paid" circulation (primarily third-party bulk sponsored copies but also hotel copies); the positive impact in 2004 of the Red Sox World Series victory; and continuing adverse effects of telemarketing legislation.

(Italics mine) So the success of the Red Sox is a significant enough factor to influence the overall circulation of the paper that they would mention it here. This also reminds us of WEEI’s recent ratings dip after the Red Sox and Patriots failed to successfully defend their championships. It would seem that again, it’s the success of the teams is just as important, if not more so, to circulation and ratings then is the personalities at the paper and station.

Another area is more complicated and involves the company’s 17% ownership stake in the club. On page 2 of the Index of the filing, when talking about the assets owned by the company:

Additionally, we own equity interests in a Canadian newsprint company and a supercalendered paper manufacturing partnership in Maine; the Discovery Times Channel ("DTC"), a digital cable television channel; New England Sports Ventures, LLC ("NESV"), which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball club (including Fenway Park and approximately 80% of New England Sports Network, the regional cable sports network that televises the Red Sox games); and Metro Boston LLC ("Metro Boston"), which publishes a free daily newspaper catering to young professionals in the Boston metropolitan area (interest acquired on March 10, 2005).

(To be clear, The New York Times Co. owns 17% of NESV. NESV is the parent company that owns the Red Sox and 80% of NESN.)

Here’s another statement from the 10-K:

We have ownership interests in one newsprint mill and one mill producing supercalendered paper, a high finish paper used in some magazines and preprinted inserts, which is a higher-value grade than newsprint (the "Forest Products Investments"), as well as in DTC, NESV and Metro Boston. These investments are accounted for under the equity method and reported in "Investments in Joint Ventures" in our Consolidated Balance Sheets. For additional information on our investments, see Note 5 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

The “equity interest” and “equity method” of the statements are what is of interest.

With permission from the reader, I’m going to use what he said on the topic:

“When a company owns less than 50% of another company, accounting rules require it to choose from one of two possible methods of accounting for that investment: the “Cost Method,” or the “Equity Method.” The general rule is that if you own between 20%-50%, you should use the Equity Method. If you own less than 20%, you should use the cost method.

I bring this up because the The New York Times Co. owns 17% of the Red Sox. Yet it accounts for its investment in the Red Sox under the Equity Method, which is a bit unusual. Under accounting rules, the Times would only account for this investment under the Equity Method if it has “the ability to exercise significant influence over operating and financial policies” of the Red Sox.

In other words, the accounting rules presume that a 17% owner would not yield significant influence. Yet the Times has concluded that, despite this presumption in the rules, its influence with the Red Sox is so clearly “significant” that it has treated its investment as an exception to the accounting rules. The cartel is alive and well…

Here is an excerpt from the actual accounting rules for the truly masochistic:”

The Board concludes that the equity method of accounting for an investment in common stock should also be followed by an investor whose investment in voting stock gives it the ability to exercise significant influence over operating and financial policies of an investee even though the investor holds 50% or less of the voting stock. Ability to exercise that influence may be indicated in several ways, such as representation on the board of directors, participation in policy making processes, material intercompany transactions, interchange of managerial personnel, or technological dependency. Another important consideration is the extent of ownership by an investor in relation to the concentration of other shareholdings, but substantial or majority ownership of the voting stock of an investee by another investor does not necessarily preclude the ability to exercise significant influence by the investor. The Board recognizes that determining the ability of an investor to exercise such influence is not always clear and applying judgment is necessary to assess the status of each investment. In order to achieve a reasonable degree of uniformity in application, the Board concludes that an investment (direct or indirect) of 20% or more of the voting stock of an investee should lead to a presumption that in the absence of evidence to the contrary an investor has the ability to exercise significant influence over an investee. Conversely, an investment of less than 20% of the voting stock of an investee should lead to a presumption that an investor does not have the ability to exercise significant influence unless such ability can be demonstrated.

Back the analysis of the reader:

“Significant influence and control are two different things. If Henry owns 52% he has control. But that doesn’t mean the NY Times or other investors don’t have significant influence.

A conspiracy theorist would point to the Times ability to give the Sox more coverage than the Yankees and Mets in a nationally published New York based paper, or the ability to direct negative coverage of the team if Henry put them on ignore, as the ability to exert significant influence (beyond that typically exerted by a 17% shareholder).

