Weekend Watch – Bowl-ing Season

Reminder: Check out the Sunday links on the Patriots Game Day page…

It’s another busy holiday weekend of sports viewing on tap, with more football – both college and NFL than any fan has a right to ask for. The Bowl game season is upon us, with 15 games scheduled between now and Monday. In cities that do not have a home game scheduled, (including Boston) the NFL will be showing doubleheaders on both CBS and FOX on Sunday.

We’ve got the BSMW Game Day Roundtable posted for this week, as we review the Jacksonville win and look head to Tennessee and the playoffs. Check in Sunday morning for links to the stories in the weekend papers and Sunday night for a Rear View of the Patriots/Titans game.

Keep up with the Patriots coverage on the Patriots News Mashup. You can check in on the view from the opposition on the pages of The Tennessean.

Basketball and Baseball news can be found on the Celtics News Mashup and the Red Sox News Mashup.

Here’s your full College Bowl Schedule, complete with the network that will be carrying each game. It even has links to the official website of each Bowl game.

A couple of other schedules for the next couple of days – The Boston.com Weekend TV/Radio Sports listings and the HD Sports Guide.

Here’s your coverage maps for the final week of the regular season:

—————————–

Bill Simmons has his week 17 picks, which includes the following:

TITANS (-3) over Pats
Tom Brady is playing hurt. And I don’t mean emotionally. You don’t sail throws over the heads of open receivers for four straight months unless (A) you’re Jake Plummer or (B) something is physically wrong with you. There’s no other explanation. He’s hurt. The season is going to end in Baltimore in two or three weeks, and three days later, the Patriots will quietly announce that Tom Brady just had a successful surgery at Mass General for a broken left clavicle or a fractured right wrist or something. Anyway, the Titans have covered 10 of their past 11. And you know why? BECAUSE VINCE YOUNG JUST WINS FOOTBALL GAMES! That’s why.

Shira Springer’s Friday feature on Celtics rookie forward Leon Powe is a worthy read.

In his weekly Boston.com chat, Mike Reiss answered questions on the Patriots as they head into the regular season finale.

—————————–

A caller to the Paul Perillo/Steve Burton morning combo today suggested that Bill Belichick is headed to the New York Giants after this season to seek a new challenge. He presented as evidence the fact that the head coach wore an AFC East Champions hat following the game against the Jaguars last Sunday. He had never done this before and this, coupled with a number of “strange” quotes and incidents this season convinced the caller that Belichick was trying to savor every moment this season because he knows he’s gone following the season. Burton was immediately convinced and worried about the situation. To set Burton’s mind at ease, rather than immediately concluding that the caller was correct, how about considering the following about why Belichick might’ve chosen to wear the hat Sunday:

It was all about the SITUATION

  • Huge game for both teams
  • Extremely close and physical game against a very chatty team
  • His team had played one of their best games against a team that had absolutely dominated at home all year
  • They put the game away somewhat dramatically on some huge plays in the 4th quarter, including a last minute strip sack.
  • Christmas Eve
  • So he celebrated with everyone else and put a damn hat on!!

In addition, the whole “Moving on to a new challenge” thing is always overrated by the media in my mind, especially with Belichick. Isn’t it just as big a challenge to stay here and continue a run of greatness? To build a true dynasty? An argument can also be made that it’s a greater challenge to win AFTER so much success, player/coach comings and goings, having the “champion” bullseye on the club, constant injuries, etc. than it is to win the first time. If Belichick is truly only concerned with “challenges” there’s plenty here.

I’ve also always had the impression that Belichick likes the area, and has a good relationship with the owners. He has a comfort level here. His kids are here. I don’t see a reason to leave. It says here he isn’t going anywhere.

Tom Curran also dismissed the notion of Belichick to the Giants on the 10-2 show today. Then Steve Buckley brought it up to Peter King on the same show as “something making the rounds.” King replied that there wasn’t a lot of logic to the notion. At all. King actually the most salient point I’ve ever heard from him. “This story is alive because the media can’t figure out the answer.”

This article in the New York Daily News by Ralph Vacchiano is the source of many of these rumors.

————————————-

A reader who wishes to remain nameless is frustrated by the Boston College coverage in town:

I’ve bit my tongue for a long time. But when are you going to do an article on how much of a free pass BC gets in the Globe and all over Boston?

Is anyone ever critical? Jim O’Brien (the basketball guy) leaves in a huff and then his namesake leaves in slightly different circumstances … but with almost the same writing on the wall — problems with the AD.

Mike Vega is a joke. He had an article this week on BC bowl games and how they “don’t travel well.” Wake up and smell the coffee! He references the Cotton Bowl of the Flutie Era. Earth to BC Alums ….. You will never see that era again. Get over it. BC and Eastern schools in general aren’t going to be yahoo like the other schools in the ACC or SEC or even WVU!

If they hit a really big bowl and play for something …. very doubtful in the BCS era ….. people from Boston College (and the local BC “subway alums” … to grab a phrase from ND) will travel. Other than that ….. no one cares.

