Super-Agent Boras Eating Humble Pie?

(Afternoon Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here)

With the A-Rod negotiations taking a complete 180 in the past 24-48 hours the coverage from around the media world is rather mixed. Both ESPN and Fox Sports are reporting that A-Rod has taken on the negotiating duties himself, leaving out his agent Scott Boras.

Here’s the statement Rodriguez released to the media…

After spending time with Cynthia and my family over these last few weeks, it became clear to me that I needed to make an attempt to engage the Yankees regarding my future with the organization.

Prior to entering into serious negotiations with other clubs, I wanted the opportunity to share my thoughts directly with Yankees’ ownership. We know there are other opportunities for us, but Cynthia and I have a foundation with the club that has brought us comfort, stability and happiness.

As a result, I reached out to the Yankees through mutual friends and conveyed that message. I also understand that I had to respond to certain Yankees concerns, and I was receptive and understanding of that situation.

Cynthia and I have since spoken directly with the Steinbrenner family. During these healthy discussions, both sides were able to share honest feelings and hopes with one another, and we expect to continue this dialogue with the Yankees over the next few days.

Translation: Since my super agent mis-read the market place and no other team is willing to pay my astronomical asking price, I unfortunately must crawl back to the Yankees with my tail between my legs. On the flip side, I am still the highest paid player in baseball so to everyone laughing at this event I will now go and figure out a way to spend $300 million dollars.

With mega-agent Scott Boras apparently on the outside looking in during the A-Rod negotiations, Ken Rosenthal has the baseball world enjoying Boras’ failure.

Buster Olney asks how much negative publicity has A-Rod garnered over the past 18 days?

Reputed Boras buddy Jon Heyman has his take on the negotiations, telling us the contrary..

“Yankees people denied suggestions in a report that Rodriguez was handling the situation solo, saying Boras, his longtime agent, was intimately involved. Boras has been with A-Rod in Miami the past four days.”

Wallace Matthews of Newsday says this is all just a negotiating ploy, premeditated by A-Rod’s agent Scott Boras.

The Big Lead has an A-Rod FAQ to help guide you through the negotiations.

Around The Web

As far as the other big free agent 3B on the market, Rob Bradford shoots down the Channel 7 report, saying the Braves and Cardinals have not made 4-year offers to Mike Lowell.

A few NFL teams blew past the Colts in Dr. Z’s weekly Power Rankings. The Jets managed to move into the #2 spot during their bye week, #2 from the bottom that is. J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS!

Within his weekly 32 Questions, Michael Silver wonders if the Jets can surpass the Dolphins in the race for the #1 pick in the NFL Draft.

John Czarnecki, a.k.a. The NFL Czar takes on the part of a miracle worker as he attempts to fix the NFL’s 5 worst franchises.

Mike Reiss has the Pats preparing for a cold, wet game on Sunday night.

Peter King leads off his weekly mailbag with his theory on the revolving door that is the running back position in the NFL. Peter argues that a team does not need to spend inordinate amounts of money on a free agent “franchise” running back.

Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders has the weekly NFL Rundown.

Over on Ed Berliner’s Speeding Bullet Network, Jonathan Comey of Cold Hard Football Facts discusses Sunday’s Pats-Bills matchup.

ESPN is dominating in the ratings.

Manny was able to sell his car, getting a nice premium on the asking price.

According to this story, Tony Kornheiser is big amongst incarcerated men.

If you can come up with a caption for this Kevin Garnett picture, you can win a free t-shirt.

Colts GM Bill Polian takes on the officials and answers some questions in his weekly Q & A.

Joe Sports Fan is back with this week’s Media Circus.

Awful Announcing has your announcing schedule for the NFL Week #11.

Tonight on TV

The Bruins will skate tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden in search of their 9th win. Standing in their way are the 7-7-3-2 Toronto Maple Leafs. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:00PM on NESN.

In case you were wondering who the #2 college football team in the BCS Standings is, you will have your chance to see them tonight. The #2 ranked Oregon Ducks (8-1) head to Arizona to take on the (4-6) University of Arizona. Kickoff is at 9:00PM on ESPN.