The important point is that the Times’ own view of the situation is that they exert more influence than the typical 17% investor in a typical investment does. This viewpoint has a material impact on its financial statements, and puts them at risk under the securities laws were it not a defensible position.”

Does this make Mark Jurkowitz a conspiracy theorist?

So does this have anything to do with the current Red Sox radio rights negotiations? Could The New York Times Co. be influencing the discussions one way or the other?

Well, again it would take conspiracy theorists to come up with this, but a plausible connection could be made here.

We know how the Times (Globe) feels about WEEI as evidenced by the long-standing feud between the entities. The New York Times Co. also owns a number of radio and television stations. This is how the Times describes their business strategy in this regard:

Our strategy is to build a lean, agile and disciplined organization that will invigorate growth across our existing businesses and platforms, create lines of products in key content areas across multiple mediums...

Now let’s look at an excerpt from today’s Herald article which told us that a deal between the Red Sox and Greater Media was close to fruition.

The price could hit $14 million per year. Sources say both Greater Media and Entercom, whose WEEI-AM (850) is the incumbent, have offered that much. But Entercom is said to be offering cash, while Greater Media would provide both cash and a substantial equity stake in WBOS.

This is an interesting twist. The Red Sox are apparently at least seriously considering turning down cash in order to obtain an equity stake in the radio station. A stake that would allow them to present content “across multiple mediums.” Sure, this is a business model the Sox may very well have pursued without the New York Times Co. being an investor. But you could also take the stance that the Times’ “significant influence” on the negotiations is pushing the Sox to WBOS.

Separate from this but also of interest is Jay Fitzgerald’s story in the Herald on Wednesday which had Morgan Stanley, which is a major shareholder in the New York Times Co. expressing displeasure with the company’s performance in recent years. This quote ends the article:

Ed Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co., said he thinks Morgan Stanley's challenge won't lead to changes. Atorino said the real problem with the Times is its Globe subsidiary, which has seen dramatic advertising and circulation declines in recent months.

Media Columns From Around the Country:
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David Scott, BSMW – From the Shanty to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.

Fluto Shinzawa, Boston Globe – Seeing is believing with ESPN’s latest call.

Jim Baker, Nashua Telegraph – “The Game” happy to play without ESPN’s name in Nashua.

Andrew Neff, Bangor Daily News – Presque Isle banker earns shot at poker payday.

Richard Sandomir, New York Times – NBC, OLN, N.H.L. Try to Melt the Ice.

Bob Raissman, New York Daily News – No voices of reason.

Neil Best, New York Newsday – NBA not exactly must-see TV.

Phil Mushnick, New York Post – Common Sense: Booze and sex, not race or class, fueled the Duke rape case.

Andrew Marchand, New York Post – Lucas will audible for SNY.

Michael McCarthy, USA Today – ESPN, NFL Network upping ante for draft.

Michael Hiestand, USA Today – Breen gets top NBA assignment.

Barry Jackson, Miami Herald – ESPN gives Heat-Bulls opener ‘full circle’ coverage.

Dave Darling, Orlando Sentinel – NBA, NHL begin 2nd seasons.

Roger Brown, Cleveland Plain Dealer – Browns-Steelers ‘thrills’ NFL Network.

Chris Zelkovich, Toronto Star – Broadcast partners make strange bedfellows.

Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News – NBA needs L.A. cooperation.

Larry Stewart, Los Angeles Times – NFL Network Pursues Gumbel, Collinsworth.

Also Stewart – Unlike `Bonds’ Series, This Show Fit for King.

Jay Posner, San Diego Union Tribune – Fans likely losers in MWC package.

Other notes:

I’m not sure how many more times I can stand a caller to WEEI stating “They should send Wily Mo Pena to Pawtucket instead of Adam Stern” and then having the host inform them that Pena has no options left and therefore cannot be sent to Pawtucket. It puts a dent in the whole “most intelligent fans in the country” argument.

Times like this is when I need to calm down and remind myself that talk show callers are usually not at all representative of the general fandom.

Speaking of Wily Mo, it seems that he has replaced Edgar Renteria as the whipping boy of the sports radio world. The airwaves have been dominated with endless criticism of Pena and the deal that sent Bronson Arroyo to the Reds to acquire him. I don’t quite get it. Why the love for Bronson Arroyo?

Have a great weekend…

Sox Close to Moving to WBOS?

The hot rumor in the press box last night at Fenway Park was that Greater Media Boston/WBOS and the Red Sox have come to a deal to broadcast the Red Sox games starting next spring. This morning, Scott Van Voorhis and Jesse Noyes in the Herald report that a deal is close between the two sides.

