Fast Friday

I’ll be back later with a look at the national media columns, but here’s just a couple items to keep you busy until then.

David Scott has more on new Globe Celtics writer Marc Spears, who seems thrilled to be here in Boston with everything that is going on in the world of sports.

Scott over at Patriots Daily has a few things he’s going to be thinking about in anticipation of tonight’s third preseason game for the Patriots.

Reggie Miller is not walking through that door, folks.

The Red Sox were rained out in Chicago and will play a doubleheader today. Scan the latest headlines over at RedSoxLinks.com.

Where’s Helmet-Gate?

I’m rather surprised that no enterprising media person has grabbed onto Albert Breer‘s short item today about the Giants helmet at Patriots practice yesterday and presented it as evidence that Bill Belichick fully intends to bolt for the Giants at the end of this season.

And sadly, I’m only half joking. I’d think someone would latch onto the notion if only for the off chance that Belichick did end up leaving, they could point to how astute and ahead of the game they were way back in August. If he doesn’t leave, nobody will remember anyway.They could go a step further and say that Belichick had the helmet there for Patriots players he was planning on trying to take with him to try on.

OK, that’s stretching things a bit. But it’s not too far off from some of the wild speculation that takes place around here. Butch Stearns, are you reading? I just handed you your 10:00pm tease…

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Eric Wilbur compares the USA Today story on Red Sox Nation with the one by Bryan Marquard on the front cover of today’s Boston Globe.

Peter Gammons had a chat on Boston.com today.

Jon Heyman says that Curt Schilling is a better pitcher than he is an agent.

Tom Curran has Pete Carroll saying that JaMarcus Russell is paying a stiff price for holding out. He also mentions last week’s Drew Bledsoe quotes towards the end.

Mike Celizic thinks that Reggie Miller is “just plain nuts” to be thinking about coming out of retirement to join the Celtics.

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Tonight
8:00pm, NESN – Red Sox @ White Sox
8:00pm, FOX – NFL Preseason – Jaguars @ Packers

Offense Lets Daisuke Down

The Red Sox took a step back last night, unable to plate more than a single run against the Devil Rays, despite stranding 14 runners last night in a 2-1 loss which dropped their AL East lead back to five games.

Jeff Horrigan has Daisuke Matsuzaka the victim of no support last night, as he only gave up 2 hits in six innings while striking out eight. Gordon Edes has more on a frustrating night for Matsuzaka and the Red Sox. Steven Krasner says that the Red Sox have no one to blame but themselves for last night’s loss. Jeff Goldberg notes that Matsuzaka has taken the loss all three times the Devil Rays have beaten the Red Sox this season. Bill Ballou says that this isn’t what the Red Sox expected when they shelled out $100 million for Matsuzaka.

Nick Cafardo has Eric Gagné confident that he is going to be able to contribute to the Red Sox before the season is over. Rob Bradford examines which spots in the batting order have done the most damage against Matsuzaka and receives some interesting results. Jon Couture looks at four teams that figure to be tough in the postseason. Joe Haggerty makes Dustin Pedroia’s case for rookie of the year. Bradford also talks to Don Zimmer about how the specter of ’78 still hangs over him. Goldberg looks at a 1918 World Series ticket and program being sold at auction to benefit charity. Last Friday marked the end of an era in Boston – Say It Ain’t So, Wily Mo. Bradford has a look at Mike Lowell’s specially padded batting glove, which may have saved him from injury the other night.

Paul White in USA Today examines how Red Sox Nation has become the new kings of the road. Cafardo looks at the Rangers scoring 30 runs last night in the first game of a doubleheader, with former Sox David Murphy, Kason Gabbard and Ramon (not Javier) Vazquez all playing large role.

Horrigan’s notebook says that we may see more of Jonathan Papelbon down the stretch this season. Edes’ notebook has more on how the Red Sox closer will be used for the last six weeks of the season. Krasner’s notebook has Dustin Pedroia and Eric Hinske each having to leave the game last night with injuries. Goldberg’s notebook has more on the injuries to the duo. Ballou’s notebook has Pedroia going for X-rays after being hit by a pitch on the elbow.

