Weekend Watch – NHIS in the Spotlight

New Hampshire International Speedway is the center of the NASCAR world this weekend with the LENOX Industrial Tools 300 scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1:00pm (TNT). The race will also see the debut of the #99 Red Sox car of Roush Fenway Racing. (There’s plenty more on the weekend at NHIS below.)

Both NBA & NHL free agency periods kick off this weekend…sort of. The NBA allows teams to negotiate with free agents, but cannot actually sign them until July 10th because of the Free Agency Moratorium when “the NBA and NBPA conducts an audit that assists in the determination of the new Salary Cap figure for the following season.” The NHL does not have that moratorium, and can announce deals immediately. Last year the Bruins made a huge splash on July 1st with the signing of Zdeno Chara.

Keep up with any news on the two winter teams at Celticslinks.com and Bruinslinks.com.

The Red Sox return to Fenway Park this weekend after two trips to the West coast in the month of June and badly in need of some home cooking. The Texas Rangers provide the opposition this weekend as they invade Fenway for a four game series. Keep up with the action at RedSoxLinks.com.

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The Hartford Courant redesigned their web page this week, and at the same time made some rather unfortunate changes and cuts.

They will no longer be doing their own coverage of the New York Yankees, but instead will be running the stories that appear in New York Newsday. Since both papers are owned by the Tribune company, it was decided to save the money and not run separate coverage of the team. Reader Representative Karen Hunter explains in her blog:

Another reader called this morning to find out if The Courant had cut staff again and why AP stories were being used to report on the Yankees and Red Sox. I offered him the explanation Sports Editor Jeff Otterbein has provided: "Newsday is now covering the Yankees games stories. We have decided, since we also are a Tribune newspaper, to not duplicate efforts, thus freeing Dom [Amore] up to do many other types of stories in New York and Connecticut.”

That did not sit well with the gentleman. We discussed why it mattered whether a Newsday story or a Courant reporter covered the game as long as there was a story in the newspaper. He explained, "That is the one thing I really liked about your paper. The New Haven Register dropped its beat writers years ago and I didn't like that. That's why I started with The Courant. It's more personal. The beat writer is going to know a lot more inside information that I care about. I think it makes a difference. If you're going to do this with the NFL too, well, this is going to make me think very hard about canceling my subscription. I know it's a money thing, but sometimes you have to spend money for quality."

BSMW reader (And Red Sox fan) Tim chimes in:

But this is horrible news. The Courant has decided to run NY Newsday Yankee stories instead of having their own beat writer…removing Dom Amore, who I believe is 2nd in seniority when it comes to Yankee beat writers. I’ve long enjoyed his work; because even though he is an actual Yankee fan, he’s probably the best and most fair beat writer they have.

Later in the blog, Representative Hunter stated that “a Courant reporter would still be covering some of the Red Sox games.” (Emphasis mine)

Followup: I’m told that the Courant plans to cover all remaining Red Sox games this season, except for a 6 game West Coast road trip in August.

Here is a follow up in the Sunday Courant on dropping the Yankees coverage.

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Bill Simmons has his annual NBA draft diary column.

Chris Mannix lists the Celtics as the top winners of draft night.

Charley Rosen says the Ray Allen trade is a steal for the Celtics.

Jack McCallum loves the deal for the Celtics.

King Kaufman, not so much.

Bill Barnwell tries to figure out what Patriots fans might be able to expect in terms of production from Wes Welker this season.

Pete Prisco examines the Hall of Fame chances of 45 current NFL stars. Brady, Bruschi, Harrison, Moss and Seymour (along with Adam Vinatieri) are all discussed.

Jesse Noyes looks at the Patriots “international marketing game plan, which stresses going long in China.”

Vic Carucci lists the Patriots among his most improved teams this offseason.

Is Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs interested in buying the Buffalo Bills?

Chad Finn checks in with Nine Innings for FoxSports.

Tom Curran notes that Roger Clemens’ return to the Yankees has not gone as planned.

Tony Massarotti picks the NL All Star team.

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Sports Media Columns From Around the Country

New England
Susan Bickelhaupt has a number of media notes this week, including a look at the new ABC, ESPN and TNT television contract with the NBA. Bill Doyle in his “Tuning In” column this week, has a look at NESN’s Jayme Parker, who has been “flashing” listeners at WEEI. Tom King talks to Exeter, NH’s Jason Kosow, who pitches for the Nashua Pride, and played the role of Catfish Hunter in ESPN’s upcoming mini-series The Bronx is Burning.