I know Boston is a PRO town … but after hearing the “Al Skinner Show” tonight on EEI with Ted (the apologist) sticking up for how valiant BC played in Kansas. And then they lose tonight to Duquesne — the team that was almost wasn’t!

Do me a favor …. note the “negative” comments M. Vega makes about BC in a season. The contrast to Borges is shocking even when the college to pro context is taken into account.

I can’t speak as to whether this guy is on with all his points, but I admire his passion on the topic.

———————————-

Here’s your sports media columns from around the country:

New York/New England

Susan Bickelhaupt has a look at Pam Ward, who will be doing play-by-play for ESPN in the Meineke Car Care Bowl tomorrow between Boston College and Navy in Charlotte, N.C. Phil Mushnick advises the ESPN Monday Night crew to shut up and watch the game, and notes that “ESPN is our TV Story Of The Year. What ESPN has long been moving toward – its self-destruction as a cherished sports network – was, in 2006, nearly completed.” Neil Best has a look at FOX getting set for their four of the five BCS bowl games. Andrew Marchand hands out his 3rd annual “Golden Clickers” awards for the best and worst in sportscasting for the year. He has 5 Questions for one of the winners, YES and ABC lead hoops analyst Mark Jackson. Richard Sandomir has a review of MSG’s 10 part series “The 50 Greatest Moments at Madison Square Garden.” John Howell has a further look at the growing pains of the NFL Network.

More East Coast

Michael McCarthy has CBS’ lead announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms already making preparations for their first Super Bowl together. McCarthy also looks at Bowl coverage, Brett Hull joining NBC’s NHL coverage and a little back and forth between the FOX and CBS NFL pregame shows. Chris Zelkovich has winners and losers from the 2006 world of sports media. Jim Williams has a look at some big changes in store for sports TV in 2007. Joanne Gerstner has a look at the Detroit sports talk radio firing season continuing. Tim Lemke has ESPN saying that getting Monday Night Football was well worth the investment.

South

Jim Sarni leads off with a look at the NFL “double doubleheader” this Sunday. Dave Darling takes a look at the top sports-media stories of 2006. David Barron reports on the NFL Network still seeking an outlet in the Houston area. Barry Horn looks at the Cowboys place in the NFL Films series America’s Game – reviewing the top 20 Super Bowl champions weekly on the NFL Network. He has some other NFL Films tidbits and a look at FSN trying to get into the High School football game in Texas.

Midwest/West Coast

Judd Zulgad says that former ESPN staffer and current vice president of player personnel for the Vikings Rick Spielman should take a bigger role in dealing with the media and taking some of those duties away from coach Brad Childress, who clearly isn’t interested in carrying them out. Ed Sherman has more on FOX taking on big time college football for really the first time as a network with the upcoming BCS Bowl games. Jay Posner leads with “The Dave and Jeff Show” getting a run at a third different station in the San Diego area. He also has a little perspective on ESPN’s Monday Night Football numbers, which the network is touting as the highest rated cable TV series in history. John Maffei talks to Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton about the movie “We Are Marshall.” Hamilton was personally involved in the Marshall tragedy. Joe Davidson has his sports media wishes for the new year.

As 2006 winds down, I want to thank everyone for another great year at BSMW. I’m looking forward to 2007 as it will be the 5th anniversary of the site, making this site an old-timer in the blogging world.

Solution to the Brainless Trifecta

After my comments yesterday about the WEEI “brainless trifecta,” I received an email suggesting that with so many slots to fill and a lot of people already on vacation, that perhaps it was difficult to just find anyone willing to fill the slots, especially to come in at 4:00 am to prep for the morning show. The emailer suggested I think about it, and keeping in mind the Globe restrictions, try to come up with a list of people who might be able to fill in some of the slots.

Off the top of my head, here’s my short list of people who don’t get called to fill in, but should:

Jon Rish – Evening flash guy did a great job dealing with the drunks and mouthbreathers during Red Sox rain delays last season and has shown willingness to mix it up with Mike Adams on occasion as well.

Mike Ratte – I think the ex-56 sports guy has some free time these days. I always liked him.

Mike Mutnansky – The weekend flash guy does an afternoon drive sports radio show up in NH on WGAM 900 AM. He’s good, too.

Mike Giardi – The NECN sports anchor has done a good job in the sports radio segments I’ve heard from him in the past.

Dan Roche – Should be getting all the gigs that his WBZ-TV colleague Steve Burton gets handed.

Eric Frede – Likable NESN personality has knowledge of the Red Sox and Bruins, and isn’t as raspy as Tom Caron.

Hazel Mae – Just because. Keep Mike Adams away from her though.

Gary Gillis was on my list too, but he was on with Butch Stearns yesterday. It was good to hear him on the air, I’d like to hear more from him.

Having all or any of these thrown into the mix would only be an improvement from the usual Steve Burton – Larry Johnson – Steve DeOssie – Butch Stearns – Bill Burt rotation. I’m sure a couple of the flash guys would be very willing to step up into the host chair as a fill in…isn’t that what they’re aiming for?

————————

Today’s Steve Burton Morning Show Moment came when the host of Patriots Gameday and Fifth Quarter reporter could not remember whether Bryan Cox played for the Patriots under Bill Parcells or Bill Belichick. He concluded that he thought it may have been Parcells who brought him in here and kept him under control.

