Fenway Set to Open for Another Season

It may not feel like it, but spring is here. The Red Sox are set to open Fenway Park for the first time this season today. Interestingly, the Herald has about three times as many full articles on the Red Sox in the sports section as the Globe has.

Gordon Edes has a feature on Red Sox closer (was he ever anything but?) Jonathan Papelbon, who we realize more and more as time goes by, was really made for the role of lights-out closer. Gerry Callahan says that it is the smell of fear in the hitters, the thrill of the kill that fuels Papelbon in the closer’s role. Jeff Goldberg has Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima looking forward to their Fenway Park debuts this week.

Tony Massarotti has Theo Epstein very aware of the pressure and scrutiny that surrounds him as GM of the Red Sox. Steve Buckley has Terry Francona trying to keep the difficult balance of looking out for his players as well as himself, all while managing in Boston. Karen Guregian has Daisuke Matsuzaka handling his fame and hoping to fit in here in Boston. Garry Brown has more on Matsuzaka mania.

Michael Silverman looks at the offseason investments in J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo. Jeff Horrigan has the Red Sox optimistic about this season despite coming off a .500 opening week. Massarotti notes that once again the Red Sox are facing a relief gap. Horrigan says that today’s starting pitcher, Josh Beckett, still has plenty to prove with the Red Sox in 2007. Alex Speier says that a big year looms for Beckett.

Dan Shaughnessy has Carl Yastrzemski talking about how different things were around Fenway and the Red Sox prior to 1967. Buckley talks to 1967 rookie pitcher Billy Rohr, who will be back at Fenway today as a tribute to that year’s Impossible Dream team. He also has Rohr giving a little advice to Matsuzaka. M. Charles Bakst of the ProJo was at Yankee Stadium for the near no-hitter by Rohr and remembers the day. Lenny Megliola says that opening day is a spring tradition in Boston, and makes some ovation predictions. Joe Haggerty also has a look at the tribute to the 1967 squad.

Alex Speier notes that the 2007 Red Sox will honor the 1967 Red Sox, but are nothing like that magical squad. Joe McDonald has several members of the 1967 team getting ready for today’s ceremonies. Jennifer Toland notes that after a late (and lingering) winter, Red Sox fans are ready to get back to Fenway Park.

Amalie Benjamin takes a look at some of the change around Fenway for the 2007 season. Featured is the new seating section in Conigliaro’s Corner, where tickets are sold for $25 apiece and only available on the day of the game, and for immediate entrance.

The Globe notebook has J.D. Drew getting off to a terrific start with the Red Sox and looking forward to getting settled in Boston. Horrigan’s notebook has the Red Sox bringing in J.D. Durbin for a look after claiming him off waivers from Arizona. Durbin was once a top prospect, who dubbed himself “the real deal.” McDonald’s notebook also looks at the claim of Durbin.

Patriots

Mike Reiss first reported last night that the Patriots will match the Denver Broncos offer to punter Todd Sauerbrun. He also reports that they’re talking to free agent defensive back Tory James. John Tomase has a good look at some misconceptions and realities of the Patriots draft philosophy, based on the seven drafts under the Belichick era. Shalise Manza Young says that defensive back will be a priority for the Patriots in the draft. Albert Breer has more on Sauerbrun staying put with the Patriots, as well as a few other team notes.

Celtics

Christopher L. Gasper has the Celtics going without Paul Pierce, Al Jefferson, and Delonte West as they hit Atlanta tonight. Steve Bulpett has the Celtics and tonight’s foe both limping to the finish line of the season. Kevin McNamara has a look at the op prospects for the NBA draft this June. Mike Petraglia says that the Celtics young players back Doc Rivers and want him back.

Bruins

Steve Conroy says there weren’t too many positives to take away from this Bruins season. Stephen Harris has Peter Chiarelli trying to point out the positives. Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins leaving the Garden for the final time this season and pondering the future. Douglas Flynn has GM Chiarelli defending his team as a work in progress. Bud Barth says that there will be select changes made to next year’s Bruins club. Mick Colageo notes that there isn’t room to make too many changes, with only six free agents on the roster, and none of them key players. Mike Loftus says that the Bruins were a bit too soft in some areas. Shinzawa’s notebook has Tim Thomas able to establish himself as a starting goaltender in the NHL this season.

Quick Links 4.9.07

Just a few afternoon quick links:

David Scott reports that the Boston Herald might be close to bringing Rob Bradford on board in the next month or so. He also reports on a couple of new hires at NESN.

New ESPN Ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber weighs in on the Colin Cowherd/TheBigLead.com controversy.

Chad Finn has 10 local thoughts plus 10 national in his new gig for FoxSports.

Alex Speier analyzes what sort of run Red Sox fans might be able to expect out of Daisuke Matsuzaka over the next few years.

Curt Schilling weighs in on last night’s start on 38Pitches.com.

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Tonight

7:00pm, ESPN – Yankees @ Twins
7:30pm, ESPN2 – AFL – Georgia Force @ Philadelphia Soul

Papelbon Puts Out Fire

Before we get onto the links for this Monday morning, I wanted to make mention of a huge Boston sports fan who passed away over the weekend.

