Wednesday Wrap – 0.17.07

I was thinking some more about that Tony Massarotti “column” this morning and just shaking my head at how truly bad it really was. Assuming the “letters” were real, he only got messages from idiots and yahoos? Those were the best answers he could come up with? That piece was deemed worthy to run by the sports editors during AFC Championship week?

Massarotti couldn’t have instead acknowledged that he was wrong and written about the areas in which the Patriots proved him wrong, and what his thoughts are about facing the Colts this week? He couldn’t have written a real column instead of that farce?

Massarotti is good on baseball, poor on everything else. I’ve mentioned the negative theme that he carried throughout the Patriots season, which looks more and more silly with each passing week. While I was glad at the time to hear of his promotion to columnist, I’m wondering if he was ready for the move.

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Gerry Callahan was in rare form this morning, showing a whole lot more enthusiasm for “24” then for the AFC Championship game this weekend and fitting in the show with all his political views.

Note: I don’t care for political discussions of any kind, especially on sports radio. I’m not attacking Gerry for his political views, I’m simply not interested in hearing them or anyone else’s. However this statement made me sit up.

Just prior to 8:00 am this morning, Callahan said the following about Barack Obama:

Isn’t it incredible that we’ve reached the point where a guy who has been in the Senate for two years, and before that was just a local, like, a sewer commissioner, I think in Chicago, and he is now a viable presidential candidate or, or if you believe in the conspiracy theories, a vice presidential candidate who is preparing himself to be on the ticket with Hillary, and he wouldn’t be if he were just a white guy, just a guy, they wouldn’t give him the time…he wouldn’t be a candidate. But because we want…as a country to be like we are in Massachusetts, you know we want to…we want to believe in all these silly cliches…he is now, would you say, the front runner?

Granted, we live in a PC-crazy world, but that statement sounds a whole lot like comments that have gotten others in big trouble. At the very least, and to bring this into a Boston sports perspective, it reminds me of Isiah Thomas saying that if Larry Bird “were black, he’d be just another good guy.”

D&C also took more shots at a familiar target in Howard Bryant, mocking his writing, (“looks like something you’d wipe off the bottom of your shoe”) and refusing to even name the paper (“Rochester Rag”) where he is working now, and referring to the Herald as having “dumped” him.

Actually Bryant took a job at the Washington Post, a paper much higher in profile and in much better shape than the could-fold-any-second Herald, where Callahan still draws a paycheck.

All in a morning’s show on your SPORTS radio leader…

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For those desperate for a baseball article, Rob Bradford writes today that Daisuke Matsuzaka won’t be a cash cow for the Red Sox, at least immediately.

The Blog TooMuchSports looks at the announcement by the Hartford Courant that they are scaling back their sports section. One of the biggest casualties will be box scores. As a commenter to the entry points out, that should save the Courant about “20 bucks a day” doing this.

Len Pasquarelli has five reasons why the Colts will win on Sunday.

Michael Ventre of MSNBC begs: “Please, spare us another title from Patriots.” Yes, the article is every bit as stupid as you think it is going to be.

Cold Hard Football Facts ponders whether Peyton Manning can win the big one this time.

Bill Simmons is thankful for…the Suns?

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Tonight

7:00 pm, NESN – Bruins @ Sabres
7:00 pm, ESPN – North Carolina @ Clemson
7:00 pm, ESPN2 – Illinois @ Minnesota
9:00 pm, ESPN – Lakers @ Spurs (HD)

Patriots/Colts Prep Heating Up

In this week’s edition of Media Blitz, John Molori talks to Adam Schein of Sirius NFL Radio about his job, and gets his thoughts on the playoff action.

Bob Ryan pictures Boston’s greatest athletes of all time preparing to welcome Tom Brady into their exclusive club. Members Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Bobby Orr and Larry Bird are making room as we speak for Brady.

Michael Felger writes that the Patriots need to focus on stopping Marvin Harrison this Sunday, has a look at the suddenly good Indy defense, and Bill Polian running his mouth already. Mike Reiss talks to a number of NFL assistants to get their thoughts on the Colts and what the Patriots should be concerned about this Sunday in Indianapolis.

John Tomase talks to former Patriots Bobby Hamilton and Joe Andruzzi about what the Patriots approach is likely to be this week. Shalise Manza Young notes that this is going to be a matchup of strength against strength. Chris Kennedy lists reasons each team has to be confident coming into Sunday. Kennedy mentions the Colts “could join an impressive list of teams which overcame a nemesis, shook off an albatross.” He lists the ’81-’82 76ers finally beating the Celtics as an example. However, Philadelphia had beaten the Celtics in the playoffs just two years before…in Larry Bird’s rookie reason, so I’m not sure they’re a good example. A better one would be the Pistons of the late 80’s defeating the Celtics or the Bulls of the early 90’s defeating the Pistons.