This captures perfectly much of the frustration I (and many others) have with sports radio. Anyone who has followed the Patriots recalls clearly the brutal hit that Cox placed on Jerome Pathon early in the 2001 season – a hit that is credited with really kick-starting the Patriots resurgence that Super Bowl season. For someone who is supposed to be a Patriots commentator and “expert” not to be able to recall this is just unfathomable.

————————-

Adam Reilly of The Phoenix puts together a list of seven predictions for things we’ll see in 2007. Among them is the inevitable Daisuke Matsuzaka media overkill. Reilly writes:

Look for the following angles in Matsuzaka coverage next year: stories on his pitching performance; stories on his adjustment to American culture; stories on the cultural and technical differences between Japanese and American baseball; stories on how the Japanese media are covering Matsuzaka’s Red Sox tenure; stories on how the Red Sox are catering to Japanese fans; stories on Matsuzaka’s home; stories on Tomoyo Shibata, a/k/a Mrs. Matsuzaka, as she hangs out with other players’ wives, goes shopping, looks for decent sushi, etc.; stories on Matsuzaka’s interpreter. If we’re really lucky, WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan will trot out some nasty anti-Japanese slur after a poor Matsuzaka performance, thereby subjecting us to stories on the incident in question; stories on anti-Japanese bias in the US; stories on how the Japanese media is covering the incident in question; etc. All in all, serious Matsuzaka fatigue should set in by mid June.

Adam Reilly, you’ve got BINGO. The D&C reference I’m sure was tongue-in-cheek, though I think it might be closer to reality than not.

Right on cue, Boston.com announces a partnership with a Japanese Red Sox blog.

Last week, Kevin Gray had a look at WMUR’s Tokyo-born sportscaster Naoko Funayama, who could be the next big Boston sports media star with her fluency in Japanese and the arrival of Daisuke Matsuzaka.

This week, The Media Circus has their End-Of-The-Year Craptacular, chock full of stupid and head-scratching things said by national sports media figures over the course of 2006.

Cold Hard Football Facts provides links to game notes provided by PR staffs from teams around the NFL. Much of this stuff is what you find tucked into beat reporter’s notebook columns and Sunday Notes.

Dan Lamothe takes a look at some of the most popular national sports bloggers and chats with them on his Eye On Foxborough blog.

For the first time ever, the NFL will allow both CBS and FOX to show doubleheaders this weekend.

Brady Recovering From Spear Wounds

With the Patriots set to take on the Titans in the regular season finale on Sunday, Vince Young is in the spotlight of a couple articles this morning, as the exciting rookie quarterback is profiled for his performance in leading the surprising Tennessee resurgence this season.

Amalie Benjamin has Young talking about meeting Tom Brady at the ESPY awards last July and how his transition from college to the pros has gone this season. John Tomase says that Young and Brady are more alike than you might think.

Mike Reiss looks at Tom Brady sitting out portions of practice yesterday to rest his shoulder after Jaguars defender Clint Ingram led with his helmet and speared Brady’s shoulder on Sunday. Reiss closes with a disturbing quote from Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, who suggests that Brady deserved to be speared. Tomase also has Brady taking it easy after the hit from Ingram. Lenny Megliola says Brady had his back checked out by doctors rather than going to see his family in California over the holiday. Rich Garven has Brady feeling sore, but planning on making his 94th consecutive regular season start. Tom King says Brady won’t be taking a break on Sunday unless he is ordered to. Mike Lowe says that sitting out Sunday would be more painful for Brady. David Brown has Brady not ready to change his style of play after the hit.

Ian Clark says Rodney Harrison made his presence heard against Jacksonville. Albert Breer looks at Harrison getting back on the field Sunday, showing how important football is to him and how crucial he is to the Patriots. Michael Parente has Harrison not quite ready to call it a career just yet.

Joe McDonald has the Patriots making preparations for the push to the finish, which they hope includes a long run in January. Alan Greenberg notes that this year, the Patriots first round playoff opponent is out of their hands, in fact if they stay where they are, Greenberg says they are faced with a pair of very bad matchups. If you missed it yesterday, Michael Felger had a good look at the possible opponents in the first round for the Patriots, and why they would and wouldn’t want to face each one. Mark Farinella has Belichick and the Patriots preparing for Young and the Titans, noting that there is good reason to be respectful of Jeff Fisher’s crew. Ron Hobson says that the Patriots would be best served to go all out against the Titans and try to gain the #3 seeding in the playoffs.

Bob Ryan admits that he is baffled by trying to figure out the NFL, in particular, the NFC, which can’t seem to settle on a top dog, nor put together a playoff field of teams with better than a .500 record. Farinella has Kris Kringle recount his dealings with Bill Belichick.

Tomase’s notebook wonders whether Bill Belichick will rest his regulars, as he did in the season finale last season against Miami, or if he will play this one straight through. Reiss’ notebook has Harrison looking forward to at least one more season beyond this one with the Patriots. McDonald’s notebook has Belichick and Brady talking about Vince Young. Garven’s notebook has Harrison very happy to be back on the field for the Patriots.

