Rookie Night at Fenway

With the Red Sox bullpen in need of a rest, Rookie Jon Lester stepped up for Boston last night and delivered eight innings of shutout pitching, allowing only one hit. Lester improved to 5-0 on the season with a 2.38 ERA. Fellow rookie Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth for his 28th save, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 win over the Kansas City Royals last night at Fenway Park.

Sean McAdam reports on Lester stepping up when the Red Sox needed him the most. Bill Ballou examines a night for the ages at Fenway Park. Gordon Edes looks at the outing from Lester, which already puts him in some select company in team history. Michael Silverman has more on the most inspiring start yet for Lester. Tom Yantz reports on the pair of rookies combining for the shutout for the Red Sox. Garry Brown examines Lester’s best start yet. Scott Barboza looks at Lester remaining unbeaten on the season and in his big league career.

Jeff Horrigan has the Royals shaking their heads at why they weren’t able to get to Lester last night, who didn’t overwhelm them with his stuff. Kelsie Smith looks at Lester working with efficiency last night, something he hadn’t done in previous starts. Steven Krasner has more on Lester and how the Royals couldn’t figure him out. Lenny Megliola looks at a season of promise for the 22-year-old Lester. Alex Speier looks at a dazzling effort from Lester which only obscured the problems the Red Sox are having in the starting rotation. Jon Couture has a good look at Lester as he begins to piece things together about pitching in the big leagues.

Karen Guregian says that the Red Sox need more starting pitching, but should be very wary of trading any of their prospects to get it. Rob Bradford wonders if it is time for a change atop the batting order for the Red Sox. Julian Benbow has a piece on former Royal Kyle Snyder, who keeps fighting and won’t give up on his big league dreams. Horrigan reports on Javier Lopez being sent to Pawtucket and Jermaine Van Buren getting called up. Smith also has a piece on Wily Mo Pe

Dougie Goes Deep

Trailing 4-0 in the seventh inning, things weren’t looking so good for the Red Sox last night. Their bats had been silenced by Kansas City starter Luke Hudson. However, the Sox rallied to tie the game with four runs in the seventh and then added the winning run on a Manny Ramirez sacrifice fly in the eighth to escape with a 5-4 win at Fenway Park.

David Borges says that for once, Doug Mirabelli and the Red Sox are grateful to the home plate umpire for a bad strike call. Amalie Benjamin looks at the Red Sox waking up in time to shake off the loyal Royals. Michael Silverman reports on the Red Sox rallying after losing Tim Wakefield early in the game. Shalise Manza Young reports on Mirabelli chipping in to the Sox victory. Garry Brown has more on the sudden revival of the Sox last night. Tom Yantz and Bill Ballou round out the coverage from Fenway Park.

Nick Cafardo looks at Mirabelli’s home run, which gave the catcher a big contribution even though Tim Wakefield was no longer in the ballgame. Lenny Megliola looks at Mirabelli saving the season (so far) for the Red Sox. Sean McAdam notes that it is hard to imagine that Tim Wakefield will not end up on the disabled list after coming out of last night’s game after the fourth inning . Alex Speier looks at Terry Francona running out of options in the pitching department.

Steven Krasner looks at Francona making all the right moves in last night’s victory. Kelsie Smith looks at Tim Wakefield having to shorten his outing due to his sore back. Megliola has a look at Tony Graffanino, who also made his return to Boston last night. Horrigan notes that Mirabelli had a little assist from the umpire on his home run. Smith also looks at Kevin Youkilis who remains positive despite his recent batting slump. Buckley looks at home Wakefield’s injury could affect the Red Sox rotation if he is not able to go the next time out.

John Tomase looks at the shared history that Josh Beckett, Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke have – they are were on the mound to record the final out of a World Series victory. Jeff Horrigan looks at what Doug Mientkiewicz has to say about the ball on his first trip back to Boston. Cafardo also says that yes, we’re all sick of talking about The Ball, but since Mientkiewicz is in town, we have to do it one more time. Borges has more on Mientkiewicz blaming Lucchino for the whole ball incident, and just hoping the whole thing can be over. Steve Buckley has more on Mientkiewicz and Keith Foulke. Krasner also reports on the Mientkiewicz situation, with Larry Lucchino saying he was only doing what he thought best for “Red Sox Nation.”

Benjamin’s notebook looks at Coco Crisp showing signs of life at the plate with a 3 for 4 night. Borges’ notebook has more on David Wells’ bullpen session. Silverman’s notebook has more on Wells progress. The Projo notebook reports on Joe O’Donnell sitting with John Henry at last night’s game. Yantz’s notebook has more coverage on The Ball, as does Brown’s notebook and Ballou’s notebook.