Albert Breer examines four areas in which the Patriots need to improve from the last time these clubs met. Hector Longo says that the Patriots are facing the Colts at just the right time. Ron Hobson says that the Patriots are now in for the toughest part of the post-season trifecta that leads to the Super Bowl. Tomase also has a look at the last six meetings between the Colts and Patriots.

Tony Massarotti attempts a mailbag of emails received because of his coverage of the Patriots. His responses read pretty much like how Shaughnessy would write, so if that’s your goal Tony, you’re well on your way. Plus, instead of writing about the game this week, (It’s only the AFC Championship after all) you get to write about yourself…Shaughnessy would be very proud. Mark Farinella is very disappointed in LaDainian Tomlinson.

Reiss’ notebook has punter Todd Sauerbrun feeling good about how he’s been received by his new teammates.

Colts

Rich Garven lists five reasons why the Colts are going to beat the Patriots on Sunday. Christopher L Gasper has Colts fans gearing up for “the biggest single game in Indianapolis sports history.” Alan Greenberg tries to figure out how the Colts defense has suddenly improved so much. Michael Parente looks at the Colts suddenly coming up with a defense and reliable kicker to supplement Peyton Manning.

Links from Colts Land:

Got an extra $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket? You and a friend can fly with the Patriots to Indy, have accommodations and tickets to the game. Bruce Mohl has the details.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics plethora of injuries has killed some of the unrealistic expectations that people might’ve had for the team, and gives them a chance to develop some of their key young players. Some guy named Bruce Allen says that player development is what the Celtics should really be playing for on the FSN Nothing But Net blog. Shira Springer has coach Doc Rivers seeking small victories with his club. Mike Fine notes that this Celtics team has been injured like no other, is incredibly young, but still refuses to pack it in as they keep playing hard. Mike Petraglia has a look at rookie Allan Ray, who has opened some eyes with his play after getting a chance to contribute.

Bruins

Kevin Paul Dupont offers up a feature of sorts on the revived art of stopping shots at all costs in the NHL, a somewhat lost art over the years. Players throwing themselves in front of slap shots has actually seen a comeback in the new NHL. Stephen Harris has former Boston College defenseman Bobby Allen eager for his chance with the Bruins after being recalled from Providence on Monday. Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook has more on Allen.

Boston College

Michael Vega and Mark Murphy report on Boston College’s 82-63 win over Miami last night. Lenny Megliola also has a story on the game.

Nick Cafardo has an update-but-no-update on the J.D. Drew contract.

Tuesday Tidbits 01.16.07

Patriots/Chargers was a huge winner for WBZ-TV as the game picked up 43.9 rating/65 share for the 4:30 – 8:00 time slot. Patriots 5th Quarter on TV-38 picked up a 6.0 rating/ 8 share from 8:00 – 9:00 PM.

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The Big Show this afternoon was talking about how the national media prefers “storylines” than actually looking at the facts. They talk about how the national media wants to see Peyton Manning win a Super Bowl because it is a great story, or about the Patriots celebration, because it is a story.

Irony, thy name is Wolfe. WEEI is all about “storylines” and very little about sports. But when it is the Patriots they’re talking about, they switch the argument around and complain about “storylines.” Very nice.

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A San Diego TV station has footage from the field after the game on Sunday which includes Phillip Rivers screaming at Ellis Hobbs, calling him the “sorriest corner in the league” and to “act like you’ve won a game before.” The newscasters are also as amazing as Rivers as they praise the Chargers for being classy.

On that page, click on the “Watch Video” link and be amazed.

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WEEI took another ratings dip for the Fall Book, finishing 7th overall in the Boston market. They registered a 4.4 in the latest numbers, down from a 5.7 in the same period a year ago.

I’m sure they won their demographics, though.

ESPN Boston (WAMG) scored a .06 for this session.

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Did Gerry Callahan really write this in his column today:

It is always fun to watch a great competitor stare down his demons on the field of play, but we can’t help but think that, at the end of this day, poor Peyton is going to end up like Saddam’s half-brother – his head a few yards away from his body.

Why yes, yes he did. The man has issues.

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Mike Reiss has his Monday Ask Reiss Mailbag, addressing such issues as respect, celebrations and draft picks.

Gregg Easterbrook has his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column including some interesting Patriots/Chargers analysis.

Chad Finn has some leftover thoughts from Sunday.

Tom E Curran weighs in on the whole celebration controversy, and reminds us that this is the NFL.

