Another Year at Fenway Starts Today

Chris Snow reports on David Ortiz’s new four-year $50 million contract extension that was made official yesterday. Michael Silverman looks at four more years for Big Papi in Boston. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that despite our initial misgivings about them as outsiders, this Red Sox ownership group continues to make all the right moves. Art Martone looks at the group locking up the face of the franchise into the next decade. Jeff Goldberg reports on Ortiz and the Red Sox bringing some good news to the fans after so many recent high-profile departures.

Garry Brown also reports on the new deal for Ortiz. Alex Speier says that with the signing of Ortiz, things are looking mostly sunny for the Red Sox as they head into the home schedule. Jon Couture says that this extension really stamps Ortiz as the face of the franchise. Joe Haggerty also looks at the Red Sox and Ortiz both wanting this deal to get done, making it fairly easy for Fernando Cuza, Ortiz’s agent.

Bill Ballou says that with the signing of Big Papi, the Red Sox were willing to take the good news with the bad news on Coco Crisp. Snow also reports on Crisp’s broken knuckle. The Red Sox are not giving a timetable for his return other than to say that he will be in a splint for 10 days. Silverman reports that the injury is expected to keep Crisp out at least a month. Martone has some more on the injury to Crisp, which could have him back sooner than a month.

Amalie Benjamin serves up a feature on Red Sox captain Jason Varitek and his teammates, building a team chemistry and the reality of getting older. (Varitek turns 34 today.) Silverman gets the thoughts of several Red Sox players about playing opening day at Fenway. Kris Russell talks to Jonathan Papelbon who was in Manchester yesterday shooting a TV commercial. The right hander says the he’d prefer to start, but doesn’t mind closing, either. Gordon Edes has a look at starting first baseman Kevin Youkilis, one of the survivors left over from the 2004 championship squad.

Dan Shaughnessy looks at an improved and renovated Fenway Park ready for its 95th opening day this afternoon. Tony Massarotti says that with all the changes made to the roster this offseason, the Red Sox team itself could be a feature on Extreme Makeover. Lenny Megliola says that it is opening day and time to start the party. He knows what to expect for much of the event, but knows there will be a surprise or two. Brown says that the day will be a celebration of both old and new. Paul Doyle serves up an essay exploring why the Red Sox should retire Johnny Pesky’s number 6. Steve Buckley (subscription only) devotes an entire column today to pondering who on the Red Sox might get booed today.

Snow’s notebook says that we shouldn’t expect Josh Beckett to have a case of the nerves when he takes the mound this afternoon for his first opening day start for the Red Sox. David Borges’ notebook has more on Beckett embracing the chance to start for the Red Sox at the Fenway home opener. Goldberg’s notebook looks at the Red Sox scrambling with the loss of Crisp for the time being.

Chad Finn has some opening day thoughts, and includes some shots at WEEI and media coverage of yesterday’s events. He asks who played the role of the turd in the punch bowl and tried to project some negativity onto the signing of Ortiz to a contract extension…with apologies to Lennox Financial…the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth. Well my friends, that role was ably played by Andy Gresh on FSN’s Sports Tonight, where he stated that because of Ortiz’s knees, this wasn’t a good deal for the Red Sox, and that essentially they are hypocrites because they wouldn’t give Johnny Damon a similar four year deal as they are about the same age.

CBS4 will have coverage from Fenway today, which will include webcasts available on the station website they will cover Terry Francona’s press conference at 11:00 and have another webcast at 12:30 with Bob Lobel and Dan Roche.

A special edition of Patriots Game Day looks at the team’s free agent signings thus far and specifically explores the notion that Martin Gramatica can’t be a cold weather kicker. The statistics in a limited sample size seem to say otherwise. Christopher Price reports on Gramatica getting fired up to be a member of the Patriots. Michael Parente notes that a new addition to his family has made this a special time for the new kicker, who is excited for the opportunity. Tom E Curran and Alan Greenberg look at Gramatica speaking very highly of Adam Vinatieri as a player and a person in his first talk with the New England media last night. Michael Felger says that Gramatica is confident in his abilities and that he will find success here with the Patriots. Jerome Solomon also reports on Gramatica.

From the weekend, Albert Breer took a look at what the Patriots might be focused on in the draft. Curran’s draft card looks at Clemson cornerback Tye Hill.

Peter May says we’re going to see a lot of the kids during the last five games of the Celtics season. Mike Fine says that the Celtics have a future that appears to be brighter, and will use the final few games to work towards that. Steve Bulpett has Wally Szczerbiak being optimistic as he heads into knee surgery this afternoon.

Steve Conroy reports on the Bruins 2-1 loss to the Capitals last night. Kevin Paul Dupont looks at Boston College winger Chris Collins, who is talking to the Bruins, among other teams, about signing on. Conroy’s notebook looks at Yan Stastny getting some extended time as the Bruins play out the string.

Yesterday, Jessica Heslam had a piece in the Herald outlining how sports fans are tuning out the sports segments on the news telecasts and instead tuning into regional and national sports broadcasts and the internet. FSN’s Sports Tonight is cited as an example of where the sports fan tunes for his information rather than the 6:00 & 11:00 PM newscasts.

Check back at noon for a review of the Maple Street Press 2006 Red Sox Annual.

NESN has Red Sox/Blue Jays at 2:00 and Bruins/Senators at 7:30.