Wednesday Wrap – 01.31.07

The Globe has a little egg on their face today after running the story this morning that Theo Epstein got married at a Nathan’s Hot Dog stand.

From TheBostonChannel.com (Website of WVCB Channel 5)

The Boston Globe had reported in Wednesday editions that Epstein's father, Leslie Epstein, confirmed his son married Marie Whitney in New York at the original Nathan's Famous hot dog stand, built in 1916.

However, the Globe later posted a correction on its Web site to say the wedding did not take place at Coney Island. It did not give any other details.

"Leslie Epstein meant it as a joke and we took it as being straightforward," said Globe Sports Editor Joe Sullivan.

To the paper’s credit, they made the correction in the on-line article, and noted the correction at the bottom of the page – something I haven’t seen them do before.

Gordon Edes – who wrote the original story, has a follow up on the Extra Bases blog where he says the “the tone of sincerity masked the gag.”

————————————————–

Adrian Wojnarowski goes hard after Danny Ainge and the Celtics:

Three years ago this week, Jim O'Brien quit as the Boston Celtics' head coach. He was tired of watching Ainge disassemble a playoff team, replacing them with suspect young players and misfit parts. The Celtics president himself said that maybe the resignation was for the best because O'Brien and his staff "came in with a design to win every single basketball game."

The nerve, huh?

Amazingly, O'Brien didn't want to give minutes to the Celtics' genius No. 1 draft pick point guard, Marcus Banks. For some reason, O'Brien wasn't sold. And as Ainge himself said, maybe it was best to drop into the draft lottery than make the playoffs. After all, Dwight Howard was waiting there.

————————————————–

I just got around to reading the Mike Reiss column on Bill Belichick from Saturday.

Belichick talks about his situation, how the Krafts have been so supportive, that he likes his staff, his players, and he likes the challenge of short offseasons (because of longer playoff runs). He then says:

"When you have those things, it's hard not to feel good about what you're doing, and it's not hard to keep doing it. I love football and I love the area. The players, the organization, the support we get. I have a great relationship with the two [people] most important to me, Mr. Kraft and [vice president of player personnel] Scott Pioli. I think all the way around, all three of us have a good relationship with each other, very workable, respectfully and complementary. It starts there."

If you’re a Patriots fan, you’ve got to be encouraged by this. The media – nationally mostly, but Felger and Borges as well – has had a field day in recent weeks trying to attach Belichick’s name to future job openings with the Giants, and even the Texans. There has been speculation that the Krafts were uncomfortable with some of the headlines that have been generated around the coach and this could shorten his stay here. Some said that the Giants were Belichick’s “dream job” based seemingly on nothing more than the fact that he had served as the defensive coordinator there during the 1980′s.

I would like to think that the statements in this article would put an end to the speculation, at least for now, but we all know better. Since the contract details are not known for sure, the media will justify their continued rampant speculation on the future of the most successful coach in franchise history. But at least fans can take some comfort in the fact that the coach doesn’t appear to be in a rush to go anywhere.

—————————————————–

Bill Simmons reports from Radio Row at the Super Bowl.

Joe Sportsfan has their Super Bowl week edition of The Media Circus

The New York Times Co. said today that it has wrote down the value of the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette by $814 million.

Adam Kennedy of the Phoenix weighs in on the announcement.

——————————————————-

Tonight

7:00pm, ESPN – Miami @ North Carolina (HD)
7:00pm, ESPN2 – Ohio St @ Purdue
7:00pm, NESN – Hartford @ Boston College
7:30pm, FSN – Lakers @ Celtics (HD)
9:00pm, ESPN – Spurs @ Jazz
9:00pm, ESPN2 – Texas @ Texas Tech
9:00pm, NESN – N.C. State @ Virginia Tech
11:00pm, FSN – Gonzaga @ Stanford

Winter of Discontent

The Celtics losing streak hit a dirty dozen last night with a 103-96 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Celtics made a late rally to close the game to within single digits, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Again. Al Jefferson once again led the Celtics with 15 points and 17 rebounds, while Gerald Green added 14 points.

Shira Springer wonders why the Celtics don’t seem to feel the sense of urgency until it is too late in games such as last night. Mark Murphy notes that heart doesn’t count for as much as it should in these games.

Springer’s notebook and Murphy’s notebook each reports on Delonte West, whose bout with the flu kept him out of the second half of last night’s game.

Bruins

The Boston winter sports embarrassment continued with the Bruins last night as well, who were once again smacked around, this time 7-1 at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. While it’s hard to tell which situation is worse, the Celtics have seemed to keep playing with some heart and effort, and the Bruins, while having perhaps a bit more talent on their roster, have seemed to just lay down recently. The Celtics have the prospect of a possible franchise player in the draft looming ahead, but what do the Bruins have? All of this certainly doesn’t encourage the local media to give these two teams more than just token coverage. Boston is a two team town right now simply because the winter teams are so dreadful.

Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Bruins are now the official sacrificial meal for the rest of the league, home or away. Steve Conroy notes that every time the Bruins think that they’ve hit rock bottom, they find a way to hit a new low. Douglas Flynn on his Bruins Insider blog offers his thoughts on the game and lists out a number of the ongoing slumps being endured by key Bruins.

Mike Loftus says that the Bruins cannot place blame for their failures on mere bad luck. Conroy’s notebook has rookie David Krejci receiving a rough welcome to the NHL, having to leave in the first period with a concussion. Dupont’s notebook says that Milan Jurcina, along with Brad Stuart, are the two players that GM Peter Chiarelli is most likely trying move as part of a trade.

Red Sox

Dan Shaughnessy plays it straight today and has a conversation with Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, who would’ve turned 88 today. Sharon is in town for the Red Sox fifth annual celebration of her father’s life today at Fenway Park. Steve Buckley has a piece on Manny Delcarmen, the local boy who loves playing for the Red Sox. Delcarmen’s name has come up in offseason trade talks the last two seasons, but the young pitcher handles the rumors with maturity. Mike Fine weighs in on Curt Schilling changing his mind about retirement. Jon Couture says that talk and all, Schilling is worth an extension from the Red Sox.

Jeff Horrigan’s notebook has Daisuke Matsuzaka getting set to meet with the US media for only the second time today out in Southern California. Gordon Edes reports on Red Sox GM Theo Epstein giving the media the slip and going off and getting married to Marie Whitney, keeping the ceremony and their honeymoon a secret.

Patriots/Super Bowl

Michael Felger collects the thoughts of several Colts on he topic of how they came back to beat the Patriots in the AFC Title game. Mike Reiss has a look at Bill Polian, who now appears to be trying to play the role of gracious winner in talking about the Patriots. John Tomase has Brian Urlacher talking about his missed tackle on Tom Brady earlier this season. He also has Bears kicker Robbie Gould talking about his five months and training camp with the Patriots.

Lenny Megliola chooses to ignore what happened in the second half against the Colts and write his Patriots/Bears Super Bowl story anyway. Felger’s notebook has former Patriot Dan Klecko insisting that he hasn’t gained wight since joining the Colts. Bob Ryan has Tank Johnson talking about his legal issues and feeling conflicted about being at the Super Bowl with everything else going on. The Globe notebook has Peyton Manning enjoying his Super Bowl experience.

Subscribe Now

RSS Feed Update – You might’ve noticed the bar under the quote box in the left hand sidebar. It’s a handy tool that allows you to add the BSMW RSS feed to any number of popular feed readers. In addition, I’ve made that feed the full feed of each entry, so instead of getting just the first portion of the entry, you get the entire entry sent to your reader.

Using a feed reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines allows you to keep up with the sites you read by subscribing to feeds of their content.

If you’re not RSS savvy, you can also subscribe to the site feed by clicking here:

Subscribe to Boston Sports Media Watch by Email

This will send you a daily email with the content of the day on BSMW.

——————————————

A common Dan Shaughnessy tag line in email responses to critics is “I’m sure you’re at the top of your profession.”

Well, apparently some feel that Shaughnessy is at the top of his profession:

From Jeanette DeForge in yesterday’s edition of The Republican:

HOLYOKE – A sportswriter who has authored 11 books will lead this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade as its top award winner.

The parade committee yesterday announced Dan Shaughnessy, a columnist and associate editor of the Boston Globe, is this year’s recipient of the John F. Kennedy Award. The honor is given to someone of Irish descent who has distinguished himself or herself in their profession.

Someone needs to talk to that committee.

——————————————–

The Bruins were the main topic of conversation on WEEI today, with Dale Arnold and Michael Holley giving the struggles of the team plenty of air time on their show, and Arnold suggesting a few times that a trade could be made as soon as today.

On the Big Show, Pete Sheppard filled in for a sick Glenn Ordway, and picked up on the hockey talk, going into one of his patented screaming Bruins rants that he unleashes once or twice a season.

Also on the Big Show, Steve Buckley and Paul Perillo took turns tweaking Sheppard on the Patriots. Perillo also seemed to paint with a very broad brush when in came to Patriots fan, lumping them in such statements as “Patriots fans think that this is the only place where players can come to and win” and that “Patriots fans” thought that the loss of Edgerrin James was really going to hurt the Colts because they can’t accept that it was the system and Peyton Manning that made James so good.

It seems to be common practice now for the co-hosts to go after Sheppard on the Patriots whenever Ordway isn’t around. Sometimes it’s amusing. Most times not.