Peter King says that the Patriots celebration should not be the story of the playoffs.

Three Patriots Blogs that I haven’t mentioned before. (I don’t think) FoxboroNation, (sister site to Fenway Nation) PatriotsFanBlog and PatsBlog.

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Deadspin associate editor Rick Chandler coached Tom Brady on a freshman basketball team? Yup. He offers this scouting report:

You think Brady is slow now? He was glacial then. The man who replaced Drew Bledsoe couldn’t, in his freshman year, rise above Kevin Krystofiak (currently a local insurance broker) on the depth chart. Back then we actually thought that his dominant sport would be baseball, where he was a catcher (in fact he was taken in the 18th round of the draft by the Montreal Expos following his senior year). Although he was the starting quarterback by the time he reached the varsity, he showed little of the three-Super Bowl promise that was to come. To my recollection, none of his Serra teams even made the playoffs.

But here’s the thing. You knew, somehow, that Brady would make it. He was just too smart, too positive, and loved football too much. You rarely use the word destiny when dealing with teenage athletes, but Brady had that vibe. He was the kid who was always smiling.

Tonight
7:00pm, NESN – Maryland-Balt County @ Maine
7:00pm, ESPN – Iowa @ Indiana (HD)
7:00pm ESPN2 – UConn @ Pitt
7:30pm, Versus – Blue Jackets @ Blackhawks (HD on INHD)
8:00pm, TV-38 – Miami @ Boston College
9:00pm, ESPN – Kentucky @ S Carolina (HD)
9:00pm ESPN2 – Texas @ Oklahoma St.

Stay Classy, San Diego.

Mike Reiss goes over all the recent Patriots/Colts games with defensive end Ty Warren, who offers his thoughts on each contest that he has been involved in. Michael Felger has his Patriots report card for the week, and there are pretty much high marks all around as you might expect, with the exception of the defensive line, which he tags with a “D+.” Ian Clark has similar results in his version of the report card.

John Tomase has a good look at some of the subtle ways that the Patriots beat the Chargers on Sunday. Shalise Manza Young has Tom Brady displaying some selective amnesia in the win over the Chargers. Alan Greenberg has Brady walking away as a winner even on a day he didn’t have his best stuff. He also notes the presence of former Patriot Roman Phifer in the hallway after the game. Another story in the Projo with no byline offers three observations on the Patriots.

Albert Breer has Reche Caldwell enjoying his return to San Diego with a big day. David Brown ties up a few loose ends as he heads back from San Diego after the game. Michael Parente wonders if Troy Brown’s play in the fourth quarter is a sign that the Patriots are a team of destiny. Breer says that the Patriots will need to work on stopping plays to the offensive left, which was an area that the Chargers exploited, and the Colts are certain to attack. Mike Lowe observes that the Patriots surprised us once more, but in different ways this time.

Gerry Callahan says that there is no way that the Patriots can play the disrespect card any longer. They’ve earned the respect and are now beyond reproach. He says there is no one who can pick the Colts and really mean it this week. (Gerry – check with your Herald colleague Felger – he’s got the Colts big this week.) He says that the Colts now have the disrespect card all to themselves. Dan Shaughnessy says the Patriots need to work on being a little less offensive after games, suggesting they could use more decorum, yet also is critical of the Chargers for their sour grapes. It seems like Dan might’ve attempted to be balanced in this one. Tony Massarotti says that Tom Brady repeatedly put the Patriots in bad position on Sunday and should take his defense out to dinner for bailing him out. Lenny Megliola has the Patriots proving their mettle once more.

Reiss’s notebook has Tomlinson not backing down from his remarks even after having a night to sleep on them. Tomase’s notebook has more on the additional comments from Tomlinson. McHugh’s notebook revisits another Troy Brown story to tell your grandkids someday.

Colts

Jim McCabe looks at how the Colts defense has delivered a pair of impressive performances in the playoffs thus far. Jennifer Toland has the Patriots and Colts gearing up for Round Three of their postseason series. Eric McHugh notes that Pats/Colts III offers plenty of subplots. John Tomase offers up a overview of what the Colts are about this season. Tom King has the Patriots talking about the challenges that the Colts are going to bring them.

You’ve probably heard this already, but don’t plan on buying tickets to this game, either. Bruce Mohl reports on the Colts shutting out Patriots fans this week as well.

Links from Colts Land:

Celtics

The undermanned Celtics continued their struggles yesterday afternoon, losing 100-96 on the road to the Atlanta Hawks. Gerald Green and Allan Ray each had 22 points for the Celtics, while Al Jefferson had 18 points and 17 rebounds for the green.

Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers trying very hard to find things to be positive about in this stretch. Shira Springer says this one was frustratingly familiar for the Celtics.