For the boxing fans, former World Champion Hasim Rahman (44-6, 35 KOs) takes on Sherman Williams (33-10, 19 KOs) in a 10 round Heavyweight bout. The bout is being broadcast on the Versus network beginning at 9:00PM

Seventh Heaven for C’s

The Celtics made it seven straight wins to open the season with a 91-69 win over the New Jersey Nets at TD Banknorth Garden last night.

Marc J. Spears has Kevin Garnett comparing last night’s game to an “ugly bar fight.” Mark Murphy has the Celtics sounding like the Patriots as they focus on their imperfections rather than their record. Jeff Howe agrees that the Celtics are sounding a lot like the Patriots these days. Tim Weisberg has the Celtics already showing themselves to be the class of the Atlantic. Bill Doyle has more on the Celtics getting off to their best start in 35 years.

Tony Massarotti says that the key to this game was the supporting cast doing their job last night. Scott Souza also credits the second line players on the Celtics for last night’s win. Steve Bulpett has Tony Allen playing his best game of the season last night, chipping in with 13 points.

Peter May has former Boston College center Sean Williams opening eyes in New Jersey. Massarotti says that the question on Williams is whether he’ll be able to keep his head in the game all season.

Spears’ notebook has Garnett declining an Olympic invitation. Murphy’s notebook has the Nets impressed with the Celtics after losing to them twice in the last week. Doyle’s notebook has the Celtics stars wanting to get better with each game. Souza’s notebook has opponents already trying to make adjustments to stop the Celtics.

Patriots

On Patriots Daily, Bill Barnwell takes a look at how Buffalo’s Jason Peters has become on of the 10 most valuable properties in football.

Karen Guregian says that the Patriots unbeaten record is a bulls-eye for all foes. Mike Reiss looks at Kevin Faulk as a huge help in pass protection. Mark Farinella looks at Wes Welker as The Natural. David Heuschkel has Welker finally getting some attention. Christopher Price has the Patriots gearing up for another appearance in Prime Time.

Buddy Thomas says that it is no wonder that everyone hates the Patriots and their fans.

Shalise Manza Young has the Bills overcoming quite a bit of adversity to get over .500 this season. Guregian has J.P. Losman backtracking on his comments about Vince Wilfork from earlier this season. Rich Garven notes that special teams is a strength for the Bills, and something the Patriots need to contain. Ian M. Clark looks at the Patriots experience as one of their biggest strengths, and notes the lack of an impact rookie this season. Chris Kennedy has the Patriots in the spotlight each and every week.

Guregian’s notebook has Bills rookie back Marshawn Lynch likely out for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Reiss’ notebook has more on Lynch and Losman. Farinella’s notebook has Tom Brady embracing the pressure that comes with being unbeaten. Garven’s notebook also examines the status of Lynch for Sunday.

Over on the Boston Metro, I take a quick look at the 10-year journey to Titletown here in Boston.

Nick Cafardo notes that Red Sox fans got “gypped” by the announcement that the team is starting the season in Japan, meaning that fans will have a shorter time to visit spring training.

Isnt “gypped” a bit of a ethnic slur? At least one BSMW reader feels that way.

BSMW Retro – A Look Back to “Sports Huddle”

These days “Sports Huddle” is a Sunday night (7-10 PM) program on WTTK 96.9 FM hosted by Eddie Andelman with sidekicks former ESPN producer Billy Fairweather and Boston comedian Mike Donovan.

The current show is less about sports than it is a weekly public airing of grievances by the aged Andelman and his cronies.

Back 30 years ago however, and “Sports Huddle” was cutting edge radio. Sports talk radio didn’t really exist yet, and while there were some shows devoted to talking sports, none were quite like Sports Huddle.

The following is a short article published on Jan. 29, 1973, which is available on the website of Time magazine.

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The Boston Badmouths

Club owners have the money and power. Players have their unions and the right to strike. Referees have the last word. But what does the forgotten sports fan have? Sports Huddle, that’s what.

Originating in Boston, Sports Huddle is a raucous weekly radio show dedicated to “looking out for the fans.” The proprietors-Mark Witkin, Jim McCarthy and Eddie Andelman-are an unholy trio of amateur broadcasters and professional fans. Every Sunday night from 7 to 11, they rail against everything from overpriced tickets and cold hot dogs to sportswriters (“Sock sniffers in the locker room”) and the sports establishment (“They’ve been abusing the public for years”). Their format is like the New England Patriots’ offense: haphazard. Their delivery sounds like three guys gassing in a ginmill-that is. loose and loudmouth.

