Black Friday

I’m still out on the West coast today, but unless they’ve been slacking, there’s still supposed to be a Patriots Roundtable on the Patriots Game Day page.

David Scott should have his usual offering of Scott’s Shots as well today.

Elsewhere and for the weekend, there is the Patriots News Mashup and the pages of the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Keep up with any news on the Celtics on the Celtics News Mashup.

If the Red Sox are in the news, there is also a Red Sox News Mashup.

In case you’re shopping today, here a look at some of the best Black Friday Deals.

High School Football Reigns Today

A few short links on this holiday Thursday, which is traditionally marked in this area by a plethora of high school football games.

To keep up with the scores from your high school, the Boston papers have a pair of blogs that will be working overtime for sure today. The Herald has the High School Insider from Dan Ventura, who has been covering Massachusetts high school sports for 15 years now. The Globe counters with their High School Sports Blog, which utilizes a huge team of writers to cover the latest games and scores from around the Commonwealth. For Western Massachusetts, the Springfield Republican has the Varsity Voice high school sports blog.

The NFL Network debuts their regular season NFL coverage tonight at 8:00 with the Broncos taking on the Kansas City Chiefs in the third pro game of the day, following the traditional games in Detroit and Dallas.

Check the Patriots News Mashup and Celtics News Mashup for the latest on the locals.

Check bruceallenmedia.com for the latest entries from the BSMW blogs.

This Season’s Patriots Coverage, Part II

OK, so yesterday I was pretty negative. In general I have not been pleased with the level of coverage that the Patriots have had this season. However, there have been some bright spots as well. Here’s my list of a few pleasant surprises of this season’s Patriots coverage.

Mark Farinella

Mark Farinella? Yeah. I’ve knocked the guy in the past for some things that he’s written into his columns, but now that The Sun Chronicle publishes all of his work rather than just his columns, I’m seeing him in a new light. Day in and day out, he’s a solid reporter on the Patriots beat. He also happens to be (I believe) the longest tenured Patriots beat writer, having covered the team on a daily basis since 1978. Yes, Ron Hobson has been around since the beginning, but he’s pretty much retired at this point. I’m told David Pevear (of the Lowell Sun) might be another possibility, but in any case, Farinella has seen the lowest of lows and highest of highs in nearly 30 years covering the Patriots on a daily basis. As a high school student Farinella even covered the opening of Schaefer Stadium in August, 1971. On game days, he does the work of three reporters, single handedly cranking out up to five different articles on the game.

Four Downs with Felger

I hammered Felger yesterday. I really don’t like a lot of the changes that he’s made in his reporting style this year. However, I’ve been pleasantly pleased with the FSN Four Downs With Felger program. The Perception vs. Reality segment to open the show is usually pretty good, and talking with an out of town writer about the Patriots opponent that week has been insightful at times. I hope the quality of the show remains high going forward.

Projo and Globe “early articles”

The newspapers are starting to catch onto this here internet thingy. Rather than waiting for the paper to come out the next day, these papers have been publishing their game stories, analysis and columns online a few hours after the game. They realize that a lot of people are reading their stories online rather than in the paper, and by publishing it to their web sites earlier they’re satisfying the need that fans have for the instant information and opinion.

Not to mention, it saves me a few minutes in the morning if I can start my morning’s post the night before…

Shalise Manza Young

More Shalise please. With the departure of Tom E Curran, Manza Young has stepped up her work at the Projo, many times covering both the Patriots and Celtics. She’s handled both equally well and and comes across in a very personable manner. We’ll be looking for more from her in the future.

Christopher Price’s “10 Things”

Chris started writing these columns last year, but this year I’ve really been looking out for them. They’re usually posted on the Boston Sports Review website the day after Patriots game. These columns have a lot of work put into them, and as far as I know, Chris isn’t making any coin off of them. He breaks out the major storylines of the game into 10 easy to follow, numbered points. It’s a proven fact that the Internet generation loves articles that are lists or in bulleted points. Price’s columns are perfect for the new generation Patriots fan who wants to know about the game at a glance, and then be able to back through and read more about each point.

Chad Finn’s Game Blogs

A few times this year, Chad Finn has decided to devote his already stellar blog to doing a running commentary on the Patriots game. He’s done all three prime time games thus far, pumping out observations, wit and factoids like nobody’s business. If you’re into word counts, Finn’s Patriots/Colts blog entry clocked in at over 3500 words. Finn has a knack for perfectly capturing my feelings about a given moments…much better than I could ever articulate them myself. Like Price, Finn isn’t getting paid for these efforts. Isn’t it amazing that two of my favorite things about Patriots coverage are being written by professional writers…for FREE?

Do you think any of the “star” columnists in town would do stuff like that for nothing – for just the pleasure of writing and satisfaction of putting out columns and entries about a team they enjoy covering? What a concept!

Links for Today:

Patriots News Mashup
Celtics News Mashup
Bruceallenmedia.com

This Season’s Patriots Coverage Part I

It may not seem possible, but this season has seen new lows in the already contentious coverage of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. For years we’ve put up with snide comments and shots from the likes of Ron Borges, even in the two year span when the Patriots were going 34-4 with two Super Bowl titles. Now that the Patriots have in the eyes of many, taken a step back from that level, it seems that some members of the media can hardly wait to kick them on their way down.

