Patriots Plunder, Pillage Vikings

Before we get to the Patriots links…I was away this past weekend and thus didn’t get to round up all the coverage on the passing of Red Auerbach. I’ve posted my own thoughts and memories of Red on the FSN Nothing But Net blog, but David Scott and John Molori both watched and read the coverage and got reaction on the passing of the most important figure in the history of the NBA. More on the Celtics and Red in a little bit…

It’s been five years and we still don’t learn. You just don’t count Tom Brady and the Patriots out. Last night was supposed to serve as a stern test for Bill Belichick’s crew, who went on the road to face the highly touted Minnesota Vikings, who seemed eager to test themselves against the Patriots, to the point that their rookie head coach Brad Childress appeared to try and engage Belichick in a little gamesmanship during the week. Experts warned of a trap game for the Patriots with the Colts coming to town next week. I got sucked into the hype, predicting a low-scoring, close Vikings win. Well the Vikings offense didn’t score a point, while the Patriots put up 31 points in a 31-7 rout at the Metrodome. Scott on the Patriots Game Day page has reaction in the aftermath of the dominant performance.

Mike Reiss says that this was a ring-worthy performance that the Patriots put on last night. John Tomase says that the Patriots look like one of the NFL’s elite teams. Shalise Manza Young looks at the Patriots once again turning up their game when the spotlight is upon them. Alan Greenberg says that perhaps if the Vikings could’ve borrowed Tom Brady, they might’ve had a chance last night. Rich Garven looks at Brady and the Patriots just dominating the Vikings. Michael Parente says that the Vikings can keep Bethel Johnson. The Patriots showed their receivers and kickoff returns are just fine without him. Mark Farinella says that it might be time to start believing that this team is going to play deep into January – or beyond.

Ron Borges writes that this game showed how far ahead of the NFC that the Patriots and the iron of the AFC are. He says in the NFC the Vikings are contenders. In the AFC, they’re cannon fodder. Michael Felger says that the Patriots left little doubt that they are among the elite teams in the NFL with that performance last night. Tony Massarotti looks at Tom Brady’s terrific night passing the ball, spreading it around to receivers who seem to be coming into their own in the Patriots offense. Jackie MacMullan notes that Brady has been waiting all season to be able to put up a performance like this, and to have the multiple targets to throw to. Joe McDonald looks at Brady shouldering the load once again for the Patriots.

John Millea looks at Benjamin Watson getting in on the action early and often last night for the Patriots. Christopher L Gasper looks at Troy Brown drawing to within two catches of Stanley Morgan’s club record. Ian Clark looks at rookie David Thomas learning all he can from Watson and Daniel Graham. Garven looks at Junior Seau using his experience to contribute to the Patriots defense. Christopher Price looks at Rodney Harrison as a master of getting to the quarterback.

Michael Rand looks at the Patriots defense thoroughly confusing veteran Brad Johnson. MacMullan has Tedy Bruschi reflecting on the one year anniversary of his return to football following his stroke. (His stroke was in 2005, not 2004 as the online edition of the column currently says.)

Felger says one play that the Patriots stayed away from last night was the tight end double screen – but it may reappear against the Colts. Gasper looks at the Patriots receivers showing their stuff last night in the Metrodome. Millea taps Maroney’s 77 yard kickoff return immediately following a 71 yard punt return by the Vikings Mewelde Moore as the play of the game. McDonald chooses the same play as his key play of the game. Greenberg also has the kickoff return as his turning point of the game, and provides further game analysis. Massarotti offers up the best and worst from last night’s game. McDonald has his game analysis article, looking at the action on both sides of the ball.

Chad Finn kept a running diary of the game last night.

The view from the opposition is on the pages of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Star Tribune also has a Vikings Blog .

Tomase’s notebook has Richard Seymour not only making the trip and dressing, but seeing significant action last night. Bruce Allen, wrong again. Reiss’ notebook has Seymour doing what he can with the bulky elbow brace on his arm. Young’s notebook looks at the Patriots doing quite a job of keeping Seymour’s status for the game under wraps. Garven’s notebook has the Patriots kickers enjoying their one regular season game in a dome. Farinella’s notebook looks at Jarvis Green getting the start over Seymour last night.