Obviously if this comes about it would make for a long, painful season on WEEI this summer. The repercussions beyond that would be huge. But, WEEI would then be able to have the chance to prove that their ratings success is truly due to the prodigious talent of the personalities at the station, and not because they are the home to Red Sox baseball on the radio.

Of course, it’s not done yet, and I would expect WEEI/Entercom to make at least one last huge offer to try and keep the rights.

The Red Sox dropped a 5-1 decision last night to nemesis (Every team in the AL East has one) Scott Kazmir and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Get the links at the Red Sox Daily Links page.

David Scott went inside the Red Sox press box and clubhouse earlier this week for one of the games with Tampa Bay and reports on what he saw.

Just a reminder, if you had planned on sending me an article to run while I’m away in May, I’m going to need those by the middle of next week. I need time to go over them and schedule them in the queue to post.

Dan Shaughnessy looks at Larry Bird lending his name to a wine label.

Steve Bulpett has a season-ending report card for the Celtics. Shira Springer says that developing the young players is the top priority for the Celtics this offseason. Shalise Manza Young goes over her opinions of the team at the start of the season and compares them to the team that ended the season. Mike Fine looks at the positive vibes for the future of the Celtics. Bill Doyle says that just about everything the Celtics did this season was geared towards preparing for the future. Next year they won’t be able to do that. Fine’s notebook looks at possible roster changes in the offseason.

Eric McHugh looks at Bill Belichick’s assesment of the offseason thus far. Mark Farinella previews the quarterbacks available in the draft. Glen Farley looks at the Patriots in team-building mode. McHugh’s notebook tries to read between the lines of Belichick’s press conference on the draft.

Check back later for media links and notes…

Sox Get A Laugher…Finally

After a succession of tight games, the Red Sox finally broke out early and had an easier time of it last night, pounding the Devil Rays 9-1 behind another strong performance from Curt Schilling, who moved to 4-0 on the season.

Sean McAdam notes that last night “marked the first Red Sox win since the home opener that the potential tying run didn’t come to the plate in the ninth inning.” Jeff Horrigan says it was a night for plenty of bad baseball from Devil Rays, who will fail to win a series at Fenway for the 18th time in a row, dating back to 1999. Nick Cafardo says yes, it’s still early, but there continue to be plenty of positive things around this team. Tom Yantz focuses on Schilling getting himself and the Red Sox off to a fast start. David Borges says that the teams may not like each other, but the Red Sox have to love it when they see Tampa on their schedule. Phil O’Neill says that the Red Sox were due for a laugher, but this game dragged on and on.

Jackie MacMullan has a look at Schilling, who has answered the many questions people have had about him, at least here in the early going. He takes the doubts as challenges and they serve as motivation. Karen Guregian says that at 4-0 and with all he went through last year, Schilling should be the story of baseball right now. Lenny Megliola says that as good as Schilling has been, he feels that he can get even better. Alex Speier has more on Schilling, who feels as good as he ever has, and thinks there is more ahead for him.

Steven Krasner leads off his Inside the Game section with a look at Kevin Youkilis’ hustle again paying dividends and wraps up with Tampa outfielder Ty Wigginton getting an appreciative laugh from the crowd. Amalie Benjamin looks at Adam Stern, who will be heading down to Pawtucket, but who opened some eyes and made a few catches in the outfield that will keep him fresh in people’s minds. Ron Chimelis has more on Stern as he prepares to depart for Pawtucket. Mike Fine says that Stern is an example of the great depth that the Red Sox have built up for themselves. Guregian also has a bit on Coco Crisp, who is eager to get out and perform in front of the Fenway faithful.

Paul Kenyon notes that the Red Sox infielders were once again crisp and “efficient night both at the plate and in the field.” Rob Bradford has more on the Ortiz shift. Bill Ballou has a piece on Kevin Youkilis, who has led the Red Sox offense in the early going. Benjamin also has a piece on Mike Timlin, who notched the 900th appearance of his career on Tuesday night and is 15th all time in that category. The Projo grabs some material from the May issue of SI for Kids, which has Manny Ramirez listing 10 things he can’t live without.

