The “New” Randy Moss – Reality or Perception?

The media often reminds us all that they are the connection between the fans and the athletes and teams. While reporting is supposed to be objective, what the fan gets in terms of information is oftentimes tainted by the media person’s own notions or even agenda.

How is the fan to tell what is the truth and what is not?

As Chad Finn pointed out last night:

The national media, almost unanimously from what I can tell, came away from Patriots minicamp raving about Randy Moss. Certain members of the local press are predictably yowling that he was dogging it. So excuse me while I give Peter King credence for once.

Finn was referring to Michael Felger, among others. Yesterday in Felger’s first appearance in the Herald for some time, (He is no longer on staff there – he will do freelance work while focusing on his radio and TV career.) he wrote the following about Moss’ efforts at mini-camp last week:

You’d have thought Moss would have taken the opportunity to make an early statement, maybe run from drill to drill across the field, lead the sprints at the end of practice, blow by the slower and smaller players trying to cover him, whatever. Show a little hustle. Little things.

But it pretty much was the opposite. Moss was content to remain in the pack. He never was first in line. He certainly didn’t make defensive backs look foolish. Aside from climbing the ladder once or twice on high throws, he didn’t give any hints of his prodigious physical gifts. It’s true the entire proceedings were run at about three-quarters speed, but that didn’t stop Brady, Welker and Harrison from giving full effort. Moss’speedometer seemed stuck at around 60 percent.

Felger’s buddy, Ron Borges has also been heard on the 890 ESPN Boston airwaves spouting that Moss wasn’t trying, wasn’t sweating hard enough, and generally not hustling. (Ironic, given the suspension that Borges was handed from the Globe earlier this spring.)

What is Felger basing his assessments on? He says the proceedings were held at about 75% speed, but that Moss was only going at 60%. How exactly did he measure this?

Finn makes mention (reluctantly, it seems) of Peter King, and his article yesterday on Moss was extremely Moss and Patriots-friendly.

Kings describes in detail the efforts Moss has made in first getting to the Patriots, and then in trying to fit in and get into the best possible shape.

At 2 a.m. on April 29 coach Bill Belichick called Moss in Houston and informed him that he would have to accept a $6.25 million reduction in his $9.25 million base salary and undergo a physical in Boston within 10 hours if he wanted to be a Patriot. Moss immediately agreed to the pay cut and hired a private plane to rush him to New England. He also changed two weeks of personal plans for early May so that he could attend the Pats' off-season program, though he was not ordered to do so by Belichick. At New England's Organized Team Activities -- practices without pads that NFL teams hold each spring -- Moss felt he was lagging in conditioning drills, so when the Patriots took the last week of May off, he stayed in Foxborough for four days of aerobic work.

King also made the observation that “At his first Patriots minicamp, wideout Randy Moss looked like a new man.”

So was Randy Moss loafing it, going at 60% or did he look like a new man at camp?

How are we to tell? Who do we rely on?

To further confuse things, this afternoon Albert Breer has a fine blog post in which he makes the statement that “First, the idea that perception has changed on Moss since the trade to New England is a local thing.”

So is he saying that the New England media folks the ones that are promoting the new perception of Moss and that the national media is still skeptical? Or is it like Finn says…the national media is raving about Moss while the locals are yowling?

In any event, I’m not sure what to believe.

Midweek Media Columns

Here is a look at a few of the media columns from around the country since last Friday.

Richard Sandomir has a look at Harold Reynolds getting back into the broadcast biz with his new gig with MLB. He also says that this year’s coverage of the Belmont Stakes was much better than last year’s edition.

Neil Best has a look at the poor NBA ratings for ABC this weekend.

Bob Raissman has a look at the fawning over Roger Clemens by Yankees announcers in his return to the club this weekend.

Chris Zelkovich has a look at Dan Marino’s new movie venture…this time he’s got a message.