Celtics

By now you’ve probably read many of the tributes and columns devoted to Red Auerbach. There are more to share this morning. Bob Ryan reports that Auerbach is going to be buried in a Celtic green coffin, and has friends and admirers sharing their parting thoughts on Red at the calling hours at the funeral home last night. Steve Bulpett also reports from the funeral home, talking to some of the all time greats of the game. Red is the subject of a Globe editorial this morning.

Here’s a few more of the major columns from around New England from the last couple days. Dan Shaughnessy’s Sunday column was well done. There’s also a link to the complete Globe coverage of Red’s passing. Bulpett wrote that Red’s spirit will live on. That article has links to the Herald’s coverage. Mike Fine tells a story I never heard before – a rarity – that a Patriot-Ledger writer first saw that Auerbach would be the perfect coach for the Boston Celtics. Bill Reynolds says Red always did things his own way. Jim Donaldson says Red had the magic touch when it came to building championship teams. Jeff Jacobs does his best to sum up Auerbach. I think his line that “Red was better at winning than anyone in NBA history” says it pretty well. Alan Siegel says Red wasn’t always well liked, but he did things his own way. Jim Fenton says that off the court, family came first for Red. Ken Hamwey had a very good profile of Red as well.

There were plenty of other articles, but those were some of the highlights. There were only a few articles on the current Celtics this morning. Bob Duffy looks at Delonte West attempting to go back to being a shoot-first guard, and finding his instincts hard to ignore. Mark Murphy says that the Celtics aren’t going to rush Theo Ratliff back onto the court, and that Kendrick Perkins will likely be the opening night starter at center for the Celtics.

Red Sox

Gordon Edes has the Red Sox picking up Tim Wakefield’s option for 2007. Tony Massarotti says that the Red Sox are certainly in better shape organizationally than they were last Halloween. Sean McAdam reports that the Red Sox and other clubs are gearing up to start bidding on Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

TNT has Bulls/Heat at 8:00 and Lakers/Suns at 10:30.

Catching up with Bill Griffith

I mentioned back in May that one of the most helpful people I encountered in the early days of this site was Bill Griffith of the Boston Globe. He had offered advice and always answered my emails and silly questions even before I had started the site.

Hard to believe, but we’re coming up on a year since Griffith accepted a Globe buyout after nearly 40 years at the paper. I’ve tried to keep in touch with Bill, but it seems he’s had no problem keeping himself busy in the last year.

Since I’m out of town today, I thought it would be a good time to catch you all up on what Griffith has been up to recently, as well as to get his thoughts on the local media scene and the past glory days of the Boston Globe.

BSMW: Bill, first of all, I want to say thanks for agreeing to share a few minutes with us here…I know your schedule is pretty busy these days. Fill us in on what you’ve been doing since we last saw you in the role of sports media columnist at the Globe. Been to Italy I hear?

BG: NBC called the day my final column ran, offering a job editing their in-house newsletter, The Daily Olympian, in Torino. It’s not a newsletter in the traditional sense but more a detailed advance on the day’s events. Working with the folks in the research room — experts in individual sports — was an honor. I’ll never forget Andreas, our Alpine skiing expert, aplogizing for his writing in English. He’s an Austrian who’s fluent in at least six languages and correctly predicted at least half of the events.

There were two bonuses to the trip.

1. It gave me a chance to visit my daughter and son-in-law in Milan for 10 days following the Games.

2. The whole trip provided a six-week separation from the Boston sports scene, the longest by far in my adult life. If you’ve been away for 10 days or two weeks, you know how you lose a lot of the threads of local stories so it made a clean break from the local media coverage for me.

Since then, I’ve taken a part-time bookkeeping job (something different and nicely structured), been fortunate to be able to keep doing some part-time auto writing. In addition, I bought a motorcycle (don’t tell my mom) and learned how to ride this summer without damaging myself or anyone else.

BSMW: Sounds like you might have more going on now than you ever have had. Let’s revisit some of the things you saw over the course of your career. You were a Globe “lifer”, I think you told me you had been with the paper since 1965. You worked with them all; Gammons, McDonough, Fitzgerald, Montville, Ryan. They made up the best sports section in the nation. What made these guys so good?