Cafardo’s notebook has Scott Kazmir objecting to some comments by Curt Schilling on WEEI this week. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Stern getting demoted to the minors so he get develop further. Borges’ notebook has more on Stern. The Projo notebook has more on Schilling getting off to the best start of his career. Yantz’s notebook has the Devil Rays once again employing their unique shift against David Ortiz. O’Neill’s notebook has more on Stern getting sent down to Pawtucket.

The Celtics finished off their season last night with an 84-78 win over the Miami Heat at TD Banknorth Garden. It was a merciful end to a season that saw plenty of hope for the future, but didn’t see much of that hope translate to the wins column. Shalise Manza Young says that an optimist looks at last night’s game as sees the kids pulling out a win all on their own. Bill Doyle looks at the season coming to a close with the win over the Heat, who will begin the playoffs this weekend…likely with Paul Pierce in attendance as a guest of Antoine Walker.

Bob Ryan and Steve Bulpett agree…the kids need to produce next year. We can’t be sitting here at the same time next year reflecting on the promise of the young players and lamenting that they’re still making mistakes and learning to win, they need to put things together in a bigger way for next season. Both agree that there is talent here, but it needs to step up a level over the summer. Bill Reynolds says that the club could be headed in either of two different directions. He seems to be leaning towards the more negative of the two scenarios. Tim Weisberg says that the Celtics are on the path in the right direction, but have a lot of work ahead of them this summer.

Bulpett has Wyc Grousbeck unhappy with the Celtics record, but happy with the team, and says everyone is focused on getting the ring. Bulpett also has Gary Payton quoted as saying he thinks his former club is headed in the right direction. Buddy Thomas says that the Celtics should trade Delonte West, Al Jefferson, Raef LaFrentz and a No. 1 pick for Allen Iverson.

Springer’s notebook has the Celtics looking to host an All Star Game in the future, now that their lease with the Garden has been extended through the 2020-2021 season. Murphy’s notebook has Doc River dispelling the rumors out there and insisting that he will be back with the team next season. Young’s notebook has more on the Celtics signing on with the Garden for another 10 years. Doyle’s notebook has more on Doc Rivers promising to be back for next season.

There are plenty of Patriots articles out there as well, and I simply ran out of time this morning. Check out the Patriots Daily Links page for a look at the stories and coverage of Bill Belichick’s pre-draft press conference.

Stern, Sox Hold On

Much of last night’s game between the Red Sox and Devil Rays was a pitchers duel, as starters Matt Clement and Casey Fossum went six inning with only giving up a single run between them. Then, starting in the seventh inning, the runs started coming, and the 7-4 win for the Red Sox wasn’t sealed until Adam Stern made a diving, tumbling, risky catch with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning.

Nick Cafardo says that it is clear that these two clubs are simply incapable of playing a normal baseball game. Bill Ballou reports on a completely non-violent game between these two teams. Jeff Horrigan reports on Kevin Youkilis coming up with the big hit last night to put the Red Sox ahead to stay. Carolyn Thornton looks at the Red Sox bats coming alive in the late innings against the Tampa Bay bullpen to pull this one out. Tom Yantz has more on the late inning rallies led by Youkilis, Manny Ramirez and Mark Loretta. Lenny Megliola has a look at another odd game between these two teams. Joe Haggerty looks at the Devil Rays giving the Sox all they could handle last night. David Borges says it was a pair of unlikely heroes who saved the day for the Red Sox.

Jackie MacMullan has a look at Jonathan Papelbon, who recorded his first really tough save of the season, having to work hard to record the three outs in the ninth after the pesky Tampa hitters kept fouling off pitches. Much has changed for Papelbon since last season, he can’t even go to his favorite spot (“Game On”) and get a cup of chowder without being recognized anymore. Matt Kalman looks at Papelbon and his wife going over closing “theme” songs. The Herald had 1100 people email in song suggestions for Papelbon to use as his theme when coming in to close out a ball game. Steve Buckley (subscription only) talks with Joey Gathright of the Devil Rays about his spring training altercation with Julian Tav

Mark of a Winner

The crowd at Fenway Park yesterday were frustrated much of the afternoon as they saw the Red Sox continually playing catch-up.The Mariners would score, the Red Sox would score to tie the game. However, they entered the ninth inning, trailing 6-5 and the first two batters went down meekly. However, Kevin Youkilis hustled out an infield hit (Though how many times did Bill Burt have to tell us on ‘EEI after the game that if Manny hit that ball the game was over? I’m pretty sure that if Ortiz hit that ball the game is over too.) and then Mark Loretta hit a game winning two run homer which gave the Red Sox the 7-6 win, and the lead for the first time the whole afternoon.