Shalise Manza Young has Ryan Gomes impressed with his new teammates out at the Las Vegas Summer League. Steve Bulpett notes that now that Paul Pierce is taken care of, Danny Ainge may look to get Kendrick Perkins an extension as well. Peter May looks at USA Basketball getting set to begin its quest to bring back the Gold. Speaking of May, the following appeared in the Globe this morning:

Clarification: Because of a reporting error, information about Paul Pierce's old contract with the Boston Celtics was incomplete in the basketball notes in Sunday's sports section. Pierce's contract had two years to run but the second year of the contract included an option that would have allowed Pierce to become a free agent. It is a common option that NBA players rarely invoke.

While it is indeed good of the Globe to acknowledge this, I can’t help but feel that that last line comes off as a bit arrogant – as if the option was totally irrelevant to the story. As chronicled yesterday, there’s no defense for what May did.

Mike Reiss reports that Patriots rookie running back Laurence Maroney is looking for a new agent. Reiss also previews the running backs in his blog this morning.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Stephen Harris report on the Bruins re-signing defenseman Andrew Alberts and five other players.

NESN has Red Sox/Royals at 7:00. ESPN has White Sox/Tigers at 7:00.

The Day The Globe Hoop Coverage Died.

Yesterday, I woke up to an already brutally hot and humid morning and shuffled into my home office to check out the morning’s sports offerings. Despite the obvious decline of the newspaper business, I still have a little twinge of anticipation when I open up the Sunday papers, with their various notes columns, features and coverage. As I sipped my iced coffee, I browsed though a fairly good Dan Shaughnessy column on the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, which, if you read Game of Shadows, you already know everything you need to know about.


A bit further on, I came across Peter May’s Basketball Notes with the title of “Truth is, Pierce’s deal could have waited.” Knowing that Peter likes to get his shots in at Danny Ainge and the Celtics, I wondered how he was going to work this one.

So I read it.

Then I read it again.

Then a third time.

No, it wasn’t because I was amused by May’s line about James “Thanks Dad II” Dolan, but instead, I re-read this column three times because I really wanted to believe that May wasn’t as clueless as I thought he was about Paul Pierce’s contract status. I even went onto the BSMW message board to point out the May column and hope that someone else would see what I was clearly missing. May sums up his position on the Pierce extension thusly:

I understand this is a contrarian line of thinking, but I also can't fathom why the Celtics were so eager to get this done. Why not wait another year, see where the team is going, see how Pierce responds, and go from there.

OK, here’s the problem. Pierce has a player option after next season, so if the team didn’t re-sign him, they risked allowing him to hit the open market as a free agent.

Now, I tried really hard to understand where May was coming from here. I figured he HAD to know about the option…didn’t he? So assuming he did, and still wrote the article, what is his angle? That Pierce might not be worth giving a three-year max extension to? OK…that point is actually debatable. I come down strong on the side of re-signing Pierce before he hits the market, but you can debate whether Paul Pierce is worth hitching your wagon to for the foreseeable future.

So May might’ve written the article trying to be a contrarian (as he states) and taking the view that signing Pierce wasn’t worth it. That the team would be better off seeing how things go this season and then taking the risk of letting him go to free agency if things didn’t go so well next season. Again, that is IF May knows that Pierce can opt out after next season. It’s a bad position to take, in my opinion, but still feasible.

However, the truth is that Peter May had no clue that Pierce held an option on his contract for next season. That is borne out by this section from May:

Sure, you would have run the risk of the "disrespect factor" by waiting. But here's what the Celtics also should have been gauging: What teams were going to have cap space in the summer of 2008 and did they really think any of those teams were going to keep that money to sign Pierce? In other words, were they negotiating against themselves?

Unless that 2008 is a typo, (though we’ll see in a moment that it is not) then May reveals here that he believed that the Celtics had Piece locked in for the next two seasons (thus the reference to Piece hitting the market in ’08) and that they extended him for three beyond that. Not convinced? Well, this should cement the case that May, the top NBA writer for the Boston Globe, had no idea of the contract status of the best player of the local team:

This is not to suggest Pierce didn't merit an extension. But he still had two years left on his previous deal and while he is clearly the Celtics' best player, do you really think he deserves $20 million a year for three more years when he still has yet to prove he can carry a team?

Whoops. May asks:

What would have been the downside had the Celtics decided to wait a year on the extension?

The downside of course is that Pierce could’ve opted out of his contract and become a free agent next summer…and the Celtics could’ve ended up with nothing.

This is a joke…The Globe continues to embarrass itself with this type of coverage.

Let’s review again here, for those inclined to defend Peter May (and I know you’re out there.)

The point here is NOT whether it is a good idea to sign Paul Pierce to a max extension or not. That issue is debatable.

The point here is that the lead NBA writer for the largest and most influential newspaper in the region had no idea about a very important contract clause for a player that he covers which many casual fans were aware of. Further, no one on Morrissey Blvd caught this mistake, either.