——————————————–

Cold Hard Football Facts wonders if it is a coincidence that Ron Borges wrote a story on the 50′s Cleveland Browns when they had done a number of such articles.

Mike Reiss has former Patriot Dan Klecko basking over playing in another Super Bowl while his former team is home. Klecko feels that if he was used at one position, he would’ve had a better chance at sticking in New England.

ESPN.com Page2 has ranked the 80 Super Bowl teams prior to this season.

The 2006-07 season has been a rough one for the Celtics. How was the 1996-97 season? How about the 1986-87 season? The 1976-77 season? I take a quick look back in time on the FSN Nothing But Net blog.

Tom Verducci looks at why the Red Sox don’t need a top closer to compete in 2007.

————————————————–
Tonight:

7:00pm, FSN – Celtics @ Pacers
7:00pm, NESN – Bruins @ Sabres (HD)
7:00pm, ESPN – Mississippi St. @ Mississippi
7:00pm, ESPN2 – Wichita St. @ Northern Iowa
8:00pm, Versus – Nashville @ Colorado (HD on INHD)
9:00pm, ESPN – Michigan St. @ Illinois (HD)

Helton Talks Off, Schilling Talks On

I’m gone for four days, and apparently that is enough time for a blockbuster trade to be rumored, for talks to “heat up” and then for the trade to be declared dead.

Nick Cafardo and Jeff Horrigan report that trade talks centered around Rockies All-Star first baseman Todd Helton collapsed last night and will not be revived.

Gerry Callahan says that the Red Sox “quest to add an All-Star, a future Hall of Famer or a $10 million man at every position will apparently come up just short.” Steve Buckley tells us why Sox fans should be excited at Curt’s announcement.

Meanwhile, Curt Schilling used WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan as a platform to campaign for a new contract from the Red Sox, as he announced that 2007 will not be his last season after all. Jeff Goldberg looks at Schilling putting his political ambitions aside for a little while longer. Cafardo says that Schilling never meant to mislead anyone about his retirement intentions. Horrigan’s notebook has more on the announcement from Schilling.

Bruins

The Bruins continued their downward spiral with a 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers at TD Banknorth Garden last night. Fluto Shinzawa says that the club has tried everything and nothing is working thus far. Stephen Harris says that this loss may end any hesitation that GM Peter Chiarelli might have had over making a trade. Joe McDonald says that the Bruins didn’t do anything to win the hockey game last night. Douglas Flynn notes that at this point, the Bruins are closer to the bottom than they are to a playoff spot. Bud Barth says that roster changes appear to be looming after this one.

Karen Guregian says that Bruins coach Dave Lewis is still looking for someone to step up and carry the team to a few wins. Shinzawa’s notebook says that pulling Tim Thomas with the score 3-1 in the second period did not have the desired effect. Harris’ notebook says that Brad Stuart might likely be the first player to go in any trade of note as it appears the Bruins will not be able to sign the free agent to be. McDonald’s notebook has Brad Boyes working hard to shake a recent slump. Flynn’s notebook has more on Boyes. Barth’s notebook has rookie defenseman Bobby Allen still hopeful that the Bruins can put things together.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett has the Celtics being very self-critical in a team meeting yesterday in an effort to shake the soap opera theme of “The young and the winless.” Shira Springer says that the Celtics might finally be angry enough to break out of this 11 game losing streak. Bill Reynolds hopes the losing continues for the rest of the season. Bulpett’s notebook says that the Celtics still have hopes of turning the season around rather than going into the lottery.

Misc

I’m not too interested in Super Bowl coverage for the most part, and just looking for items that might involve the Patriots. Today in their notebooks Christopher L Gasper and Michael Felger have Bears linebacker Lance Briggs – likely the best free agent linebacker on the market this spring – making known that he isn’t a big fan of playing in a 3-4 defense such as is used by the Patriots.

Patriots.com has an article from Tom Casale on the Senior Bowl and what players from that event might be of interest to the Patriots.

BSMW Mailbag

Since I’m away today there isn’t the usual Friday afternoon update, but I put together a few emails I received this week that I felt were worthy of note, and am posting them here.

This one is from Sean:

I didn’t see the link for that bully-chick article from the post that was referenced in Eric McHugh’s article today. It was the number two link so I figure people that cared enough looked it up on their own like me, but I thought it’d be worth posting. Thoroughly entertaining from a “what an ass this guy is” point of view.

I get the non Pats fan’s perspective of yearning for a different winner every year. Its hard to blame them. The stories about no I in team or their smart business sense and winning despite injuries have been beaten into the ground. Yeah its old, but who’s fault is that? Its not the Patriots’ or BB’s job to do anything but play football.