Bulpett’s notebook has Kendrick Perkins still really laboring because of the plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Springer’s notebook has a look at Allan Ray on his career high 22 point performance.

Bruins

After losing 6-of-7, the Bruins needed a win. ANY win. They got one yesterday in the shootout, 3-2 over the Buffalo Sabres. Fluto Shinzawa and Steve Conroy have the game stories. Dan Hickling reports for the Projo. Bud Barth has more on the win, for which the Bruins game some credit to an inspirational video provided by the video staff.

Douglas Flynn says a quick look at the standings takes the fun out of this win. Barbara Matson has Shean Donovan enjoying his move to the line with Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm. Rich Thompson has Tim Thomas coming up big in the game and shootout yesterday.

Conroy’s notebook has more on Donovan’s shift. Flynn’s notebook has more on the line changes by B’s coach Dave Lewis. Shinzawa’s notebook looks at the show put on by the goaltenders yesterday. Barth’s notebook has more on Brad Boyes getting moved off the top line in favor of Donovan.

Quick Hits

As for the Patriots mocking the Merriman dance after the game yesterday, do you think the Patriots might’ve had this scene in mind from the last time these teams met? (From Tom E Curran’s game story in the Projo that day.


01:00 AM EDT on Monday, October 3, 2005

BY TOM E. CURRAN
Journal Sports Writer

One after the other, sweaty, smiling members of the San Diego Chargers walked through the massive concrete artery that leads to the visitors locker room in Gillette Stadium.

As they walked, tearing grass-stained tape from their hands, they gloated aloud about their just-finished, 41-17 hammering of the New England Patriots.

"That's a [butt]-whipping," said defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

"21-1, now," tackle Leander Jordan announced, referring to the Patriots' punctured 21-game home winning streak.

"[Bleep] New England and their team," suggested cornerback Drayton Florence. Florence then said to the collection of onlookers in the hallway. "Get the look of shock off your faces. Don't be shocked. We beat your [butt]."

Stuff like that gets remembered. The funny thing is, there’s been plenty of Chargers giving interviews today which have been shown on ESPN and NFLN and these players are saying how when they beat the Patriots last year, they were so respectful and complimentary and didn’t rub it in all. Shaun Phillips says he’s going to hold a grudge against the Patriots forever for their actions yesterday.

L.T. doesn’t have a leg to stand on for his complaints about the Patriots being “classless.”

Nice of Tomlinson to tell us all in the interviews yesterday that he is a classy individual. When Deion Sanders has to come on and remind you that it’s not really proper to refer to yourself as “classy” – that’s somthing that you should let others say about you, then you know you might need to rethink your position.

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Don Banks last Friday:

• The X Factor: OK, this is it. Time for Steve McNair — playoff-battle tested quarterback — to show his stuff. Games like these are one of the main reasons why the Ravens went out and got him, so that there’s somebody back in the pocket who knows how to avoid the game-deciding mistakes and give Baltimore’s defense a chance to lead the way to victory.

Don Banks today:

• If you’ve paid attention to this space this season, you know I never really bought into the idea Steve McNair had delivered a big-league offense to Baltimore. McNair saved the day a few times early in the year with late game-winning rallies, but often they covered up for pretty mediocre to poor performances in the game’s first 3½ quarters.

Riiiight.

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For an early preview of this week, Mike Felger says on his ESPN Boston show today that the Patriots lose on Sunday, and possibly lose big.

He is also strongly leaning towards the angle that the Patriots didn’t beat the Chargers, the Chargers beat the Chargers. Pathetic.

He did lead off the show making his mea culpa regarding Deion Branch and for calling the Patriots cheap and arrogant all season. He said he was wrong in saying that they wasted a year of Tom Brady’s prime, etc etc etc. Then in the same breath he went on to say that the Colts will win this Sunday. (Listen to the first part of the show here.)

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Can CBS please start providing subtitles for Shannon Sharpe?

Patriots Dance Out of San Diego

In as dramatic and tense a game as we’ve seen in the Belichick/Brady era, the Patriots knocked off top seeded San Diego Chargers yesterday 24-21. Rookie Stephen Gostkowski hit three more field goals, including the game-winner from 31 yards out with 1:10 left to go in the game. Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell combined for 183 yards and 2 TD’s and Troy Brown stripped the ball from San Diego cornerback Marlon McCree leading to a New England recovery after Tom Brady had been intercepted by McCree.

It’s a holiday here, so I don’t have the full links, but wanted to throw a few items out there, and may have some more as the day goes on.

Scott Benson has the Rear View of the game on the Patriots Game Day page. Check today’s stories on the Patriots News Mashup.