There’s nothing to defend. The whole premise of the column is invalid because May thought Pierce had two years left on his deal, when in fact Pierce could opt out after next season. Had it been true that the Celtics had Pierce locked in for the next two seasons, the premise of May’s column, while likely unpopular, would still have had some merit to at least consider. But it doesn’t. He looks rather foolish at the moment.

All of this aside, the Globe has been way behind on this whole Paul Pierce contract from the beginning. Steve Bulpett in the Herald has been providing updates almost every day on the status of the extension, and has had the details about Pierce’s option correct the whole time. From last Monday:

Pierce has two years remaining on his current contract, but he can opt out of it and become a free agent next summer. Schwartz dismissed talk that Pierce might like to take that route and join a team with a better chance at the title.

Schwartz is Pierce’s agent. So there doesn’t appear to be any issue here with the Herald having mixed up the details here. Bulpett made several references throughout the week to Pierce’ option.

I went out for the day and returned in the early evening to find my inbox jammed with messages about the column and about the Globe’s basketball coverage in general. This one stood out:

Dear Bruce,

I hope to God you mention how badly Peter May screwed up in today's Sunday Globe. He's allegedly the "basketball expert" for a newspaper section that used to mean something. Well, here's the kind of expertise we get from him: He wrote an entire column slamming the Celtics for signing Pierce to an $60M extension when he allegedly had "two" years remaining on his current contract -- including such classic lines as "What was the hurry?" and "What would have been the downside had the Celtics decided to wait a year on the extension?" and my personal favorite, "I understand this is a contrarian line of thinking, but I also can't fathom why the Celtics were so eager to get this done" -- without f***ing realizing that Pierce had an out clause next summer and could have been an unrestricted free agent.

Can you imagine if a Red Sox writer or Pats writer screwed up that badly? Would they ever hear the end of it?

I'm sure May is a nice guy ... but I can only judge him by his production over the past 20 years. It doesn't seem like he has given a crap about basketball since Bird retired; if anything, he comes off like a middle-aged white guy who openly dislikes the sport and can't relate with most of the players. Even worse, he gets a free pass because so few fans follow the Celtics diligently anymore and none of the media members seem to give a crap anymore except for MacMullan/Holley/Russillo. A good example of how far the basketball IQ has fallen in Boston came over the extended July 4th weekend, when John Wallach (subbing on the Arnold/Holley show) tried to claim that Ben Wallace would be a better fit for the Celtics than Kevin Garnett because KG "doesn't rebound," which was the equivalent of saying you'd rather have Jim Thome over David Ortiz because Big Papi "doesn't hit for power." And you wonder why nobody cares about basketball in Boston anymore.

In all seriousness, why can't the Globe hire someone who actually likes basketball to cover the team? And where were the copy editors on this one? Not one person working for the Globe's sports section knew that Pierce, the single best Celtics player of the past 15 years, could have opted out and become a free agent next summer? Really? Nobody knew the contract status of a Boston player who's one of the top-15 guys in the league? Why have copy editors then?

I just can't believe how far this newspaper has fallen - we have now reached the point where the alleged lead basketball writer for the paper had no idea that the team's best player could have been a free agent in 12 months, and even worse, slammed the Celtics for re-signing him because he was so desperate to be a contrarian (and only because he doesn't have the talent or the passion to make this team more fun to follow). I'm so tired of this crap - it's really sad that I trust the opinions/information of complete strangers on a message board over someone who's employed by the Boston Globe to cover the only basketball team in town. What a disgrace.

Please call May and the Globe out on this one. It's one thing to be mediocre at your job; it's another thing to perpetuate a complete falsehood because you were too lazy to do any research. And you wonder why newspapers are going bankrupt.

--SIMMONS

That of course, was Bill Simmons of ESPN.com. I got a lot of other emails as well, many with the same points.

Chalk this one up as the Globe being the Globe…

Coming out of the All Star break, the Red Sox dropped three out of four to the Oakland Athletics, including yesterday’s 8-1 defeat. You can check the coverage on the Red Sox Daily Links page and the Bay Area Sports Pages.

Jon Couture admits to initially being disappointed with “Feeding the Monster“, but says that a strong finish to the book really makes it a rewarding read. Couture also touches on my Manny column from last week and looks at Sam Horn’s only spot in the record books.

Kyle Busch won the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 up at New Hampshire International Speedway yesterday. Michael Vega, David Exum and Mark Labore report on the race, which basically went into overtime due to a caution flag on lap 298. Fluto Shinzawa looks at a collision between the last two winners at NHIS, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. Allen Lessels goes inside pit row at the speedway. Exum’s notebook has more on the Stewart/Newman dust-up, while the Globe notebook looks at Denny Hamlin’s day ending early.

The Patriots start training camp next Friday, and the camp previews should be starting up shortly. Today, Jonathan Darling says that rookie Jeremy Mincey might remind some people of Willie McGinest. Mike Reiss gets the ball rolling on positional previews with a look at the QB spot.