As a New England fan and a proponent of legitimate sports media, I believe this gives us a whole new reason to root on a patriots dynasty. The idea that national media types would openly bash a man not based on his football knowledge but out of personal spite is disgraceful. it is true however. they were winning so no one said anything. They would look foolish. Now they lose and its like a moral victory for the media members whose lives Belichick has made slightly more difficult over the years. For shame.

The Rise of Bill Bully-Chick

But thats my rant. Keep up the good work.

I had seen that column before, and should’ve brought it here. That column was written BEFORE Belichick supposedly snubbed Peyton Manning after embracing Tony Dungy warmly following the game on Sunday. The media is having a field day with the whole Belichick thing and has been sharpening their knives for just this time.

This next one comes from Aaron, regarding the hypocrisy of Mike Felger.

I have a question after listening to Felger’s show to and from the library.

Is Felger aware that the NFL has a salary cap?

My god, you are so right, listening to the complaints, you would never believe the team went 12-4 and ended up in the AFC Championship game. He’s talking about the Pats should have drafted a big name LB, throwing around the names Julian Peterson and Will Witherspoon. There wasn’t that kind of money, let alone the kind of money to sign one of those guys, and have better wide receivers, and do the other thing Felger always said they should do, which is give $3 million to Adam Vinatieri. (Did this team come close to losing a game because of Gostkowski? Nope.)

Hey, there’s no room from reason when it comes to these guys…

This one came in on Tuesday:

Bruce- I’m not sure if you’re listening to WEEI right now, but Pete Sheppard just described Borges’ column from today’s Globe as being “in his drawer from about 10 years ago”. I had to laugh because I remembered what you’d written in today’s post. You can’t tell me Pete was creative enough to come up with this reference on his own. It just goes to show that as much as these guys belittle the work you do, they’re visiting bostonsportsmedia.com every single day…

Chad

Yup, I heard that. It’s funny how many times stuff like that actually does happen. I really don’t think it is coincidence. Do you?

This one is also from Tuesday:

Not saying Buckley’s column was the best ever or anything…but seemed like you kind of overstated it’s badness…it was just a “Great game, no goats” type wrapup…I didn’t get the Buckner reference as being the whole linchpin of the argument…

I have no problem with your opinion, but I guess if you’re going out of your way to say it was a disgrace and horrid, then when you use that statement again on a column that actually deserves it (and there will be sooo many more) then it loses it’s impact. This was just mediocre (and basically pro-Pats if that matters to you), so it didn’t deserve in my mind such vitriol…the problem with the internet (which you rarely do) is it encourages extreme statements that lose their power when you want to use them again. But…if you really thought all of that, then I guess it was deserved!

As always, the site is great. Good work…

I agree here. I think Buckley had the bad luck of being the column that I read directly after Borges’ and he knocked a bit harder than perhaps he should have been. I didn’t like the column, but it wasn’t as “horrid, horrid” as I described it. Truth be told, I was probably too hard on Felger this morning too, but the guy has just disappointed me so much this year. Hanging out with Borges has muddied his rep too, something about being judged by the company you keep…

Here’s one that follows up some more on the Felger “F-” report card grade this morning:

In my opinion, he hasn’t changed but two significant circumstances have changed:

1. He is being honest. Not that he wasn’t honest before but it just happened that he agreed for the most part with everything the Pats were doing. Now that he doesn’t agree with everything they are doing, he comes across as negative.

2. More exposure. He is on TV all the time and on the radio everyday so we have more opportunities to criticize. Think of Tiger Woods….when he plays, you see every single shot he takes over the course of a round. If he shoots a 70, we probably see 68 of those shots. We also see every time he slams a club, every time he curses, every time he misses a short putt, etc. You then hear more criticism of him for those things when every other golfer hits double the amount of bad shots, maybe slams the club twice as much and misses a heck of a lot more short putts. When we only read Felger in the Herald or heard him a couple of times per month on WEEI, we formed a certain opinion of him. Now that we see “68 out of 70 of Felger’s golf shots”, we are judging him likewise. Not that he isn’t responsible for representing himself given the multiple media opportunities that he has been offered…it is just that we are not always fair in our comparison of him to other less profile media members. Just a thought….

Those are some very valid points.

Grading the Patriots Coverage for the 2006 Season

I’m out of town this weekend, and won’t be back until Monday night. Before we get into our report card, here’s a couple of things to check out.

The Patriots Game Day Roundtable wraps up the 2006 season with a look back at the year and some a peek at what is ahead for this team.

David Scott checks in with his weekly edition of Scott’s Shots.

Mike Dunshee has a midseason report on the Bruins.