It all comes naturally to Attorney Witkin, 33, Insurance Executive McCarthy, 44, and Real Estate Broker Andelman, 36. They were “discovered” four years ago when an executive from station WUNR overheard their loud banter in a Boston bar and invited them to sound off at a microphone. Sports Huddle was such an instant hit that six months later it was transferred to WBZ, a 50,000-watt station heard in 32 states and Canada. Before long, the station, which also broadcasts the Boston Bruins’ games, had some grievances of its own: McCarthy dismissed Bruin President Weston Adams Jr. as “the biggest jerk I ever met,” while Andelman described Boston Garden, the Bruins’ home rink, as “a pig pen, a garbage pit. Even Vincent Price wouldn’t shoot a horror movie there.” When WBZ, reportedly under pressure from the Bruins, dropped the show in May 1971, 2,000 Sports Huddle loyalists staged a demonstration in the station’s parking lot.

The show was quickly picked up by WEEK, a CBS affiliate, and a syndicated version is now heard on more than 50 stations across the U.S. Deluged with up to 20,000 calls a night, the three superfans attack what they call the “hidden injuries of class” by blasting everyone from politicians who hog tickets to the “phony, bigoted yachtsmen of the New York Yacht Club.” Though they have broadened their attack to suit their national audience, they still hit home the hardest. Among their favorite targets are Boston Red Sox Manager Eddie Kasko (“A mealymouthed marshmal-low”) and Bruin Star Bobby Orr (“He’s not the humble, gracious, Bible-touting kid everyone says he is”). While some of their high jinks are sophomoric or just plain silly (they once telephoned the commandant of the Buckingham Palace Guards to ask if he would trade two of Her Majesty’s finest for a pair of Patriot guards), WEEI’S triple threats are convinced that “the majority of our opinions are what the fans believe.”

Too Cheap. Their crusades can pay off. When Sports Huddle lambasted Richard Nixon for not congratulating the Bruins for winning the 1970 Stanley Cup, 30,000 listeners sent protest letters to the White House. The President responded with a congratulatory telegram and later, while driving in a convertible in Dublin, held up a sign saying BOSTON BRUINS ARE NO. 1. Claiming that the Patriots were “too cheap” to find a decent field-goal kicker, Sports Huddle launched a “Search for Superfoot” among 1,600 English soccer players; the winner, Mike Walker, a Lancashire bricklayer, was not only signed by the Patriots last season but appeared in eight games. In March the three superfans are going to Australia to scout some rugby players who can reportedly punt a football 70 yds. Andelman confidently says that when the “Kangaroo Kid” makes his debut in pro football next season, “he’ll be so good they’ll have to change the rule book.”

Sports Huddle fans do not take such predictions lightly. On the eve of the Miami Dolphins’ 14-7 Super Bowl victory over the Washington Redskins, the Boston badmouths consulted a psychic, a bookie, two Chinese abacus experts and assorted astrologers, then correctly predicted the winner of the championship game for the fourth season in a row.

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Some of these antics will sound familiar to longtime Andelman listeners, as he took some of this style onto his later gigs on WHDH, WEEI and WWZN.

The bashing of the Bruins is nothing new these days, but also remember that the Bruins were coming off their second Stanley Cup championship in three years when this article was written. It’s hard to imagine Bobby Orr being attacked on sports radio in Boston, but apparently, that’s exactly what happened.

Railing against sportswriters? Things have changed a bit there, as now, it is mainly sportswriters who appear on the programs.

I’d like to occasionally take a look back at the Boston sports media scene, looking at articles from the past and comparing them with how things are now. Stay tuned.

Celtics Remain Perfect In Indy

The Celtics kept their perfect record intact as they defeated the Indiana Pacers last night,101-86 in Conseco Fieldhouse.

Marc J. Spears and Steve Bulpett have the stories from Indianapolis.

Over on the BSMW Full Court Press, we’ve got a new feature, the first installment of Give and Go – this week looking at the perfect start to the season for the Celtics. Bulpett has Larry Bird happy to see the Celtics doing well, and also taking a shot back at Cedric Maxwell. Bird’s former teammate has said in the past that he’d take Dirk Nowitzki over Bird, and recently said that Kevin Garnett was already the second greatest Celtic after Bill Russell. We’re seeing that there might be some hard feelings there between the two, which might account for Maxwell’s putdowns of Bird.