Patriots
Mike Reiss notes how Rodney Harrison showed Friday night that he still has the range needed to play safety in addition to the pop. Mark Murphy has Harrison working hard and feeling better than he has in a while. Mark Farinella has Harrison back in midseason form for the Patriots. Albert Breer has a look at Mike Vrabel, who seems to shine at any role he is placed in. David Brown looks at the role Sammy Morris is being trained for with the Patriots.

Robert Lee has the Patriots defense always striving to get better. Ian M. Clark has Heath Evans being appreciative to the Patriots for giving him another chance in his career. Murphy has Randall Gay staying right in the mix for the starting cornerback role. David Heuschkel has Randy Moss strolling through the Patriots locker room. Jennifer Toland looks at the competition at the wide receiver spot.

Christopher Price says that the starters will see plenty of time against the Panthers this Friday night. Breer has Tom Brady welcoming a baby boy yesterday. Breer also looks at why there was a New York Giants helmet at practice yesterday. Jackie MacMullan has Robert Kraft sympathetic to the plight of Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Chris Kennedy says that the offensive line needs to come together for the Patriots.

Farinella’s notebook has Bill Belichick talking about the preparation for the season that begins as soon as the schedule comes out in April. Reiss’ notebook has a look at Danny Baugher being the last man standing in the punting competition. Shalise Manza Young’s notebook has more on Danny Baugher winning the punting job. Toland’s notebook has more on Brady becoming a father. Breer’s notebook looks at the battle at right tackle for the Patriots.

Bill Doyle talks to Evan Brunell, founder of the sports blog network Most Valuable Network.

Spears In, Springer Out on Celtics Beat

Afternoons have been lonely here recently, I know. I’ll try to get back on a regular schedule here, I promise.

David Scott has the news of the Globe hiring Denver Post NBA writer Marc Spears and adding him to their Celtics coverage. Scott reports that Shira Springer will be taken off the beat and moved to feature work.

With the Celtics back among the ranks of the contenders, the Globe is wisely trying to shore up its hoops coverage. I’m a little confused by the move of Springer, (unless she wanted to get off of beat work) as Scott says that Peter May will not be impacted by the move. In my book, Springer has come along nicely in the beat writer role, and May is the one that needs to be moved off the Celtics coverage. But sports editor Joe Sullivan has done a pretty good job overhauling the sports department during his tenure, so we’ll see how things shake out.

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The Red Sox are featured in a Tom Verducci article in this week’s Sports Illustrated, which looks at how the team is keeping loose despite some tough losses recently and with the hard charging Yankees coming up fast behind them. Theo Epstein’s emphasis on the minor league system and the results that have been seen thus far are examined, with particular attention being paid to rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The following story is told about Pedroia:

In 2002 Pedroia, whose parents own several tire shops outside Sacramento, had finished his freshman season while on a full ride at Arizona State when he heard the program had no scholarships available for a top junior college pitcher, Ben Thurman. So Pedroia volunteered to give his scholarship money to Thurman.

“I did it because I thought he could help us get to the World Series,” Pedroia says. “I told my parents just after I told the coaches. I knew they had put some money away before I got my scholarship. We lost in the super regionals, but it was definitely worth it.”

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We’ve got another look into the mind of Bill Walsh over at Patriots Daily, as the legendary coach predicts the future…

Tom Curran says that the Patriots are a team fueled by past adversity.

Eric McHugh notes that reserve linebackers Junior Seau and Eric Alexander are about as opposite as two pro players can be.

Chad Finn weighs in on Clay Buchholz, J.D. Drew, and Drew Bledsoe among others, in another edition of touching all the bases.

Eric Wilbur would love to see Curt Schilling pitching for the Devil Rays next season.

Kevin Thomas wonders if getting Chris Carter in the Wily Mo Pena trade is a sign that the Red Sox are planning to move on from Mike Lowell at season’s end.

Tony Massarotti has Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb knocking on the door of history.

Here is this week’s edition of Morning Rush from Michael Silver.

Roscoe Nance has Bill Russell talking Celtics and the Donaghy scandal.