In general, the coverage just feels more negative and nasty. Part of that is course the recent struggles of the club, which has emboldened some of the pundits to come out of the closet and feel more bold in criticizing the coach and organization. Some of the criticism of course could be warranted. The team’s offseason moves, or lack thereof were highly publicized. The playcalling in certain games has been curious. These have led to a more combative media in some respects. The personal life of coach Bill Belichick has been fodder for the gossip columnists, whether warranted or not. The general feeling has not been that of the media “blowing sunshine” regarding the Patriots. (I don’t think “Patriots Monday” should count as real media coverage.) In many ways, I think the coverage has gone downhill. Here’s a few examples that have riled me up:


The Obsession with the Belichick/Mangini Relationship

During the weeks leading up to the two Patriots/Jets matchups this season, and for a good portion of the following week, we had endless speculation about about the relationship between Bill Belichick and his former assistant coach Eric Mangini, who left the Patriots after just a single season as a defensive coordinator to become head coach of the Jets. Hours of airtime and thousands of trees were wasted as the media analyzed their words, their handshakes after the games and following the second game, a Jets victory, many seemed to gloat over Belichick being beaten by his former “muted underling”. There was endless speculation over the possible causes of the strained relationship, but very few arguments that made sense. Members of the media, as some are wont to do around here, became little more than gossip mongers. It was embarrassing. We had Tony Massarotti and Gerry Callahan each basically saying that Belichick’s grudge cost the Patriots the game. All the endless comments and speculation never touched on the fact of whether Belichick actually had a valid reason for having a grudge against Mangini.

Then Tom E Curran reported on his NBCSports.com blog during the week of the second Jets/Patriots game the following item:

Speculation initially had Belichick peeved at Mangini for taking a job against Belichick’s advice. But there have since been whispers that Mangini was courting Patriots employees to go with him to New York while he was still on the Pats payroll.

That seems to change things up a little bit. Why was there no mention of this previously? When you add that to the fact that 1) Mangini apparently did leave against Belichick’s advice, (I personally think Mangini could’ve been Belichick’s eventual successor here in Foxboro – not basing that on anything but my own opinion.) and 2) Went to a division rival, a franchise that Belichick already hates, you start to have more of a perspective. Then when you add in the fact that 3) The Jets tried to jump in on the Deion Branch negotiations…apparently with no other intention than of tweaking the Patriots…the picture is even more clear. In all of the Boston accounts, Mangini is being painted as the good guy being wronged by the evil Belichick. When talking about Belichick, Mangini plays the role of the grateful student, respectful of the master. The media falls for it. Behind the scenes, it seems that things are quite different, but you’d be hard pressed to find any evidence about reading most of the articles around here.

Michael Felger’s Decline

This is probably the most shameful example. The formerly respectable Michael Felger has largely turned into a buffoon in his effort to be the next Glenn Ordway on the radio waves. I’m very disappointed in the turn he has taken. I had previously put him on my list of 10 People Whose Work I Enjoy in the Boston sports media. Things are a lot different now. Felger has had an ongoing feud with Corey Dillon for some time now. It’s no coincidence that Dillon singled out Felger early in training camp and handed him the sheet listing his career accomplishments. Felger has often been critical of Dillon, and that criticism came to a head a few weeks ago when the Herald writer criticized Dillon for emotionally flinging the ball after a first down in Minnesota. That apparently led to another couple confrontations in the locker room, which Felger then bragged about on his radio show. His Herald colleagues also made reference to the incidents, (without naming Felger) and the whole situation seemed to worn as a badge of honor for Felger. Why? It just seemed like another ploy to bring attention to himself and his radio show, which hasn’t taken off as Felger would like. This type of stuff has been going on all season with Felger, who has seemed to take intentionally controversial stands just for that reason, and in doing so has sullied his own reputation.

Is it possible to get FieldTurf then not get it, and then get it?

NESN was the first to report that the Patriots would be installing the synthetic FieldTurf surface in time for the game with the Bears on November 26th. That report was big news, but then was shot down as denials were issued, the team resodded with grass prior to the Colts game, and it was widely reported that NFL rules prohibited teams from changing playing surfaces in the middle of the season. That explanation was the one that was widely circulated as fact.

However, it turns out that it simply wasn’t true. We can’t blame the media 100% here, because an NFL spokesperson mistakenly confirmed that rule existed, when it fact it did not. You would think you would be able to trust what the spokesperson had said. Jonathan Kraft appeared on Michael Felger’s radio show and said that the rule did not exist. I didn’t hear anything about that, until Felger wrote it in his column last week – after the announcement had been made that the team was switching to FieldTurf. Shouldn’t someone have at least double-checked to see what the rule really was?

Then the announcement came last Tuesday that the Patriots would be installing FieldTurf…in time for the Bears game. The NESN scoop, which had been dismissed as bad reporting, turns out to be true…though not really. The bigger issue in my mind is, why was the story not really followed up on? If Kraft stated that the rule didn’t exist, why didn’t we hear about it? The announcement shouldn’t really have come as such a surprise. But it did. So we had the media all over this story when it wasn’t a story and then surprised when it actually was a story. Go figure.

Borges Reveals Role as Drew Bledsoe Advisor

I think this segment on ESPN Boston (transcript) really showed once again the lack of professionalism with which Ron Borges has conducted himself over the last few years on the Patriots beat. It also really shows you why Borges doesn’t like Bill Belichick. He’s a Bledsoe guy.

Way to be an objective reporter, Ron.

Tom Curran to NBCSports.com

This isn’t a criticism of the media, its more about lamenting the loss of one of the best guys on the Patriots beat. Sure, Curran is still around, taking his turns on the Big Show and being a presence on television. But his departure to the national beat at NBCSports.com, while a great move for him personally, is a loss for Patriots fans.

Five guys I don’t want anywhere near the Patriots

  1. Steve Buckley
  2. Dan Shaughnessy
  3. Nick Cafardo
  4. Jon Meterparel
  5. Butch Stearns

Conclusion

These are some of the larger examples of what I think have been shoddy, biased, and mean spirited coverage of the Patriots. On a daily basis, I’ve just noticed more little shots, comments and one liners that are out of place, especially for those who are simply supposed to be reporting, not giving their opinion. I’ve actually gained some respect for Nick Cafardo, who reputedly felt that he could no longer cover the Patriots because of the environment and requested to be taken off their coverage. Nick does a good job covering baseball, and that’s where he should stay. (Of course his Roger Clemens obsession is now bordering on frightening.) If others who feel that covering the Patriots is just too much work and too much of a hassle would do the same, we’d have better coverage of the Patriots.