Spears notebook has rookie forward Brandon Wallace being assigned to the NBA DL Utah Flash. Bulpett’s notebook has a look at the contributions of James Posey, Brian Scalabrine and Scot Pollard last night.

Over on Patriots Daily, Dan Snapp looks at how the Indianapolis Colts have suddenly lost two games and become America’s Sweetheart.

Mike Reiss looks at how the Patriots have a “blend of experience and perspective” that will serve then well in their quest for the perfect season. John Tomase looks at the resurgence of the Bills, making them a good test for the Patriots this weekend.

Jackie MacMullan looks at C.C. Sabathia beating out Josh Beckett for the AL Cy Young award. Michael Silverman also reports on Sabathia finally beating Beckett.

Indy Attempts to Knock Off an Undefeated Boston Team, Take 2

(Afternoon Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be contacted here)

The Celtics head to Indianapolis tonight to take on the struggling Indiana Pacers. The Pacers who started the season 3-0, have since lost three straight. In the meantime, the Celtics are off to their best start in twenty years, and are looking to remain the 2nd undefeated team in Boston, and the only undefeated team in the NBA.

The “P.G.A” Tour heads into Indy, having combined to average 68.8 of the 107.6 points. They’ve also helped the Celtics post a league-leading 52.4 field-goal percentage. They are not just helping on the offensive side of the ball either, they have also improved things on the defensive end where they are allowing 91.0 points per game, a great improvement over the 99.2 given up last season. The same Celtics who allowed nearly 100 points per game also lost three in a row and five of six from the Pacers last year. But let’s face it, last year was last year, frankly it’s irrelevant.

Tipoff at Conseco Fieldhouse is at 7:00PM, with local coverage on Comcast Sports Net.

Mike Kahn over at Fox Sports says “We knew the Celtics were going to be good, but impressive is an understatement”

Despite their untarnished record, the C’s were not #1 in ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings.

Former Celtics coach Jim O’Brien will be on the bench tonight when the C’s head to Indy. This time O’Brien will be coaching the Pacers. Mark Spears catches up with O’Brien to see what the coach has been up to since leaving the Sixers.

For a look at how the Celtics look in the Indianapolis papers, here’s the preview of the game from the Indianapolis Star.

From the Monday Must-Read Files….

Michael Silver paints a picture of a fragmented locker room in San Diego. After reading this column I believe Tom Jackson was heard saying “they hate their coach”.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, or as Bill Polian refers to him “biased blogger with an agenda” says that the Packers are taking a page right out of the Patriots playbook with their trouncing of the Vikings on Sunday. Mike also looks at the possibility of Brady Quinn’s holdout ensuring he will be an affordable backup.

Peter King has Ben Roethlisberger channeling John Elway in Sunday’s comeback victory over the Browns. Also, a new team from the AFC East makes it into the “Fine Fifteen”.

Around the Web

Over at Patriots Daily, Christopher Price has “5 Things to Look for on Sunday” when the Pats head up to Buffalo.

John Tomase writing in the Herald’s Point After blog has some insane statistics posted by the Patriots this season.

Ken Rosenthal makes the case that Jorge Posada has the opportunity to become one of the great three Hall of Fame catchers in Yankees’ history, putting Jorge in the company of Dickey and Berra.

Fire Joe Morgan takes Nick Cafardo to task over his Mitchell Report comments from this morning.

Sal Paolantonio tells us that the ’72 Dolphins were not as good as everyone believes they were.

Football Outsiders Aaron Schatz looks at how bad Peyton Manning’s performance was on Sunday. He also ranks some of Peyton’s worst career performances.

Despite SIX interceptions, Dr. Z tells us that Peyton showed us toughness on Sunday. The one thing that caught my attention in this column was the following quote….

“They (Colts) fell behind, 23-0. I thought the result would be like one of those New England Patriot adding machine things, except that Norv Turner doesn’t run up scores.”

That is just mind-boggling, Turner doesn’t run up scores? Maybe he should have, because if it wasn’t for Tony Dungy’s muffled clock management and Adam Vinatieri missing a 29-yard field goal, they would have blown a 23-point lead. As Michael Silver wrote in his “Morning Rush” the dissent amongst the San Diego players with Turner’s playcalling is loud and clear, so to throw that quote out there is just asinine. At the beginning of the season Jerry Rice described what type of coach Turner was in Oakland.