Scott Edward Norton lost his courageous battle with brain cancer on Saturday, after having battled the disease since being diagnosed in April, 2004. He was only 35 years old.

Scott deeply impressed those around him with his dignity and perspective during his fight. One time a few months ago, he was at home watching a Jimmy Fund Drive on TV and remarked, “There are young kids on here that have cancer and that’s just so wrong–Jesus, at least I got to live a little.”

Scott loved his Boston teams, especially the Red Sox and Patriots, and while fighting the cancer, he continued attend games, even on going to Baltimore to watch the Red Sox on occasion. He’ll be deeply missed.

Please consider making a donation to Circle of Hope in Norwood, MA 02062 or Brain Tumor Research, c/o Dr. Patrick Wen at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St., Boston, MA 02115.

A donation to the Jimmy Fund in his name would also be a nice gesture.

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After dropping the first two games of their three game series to the Rangers, the Red Sox got star performances last night from David Ortiz, Curt Schilling and Jonathan Papelbon to defeat the Rangers on ESPN 3-2 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

Amalie Benjamin looks at Papelbon coming in to slam the door in impressive fashion on the Rangers in the eight inning as things were beginning to get a little out of hand for the Red Sox. Jeff Horrigan looks at the Red Sox using star power to beat the Rangers last night. Sean McAdam has more on Papelbon slamming the door on the Rangers last night to help the Red Sox to victory. Jeff Goldberg has Papelbon saving the day to ensure Schilling’s first victory of the season. Bill Ballou has the Sox calling on their “cleanup pitcher” to save the night in Texas.

Michael Silverman has Jonathan Papelbon dazzling Red Sox fans with his outing last night. Gordon Edes has David Ortiz defending his friend and countryman Sammy Sosa.Silverman also notes that Daisuke Matsuzaka flew back to Boston, along with Josh Beckett last night, to get ready for their starts this week back here in Boston. Horrigan has Curt Schilling pleased with his outing, but saying there is still room for improvement.

Benjamin’s notebook has Javier Lopez being realist about his chances of staying with the Red Sox when Mike Timlin is activated this week, but hopeful he’ll still have a big role with the Sox this season. Horrigan’s notebook says that Timlin’s activation prior to tomorrow’s home opener is still in doubt. McAdam’s notebook has J.D. Drew looking forward to getting acquainted with the Fenway faithful this week. Goldberg’s notebook has David Ortiz and the Red Sox offense showing a few signs of life. Ballou’s notebookhas Ortiz breaking out of his early season slump with a pair of home runs last night.

The Masters

Jim McCabe has Zach Johnson coming out of nowhere to win the Masters, holding off Tiger Woods in the process. Karen Guregian has Johnson holding off Woods for his Masters victory. Jim Donaldson looks at Johnson being able to maintain his focus with Tiger breathing down his neck yesterday afternoon. Jeff Jacobs notes that Tigers’ amazing eagle on 13 yesterday was really his last roar, especially when he then missed a 12 foot putt for birdie on 14. Bruce Berlet has more on “normal guy” Johnson capturing the green jacket yesterday.

Bob Ryan has a normal guy winning in a weird week at Augusta. Guregian has Rory Sabbatini feeling good with after having tied for second place with Woods.

McCabe’s notebook has the gusty, cold conditions forcing officials to push up tee times yesterday. Guregian’s notebook has a rough start dooming the chances of defending champion Phil Mickelson. Berlet’s notebook has University of Hartford graduate Jerry Kelly finishing fifth.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett reports that the Celtics plan to offer coach Doc Rivers a contract extension after the season. Tim Weisberg says that grim assessments by Antoine Walker and Gary Payton this weekend about the Celtics future are tarnished by their bitterness towards the franchise. Mike Fine says that Kendrick Perkins’ growth this season has been just as important to the Celtics future as that of Al Jefferson. Christopher L. Gasper has injuries giving Sebastian Telfair a chance to get back on the court, and he’s making the most of his opportunity.

Patriots

John Tomase says that despite Asante Samuel’s comments from last week, the Patriots remain firmly in control of his situation, and Samuel has to know that. Mike Reiss has Randall Gay making a visit to the New York Jets tonight and tomorrow. If the Jets sign him, the Patriots can either match the offer or receive a second-round pick in return.

Bruins

Stephen Harris has a season-ending report card for the Bruins. Fluto Shinzawa notes that “throughout the season, in the most critical times, the Bruins folded.” Mike Loftus looks ahead to next year for the Bruins.

Misc

Julia Reischel of the Weekly Dig looks at a labor battle shaping up a NESN.

Dan Lamothe weighs in on ESPN radio’s Colin Cowherd encouraging listeners to take down a site that was critical of him.

Weekend Watch – The 2007 Masters

It is Masters weekend 2007, but there is a whole lot more going on over the next few days in addition to golf.