If it works, I’ve scheduled a quick mailbag to post this afternoon at 2:00.
————————

With the Patriots season over, it’s time to grade the writers who covered the team this season.

Boston Herald Writers

Michael Felger F -

I have no idea what happened to this guy. At first, I thought he was simply trying to draw attention to himself for his new radio and TV shows. But it lingered throughout the entire season. The trigger seemed to be the Patriots allowing Adam Vinatieri to get away, as since that event, Felger has been highly critical of the team and joined the clique that likes to accuse the Patriots of being “cheap” and not spending money. He had numerous confrontations with Corey Dillon, going all the way back to mini-camp, and seemed to enjoy the attention that came with it. He’s better than this, but he has sold his soul to Satan in the hopes of garnering some ratings numbers. Good luck with that, Mike.

John Tomase B+

Like Reche Caldwell, Tomase found his game as the season went along. Early in the season he seemed to get a little bogged down in the negativity at times, but as the playoff push was on, Tomase was at the top of the pack.

Albert Breer B+

Breer has major upside as a football writer/reporter. If he can avoid getting poisoned by some of those around him, he’s a potential star on the Boston sports media scene. He understands football, and puts in the work needed. We’ll be keeping an eye on him going forward.

Tony Massarotti D

The only reason Massarotti is getting a “D” and not an “F” is because it’s clear that he knows absolutely nothing about football. He’s clearly been influenced by the doomsday sect of the media, which is eager to proclaim the end of the Patriots. I’ve mentioned the tone of his articles previously and remain disappointed in his efforts.

Boston Globe Writers

Mike Reiss A

Huge tip of the cap to Joe Sullivan for moving Reiss onto the Patriots beat after Jerome Solomon went back to Houston. Reiss is almost singlehanded responsible for the huge improvement in Patriots coverage over the last year. I’ve sung his praises before, but he’s deserving of the praise.

Christopher L. Gasper (Rookie of the Year) B+

Another nice addition has been the work of Gasper, who seems to have become the main backup on the Patriots beat when Reiss has a day off. There isn’t a big dropoff when Gasper has stepped into the coverage.

Ron Borges C-

Borges in print this year…pretty good. Borges on the air this season…an out-of-control loose cannon. He actually seemed to tone down his nasty shots at Belichick and the Patriots..in print. He has shown several times this season just how good he can be. On the air however, he increased the nastiness and personal nature of the attacks whenever he was alongside Felger on ESPN Boston and on Four Downs with Felger on FSN.

Others:

Alan Greenberg (Hartford Courant) C+

Greenberg has moments where he morphs into the mini-Borges, he had an incident at a Belichick press conference early in the season where he testily questioned Belichick on a matter. His coverage sometimes has a little bit of a slant to it, but it’s not as bad as some in that area.

Eric McHugh (Quincy Patriot-Ledger) A-

McHugh is solid. He’s a good reporter, has good insights into the game and offers a fair perspective to things. He is at a bit of a disadvantage given when his paper (and their website_ publish each day, but his stuff is usually good enough to read even if the subject was covered earlier that morning by the other papers.

Hector Longo(Lawrence Eagle-Tribune) D+

Hector kills me. He is as manic a writer as there is in the region. One day he’ll say one thing. The next day he’ll hint at the opposite. He’ll bash Belichick and the Patriots one day and praise their genius the next. They’re finished as a contender one week, and headed to the Super Bowl the next. He would rank high on Bill Simmons’ UCF scale.

Dan Pires (New Bedford Standard Times) B

Pires does a solid job in his coverage of the team. He’s very good at getting information from various websites and introducing it into his articles and notes.

Shalise Manza Young (Providence Journal) B

Young took to the beat after Tom E Curran departed for NBCSports.com. She’s done solid work this season and I look forward to seeing more from her going forward as she gets more and more comfortable with the beat.

Michael Parente (Woonsocket Call) C+

Nothing really stood out from Parente this season. He is fair and consistent on the beat, and was good for a main story and a notebook every day, and that was about it.

Rich Garven (Worcester Telegram & Gazette) B

Garven is another very solid, very capable reporter. He and Jennifer Toland handle most of the Patriots coverage for the paper and have a good mix of reporting, analysis and feature writing.

Mark Farinella ( Attleboro-North Attleboro Sun Chronicle) A-

I had praise for Farinella’s work earlier this season. Nothing has changed. He kept up his strong work for the entire season, just as he has for the last three decades.

Lottery Talk

Michael Silverman reports that the Red Sox are set to officially announce the J.D. Drew deal in the next day or so.

—————————–

While there was still talk about Belichick’s manners on the air today, there was a lot more Celtics talk. Which is totally a mixed blessing. On one hand, it’s a break from the negative Patriots talk. On the other hand, the Celtics are headed to the draft lottery and there isn’t much positive you can say about them.