Was I too negative about the media? (Ironic question, huh?) Well tomorrow I’m going to turn the tables and look at things that I’ve found to be positive about the Patriots coverage this season.

Reviewing the Patriots Blogs

I’m out visiting family on the West coast this week, and to fill the days this week, I’ve got a few articles written up in advance that will hopefully help fill the time.

Today I’m going to review the Patriots blogs out there. Doing this today gives you two advantages – you get a look at each blog, but also can click on the link for each to get coverage from yesterday’s Patriots/Packers contest in Green Bay.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for more sports links, be sure to check out the Patriots News Mashup page, which should bring you many of the stories that I would normally link to in the mornings. We’ve also got a Celtics News Mashup page for coverage of that squad.

Throughout this week, check in on the bruceallenmedia.com page, which serves up the latest entries from all the BSMW blogs in a single blog-like interface.

Reviewing the Patriots Blogs

Reiss’ Pieces (Boston.com – Boston Globe)

The standard bearer. Mike Reiss might be the best media sports blogger in the country. He is consistently out in front of the competition with his news and scoops, and he brings you items of interest every day…many times right through the offseason as well. It’s easy to forget that this blog started over on the MetroWest Daily News site, and the Globe made one of their smartest decisions of the last few years by scooping him up and bringing him over to their side.

What makes Reiss great is his total objectivity in his writing. Some have snidely accused him of merely being a press agent for the Patriots, but these jealous types are way off the mark. I’m positive that there are times that Reiss disagrees with a move or decision that the team has made, but you will never hear that in his reporting. You won’t hear him lavishing praise on them either. He deals in facts, in news, and in getting that to the public in the quickest manner possible. This is what has made his site so wildly popular among Patriots fans. If something has happened with the club, Reiss’ Pieces is the place they go to check.

The Point After (Boston Herald)

The tag team of John Tomase and Albert Breer man this blog, and they’re pretty prolific posters themselves. They do their best to keep a steady stream of posts coming. In talking to both of these guys in the past, they realize that Reiss is the king of the hill when it comes to news scoops. Because of this, they mix their reporting with opinion. Tomase especially does this, and doesn’t mind admitting that because Reiss is so good at the “nuts and bolts stuff,” the Herald blog needs to do things a little bit differently in order to attract some attention. The Herald is of course, a tabloid newspaper, and as such naturally takes a more sensationalistic approach to things. It’s not my cup of tea personally, but some people like a little bite with their news. Occasionally Tomase mixes in a bit of humor with his posts, and those usually it the mark.

Breer has been a little less critical and opinionated than Tomase, but he still gets his points and views out there. He also has a sense of humor in some of his posts, which is always appreciated. However, Breer’s really contribution to the blog has been a pair of weekly features he’s been working in on a regular basis this season. “Foxboro Faces” usually appears late in the week and is a conversation with a Patriots player, and what their lives and interests are like outside the game. It’s a nice little personal glimpse into their lives. The second feature “Tale of the Tape” is a repeat look at the last game, where Breer brings out points and observations that might’ve been missed the first time around. Both of these features have become must-reads for Patriots fans.

Projo Pats Blog (Providence Journal)

Because of the first two blogs, the Projo blog is often overlooked. Art Martone’s crew do a solid job in their own right. They were left a bit shorthanded after Tom E Curran bolted for NBCSports.com, but they have filled the void with large doses of Shalise Manza Young – who seems to be the rising star of the Projo sports section. Her entries are factual, personable and informative. Joe McDonald occasionally contributes to the blog adding another perspective to the news. On game days, the blog is a busy place, with entries coming fast and furious. This blog is worth checking out as a nice compliment to the other Patriots blogs.

Eye on Foxborough (Masslive.com)

This blog is a hidden gem among the Patriots blogs. It doesn’t get the attention (or probably the traffic) of the above blogs, but it is well worth the visit. The blog is located on the website of Masslive.com – the online home of the Springfield Republican. It doesn’t cram in the news and information fast and furious like the other Patriots blogs, but instead gives you more commentary on the games, on major news and on items around the team. Blogger Dan Lamothe draws from stories reported both on the mainstream news as well as on the internet. His entries contain more sarcasm, wit and humor than the other blogs, and are usually pretty entertaining and thought-provoking. The design of the blog is pretty modern looking, and a credit to the designer.

One tip on this blog – at first glance it might appear that the entries are short and incomplete. To view the entire content of an entry, you need to either click on the title of the entry, or on the “permalink” line in the footer of the entry.

Chris Price’s Pats Blog (PatsFans.com)

PatsFans.com has had some technical issues recently, and I’m not sure if that has impacted Price’s blog posting here. The blog is kept simple and is mainly used to publish injury reports and other team releases. Price will from time to time give observations of things inside the stadium or locker room. He’ll also provide the occasional out of town link. I like the simple design of this blog, and like the blog above you’ll need to click on the entry title to see the whole text.

BSMW Game Day

Ah yes, the best for last. Just kidding. Mostly. I’ll take advantage of this opportunity to toot our own horn here with this review. On BSMW Game Day, we try to bring you stuff that you’re not going to find on the above blogs. We’ve created a posting schedule that leaves new content almost each day of the week. Our week revolves around Game Day, and you’ll usually get two entries that day, a pregame report with game day news and links, and after the game, the flagship Game Day Rear View column posted by Scott Benson. We follow that up with a Second Look column, usually posted on Tuesday. Season ticket holder Greg Doyle often attends the game Sunday, and then watches it again on Monday night before giving his thoughts on the action. During the week we have at least one column from Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders, who gives us some statistical analysis you’re not going to find anywhere else. (Even BSMW nemesis Ron Borges has quoted from Barnwell’s Game Day stuff in his Sunday column) Another new addition this season has been the Roundtable, which has become a very popular feature of the site. Benson, Doyle and myself toss around the key issues of the week and make our picks for both the Patriots game as well as other top AFC games. Occasionally we try to add other features during the week, such as a national links roundup of Patriot mentions in the national media, or a second Barnwell column.