Chris Snow has a look at a marathon of a game for the Red Sox, which featured a sprint as well. David Borges looks at a bit of a role reversal in the ninth inning at Fenway Park yesterday. Jeff Horrigan looks at Loretta leaving Red Sox fans euphoric on Patriots Day. Sean McAdam says that Loretta “preempted the Sox’ regularly scheduled programming” by not giving David Ortiz a chance to get to the plate and win the game. David Heuschkel looks at Loretta writing his own script to finish out the game for the Red Sox. Ron Chimelis says a new folk hero and Patriots Day legend was born yesterday. Bill Ballou wonders with the win yesterday if this Red Sox season is already taking on a life of it’s own.

Gordon Edes has a talk with Mark Loretta’s dad, who witnessed his son’s first ever walk-off home run. He also talks about the Boston experience and how his son is adjusting to Boston. It’s an article that once you start reading it, you have to finish it. Steve Buckley (Subscription only) also focuses on Loretta, noting that the homer means that Loretta is now officially “a part of of all this” – meaning Red Sox Nation. Jon Couture notes that with all these one-run victories, this is a different Red Sox team this season.

Michael Silverman looks at the contributions of Lenny DiNardo, who started the game and went five innings, giving up only two runs. Steve Buckley reports on a strong first game back from injury for Trot Nixon. Silverman also analyzes a pretty good day for David Ortiz, who had a pair of home runs to keep the Red Sox within striking distance yesterday. Steven Krasner looks at Gil Meche and the Mariners struggling to find ways to get Ortiz out.

Snow’s notebook reports on Varitek’s pain in the butt. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Youkilis keeping things alive in the ninth for Loretta’s heroics. McAdam’s notebook has more on the good start from DiNardo. Heuschkel’s notebook has more on DiNardo and some comments from Mike Port in his role as vice president of umpiring for Major League Baseball regarding David Ortiz complaining about umpires. Couture’s notebook and Ballou’s notebook have more on a strong return to the lineup for Nixon. Borges’ notebook has more on Loretta’s first ever walkoff home run.

Robert Cheruiyot was the men’s winner yesterday’s 110th Boston Marathon. You can check out the coverage from the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Worcester Telegram & Gazette for complete coverage.

The Celtics lost their fifth in a row last night as they continue to play out the string and look for a better lottery pick. Last night’s 93-88 loss to the Cavaliers didn’t lack for star power. Sure, no Paul Pierce. No LeBron James. But as Shira Springer notes, Tom Brady was there. As was David Ortiz. I hope someone got Brady, Ortiz and Pierce together for a photo…Steve Bulpett says that without Pierce and James, last night’s game was a yawner for pretty much all involved. Shalise Manza Young though points to the Celtics youngsters, who once again put forth a spirited effort before falling to the more talented Cavs. Bill Doyle says that last night had the feeling of a lowly undercard.

The youngsters did pretty well. Tony Allen had 23 points, Gerald Green had 17 and Ryan Gomes 13. Dwayne Jones picked up 13 rebounds for the Celtics. Bulpett looks at one of the other Celtics youngster, Delonte West, who didn’t play last night due to injury, but who answered a lot of questions about his ability to play the point this season. While the Celtics might bring in a veteran point guard to spell West and split the point guard load with him, the second year guard certainly cemented his place with the Celtics with his play this year. Peter May looks at the Cavaliers as they prepare for their first trip to the playoffs since the Mike Fratello days. Mike Anthony looks at UConn’s Rudy Gay declaring for the NBA Draft.

Bulpett’s notebook looks at the Cavs playing it safe with LeBron’s ankle and also has Doc Rivers reflecting on Paul Pierce’s season. Doyle’s notebook has the Celtics shutting down Paul Pierce for the year, and also reports on Delonte West winning the Celtics Sixth Star Award from FSN.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at the Bruins packing up their things for the offseason. Steve Conroy and Mick Colageo each look at Andrew Raycroft, who it seems will not be back with the Bruins next year. Mike Loftus says there will be no easy answers or fixes for the Bruins this offseason. Conroy’s notebook has Hall Gill clearing out his locker for perhaps the final time as a Bruin, and notes there is no word yet on Mike Sullivan’s future with the club

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00. NBA TV has Nets/Sixers at 7:00 and Sonics/Kings at 10:00. OLN has Sabres/Hurricanes at 7:00.