BG: The unbeatable combination of hard work and amazing talent. Ray Fitz and Willie were outstanding athletes in their own right and could have been pros if modern medical techniques were around to treat their career-ending injuries. In addition, they all had/have encyclopedic memories. On top of that, Gammons, Ryan and McDonough could/can crank out copy as quickly as they could type, which was prodigiously fast. When they had time, RayFitz and Leigh would labor over their copy; when they were under the gun, they, too, were amazingly fast.

Leigh later told me one of the big reasons he left the biz was because of deadlines. He’d spend all day laboring on an early column — and some of his best work was in those columns — then do a rewrite after a late-night event (World Series, MNF, playoff game) in 20 minutes and not be able to remember what he’d written after he hit the “send” button.

Credit Ernie Roberts (then Globe Sports editor) for assembling the cast, which also included many others, including Lesley Visser, Kevin Paul Dupont, and John Powers, and then Vince Doria for taking that group, adding to it, and bringing the section to a higher level.

Being part of that group for 25 years as assistant sports editor was an honor.

BSMW: That bunch certainly set the bar very high, and I think the current Globe staffers probably struggle to live up to that legacy. Let’s turn to what you used to do in your last few years at the paper…the sports media beat. Susan Bickelhaupt has been doing a pretty basic weekly sports media column in the Globe. It’s different from how you and the previous guys (Jim Craig, Howard Manley) used to do it, less notes and items, and more of focus on a single media topic. Do you find it surprising that neither the Globe or the Herald has a full time media columnist, when sports media is such a huge deal here in Boston? The New York dailies each have at least one, and they’ll write several times a week.

BG: I was surprised when they cancelled the column, which was the main reason I took the Globe/Times buyout offer. The New York papers have reason to keep the columns because they’ve got the networks in their backyard.

BSMW: I guess that makes sense, when you bring that up about the networks. It still surprises me however, because it seems at times here in Boston the media is as big a part of the stories as the actual games and players are. Speaking of media that makes themselves the story…do you ever listen to WEEI now that you’re not getting paid to do it?

BG: Yes, but there’s no tape recorder or notebook next to me and I’ll hit the button when they go off on tangents or into their interminable advertising blocks. I like Mike Felger’s ESPN Radio show when I’m driving in the afternoon (can’t get it at home except on-line).

BSMW: Felger will be glad to hear that. Do you think the incredible ratings of WEEI are a direct result of the success of the Red Sox and Patriots in recent years, or in the talent of the hosts at the station?

BG: They’ve ridden the Sox-Patriots axis very well, but credit Jason Wolfe for being way ahead of the curve in establishing the station. He had the luxury of “growing” the audience and establishing WEEI as the dominant sports radio station in town and — love ’em or hate ’em — having the guts to yank Imus and go with Dennis & Callahan. That was a major gamble, but he hit the jackpot and it’s still paying off for him. And, behind all the fat-boy jokes, Glenn Ordway is a radio genius. At least five years ago he was talking about the New England-wide syndication of the station that is now happening.

BSMW: Moving back to the newspaper world…what do you think the outlook for the newspaper business is going forward? The struggles of the Globe and Herald print editions have been well documented…will they snap out of it, or is this a slowly dying industry?

BG: If we had the answer to that one, we’d be rich men. The advertising pendulum has swung way over to the Internet and will come back somewhat.

BSMW: I think we’re a ways away from the newspaper dying out completely, but I think at some point, the printed copy is going to fade away. People will get all their news and stories on personal devices that they can carry anywhere with them. There’s even “digital paper” that could have some sort of role in that…but I think I just revealed some of my geek background there.

Well Bill, I want to thank you again for taking some time to talk. I’m really glad to hear that things seem to be going well for you there, and also grateful for your thoughts on the above topics. We’ll try to do this again in the future.

——

A reminder to check in with the Patriots Game Day page. In addition, you can get all the Patriots news and blog entries from today on the Patriots News Mashup page.

The view from the opposition is on the pages of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Star Tribune also has a Vikings Blog .