Saturday night is an unusual evening for sports viewing for Boston fans. You’ve got the Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, and Revolution all in action, and Boston College is playing in the NCAA Hockey Championship game. That’s five games that will all be going on at the same time.

Having the Red Sox open up on the road is good for not only the weather reasons, but it also allows for a week long “test run” of game stories and coverage. Look for the stories in the papers this coming week to tripe in quantity with the Red Sox coming home, and Daisuke Matsuzaka making his first start at Fenway Park. It’s going to be a busy week.

In a column from 2003, Alex Heard of Slate tells you how to watch The Masters on television.

HDSportsGuide.com passes along the following Masters TV notes:

Friday’s coverage of The Masters is available on multiple channels so get your HD-DVR remote handy, we have outlined all of the coverage below.

  1. It starts at 4pm ET on both Thursday and Friday.
  2. The non-HD coverage will be on USA.
  3. The high definition coverage will be on both UniversalHD and the CBS Television HD Network(Analog CBS will be showing normal programming at this time).
  4. Both CBS HD and Analog will have same day highlights at 11:35pm ET on both Thursday and Friday.

Adam Reilly has a look at how David Portnoy created Barstool Sports from scratch, and how the paper has grown to a circulation of 40,000.

Bill Simmons kept a running diary of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first start with the Red Sox Thursday afternoon.

Much has been written about the death of Darryl Stingley the last couple of days. Probably one of the best articles ever written about Stingley was the one done by Ron Borges, back in August, 2003 – 25 years after the hit. The article is available for free through that link.

Mark Farinella also writes about the life and death of Darryl Stingley.

Dr Z also weighs in on the hit on Stingley.

Jim Rice didn’t do himself and favors with these comments at a PawSox luncheon.

Le Anne Schreiber introduces herself as the new ESPN ombudsman.

Jessica Camerato attempts to answer the question: Who is Kevinn Pinkney?

Deadspin.com has a blog entry on ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd urging his audience to unleash a DNS attack on TheBigLead.com, which he thought had written something that upset him. The attack then happened, which has resulted in the site being down since yesterday. Deadspin notes that Cowherd is infamous for taking items off of blogs and passing them off on the air as if he came up with then on his own. Something we have experience with here at BSMW.

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National Sports Media Columns

New England

David Scott is back with an all new edition of Scott’s Shots. Susan Bickelhaupt looks at ESPN and Channel 38 ramping up MLS soccer coverage. Bill Doyle has Golf Channel remaining on Charter Communications after an earlier threat to pull out. Andrew Neff reports on Clear Channel selling its Maine radio stations, and also some Maine fans missing out on remaining Celtics radio broadcasts due to technical issues.

New York

Neil Best has a packed edition of Sports Watch, with a look at FOX bringing back the Game of the Week, Turner introducing Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken as analysts for their new baseball lineup and a look at Masters coverage. Phil Mushnick says that now that ESPN has taken care of Joe Theismann, they need to do something about Joe Morgan. Pat Reichart has a look at Sports Guy Bill Simmons’ new deal with ESPN that keeps him there through 2010, though he may not write that entire period of time. Bob Raissman looks at Lee Mazzilli bringing a New York accent to SNY’s Mets pre- and postgame shows. Richard Sandomir has a look at the new book 7: The Mickey Mantle Novel, which has drawn much attention and criticism. Reichart also has Five Question with FOX baseball analyst Tim McCarver.

More East Coast

Michael Hiestand looks at Jim Lampley and Scott Hamilton getting a chance to do comedy in Blades of Glory. Chris Zelkovich look at the tough sell the Toronto FC has in getting ratings for the MLS matches. Laura Nachman has Mount Airy native Dave Sims joining the Seattle Mariners broadcast team. Bob Smizik says that Clear Channel didn’t distinguish itself in their Pirates opener this week. Jim Williams has ESPN gearing up for its biggest MLS season with David Beckham now in the league. He also has a talk with Nationals President Stan Kasten and a look at Cal Ripken, Jr joining the Turner Sports broadcast team.

South

Barry Jackson has University of Miami football coach Randy Shannon being dubbed “Randy Saban” by a local sportscaster for the restrictions he is placing on media access to his team and program. Dave Darling has a look back at what he calls “probably the most historic moment in the history of the game” – Tiger Woods’ victory in the 1997 Masters. David Barron has Extra Innings arriving back on cable in time for the weekend.

Midwest

Teddy Greenstein has broadcasters increasingly getting bumped from courtside spots in favor of high priced seating for fans. Judd Zulgad has the Twins opener getting higher ratings than the NCAA championship game. Bob Wolfley says CBS enjoys riding Tiger Woods to success. Dan Caesar reports on fewer Cardinals games being shown on free TV this season. George M. Thomas has MLB trying to make everyone happy with Extra Innings.

West Coast

Jim Carlisle has CBS taking a trip down memory lane with Sunday’s broadcast of Jim Nantz Remembers Augusta: The 1960 Masters. John Maffei has more on CBS adding color to the original footage of the event. Jay Posner has Nick Faldo preferring to talk about the Masters rather than play in it. Joe Davidson notes that finding A’s games on the radio is pretty much hit or miss in Sacramento. John Scheibe has more on Faldo choosing the talk over the walk.