Check in tomorrow for a look at some of the reasons why Patriots coverage has hit an all time low this season. (Blogs excluded)

Weekend Watch – Ohio State/Michigan Highlights Busy Slate

Just the basics today as I try to scramble and get ready to head out West for a week of visiting family…

Today is the last official day of the BSMW Fund Drive. I’ll be leaving the donation boxes up over the next week however, as I will be leaving later this afternoon and won’t be able to change them out before I go. It appears we’ll come up short in this drive, but I do appreciate the support that everyone has given to the site. When I come back on Monday the 27th, we’ll have the drawing for the SlingBox.

While I’m gone, I’ll have at least something posted on each day next week, Monday through Friday.

You know the drill, the place to be on Sunday will be the BSMW Patriots Game Day page. Our Roundtable this morning was no row of chairs. The last two Sundays featured links to the Sunday football stories and the flagship post-game blog. This week, you might get the same, or something different. We’re not telling. You can also check the news coverage of the team on the Patriots News Mashup page.

Be sure to check in with the Patriots Game Day page tomorrow, as Bill Barnwell will have the most detailed look yet at the Ex-Patriots spread around the league and how they’re doing at this point in time.

Check in on the Packers coverage from JSOnline and OnMilwaukee.com. There is also Packersnews.com and Packer.com.

There is also the Red Sox News Mashup and the Celtics News Mashup for keeping up with those teams, both this weekend and while I’m away.

NFL Coverage Maps:

CBS Game One

CBS Game Two

FOX Single Game

Weekend Highlights

Friday
7:30pm – Celtics/Blazers FSN (HD)
8:00pm – Wizards/Pistons ESPN (HD)
10:30pm – 76ers/Suns (HD)

Saturday
Noon – Maryland @ Boston College (football) ESPN
2:30pm – Army @ Notre Dame NBC
3:30pm – Michigan @ Ohio State ABC (HD)
3:30pm – Auburn @ Alabama CBS
7:00pm – Capitals @ Bruins NESN (HD)
7:30pm – Celtics @ Knicks FSN

Sunday
1:00pm – Patriots @ Packers CBS (HD)
3:00pm – NASCAR Nextel Cup: Ford 400, NBC (HD)
4:00pm – Seahawks @ 49ers FOX (HD)
4:15pm – Colts @ Cowboys CBS (HD)
8:00pm – Bulls @ Lakers ESPN (HD)
8:15pm – Chargers @ Broncos NBC (HD)

Patriots All Access

This week on Patriots All Access (on WCVB after Ohio State-Michigan)

  • One-on-one with Patriots receiver Reche Caldwell.
  • Bill Belichick introduces us to the explosive Green Bay Packer receivers on the Belestrator
  • Hear what Tom Brady has to say about Green Bay great Brett Favre.

Weekly Media Columns:

New England

David Scott reports that WEEI might be considering adding their own Red Sox beat reporter, who would provide on-air reports and updates on WEEI.com. Susan Bickelhaupt looks at the type of media crush the Red Sox might expect should the team successfully sign Daisuke Matsuzaka to a contract. John Molori had a look at NESN’s reality show “Be a Bruin.” Bill Doyle had a look at the Red Sox changing radio outlets on Worcester. John Howell has Benny Parsons talking about the slight step back that NASCAR has taken this year with slightly lower ratings and fewer sellouts.

New York

Phil Mushnick looks at the admittedly annoying practice that TV networks have of promoting other shows and specials while the game is in progress. In talking about Monday Night Football, Mushnick notes: “The sell of Disney goods, this time ABC’s and ESPN’s new NASCAR contract, always comes first.” What’s fairly amusing to me is that thanks to internet advertising programs that search individual web pages and attempt to serve relevant ads, Mushnick’s article for me was accompanied by ads featuring Mickey Mouse advertising Disney vacations. The irony is fairly amusing. Bob Raissman looks at the interesting situation the YES network has with NL Manager of Year Joe Girardi joining the network and having to deal with Joe Torre and the Yankee clubhouse on a daily basis, especially as Girardi has been rumored to be a successor to Torre. Neil Best has part one of a two part series on the state of the new NFL TV landscape. Andrew Marchand looks at the Hot Stove season heating up for baseball broadcasting jobs as well. Marchand’s Memo of the Week to ESPN for pimping ABC’s Dancing with the Stars because of Emmitt Smith.

East Coast

Michael Hiestand talks with CSTV exec Tim Pernetti, who makes it an aim to have fun on the job. Chris Zelkovich notes that this Sunday’s Grey Cup has already broken several records. Laura Nachman reports on the ongoing battle between the NFL Network and cable companies. Jim Williams looks at the NFL Network’s new program which will count down the great Super Bowl teams of all time over the next 20 weeks. Aaron Bracy reports on the network gearing up for its first NFL game on Thursday night. Bob Smizik checks in with Bill Hillgrove, who “is in the midst of his 38th season of doing Pitt basketball, his 34th of doing Pitt football and his 13th of doing Steelers football” – as well as Ray Goss, who has been at his craft almost as long. Bracy’s blog, Beyond the Sports Page looks at the Flyers broadcast going dark last night on Comcast SportsNet.

South

Jim Sarni has an extensive column which leads off with a look at this weekend’s HUGE Michigan/Ohio State battle. He also looks at NBC’s final NASCAR ride this Sunday. Barry Jackson and Dave Darling note that will the NFL Network starting game broadcasts this Thursday, there are still huge areas of the country that cannot get the network and thus will have no way to watch the games. Barry Horn looks at Charlie Waters still trying to find his way as a rookie analyst on the Cowboys radio network. David Barron has Kirk Herbstreit insisting he’ll be objective about the Ohio State/Michigan game despite being a former Buckeye quarterback.