Do we think that any of the WEEI hosts, with the possible exception of Michael Holley, know anything about Greg Oden or Kevin Durant? Larry Johnson spent part of the weekend calling him Ogden. Can these guys talk about their games with any sort of knowledge? No.

The callers were all over the place today. As much as I get on the hosts, the callers to the station are just as bad. A sampling:

  • One suggested that the Patriots sign Drew Bledsoe as a backup to Tom Brady
  • One called Danny Ainge the Matt Millen of the NFL, while another said Ainge had put together an “excellent team” this year.
  • One inquired about the availability of J.J. Redick, thinking that he could be the answer to the Celtics problems.
  • Still another suggested that bringing back Antoine Walker was the answer.

Most knowledgeable sports fans in the country…

———————————–

Adam Schefter has a piece on how 2008 could be a huge year for free agent coaches, and tosses in this tidbit in the middle of his article:

And maybe, most interesting, multiple sources around the league believe that Belichick’s contract, which does have three years remaining on it, is filled with mutual options that could allow him or the team to nullify the deal as early as next year.

———————————–

If you’ve been watching the “America’s Game” series on NFL Network, the 2004 Patriots will be featured as the number 9 team in the countdown.

Gordon Edes has a look at the Red Sox national TV appearances next season.

A writer from Cleveland of all places, writes a pretty positive article on Belichick.

Michael Gee reflects on the great Paul Brown and makes a connection to Bill Belichick.

Deadspin.com welcomes us to Negro Bowl I.

Eric Wilbur weighs in on MLB’s decision to award DirecTV exclusive rights to the Extra Innings package.

——————————————
Tonight

7:00pm, ESPN – Clemson @ Duke (HD)
8:00pm, TNT – Mavs @ Bulls (HD)
9:00pm, FSN – UCLA @ Cal
10:30pm, TNT – Nets @ Clippers (HD)
11:00pm, FSN – USC @ Stanford

Celtics Record Loss

The Celtics racked up their ninth consecutive loss last night, this time to the Atlanta Hawks at the Garden, 82-76. The Celtics managed this loss despite holding an 18 point lead early in the third quarter. Al Jefferson appeared to get injured twice last night, and the second time he did not return to the game after rolling his ankle. He finished the night with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins played perhaps his best statistical game of the season, with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Delonte West led the Celtics with 18 points.

Shira Springer reports on a tough one to swallow, or explain at the Garden. Steve Bulpett notes that this was a franchise record eighth straight loss at home for the Celtics, who played like the clearly wanted that high draft pick more than the Hawks did. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics hit rock bottom last night as they now stand at the bottom of the Eastern conference.

Jackie MacMullan says that in the end, losing all these games might end up to be a winning formula. Mark Murphy says that the injury to Jefferson really slowed the Celtics offense down last night. Mike Fine has a look at Ryan Gomes, who has been a steady force on this young team.

Springer’s notebook updates the lengthy injury situation for the Celtics, made worse by the ankle sprain of Jefferson. Bulpett’s notebook has Paul Pierce shedding the protective boot, though a timetable for his return to the court is still unknown. Doyle’s notebook has Sebastian Telfair puzzled at his demotion to third point guard.

Patriots

Mike Reiss reports on the NFL toughening up its drug policy, specifically regarding steroids.

Bill Burt takes stock of things following the loss to the Colts, and one of his items is his assertion that the Asante Samuel will be back with the club next season, as his source indicates that the club will not let him walk for nothing and will franchise him if necessary.

John Tomase takes a position-by-position look at who might stay and who might go on the Patriots roster. Alan Greenberg says that the Patriots biggest need is going to be at linebacker. Eric McHugh examines the beating that Bill Belichick’s non-football good name has taken this season.

Christopher Price looks back on his own predictions for the 2006 season. Karen Guregian has the agent for Rodney Harrison saying that his client is determined to come back big next season. She also has a short piece on Troy Brown, who has made no decisions on next season yet.

Steve Buckley talks to a local African-American high school football coach about the importance of have Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith coaching the two teams in the Super Bowl. Buddy Thomas is gloating. It’s not pretty. Greenberg also writes that the league has gone too far in protecting the quarterbacks.

Red Sox

Gordon Edes reports on the new construction at Fenway Park this offseason, mostly along the third base line. There is also a NESN video with the article. Paul Doyle has more on the renovations.

Jeff Horrigan reports on the Red Sox signing catcher Kevin Cash to a AAA contract. David Borges has Cleveland manager Eric Wedge glad that his Indians went out and signed Trot Nixon. Jay Miller says that the outfield will be a strength for the PawSox this summer with prospects David Murphy and Brandon Moss likely to spend much of the season there. Edes’s notebook looks at the Red Sox stockpile of bullpen candidates.