Other Weekend Coverage:

Putting Peter May’s column aside, here are a few other highlights from the weekend:

Nick Cafardo catches up with Theo Epstein’s former right hand man Josh Byrnes in the Baseball Notes. Tony Massarotti tried to respond to reader email in Covering All Bases. Alex Speier examines how impressive David Ortiz has been, especially in the post-steroid era. He also had a bit on how the A’s lost out on Jonathan Papelbon after drafting him in the 40th round in 2002 and not getting him signed. Art Davidson looked at former Sox hero Dave Roberts having the season of his career in San Diego. Shaun Tolson took Herald readers inside the Green Monster.

In his NBA Notes Steve Bulpett talked to Walt “Clyde” Frasier about whether Paul Pierce and Allen Iverson could play together. Scott Souza reviewed the Celtics summer league efforts in Vegas.

Jerome Solomon says Deion Branch is a victim of poor timing in the Football Notes. Solomon and the Globe get some props for having the only NFL Sunday columns the last two weeks. Training camp previews should start up this week…

Kevin Paul Dupont says that it isn’t a lock that Bruins first round pick Phil Kessel will head back to college in the Hockey Notes. Stephen Harris in his NHL Notes reports that the Bruins originally offered Pat Quinn their head coaching job, but he turned them down. Douglas Flynn thinks Zdeno Chara could be the next Bruins Captain.

NESN has Red Sox/Royals at 7:00. ESPN has Braves/Cardinals at 7:00.

Weekend Watch 07.14.06

NOW we’re in the dog days of sports viewing…pretty much just baseball and NASCAR this weekend for viewing on the tube.

In the name of further shameless self promotion, if you haven’t checked out the Manny Ramirez column I posted earlier in the week, you can find it here:

PDF iconManny – Perception vs. Reality (68k)

The Red Sox and A’s will continue their four game series at Fenway Park tonight and this weekend. You can check both all sides of the coverage on the Red Sox Daily Links page and the Bay Area Sports Pages.

NH will be the center of the NASCAR world this weekend with the New England 200 on Saturday and the Lenox Industrial Tool 300 on Sunday. Both will be on TNT in high definition. By all means avoid route 93 in NH this weekend…

Sunday night will feature the 14th annual ESPY Awards. This year will no doubt have less New England players and moments being honored in the show, which will be hosted by Lance Armstrong.

Media Columns

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Jim Baker, Nashua Telegraph – Fox keeps stronghold on MLB coverage.

Andrew Neff, Bangor Daily News – Patriots travel to I-95 this season.
(Dealing with Patriots Radio rights changing stations in Bangor area)

Phil Mushnick, New York Post – Truth Decay: Fudged Facts Plaguing Sports World.

Excerpt:

The NHL has asked the media to begin referring to OT goals as "skate-off" goals ... Reader Peter Berman of Forest Hills notes that in "Yankee Classics" on YES, the Yanks are 51-0.

Mike Forde, New York Post – Best ‘Wishes’ From ESPN.

Richard Sandomir, New York Times – Postseason Potluck May Return.

Bob Raissman, New York Daily News – Falling Stars: Classic gimmick strikes out on television.

Michael Hiestand USA Today – For ESPN, Mondays to be ‘Super’ NFL spectacle.

Excerpt:

This will be an NFL season on TV like no other. Prepare to redefine your definition of hype.

ESPN has detailed its plans to turn every regular-season Monday into the moral equivalent of a Super Bowl. It will deploy 30 on-air people for elaborate coverage that, after some warm-ups on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike In the Morning and ESPN2's Cold Pizza, begin in earnest with a two-hour SportsCenter Special Edition: Monday Night Kickoff at 3 p.m. ET

Sox Trip Out of the Gate

David Scott weighs in on the latest installments of the new media/old media wars, and has news that Mike Reiss will likely be spending more time on the Patriots beat this coming season.

The Red Sox opened the second half the season with a 5-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics. Leading 3-1 in the seventh, the Red Sox saw the A’s tie the game when Mark Loretta committed a rare error, allowing the tying runs to score.

Art Martone says that the Red Sox did not help themselves at all last night, wasting numerous opportunities. Amalie Benjamin notes that while Julian Tavarez took the loss for the Red Sox it was Loretta and Willie Harris who made mistakes with turned the momentum of the game in the favor of the A’s. Jeff Horrigan says that the Red Sox know that they were just lucky to be in contention in the ninth inning with the mistakes they made last night. Old School David Heuschkel looks at the Red Sox just handing this one over to the A’s. David Borges and Phil O’Neill wrap up the coverage from the Red Sox loss at Fenway.

Jackie MacMullan looks at the Loretta error, noting that even sure handed all stars have holes in their gloves once in a while. Tony Massarotti says that the Red Sox made so many mistakes that they appeared to still be on summer vacation. Steven Krasner observes that opponents are finding it easy to get on base against Jon Lester, but nearly impossible to score.