Speaking of Vinatieri’s game-winning miss, Awful Announcing has a major gaffe by Colts radio play-by-play man Bob Lamey, it’s just absolute high comedy.

Mike Reiss looks at all things Patriots in his weekly mailbag.

Keith Law of Scouts, Inc. breaks down the 50 Top Free-Agents.

Tom Curran has a look at what the Colts need to do to get back on track.

Sports Illustrated has the Worst Free-Agent contracts of the last 10 years. Not to be overshadowed by the Best Free-Agent contracts of the past 30 years.

ESPN narrowly topped Yahoo! Sports this month in the October comScore numbers. The Big Lead has the breakdown.

Tonight on TV

With the Bruins off until Thursday, the Celtics own the Boston sports spotlight tonight. For the college football fans, there’s a Mid-American clash between Toledo and Ball State on ESPN2 beginning at 7:30PM.

Pedroia Grabs Rookie of the Year

(Morning Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here)

The last man to do it in a Red Sox uniform was Nomar Garciaparra. The year was 1997 and the future outlook for Nomar was endless, now ten years later the Red Sox mighty mouse second baseman Dustin Pedroia has won the AL Rookie of the Year award. Dustin who finished the season playing with a broken hammate bone in his left hand won the award by a large margin grabbing 24 of 28 first place votes. Amalie Benjamin has coverage from the press conference Pedroia held yesterday. Tony Massarotti has manager Terry Francona claiming he had no clue that he was looking at the future Rookie of the Year when Pedroia was playing behind Alex Cora in early April. Michael Silverman says that Pedroia’s determination to prove his nay-sayers wrong reminds him a little bit of Pedro Martinez.

The Red Sox exclusive rights to negotiate with Mike Lowell have ended, meaning that any team interested in Lowell’s services can offer him a contract. The Red Sox remain steadfast with their three-year offer, estimated at $40 million. Sean McAdam tells us that even though the Red Sox have lost exclusive rights to speak with Lowell, this does not mean that they are no longer interested. Michael Silverman has a less optimistic outlook on the Lowell negotiations. Within this report about Mike Lowell, Nick Cafardo discusses some of the possible ramifications of the Mitchell Report. While MLB officially announced that no more than 11 of the 153 free agents will be in the report (7%), the possibility of signing a free agent who will be suspended in their first year does still exist.

Somebody with money to burn paid $9,000 to eat with Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Sticking with the charity theme, Gillete is giving Kevin Youkilis $5,000 to give up his goatee, with the proceeds going to his newly formed charity, Kevin Youkilis Hits for Kids.

Over in Yankee-Land, Jorge Posada signed a four-year, $52.4 million dollar deal to remain in pinstripes for the remainder of his career. Mike “Dropi Papi” Vaccaro says that with the return of Posada, the heart of the Yankees still beats.

Patriots

“Tommy says Randy is a brilliant football player with a brilliant football mind. There’s kind of a sympatico between them that transcends time”

Tom Brady Sr. discusses the season his son is enjoying with all of his new toys.

Karen Guregian has Richard Seymour working hard to regain his conditioning and return to being one of the league’s most dominant defensive forces. Christopher Gasper has wideout Chad Jackson returning to practice and looking for a spot on the depth chart. What a difference a year makes, last year Chad Jackson was the guy that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would send down the sideline on a go-route only to have Jackson come up short. This year the Pats have numerous down-field weapons and Jackson will beg to find a spot. Making things a little more difficult for Chad is that there was another new Patriot wideout at practice yesterday. With the Colts feeling a little down in the dumps, John Tomase says that the Patriots know exactly how the Colts feel.

Within the Herald’s notebook we learn that the Bills outstanding rookie running back Marshawn Lynch is nursing a sprained ankle. Patriots offensive lineman Wesley Britt received some amazing off the field news. In the ProJo’s notebook Bill Belichick discusses the reasoning behind giving the team a full week off.

When you’re trying to figure out just how dominant the Patriots have been this year, there’s only one true source to look to,…….Vegas.

For all the rest of your Patriots coverage check out the Patriots Daily page.