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This Weekend’s TV Highlights

Friday, April 6
7:30pm, FSN – Heat @ Celtics (HD)
7:35pm, TBS – Mets @ Braves
8:00pm, ESPN – Cavs @ Wizards (HD)
10:30pm, ESPN – Mavs @ Nuggets (HD)

Saturday, April 7
3:30pm, CBS – The Masters (HD)
3:30pm, FOX – Mets @ Braves (HD)
3:30pm, ABC – DC United @ Rapids (HD)
4:00pm, 3:30pm, ESPN2 – NASCAR Busch Series Pepsi 300 (HD)
7:00pm, FSN – Celtics @ Pacers
7:00pm, ESPN – NCAA Hockey Title game – BC/Michigan St.
7:00pm, CN8 – Senators @ Bruins
8:00pm, NESN – Red Sox @ Rangers (HD)
8:30pm, TV38 – Revolution @ Fire

Sunday, April 8th

1:00pm, TBS – Mets @ Braves
1:00pm, ABC – Cavs @ Pistons (HD)
1:00pm, NBC – Sabres @ Flyers (HD)
2:30pm, CBS – The Masters (HD)
3:30pm, ABC – Suns @ Lakers (HD)
8:00pm, ESPN – Red Sox @ Rangers (HD)

Dice-K Dazzles Royals in Debut

Daisuke Matsuzaka’s regular season debut with the Red Sox was perhaps the most highly anticipated in club history, and the Japanese ace did not disappoint yesterday, going seven innings giving up only one run and striking out 10 in a 4-1 Red Sox victory.

Jeff Goldberg looks at the “smashing success” which was Dice-K’s first start with the Red Sox. Gordon Edes says that Matsuzaka’s debut invoked memories of Pedro Martinez’s first start for the Red Sox back in 1998. Jeff Horrigan writes that Matsuzaka was “lights out” in his debut for the Red Sox. Sean McAdam says that Matsuzaka did the impossible by actually exceeding expectations yesterday. Bill Ballou has Dice-K feeling like it was just a normal day for him out there.

Dan Shaughnessy has the Red Sox pleased that the “moonfaced pitcher” (?) was able to get off to get off to a good start. Tony Massarotti says that Matsuzaka could soon own Boston just as Pedro and Roger Clemens did in their primes. Michael Silverman says Matsuzaka is as good as he seemed and the Red Sox have an ace on their hands.

Why the need rush to judgment after one game? Schilling was awful on opening day, and Massarotti and others write the next day suggesting that the guy is done. Matsuzaka has a very good debut and suddenly he’s the next coming of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. I still think a little more time is needed before making these calls, but this is the media world in which we live.

The Matsuzaka Watch blog has a look at how each member of the Royals lineup did against Dice-K. Nick Cafardo has the Kansas City and the Royals glad to see the Red Sox and the media throng following them leave town. Silverman also looks at the crush of U.S. media as well as the 125 credentialed members of the media from Japan who were in attendance. Kevin Gray has fans in NH and around the world enjoying Matsuzaka’s debut.

Massarotti says that the early returns indicate Red Sox spent wisely in other areas this offseason as well, as J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo were impressive this week.

Silverman has Jonathan Papelbon looking impressive in recording his first save of the season.

Edes’s notebook has more on Papelbon picking up his first save of the season. Horrigan’s notebook has Coco Crisp planning on wearing #42 to honor Jackie Robinson on April 15th. McAdam’s notebook has Papelbon returning to his dominant form of a year ago in his debut. Goldberg’s notebook has more on Crisp honoring Robinson next Sunday along with a number of other players. Ballou’s notebook has David Ortiz finding a way to help the team on the basepaths.

Patriots

Joe Fitzgerald remembers Darryl Stingley this morning, noting that while the hit on the field in ’78 ending his life as a football player, it started his life as a man. Bob Ryan says that Stingley was a man at peace with himself. John Tomase says that Stingley will always be linked with Jack Tatum, even in death. Shalise Manza Young has Tom Hoffman, who was at Stingley’s bedside for the first 23 days after the injury, and remained friends with him for the rest of life, talking about his memories of the man. Dan Pires notes that while his injury was tragic, Stingley’s life was anything but. John Altavilla says Stingley was an inspiration to the end.

Monte Poole of the Oakland Tribune has former Raiders coach John Madden talking about the hit on Stingley by his player, Jack Tatum.

The Masters

Jim McCabe has Arnold Palmer acing his new role as starter for The Masters.

Karen Guregian has Tiger Woods scuffling through his first round yesterday. McCabe has Justin Rose and Brett Wetterich sharing the lead after the first round. Bruce Berlet says it was a rough first round for many players. Guregian has Phil Mickelson still upbeat after posting a 76 (4 over) on the day. Jim Donaldson has Brett Quigley focusing on family this week.