Alex Speier has a look at the job that Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen are doing out of the bullpen for the Red Sox. John Tomase observes that Hansen has struggled lately in his second inning of work, and wonders if there is a trend at work there. Horrigan has a quick note on Craig Breslow getting called up yesterday, making it back to the big leagues for the 25 year old former Padres pitcher. Rob Bradford has four things which must hold true for the Red Sox to experience second half success.

Julian Benbow has 2005 AL Rookie of the Year Huston Street talking about the rookie pitcher that has everyone talking in 2006, Jonathan Papelbon. Tomase talks with Barry Zito, who holds out hopes to return to the A’s next season, but knows that the club likely won’t be able to afford him.

Get the coverage from the West coast on last night’s game over on the Bay Area Sports Pages.

Horrigan’s notebook looks at Jon Lester playing the tightrope game again in his five inning stint. Benjamin’s notebook has Terry Francona providing injury updates on all his starting pitchers with the exception of Josh Beckett and Lester – the only starting pitchers on the roster injury-free at the moment. Krasner’s notebook has Breslow not getting a chance to pitch in Wednesday’s AAA All Star game, but not finding out why until yesterday. Heuschkel’s notebook has Jason Varitek not making excuses for his tough first half at the plate. Borges’ notebook has more on Breslow, as doesn’t O’Neill’s notebook, which says the reliever’s stay with the Red Sox is likely to be a short one.

Nick Cafardo files a minor league notebook, where the first focus is on AA reliever Edgar Martinez. Horrigan’s The Minors looks at Joshua Papelbon, who has been lights out for Single A Lowell. Jim Donaldson talks to PawSox President Mike Tamburro about the steady stream of pitchers that have made the advancement from Pawtucket to the major leagues this season.

Josh Bousquet offers a first look at top sites for fantasy football. Paul Gaeta has a look at fantasy baseball studs and duds.

Steve Bulpett provides a nice look at how the players on the Celtics summer league roster have looked in the week that the Las Vegas league has been operating. Bulpett also says that the Celtics are simply waiting for league approval in order to be able to officially announce the Paul Pierce extension.

Nick Tavares says that the Bruins have accomplished many things this offseason, the most impressive of which is that they have people talking about them again. Stephen Harris says that it is not 100% certain that first round pick Phil Kessel is heading back to college, but it certainly appear that way. Harris’ notebook reports on the club naming Marc Habscheid associate head coach.

Michael Vega has Jimmie Johnson answering his detractors prior to this weekend’s race in Loudon, NH. David Exum wonders if we’ll see more fireworks between Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth this weekend after the two bumped last weekend in Chicago. Sasha Talcott looks at NASCAR getting into the Harlequin romance novel business. Yes you read that line correctly. Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook looks at Tony Stewart getting into the modified race in NH tomorrow. Exum’s notebook has more on that topic.

Chad Finn has ten things he thinks he thinks.

More MBM

Everything is still all about Manny.

Bob Ryan says that everything we see is just part of the package that is MBM. Tony Massarotti says that what is good for Manny is good for the Red Sox. David Heuschkel looks at the speculation surrounding Manny’s knee. Bill Reynolds says that all that really matters is Manny’s output. Lenny Megliola says that we don’t really know Manny, and then proceeds to spend most of the article making fun of Manny. This is the type of thing that I’m talking about when it comes to coverage of Manny. Megliola gives some credit to Ramirez’s Hall of Fame hitting skills, but that is certainly overshadowed in this piece by all the jokes. This wasn’t a mean-spirited piece by Megliola, and I wasn’t referring to just “attacks” on Manny when I was discussing the media coverage of him. So when Ordway shouted on Tuesday “WHO’S ATTACKING MANNY?” he was again, not really addressing the issues of how Ramirez is portrayed in the press.

David Borges says that the Red Sox will be relying heavily on their four young pitchers in the second half of the season. He takes a good long look at the group. Michael Silverman has seven things that must happen for the Red Sox to stay on path to the postseason. Gordon Edes says the Red Sox are in great shape coming off the All Star break and has an in depth look at the rest of the season. Steven Krasner says things get serious starting tonight, and looks at question marks around the team. Bill Ballou notes that several Red Sox, as well as the team itself, are on pace for a historic season if they can keep the pace. Jon Couture looks at the Good, the Bad and the Schedule for the second half of the season for the Sox.

Stan Grossfeld looks at how some kids still manage to sneak into Fenway Park. Buddy Thomas says that the All Star game has lost its charm.

Nick Cafardo’s notebook says that Manny is expected to be in the starting lineup tonight against the A’s. The Projo notebook has more on Francona denying the report that Manny has a tear in his knee.