New York
Phil Mushnick wonders if the Chris Benoit tragedy will finally wake up the media to the fact that Vince McMahon has been operating a death mill the past 25 years. Richard Sandomir notes that Brooklyn still has the Dodger blues, which will be stoked with HBO’s upcoming two-part documentary, Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush, which will be broadcast July 11. Bob Raissman wonders what will happen to the YES ratings numbers if the Yankees continue to stumble along. Neil Best might be on vacation this week, but he just keeps filling his blog with entries.

More East Coast
Leonard Shapiro has Sam Huff coming back for a 35th season of analyzing Redskins games. Michael Hiestand has David Stern talking about television of the future in discussing the NBA’s new broadcast deal with ABC, ESPN and TNT. Laura Nachman has Jimmy Kimmel promising not to hold back at the ESPY’s, and she also has some awards you won’t see on the broadcast. Bob Smizik has FSN Pittsburgh saying that they won’t show a proposed fan walkout of Saturday’s Pirates game. Jim Williams has Cal Ripken Jr expressing some confidence for the Orioles future in a TBS conference call. Williams also has more on the new NBA TV deal in his Watch This! blog. Chris Zelkovich has 18 year CFL vet Danny McManus heading to the broadcast booth.

South
Dave Darling talks to Chris “Mad Dog” Russo about his Orlando roots as part of a look at WFAN’s 20th anniversary. David Barron has a look at Calvin Murphy returning to the Houston airwaves. Barry Jackson has 790 The Ticket moving Sid Rosenberg to mornings to replace Joe Rose, who is expected to join WQAM. He also has former Miami coach Larry Coker heading to ESPNU as an analyst. Barry Horn has Fran Fraschilla talking about the draft.

Midwest
Judd Zulgad has a look at how important sourcing is on a hot topic story like the Kevin Garnett trade rumors, where several outlets might be reporting many different things. Teddy Greenstein has an update on the drama surrounding WMVP-AM’s franchise show, “Mac, Jurko & Harry.” Dan Caesar has Tim McKernan, who just left KFNS and his morning show “The Morning Grind,” weighing an offer from SportsNet New York. Bob Wolfley has ESPN’s Andy Katz getting it right with his call of Yi Jianlian being drafted by Milwaukee.

West Coast
Tom Hoffarth has a good look at WFAN marking their 20th anniversary of becoming the first radio station to go to an all-sports format. He also expands on the story even more in his blog, talking to WFAN’s Steve Somers for his thoughts on the anniversary. Jim Carlisle has Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken saying that they have no problem with putting Barry Bonds on the NL All Star team. Carlisle’s notebook looks at some changes at Wimbledon. John Maffei looks at a few announcing gigs being filled in the San Diego market.

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From TNT on this weekend’s coverage in New Hampshire:

This Sunday (July 1), TNT will provide exclusive coverage of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Racing from the New Hampshire Intl. Speedway with prerace coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET, leading up to the green flag at 2:30 p.m. ET. The network’s pre-race coverage includes analyst Kyle Petty visiting the Victory Junction Gang Camp, which is located in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, and was created in memory of his son Adam. The racing-themed camp serves children with life threatening illnesses and health issues to give them a magical experience full of adventures while maintaining a medically-safe environment. Petty will discuss the camp and its impact on the many children and families that have attended it in the three years since it was founded by he and his wife Pattie.

Also on Sunday, TNT’s Pride of NASCAR series continues with a feature on ‘Gentleman Ned Jarrett,’ a two-time NASCAR Champion with 239 career wins. TNT’s Bill Weber spent a day walking the links with Jarrett as he reminisced about his illustrious career over a round of golf. Topics discussed included Jarrett’s “early” retirement from racing at age 34 in 1966, his second career as a pioneering NASCAR broadcaster, his family (including 1999 Cup Champion son, Dale Jarrett) and his youth in rural North Carolina. Jarrett also recounted his most memorable moment in racing – calling the 1993 Daytona 500 which was won by his son. Additional Pride of NASCAR pieces featuring legends David Pearson, Benny Parsons and Junior Johnson are available to view on TNT Inside Angle on NASCAR.COM and include additional excerpts from the interviews that have not been televised.