McCabe’s notebook has Rose drawing on his experience from the 2004 Masters. Guregian’s notebook has Ernie Els with his work cut out for him after his 78 yesterday. Berlet’s notebook has Fairfield native J.J, Henry enjoying the early part of his day at The Masters.

Celtics

Christopher L. Gasper has Kevinn Pinkney earning his keep with the Celtics after an impressive NBA debut on Wednesday night. Steve Bulpett says that if we see Paul Piece on the floor again this season, it will be his call, as the Doctors have advised him to sit it out.

Other

David Scott is back with an all new edition of Scott’s Shots. Susan Bickelhaupt looks at ESPN and Channel 38 ramping up MLS soccer coverage. Bill Doyle has Golf Channel remaining on Charter Communications after an earlier threat to pull out.

I have no idea what to say about this. Just wow.

Sox Back On Track

The Red Sox got back on track last night in Kansas City as Josh Beckett allowed just one run in five innings, and the bullpen was solid, resulting in a 7-1 win over the Royals in a chilly Kauffman Stadium.

Gordon Edes notes that the performance of the pitching and hitting for the Sox was enough to overcome the cold and three errors from Mike Lowell. Jeff Horrigan says that Beckett might’ve been a little out of tune at times with his pitches last night, but his outing overall has to be considered a success. Sean McAdam also notes that Beckett didn’t have his best stuff last night, but was still able to get the win. Jeff Goldberg notes that it was actually Lowell’s glove that created the worst jams for Beckett, but he was able to get out of them. Bill Ballou has the Sox getting back to even Steven with the win.

Tony Massarotti says that the performance of the bullpen in the first two games has to be considered encouraging.

Nick Cafardo says it was just one of those nights for Lowell, who now has half as many errors as he had for the entire season last year. Silverman has more on Lowell licking his wounds after the game last night with the help of some ice cream.

Dan Shaughnessy has Dice-K mania set to begin in earnest at 2:00pm this afternoon. Michael Silverman has Daisuke Matsuzaka not too concerned about the cold weather that he will encounter today, as he has pitched in similar conditions in Japan. Gaku Tashiro of Sankei Sports says that Matsuzaka has the makeup to handle any type of pressure he might encounter on the baseball field.

Edes has former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley talking about the importance and impact of Hideo Nomo.

Edes’ notebook has Curt Schilling still without explanation for his rocky opening day outing. Horrigan’s notebook has Kevin Youkilis showing some power with a seventh inning home run last night. McAdam’s notebook has more on the anticipation for Matsuzaka’s first start this afternoon. Goldberg’s notebook has a chilly afternoon on tap for Dice-K’s debut.

Check the out of town view (with plenty on Matsuzaka) from the Kansas City Star and The Kansas City Channel.

Celtics

Christopher L. Gasper reports on the Celtics picking up perhaps their most important victory of the season with a 98-89 loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee last night. Yes, you read that right. Mark Murphy has more on the “battle of the un-fittest” that took place last night and resulted in the start of the Kevinn Pinkney era for the Celtics.

Patriots

Adam Schefter broke the news last night that Asante Samuel is no longer happy with his negotiations with the Patriots and may demand a trade. Mike Reiss and John Tomase have more on the story.

Former Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley passed away overnight. Jeremy Gorner of the Chicago Tribune has the story.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa has Dave Lewis offering some advice to young defenseman Andrew Alberts. Steve Conroy reports that the Devils may be interested in hiring Bruins’s associate coach Marc Habscheid for their vacant head coaching job after the season.

The Masters

Jim McCabe looks at how it was 10 years ago that Tiger Woods reshaped Masters folklore. Bruce Berlet has Tiger changing with the circle of life. Karen Guregian has Woods amazing that someone’s suggestion that a fresh faced winner might add a spark to the Masters.

Bob Ryan has a good feature on 71-year-old walking legend Gary Player. Karen Guregian has Phil Mickelson still haunted by last year’s U.S. Open. McCabe’s extensive Golf Notes says that Arnold Palmer is the perfect choice as a starter to bring tradition back to The Masters.

Jim Donaldson has a look at Brett Quigley, who flew back for the birth of his child this week, but is still playing. McCabe has more on an already memorable Masters week for Brett Quigley.

McCabe’s notebook drought for foreign winners in Majors. Guregian’s notebook has more on Quigley.

Buddy Thomas recaps a memorable sports Monday.

Play The Next Game, Already!

I never like the off day after opening day. It makes the wait to the second game seem like forever, especially when the home team loses the first game in an ugly fashion and sports radio spends the next 48 hours rehashing the miscues and performances and making snap judgments on the team that still has 161 games to play.

Some people have asked if there is a reason why there is an off day after opening day. Is it just to give the players a rest after playing their first “real” game after a month of warm weather exhibitions?

The explanation that I have heard that contains the most sense is that the off day is scheduled so that if opening day gets rained (or snowed) out, fans who purchased tickets specifically for opening day still have a chance to see opening day the next day, rather than having the game rescheduled for say, August.

Hope that answers the question at least a little bit. It was the only thing I’ve seen that really makes sense.