Celtics

Celtics swingman James Posey was back at practice after suffering a herniated lumbar disc. Mark Murphy says that James is not out of the woods just yet. After spending the night at New England Baptist Hospital with a concussion, Brian Scalabrine will be available tonight against Indy.

Kevin Garnett was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. This story about the success of teams who add an all-NBA star in the Wall Street Journal should make Celtics fans happy.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back this afternoon with a preview of the C’s matchup and the “Around the Web” links.

Top seed just about wrapped up

Afternoon notes provided by RJ. Contact him here.

I guess every Patriots fan can thank Colts kick Adam Vinatieri for missing a kick he could have made with his other leg. Did anyone really think the Chargers were going to win with a 29-yarder on the line? Wow!

With Indy’s loss, that gives the undefeated Patriots basically a three-game lead in the conference. The 9-0 Pats own the tie-breakers with the 7-2 Colts. The Pats have three of their final seven games against teams with a winning record, so I think it’s safe to say the top seed in the playoffs is theirs.

For all you fantasy footballers, a note on tonight’s game – Seahawks’ Shaun Alexander and Deion Branch are likely out tonight against the 49ers.

Major League Baseball will announce its American League Rookie of the Year this afternoon. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia plans to hold a press conference after the announcement. The Boston Globe plans on blogging the event here. For a look at who the ESPN experts think will win, click here.

The Boston Herald’s Rob Bradford is hot on the Mike Lowell contract negotiations. The Sox have until midnight to strike a deal before other teams can get involved. Word is three years is not enough for the World Series MVP.

Over in college football, John Walters of NBCsports.com takes a look at another crazy weekend, where more top seeds (yes, including Boston College) took another tumble.

Click here for all of your up-to-date news and notes on the Bruins and the Celtics.

Over at Patriots Daily, Scott Benson takes a look at how a loss by Indy and a comeback win by Pittsburgh have changed the landscape in the AFC.

Weekend Tidbits

Dave here with a few tidbits to get us through this long weekend.

You can watch the video Brian discussed in this morning’s links of Mike Pereira, the NFL’s VP of Officiating, defending the pass interference call on Ellis Hobbs Sunday. For anybody who does not get the NFL Network a majority of their programming is available on the NFL.com website. Like Brian said earlier, it is fascinating to watch Pereira describe Ellis’ foul, and the exact things he did to get the flag thrown.

Speaking of not having the NFL Network, Phil Mushnick tackles that exact subject.

David Scott takes a look at the Nick Cafardo retraction/gaffe in this week’s edition of Scott’s Shots. He also declares Yahoo’s dominance over ESPN in the Reggie Bush saga.

For a look at all of the College Football on television this weekend, check here.

With the Patriots on a bye, we’ll have to turn our attention to the rest of the NFL. Here’s who we get a chance to see this Sunday.

CBS Single Game
Fox Early Game
Fox Late Game

The weekend’s NFL action ends with Indy heading West to take on the San Diego Chargers in Sunday Night Football on NBC.

Enjoy the long weekend.

We’ll be back here on Monday with a full slate of links.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check in with Patriots Daily for all the weekend’s coverage.

Happy Friday

(Morning Links provided by Guest Blogger Brian. Brian can be reached at [email protected])

With the Pats on their bye week, and Celtics with the night off, it was a fairly quiet night for Boston sports fans, as the Bruins couldn’t steal the spotlight with a victory last night against the Canadiens. But of course we’ll start with our World Series Champs and the Mike Lowell sweepstakes.

Red Sox

Nick Cafardo has a look back at a “relaxing and enjoyable” stay at the GM meetings for Theo Epstein, as he indicates the Sox have made a guaranteed three-year offer to Lowell, but all remains quiet. Cafardo also provides a to-do list for the young GM in the coming weeks. Michael Silverman has more on the Sox “really strong” offer to Lowell, and the Sox options should negotiations break down. Silverman’s Notebook has Theo downplaying his late night meeting with Boras and Co., and the Sox sending Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz down to Josh Beckett’s ranch this offseason to train with him. They might even shoot some deer. The Associated Press reports that 11 current free agents are listed in the highly anticipated Mitchell Report, and also reports on the commissioner’s attempts at open information sharing and honesty at the GM meetings, which obviously doesn’t bode well for one Scott Boras and A-Rod, who thrive on false leverage.

