Patriots Game Day Blog Reminder

Just a reminder that we’ll be blogging before, during and after tonight’s Patriots preseason game over on the Patriots Game Day page.

Lester possibly has Cancer?

Tony Massarotti has a special breaking news report on the Boston Herald website, where he says that Red Sox rookie lefthander Jon Lester is being examined not only for a possible back injury as a result of a recent car accident, but also for cancer. Massarotti says:

Although Red Sox officials are being extremely tight-lipped about the matter, Lester has been undergoing an array of exams in Boston for internal medical issues, including cancer.

The tests have prompted serious concern within the organization. Other than citing Lester’s ongoing back problems, Sox general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona have declined to address any matters concerning the health of one of their brightest prospects.

However, during the team’s nine-game road trip that ended today with a 7-2 loss to the Oakland A’s, Lester was diagnosed with enlarged lymph nodes, according to sources. Such a symptom can be caused by an array of issues, from infections to cancer.

I’m at a loss for words here. How many of us said that things couldn’t get any worse than having Big Papi in the hospital with a heart condition?

Get the rest of the Red Sox stories on the Red Sox Daily Links page.

The Patriots wind down the preseason tonight with an exhibition with the New York Giants. The BSMW Patriots Game Day crew has their weekly roundtable discussion on the team, probing such topics as Deion Branch, roster depth and Reche Caldwell.

You can browse through stories from newspapers and blogs around the region on the Patriots Daily Links page.

NESN has Red Sox/Blue Jays at 7:00. WCVB has Patriots/Giants at 7:30. ESPN2 has Boston College/Central Michigan college football at 6:00.

Green Helps Out

On the Patriots Game Day page, Bill Barnwell examines why Laurence Maroney was a curious draft choice for the New England Patriots, and what chance he stands of being a success in the NFL.

Bob Duffy reports on Patriots defensive lineman Jarvis Green being honored with the Ron Burton Service Award for his volunteer work in his native New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina. Robert Lee has more on Green, who might be one of the most well rounded Patriots, both on and off the field. Alan Greenberg has more on Green, who is always eager and willing to help out others. Albert Breer looks at how Katrina moved Green to action last summer. Michael Parente looks at how the devastation in his home town really moved Green to do anything and everything he could to help out.

John Tomase examines how the Patriots will find work for both Maroney and Corey Dillon this coming season. Ian Clark looks at the solid group the Patriots have assembled on the offensive line this season in an effort to protect Tom Brady. Rich Garven looks at little Patrick Cobbs hoping to buck the odds and win a roster spot with the Patriots. Dan Pires has Dan Klecko happy to be just a defensive lineman once again. Eric McHugh has Rodney Harrison positioning himself as one of many early candidates for comeback player of the year.

In an Tomase sidebar, Bob Kraft seems to think the Deion Branch situation will be resolved one way or the other by Friday. Shalise Manza Young has Dillon saying that his helmet caused his eye injury on Saturday night, not an opposing player. There’s been some buzz out there about an Associated Press article that has Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick talking pretty frequently, indicating that whatever issues there were between the two have been worked out. This isn’t the first mention of the two this summer. In the first week of camp, Ron Borges had an article on the “Oklahoma” drill and mentioned how Belichick, Parcells and Marty Schottenheimer spent time together this summer talking in New York during a gathering to honor Harry Carson.

Mike Reiss’ notebook has Bob Kraft holding out hope that something can be worked out with Deion Branch, and also has a look at yesterday’s roster cuts. Tomase’s notebook has more on Green’s work being saluted. Lee’s notebook looks at yesterday’s roster cuts. Garven’s notebook has more on those released by the team yesterday, which appears to include safety Ray Ventrone, who is no longer listed on the roster. Parente’s notebook looks at Monty Beisel and Marquise Hill surviving the first round of cuts for the Patriots.

Beckett Good, Sox Bats Still Silent.

The Red Sox fell to their fifth straight loss on the west coast, 2-1 to the Oakland A’s. Josh Beckett pitched well once again, but the Red Sox have simply no offense to speak of.

Jeff Horrigan says that last night might be considered at least a moral victory for the Red Sox. Nick Cafardo refers to the Red Sox patchwork lineup as a “collection of glorified Triple A hitters.” Steven Krasner notes that the Red Sox were finally able to score last night. Once. It wasn’t enough. David Heuschkel looks at a physically beat up and mentally spent Red Sox club falling again in Oakland.

Gordon Edes reports on the tests that David Ortiz is being put through for his irregular heartbeat, talks to others with the condition, and looks at what the end result might be. Tony Massarotti notes that the Red Sox are being very careful with Ortiz, and with things the way they are, there might be no hurry to rush him back out onto the field. Liz Kowalczyk in the Globe says that the condition of atrial fibrillation shouldn’t really threaten Ortiz’s playing career. Jessica Fargen in the Herald says that it is too early to be sure about anything. Felice J Freyer says that this condition is most usually benign.

Massarotti brings up the name of Reggie Lewis as a warning example that the Red Sox need to do everything possible to be sure about Ortiz’s health. Krasner looks at the Sox losing all their muscle in the middle of their lineup, the biggest loss of course being Ortiz. Horrigan has Ortiz’s teammates doing their best to encourage him with stories of heart issues that have worked out ok.