Celtics

Life without Paul Pierce has proven to be difficult for the Celtics, as they lost their third in a row without their captain and fourth overall, to the Los Angeles Clippers, 100-77 at the Staples Center.

Shira Springer reports on the Clipper breezing to a win over the Celtics with Pierce watching from the sidelines, wishing that he could help his struggling club. Steve Bulpett notes that the Celtics got three players back last night, but it wasn’t nearly enough to stay competitive with the Clippers, who had come into the game having lost 7-of-8.

Check the coverage from LA in the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News.

Bulpett’s notebook has more on the injury to West, as the writer again questions whether the Celtics guard can stay healthy while playing like Rodney Harrison on the basketball court. Springer’s notebook has more on West.

Misc

Nick Cafardo and Steve Buckley report on a ruling by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday in San Francisco which gives federal prosecutors the right to use the names of results of over 100 major league baseball players who had tested positive for steroids three years ago. Cafardo says this will likely mean more trouble for Barry Bonds, while Buckley says the names are sure to be leaked to the media and MLB should “celebrate” the release of the names.

Stephen Harris looks at the Bruins entering the playoff picture after moving into the 8th position in the East with their overtime loss to Columbus on Tuesday. Fluto Shinzawa looks at the Bruins third period struggles after losing a two goal lead against the Blue Jackets.

Steve Conroy has a look at Boston College’s preparation for Navy in the Meineke Car Care Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday. Interim coach Frank Spaziani will be leading the Eagles in this game. C. Jemal Horton has the Eagles adjusting to life without Tom O’Brien. Conroy’s notebook reports that BC should get center Kevin Sheridan back for Saturday’s game.

Buddy Thomas would like to return a few “gifts” sports have given fans.

TNT has Suns/Mavs at 8:15 and Sonics/Nuggets at 10:30. ESPN has the Independence Bowl with Oklahoma State and Alabama at 4:30 and the Holiday Bowl with Texas A&M/Cal at 8:00. NFLN has the Texas Bowl with Rutgers/Kansas St at 8:00.

Catching Up

I hope everyone enjoyed whatever time they were able to take off over the last few days.

I caught the Patriots game 3000 miles away from home at my grandmother-in-law’s house. It was kind of nice to not have the option to tune into the WBCN pre and post game show or the WEEI Post Game or the Fifth Quarter. The game was over, the Patriots had won, and I was satisfied at that.

Weekend Watch – Playoff Preview?

Another holiday weekend is upon us and I’m once again out of town for the weekend. I won’t be back until Wednesday so I hope everyone enjoys your time off over the next few days.

David Scott checks in today with a year end look at who has been naughty and nice in the sports media world here in Boston and beyond.

———————————–

The Patriots travel to Florida this weekend to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon in what could be a possible first round playoff preview. The BSMW Game Day Roundtable has been convened and we’re looking back at the Texans game, ahead to the Jaguars and at the always popular Mediot of the week.

For the rest of your Patriots news over the next few days you can rely on the Patriots News Mashup to get your coverage, columns and blogs on the Patriots. We’ve even got a mirror site if the first one should be down for some reason.

Check in at WCVB Friday night at 7:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00 for Patriots All Access. This week’s show includes:

  • One-on-one with Tedy Bruschi
  • Tight end Daniel Graham and Celtics captain Paul Pierce battle it out on the hardwood in a game of H-O-R-S-E
  • Bill Belichick details the physical play of the Jaguars
  • The finals of Patriots Bowl 2006; who is the Madden video game champion on the team? Rodney Harrison or Tully Banta-Cain?

————————————

As if the loss of Paul Pierce for the next couple weeks wasn’t bad enough, now we learn that Tommy Heinsohn will also be out of action. Greg Dickerson will fill-in for Heinsohn as Celtics color analyst during the Boston Celtics upcoming West Coast road trip.

Heinsohn is unable to travel on the road trip due to a back ailment. Heinsohn will call in from home during the road to the FSN Celtics telecasts to give his input on the action.

Keep up with the Celtics news of the hour on the Celtics News Mashup page.

————————————-

FSN NE Special To Run On Christmas and New Year’s Day

Three of Boston’s most successful sports personalities, Celtics Captain Paul Pierce, Red Sox manager Terry Francona, and Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, sit-down with Gary Tanguay and Greg Dickerson to talk about the challenges of living and working as professional athletes in Boston on a Special Edition of Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight Presented by the Boston Herald.

The half-hour special will premier at 6:30 and 10 p.m. on Monday, December 25. The special will run again at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Monday, January 1, before the Celtics tip-off against the Portland Trailblazers at 10.

Francona on managing in Boston…
“I thought my last name was you suck…As a manager you don’t expect to walk out to the mound and get applause…You are here to help the players win games.”

Vrabel on meeting fan expectations…
“(Pierce) knows he has to come to the gym and score 30… I have to go out and be consistent, not 15 tackles, a sack and forced fumble… (Pierce) has got to know going in that he has to score 30 or they don’t have much of a chance.”

Pierce on life off the court…
“You are a sports figure and you are a target when you leave the house.”