Bruins

Stephen Harris has a Bruins mid-season report card. Fluto Shinzawa and Steve Conroy have the East falling to the West 12-9 in the NHL All Star game. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara had two goals in the loss.

Conroy’s notebook has more on Chara’s performance in the All Star game. Shinzawa’s notebook has Daniel Briere being named the MVP of the game.

Wednesday Wrap – 01.24.07

A Wednesday wrap after a disappointing 9-7 Patriots season…

Wait, they went 12-4 and went to the AFC Championship game? You’d never know it reading many of the stories from today and listening to a lot of what is being said on the airwaves.

Then again, when I find myself agreeing with the viewpoint of the Big Show, it’s time to take a look in the mirror.

———————————————

The NHL All Star game is on tonight. On a Wednesday night. On Versus. No disrespect to Versus here, but tell me again how this is the same league that Orr, Gretzky and Lemieux made great.

The league actually has a head of TV operations in senior vice president for broadcasting John Shannon. Richard Sandomir talks with Shannon about his plans for improving the TV broadcasts of the league.

———————————————–

Looking over Dan Shaughnessy’s column this morning, I get the distinct impression that Dan was bound and determined to run his Boston vs. Chicago paragraph no matter what. He just threw a few “No’s” in there here and there.

Getting a glimpse of some of Shaughnessy’s storylines for the two weeks of Patriots/Bears hype should surely make us thankful for small favors.

————————————————

The Media Circus is back for another week of incredibly stupid and inane things said by national broadcasters this week, such as:

”We’re not supposed to cheer, but I did.”
”I’ll be honest, I could never be more proud of a player than Manning.”
– Sean Salisbury

”Understand how much (Peyton Manning) wants to win, how hard he works at it, how much he loves the game… And then you’ll feel like I feel right now. Like justice has been served.” – Peter King

Getting to the Super Bowl must be much more gratifying for Manning knowing that various mainstream media members are willing to offer the chance to make hot sweaty love to him.

They devote their rant of the week to how the sports media world went into complete chaos when Bill Parcells announced his retirement on Monday.

————————————-

I meant to post this last week, but totally spaced it. The Phoenix had a feature entitled Bad Boston, on 27 things that drive us crazy about the city. Nestled in right after a complaint about the lack of lesbian bars in the city was this:

Snake-biting
This town dearly loves its sports teams. So why do so many in the media seem to hate them so much? Boston’s POISONOUS SPORTS MEDIA can’t seem to get in enough licks.

Exhibit A: Dan Shaughnessy. Whether it’s Theo Epstein (a “boy wonder” whose hand was “held” by Larry Lucchino during his “wonder years”), Pedro Martinez (“The Dominican Diva”), or even David Ortiz (whom he purportedly called a “giant sack of you-know-what” on TV before Big Papi had even taken a swing in a Red Sox uniform), the Shank takes evident glee in skewering this team and typifies the worst impulses of the bitter Boston sports fan. At least he can’t keep flogging that “Curse of the Bambino” crap.

Sort of a Shaughnessy-lite, Steve Silva, proprietor of BostonDirtDogs.com also traffics heavily in petty negativity. He exhorted fans last June to boo Martinez, perhaps the most transcendent pitcher ever to wear a Red Sox uniform, for defecting to the New York Mets. Interestingly, when Johnny Damon returned to Fenway in a Yankee uniform, he pleaded for people to cheer long and loud. Curious, that.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Ron Borges is a fine boxing writer. But his football columns are tainted by his consuming, unquenchable hatred for the New England Patriots, especially head coach Bill Belichick, who’s won us three Super Bowls in the past five years. Then there’s WEEI, the powerhouse sports-talk station that’s all but antithetical to nuanced and knowledgeable sports discussion. Whether they’re running clueless blowhard Glen Ordway or crass bigot Gerry Callahan, the station caters to the lowest common denominator, whipping listeners into a racist, sexist, homophobic lather. Stop listening. Stop reading. Write letters and ask for offensive on-air “talent” to be fired. Support the city’s good sportswriters — Edes, Ryan, Silverman — and keep tabs on the bad ones at Boston Sports Media Watch and Dan Shaughnessy Watch. Get your news from Sons of Sam Horn. And if you need sports radio, tune in online to New York’s WFAN. Sure, they mostly talk about Yankees and Mets. But you learn more any time Mike and the Mad Dog spend even a half hour on the Red Sox than you do listening to an entire week of 1440 AM.

Even if they didn’t mention this site, I’d be applauding that section.

—————————————

Dr Z doesn’t want to see Parcells go back into the TV analyst role.

