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.