Peter King has 20 reasons why the Patriots beat the Chargers.

Chad Finn live-blogged the game yesterday, offering his thoughts as things unfolded.

The San Diego links:

This week, it’s another media dream as the Patriots will take on Adam Vinatieri and the Indianapolis Colts in Indy next Sunday.

To get a head start on the week, here’s a few links from Colts Land.

On the BSMW Power Play page, Mike looks at the Bruins reverting to old habits.

Weekend Watch – Divisional Playoffs Edition

It’s onto the Divisional round for the NFL playoffs this weekend, and the Patriots are headed out to San Diego to take on the very impressive Chargers.

As usual, your place for game day links and post game reaction is the BSMW Patriots Game Day page. You can also consult the Patriots News Mashup for the latest headlines and blog entries across the web on the Patriots.

The out-of-town links:

Patriots All Access will air a live, playoff edition from San Diego at a special time, Friday at 7PM on WCVB-TV. Among the highlights…

  • It’s been a great week to be a University Florida receiver in Foxboro. The Patriots Fab 4 gets together and gives us their thoughts on their alma mater, as well as their development with the Patriots and Tom Brady.
  • Linebacker Don Davis goes into the film room to show some of the reasons why the Chargers LaDainian Tomlinson is the NFL’s MVP.
  • Mike Lynch catches up with Patriots linebacker and former Chargers icon Junior Seau in San Diego.
  • Bill Belichick shows us on the Belestrator why the Chargers are deserving of the # 1 seed.
  • Jacksonville Jaguar defensive lineman Marcellus Wiley will be live to breakdown the match-up.

WBZ-TV has all your action on Sunday, starting with an hour-long Patriots GameDay at 11:30 am. College basketball (Illinois/Michigan State) fills the time while FOX shows Bears/Seahawks (1:00 pm) until CBS has the NFL Today at 4:00 leading into Patriots/Chargers at 4:30. Patriots Fifth Quarter comes on immediately following the game.

Tom Brady’s Playoff Moments

The Patriots quarterback is 11-1 in the playoffs and 3-0 in Super Bowls. ESPN’s NFL Countdown on Sunday will look back at the greatest moments in Tom Brady’s playoff career.

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Weekend Viewing Highlights

Friday
7:30pm, FSN – Celtics @ Raptors (HD)
7:30pm, NESN – BU @ Maine (Hockey)
8:00pm, ESPN – Wizards @ Hornets (HD)
10:30pm, ESPN – Rockets @ Nuggets (HD)

Saturday
2:00pm, TV38 – Virginia @ Boston College (hoops)
2:30pm, NBC – Bruins @ Rangers
4:30pm, CBS – Colts @ Ravens (HD)
7:30pm, FSN – Celtics @ Pistons
8:00pm, FOX – Eagles @ Saints (HD)

Sunday
1:00pm, FOX – Seahawks @ Bears (HD)
4:30pm, CBS – Patriots @ Chargers (HD)

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Speedlinks For The Weekend

Mike Reiss had a Boston.com chat on Friday, looking ahead to Sunday’s playoff game.

Bill Simmons has his weekend picks, but only after handing out a series of awards for the Wildcard round first.

Clark Booth says that this Chargers/Patriots game could be the real Super Bowl. A surprisingly coherent column from ol’ Clark.

Cold Hard Football Facts has their predictions and also the Media Releases from each remaining playoff team.

Chad Finn was a huge Chargers fan as a kid, and has the evidence to prove it.

The Talking NFL blog makes fun of Chargers fans.

ESPN’s Patriots – Chargers Playoff Page.

Don Banks’ Divisional Playoff Preview.

FoxSports/Football Outsiders Divisional Playoff Preview.

Football Outsiders AFC Second Round Playoff Preview by Aaron Schatz

CBS Sportsline Patriots – Chargers Page.

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Media Links from around the Country

New England

John Molori talked to NBCSports.com’s Tom Curran about the transition from the newspaper world to the land of online media. John Howell talks to Dick Enberg, who feels he still has plenty in the tank, and to Brett Hull, who makes his debut as NBC’s new lead NHL studio analyst on Saturday. Susan Bickelhaupt has Phil Simms talking about Sunday’s Patriots game and saying that New England doesn’t fit the underdog role in this one. David Scott has a look at Peter Gammons warming up for his “Hot Stove, Cool Music” event. Andrew Neff reports on Bangor’s all sports station gearing up for their first annual “WZON Hot Stove Baseball Night” on Tuesday. As part of the event, Joe Castiglione takes the stage with Boston Globe sportswriter Gordon Edes at 7:10 p.m. Bill Doyle reports on the naming of the radio voice of Worcester’s new Continental Indoor Football League team, the New England Surge.