Bill Simmons read both new Pete Maravich biographies in a week and offers his thoughts on the books, and on Pistol Pete’s brief stint with the Celtics.

Globe Sports editor Joe Sullivan read one of the books on his way out to Indy last week and offers his thoughts on it.

Michael Hiestand has a number of media notes, including the first Baghdad Bowl, played by U.S. Soldiers set to air during the Super Bowl pregame show.

Dallas Morning News sports media writer Barry Horn has more on the NHL All Star game.

—————————————
Tonight

7:00pm, ESPN – North Carolina @ Wake Forest (HD)
7:30pm, FSN – Hawks @ Celtics (HD)
7:30pm, ESPN2 – DePaul @ Georgetown (HD)
8:00pm, Versus – NHL All Star Game (HD on INHD)
9:00pm, ESPN – Rockets @ Spurs (HD)

Three Quick Boston Sports Related Book Reviews

Books have been piling up on the BSMW desk as of late, and I thought I would take a few moments to quickly review three books on Boston sports that I have recently received.

The Best Boston Sports Arguments – The 100 most controversial, debatable questions for die-hard Boston fans.


By Jim Caple and Steve Buckley
Sourcebooks, Inc
293 pages

This book isn’t heavy lifting. It’s a light read and meant to be that way. It is predictable at times, and at other times you get the contrarian view forced on you. While there were plenty of times that I was rolling my eyes during the book, there were just as many “I totally forgot about that!” moments as well.

A few examples of the 100 arguments:

  • Should Tony Conigliaro’s No. 25 Be Retired? (Guess the answer on that one.)
  • If You Could Go To Any Game In Boston History, Which Should You Choose?
  • Why “The Curse” Is The Biggest Joke in the History of the Universe
  • What Was the Greatest Football Play in Boston History?
  • Who’s Had a Better Career, Ben Affleck or Lou Merloni?

You’ve probably read a lot of the material before, as Buckley has done columns on many of the topics in the book, or has told a story on WEEI about them. In fact, a lot of the “arguments” probably originate with the radio station, and I think that I’m not off base in characterizing the book as WEEI in print.

Decide for yourselves if that is a compliment or condemnation.

—————————————-

Fred Cusick – Voice of the Bruins

By Fred Cusick
Sports Publishing, L.L.C.
214 pages

Fred Cusick always struck me a true gentleman. His book does nothing to tarnish that image. While I was more of a casual hockey fan growing up, the legendary Boston Bruins announcer with his trademark “Scooore!!!” always stood out to me, and hearing that call on nightly sportscasts was always a treat.

The book isn’t really an autobiography, it’s more Cusick’s memoirs from his life and career. Going through the memories made me appreciate what a real treasure this man is, and how he perhaps doesn’t get the proper appreciation for his contributions to Boston sports. He understandably spends quite a bit of time on the Bruins, especially on Bobby Orr and the Bruins of the 1970′s, but Cusick’s contributions to the region go well beyond hockey.

If you watched the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played, one of the special features of the DVD is Cusick in 1963 doing the only known on camera interview with Francis Ouimet – winner of the 1913 U.S. Open! Cusick and Ouimet walk the Brookline course and Ouimet points out locations of shots and moments from that legendary 1913 tournament. A transcript of that interview is included in the book.

There is a good segment about doing analysis on the first-ever Boston Patriots game, as well as some stories from the early days of the franchise. There are boxing stories, baseball stories (he did a Sunday night show on channel 4 with Dick Stuart in the 1960′s, and also served as the Fenway Park PA announcer for two years) tennis, and even wrestling. He also talks about calling Lowell Lock Monsters’ games for five years after retiring from the Bruins, finishing his play-by-play career at the age of 83.

Fred Cusick has an incredible number of memories of Boston sports, and it’s good to have them down in this book.

————————————–

A Fan’s View of the Super Bowl

By James E. Britton
iUniverse, Inc
145 pages

James E. Britton is a lifelong Patriots fan who went to his first game at Schaefer Stadium as an 11-year-old in 1973. He now lives in central New Hampshire, and he and his wife Jane travel two and a half hours each way to and from Gillette Stadium for every home game.

The book recounts their adventures in getting tickets and attending Super Bowl 39 in Jacksonville for the Patriots/Eagles championship game. James and Jane end up heading to Florida with their friend Steve to take in the event, but they only have two tickets. From arranging transportation, hassling with motel operators, to the food they ate that week, it’s all detailed here.

When I say detailed, I mean detailed. The book chronicles almost every minute of the time in Jacksonville, and the beginning of the book has a lengthy segment on the first preseason game of the year with the Eagles. Britton leaves nothing out in the journey, and the result is as complete a picture as you can get of the events without being there yourself.