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.
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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.