West Coast

Jay Posner has a look the comments by Phil Simms and Jim Nantz from a Chargers perspective. He also notes WEEI’s mocking of the Chargers pep rallies being held this week. John Maffei has more on the analysis by Simms and a number of other NFL items. Larry Stewart has more on Nantz, whose life seems to be a series of big sports events, one after the other. Jim Carlisle notes that the current Colts really have no idea of the significance of the team’s return to Baltimore this weekend to play the Ravens. Tom Hoffarth looks at how the David Beckham signing will affect the Galaxy’s broadcasts going forward. Stewart also reports that NBC’s pregame show, “NHL on NBC Countdown to Faceoff,” will air only on broadband via NBCSports.com. Joe Davidson notes that Raiders critic Adam Schefter was right after all about Art Shell’s firing.

New York

Phil Mushnick wraps up a week of steroids, slipups and kiosks in the big apple. Neil Best notes that Joe Torre and Tom Coughlin both learned who their friends in the media are in the last three months. Andrew Marchand reports on Kevin Burkhardt’s rise from car salesman to field reporter on SNY’s Mets telecasts – all in three years. He also has 5 questions with Jim Nantz this week. Richard Sandomir imagines what Tiki Barber’s future employment will really look like. Bob Raissman says that parity is ruining the game for the NFL viewers, as the quality of play in last weekend’s wildcard games would attest.

More East Coast

Aaron Bracy has Dick Stockton taking a strictly business approach to the broadcast booth – no shots, no celebrity visits, no talk show feel. Just the the game. Laura Nachman looks at Comcast Sportsnet’s “Eagles Post Game Live” which has become one of the most popular shows on the network. The cast includes Michael Barkann, Ray Didinger, Vaughn Hebron, Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and Derrick Gunn. Michael Hiestand has a look at TNT’s plans for advertising during NASCAR events without leaving the race. He also has a bit on Skybox element – a innovative idea from CSTV. Jim Williams has Dan Dierdorf talking about Ravens/Colts in Baltimore’s first real national exposure this season. Bracy also has an email interview with Drexel play-by-play announcer Dan Baker about his role there and also as PA announcer for the Eagles and Phillies. Chris Zelkovich has TLN experimenting with calling an NHL game in Italian.

South

Barry Jackman has Tony Kornheiser looking to improve and be more assertive in his second season on Monday Night Football. Dave Darling examines the two year feud between FSN Florida and Bright House Networks. He also has a BCS wrap and a weekend preview. Jim Sarni says that Patriots/Chargers is the game to watch this weekend. He’s got a whole lot of other information from the week as well. David Barron has more thoughts from Dan Dierdorf and Phil Simms on this weekend’s games.

Midwest

Ed Sherman compliments Bears radio announcer Tom Thayer’s ability to tell the listener something they didn’t know. Bob Wolfley notes that Milwaukee finished second to Pittsburgh in terms of TV ratings for the local NFL club. Dan Caesar has sports radio KFNS shaking things up in its lineup. Jeffrey Flanagan reports on Bill Grigsby being out as host of Kansas City Sportshow after 52 years.

Pats Charging Forward

We’ve got our latest BSMW Game Day Roundtable posted, with the panel’s opinions on all things Chargers/Patriots.

John Tomase examines the Patriots success against young QB’s over the last few years, and what they might have in store for Philip Rivers. Mike Reiss has a piece on Mike Vrabel, as the versatile linebacker has been battling the pain of injuries all season long, but continues on because of his love for the game.

Alan Greenberg looks at the year Tom Brady has had after the Patriots cheaped out and didn’t bring back his top receivers from a year ago. Hector Longo notes that the Patriots new receivers are catching on at the right time. Michael Parente looks at one of those receivers, Jabar Gaffney, who has stepped up into a bigger role as of late. Mark Farinella has more on Gaffney making a name for himself with the Patriots.

Michael Felger breaks down the Patriots/Chargers matchups. Shalise Manza Young examines how the preparation for this game has gone this week. Dan Pires notes the Patriots success on the road this season has them in the right mindset for this game.

Tony Massarotti thinks that the Patriots are going to lose, and possibly lose big, since San Diego’s overall team is better than the Patriots combo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Jim Donaldson says that Tom Brady is the best pro athlete we’ve had in New England in 30 years, better than Pedro, Clemens, Bourque, Yaz or ….Larry Bird.

Christopher L Gasper examines the Patriots defensive line, a group that is the starting point for the Patriots defense, and for their game plan against the Chargers this weekend. Christopher Price looks at the Patriots trying to replace the toughness that Rodney Harrison brings to their lineup and locker room.