————————————–

Check in with the Red Sox should they finally get J.D. Drew signed, or make any other news on the Red Sox News Mashup.

Bill Simmons weighs in on the Iverson trade, catches flak for his Rocky Balboa review and makes his NFL picks.

If you’ve got some time, the Wall of Dreams feature on ESPN.com is well worth the read.

The Toronto Star reports on several handwritten notes, letters and documents from basketball inventor James Naismith about the game, being placed into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame after being found by Naismith’s granddaughter.

Monday Night Countdown on ESPN will feature a segment on former Jet Dennis Byrd, who had his NFL career ended 14 years ago, paralyzed in a collision with a teammate. Now, he’s walking again and working as a high school coach. There will also be a “soundtracks” segment with Bill Parcells putting the Cowboys through their paces in practice.

———————————-

NFL Coverage Maps for Sunday December 24th

CBS Game 1

CBS Game 2

Fox Single Game

Pro Sports Highlights

Friday December 22
8:00pm FSN – Sixers @ Celtics (HD)
8:00pm ESPN – Rockets @ Spurs (HD)
10:30pm ESPN – Wizards @ Suns (HD)

Saturday December 23
7:00pm NESN – Canadiens @ Bruins (HD)
8:00pm NFLN – Chiefs @ Raiders (HD)

Sunday December 24th
1:00pm CBS – Patriots @ Jaguars (HD)
4:00pm FOX – Cardinals @ 49ers (HD)
4:15pm CBS – Bengals @ Broncos (HD)

Monday December 25th
2:30pm ABC – Lakers @ Heat (HD)
5:00pm NBC – Eagles @ Cowboys (HD)
8:30pm ESPN – Jets @ Dolphins (HD)

Tuesday December 26th
7:00pm VS – Bruins @ Blue Jackets
10:00pm FSN – Celtics @ Nuggets

————————————–

As this was written on Thursday, I’m missing out on many of the sports media reporters this week. (Many of them are on vacation the next two weeks anyhow) Here’s a few that I did find from this week:

Judd Zulgad talks to Bryant Gumbel about getting back into the broadcast booth. The 58-year-old Gumbel says he doesn’t really know why he took the job and says he doesn’t review his own work. Ed Sherman has a look at Chicago’s dueling sports radio stations as they go back and forth in the ratings. Lynn Henning looks at how the Tigers’ success in 2006 will effect their radio and TV broadcasts for next season. Chris Zelkovich notes that the CBC’s half century tradition of carrying the Grey Cup will come to end next year as TSN will pick up the game starting in 2008.

Michael Lev talks to 27-year-old Lakers announcer Spero Dedes, who in three days next week will go from calling basketball to football to basketball, from Orlando to Houston to Charlotte. Bob Smizik looks at how a no-news announcement from Bill Cower was huge news on Pittsburgh television. Michael McCarthy has Mark Jackson looking to step into the spotlight with ABC’s Christmas Day coverage of the Heat and Lakers.

Pierce out for “a couple of weeks”

Michael Holley reported on WEEI a few minutes ago that Celtics Captain Paul Pierce will miss the next “couple of weeks” to rest his foot. He said that Pierce is suffering from a “stress reaction” in the foot and is on crutches with his foot in a boot today.

Holley credits Greg Dickerson with being the first one with this news.

Pierce is expected to miss the entire upcoming West coast road trip.

Let the Gerald Green era begin!

Celtics Can’t Finish

The Celtics trailed by one point with about 24 second left in the game, they got a rebound and headed up the court. What happened in the remaining seconds of the game is just as unbelievable now as when it happened. They took some time off the clock and got the ball to Paul Pierce. He was swarmed at the foul line and could not do anything with the ball. The Celtics never got a shot off. Eventually the officials called a jump ball with 6/10ths of a second remaining, essentially ending the ballgame, and the Celtics saw their five game winning streak come to an end, 96-95 (live blog) at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

Peter May says that the ending “defies logic” – an apt description for the final seconds of the contest. Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics are going to have a hard time explain this one to themselves. Bill Doyle looks at the Warriors bottling up Pierce in the closing seconds to preserve the win for themselves.

Mark Murphy has a look at Al Jefferson’s night, as the young big man recorded another double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) but struggled mightily for much of the night, resulting in a couple of benchings by coach Doc Rivers. Frank Dell’Apa has Jefferson disappointed in his play, but vowing to bounce back and continue to get better. Mike Fine has the Celtics happy to get Ryan Gomes back in time for last night’s game.

Never a big Paul Pierce fan, Bill Reynolds says he is one now, noting that we’re seeing an all-time great Celtic in his prime right now. Buddy Thomas isn’t a fan of the NBA, period. Michael Muldoon says a deal for Allen Iverson makes sense for Denver, not so much for the Celtics.

Dell’Apa looks at Warriors coach and former Celtic Don Nelson as someone who really saw the possibilities for foreign players in the league, as early as the 1980′s and helped start the movement to bring them into the league when he signed Sarunas Marciulionis in 1990. You can check the stories from the West coast on the Bay Area Sports Pages.