Patriots

John Tomase hands out his midseason awards, with a lot of electrifying moments to remember from the first nine games, and almost all of them involving one Randy Moss on offense. Karen Guregian discusses some holes the Pats might try and fill heading into the home stretch, with a look at some deceiving stats from the first 9 games. Since the majority of us don’t get the NFL Network, we depend on various media outlets to keep us aware of any interesting developments from the mother station. Guregian has Mike Pereira, the NFL’s VP of Officiating, defending the absurd pass interference call on Ellis Hobbs Sunday, as well as the rookie crew, who had extensive NFL Europe experience. His defense of the call is laughable, and a point was made by Mike Felger yesterday that if these are the types of calls the NFL is beginning to make, defenses don’t stand a chance in stopping teams like the Colts or Pats. Sure sounds like someone on the Competition Committee has had Pereira’s ear, no? Robert Lee has Richard Seymour working his way back into playing shape amidst the first real adversity he has faced in his career. The Hartford Courant has the AP article on Don Shula backing off his comments about the Patriots and asterisk talk.

Don’t forget to head over to Patriots Daily for all your coverage of the Pats this weekend.

Celtics

Bob Ryan can barely contain himself with excitement over the Celtics finally being relevant again, reflecting back on the days of the real “Big Three,” even soliciting the praise of some esteemed Holy Cross graduates/Celtics legends (shameless alma mater plug). With the Celtics trying to continue the momentum of the Pats and Sox, Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers sounding Patriot-like in his assessment of the team and where they hope to be come early spring. Peter May’s notebook discusses James Posey’s status for tonight’s game, as well as the Celtics second quarter success early in the season. Bulpett’s notebook has more on the Celts approach with Posey this weekend, as well as high praise for tonight’s opponent, the Atlanta Hawks. Apparently Glen “Big Baby” Davis has a diary in the Herald. Basically exactly what you think you’d hear from a rookie entering the league (trying to find my role, adjusting to NBA life is different than college, etc.) But at least he addresses the fisticuffs between him and Leon Powe last weekend!

Bruins

With the Bruins losing again last night to the hated Canadiens, Stephen Harris has the team frustrated with their inability to score lately. Fluto Shinzawa has more on their struggles as of late, pointing toward a scoreless 5-3 shift in the third period as the prime example. Harris’ Notebook discusses yet another cheap shot taken at the Bruins, this time by Francis Bouillon with an elbow to Aaron Ward’s head as he Bouillon came out of the box, as well as the goalie situation behind Tim Thomas. Shinzawa’s Notebook discusses Glen Murray’s slow start to the season, the Bruins inability to generate power plays thus far, and the contrast in goaltenders between Montreal and Boston. On a more sombering note, Patrice Bergeron addressed the media yesterday for the first time since the gruesome hit he suffered, and Steve Buckley captures the scene, with a visibly weary Bergeron discussing his current state, and pleading for the NHL to address hits from behind to prevent further injuries. Buckley appropriately describes this press conference of the 22 year-old as “not just throwaway words from a garden-variety press conference. This was one of those cases when, suddenly, real life turned the games we love into secondary news. We went through this when Tedy Bruschi suffered a stroke, and when Jon Lester was diagnosed with cancer.” Shinzawa has more on the press conference, detailing the daily struggles Bergeron endures, and has Bergeron coming off as a mature, classy individual who does not hold ill will against Randy Jones for the hit.

Misc

Mark Blaudschun has BC taking it easy before their game with Maryland tomorrow night. Blaudschun has the BC defense playing well amidst the team’s offensive success this season. Steve Conroy has more on the challenges the defense faces tomorrow night. Mark Murphy has a look at the BC hoops team, and has questions that the young team must answer this season.

Kyle McCarthy has even the Revolution getting involved in the fun, capturing their third straight Eastern Conference title last night at Gillette. John Connolly has more on the spectacular goal by Taylor Twellman that lifted the Revs.

That’s all for today, enjoy a weekend of running-up-the-score/spygate-free football, as well as the Celtics in action at home tonight against the Hawks, and traveling to New Jersey to face the Nets tomorrow night. The Bruins square off against the Sabres on Saturday night in Buffalo as well.