Michael Hiestand has a look at Johnny Miller preparing to return to the site of one of the greatest moments of his playing career, “Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, where he shot one of golf’s greatest rounds with a final-day 63 to win the 1973 U.S. Open.”

Dan Caesar looks at the dismal ratings that the NHL received for the Stanley Cup Finals.

Leonard Shapiro leads off his weekly Sports Waves column with boxing promoter Bob Arum trying to steal a page from the playbook of Ultimate Fighting when it comes to the presentation and promotion of boxing.

Jim Williams has the Mid Atlantic Sports Network scoring big with the “Battle of the Beltway” – the interleague matchup of the Nationals and Orioles.

Barry Horn offers an initial reaction and a more thought out reaction to a number of sports media events.

David Barron has more on the grim ratings for the NBA finals.

Stearns’ NASCAR Source Proves Unreliable

The gamble of when to go public with information from a source and when to just hold back and wait for more confirmation was illustrated nicely in an experience that FOX25′s Butch Stearns recently underwent.

Almost exactly a month ago, Butch Stearns posted the following on his blog:

"NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr. will soon be racing under the same legendary #3 Chevy that his dad used to race in......A source with direct knowledge of negotiations tells FOX25 that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finalized a deal with Richard Childress Racing Thursday night, and an official announcement will be coming soon."

This is what we reported on Thursday night and here are some more thoughts I would like to add at this time.

I am no Nascar expert. However, the information I gleaned is very, very reliable and I am confident that it will be announced and come true sooner rather than later. If you're a Boston Sports fan, you probably say so what. Fine, we will always have our own soap operas and dramas to worry about with the Red Sox , Patriots and the rest of the Boston sports scene. By the way, can't we just get those NBA ping pong balls to drop already?

Oftentimes in my broadcasting career, I have gleaned information like this and then done my due diligence as a reporter and decided to report the story and oftentimes I've had to wait to be proven right. (It took two weeks after we announced that Theo Epstein would be the new GM of the Red Sox for that one to come true). That waiting period is an interesting time on many levels. It's fun to listen to the comments from people involved in a story like this as we wait for an announcement to be made.

Butch may have done his “due diligence” as a reporter, but his “very very reliable” information proved today to be incorrect, as Earnhardt announced that he will be racing with Hendrick Motorsports beginning in 2008.

The purpose of pointing this out, is not so much to get on Stearns for being incorrect, but because I think it gives a nice bit of insight into the process that a lot the media tangles with when reporting information. The competition is very tough out there and the pressure is on to constantly be breaking stories and being the first with information.

In this case, Stearns took a gamble with a source’s information, and it proved to be the wrong move.

ESPN Loves the Patriots

The Media Circus has a number of quick hit items in their weekly column, including a look at the Patriots dominating the ESPN.com homepage last week.

If the national media crowds at mini-camp last week are any indication, the Patriots figure to be the center of a lot of media attention this season. That doesn’t bode well for the New England haters around the country.

To continue the ESPN/Patriots theme, Len Pasquarelli says that Adalius Thomas could be a scary weapon in the hands of Bill Belichick.

Rockies Knuckle Under

With a whole lot going on (and going wrong) around here this morning, I’m going to have to ask you to rely on the (now with its own domain) RedSoxLinks.com page to get your links on last night’s 2-1 Red Sox victory over the Rockies.

We’ll try to have more for you later, but it is already shaping up like one of “those” days.

Shaughnessy Scooped on Knuckle Knock Story

Back on May 9th, in one of his “thoughts” columns, Dan Shaughnessy stated:

I want to learn more about the beefy Fenway cop who always gives the high-fist to Jonathan Papelbon when Pap comes out of the bullpen for the ninth.

Apparently he never followed up on his interest, and Suzanne Smalley wrote the article in the Globe today.

It’s a little over-the-top (“the knuckle knock has captured the imagination of Sox fans from the bleachers to the blogosphere.”) but still a nice read.

Jon Scott on PatriotsInsider.com has a Patriots Q & A with James Lavin – Author of Management Secrets of the New England Patriots about whether the Patriots changed their philosophy this offseason.

Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News has a look at how Randy Moss will fit in with the Patriots.

Christopher L. Gasper and Albert Breer look at whether Laurence Maroney will be able to carry a full load for the Patriots this season.

Gordon Edes has some whoppers in the questions he answers in the latest Red Sox mailbag.

After the NCAA made enemies with bloggers of both the media and fan variety by ejecting a reporter live-blogging during a NCAA baseball playoff, Neil Best reports today that the NY Islanders are welcoming fan bloggers this coming season with a special section and access.

A Golden State Warriors Blog looks at the Sam Smith started rumor of Jason Richardson to the Celtics for the #5 pick.

Joe Haggerty has a piece on Hideki Okajima.

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Tonight

7:00pm, NESN – Rockies @ Red Sox
9:00pm, ABC – Spurs @ Cavs

Sox Prepare for Helton, Rockies

The Red Sox were off last night, and get back into action tonight at home against the Colorado Rockies.

With Todd Helton and the Rockies coming into town, Nick Cafardo revisits the spring training rumors that had the Red Sox exploring a deal for Helton which would’ve involved Mike Lowell, a move many – including Lowell – are glad was never made. Jeff Goldberg has the Sox looking at the bright side after pretty much salvaging what could’ve been a disastrous West coast road trip. Bill Ballou has the Sox eying a rebound after the rough trip.

Jeff Horrigan has a look at the Red Sox bullpen, which was a major question mark heading into camp, but has blossomed into a strength of the team. Steven Krasner asserts that the time has come to move Julio Lugo out of the leadoff spot in favor of Dustin Pedroia. Joe Haggerty has Tim Wakefield making some adjustments to his mechanics in hopes of getting back into form.

Rob Bradford looks at Sox draftee Nick Hagadone through the eyes of scout John Booher. Joe McDonald has Jon Lester no longer doing “rehab” in Pawtucket, he’s pitching for real now. Bob Halloran says that the Red Sox look like a 100-win team, but fans should perhaps hope for 99. Haggerty has a look at Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday.

Gerry Callahan opines that it is just plain stupid not to rip Bonds for cheating when he comes to Fenway with the Giants this weekend. Bob Ryan says that the addition of Roger Clemens to the Yankees adds an element of intrigue to the AL East race. Sarah Green looks at the role of the stopper not being just a young man’s game these days. Mike Giardi is convinced he’ll get to see a Red Sox no-hitter someday.

Horrigan’s notebook has Jon Lester being optioned to Pawtucket, where the “chains” are now off and he is free to pitch without limitations. Cafardo’s notebook has more on Lester remaining in Pawtucket for the time being.

Celtics
Shira Springer has the Celtics putting Joakim Noah and Brandan Wright through the paces in a predraft workout at their facility yesterday afternoon. Mark Murphy notes that the Celtics learned for sure that Noah isn’t the quiet type yesterday. Desmond Conner says that whether the Celtics keep the 5th pick or trade it away, they’re going to add a big piece that will help their team. Murphy’s notebook has Wright choosing to work out on his own yesterday, not going up against Noah in the drills and workouts.

Peter May says that the NBA finals are essentially over.

Other
Michael Felger claims that if you want to get excited about Randy Moss on the Patriots, don’t watch him practice. John Tomase profiles Patriots Hall of Fame finalist Ben Coates.

Bill Reynolds says that the NHL is now the tree that fell in the empty forest.

Joe Sullivan ranks the 21st century sports movies.

John Powers looks at former Revolution star Clint Dempsey returning to Gillette with the US Team. Mike Biglin has more on Dempsey.

Sopranos-Free Zone

We’ll try to keep this a Sopranos-free zone here today, though I can’t guarantee that the content of the links won’t have references to last night’s show (which was a huge topic on Boston sports radio all day today.) on HBO.

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ESPN continued to add to its stable of web sites by announcing today that they had acquired Cricket supersite Cricinfo from The Wisden Group.