Jackie MacMullan talks to Larry Bird, who has also suffered from an irregular heartbeat, having an incident while he was coaching the Pacers. Bird also talks about how much he enjoys watching Manny Ramirez. Jim Donaldson says Theo Epstein has no clue and that he should be fitted with a clown suit. Krasner’s Inside the Game looks at Josh Beckett suddenly finding his breaking ball. Alex Speier looks at the Red Sox 2006 season crumbling “with all the suddenness of the Old Man of the Mountain.” Jay Gearan looks at a Gardner native who has struck up a long time friendship and business partnership with Mark Loretta, long before he joined the Red Sox.

Cafardo’s notebook has Theo Epstein entertaining offers for David Wells. Horrigan’s notebook has the Dodgers as a likely suitor for Wells. Krasner’s notebook has more on the Sox efforts to trade Wells, as well as well as an upcoming group rehab at Pawtucket. Heuschkel’s notebook has more on Ortiz.

Misc

Jim McCabe has a mini-feature on caddies who refuse to give up the dream of playing the game that they love.

Kevin Henkin says that the struggles of the Red Sox could open the door a crack for the Bruins and Celtics to win back some of their depleted fan bases.

Bob Ryan looks at Team USA’s chances in the World Basketball Championships out in Japan. Joe Sullivan looks at the many NH links to Dave Gavitt, which may not all be mentioned in his upcoming Hall of Fame induction speech.

Fluto Shinzawa has rookie Phil Kessel joining the Bruins veterans for an informal skate yesterday.

NESN has Red Sox/A’s at 3:30. ESPN has Tigers/Yankees at 7:00.

Rodney Speaks

John Molori’s Media Blitz has Gary Tanguay expressing the belief that his WBCN Patriots pregame show can take listeners away from the new WEEI NFL Sunday show. Tanguay and company also tell proudly how they are not waving Patriots “pom-poms”, nor are they team ‘ball-washers”. Here’s a little tip though, guys. When a team goes out and dominates like the Patriots did on Saturday night, and you’re on the air going out of your way trying to find things to criticize so that you won’t be a “ball-washer”, you just sound like an idiot…Being objective is great, but for so many media types, it means being “critical”. They’re not the same thing. Molori’s column also touches on a number of other items, including media treatment of Manny Ramirez.

Rodney Harrison spoke with reporters yesterday for the first time about getting back out on the playing field in game action on Saturday night against the Redskins. Dan Pires has Harrison saying that he’s feeling really good, which can’t be good news to the teams on the Patriots schedule this season. Shalise Manza Young has Harrison finding a positive in his time off this past year – he was able to allow his body time to recover and settle. Mike Reiss has Harrison shaking off any tentativeness he might’ve felt when he first stepped on the field, and realizing that his knee could stand up to a little twist in the pile. Michael Felger says that Harrison’s return really boosts the Patriots defense, making it tougher and more solid. Michael Parente has Harrison ready to take the field on opening day for the Patriots. Albert Breer has Harrison and Dan Koppen grateful for a return to the daily grind of the NFL.

Rich Garven says that receiver Kelvin Kight is putting himself into a position to be considered for a roster spot on the Patriots. Alan Greenberg has a look at Patrick Cobbs, who has certainly opened eyes with his performance in the preseason, overcoming the odds and making it tough for the Patriots to cut him. Chris Kennedy also has a look at Cobbs, but doubts that he makes the final roster. Young has Mike Vrabel saying that a trip to China next summer would be “terrible” for the Patriots preparation for the season. Eric McHugh notes that the Patriots have been near-perfect in the the last two preseason games. Christopher Price looks at the job Ben Watson has done in stepping up in the absence of Deion Branch.

Felger’s notebook says that the trade market from Deion Branch might’ve shrunk a bit yesterday with the trade of Dante Stallworth to the Eagles. Reiss’ notebook has the Patriots’ starters looking at a light load Thursday night against the Giants. Young’s notebook has more on Cobbs making a case for himself, a subject also explored in McHugh’s notebook. The impending cuts can cause some tension among those on the bubble. Parente’s notebook has more on this topic. Garven’s notebook has more on Harrison talking about his return to the field.

Sox Fall Again

The Red Sox fell once again out west, getting thumped by the A’s 9-0 out in Oakland. This is beyond painful.

Gordon Edes has the sad tale from Oakland where the Sox played without David Ortiz, who was sent home for more tests on what could be an irregular heartbeat. Jeff Horrigan looks at the Red Sox fielding a lineup that would’ve been unacceptable even in spring training. David Heuschkel notes that once you thought things just couldn’t get any worse for the Red Sox, they did.

Tony Massarotti reports on the Sox taking no chances with Ortiz and sending him back home for tests on his irregular heartbeat. Nick Cafardo says there’s nothing manager Terry Francona can do to turn things around for his club, as things have just gotten so far out of control. Bill Reynolds also looks at Francona, as the manager just has no answers for all that is happening to his team right now.

