Most wonderful time of the year

Afternoon links provided by RJ. E-mail him at [email protected]

OK, I know the headline is usually something people starting singing in late November, but you gotta admit Boston has not felt this much pride in its sports teams since … well, never!

We’ll start with the obvious. The Red Sox find themselves just two wins away from their second World Series title in the last four years. Pitcher Josh Beckett is without a doubt the best in the game and is showing the rest of the baseball world he kicks into another gear come playoff time. Curt Schilling is trying to make it hard for Theo and Co. to let him walk away after another strong outing a in Game 2. Jonathan “Dance Fever” Papelbon looks like he’s stronger now than at any point of the regular season. And best of all, the Sox offense isn’t relying on Big Papi or Manny. I predicted a Sox win in six, but now I think Fenway is closed for good in ’07.

On the gridiron, Tom Brady and the Patriots seem more focused, determined and talented than in any of their three Super Bowl-winning seasons. They’re on track to set the mark for most points scored in a season, Brady could demolish Peyton Manning’s TD mark and an undefeated season isn’t out of the question.

Staying on the gridiron, two-thumbs up for BC and QB Matt Ryan for a thrilling comeback against Virginia Tech, even if only a handful of people watched since it was up against the Sox and Rocks. Ryan could join Doug Flutie as Heismann winners and a BCS championship berth is in BC’s hands.
Over to the rink, it was nice to see Bruins captain Zdeno Chara drop the gloves and drop an opponent during their win over a 3-1 win over the Blackhawks. Photo of the year, in case you missed it, was of two guys sitting in the Garden, all alone in one section. Just classic. Bruins are 6-3 on the young season and hoping draw the fans in once baseball is over.

It’s just crazy being a Boston fan these days, and I like it that way!

On to the links:

Boston Globe

Red Sox

Bob Ryan says the decision whether to play David Ortiz is trickier this year than in ’04. Dan Shaughnessy discusses how a new legion of Red Sox fans don’t understand the team’s past misery. Jackie MacMullan says the Sox success is overshadowing everything else sports-related in Boston. Gordon Edes writes that Daisuke Matsuzaka has eyed the World Series trophy since his first meeting with the Red Sox brass. Amalie Benjamin says J.D. Drew’s regular-season struggles have become a distant memory. Colin Nickerson writes the thin air of Coors Field may give the Sox problems.

Patriots

Christopher L. Gasper says lineman Nick Kaczur’s play has helped set the tone for the offense. Gasper also says cornerback Asante Samuel is still playing at the same level he was at last year.

Boston Herald

Red Sox

Jeff Horrigan says Dice-K and the Sox seek a Mile High clubbing. Tony Massarotti writes because Josh Beckett is slated to pitch Game 5, Games 3 and 4 become must wins for the Rockies. Steve Buckley discusses how Dice-K and Jon Lester are ready for their chance to shine on the big stage. Horrigan writes about Terry Francona’s decision to sit Kevin Youkilis for Game 3, and possibly 4 and 5. Rob Bradford says patience at the plate is paying off for the Sox offense. Michael Silverman says playing at Coors Field can be a sobering experience. Alex Speier says Game 3 will be a “family” reunion for Sox pitching coach John Farrell and the Holliday family.

Patriots

Karen Guregian says there’s a spot on the defensive line waiting for Richard Seymour, if he’s ready. Guregian also writes how Donte Stallworth is most dangerous after the catch.

Providence Journal

Red Sox

Daniel Barbarisi writes how Red Sox Nation has migrated West. The ProJo has a nice graphic on Coors Field, with it’s dimensions compared to Fenway. Joe McDonald says Lester’s special season could end on the highest of notes. Sean McAdam says Tim Wakefield is showing what being a good teammate is all about.

Patriots

Rob Lee says cornerback Eddie Jackson is ready to make a name for himself. Lee also writes how three-time Super Bowl winners Bill Belichick and Joe Gibbs are set to clash.

Celtics and Bruins

Click here for all your coverage for the C’s and B’s.

Enjoy the weekend.