Multi-platinum selling rock band Hinder will set the stage on Sunday as they perform a live concert at the race track in Loudon, and TNT will be on hand to air a portion of the concert prior to race. Hinder will play songs from their Extreme Behavior album, including the hits Lips of an Angel and Better than Me as well as their remake of the rock classic Born to Be Wild, which serves as the 2007 NASCAR on TNT Summer Series anthem.

Pre-race coverage will also include a segment featuring NASCAR wives, girlfriends and moms who will dish the dirt on the NASCAR men in their lives, including wives Shana Mayfield (husband is driver Jeremy Mayfield), Kim Wallace (husband is driver Kenny Wallace), Michelle Gilliland (husband is driver David Gilliland), the girlfriend of Kyle Busch, Erica Dewey, and Ryan Newman’s mother. The network will also air footage from Ralph Sheheen’s night with the drivers from Roush Racing as they headed to Fenway Park for a Boston Red Sox game. In the last year, Roush Racing and the Fenway Sports Group formed Roush Fenway Racing.

TNT’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Racing from New Hampshire begins at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR on TNT Live! and Allstate Countdown to Green featuring TNT announcers Marc Fein (host), Bill Weber (host and play-by-play announcer), Kyle Petty (analyst), Wally Dallenbach (analyst) and Larry McReynolds (analyst/reporter). The pit reporting crew of Marty Snider, Matt Yocum, Ralph Sheheen and Lindsay Czarniak will check in throughout pre-race coverage and during the race which revs up at 2:30 p.m. ET.

From ESPN on this weekend’s coverage in New Hampshire:

ESPN on ABC’s NASCAR Countdown will have a live preview at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday of the NASCAR Busch Series Camping World 200 presented by RV.com at New Hampshire International Speedway. Brent Musburger will host NASCAR Countdown from the ESPN Pit Studio, while two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Chevy Cutaway Car. Dale Jarrett, one of the founding drivers of the NASCAR Busch Series and the 1999 NASCAR Cup Series champion, will work in the ESPN booth as analyst for the telecast, joined by two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dr. Jerry Punch will handle play-by-play.

NASCAR Countdown will include segments from pit reporters Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro as the NASCAR Busch Series makes its only appearance of 2007 at the 1.058-mile New England oval.

NASCAR Countdown will originate from the ESPN Pit Studio at New Hampshire International Speedway as it sets the stage for ESPN2’s coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series race Saturday. Highlights include:

Juan Pablo Montoya: Has he arrived?
NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya won his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Race at Sonoma on June 24 – his second road course win of the season after taking the checkered flag in the NASCAR Busch Series race in March in Mexico City. ESPN pit reporter Mike Massaro will report on Montoya’s accomplishments this year and his return to the NASCAR Busch Series after a three-week break. Massaro will ask the questions, “What do these wins mean?” and “Has he ‘officially arrived’ or does he still need an ‘oval win’ to show he will be a NASCAR force?”

Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin’s win at Milwaukee
Last week’s NASCAR Busch Series come-from-behind win for the No. 20 car officially was designated as Aric Almirola’s first NASCAR Busch Series win in the record books, but NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin was behind the wheel at the finish. ESPN’s Allen Bestwick will report on Hamlin’s “unofficial win” in Milwaukee when he arrived late by helicopter to replace Almirola. Hamlin managed to come from a lap down to bring the No. 20 car to victory lane. The feature will include thoughts from Almirola on being pulled from the car even after leading a majority of the race to that point.

NASCAR driver Jon Wood Returns to Racing at Daytona
ESPN pit reporter Dave Burns will have the first sit-down interview with NASCAR Busch Series driver Jon Wood, son of legendary owner Ed Wood, who is set to return to the No. 47 car next Friday at Daytona. Wood has been absent from the NASCAR Busch Series for more than a month, after dealing with a misdiagnosis for ADD.

Companion Weekend: NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Races at New Hampshire
After three straight weeks of stand-alone NASCAR Busch Series racing, the series rejoins the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup at New Hampshire International Speedway. NASCAR Countdown reporters and analysts will report on the chances for a win for NASCAR Busch Series regulars Stephen Leicht, Steven Wallace, Jason Leffler, Marcos Ambrose and others while many of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers will pull double duty at the track, including NEXTEL Cup driver Tony Stewart, who had a win at New Hampshire in 2005.

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