Weekend Watch – Mini Edition

I’m going to be away for the next few days, but I put together a few items for the weekend…

The annual BSMW Fall Fund Drive is set to be held November 6-17. We’ve gotten a few good prizes to give away during the drive, and could still use a few more. As a change this year, we’re going to try to give away a prize each day. Those who donate that day will be eligible for the prize. In addition, all donors will be eligible for the grand prize of a Sling Media Slingbox. If you’re interested in promoting your business by donating a prize, please contact me at [email protected]

If you’ve listened to sports updates on WBZ radio in recent weeks, you’ve heard them promoting their newly redesigned website heavily. With good reason, it turns out. The highest rated overall radio station in the market has added interviews and blogs to the impressive new WBZ1030.com. There’s a sports page with headlines and interview, but over on the audio page, in the right hand column you can listen to full interviews with local sports figures. These are the interviews that provide material for the next day’s newspapers, but you can listen to the full segments on the same day. Some of the other new additions to the site:

It’s a well done site and another great resource for Boston sports fans.

Up at the top of this page, you see a new search box. It may not remain in that particular location, but will likely stay on the page somewhere. You see, this is no ordinary seach box. This is new Google Custom Search which was a new service released by Google this week. What the service does is allow people to create their own custom search engines. In this case, the search box above only searches the sports sections of a number of New England newspapers and selected sports websites. This allows you to get back better targeted search results from sites that are likely to have the information that you are looking for. For instance, if you were looking for information on agent Brad Blank, but were looking for more Boston-oriented results instead of national ones, then typing “Brad Blank” in the search box will give you local results. Give it a try and if you have suggestions for other sites that should be added to the engine, let me know…

David Scott is out in Vegas on assignment for CSTV, but still manages to file a look at Chris Collins’ engagement and a number of other items.

The Patriots travel to Minnesota for Monday night’s matchup with the Vikings. The game is broadcast by ESPN, but if you don’t have cable, the game will also be broadcast locally on WCVB channel 5.

Be sure to check in with the Patriots Game Day page. We had our weekly Roundtable discussion this morning, and should have another post or two as the weekend goes on. Keep up with all the Patriots news and blog entries on the Patriots News Mashup page.

Check out the coverage from Minnesota on the pages of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Star Tribune also has a Vikings Blog which they update pretty frequently.

This year ESPN has made it their aim to treat each Monday night game as if it were the Super Bowl. This includes starting with SportsCenter Special Edition: Monday Night Kickoff at 3:00pm ET.

Monday Night Countdown starts at 7:00pm and leads into the game at 8:30. The game will be called by the the ESPN broadcast team of Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser, Joe Theismann and sideline reporters Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya.

Wendi Nix – formerly of 7NBC – and Kolber will provide additional reports on the Patriots with Paolantonio and Tafoya covering the Vikings. Other highlights of the 90 minute show:

Soundtracks: Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick’s teams are historically among the best-prepared in the league. In Monday Night Countdown “Soundtracks,” viewers will experience how the three-time Super Bowl champion runs a practice.

Tedy Bruschi Makes a Wish Come True
Last summer, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi granted a wish for six-year-old Andrew Geracoulis. Born with a heart defect, Geracoulis wished to meet Bruschi, his favorite player. Chris Connelly reports on a wish granted by Bruschi through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (This feature was originally aired as part of SportsCenter’s “My Wish” series)

Ugly Betty Takes On the Pats
Bill Belichick’s gray sweatshirt isn’t exactly the height of fashion. So what happens when the staff of the fictitious Mode Magazine gets a hold of the Patriots coach? The cast of ABC’s hit show Ugly Betty takes on the fashion disaster on NFL sidelines.

Field Pass
Monday Night Countdown gets ready for kickoff with the analysts breaking down the important storylines and key players before the game, focusing on how Chester Taylor has become the second-leading rusher in the NFL, and answering the question about who are these unknown receivers catching Tom Brady’s passes?

This week on Patriots All Access: (WCVB Saturday 8:00pm, Sunday 10:00am)

  • Bill Belichick illustrates why the Minnesota defense has been so strong this season.
  • One-on-one with Asante Samuel, whose play so far has made him a popular candidate as the next Patriot to re-sign with the club.
  • Go inside the CBS production meeting with the Patriots the night before the game to what what goes on in those sessions.

Here’s your NFL coverage maps for the weekend: CBS Game 1, CBS Game 2 and FOX Single Game. (Thanks to gribblenation.net for providing these each week.)

It’s another big weekend for college football. Check the TV broadcast schedule here.

Enjoy the weekend! I won’t be back until late in the day on Monday, but I’ve got a post already lined up for Monday morning.