Massarotti also writes that not having the leadership of Jason Varitek and even Johnny Damon has really hurt the Red Sox while all the pieces have been coming apart. Steven Krasner’s Inside the Game looks at the effect the the Oakland Raiders football field has on the baseball diamond in the Coliseum. Rob Bradford knows things have been just awful in August, but he tries to be positive about things anyway. Not an easy task. Joe Haggerty has more on the Sox coming undone in the August heat.

You can check out the coverage from the Oakland/San Francisco area on the Bay Area Sports Pages.

Edes’ notebook examines how Francona went about putting his patchwork lineup together last night. Horrigan’s notebook has Carlos Pena living a dream and finally suiting up for the Red Sox. Krasner’s notebook has more on Ortiz’s absence from the lineup, but only calls it the flu. Heuschkel’s notebook has more on Pena’s debut with the Sox.

Fluto Shinzawa has Zdeno Chara stepping up and taking charge at a workout with his new Bruins teammates. Chara will wear number 33 for the Bruins this season.

NESN has Red Sox/A’s at 10:00.

Not Much to Knock with Pats

Greg Doyle on the Patriots Game Day page has a review of the tape from Saturday night, and no doubt to some people’s disappointment, has a hard time coming up with things to be critical about.

How good are the Patriots? Mike Reiss talks to Joe Theismann and Randy Cross in the aftermath of Saturday’s 41-0 preseason win over the Redskins to try and get an answer to that question. Michael Felger says that Junior Seau appears to be a good fit with the Patriots defense, as he showed something on Saturday night that we didn’t see at all from Chad Brown and Monty Beisel last season. Felger also looks at ups and downs from Saturday night. Shalise Manza Young says that Bill Belichick still found plenty of teaching opportunities from Saturday night’s game film. Rich Garven says that the Patriots displayed a dash of midseason form against the Redskins.

Jim Donaldson says that there was plenty of good to come out of this weekend for the Patriots, not the least of which was seeing Rodney Harrison and Dan Koppen on the field again. Alan Greenberg has the Patriots showing some swagger in the win over the Redskins and gets former Patriot Christian Fauria’s impressions on his old club. Ian Clark notes that Benjamin Watson has quickly become Tom Brady’s favorite target. Dan Pires says that the Patriots showed signs that they are capable of dominance this season. Christopher Price has the team preaching caution in the wake of their performance Saturday night.

Reiss’ notebook has coverage of the offensive line, which protected the quarterback very well on Saturday night, despite the Redskins sending an extra rusher on almost every down. Felger’s notebook looks at roster cuts that are due tomorrow at 4:00 PM. Garven’s notebook has the Patriots in line for a visit to China next summer. Michael Parente’s notebook says that Marquise Hill and Monty Beisel might be two players in jeopardy come cutdown day.

Swept in Seattle

The Red Sox were swept in a series for the second straight weekend, as they dropped three in Seattle to the Mariners, including yesterday’s 6-3 setback. David Ortiz and Mike Lowell each homered for the Red Sox, but it wasn’t enough once again.

Nick Cafardo says that the roster is so thin these days you can almost see through it, and no one has any answers for the problems. Jeff Horrigan looks at the Red Sox sinking to new depths out in Seattle. Steven Krasner says that it might be time to admit that the wheels have just about fallen off for the Sox. David Heuschkel says that Terry Francona may not be able to take much more of this.

Tony Massarotti says that the Red Sox have the look of a team that is starting to quit. Krasner’s Inside the Game has Kevin Youkilis put in a tough spot yesterday in left field. Horrigan reports on Jon Lester’s back pain, which has him scratched from tonight. Massarotti looks at things quickly falling apart for Kyle Snyder in yesterday’s start.

Dan Shaughnessy, of course, blames everything on Manny, (“Sox-Held-Hostage-By-Manny-Tour”) and says that it is no wonder that Theo Epstein never signed his contract. There are plenty of nicknames out there for Shaughnessy, but I’m seriously thinking of referring to him as La-Z-Dan from now on.

Cafardo’s notebook has more on Lester’s sore back, which will keep him from making his start against Oakland tonight, and might even shut him down for the rest of the season. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Manny having to sit out again yesterday. Krasner’s notebook has more on Manny’s absence. Heuschkel’s notebook also looks at the Red Sox continuing to be at the mercy of Manny’s knee.

Weekend Highlights:

Ron Borges had a very good look at Rodney Harrison getting back onto the field. Borges took the right angle to this story, focusing on how much it means for Harrison and and the Patriots just to have him back on the field. Michael Felger also wrote about Harrison, but chose to try and take the downer route and tell us how far he has to go and how the “real” Harrison would’ve made several plays that this edition wasn’t really near. Dan Pires says that Saturday night was a very good night for Rodney and an even better one for those who had been waiting for his return. Albert Breer on the Patriots Beat says that Saturday night was all about making strides for Harrison.

Felger’s NFL Notes focused in on the Bill Parcells/Terrell Owens soap opera in Dallas. Borges’ Football Notes led off with a note about the NFL planning on playing a preseason game in China next summer, and that the Patriots would be one of the teams possibly being considered to play there. An article by Mike Sando in the Tacoma News Tribune tells us that it will be the Patriots and Seahawks heading to China next summer, with the Patriots possibly also spending a week in Seattle. In John Altavilla’s NFL column, he starts out with a look at offseason rule changes. Ian Clark’s On Football notes started out with a look at the latest Patriots rookie offensive lineman looking to win a starting job on Ryan O’Callaghan. Eric McHugh looked at Reche Caldwell trying to make an impression with the Patriots.