Reiss’ notebook has Rodney Harrison’s agent disputing the report that his client suffered a partially torn ACL. Breer’s notebook observes that the Jets, under Brian Schottenheimer, play a similar style to what the Chargers will use this weekend. Young’s notebook has a look at the improvements made by Tully Banta-Cain this season. Jennifer Toland’s notebook has a look at the Chargers 4th quarter dominance, and then a few Patriots items. Pires’s notebook has more from Merriman. Parente’s notebook has Brady and Schottenheimer mending fences. Eric McHugh’s notebook has more on this topic. Farinella’s notebook has more on the Patriots comfort level on the road.

Chargers

Bob Ryan looks at the pressure that Marty Schottenheimer is under, though he might not even feel it. It may not be fair, but if the Chargers were to lose, it’s Marty’s fault. Karen Guregian looks at Schottenheimer’s previous life as a Patriots linebacker way back in the day.

Karen Guregian says that not much has fazed Philip Rivers this season, and he’s not going to start getting worked up now. Tom King and Jeff Howe have more on Rivers. Jennifer Toland has a look at the Chargers defense, led by Shawne Merriman, who will be focused on getting to Tom Brady. Chris Kennedy says that the Chargers do use some strategy with Merriman when rushing the passer. Eric McHugh says that the Patriots are well aware of the skills and power of Merriman.

Mark Blaudschun has another look at LaDainian Tomlinson, who knows he will be the focal point of the Patriots defense on Sunday. Shawn Courchesne says that Tomlinson could be the best back in the history of the game.

Blaudschun’s notebook has the Chargers key to the game being their ability to get to Tom Brady. Guregian’s notebook has linebacker Shaun Phillips content to take a backseat to Shawne Merriman when it comes to attention and the spotlight.

Check in with what’s being said around the Chargers with the following links:

Jim McCabe has a profile on Ravens center Mike Flynn, who hails from Agawam, Mass., and the University of Maine.

McCabe’s notebook has Jonathan Ogden gearing up for the challenge of slowing down Dwight Freeney.

David Scott has a look at the “Night Before” Hot Stove, Cool Music event from last Saturday and some advice for Bill Simmons as he steps into the broadcast booth for the first time.

01/11/07 Afternoon

Just a few links this afternoon, as most of the talk on the airwaves today has been rather tame.

I think WEEI should do the simulcast with the San Diego radio station, but they seem to have a rather high and mighty attitude about it, feeling that the other station would just be riding them to better ratings.

Get off the high horse and connect up with them, guys. Stop the charade of horrible San Diego callers to WEEI, most of whom I can’t tell if they’re real or plants.

So when is the Patriots rally? Eric Wilbur has a look at the Chargers rally yesterday, as well as the war of the airwaves heating up between Boston and San Diego.

Ron Borges had a chat on Boston.com at noon today. The chat is informative and shows that Borges really does know a thing or two about football – which makes some of his columns and radio shows all the more unfortunate.

Football Outsiders knocks the practice of starting rumors and then reporting them as “stories.”

It appears that Major League Baseball is having talks with DirecTV to become the exclusive distributor of “MLB Extra Innings.”

John Clayton has his First and Goal preview of the weekend’s games.

Dr Z has reviews the Wild Card games and previews the Divisional matchups.

SI.com has a Scout’s Take on the weekend matchups.

Kevin Hench says that Bill Belichick can’t fluster the Super Bowl bound Philip Rivers and that Martyball no longer exists.

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Jesse Noyes in the Herald Messenger blog reports that the Boston Globe is in for some big cuts:

According to the memo, the New York Times New England Media Group will see a cut of about 125 employees. The New England Media Group includes the Globe and The Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

He has copies of memos from publisher Steve Ainsley and editor Martin Baron.

About 19 editorial jobs will be slashed at the Globe.

We’ll try to keep up with how that might impact the sports department over there.

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Michael Felger continued to attach the names of Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli to the New York Giants on his radio show yesterday, saying that since the consensus seems to be that Belichick has one year and possibly an option that the Giants move yesterday of announcing that Tom Coughlin will return next season was just done to keep the seats warm for another year until Belichick and Pioli are available.

I’ll put this in the category of that Donovan McNabb “rumor” addressed in the Football Outsiders link above.

Merriman, Chargers = Nuts and Bolts

Jackie MacMullan talks to members of The Club – Patriots who have been with the team for all three Super Bowl victories. The membership is dwindling rather quickly, but the remaining members continue to be a proud, competitive group.