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Adam Schein has more in his blog on FoxSports.com on Bill Belichick and his companion at the NCAA title game Monday night. He has an acquaintance of the woman talking about the speculation about Belichick and a woman in New Jersey:

“First of all, Linda Holliday is from Florida,” said the acquaintance, who also knows Belichick. “She and Bill Belichick have been dating for a little while. Unfortunately, now if people see him somewhere with a woman they automatically want to assume the worst, like something inappropriate must be going on. That’s what happens with gossip. Knowing the full New Jersey story, it’s unbelievable how that came out and pretty sad how his reputation was attacked. Bottom line, Belichick has been divorced for some time and he’s dated a little since then like a lot of single men do. They’re having a good time.”

I might be accused of hammering this topic, but we were getting breathless daily updates for a while there about the whole NJ thing, and “real” media types were latching onto it all as if it were gospel truth, making snide references to it in their columns and articles and spreading it all over the place. I think the other side needs to get a little exposure as well. The erroneous viewpoints need a counterpoint.

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The opening line of Bill Ballou’s notebook this morning:

Tim Wakefield is the only current Red Sox player who was alive when Rico Petrocelli caught Rich Rollins’ looper to shortstop on Oct. 1, 1967.

Curt Schilling was born on 11/14/66. Mike Timlin on 03/10/66.

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Gordon Edes does double-duty today with both a Boston.com chat and a Ask Edes Mailbag.

Did you think Dan Shaughnessy’s swipe at Arsenio Hall in yesterday’s column was a little odd? Well, it turns out Hall has been a frequent target of Dan’s, for reasons unknown. Jason Feifer in his blog outlines the other times Shaughnessy has brought up Arsenio.

Speaking of Shaughnessy, he was also a target of FireJoeMorgan again. If that crew is planning on making Shaughnessy a regular target, I’m cool with that. (Although I don’t care for the line at the end.)

Red Sox wines? Yup. What’s next?

The Masters starts tomorrow, and once again Masters.org will have extensive coverage which will include direct links to live video coverage of “Amen Corner Live” and Masters Extra, one hour of online-exclusive play-by-play Thursday through Sunday, ESPN.com video highlights, complete news and information coverage, and contributions from Golf Digest and Golf World.

Michael Hiestand has a look at Jim Nantz Remembers Augusta: The 1960 Masters. The show marks the first time any sports event that aired live in black and white has been colorized.

Bill Simmons is looking forward to tonight’s epic Celtics/Bucks showdown.

Bill Simmons yesterday said Greg Oden locked up the top spot in the draft with his performance on Monday night. He also says that Corey Brewer took a giant leap forward too.

In that entry, Simmons also mentions the offensive comment from Billy Packer last week, which is examined further by Deadspin.com today. Here are the comments by Packer as shown on the Jimmy Kimmel show:

Glenn Ordway has made this his call to action for today. It quickly broke down into a political discussion about PBS and “special interest groups”. GREAT radio. Couple that with the extensive Iraq talk this morning, and you have good stuff for “Red Sox Wednesday.”

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Tonight

7:30pm – ESPN – Bulls @ Pistons (HD)
8:00pm – NESN – Red Sox @ Royals (HD)
8:00pm – FSN – Celtics @ Bucks
8:00pm – ESPN2 – Mets @ Cardinals (HD)
10:00pm – ESPN – Kings @ Nuggets (HD)

Paging Ace Beckett

Tony Massarotti says that it is time for Josh Beckett to validate the trade that brought him here to Boston at the very high price of Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez. He believes he can do it, too. Alex Speier also has a column on Beckett, noting that while the right hander has the stuff and makeup to become the ace of the staff, he also has the desire to take that role. Bill Ballou says that because of all the money the Sox are paying Beckett, plus the enormous price they paid to obtain him, it’s time that they got something for their investment. Michael Silverman says Beckett plans on improving this season by relying more on his curve and off-speed pitches.

Gordon Edes has a micro-feature on Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who somehow manages the impossible task of flying under the radar here in Boston. Sean McAdam has Kyle Snyder overcoming adversity to make his first-ever opening day roster. Jeff Goldberg looks at Hideki Okajima trying to shrug off the impact of having his very first pitch in the Majors hit out of the park. Jeff Horrigan examines the Red Sox woes in Kansas City the past two years.

Mike Fine has a preview of the 2007 Red Sox, and notes that this is a team that has a number of flaws, and plenty of competition in the American League, which will make for a tough road all year. Gerry Callahan looks at Curt Schilling’s season getting off to a rough start, and notes that every Schilling outing this season is going to be like “American Idol” with the pitcher being judged on whether he should be brought back next season. Joe Haggerty has a look at a Brooklyn based youth league which really started the baseball careers of Manny Ramirez and Julio Lugo.

Rich Thompson has a few minor league notes, including Craig Hansen trying to make the adjustments needed to get him back in the majors. Brendan McGair has more on Hansen, who the Red Sox are determined not to rush back to Boston this season. Joe McDonald says that the PawSox will benefit this season from the Red Sox pitching depth.