Midwest

Bob Wolfley has members of the 1996 Packers talking about their Super Bowl victory over the Patriots as part of the NFL Network special on the greatest Super Bowl teams. Ed Sherman looks at Ken Harrelson being on the balloting for the Ford C. Frick Award from the baseball Hall of Fame. Judd Zulgad looks at the Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team looking at having a number of games broadcast on tape delay because of conflicts with the Wolves or Wild. Jeffrey Flanagan looks at former Raider and Chief Rich Gannon getting the call to broadcast the game between those two clubs on CBS this Sunday.

West Coast

Larry Stewart talks to Keith Jackson about the Ohio State/Michigan game, which Jackson will be watching from the comfort of his home rather than in the booth. Tom Hoffarth talks to Paul Maguire about how the transition back to college football has gone after spending so many years in the ESPN Sunday night booth. John Maffei notes that one of the few times San Diego State football will be on local TV, they have to go up against the Michigan/Ohio State game. Jay Posner has more on the NFL Network’s lack of coverage around the San Diego area where only about 40% will be able to see the game on Thanksgiving evening. Joe Davidson looks at a spectacular Saturday of college football. Stewart has more on the network’s series about the 20 Geatest Super Bowl teams, as does Jim Carlise.

Belated Chat with Charlie Pierce

After yesterday’s chat was interrupted, I managed to check in again with Charlie Pierce and arrange for him to answer several of the questions that were submitted for the chat.

Here’s the questions submitted by readers and the answers from Pierce:


From Craig: I read the book within two days of its arrival. Were you disappointed that the team didn’t achieve more success in 2005, as you were juxtaposing Brady’s life with the current season?

CPierce: Craig –
I’ll be honest. If they had won the Super Bowl, that would have been me behind Brady on the podium, waving the Lombardi over my head. And my agent and my editor at FSG would have been right behind me. However, I think the year worked out well because he did have to face more adversity, personal and professional, than he did in other years. I might be making lemonade out of lemons here, but I’m happy with what I got.

————

From Eric: Charlie – Some local scribes use the “difficulty” in getting access to the Patriots’ inner thoughts as an excuse to essentially give up and fill column inches with same old same old, or jabs at the team for lack of access.. What sort of obstacles, if any, did you face, both from the Patriots, and your writing brethren.

CPierce: Eric –
I had the same access that any beat guy would have, which convinced me that I wouldn’t want to do that for a living. If you, as a fan, want information, then it matters to you that, when the locker room opens up for daily access, there are only two or three guys there, often the same ones, day after day. Now, let’s be fair, access to every professional sports team — and, increasingly, to the major college programs — steadily has been shrinking over the past decade or so, The major events are hopeless now, and that’s creeping down into the regular season, too. That said, the Patriots are notoriously tougher than most teams. (This isn’t me talking. It’s a general opinion throughout the NFL.) There are moments in which they go beyond merely being tough and become positively unhelpful. It will be interesting to see if this continues if and when the team goes through another rough patch.

————

From Greg: Charlie, how would you compare the level of repartee of an episode of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” to an episode of “The Big Show”?

CPierce: Greg –
Many people have remarked on the similarities.
Although I don’t think Madeleine Albright’s been on The Big Show yet.

———–

From Craig: Charlie, a few questions. Is Brady’s image the same as Brady’s reality? I may be the guy’s biggest fan but I almost find it too good to be true that he’s so squeaky-clean, family-oriented and deferential. Also, could you speak about Brady’s relationship with Bledsoe and Henson? He was caught in two pretty big firestorms there but seemed to come out without looking bad at any point.

CPierce: Craig –
I think he’s a pretty normal 20-something as regards his life off the field. His sister as much as told me that. What got him through the Michigan situation was the support crew he’d put together for himself, and the fact that he was pretty much the consensus choice within in the locker room. At which point, he determined quite consciously that he would not blow up the team, even though he was angry enough that, were he so inclined, he could do it. That cemented his stature with the coaching staff, which really was in a tough spot, and with his teammates. That situation enabled him to get through the Bledsoe period the way he did, although everyone involved says the unsung hero of that whole deal was Damon Huard, who selflessly acted as ambassador between Bledsoe and Brady, and between each of them and the staff, He’s got a native shrewdness about the dynamics of how groups of people operate together, which is part of the reason why political consultants get all humid about him.

———–

From Dow: Hi Charlie, not to reach too far back or get too far off subject, but when was your last contact with Tiger and what was it like?

CPierce: Dow — Tiger who?
Seriously, we have had no contact since the day I spent with him for the GQ piece in 1997. His father once said that he hoped my story wouldn’t wreck his son’s career. I feel confident in saying that it didn’t.

———–

From Dave: Charlie – First – thanks for chatting at our site. Very kind of you. . . The book’s fantastic – just a real pleasure to read.

I’m wondering: Did anyone of merit have any disparaging words to say about Tom Terrific? Can he really, truly be this universally loved?

CPierce: Dave — He really has managed to go through life without making any genuine enemies that I can find. He’s tougher on himself than anyone is on him, although Greg Hardin, his athletic counselor at Michigan, was pretty tough on him when he seemed to be letting the situation there get him down.

————

From Bob in NH: Charlie – Taking off your media hat for a moment. As a fan, do you find the coverage of the Patriots to be done without malice or agenda? Yes, I’m referring to Borges in particular, but can you at least see how a fan would rather not have to know that a certain writer hates his subject matter?

Also, what is your take on sportswriters seemingly taking every single chance to make extra money by appearing on radio and television. Although you certainly have exercised that right personally, I see your financial gains primarily coming from your expertise (writing books and articles) rather than Sports Final, Sports Extra, Fox Sports New England, NESN, NECN, CN8, blah, blah, blah.