Flipity Flip-Flop

(Afternoon Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here)

“The Spygate thing has diminished what they’ve accomplished”

“You would hate to have that attached to your accomplishments. They’ve got it.”

“I guess you got the same thing as putting an asterisk by Barry Bonds’ home run record”

That’s how Don Shula felt earlier this week when asked about the New England Patriots. Everyone you can think of stepped up and tried to analyze Shula’s comments. Some believed he was well within his rights to question the Patriots, while others questioned his intentions. Either way, those opinions no longer matter because today Shula said this…

“If they run the table, and they win all the games, then they are doing it within the rules of the National Football League”

“And there shouldn’t be any asterisk to it. That would be the accomplishment that they made. It would be the best in all of sports.”

In speaking on the Mike and the Mike show on ESPN Radio Shula essentially backed off of his comments from earlier in the week, performing a complete 180. This is just another example of a prominent sports figure backing away from comments that they made. Once they realized the incredible amount of scrutiny they were taking for it, they backtracked. Like I said yesterday, the anti-Patriot statements that are flying around are getting old. That being said, Shula is certainly entitled to his opinion, and once he makes his opinion known, he should stick by it.

In a landscape where the media dissects every word that comes out of a player or coach’s mouth, it’s no surprise that the vanilla answer is becoming the norm. You will be hard pressed to find a member of the media who enjoys listening to a monotone Bill Belichick press conference. They are essentially useless, basically a practice of following league mandate. No real information derives from them, and you are not going to get a good “quote” to dissect. Yet, everyone grumbles that Belichick is difficult, but can you blame him?

Speaking your mind has become a lose-lose proposition.

Case in point #2 Donovan McNabb…

These were his comments yesterday during an Eagles press conference….

“It’s easy to blame the quarterback when the team loses, but I’m definitely not the whole reason why we lost these games”

“I can definitely help – yes I can – but I (shouldn’t get the full) blame for everything that goes on around here.”

Nothing that juicy right? Well, not if you ask McNabb who writes in his Yardbarker blog this…

“I was surprised to hear that people were saying that I am not taking blame for us being 3-5.”

“There are a lot of mistakes I’ve made. [Whether] it’s throws I want back, [bad] decisions, whatever it may be, there are mistakes that I’ve made in every game- a lot of things that you’re not used to doing, a lot of things that you know you can do better. Everybody makes mistakes. But, in this situation, there’s no room for error, and that goes for each individual person. There’s no room for error.”

Next time Donovan should try to answer the questions the Patriot way…

“It is what it is”

Around the Web

Over at Patriots Daily we get an update on the whereabouts of some ex-Patriots from the Belichick era.

Here’s the latest “Buzz” on the Red Sox trade talks.

Over at Ed Berliner’s Speeding Bullet Network, NFL columnist Vito Stellino takes Shula to task for his comments.

E.M. Swift of Sports Illustrated says that there is smoke but no proof that Roger Clemens used steroids.

Scouts, Inc. provides mid-season grades for both the AFC and the NFC.

Dr. Z has a breakdown of the Pats-Colts from Sunday, as well as the Weekly Power Rankings.

Diehard Magazine has Curt Schilling’s opinion on the possibility of the Red Sox going to a six-man rotation

Jon Heyman has a list of the top free agents available and what they will command in this free agent market.

The jersey of Adrian Peterson a.k.a. “Purple Jesus” is really flying off the shelf. He’s now two spots away from knocking Brady and Moss out of the top ten.

Speaking of “Purple Jesus”, the guys over at Cold Hard Football Facts have busted out a Tale o’ the Tape on Peterson vs. Dickerson.

Awful Announcing has the NFL announcing schedule for Week #10.

Tonight on TV

The Bruins take the ice tonight at the TD BankNorth Garden in hopes of gaining a little of the Celtics mojo left over from last night. The Bruins will take on the 8-3-3 Montreal Canadians. The game can be seen at 7PM on NESN.

For the fans of soccer, the New England Revolution have quietly advanced to their 6th Eastern Conference Finals, as they take on the Chicago Fire tonight at Gillette Stadium. The game can be seen on ESPN2 starting at 7:30PM.

Over on ESPN at 7:30PM is (5-4) Louisville heading to Morgantown, West Virginia to take on #7 West Virginia (7-1) in a Big East battle.

For all the rest of tonight’s lineup check here.