Steve Bulpett says that Paul Pierce and the Celtics have wrapped up the details on the contract extension for the star. Tim Weisberg has more on the signing getting close for the two sides and what it would mean for Boston. Shira Springer has a bit on the extension as well as a look at the latest summer league action for the Celtics. Bulpett also looks at a pretty intense summer league game for the Celtics. Bulpett’s notebook says that the Celtics might have some competition in their pursuit of Allen Iverson.

Douglas Flynn reports that the new era of the Bruins will begin with five road games. Stephen Harris and Jim Fennell report on the new “Be a Bruin” reality show coming on NESN.

NESN has Red Sox/A’s tonight at 7:00.

Manny Follow Up

Just a few links and some followup to yesterday’s Manny column…

PDF iconManny – Perception vs. Reality (68k)

Steve Bulpett reports that Paul Pierce and the Celtics are very close to announcing a contract extension. Gabe Kahn has a report on yesterday’s Celtics summer league game, which featured a show stopping hookup between Sebastian Telfair and Gerald Green. Scott Souza and Bulpett’s notebook also have details on the game.

Gordon Edes as well as Michael Silverman and Steve Buckley look at Will Carroll’s report that Manny is actually playing with a small tear in the medial meniscus in his right knee. Both papers seem skeptical of the report, though Edes acknowledges that Carroll has a solid history of injury reports.

Michael Gee writes that it isn’t so much that Manny doesn’t hustle, it’s that he has a terrible first step.

Rob Bradford tracked down former Red Sox third baseman Scott Cooper to talk about his experiences in the All Star game. Dave Kraska has a look at how Albert Spaulding helped create the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball. Chad Finn and Mike Fine have mid-season report cards for the Red Sox.

Yesterday’s Manny column sure generated a lot of discussion on WEEI. Dale Arnold and Michael Holley spent quite a bit of time going over the points in the column, much to the chagrin of others at the station. It even inspired a Pete Gustin comedy skit on the subject, where BSMW is referred to as “All-Media-is-Evil.com”.

Michael Holley wanted me to “name names” in regards to media people taking shots at Manny. Well Michael, when I started the column, that was my intention, and I was going to lay out the examples in the column. I went into the archives of the Globe, Herald, ProJo, Hartford Courant and other papers. As I got going, however, there were just way too many to include, and many were just incidental little shots here and there by various writers, or sarcastic comments regarding an injury or day off for the slugger. It would’ve dragged out the column to be much longer than it already was if I had done this. I instead attempted to provide an overview of the perception of Manny that is perpetrated by many in the area. That was the point I was trying to address.

Glenn Ordway was in full circle-the-wagons mode starting at 2:00 PM. It was all very predictable. You can tell when the little man is in the wrong, because he yells and screams more than usual and tries much too hard to be emphatic in everything that he says. He railed on against “fan sites” – using that term many times in the course of the afternoon. (Am I supposed to be insulted by that?) Ordway had me laughing at the effort he was trying to put into discrediting both me and the notions put forth in the column. He brought up an incident involving John Molori, which would be like me holding Glenn accountable for Dennis and Callahan’s METCO incident. He talked about “standards” and how real media has them and “fan sites” don’t. It was all clearly an attempt from Ordway to try and muddy the waters. You’ll remember the points I tried to address in the column, namely:

Manny Ramirez – Reality vs. Perception

Since we’re on the All Star break, I’m mixing things up a little bit today with an original BSMW column looking at the the media’s role in the public perception of Manny Ramirez.

I’ve also made this article available in PDF Format. Please feel free to download it, print it out and leave it in the lunchroom of your school or office, or even at that buddy’s house who listens to WEEI incessantly and believes that Mike Adams is hilarious and Manny is nothing but a lazy bum. You can also email it as an attachment to those co-workers who can’t shut up about Manny not playing in the All Star game tonight.

PDF iconManny – Perception vs. Reality (68k)

Update: Will Carroll on Baseball Prospectus had this to say about Manny:

I won’t be seeing Manny Ramirez in Pittsburgh. The top vote getter is taking a disproportionate amount of heat for missing the game, even getting openly questioned on yesterday’s Fox telecast. Tim McCarver said the worst thing about his knee injury was “remembering which leg to limp with.” It’s easy to say that Ramirez is faking an injury, but almost as easy to actually check on the injury. Ramirez is suffering from a small tear in the medial meniscus of his right knee. It’s an injury he can play with, but one that can “grind,” a bone-on-bone situation that is unpredictable and painful.

Now on to the article:

Manny Ramirez – Perception vs Reality

Let’s pretend for a moment that tomorrow Manny Ramirez suddenly decides to do what Corey Dillon recently did in Patriots mini-camp, and hands Jeff Horrigan of the Boston Herald a sheet and asks him to read it. The sheet is a list of the career accomplishments of Ramirez. What would that list look like?