On Saturday, Felger criticized the Patriots for how they’ve handled the Deion Branch situation, and noting that the Patriots are doing the same thing to Branch that the Red Sox did to Manny Ramirez when they put on him waivers a few years back. Felger is not really knocking the Patriots for what they’re doing with Branch, but rather the timing of it. Tom E Curran had a pretty thorough look at the situation, and concluded with three key questions that the Patriots offer to Branch prompts. Borges offered a measured assessment of the of the situation, noting that it isn’t ideal for either side. Jim Donaldson notes that Branch or no Branch, the Patriots appear ready to start the season. Mark Farinella took a crack at attempting to guess at what the final roster will look like for the Patriots.

Baseball

Nick Cafardo’s Baseball Notes have Nick polling people around baseball about who is the “toughest” manager in the game today. There were also some interesting quotes from Johnny Damon on Manny Ramirez. In Covering All Bases, Tony Massarotti looks at what has turned into another disappointing season for the Blue Jays, who still hold out hope that they can finish ahead of the Red Sox. (No Glenn, you’d still be wrong about both teams if that happened.) Jon Couture looked at Westport’s Kyle Fernandes working his way through the Red Sox minor league system, he’s currently at Single A Greenville, but has opened a few eyes with his performance there. On Saturday, Steven Krasner reported on how stress took its toll on David Ortiz and landed him in the hospital a week ago. Art Davidson said that the Red Sox should keep Jonathan Papelbon in the closer role for the future.

Right in the midst of an otherwise usual rip job on Manny Ramirez, Dan Shaughnessy seemed to try to get people off his own back by inserting the following paragraph into his Sunday column.

Bloggers, e-mail friends, fanboys, and other wonderful Globe readers: Please, this is not a Manny rip job. These are facts. Manny Ramírez is hitting .326 with 34 homers and 100 RBIs. He has played in 123 of Boston's first 129 games, which makes him something of a iron man in today's game. As previously stated, he is a modern-day Jimmie Foxx, a certain Hall of Famer, and he works hard at his craft. He has chosen not to talk to the media this year, and we don't care if you don't care. Even when he's not talking, Ramírez is polite, and his presence is anything but a disruption in the clubhouse. He goes about his business in his private orbit and doesn't bother anybody.

Just because you say it isn’t a rip job doesn’t change the fact that it IS one, Dan.

Saturday was Futures day at Fenway, with Single A Lowell and AAA Pawtucket each playing games in front of the green monster. Maureen Mullen said that Fenway was the main attraction for many who attended the games. Paul Harber covers a sweet sweep for the organization Saturday. Kevin Gray leads off his coverage with a look at NH native Mike Chambers starring for Lowell at Fenway. Seeing all the Red Sox prospects in one place made Rob Bradford wonder: Is the Sox future worth banking on?

NBA

In Scott Souza’s Courtside View, he talks to two men who coached Rajon Rondo the last few years and gets their opinion on the Celtics’ rookie point guard. Shira Springer’s Basketball Notes had a look at Al Harrington finally finding his way back to the Pacers, and the difficulty Danny Ainge has had in finding deals this summer, as he apparently places a higher value on his young players than do other NBA executives.

NHL

In Douglas Flynn’s On Hockey, he noted that the Bruins will need major crash courses in chemistry to start out training camp. In his NHL Notes, Steve Conroy has Bruins vice president Charlie Jacobs explaining ticket price increases for this season. He also has some leftover tidbits from Peter Chiarelli’s media update this week. In the Globe’s Hockey Notes, Kevin Paul Dupont advocates Zdeno Chara as the Bruin best fit to wear the Captain’s “C” this upcoming season.

NESN has Red Sox/A’s at 10:00. ESPN has Packers/Bengals preseason football at 8:00.

Weekend Watch – 8/25/2006

The Patriots will take on the Washington Redskins Saturday night in preseason game number three. A reminder that we’ve been blogging before, during and after the game on the Patriots Game Day Page. Get your newspaper and blog coverage on the Patriots Daily Links page, and from old friend Howard Bryant in the pages of the Washington Post.

The Red Sox will be in Seattle this weekend to take on the Mariners. Keep up with the coverage on the Red Sox Daily Links page as well as from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times.

A few items of note from the week:

* Bob Ryan’s column on Friday is a must-read. He expands on his statement from earlier in the week in which he said that we’ve lost our way as sports fans. In this column he explains how this whole “Red Sox Nation” concept has just gotten way out of control and that being fan shouldn’t be about assigning blame when things don’t go perfectly. He says:

Blame it on talk radio. Blame it on websites and chat rooms and blogs. Blame it on Shaughnessy (he can take it). But somewhere along the way, far too many members of this so-called "Red Sox Nation" have perverted the concept of fandom. As a result, there is no more narcissistic group of people rooting for any sports team in North America than that subsection of Red Sox followers who have made the shifting fortunes of the team all about them. When the ball went through Buckner's legs, it was, "How can he do that to me?" And so it continues.