CPierce: Bob — Second part first.
Synergy across the media is part of the deal these days. Newspapers expect their sportswriters to do the multimedia shuffle on the grounds that “visibility” helps the paper. I’ve never seen any data that prove this, but the people who run things seem to believe it. I have a couple of radio gigs — Only A Game and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, both on NPR — that I do because I enjoy them a great deal. (And for the money. Thanks to everyone who buys the tote bags!) What I tell anyone who asks is to remember that radio and TV are a different skill set, and one that’s foreign to a lot of writers. People who do it should take the time to study and to learn the skills needed to succeed in the different media. Just throwing a writer in front of a microphone or a camera does a disservice to the writer, and to the consumer.

As to the first, I actually do see the newspaper coverage of the team to be done without malice, as I understand the word. As to “agenda,” well, that’s a word that gets tossed around pretty loosely. The line between opinion and reporting has gotten far too blurred for my boring old self, at least in part because of the phenomenon we discussed above. If you do a regular sports-radio show, the medium demands that you express an opinion more freely — and, I would argue, more crudely — than you would in the newspaper. So, when you go back to being just a by-line, it’s hard for the listener/reader to separate your print persona from your broadcast one.
That’s part of the bargain you make when you do those shows. Are their writers who dislike the people they cover? I assume there are. (I once was in the media room at a political dinner for a recent presidential campaign and one of the candidates got booed by the assembled reporters. For what it’s worth, this would get them all tossed from the press box at Fenway.) By and large, though, I see very little evidence that the daily news coverage is affected by it.

———-

From Scott: Charlie – Since you know Brady a little now, what does you see as you’re watching him play the last couple of weeks?

CPierce: A couple of things, actually.
1) I’m seeing a guy playing for the second season behind a jury-rigged offensive line. I’m not entirely sure Dan Koppen’s all the way back. The rest of the guys are dinged up, and he’s got a rookie running back trying to learn to pick up blitzes — which Maroney’s done pretty well, actually. So I think maybe he’s just a little bit more concerned about his blind side than he was a couple of years ago, especially since, as I describe in the book, he played last season more injured than we thought he was. 2) The offensive scheme seems oddly unsure what to do with the Treasure of Sierra Madre there at running back. I think Maroney’s good enough to make this team a run-first offense and less of a West Coast hybrid than it’s been. In addition, it really does take a while with a whole new receiving corps, but that explanation runs out of steam at the halfway point.

———-

From Mike: Everyone talks about Weis leaving, but fails to mention QB coach Hufnagel leaving as well the same offseason.
Brady thrives (lead in yardage last year) despite the upheaval on the coaching staff. McDaniels is still learning on the job and the new QB coach has very little experience. Does Brady look at Peyton Manning’s relationship with Tom Moore and bum out he doesn’t have that experienced veteran in his headset during games and in meetings during the week?

CPierce: Mike — Given the turmoil that’s surrounded him as regards his coaches ever since he left high school, I think Brady’s better equipped to handle this situation than most young quarterbacks would have been. Remember — both the coordinator and the head coach who’d recruited him at Michigan were gone before he even enrolled, and then there was the extended burlesque with Brian Griese and Drew Henson, where Lloyd Carr was handed a bad situation and handled it badly. At New England, he had Dick Rehbein, his most fervent original advocate, die suddenly. Now Weis is gone, and Josh McDaniels is there. Would he have liked a relationship like Peyton has in Indy with Moore? Probably. But his whole career has been an extended exercise in the opposite direction.

Celtics, Bruins Both Win

We’re just about to wrap up the 2006 BSMW Fall Fund Drive. We’re looking to finish strong the last two days of the drive and get as close to the goal as we can. Once again, and I can’t say this enough, I appreciate all that has been given thus far.

Today’s Daily Prize is a copy of the 2007 Football Prospectus when it is released sometime next year. The winner of yesterday’s prize is Sean Wandrei.

We’re getting closer to the Grand Prize drawing for the Sling Media Slingbox, which allows you to watch your own TV from any Windows based device with an internet connection – from anywhere in the world.

————————–

I apologize again for the difficulties with the Charlie Pierce chat yesterday, but we’re working to make it to you. Perhaps I’ll be able to take a number of the questions submitted, put them together and run them as a feature here.

Celtics Win

The Celtics put things together in the second half last night and cruised to a 114-88 win over the Indiana Pacers at TD Banknorth Garden last night. Paul Pierce led the way with 32 points, while Wally Szczerbiak added 20 for Boston.

Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers have been preaching patience and optimism around this team, and Shira Springer says that this victory, “particularly the third quarter, made Rivers and Ainge seem more like they know what they are talking about.” Steve Bulpett notes that because of what happened in Cleveland on Saturday night, the Celtics were very conscious of not letting their lead slip away down the stretch. Shalise Manza Young looks at the Celtics cruising on the basis of a very strong third quarter effort by the Green. Bill Doyle says this type of game is what Danny Ainge must’ve had in mind when he was putting together this Celtics team.

Peter May says that this win was a much-needed shot of confidence for the Celtics, and that “For one game, anyway, this was how Danny and Doc envisioned things.” Mark Murphy has Larry Bird having his own struggles with building his Pacers squad to meet expectations. Lenny Megliola says that the Pacers were the perfect opponent for the Celtics last night – they were a disinterested one. Mike Fine notes that the Celtics biggest problem thus far has been inconsistent play.

You can get the out-of-town view from the Indianapolis Star.

Bulpett’s notebook has Paul Pierce still believing that the Celtics can be a playoff team. Springer’s notebook has Al Jefferson hoping to come back quicker than expected from his appendix surgery. Young’s notebook has more on Jefferson. his weight loss and hopes for a fast return. Scott Souza’s notebook has Jefferson just feeling happy to be alive. Doyle’s notebook also focuses on Jefferson.