The ESPN release notes that “Cricket lends itself perfectly to online coverage: the length of matches and the statistics-rich nature of the game combine to drive high global usage and build loyalty.”

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Throughout July, SportsCenter will air “Who’s Now,” a daily series in which fans and ESPN.com users will help SportsCenter determine the “Ultimate Sports Star” by considering both on-field success and off-field prominence.

Thirty-two active athletes, selected by ESPN Research based on fan nominations, will face-off in a bracket-like format to become SportsCenter’s “Who’s Now” athlete. June’s nominating process to select the final 32, and July’s daily single-elimination results, will be based on criteria including individual performance and team success, as well as marketability, endorsements, popularity and celebrity status.

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Eric Wilbur has Manny Ramirez on camera talking to NESN’s Tina Cervasio about his hairstylist. Wilbur also examines just how dreadful Julio Lugo has been in the leadoff spot. (David Scott also has commentary on the Manny segment.)

Shira Springer reports on the Celtics workouts of Florida forward Joakim Noah and North Carolina forward Brandan Wright.

Peter King has a lot of Patriots mini-camp stuff in his Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Jerry Magee says that new surroundings won’t change Randy Moss’ ‘divisive influence.’

USA Today lists the Red Sox 2004 World Series victory as the biggest sports story of the last 25 years.

Chad Finn checks in with his national Nine Innings column for FoxSports.

He also has his Touching All the Bases edition.

Mark Craig in the Minneapolis Star Tribune has the heart breaking story of 34-year-old former Vikings free safety Orlando Thomas, who is in the advanced stages of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Rick Bozich has the story of a newspaper sports reporter being ejected from a college baseball game for blogging during the game for what the NCAA alleged was a violation of its policies prohibiting live Internet updates from its championship events.

Bill Simmons had a marathon chat on ESPN.com this afternoon. (Lots of Sopranos, but also some Celtics and Red Sox.)

Roger Brown of the Northern Ohio-based News-Herald goes after Simmons.

Kevin Hench makes the accusation that Roger Clemens must’ve used something to fuel his late career revival.

Richard Sandomir looks at the sports media being moved further and further from the action, in favor of luxury boxes.

Bob Raismann says that WFAN should just bring back Don Imus.

Here are the latest ESPN MLB Player Ratings. Ortiz ranks 6th, Youkilis 12.

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Tonight

7:00pm, ESPN – White Sox @ Phillies
7:00pm, NESN – Ottawa @ Pawtucket
10:00pm, ESPN2 – AFL – Los Angeles Avengers @ Arizona Rattlers

Red Sox Can’t Get It Going Against Johnson

The Red Sox finished off their first West coast road trip of this month with a 5-1 loss to Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The loss gave them a 3-4 record on the trip through Oakland and Arizona.

Jeff Horrigan looks at Daisuke Matsuzaka once again coming out on the short end of the stick against a dominant pitching performance by the opposition. Gordon Edes looks at a bad throw from Mike Timlin costing the Red Sox dearly in the defeat. Steven Krasner has Timlin’s throwing error dooming the Red Sox in their finale with the Diamondbacks. Jeff Goldberg notes that Randy Johnson looked like the pitcher the Red Sox expected to see the last two seasons with the Yankees.

Nick Cafardo has a look at Randy Johnson, who is back to his dominant self with the Diamondbacks, and on a mission to reach 300 wins – a goal only 16 victories away. Rob Bradford has more on Johnson’s reemergence back in the National League. Krasner writes that Mike Lowell is always fully prepared for whatever might be asked of him. Alex Speier looks at the Sox righting the ship after a rough first three games in Oakland. Bradford has a look at Mike Timlin losing his grip on the ball and throwing it over Dustin Pedroia’s head into center field, giving the Diamondbacks three unearned runs. Bradford also has Kevin Youkilis ripping the schedule that had the Sox flying West after a night game last Sunday, without an off day the entire week.