Amen.

* With ESPN’s Boston’s announcement this week of their new “Patriots Friday” programming, WEEI also announced several changes to their “NFL Sunday”programming. Dale Arnold will no longer the hosting the show, instead Doug Brown will be running the show, joined by Tom E Curran of the new NBCsports.com, Paul Perillo of Patriots Football Weekly and former Patriot linebacker Steve Nelson. This show quickly becomes the best program in the WEEI lineup…

* The Remy Report website introduced a new feature last weekend, The Remy Report Switchboard, which allows members to able to ask Remy and other guest speakers questions during live audio broadcasts, or take subjects of the day offline, and debate one-on-one with each other about pressing Red Sox topics – all over the telephone. The technology is provided by RNK Telecom’s new calling service SubjectTalk.

* The Home for Little Wanderers is excited to be auctioning off a private round of golf and lunch for three with baseball legend, Dennis Eckersley, as part of Design Home® 2006. The winning bidder has the choice of playing at Turner Hill, a nationally acclaimed championship golf course located in Ipswich, MA or playing at his/her own club. Visit www.design-home.com to bid on the prize. Bidding for this item starts on September 6th.

Terry Nau comes out in defense of Manny. He concludes:

Bottom line is, the Boston media are not doing their job when they accuse an injured player of quitting on his teammates at the height of the pennant race. Make an effort to learn the player's language. Walk a mile in his shoes. Go ask your questions in Spanish, just like the reporter in my office does every Friday night.

There was also some interesting Roberto Clemente stuff in there. Nau might become a pariah among the local sports media for this column.

Jon Hanson and Michael McCann teamed up for an interesting column entitled “The psychopathology of athlete worship.”

Sports Media Links from Across the Country.

New England

Susan Bickelhaupt has a look at Kathryn Tappen, the new reporter and weekend anchor for “SportsDesk” on NESN. She also looks at the new instant replay that will be in use at the US Open. David Scott has ESPN defending and stating that “commentators are not misleading our viewers into believing they are present at the arena” when broadcasting the FIBA World Championships. He also talks to Howard Bryant, formerly of the Boston Herald and currently with the Washington Post about returning to Boston to cover the Redskins/Patriots Preseason game. John Molori reported on rumors that Tony Massarotti will be tapped to join Michael Felger on the afternoon drive program on ESPN Boston.

East Coast

Richard Sandomir says that Paul Tagliabue likely won’t fire Bryant Gumbel for remarks the new NFL Network play-by-play man made recently about Gene Upshaw, but perhaps might pull him aside for a private talk before he hands off the league reins to Roger Goodell. Phil Mushnick scolds ESPN for encouraging the type of behavior that led a 12-year-old to swear on camera during a LLWS broadcast. Andrew Marchand talks to Cris Collinsworth, who doesn’t expect Gumbel to be fired for his comments about the league and Upshaw. Marchand’s Memo of the Week is to NFL viewers regarding Tony Kornheiser. Bob Raissman says that firing Gumbel would be too pricey for the league. Jane McManus talks to recently named ESPN vice president for studio production Craig Lazarus about growing up in a family in the sports business.

Aaron Bracy tells us that “Paul Tagliabue’s reaction to Bryant Gumbel’s recent criticism of the league is another example of why the NFL shouldn’t be televising its own games on the league-owned NFL Network.” He also has a piece on NFL Films Producer Pete DeStefano, who produced four-minute ESPN “Distant Replay’ piece on Vince Papale that inspired the movie “Invincible.” Bracy’s Beyond the Sports Page blog has a few other media items and tidbits. Laura Nachman has former Boston channel 56 sports anchor Michael Barkann gearing up for a busy fall schedule, which includes calling the US Open for USA. Ashley Fox asks the question “How can a network that is owned by a league truly be objective as well as opinionated about its subject matter?” Chris Zolkovich looks at the art of the perfect call and some of those who have mastered it.

Michael McCarthy looks at ESPN2 gearing up for the debut of its first weekly fantasy football program, The Fantasy Show. He also lists out five things to improve NFL coverage. Michael Hiestand looks at Chris Rose expanding his role on FOX Sports by being named host of the network’s coverage of five Bowl Championship Series college football games. Jim Williams has more on the Gumbel saga. Tim Lemke has the NFL giving a big thumbs up to Invincible after shunning several other football movies in recent years. Tom Knott refers to the “self-righteous, pompous air” surrounding Gumbel.

South

Jim Sarni has a look at NFL coverage this season, with Flex scheduling coming into play, as well as Monday Night Football moving to ESPN and the NFL Network getting into the broadcast mix. Dave Darling has John McEnroe talking about the instant reply system being used for the first time in a Grand Slam event. He also says we shouldn’t take fantasy football advice from ESPN “experts” and questions Peter Gammons attending a Red Sox/Yankees game in John Henry’s luxury suite. David Barron has a plethora of notes on Houston area and national sports radio and media. Barry Horn touches on Bryant Gumbel.