Edes’ notebook examines how Major League baseball has become a true International League. Horrigan’s notebook has some 20 members of the 1967 Red Sox coming back for ceremonies prior to the home opener next week. Goldberg’s notebook has more on the planned events for the 2007 Fenway opener. Ballou’s notebook also has a look at the 1967 Red Sox reunion planned for Fenway.

Patriots

John Tomase has Randall Gay working hard to come back from being placed on Injured Reserve the past two season. Gay was re-signed by the Patriots this offseason and his anxiously looking forward to training camp. Mike Reiss has a look at Matt Light, who is participating the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial program, being held as a four day workshop at Harvard Business School. Reiss’ notebook has Todd Sauerbrun signing a deal with the Broncos, and the Patriots have the right to match the offer in the next seven days.

By the way, if you were wondering about the identity of the blonde woman with Bill Belichick at the NCAA title game, it was not Sharon Shenocca of the NJ divorce case as some have wrongly speculated. Tom Curran in his blog identifies the woman, reporting that it was Belichick’s “girlfriend Linda Holliday of Florida.”

Celtics

Christopher L. Gasper has Al Jefferson doubtful for tonight’s game with the Bucks after banging knees with Ryan Gomes in practice. Steve Bulpett says to expect the Celtics and Jefferson to be very cautious over the final two weeks of the season.

Bruins

Stephen Harris reports on the Bruins losing their fourth game in a row, this time 2-0 to the Canadiens in Montreal. Fluto Shinzawa has Hannu Toivonen playing fairly well, but being unable to stop Saku Koivu, who scored both Montreal goals. Harris’ notebook has more on a solid effort in defeat from Toivonen.

Masters

Karen Guregian says Tiger Woods once again intimidates his opponents as they head into this week’s Masters. Jim McCabe looks at how the holes at Augusta National are named. Jeff Jacobs has Phil Mickelson upbeat heading into the Masters. Jim Donaldson notes that in the year after losing his father, Woods will become a father this year.

Guregian looks at Henrik Stenson, whom Sports Illustrated has appointed as the “prime threat” to surprise at this year’s Masters. She also has a piece on Charles Howell III, who would be a great story with a win at Augusta, as he is a local.

McCabe’s notebook has Brett Quigley taking off after practice to be with his wife, who is expecting. Guregian’s notebook has Mickelson again going with two drivers in his bag.

NCAA

Mark Blaudschun has the Florida Gators thinking of their legacy after the back-to-back titles. Bob Ryan has Billy Donovan with a decision on his hands on whether to stay at Florida or move onto Kentucky. Bill Reynolds has more on Donovan and the drive that has made him a champion. Mark Murphy says that Greg Oden may follow the lead of the Gators and stay in school for another shot at a title.

Tuesday Tidbits

I thought seriously about avoiding the radio completely today, and probably should have. Nothing fuels sports talk radio like an opening day Red Sox loss. They’ve lost six of their last seven openers, so we should be pretty used to this drill by now.

Interviews with Kevin Youkilis and Josh Beckett helped break up the afternoon a little bit.

Tomorrow marks the debut of WEEI’s new “Red Sox Wednesday” – a day that the station vows to totally dedicate to the Red Sox. (Does that include the entire morning show?)

Jerry Remy joins Dennis & Callahan each Wednesday at 9:00am, Red Sox Manager Terry Francona will join Dale & Holley at 12 noon, and a Red Sox “player of the week” will be on the Big Show with Glenn Ordway and crew.
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WNNZ-AM (640) in Springfield/Westfield has dropped their all-sports format and gone to a news/talk format drawing on news and information programs produced by National Public Radio. WNNZ had been broadcasting Yankees games, as well as Mike and Mike in the Morning, then FOX Sports, and then their “Press Box” show with Marty Tirrell in the afternoon.

It would seem that WEEI’s new Springfield area affiliate, WVEI 105.5FM had a big influence on this move.

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John Kelly should start the MarkMurphyWatch.com website. Here is John’s email to me today, and he’s sent in several in the past about Murphy as well:

Hey Bruce. If you’re interested, here are three errors in three different pieces from Mark Murphy (He seems to be good for one per piece). Here he is on March 24th talking to Avery Johnson about the 95-96 Spurs that only won 20 games. Now is probably a good time to mention that the 95-96 Spurs won 59 games. It was the 96-97 Spurs that won 20 games.

Here he is on March 31st claiming that Duke and UNLV played in two straight championship games. What actually happened was that UNLV beat Duke in the 1990 national championship game, then they had a rematch in 1991 in the national semifinals, where Duke stunned UNLV and then went on to beat Kansas in the national championship game.

And now today he is referring to Florida as the sixth team in history to win back to back titles, when on the page right next to his column in the Boston Herald, there is a list of back to back title winners. If you notice, Florida is the 7th team to it, not the 6th. Oklahoma St., Kentucky, San Francisco, Cincinnati, UCLA, & Duke all did it before Florida.