Mike Reiss takes a look at the Patriots receivers, a group that has been criticized all season, but has certainly raised their level of play as the season as gone on. Shalise Manza Young notes the respect that the receivers have for Tom Brady, and how Bill Belichick says that the group listens to Brady better than they do to the coach. Albert Breer also has a look at the receivers. John Tomase has Tom Brady and the Patriots welcoming a blitz from the opposition and looking forward to finding ways to burn it. Mark Farinella has Brady preparing hard for the Bolts blitz challenge. Christopher Price says that getting off to a fast start is key for the Patriots.

Bill Reynolds says it doesn’t matter if the Patriots players hate Bill Belichick or not. The key is whether they respect and listen to him. Really. Buddy Thomas decides to root for the locals. Not the Patriots, but players on the other team with local roots. Jeff Howe has the Patriots getting the respect theme out again. Tom King notes that Tom Brady will be short a couple of big targets should Benjamin Watson and Daniel Graham be forced to stay inside and block for the Patriots QB.

Rich Garven looks at Asante Samuel hitting his stride at just the right time for him. Steve Buckley talks to Benjamin Watson about making this a more successful postseason than last year. He has a bit longer piece on Tully Banta-Cain, who has stepped up into a more prominent role this season after four years as a developing player. David Brown also has a piece on the fourth year linebacker who stepping into a starting role when Junior Seau went down. McHugh says that the last Chargers game taught the Patriots some painful lessons.

Michael Brindley has a follow up to the Chargers restriction on ticket purchases, as the team attempts to shut out Patriots fans from attending the game. Tomase reports on Andre Tippett being named a finalist for the Hall of Fame. Young has more on Tippett as a finalist for the Hall.

According to Dan Pires’ notebook, there is a report that Rodney Harrison sustained a slight tear to his ACL and will not play the rest of the way. Reiss’ notebook as word that Rodney Harrison will miss this weekend’s game against his old club. Tomase’s notebook has more on the absence of Harrison this week. Young’s notebook has Harrison winning the teams’ Ed Block Courage award. Garven’s notebook has another report on Harrison. Parente’s notebook looks at Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees and the job he has done in his first year in the position. Farinella’s notebook has more on Harrison both being out and honored by his team.

Chargers

Christopher L Gasper has Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman predicting victory for his club, and going so far as to say that the Chargers will win if they only score a single point, safety or field goal. Karen Guregian has more on the San Diego linebacker, who might be tougher for the Patriots to stop than Jason Taylor. Alan Greenberg focuses on the challenge that Antonio Gates will present for the Patriots. Michael Parente notes that LaDainian Tomlinson is a threat with both his hands and feet.

Joe McDonald has Marty Schottenheimer praising the Patriots up and down. Rob Bradford says that “Marty Ball” might be the Chargers toughest foe on Sunday. Mark Blaudschun has a look at Bolts QB Phillip Rivers, who some perceive to be a weak link in the San Diego offense, but his teammates have plenty of confidence in him and are looking forward to seeing how he performs on Sunday. David Brown has more on Rivers, whom the Patriots expect to be ready for them on Sunday. Eric McHugh has experts believing that Rivers will be just fine on Sunday. Ian Clark reports on the Chargers’ stout defense.

Blaudschun reports that Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo, who has been inactive for a month, has been cleared to play this weekend. Blaudschun’s notebook has the Chargers working on getting their timing back after the two week layoff. Guregian’s notebook has Rivers saying that his sprained foot will be fine for Sunday’s game.

Check in with what’s being said around the Chargers with the following links:

Celtics

Things just keep getting worse for the Celtics. One of the few bright spots thus far this season has been the play of Tony Allen, who emerged into a player with some star quality to his game. However, last night Allen’s season likely came to an end after the guard injured his knee as he landed after completing a dunk that was made after the whistle had blown. The Celtics also lost Brian Scalabrine to a knee injury last night as well. Paul Pierce, Wally Sczcerbiak and Delonte West were already sitting this one out with their various ailments. As an afterthought, the Celtics also lost the game, 97-84 to the Indiana Pacers.

Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers and the Celtics shocked and chagrined at the latest turn of events. Peter May has more on the disastrous night at the Garden for Allen and the Celtics. Kevin McNamara says that the Celtics hard luck season was crystallized last night. Bill Doyle has the Celtics not even wanting to consider who is going to get hurt next.

Get the Pacers view in the Indy Star.

Matt Kalman has the Celtics hurting in a lot of ways right now. Mike Fine has more on Sczcerbiak, who is just another injured guy right now.

Bulpett’s notebook has more on the pain that the Celtics are feeling. May’s notebook has more updates on the injuries for Pierce and Sczcerbiak. Doyle’s notebook has more on the injuries, but has Rick Carlisle saying he sees progress in the young Celtics.