Bulpett’s notebook has Pierce saying that adding Allen Iverson would’ve be nice for the Celtics, but he likes the direction the team is headed in anyway. May’s notebook has Pierce saying that Denver will be a great destination for Iverson. Doyle’s notebook has Brian Scalabrine out of last night’s game with the flu, but Ryan Gomes returning, and new hope that Wally Szczerbiak can return at some point during the upcoming road trip.

Patriots

Karen Guregian says that all signs are pointing towards a Rodney Harrison return to the field on Sunday. We hear a lot of talk about the two-minute offense, but Shalise Manza Young takes a look at the two-minute defense for the Patriots, an area where they have been very good this season. Christopher Price also looks at the two minute defense for the Patriots. Michael Parente has the Patriots preparing for another “rock fight” with the Jaguars. Eric McHugh revisits last year’s playoff game with the Jaguars and notes that whether or not Benjamin Watson plays this Sunday could be a big factor in the game. Chris Ryan notes that the Patriots backups have done a fine job stepping in this season.

Mike Reiss has the Patriots players looking past the Pro Bowl selections and setting their sights on bigger goals, starting with a playoff berth with a win on Sunday. Alan Greenberg has Tom Brady aiming for the Super Bow, not the Pro Bowl. Albert Breer has the Patriots dusting off the respect card as motivation. Ian Clark writes that the snubs were the theme of the day at Gillette yesterday. Jennifer Toland has Richard Seymour feeling blessed and humbled at his fifth Pro Bowl selection. Christopher Price has more from Seymour on the selection, as does Mark Farinella.

Dan Duggan looks at former Marshfield High star Ryan Gibbons, who is on the practice squad for the Jaguars. Get the Jaguars view on Jacksonville.com.

Guregian’s notebook looks at the punting competition in camp, as two practice squad kickers vie for the right to replace Ken Walter. Reiss’ notebook reports on Harrison being upgraded to questionable on the injury report. Young’s notebook has the Patriots moving past the Pro Bowl snubs. Toland’s notebook has more on Harrison’s chances of playing this Sunday. Parente’s notebook has more from Seymour on his Pro Bowl selection. Farinella’s notebook has Asante Samuel stiffed and miffed at his Pro Bowl snub.

Red Sox

Bill Doyle’s Tuning In has new Red Sox radio guy Dave O’Brien speaking about his new role with the team he grew up watching.

Jeff Horrigan has the Red Sox still optimistic that the J.D. Drew deal will be worked out. Jon Couture says that the constant roster shuffling is just part of baseball today.

Bruins/Misc

Stephen Harris has Bruins coach Dave Lewis and several players speaking about the difference between Eastern and Western hockey. Fluto Shinzawa looks at the Bruins developing two scoring lines. Harris’ notebook has P.J. Axelsson taking a step forward.

Michael Vega and Rich Thompson report on Jeff Jagodzinski officially taking over as Boston College head football coach. Lenny Megliola has the new coach hoping for a long run at BC.

Steve Buckley has Jagodzinski enthusiastic about his new job and promising to make things “electric” on Saturdays. Jackie MacMullan has the new coach fired up to get here.

NESN has Bruins/Canucks at 7:00. NFLN has Packers/Vikings at 8:00. ESPN2 has Gonzaga/Duke at 9:00.

12.20.06 Afternoon

I’ll be attempting another Celtics live blog tonight over at the FSN Celtics Central website.

WBZ-TV is going to be the only place you can watch start-to-finish live coverage of the 2007 Boston Marathon. WBZ-TV President and GM Ed Piette says “’BZ has a long and distinguished tradition of carrying this event in its entirety. When WCVB pulled out of the race, changing the dynamics of the coverage model, we very much wanted to figure out a way that WBZ could still bring the Marathon to viewers.”

WCVB pulled out of coverage due to production costs, (Something that was traditionally split among the stations) so WBZ worked with the BAA to come up with a coverage plan that would allow them cover the entire marathon, making them the only station with wire to wire coverage. This will mark their 27th year of providing full coverage. The 2007 Marathon will begin with the first wave of runners at 10:00 AM on Monday, April 16th.

————————–

Rocky expert Bill Simmons has his review of the new Rocky Balboa movie. He’s not too high on it.

This week’s edition of The Media Circus looks at the disturbing reality that NBC actually did air the Michael Bolton Tribute on Ice this past weekend. They also recap “Crap that actually came from somebody’s mouth” from the weekend and have a couple of other items as well.

Via Deadspin, here is a post on UmpBump.com that has a little bit about Tomoyo Matsuzaka, wife of Daisuke.

Jim Williams looks at NASCAR and DirecTV taking race viewing to a whole new level in 2007.

————————–

Boston Radio Watch on Entercom’s plans for Red Sox baseball and specifically WEEI:

WEEI will still retain a large presence with about 30-40 game package of Wednesday games and weekday afternoon broadcasts as well as Jimmy Fund Radiothon(Aug.17) game. WEEI will still have all the Sox access programming with team’s players and management. The reason for WEEI airing its Game of The Week on Wednesdays as opposed on any another day? Wednesday happens to be the last day in Arbitron’s weekly ratings survey which runs Thursday thru Wednesday. It’s all about recalling what you heard during the week before mailing back your diary on Thursday morning. And previous night’s game on WEEI may stick out better in people’s minds, especially if Dice-K threw a gem….