Here are the teams to win back-to-back titles:

  • Florida — 2006-07
  • Duke — 1991-92
  • UCLA — 1964-65; 1967-73
  • Cincinnati — 1961-62
  • USF — 1955-56
  • Kentucky — 1948-49
  • Oklahoma State — 1945-46

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The blog Yanksfan vs. Soxfan thinks that Boston.com grabbed their idea for a Daisuke Matsuzaka-themed Haiku contest.

Tom Verducci offers his predictions for the 2007 season, plus a look back at 2006.

Ken Rosenthal has his thoughts on opening day around the majors.

Eric Wilbur also has some opening day observations.

Tom Casale has an Ask PFW mailbag on Patriots.com.

Leonard Shapiro says that the firing of Joe Theismann was “classic weasel television executive at its best.”

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The New Hampshire Union Leader has an opening for a sports editor. After six years as Deputy Managing Editor-Sports, Vin Sylvia is taking the even more rambling title of Deputy Managing Editor-Sunday and Features. The job listing for his current position will be posted nationally, but anyone who wants to inquire about the job in the meantime can e-mail Vin at [email protected]

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Tonight

7:00pm, Versus – Sabres @ Penguins
7:30pm, NESN – Bruins @ Canadiens
8:30pm, ESPN – NCAA Women’s Title Game – Tennessee/Rutgers

Opening Day Blues for Sox, Schilling

Things didn’t go quite as the Red Sox hoped for on opening day, as Curt Schilling and company absorbed a 7-1 beating at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.

Gordon Edes has Gil Meche and the Royals enjoying a perfect start to their season with the win. Jeff Horrigan notes that given Schilling’s history, yesterday’s performance was nearly “impossible to fathom.” Sean McAdam describes the performance by Schilling as “nasty, brutish and short.” Jeff Goldberg has more on an “historically bad” opening day for Schilling and the Red Sox. Bill Ballou says that if the Red Sox were a Broadway play, they’d have been shut down after that opener.

As debuts go, Dan Shaughnessy says this one was worse than Patriots coach Clive Rush’s first press conference. Jon Couture says that this is only a temporary setback, as things should return to normal for both teams very soon. Alex Speier has Allard Baird still adjusting to life with the Red Sox after 18 years in the Royals organization.

Nick Cafardo notes that Schilling joined the ranks of number one starters who took a beating on opening day. Schilling himself on 38Pitches summed up his performance in two words: no command. Tony Massarotti suggests that Schilling is looking his age, and that he is only an ace in name. Pretty harsh stuff after one outing.

Shaughnessy has Dustin Pedroiaas one of the few Red Sox to hit the ground running on opening day. Horrigan says that Pedroia’s off and running and that running got him in some hot water yesterday when he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Massarotti has Hideki Okajima making history as the seventh pitcher in big league history to allow a home run on his very first pitch. Silverman has J.D. Drew showing that his reputation for plate discipline is well warranted. Brendan McGair has the PawSox roster full of guys who hope for the chance to contribute to the big club sometime this season.

Michael Silverman looks at Gil Meche turning in a strong performance in his first out as Kansas City’s $55 million ace.

Edes’ notebook has Hideki Okajima being welcomed to the American big leagues with a home run over the 410 foot sign on his first pitch. Horrigan’s notebook has Julio Lugo trying to take an optimistic approach after a rough day at the plate in his Red Sox debut. McAdam’s notebook leads with more on the tough debut for Okajima. Goldberg’s notebook has Pedroia mixing good and bad in the season opener. Ballou’s notebook opens with more on Okajima.

View from the opposition: Kansas City Star and The Kansas City Channel.

NCAA

Mark Blaudschun has Florida winning their second straight NCAA basketball championship with an 84-75 victory over Ohio State.

Bob Ryan has the returning Gators from last season erasing any doubts that they should’ve remained in school for the chance to repeat as champs. Jeff Jacobs has the Florida frontcourt accomplishing what they stayed in school to do. Mark Murphy has the Gators big three rewarded for their return.

Blaudschun’s notebook has Joakim Noah showing pride in his school and in not only the basketball titles, but the National Championship the school has in football this year as well. Murphy’s notebook has Greg Oden blocking out all questions about the NBA after the loss.

Celtics

Shira Springer and Steve Bulpett each submit articles on the roller coaster that is Gerald Green’s play in his sophomore season. Bob Ryan looks at no actual ballplayers getting elected to the basketball Hall of Fame.

Patriots

Shalise Manza Young has the NFL officially calling off the Patriots/Seahawks preseason game in China, and looks at the exhibition schedule for this season. John Tomase says that eventually the NFL will have a game in China and the Patriots still want to be a part of it. Mike Reiss has the league giving precedence to the October regular-season matchup between the Dolphins and Giants in London.

Bruins

Stephen Harris has the Bruins hoping to ruin the Canadiens’ season tonight in Montreal. Fluto Shinzawa has the club calling up Hannu Toivonen to start the game tonight. Mick Colageo says that Dave Lewis needs time to establish himself with the Bruins, and he’ll get another chance next season.