Mid-America

Teddy Greenstein looks at an upcoming book on Charlie Weis’ first season at Notre Dame entitled The New Gold Standard, which is due to be released September 5th. Greenstein will be heading back to the college football beat next week and handing back the sports media duties at the Tribune to Ed Sherman for the next six months. Judd Zulgad says that the NFL knew what it had when it hired Bryant Gumbel to do play-by-play duties for its TV network, so they shouldn’t be surprised at his antics. Bob Wolfley notes that Milwaukee Bucks TV schedule will remain unchanged for the third straight year. Broadcasters Jim Paschke and Jon McGlocklin return for their 21st and 31st seasons respectively. Dan Caesar has a familiar story of the NFL Network battling a cable company about where the network should be placed on the offerings. This time it is Charter Communications. Roger Brown has Bernie Kosar refuting concerns about his health as a result of his appearance on Browns TV coverage. Paul Daugherty says that nice guy Steve Stewart just didn’t have the dynamic personality to successfully replace Joe Nuxhall in the Reds radio booth.

West Coast

Larry Stewart looks at The Tennis Channel putting itself on the map by acquiring the broadcast rights to the French Open, beginning next year. Tom Hoffarth has a long look at how Invincible came to the big screen, as well a lot of other media notes. Michael Lev offers news and views on a wide ranging number of sports media topics. Jim Carlisle reports that a pair of Oaks Christian high school football games will be aired on FSN and ESPN. John Maffei looks at San Diego sports anchor Jeff Cawley, who will be retiring and walking away from the business in a couple weeks at the age of 39. (EDIT: A couple of readers have pointed out that Cawley was one of the original sports guys at FOX25 here in Boston…good catch.) Jay Posner leads with CSTV’s ongoing battle with Cox Cable. Joe Davidson looks at the lack of objectivity in the 49ers and Raiders preseason telecasts. I loved this comment:

But the real gong goes to George Atkinson. He's a former Raiders defensive back who tries to pass as a sideline reporter. He stands there weighted down in a Raiders shirt and jacket. But he's completely incapable of asking a probing question. You half expect to see him kiss Warren Sapp or LaMont Jordan on the head after suck-up interviews.

Gearing Up for the Weekend

Quick Links this morning:

The gang is back for another riveting edition of Patriots Game Day Roundtable. This week’s topics include Junior Seau, Bam Childress, Dean Pees and Consumer Fraud.

David Scott serves up a monster edition of Scott’s Shots, complete with an interview with Howard Bryant, who will be returning to Boston with the Washington Post this weekend to cover the Redskins/Patriots game. He also looks at the ProJo making plans to replace Tom E. Curran, heading to NBC Sports.

The Red Sox handed Jered Weaver his first big league loss, as they defeated the Angels 2-1 out in California last night. Josh Beckett pitched six strong innings, but had to leave the game with a cut on his right middle finger. David Ortiz hit his 46th home run in the win.

Check out the Red Sox coverage on the Red Sox Daily Links page. Of note are the reports that Ortiz spent last Saturday night in a Boston hospital with a possible irregular heartbeat, which proved to be nothing serious.

Get your Patriots stories on the Patriots Daily Links page. Also, Alan Greenberg looks at what he thinks the 53 man roster will end up looking like. Jennifer Toland has a look at Tully Banta-Cain, who many feel is poised for a break-out season. Hector Longo profiles Stephen Gostkowski. Michael Parente has Asante Samuel making progress over his struggles of last season.

Mick Colageo has Peter Chiarelli adjusting to the challenges of Boston. Bud Barth says that training camp should begin in three weeks with the roster looking pretty much the same as it does right now. Douglas Flynn has Chiarelli being willing to get his message and goals out there. Kevin Paul Dupont has a feature on new Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.

Kicking Things Off

Bill Barnwell has The Case For – And Against – Adam Vinatieri, Part II posted over on the Patriots Game Day page. Barnwell looks at whether Vinatieri will put the Colts over the top and if the Patriots made a mistake by not signing him.

Speaking of kickers, the Patriots made their decision yesterday on who is going to hold down that position this season as they released veteran Martin Gramatica, leaving rookie Stephen Gostkowski as the winner of the competition. Mike Reiss looks at Gostkowski, who welcomes the challenge of kicking in New England. John Tomase says that this decision was more an affirmation of Gostkowski than an indictment of Gramatica. Kevin McNamara has more on the Patriots settling on Adam Vinatieri’s replacement. Alan Greenberg looks at the decision and says there are still questions to be answered about whether the rookie will be able to kick in cold weather. Chris Kennedy says there was no puff of white smoke, but the Patriots still named a successor yesterday. Rich Garven and Christopher Price round out the coverage of the kicking decision.

Albert Breer has Vince Wilfork trading in the Miami way for the Foxboro way and poised to have a big year in this, his third NFL season. Michael Parente also focuses on Wilfork and his development in learning the Patriots defense and techniques. Tomase has Johnathan Sullivan attempting to set the record straight on his arrest in June and on characterizations being made of him in the media. Kennedy has a look at the tight ends looking to be a huge part of the offense. Ian Clark has a look at the kicking situation and Madden football 2007. Eric McHugh looks at Junior Seau getting his feet wet with the Patriots. Gary Dzen has Ellis Hobbs looking to make a big leap in his second year. Hector Longo has Rodney Harrison hoping to win this year for Seau.