Bruins

The Bruins also won last night…on a shootout! The team has struggled in that format ever since the league introduced it, but last night Patrice Bergeron was able to net the winner, while Tim Thomas held the Capitals off, allowing the Bruins to escape Washington with a 3-2 win. Stephen Harris and Fluto Shinzawa have the game stories. Shinzawa’s notebook has coach Dave Lewis shuffling and changing lineups on the fly last night, including giving newly acquired Stanislav Chistov some ice time. Harris’ notebook has goaltenders coach Bob Essensa stating that many of Hannu Toivonen’s problems this year have been in his head.

Patriots

Vinny Testaverde is the focus of most articles this morning, a little strange for a player that the Patriots sincerely hope never plays a down for them. Mike Reiss has Testaverde saying that his love for football and desire for a championship led him to Foxboro. John Tomase says a Super Bowl is what Vinny is looking for, and he also recaps some of Testaverde’s history with Bill Belichick. Joe McDonald has more on the Patriots hoping Testaverde never sees the field. Alan Greenberg has Bill Belichick being very clear on what Vinny’s role is to be. Rich Garven and Michael Parente each write that Testaverde is here merely for insurance. Christopher Price has more on Testeverde joining the Pats. Chris Ryan asks “Why Vinny?”

Albert Breer says that the hard hits took their toll on Tom Brady last week. Karen Guregian says that watching Brady get pounded last week looked far too much like the Drew Bledsoe days. Reiss reports that Sunday’s game against the Jets in the rain turned the tide in terms of redoing the field surface this season. Guregian also looks at the Krafts waving the white flag when it comes to growing grass in Gillette. Eric McHugh offers up a report card from the Jets game. Jeff Howe has the Patriots prepping for Brett Favre.

Reiss’ notebook has Tom Brady and Bill Belichick speaking in glowing terms about Brett Favre, especially his durability. Tomase’s notebook has Favre saying he’s got no regrets about coming back this season. In McDonald’s notebook, he talks to Rocco Baldelli about what it is like to play on FieldTurf. Parente’s notebook has the FieldTurf crew working around the clock. Garven’s notebook has the Patriots players without a whole lot to say about the change in playing surfaces.

Red Sox Still Mad for Matsuzaka

Sean McAdam says that the Red Sox are now on the clock with Daisuke Matsuzaka’s contract and he lists out 10 questions and answers about the process. Michael Silverman has the Red Sox getting ready to start negotiations with Scott Boras on Matsuzaka’s contract, a deal that some believe could go as high as $16 million annually. Gordon Edes says that Hideo Nomo remains the standard that Japanese pitchers must be measured by. A good recap of the career of the onetime Red Sox pitcher.

Rob Bradford calls this process the “latest bizarre twist in Red Sox lore.”Tony Massarotti has Lou Merloni giving his observations on Matsuzaka during his one season playing in Japan. Steve Buckley tackles the really important stuff…is Matsuzaka tough enough to play in Boston and deal with the media crush?

Jim Fennell talks to NH native Greg LaRocca, who has played baseball for the last three seasons in Japan to get a scouting report on Matsuzaka. Silverman has more background on Matsuzaka’s life and career. Jesse Noyes reports that the Japanese media have already arrived in Boston. Donovan Slack says that Boston’s Asian community is already buzzing about Matsuzaka.

What I thought was going to a column by Dan Shaughnessy about Daisuke Matsuzaka, turned instead to be a rehash of the painful 2006 season and how Theo botched things up by looking to the future and Larry Lucchino was right all along that the Red Sox should be trying to win now. Shaughnessy says the pursuit of Matsuzaka means that Theo and Larry are on the same page now. Bill Reynolds looks at the new reality of baseball.

Nick Cafardo checks in from the GM meetings, where it appears that the money will be flowing to free agent players once again this offseason. He says that the Red Sox appear o be the “clear front-runners for shortstop Julio Lugo.” Despite concerns about Lugo’s defense, he says that some feel that Lugo has range similar to Alex Gonzalez, though “Gonzalez is smoother and less prone to miscues.” Silverman’s notebook has more updates from the GM meetings.

Bill Doyle looks at the Red Sox changing radio stations in Worcester. Silverman reports on ticket prices going up once again, but for “premium” seats only.

NESN has Bruins/Maple Leafs at 7:00. TNT has Bulls/Rockets at 8:15 and Kings/Warriors at 10:30.

BSMW Chat with “Moving the Chains” Author Charles P. Pierce

A couple of weeks ago, I published a review of the new book on Tom Brady by Charlie Pierce entitled “Moving the Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything

This afternoon shortly after 3:00 PM, Mr. Pierce will join us to chat about the book. He was scheduled for 3:00 PM, but emailed a little while again to say that he was running a bit late. When he comes we’ll have an hour with him.

Submit your questions now at [email protected]

I’ll be posting new questions and answers on top of the older ones, so the newest set is always at the top…

Update: Charlie has just arrived, and we’re beginning the chat…

First of all, thanks for taking some time to visit here with us today. I enjoyed the book very much and have heard good things from others about it as well.

Update – 5:00pm – We’ve had a number of technical issues here…I apologize for the problems.

———-

From Mike: Everyone talks about Weis leaving, but fails to mention QB coach Hufnagel leaving as well the same offseason.
Brady thrives (lead in yardage last year) despite the upheaval on the coaching staff.
McDaniel is still learning on the job and the new QB coach has very little experience. Does Brady look at Peyton Manning’s relationship with Tom Moore and bum out he doesn’t have that experienced veteran in his headset during games and in meetings during the week?

CPierce: Mike — Given the turmoil that’s surrounded him as regards his coaches ever since he left high school, I think Brady’s better equipped to handle this situation than most young quarterbacks would have been. Remember — both the coordinator and the head coach who’d recruited him at Michigan were gone before he even enrolled, and then there was the extended burlesque with Brian Griese and Drew Henson, where Lloyd Carr was handed a bad situation and handled it badly. At New England, he had Dick Rehbein, his most fervent original advocate, die suddenly. Now Weis is gone, and Josh McDaniel is there. Would he have liked a relationship like Peyton has in Indy with Moore? Probably. But his whole career has been an extended exercise in the opposite direction.