That crafty Jason Wolfe…

———————————-

Monday Night Football on ESPN is averaging a 10.0 rating and 9,224,000 homes (12,402,000 P2+) for 16 games in 15 weeks. These represent increases of 41%, 43% and 42%, respectively, compared to the first 15 weeks of last year’s ESPN Sunday Night Football (7.1 rating, 6.444 million homes, 8.733 million viewers).

Meanwhile, FOX continues to garner big numbers for their NFL games, as season-to-date, FOX Sports’ National Game is averaging a 14.2/27 in Households, standing as not only the highest-rated NFL window on television, but also the highest-rated program of any kind, in any daypart. Through eight Doubleheader Sundays, FOX’s National Game even out-rates the No. 1 show in prime time, Grey’s Anatomy, by + 2% (vs. 13.9). The National Game on FOX is also up +10% over last year’s 8-game average (12.9/24) and holds sizable advantages over the season averages of both CBS’s National Game (+11% vs. 12.8), and NBC’s Sunday Night Football (+27%, vs. 11.2).

———————————-

The frosty relations between the New England Patriots and the Boston Herald continued today as Richard Seymour dismissed a Michael Felger attempt at a question without even letting Felger get more than a few words out before asking for the next question.

The hostility likely stems from the back page of this morning’s Herald which proclaims that Ty Warren was a “more deserving” candidate for the Pro Bowl than Seymour:

229610_sportspage.jpg

While Felger didn’t write the headline on the back page of the paper, his own article on the Pro Bowl selections made it clear that agreed with the spirit of the headline. Writing about the history of headscratching Pro Bowl selections, Felger writes:

The latest miss occurred yesterday, when Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl in just his sixth year in the league.

Then a sentence or two later, Felger chimes in:

But the truth is that, for a variety of reasons, Seymour hasn’t even been the best defensive lineman on his own team this season. And again, we stress the this season part of the equation.

Now, what Felger writes may not be that much out of line. Ty Warren, by all accounts is having the best season of his life, and deserved to go to the Pro Bowl this season. I don’t think Seymour would disagree with that notion either. What likely bothers Seymour is the implication that he doesn’t deserve to go, or that the paper seems to feel the need to knock him down to lift Warren up.

However, this is just the latest in a series of little incidents between the Herald and the Patriots. There seems to be at least a couple of reasons for the tension, and Dale & Holley on WEEI today discussed this a little bit. There is of course the endless, over-the-top gossip column coverage, mostly of the head coach, but there has also been a more negative, aggressive, “edgy” approach being taken by the writers covering the team. This approach has resulted in confrontations with Corey Dillon and now Seymour, and as claimed by Dale & Holley, in Belichick seemingly becoming even more tight-lipped with the Herald reporters.

It used to be the Globe with Ron Borges and Nick Cafardo that was the bane of the Patriots existence. Now with Mike Reiss on the beat, and Borges contributing maybe one or two columns a week on the team, the roles seem to have been clearly reversed between the two papers.

————————————-

Here is the top 15 from Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal 50 Most Influential People of 2006

  1. George Bodenheimer; President, ESPN/ABC Sports
  2. David Stern; Commissioner, NBA
  3. Bud Selig; Commissioner, MLB
  4. Dick Ebersol; Chairman, NBC Universal Sports and Olympics
  5. Roger Goodell; Commissioner, NFL
  6. David Hill; President, DirecTV Entertainment Group / Chairman, Fox Sports
  7. Tony Ponturo; VP of Global Media & Sports Marketing, Anheuser-Busch
  8. Brian France; President, NASCAR
  9. Phil Knight; Chairman, Nike
  10. Sean McManus; President, CBS Sports & CBS News
  11. Gary Bettman; Commissioner, NHL
  12. Tim Finchem; Commissioner, PGA Tour
  13. Gene Upshaw; Executive director, NFL Players Association
  14. Robert Kraft; Chairman and owner, New England Patriots
  15. Steve Bornstein; Exec VP of media, NFL / President and CEO, NFL Network

Robert Kraft was #12 last year.

More Hits For Pats

Mike Reiss has a look at the Jaguars, who notes that they have played some of their best football against top teams and their worst football against lower teams. Michael Parente has a look at the Jaguars, noting that they are practically unbeatable at home. Eric McHugh says that based on the two teams most recent game, these are clubs heading in opposite directions.

Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider has a look at why Vinny Testaverde is here and what role he has with the Patriots and the quarterbacks specifically.

Shalise Manza Young reports on Richard Seymour being the only Patriot selected to the Pro Bowl. Albert Breer has a look at the Patriots who were snubbed in the voting. Felger says that Ty Warren, not Seymour, should’ve been selected to the Pro Bowl yesterday. Alan Greenberg reports on punter Ken Walter being placed on Injured Reserve yesterday with a foot injury. Reiss also reports on Walter going to IR, ending his season.

Check coverage of the Jaguars on Jacksonville.com.