Reiss’ notebook has more on Sullivan pleading his case before the media. Tomase’s notebook looks at an up and down camp for Monty Beisel. The Projo notebook says that the depth at tight end indicates that this is going to be a key position for the team this season. Garven’s notebook looks at whether the team might go with just two quarterbacks even though now they’re not going to carry two kickers. Parente’s notebook has more on Gramatica getting the boot from the Patriots. McHugh’s notebook has Dan Klecko focusing solely on the defensive line this summer.

Sox Snap Streak

The Red Sox managed to snap their six game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Angels. Jon Lester improved to 7-2, Jonathan Papelbon picked up his 33rd save and David Ortiz and Wily Mo Pena homered in the win.

Gordon Edes has the game story, tempered by the news that the Sox might be without Manny Ramirez for a while, as the slugger had to leave the game in the fourth inning because of soreness in his right knee – the same knee that caused so much mocking from the media over the All Star break. David Heuschkel however, suggests that perhaps Manny has simply quit on the team. Jeff Horrigan has more on the losing streak finally coming to an end for the Red Sox. Steven Krasner says manager Terry Francona is satisfied that last night’s win shows that his club hasn’t thrown in the towel.

Tony Massarotti writes a column…*gasp*…defending Manny. He makes some very good points, noting that every week, someone complains about a scorers decision. Why do we only hear about when Manny does it? He notes that perhaps the Red Sox should be accused of “dogging it” for not getting the necessary players around him to win another World Series. He concludes his piece by saying:

Unfortunately, Ramirez won’t cooperate enough to let us find out for sure, and shame on us for taking the easy way and thinking of him solely as a dope.

Wow. I’m stunned. A media member actually acknowledging this? When I wrote my Manny – Perception vs. Reality column, the whole point was that the media and fans largely overlook Manny’s greatness by just focusing on his shortcomings. It seems almost every day since I posted that, talk show hosts and media people seem to indirectly reference the accusations in that column by the way they preface their Manny comments by saying that they’re “not bashing Manny, but….” and then proceed to bash him. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. He won’t be truly appreciated until he’s gone. All course, Massarotti might’ve written that column just to be different from all other writers in town and to get some attention today. (If so, it worked.) Who knows whether he believes the things he wrote in there or not. I really hate to be cynical about this, but I’ve seen it too many times not to be.

Dan Shaughnessy treats one and all to another sarcastic and embarrassing column written prior to last night’s game. Hope the red wine from the hotel bar was good last night Dan, after all, you are in California. Krasner’s Inside the Game looks at Jon Lester piling up a high pitch count early once again.

Kevin Gray talks to Fisher Cats manager Doug Davis, who was on the Marlins with Josh Beckett. David has some theories about Beckett’s struggles, and it’s not surprise to him that Beckett has done especially bad without Jason Varitek behind the plate. Horrigan has a look at Dustin Pedroia attempting to settle in at the big league level. Massarotti has Keith Foulke coming through for the Sox again last night. Art Davidson reports that 1999 Red Sox draft pick Greg Montalbano is once again battling cancer.

Horrigan’s notebook has more on Manny’s injury, which could be tied to the hamstring tightness and might keep him out of the lineup for an extended period of time. Krasner’s notebook has more on Manny’s injury. Edes’ notebook has Jonathan Papelbon interested in a post-season trip to Japan with a group of MLB players, but the Red Sox aren’t so keen on their young closer making the trip. Heuschkel’s notebook has Doug Mirabelli talking about whether this Red Sox team can rally back into the playoff race.

Bruins and Misc.

Joe McDonald has newly signed Patrice Bergeron ready to be a leader with the Bruins. Mike Loftus says that the Bergeron deal truly spells a new era for the Bruins. Douglas Flynn agrees that this shows how much things really have changed in the Bruins front office this summer. Fluto Shinzawa has more on Bergeron and what he means to the Bruins.

The BSMW Power Play takes a look at the Bruins’ salary cap situation. Flynn’s notebook has Cam Neely impressed with the offseason overhaul done by the Bruins.

Lenny Megliola issued a thoughts column, while Buddy Thomas answers more made up questions from fictional readers.

ESPN has Portsmouth, NH taking on Georgia in the Little League World Series tonight at 7:30. ESPN2 has Cardinals/Mets at 7:00. FOX has Dolphins/Panthers preseason football at 8:00. NESN has Red Sox/Angels at 10:0.

ESPN Boston to Air “Patriots Friday”

The New England Patriots and ESPN Boston today announced that the station will team up to bring “Patriot Friday” to the airwaves each week starting on September 8th – the Friday prior to the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

The show will air in the afternoon from 4:00 to 7:00 and will be hosted by Michael Felger. Patriots players Troy Brown, Rosevelt Colvin and Matt Light will be regulars on the program, as will opposing team executives and writers.

“Although we’ve only been on the air for a short period of time, we are pleased to partner with one of the NFL’s elite teams,” said 890 ESPN Boston President and General Manager Jessamy Tang. “Patriots Friday allows us to kick off each football weekend with some great guests who will provide our Boston listeners with unique insight and perspective into the upcoming Patriots game.”