Sox Bet on Daisuke

Just a few more days remain in the 2006 BSMW Fall Fund Drive. We passed the halfway mark to our goal yesterday, and hope to make it as far as we can to our goal in the next few days. A huge thank you once again to all those who have contributed thus far.

Today’s prize is another package of 50 ITunes Download codes along with a 2006 Patriots yearbook. The winner of yesterday’s prize was Kevin Earls.

Again, all donations greater than $25 are eligible for the drawing. If you donate more than $25, you can get more entries…$50 gets you two, $75 gets you three and $100 gets you FIVE entries. You’ll also be eligible for the Grand Prize drawing at the end of the drive. The grand prize will be a Sling Media Slingbox.

——————————————

A reminder also for this afternoon’s live BSMW chat with Charlie Pierce. The author of Moving the Chains will be here at 3:00pm to answer your questions. You can submit your questions by sending an email to [email protected]. His answers will be posted here to the site as he finishes each one.

The Red Sox grabbed the headlines for the first, and most likely not the last time this offseason by securing the rights to negotiate with Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka, submitting a bid of $51.1 million for the privilege of doing battle with Scott Boras once more. Nick Cafardo tells us what the Red Sox accomplished with their winning bid. Michael Silverman tells us that the Red Sox bid is equal to six billion yen. Jeff Goldberg has a look at the process as well as the pitcher they call “The Monster”.

Tony Massarotti says that this move is a very good signal for the Red Sox, who he says have operated with indecisiveness and apprehension since winning the World Series in 2004. He says Matsuzaka is no Pedro, but this move means the Red Sox are back in business. Bob Ryan goes over the reports that we’ve been getting about Matsuzaka and ponders whether he is going to be worth this huge investment the Red Sox are making in him.

Gordon Edes tells us that Matsuzaka does not actually throw that mythical “gyroball” that has been associated with him, but he doesn’t need the pitch, either – he’s got plenty of his own. Jon Couture says that the Red Sox have made some curious financial moves and non-moves the last couple years, but this isn’t one of them. He says Matsuzaka will be worth every penny that the Red Sox bid for him and will pay him. Bob Hohler and Keith Reed examine the business impact the move of bring Matsuzaka here to Boston could have for the Red Sox and the city. Silverman’s notebook has the Red Sox talking to the Astros about bullpen depth.

Patriots

The Patriots made a couple of headlines themselves yesterday, first announcing that they were going to install a new synthetic FieldTurf surface, which would be ready in time for the Bears game next Sunday. They also announced that they re-signed offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski and have brought in 43-year old quarterback Vinny Testaverde as another backup to Tom Brady.

Mark Farinella provides the most complete account today of the Patriots decision to go with the synthetic FieldTurf surface and make the move now, rather than waiting for next season. Mike Reiss looks at the Patriots exploring every option possible before deciding to go with the turf at Gillette. He also clears up the misconception that was widely reported that the NFL had prohibited teams from changing surfaces during the season. Michael Felger looks at the move to FieldTurf, noting that the Kraft family did everything they could to get grass to grow in Gillette, but just couldn’t make it happen. He works in a nice plug for his radio show at the end of the column. Christopher Price has more on the turf war getting resolved at Gillette. Alan Greenberg has a quick look at the FieldTurf being installed as well. I guess that original NESN report was right after all…they did say that the Patriots would be installing an artificial surface prior to the Bears game…

Felger’s Patriots Insider examines the success that Tom Brady and the Patriots have had in the spread offense and tries to figure out why the team went with tighter formations against the Colts and Jets. Michael Parente says that the prospect of getting out of Gillette and onto the road is an appealing one for the Patriots. Eric McHugh wonders if other teams are going to copy the Jets game plan and blitz Tom Brady relentlessly. Glen Farley says that the back-to-back losses have the Patriots concerned, but not panicked.

I joked with friends about placing casual odds on who would be the first writer to take the Testaverde signing and run with it to mean that clearly Tom Brady is seriously injured. Alan Greenberg was a safe bet for that angle, and the Hartford Courant beat writer doesn’t disappoint. Shalise Manza Young has Testaverde coming aboard as insurance for the Patriots. Felger looks at the signing of Testaverde and has his agent noting that the Patriots are probably simply covering their bases and making sure they had adequate backup for the stretch run. Farinella has more on Vinny to the Pats.

Steve Buckley uses Richard Seymour’s appearance at a local school as part of the NFL’s “Take a player to school” contest as a chance to take a few shots at Bill Belichick. David Borges has a look at Benjamin Watson making an appearance at a sports card shop in Taunton.

Reiss’ notebook has more on the signing of Testaverde, and has Bill Belichick saying that the signing has nothing to do with the health of Tom Brady and Matt Cassel. McHugh’s notebook has the Patriots still united as a team, despite some unhappiness.

Celtics

Mike Fine has a look at Doc Rivers trying to be patient with his club, despite a franchise worst start to the season. Alan Siegel says that Rivers can only be as good as the personnel he can put out onto the floor. Jim Fenton notes that it’s not even Thanksgiving and it appears that the season is slipping away for the Celtics.

Mark Murphy has Kendrick Perkins and the Celtics backing Doc Rivers, saying that the bad start is not the result of coaching. Peter May notes that Rivers has been in this exact same position before. Fine’s notebook has a look at the impressive debut of Leon Powe.

Bruins

Bob Duffy and Stephen Harris look at what Russian winger Stanislav Chistov can bring to the Bruins. Douglas Flynn notes that the schedule gets tougher for the Bruins from here on out. Mike Loftus has more on the schedule and the team’s effort to bring in more skilled players.

NESN has Bruins/Capitals at 7:00. FSN has Celtics/Pacers at 7:30. ESPN has Grizzlies/Kings at 9:00.