  • .314 career batting average. 459 (and climbing) career home runs. 1479 (and climbing) career RBI.
  • 2nd All Time in Grand Slams ? 20 (Leader – Lou Gehrig, 23)
  • 5th All Time in At Bats Per Home Run – 14.08
  • 6th All Time AB / RBI Ratio – 23.08 (23.0819) (Active Leader)
  • 9th All Time in Slugging % – .5988
  • 10th All Time in OPS – 1.0076
  • 2002 AL Batting Champion
  • 2004 World Series MVP
  • 8-time Silver Slugger Award Winner (1995, 1999-2005)
  • Had a 17 game postseason hitting streak which is tied for longest in baseball history.
  • Has 20 postseason home runs, good for second all time. (Bernie Williams has 22)

That’s a very impressive resume, should Manny decide to retire right now.

But let’s do a little projecting here. Manny has 24 home runs right now. Let’s give him 20 more the rest of the season. That will put him at 479, around 20th all time. Manny has two more years on his Boston contract, and let’s say he plays three years after that, somewhere, retiring at age 39. So that’s five more active years after this one. Let’s say he averages just 35 home runs a year during that span. He’ll end up with 654 home runs, which would be good for 5th on the all time list. (As currently constituted)

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Sox Marathon in Chicago

The Red Sox had a chance to send a strong message to the rest of baseball by sweeping the World Champion White Sox this past weekend in Chicago. After taking the first two games in pretty convincing fashion, Boston couldn’t finish off the White Sox yesterday, twice blowing late inning leads before eventually losing 6-5 in a marathon 19 inning game that lasted six hours and 19 minutes.

The Red Sox still finished the first half of the season with a strong 53-33 record, good for a three game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. Some in the media (Hello, Glenn) were quite strong in their opinion that the Red Sox weren’t interested in winning this season, but were more interested in building for the future. However, the consensus around baseball after the first half of the season seems to be that this is a better team than we saw in 2005.

Gordon Edes looks at a long, crazy afternoon at U.S. Cellular field in Chicago. Michael Silverman notes that yesterday’s game was long enough to tide anyone missing baseball over for the next three days. Sean McAdam observes that Ernie Banks should’ve been in attendance as the two clubs did play the equivalent of two games yesterday afternoon in Chicago. Tom Yantz has more on the third longest game in Red Sox history. David Borges notes that when Jonathan Papelbon took the mound to try and close out the game yesterday, no one could’ve imagined that there would still be 10 innings and three hours of baseball remaining. Bill Ballou says that no matter how frustrating or devastating this loss might be, it still only counts as one, no matter that it lasted longer than two.

Bob Ryan recaps the Red Sox chances to win yesterday, and how the White Sox finally were able to come through and end the marathon session in Chicago. Steve Buckley writes about the Red Sox kid pitchers, who give this team a bright future. He notes that the four of them all appear to have both the stuff and the makeup to handle pitching in Boston. Buckley also reports on Jonathan Papelbon blowing his third save of the season, giving up a ninth inning home run to Jermaine Dye.

Edes’ notebook has an update on Curt Schilling, who took a Jim Thome line drive off his elbow in the sixth inning yesterday. Silverman’s notebook has more on Schilling. Yantz’s notebook also reports on Schilling, who thinks he’ll be able to make his next start on Saturday. Borges’ notebook has a Wily Mo Pena update, as Pena has been feeling some soreness in his fingers which might delay his return to the Red Sox. Ballou’s notebook examines the Red Sox position in first place heading into the break.

Nick Cafardo has a brief All Star Notebook, with a note from the Futures Games, where Portland Sea Dogs reliever Edgar Martinez made an appearance.

Chad Finn has a brief look at a disturbing picture from a mid-1990’s Sports Illustrated.

Steve Bulpett talks to Paul Pierce’s agent, who says that his client wants nothing more than to stay in Boston. Shira Springer has a look at Ryan Gomes, who she says has shown the ability to make tough choices on and off the court look easy. Gomes is playing with the Celtics summer league team, and looking to build on his promising rookie season. Scott Souza notes that Gerald Green has shown he can dunk with the best of them, but is working this summer on being able to play the rest of the game with the best of them as well.

Frank Dell’Apa reports on Italy winning the World Cup. John Powers says that penalty kicks are no way to win soccer’s biggest prize, but that’s how the Italians did it. Jim Donaldson says the kicks were an “utterly ridiculous way to decide the biggest game in the world of team sports.” Maria Cramer and Stephanie Conduff report on the celebrations in Boston’s North End, while Gregory Smith looks at the joy of the Italian fans in Providence and Jeff Jacobs in Hartford. Alex Beam reports on the crowd in City Hall plaza.

Highlights From the Weekend:

Steve Buckley had the cover story of the back page of the Herald on Sunday, asserting that Manny and the Red Sox are making a mockery of the midseason classic. It’s my contention that a number of the knights of the keyboard (and microphones) have tried way too hard to make this whole thing an issue. If the fans were really insulted by Manny, wouldn’t they have not voted for him this year because he had missed previous All Star games under a cloud of media driven suspicion? Jon Couture says that the All Star game has bigger problems than Manny Ramirez’s absence. Alan Greenwood isn’t getting too worked up over Manny’s absence either.