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Tonight
7:00pm, NESN – Red Sox @ Devil Rays
7:00pm, ESPN2 – Padres @ Mets

Papelbon On The Ball

The Red Sox managed to put another game in the standings between themselves and the Yankees last night, as they defeated the Devil Rays 8-6 while the Yankees got pounded by the Angels 18-9. This pushes the AL East lead back up to six games.

Jeff Horrigan has the Red Sox bats and bullpen picking up Jon Lester, who scuffled his way through 5.1 innings of work last night. Gordon Edes has the Rays once again proving to be accommodating to the Red Sox and their quest to win the AL East. Steven Krasner has Jonathan Papelbon putting the wraps on Tampa with his 30th save. Jeff Goldberg has more on Papelbon becoming the fourth pitching in major league history to record 30 saves in his first two seasons. Bill Ballou has the Red Sox playing the ace they held up their sleeve for the first half of the season…a second half full of Devil Rays games.

Rob Bradford looks at Jonathan Papelbon becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to record back-to-back seasons of 30 saves or more. He notes that a lot has changed for the closer since last season. Nick Cafardo is delighted over the name of Papelbon’s new pitch, which the closer has named the “slutter.” Alex Speier looks at the power outage that has impacted not just the Red Sox, but many teams around baseball.

Sarah Green urges the Red Sox to re-sign Mike Lowell. Bradford also has Curt Schilling mulling his possible free agent future this fall, which could include the Devil Rays. Cafardo has a longer piece on Matt Clement, who feels his great about his shoulder, and is excited at the prospect of being able to pitch again. Bradford has a short bit on the Red Sox bullpen calling themselves The Pirates of the Caribbean.

Horrigans notebook has Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan saying that Joel Pineiro struggled with the Red Sox because he was tipping his pitches, a notion that Sox pitching coach John Farrell disagrees with. Edes’s notebook more on Schilling saying that he might like to pitch for the Devil Rays next season. Krasner’s notebook has Lester getting the victory, but not feeling like a winner. Goldberg’s notebook looks at the fantasy football league that the Red Sox players participate in, which they say strengthens the team bonds. Ballou’s notebook has more on Papelbon’s achievement in joining the 30-30 club.

Patriots
Laurence Maroney was the center of attention yesterday, as the Patriots second-year running back shed his red jersey, meaning he was ready to handle contract. Albert Breer has Maroney ready to test out his offseason work with some reps this Friday night against the Panthers. Steve Buckley loves that Maroney has the gift of gab, because he’s going to be filling up the airwaves (and writer’s notebooks) for years to come. Never mind if he can play or not, that’s not even mentioned. Dan Shaughnessy has a better article on Maroney, as he looks at the running back’s style on the field, and how he is getting ready to see live action this week. Robert Lee has Maroney just wanting to get on the field and play football. David Heuschkel has Maroney looking forward to the increased workload this season. Rich Garven notes that Maroney has embraced the educational part of the game. Dan Pires has Maroney’s return to contact one of many encouraging signs around the Patriots. Mark Farinella has Maroney feeling much more prepared for his second NFL season. Jeff Howe also looks at Maroney getting ready to shoulder the running load for the Patriots.

Mike Reiss examines the growth of safety James Sanders, who has made a place for himself on the team and has earned the praise of coach Bill Belichick. Buckley notes that Patriots players don’t have much to say about Michael Vick, and are probably under mandate from Bill Belichick not to talk about the situation.

Breer’s notebook has Chad Jackson feeling good, and appearing to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee surgery. The Globe notebook has Vince Wilfork working on his pass rush, and has a correction on Ty Warren’s new deal, which apparently runs through 2013, not 2011 as previously thought. The Projo notebook claims that “many Patriots fans started to lose confidence in Stephen Gostkowski” after a rough week of practice last week and a missed kick and poor kickoff in the Titans game. Really? I think that’s overstating things just a tad. Garven’s notebook has Junior Seau feeling lucky to still be able to play football again. Farinella’s notebook has the Patriots players remaining silent on the Michael Vick plea.