“Boston is known for its passionate Patriots fans and this is just one more example of how 890 ESPN Boston is providing exclusive content for those fans,” added Traug Keller, Senior Vice President, ESPN, Inc.

This is a nice step for ESPN Boston (890 and 1400 AM). Now if they could just get a signal…especially with the days getting shorter. Once it gets dark at 5:00, the audience will be very limited and will have to rely on internet streaming, which currently isn’t available in my car.

Seau Steps In

David Scott takes a look at the Burton Brothers managing to get a (quick) interview with holdout Patriots receiver Deion Branch, which was shown on CBS4 last night.

Mike Reiss has a good piece on Rodney Harrison, as the Patriots safety continues to work towards getting more contact and eventually game action in his comeback. Harrison also speaks about former and current teammate Junior Seau and what he can bring to the Patriots. John Tomase also has a good article on Seau, as the veteran linebacker adjusts to his new team and begins the process of figuring what his role is going to be with the team. Paul Kenyon also looks at Seau as he took the practice field for the Patriots and lined up at middle linebacker on the first team defense. Chris Kennedy has more on Harrison as he battles his way back on the field. Rich Garvin looks at Seau taking the field with the Patriots, ponders his role, and his taking of jersey number 55. Michael Parente says it won’t be a surprise if Seau plays this weekend for the Patriots.

Alan Greenberg reports on second year tackle Nick Kaczur coming off the PUP list and hitting the practice field for the first time this camp. Dan Pires looks at rookie Ryan O’Callaghan stepping up to possible take a starting role with the Patriots. Christopher Price looks at what Seau could mean to the Patriots. Tomase has a report on the Deion Branch interview mentioned by David Scott above. Tom E Curran gives a short report on the interview as well. Albert Breer tells us why #55 is so important to the USC football program. Tomase also as a bit on Harrison as the safety allows reporters to play the guessing game as to when he’ll be playing in games.

Reiss’ notebook has Nick Kaczur returning to practice for the first time this camp, and revealing that he battled a shoulder injury for much of the last part of the 2005 season. He also has Bill Belichick poking a little fun at himself. Tomase’s notebook also featured Kaczur’s return to the field. Kenyon’s notebook follows a similar pattern. Kennedy’s notebook says that the trade of Brandon Gorin was a signal that some of the Patriots young linemen are ready to step up into bigger roles. Garvin’s notebook looks at the revolving door at tackle with players leaving and coming.

Sox Still Sinking

The Red Sox fell to their sixth straight loss last night as they lost to the Angels 4-3 out in California. Kyle Snyder was decent as the starter, giving up three runs in five innings, but rookie Kason Gabbard gave up the winning run in the 7th inning and took the loss.

Gordon Edes has the depressing game story on the loss. Jeff Horrigan looks at the Red Sox being unable to stop the bleeding. Steven Krasner says different coast…same results for the slumping Sox. David Heuschkel notes that not even a pre-game pep talk from manager Terry Francona could help the slumping Sox.

Gerry Callahan informs us that not only is there no hope for this season, there isn’t any for the future either. He says the Red Sox reluctance to spend money will likely continue and that fans should just adopt the “Wait till next year” slogan each year like they used to. Dan Shaughnessy rips Manny Ramirez for his latest hamstring strain, saying we’re all sure Manny is faking it, this time to protest a bad call by the official scorer over the weekend. Shaughnessy also rips the “fanboys and sycophants” who always forgive Manny because he puts up big numbers. Well, duh. If it’s not ok to be a “fanboy” of a future Hall of Fame player, then why the hell do we follow sports at all? Tony Massarotti devotes a whole column to telling us that the Javy Lopez acquisition has been a disaster. No kidding Sherlock. Meanwhile, the Yankees made the greatest trade in baseball history by getting Bobby Abreu.

Horrigan reports on Manny‘s hamstring and his absence from the lineup last night. Krasner has more on Manny in his Inside the game report. Kevin Gray notes that as bad as things are going with the the Red Sox, at least they’re not getting into fights with the manager as they are in Toronto. Massarotti looks at the job turned in by Kyle Snyder last night. Alex Speier says that the Red Sox are going to need to show a lot of character in order to turn things around.

John Connolly has a look at the uniforms being worn in tomorrow night’s Old Time Baseball game, the charity event organized by Steve Buckley.

Edes’ notebook looks at Dustin Pedroia making his Major League debut last night. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Pedroia. Krasner’s notebook has still more on Manny. Heuschkel’s notebook has more Pedroia and more Manny.

Elsewhere

The Bruins and young star Patrice Bergeron came to terms on a new five year contract yesterday, putting the final offseason piece of the puzzle in place for the Bruins. Fluto Shinzawa and Steve Conroy have the details. Mick Colageo says that this signing was the real statement of the summer from the Bruins about how things are changing in the way they do business. Bud Barth has more on the signing and what it means for the Bruins.

Larry Phung has Bob Cousy talking about the mentality of a point guard and his thoughts about the Celtics new duo at that position. Scott Souza looks at the offseason work Al Jefferson and the other young Celtics are putting in.

NESN has Red Sox/Angels at 10:00. ESPN2 has White Sox/Tigers at 7:00.