Joe McDonald has Kason Gabbard doing exactly what the Red Sox asked of their minor league pitchers in spring training – being consistent. Horrigan has the Red Sox giving Jon Lester plenty of time to ensure that he is ready to return strong to the major league rotation. McDonald also has Brandon Moss showing steady improvement at Pawtucket.

Horrigan’s notebook reveals Julian Tavarez’s secret treatment for finger blisters. Edes’ notebook has Mike Lowell picking up another error, which places his standing as baseball’s all time leader in fielding percentage by a third baseman in jeopardy. Krasner’s notebook observes that there will be room to second-guess Terry Francona’s decisions in yesterday’s game. Goldberg’s notebook has Matsuzaka finding Johnson impossible to hit against.

Patriots
John Tomase has the Patriots preparing for life without Asante Samuel, as Chad Scott, Randall Gay and others work to fill the starting cornerback position until Samuel’s situation is resolved. Eric McHugh says that the Patriots can live without Asante. Jim Donaldson says that Stanley Morgan should win election to the Patriots Hall of Fame by a landslide.

Celtics/NBA
Steve Bulpett says that there can be no more excuses for the Celtics next season, it has to be playoffs or bust. Peter May looks at the Spurs holding off the Cavs in game 2 of the NBA Finals. May’s notebook has P.J. Carlesimo hoping for another shot at an NBA head coaching job.

June 2007 Boston Sports Review

Here’s a look at the June 2007 issue of Boston Sports Review.

In the Bit and Pieces section that leads off the magazine, we’re treated to an Ex-Files feature from Mike Scandura on former Red Sox first baseman Dave Stapleton, who has some interesting things to say about not being put in for Bill Buckner in that infamous 1986 World Series game 6.

Bill Keefe has a Q&A with soccer standout Kristine Lilly. David Scott looks at the Metro’s GameDay magazine distributed around Fenway park on days the Red Sox play home games. John Molori has a Q&A with NESN’s Tom Caron.

BSR_June_07.jpg

Albert Breer has the cover story with a feature on new Patriots receiver Randy Moss. Breer looks into Moss’ background to find out what kind of person he really is. He uncovers a player who won in high school, won in college, won for the first five years in the pros, but who got frustrated in the losing situations of the last several years and allowed his mind to wander. Breer also has a sidebar on Patriots first round draft pick Brandon Meriweather.

Bob Halloran says Boston fans should prepare for back-to-back parades this fall and winter.

Alex Speier looks at new Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo and specifically the energy that he brings to the Red Sox, both in the field and at the top of the lineup. Lugo hopes to be viewed in Boston as Orlando Cabrera is, hoping that his passion for the game will be a good match for the passion of the Boston fans. Speier also has a sidebar article on Julian Tavarez, and his quest to communicate with all his teammates, his latest target being Daisuke Matsuzaka as he attempts to learn Japanese and encourage Dice-K to speak English.

Ian Browne has a piece on Tim Wakefield, who vows to keep in the best shape possible so that he can pitch as long as he wants without his body betraying him. Mike Scandura looks at PawSox pitcher Devern Hansack and his long journey back to professional baseball in America. David Laurila has a quick Q&A with Lancaster righthander Justin Masterson.

Lenny Megliola has a look at Celtics legend Robert Parish, who really wants to get back into the game as a coach, but finds himself frustrated at the lack of opportunities.

Matt Kalman profiles Bruins prospect David Krejci, who one veteran compares to Adam Oates. Krejci is among a group of young Bruins that includes Mark Stuart, Matt Lashoff and Petr Kalus who give the Bruins hope for the future.

Mike Biglin checks in with Revolution midfielder/forward Khano Smith. Mark Schmiedel reports on some of the young racers in the NASCAR Busch East Series.

Dave Irons looks at a number of major golf resorts in New England’s North country.

David Scott recalls a 1999 interview he did with Randy Moss for Sport magazine, where he describes the receiver as ‘both immature and wise in alternating doses.”