David Scott looks at an odd Dennis and Callahan ad in the Herald yesterday. Jessica Heslam offers a brief update on the lockout, now in its second week.

Sox, Wake, Cash In

It seemed like a certain pitcher’s duel for sure…Tim Wakefield and his 18-2 career record against the Devil Rays against Scot Kazmir, who has dominated the Red Sox like not pitcher since the 1950′s. Wakefield help up his end of the bargain, pitching 7 shutout innings, while the Sox got to Kazmir early, resulting in a 6-0 win for Boston to start a long road trip.

Jeff Horrigan has Wakefield dominating, even without his security blanket out there behind the plate. Gordon Edes has catcher Kevin Cash making it through his outing with Wakefield unscathed by keeping his cool. Steven Krasner looks at Cash shaking off a rough beginning to the night and keeping his focus. Jeff Goldberg has Cash finally solving Wakefield, though the knuckleball remained a mystery to the Rays. Bill Ballou has more on Wakefield’s mastery over Tampa.

Rob Bradford has the Red Sox using fantasy football as a means to keep loose while the AL East race tightens up. Nick Cafardo loves contract issues, and weighs in today on Mike Lowell’s situation. The third baseman would love to stay here in Boston, and has become an important figure in the clubhouse, but the team has not approached him about a new contract. Garry Brown says that it is not time to panic over the Red Sox.

Alex Speier has Mike Timlin closing in on career appearance number 1000. Bradford has Dustin Pedroia‘s candidacy for rookie of the year heating up. Horrigan has Alex Cora assisting young players in his native Puerto Rico with a workout facility after the winter league there was recently shut down. Bradford reports on a summer of fun coming to an end for Mike Timlin‘s son, who had to go back to school yesterday.

Wily Mo Pena, left a message for the fans of Boston after his trade to the Nationals last week.

Horrigan’s notebook has time working against Matt Clement’s goal of pitching in the majors this season. Edes notebook has a look at J.D. Drew’s lack of production in the five spot, with his homerless streak reaching 46 games. Krasner’s notebook has Wakefield continuing his domination of the Devil Rays, improving to 19-2 all time. Goldberg’s notebook has the Red Sox able to strike early against Scott Kazmir. Ballou’s notebook has Cash making a worthy debut with the knuckleball.

Patriots
Christopher Price has his debut “Inside Gillette” column for Patriots Daily, looking at the balancing act that the preseason is, between getting game reps and avoiding injury. He also listing 5 things to watch for this week.

Rich Garven speculates whether Tom Brady might miss the regular season opener to attend the birth of his child. Christopher L. Gasper has Brady trying to keep focused with all that is going on around him, not the least of which is the impending birth of his first child. Karen Guregian has Brady hoping to attend the birth of the child, which would require some time off from the Patriots. Kevin McNamara has Brady ready to fly to L.A. any minute for the birth. Steve Buckley tells us that this is all none of our business….and then writes about it anyway. David Heuschkel has more on Brady being ready to take some family time.

Mike Reiss has Vinny Testaverde pumped up to start his 21st NFL season. Mark Farinella has more on the veteran QB coming back for another go-round with the Patriots. Buckley has Testaverde saying that he’ll be rooting for the New York Jets when his playing days are over, but that he’s 100% committed to helping the Patriots beat them right now.

Albert Breer has the Patriots needing to deal with pass protection issues pretty quickly. Price has the Patriots offense sputtering after the first two preseason games. Breer also has Stephen Gostkowski having some struggles this preseason.

The Globe notebook has Laurence Maroney shedding his red jersey, meaning he set to take contact. Guregian’s notebook has more on Maroney being cleared. Robert Lee’s notebook has Testaverde still showing plenty of hunger. Heuschkel’s notebook has Testaverde running his coaches together when talking to the press yesterday. Garven’s notebook has more on Gostkowski trying to get a routine down to calm him as he kicks. Farinella’s notebook has Brady brushing off his rough outing from last Friday night.

Bob Ryan looks at Michael Vick officially heading to the doghouse. Jeff Jacobs notes that Vick was ever-elusive on the field, but not so much in the legal system.