Reiss’ notebook has more on the Pro Bowl voting. Felger’s notebook has Ted Johnson saying he would’ve come back this year if asked, but no one called. Young’s notebook has more on Walter being placed on IR.

Bruins

It was Zdeno Chara’s homecoming to Ottawa last night, and the big defenseman’s new teammates responded with a 7-2 win over the Senators. Marco Sturm had a hat trick and Patrice Bergeron tallied five assists for the Bruins. Steve Conroy and Fluto Shinzawa have coverage of the rout. Dan Hickling also has a game story for the ProJo.

Conroy’s notebook has Wayne Primeau taking offense to a high hit from Ottawa’s Brian McGrattan. Shinzawa’s notebook looks at the Bruins shutting out the Senators on the power play. Hickling’s notebook looks at the reception for Chara last night.

Celtics

Jackie MacMullan talks to Red Auerbach’s doctor and friend, Murray Lieberman about his relationship and memories of the Celtics legend, and how much he misses his friend.

Mark Murphy looks at the Celtics playing through pain and learning to win at the same time. Mike on the BSMW Full Court Press has a look a the five key figures during the recent winning streak.

Peter May looks at Allen Iverson’s trade to the Nuggets, where he will (eventually) team with Carmelo Anthony. Murphy has Danny Ainge’s reaction to the trade, who says it was a longshot at best that the Sixers would’ve traded him here.

Murphy’s notebook has Paul Pierce and Daniel Graham matching up at practice yesterday in a variety of contests. May’s notebook looks at the keys to Al Jefferson’s improved play, which includes just being healthy.

Red Sox/Misc

Gordon Edes looks at one of the biggest challenges that Daisuke Matsuzaka will face here in America, the increased schedule and pitching in a five-man rotation. Jeff Horrigan has an update on the J.D. Drew contract snag. Joe Haggerty looks at what Wily Mo Pena’s role might be with the Sox next year.

Michael Vega and Lenny Megliola look at new BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski drawing a favorable response among those with ties to the program. Megliola and Rich Thompson garner some fan and alumni reaction to the move.

Mark Farinella offers a peek at his holiday gift list.

FSN has Celtics/Warrior at 7:30. ESPN has Cavs/Nets at 8:00 and Mavs/Sonics at 10:30.

Misc Media Notes

Greg Doyle has a Second Look at Sunday’s Patriots/Texans game on the Patriots Game Day page.

David Laurila on RedSoxNation.net has an interview with Boston Sports Review editor Jerry Spar. In the session, Spar talks about the background and future of BSR, and offers some thoughts on the sports media in town as well.

David Barron, sports media writer for the Houston Chronicle, checks in with former Red Sox announcer Jerry Trupiano who says Entercom gave him no reason for not renewing his contract, and that it seemed to him to be change just for the sake of change.

Also in that piece there is more on the ESPN edict involving ESPN personalities on non-ESPN Radio stations. Barron writes:

The Worldwide Leader strikes again: According to a memo from executive vice president Norby Williamson, ESPN announcers will no longer be allowed to make unauthorized appearances on non-ESPN stations in eight markets — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston and Houston.

On the surface, unless there is some side deal in place, it would appear that this does signal the end of the Peter Gammons’ weekly appearances on WEEI during the baseball season. It does say “unauthorized appearances”, so perhaps Gammons has the pull at ESPN to keep the gig at WEEI. I would guess that lesser personalities would be prohibited from appearing on 850 AM.

This obviously gives ESPN Boston 890 AM a leg up on many recognizable guests, such as Buster Olney, Jason Stark or Ron Jaworski.

Richard Sandomir has the news that Time Warner in the NY/NJ area has agreed to telecast the free preview of NFL Network so that viewers can see the Rutgers and Kansas State play in the Texas Bowl on December 28th. It is uncertain whether Cablevision will take similar action.

Neil Best praises announcer MSG Mike Breen for not holding back during the Knicks/Nuggets brawl on Saturday night.

On an ESPN/ABC conference call today for the Christmas Day games on ABC, Breen, who will call the Lakers/Heat game had the following to say about his call of the incident on Saturday night:

“Like anything, I guess, if you see it enough you get better at doing it. I’ve just tried to take the road of while it’s happening, you just report it you describe it. Obviously, you’re emotional about it because it’s a potentially dangerous and an emotional situation, but at the same time, you wait until it settles down before you then go and give it perspective and try to hand out blame or responsibility. The other part of it is working with producers and directors who know exactly how to handle it as well and have the right camera shots and support everything you are saying. It’s certainly not just me, it’s the analyst who is with you every step of the way and it’s the people in the truck. And, especially the camera people who put themselves in harms way to get the appropriate shot.”

ESPN also announced today that they have acquired a minority equity stake in the Arena Football League, which includes broadcast rights. ESPN2 will now broadcast AFL Monday night games starting in March and running through June – allowing ESPN to develop a theme of year-round Monday night football on their network. Opening day and the Arena Bowl (From New Orleans) will be broadcast on ABC, and ESPN will pick up several games, including a number of playoff games. The Monday night broadcasts on ESPN2 however, seem to be the flagship around which ESPN and the league will build.