Nick Cafardo had the Sunday Baseball Notes in the Globe, with old standby J.P. Ricciardi willing and eager to fill up space for the Globe scribe. I wonder if Ricciardi is on his way to becoming Nick’s baseball version of Tom Donahoe? Alex Speier looked at a fine first half for the Red Sox. The Globe Magazine also had a further look at Seth Mnookin’s new book “Feeding the Monster”, with this one focusing on the sections dealing with the relationship between Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein.

Peter May’s Basketball Notes has undrafted free agent guard Allan Ray taking his best shot the NBA after landing a partially guaranteed contract from the Celtics. Mark Murphy had a must-read feature on Celtics second round pick Leon Powe, who has battled adversity and tragedy his entire life, but has emerged as a strong force both on and off the basketball court. Murphy’s NBA Notes examined John Paxson’s move to bring Ben Wallace to Chicago. Scott Souza said that the Celtics could be playing even more small ball this season.

Ron Borges’ Football Notes had five questions he feels that the Patriots need to answer heading into training camp.

Stephen Harris’ The NHL column reported that Peter Chiarelli will have a free hand in his duties and will become the all-powerful hockey czar of the franchise. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell’s Hockey Notes looked at what the Bruins new additions, specifically Zdeno Chara, and to a lesser extent Shean Donovan and Mark Mowers, will bring to the club. Buckley slightly made up for his Saturday column with a look at the changing face of the Bruins in yesterday’s paper. Douglas Flynn noted that the Bruins have filled up their salary cap space very quickly and had better hope that their investments pay off, as they will be paying these bills for a long time to come.

ESPN has the Baseball Home Run Derby at 8:00.

Ortiz, Sox, Slam Rays

I apologize for the brevity of this and other recent entries. An issue at work has all my time occupied, as I was in the office until after midnight last night.

The Red Sox snapped their three game slide and beat the Devil Rays last night 12-5 in Tampa, behind two David Ortiz home runs, including a ninth inning grand slam.

Get the coverage on the Red Sox Daily Links page.

Gordon Edes has a look at Seth Mnookin’s new book, “Feeding the Monster”, which is an inside look at the workings of the Red Sox. There are several excerpts quoted in the review, several of which deal with Theo Epstein’s temporary departure from the Red Sox last fall. If you had any doubts that it was Dan Shaughnessy’s piece in the Globe that was the straw that broke Epstein’s back, this snippet should dispel them:

And Epstein, despite his ``bitterness" over leaks about the negotiations, ``was at peace" with his decision to return, until reading an Oct. 30 column in the Globe by Dan Shaughnessy, headlined ``Let's iron out some of this dirty laundry," that was critical of Epstein. Convinced that either Lucchino or his longtime lieutenant, Dr. Charles Steinberg, was the source of the column, Epstein e-mailed Henry with his intentions to resign the next day, according to the book.

To say that I have reservations about the book is putting it mildly…and it really has nothing to do with Mnookin or the content he put into the book. He’s a solid writer, seems to be a good guy, and did what he was supposed to do with this project. However, what was the Red Sox motivation for this project? One person in the business told me that John Henry and company originally approached Michael Lewis of “Moneyball” fame after the success of that publication to do a similar book on them. He declined the offer, and then shortly after, Mnookin was brought in and given the unfettered access to the organization and a key to Fenway Park. The Red Sox were the ones that wanted a book done on themselves, yet they complain about leaks in the organization and dispel any notion of a “cartel”. They’re clearly seeking the spotlight as an organization, and perhaps used this book to further their own causes and garner public perception onto their side. The fact that this review is done in the Globe, while perhaps innocuous in nature, just further fuels the speculation about the incestuous Globe/Red Sox relationship.

All that being said…I can’t wait to read the book. It promises to be very interesting.

Shira Springer has Paul Pierce reflecting on his future and his legacy. Pierce admits that if the Celtics don’t show signs of becoming contenders very soon, it might be time for him to move on. Scott Souza talks to Raef LaFrentz about his time in Boston and being traded to Portland. Peter May reports on the Celtics exercising contract options on four young players and also signing undrafted free agent guard Allan Ray from Villanova.

Stephen Harris reports on the Bruins signing former Red Wing and UNH alumn Mark Mowers. He also cites a source that says the possibility of Brendan Shanahan signing with the Bruins is now dead. Bud Barth also reports on the signing. Mike Loftus has Zdeno Chara happy to accept the challenge of leading the Bruins defense.

David Scott is tired of the RemDog infomercials on the NESN Red Sox telecasts. Jim Baker previews the baseball All Star game festivities and coverage, while Susan Bickelhaupt looks at an English language documentary on Japanese baseball, and has a few other media notes.

NESN has Red Sox/White Sox at 8:30.