Other

Matt Richardson strings together some random thoughts on the Celtics on the Full Court Press.

Frank Dell’Apa looks at Taylor Twellman polishing his all around game. Mike Biglin has the Revs making it through a tough stretch.

Sox Can Only Split

The Red Sox could only manage a split with the Angels this weekend, as a day after putting up 10 runs on the L.A. pitching staff, they could only manage a single run yesterday in the 3-1 loss at Fenway.

Mark Murphy has the Red Sox finishing up a so-so home stand with the loss to the Angels. Amalie Benjamin has the Sox not showing much fight while going down to the Angels. Joe McDonald has the Red Sox showing some spark defensively, but still scuffling offensively. Dom Amore has a pair of newcomers thrilled to play their first game with the Red Sox, but the rest of the team falling flat. Ron Chimelis has the Red Sox treading water in the standings. Josh Bousquet has the Sox lead shrinking to four games over the Yankees with the loss.

Tony Massarotti says that this Red Sox team has still not been tested yet, so we don’t know what they are. Dan Shaughnessy agrees that we’re approaching the time to make a decision about this team, and he stages a debate between Glass Half Full guy vs. Glass Half Empty guy. Jon Couture also says that we’re not quite sure what we’re looking at here yet, but notes that the team isn’t entering panic mode. Sean McAdam has Eric Gagne finding a little breathing room after a scoreless ninth yesterday. Alex Speier (or is it Allen Lessels?) says that there are still reasons for optimism coming out of this weekend series with the Angels.

Lenny Megliola has Julian Tavarez providing a strong spot start for the Red Sox yesterday. Maureen Mullen has Kevin Cash enjoying his return to the majors after over two years since his last appearance. Massarotti has Eric Gagne making it through a ninth inning appearance without allowing more damage yesterday. Mullen also reports on the Red Sox debut of Bobby Kielty, who won the Fenway crowd over early when he robbed Casey Kotchman of a home run. Daniel Malloy also has a look at Kielty, who reacquainted himself with the Fenway outfield wall early on yesterday.

Murphy’s notebook has Julian Tavarez insisting that hitting Orlando Cabrera was an accident, despite what he had said earlier. The Globe notebook has more on the Tavarez/Cabrera feud. Amore’s notebook has Cash getting ready for his first start with Tim Wakefield. Bousquet’s notebook has more on Cash getting set to catch Wakefield tonight in Tampa. Couture’s notebook has Eric Gagne making it through the ninth inning without further damage yesterday.

Patriots
Michael Felger says that the offense has a long ways to go before it can live up its offseason hype. Mike Reiss has a look at punter Danny Baugher, who has a long family line at the position. Jennifer Toland and Christopher Price each examine the progress made by second year defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith, who has earned some praise by coach Bill Belichick.

John Tomase notes that the defense is well ahead of the offense at this point, as was shown in the first half Friday night. Shalise Manza Young looks at the uphill road facing Kelvin Kight in his battle for a roster spot. Ian M. Clark has a Dartmouth grad helping the Titans beat the Patriots on Friday night.

Tomase’s notebook has Le Kevin Smith competing for the backup nose tackle role behind Vince Wilfork. Reiss’ notebook says that Tm Brady paid the price for the offensive line breakdowns on Friday night. Young’s notebook looks at a shaky week for kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Other
The Projo has the first of three excerpts from Bill Reynolds new book: Our Game: The Story of New England Basketball

Frank Dell’Apa has the Revolution scoring a 1-0 win over the Kansas City Wizards last night.

Steve Conroy has a look at B.C. receiver Brandon Robinson, expected to be quarterback Matt Ryan’s big downfield target. Mark Blaudschun has coach Jeff Jagodzinski pleased with his offense’s progress thus far. Conroy’s notebook has more from the coach on the offense.

Dave Doyle has a profile on Ludlow’s Gabriel Gonzaga, who challenges Randy Couture for the UFC heavyweight title in Vegas on Saturday. Ryan Lambert has more on the fight.

Angels and Titans Invade

A shorter entry heading into the weekend this Friday afternoon as I try to recover from a busy week and get a head start on some deadline work for next week (outside of BSMW).

The Patriots open Gillette stadium for the first time in the 2007 season with a preseason tilt tonight with the Tennessee Titans – a matchup that Titans’ linebacker Keith Bullock has singlehandedly made interesting with his comments about settling a score with Patriots receiver Reche Caldwell.

We’ve got all the coverage plus a Game Day Rear View following the game over on Patriots Daily. We’ll also have the football links on Sunday morning.

The Red Sox are playing a doubleheader with the Angels today, and then have two more games this weekend with the same club. Keep up with all the Red Sox news on RedSoxLinks.com.

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Peter King selects his All Time NFL team. John Hannah, Adam Vinatieri and Bill Belichick (Defensive Coordinator) are those with Patriots connections. Former coach Raymond Berry is also on there, as a receiver.

Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders is Bill Simmons’ guest on The B.S. Report. (If WEEI needs fill in co-hosts, it’s a mystery to me why they haven’t tried Schatz, he’s one of the few “stat guys” with extensive radio experience, and he’s right in the area.)

I have no idea why this article on Curt Schilling by David Armstrong is in Forbes Magazine (free registration required). This is one of the worst articles I’ve read in some time.

Michael Silver, now with Yahoo! Sports (and also a contributor to the WBCN Patriots Pregame Show) has a preview of “The Gameface,” which will appear every Friday during the season.

The Sporting News reviews some gadgets designed to offer you The ultimate NFL viewing experience.

If you missed Sox Appeal Episode 3, Pink Hat Hell has the recap for you.

D&C Options Limited

David Scott puts the wraps on a wild week of speculation, posturing and negotiation over at Entercom/WEEI. He also looks at a number of other media items in this week’s full edition of Scott’s Shots.

In the Herald, Jessica Heslam looks at the move by Entercom and how it impacts the Dennis and Callahan negotiations. Christopher Rowland in the Globe has Julie Kahn saying that this deal had nothing to do with a possible D&C defection. Yeah, right. Why rush to announce it at the letter of intent stage, then?

Susan Bickelhaupt has her sports media column, which doesn’t mention the D&C situation, but she notes that Dan Patrick will be filling in next Thursday and Friday in the WEEI morning show, rather than the whole week.

Patriots
The Patriots Daily staff is all-in with another edition of the Patriots roundtable as we hit the three week mark of camp. Yesterday was a record day in the young history of the site, as the Bledsoe article was picked up by Deadspin, and the ESPN Hashmarks blog, among others.

Mike Reiss and John Tomase report on a new five year, $36 million extension for Ty Warren, locking up the defensive lineman until 2012.

Dan Pires says that rookie Brandon Meriweather is already proving to be a student of the game. Michael Parente has the Patriots unfazed by the tough talk of the Titans. Kevin Manni….err…Dan Shaughnessy, throws around the phrase “consumer fraud” in reference to tonight’s Patriots preseason game. Mark Farinella also looks at tonight’s preseason game. Albert Breer has a piece on Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who is another branch of the Belichick coaching tree.

Get the rest of your Patriots news over at PatriotsLinks.com

Red Sox
Amalie Benjamin has a feature on Clay Buchholz, who makes his major league debut this afternoon against the Angels at Fenway Park. Jeff Horrigan says we shouldn’t read too much into Buchholz’s first outing. Lenny Megliola says that today is a day for the rookies to shine.

Steve Buckley travels to Missouri for a feature on Jack Hamilton, the pitcher who hit Tony Conigliaro 40 years ago.

Get the rest of your Red Sox news at RedSoxLinks.com.

Celtics
Mark Murphy and Shira Springer have Kendrick Perkins talking about his new role with the Celtics, and about the loss of so many friends this offseason.

Entercom Enters Into Partnership With Nassau Broadcasting

Well, that’s one way to do it.

With the threat of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan taking their act to a rumored new regional sports talk network, Entercom has acted quickly by actually signing of a letter of intent for eleven Nassau Broadcasting stations to carry the programming content of Entercom Boston’s WEEI Sports Radio.

David Scott has the details and the announcement from Entercom Boston.