Honored

I’m pleased to announce that BSMW has been named as a runner up in the Best Non-Corporate Sports Web Site category by Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated and SI.com in his 2007 Media Awards.

Thanks to Richard for the consideration, and thanks to all of you who have helped BSMW get this far.

On Patriots Daily, Greg Doyle has a special Bowl edition of College Scout.

The Boston Herald is running a bracket to determine the greatest Patriot of all time. Must be a slow news week. John Tomase introduces the competition.

Hall of Fame guard John Hannah likes what he sees from current Patriots Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins. Mike Reiss has Hannah’s thoughts on the nasty side of Mankins. Michael Felger talks to a long time NFL scout to determine whether the Patriots Pro Bowl picks are legit or not. I’m pretty sure this column by Hector Longo is simply a cry for help.

Karen Guregian has Junior Seau remaining as exuberant as ever. Jennifer Toland has Seau continuing to get the job done at the age of 38. Christopher Price has Seau going strong in his 18th NFL season. Robert Lee says that Seau still has a zest for winning.

Mark Farinella has Richard Seymour starting to round into form.

Dan Shaughnessy says that while the Patriots will stomp the 2007 Dolphins this weekend, they have a little ways to go to beat the old 1972 Dolphins, who won’t go away quietly. Shaughnessy has some quotes from Belichick on the 72 Dolphins, Guregian says the Patriots coach had little to say on the matter. Price notes that Belichick and Don Shula share some familiar background in their pasts. David Heuschkel says that the Patriots don’t need the 72 Dolphins for motivation. Lee says that both the Patriots and Dolphins have a lot at stake this weekend.

Christopher Gasper’s notebook has more on Seau not slowing down with age. Guregian’s notebook has Richard Seymour hoping to keep getting better as the season wears on. Farinella’s notebook has Seau refusing to act his age. Toland’s notebook has Seymour still working his way into form. Lee’s notebook has Tom Brady more focused on a Super Bowl title rather than a touchdown record.

Shalise Manza Young looks at the situation in Rhode Island for next weekend’s Patriots/Giants game on the NFL Network.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa and Steve Conroy report on the Bruins roaring back from a 4-0 deficit, only to lose in the shootout against the Penguins. Bud Barth has the Bruins managing to salvage a point with the comeback.

Stephen Harris has Zdeno Charo igniting the Bruins rally with a fight against Penguins tough guy Georges Laraque. Mick Colageo has Tim Thomas holding the fort last night while his teammates came back on the Penguins.

Shinzawa’s notebook has the Bruins losing Glen Murray to a “middle body injury” last night. Conroy’s notebook has Patrice Bergeron feeling a little better. Barth’s notebook has more on Bergeron.

Celtics

Marc J. Spears has Gary Payton making a call to his agent, hoping to come back to the Celtics. Steve Bulpett has the Celtics looking to bounce back after the tough loss to the Detroit. Jeff Howe has the Celtics taking their first home loss in stride.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has Mike Gorman happy with the Celtics return to prominence.

Spears’s notebook has Tony Allen turning the page on Wednesday night’s loss to the Pistons. Bulpett’s notebook has Doc Rivers wishing he had played his bench a little more on Wednesday.

Patriots en Español

“Is that the New England game?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Good, I hate them so much!”

That conversation was repeated about four or five times as I attempted to watch the Patriots/Steelers game on December 9th. Each time I would politely nod, and motion to my well-worn Super Bowl XXXVI Championship T-Shirt. The response was usually the same, a slight sigh, with a mumble about how they sure hoped the Steelers would win.

We were currently in one of the two television rooms at the Maroma Beach Resort on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. It was the second day of our vacation, one that partly a working one for my wife, who is in the travel business and was writing a magazine article about the resorts in the area.

It was the second day of our trip, and I had made it clear that I really wanted to do what I could to see this game. We had left on Saturday morning, so I knew all the buildup to this game – the Anthony Smith guarantee, the comments about the Patriots wide receivers not being as good as the Bengals, and I was anxious to see how the team would respond. Surprisingly (though not really, as I have the best wife in the world) my wife didn’t have a problem with that, even though we were on a tropical vacation. She herself was interested in the outcome of the game.

I had tried to prepare as best I could for the possibility of there being no place to see the game. Before leaving, I had even pulled out my old wireless-equipped iPaq Pocket PC and loaded Slingbox Mobile on it, just in case the only option was over the internet.

When we arrived at this resort, shortly before 3:00pm (They’re an hour behind us) one of the things our host told us was that as part of the experience, there were no televisions in the rooms. That gave me a panic for a moment, but I remembered in checking out the resort web site that each room had high-speed internet (strange, huh?) but I didn’t know if it was wireless or not.

In our introductory tour, we were shown the first TV room. Peeking in, I saw a bunch of guys watching the Eagles/Giants game on a 42 inch LCD. I heard some New York accents and saw my chances of watching the Patriots seemingly shrinking away by the moment. The tour continued, through the restaurant (no TV at the bar!) and through some of the room areas. Then we came across the second TV room. It was unoccupied!

Or room wasn’t quite ready yet, so we were asked if we wanted to get some lunch while they got the room ready. I glanced at my wife, who smiled. She asked “Can we get it brought in here?” (Have I mentioned how awesome she is?) The hostess said certainly, and they went to get some menus. I set to the task of trying to find this game…which I still wasn’t sure I was going to be able to find.

The satellite TV provider in that area is SKY. There was no remote in the room, so I had to change channels sitting on the floor in front if this 42 inch LCD and hitting the channel up button,having no idea if I was getting closer or not. I started in the 200 channel level, and made it all the way up to the 500 level before I starting finding some sports, then I flicked again, and saw the black and gold of the Steelers uniforms. I had found the game. There was still about 11 minutes remaining in the first quarter and Pittsburgh had the ball.

Right after I found the game, two young women stuck their heads in the door and asked “Are you watching the game?” I replied in the affirmative, and they said “Cool” and went off.

Our food arrived, and we sat down to watch and eat. Eventually the two women came back, with their own food, and watched as well. When the Steelers kicked their field goal to go up 3-0, there was a little squeal. We inquired as to their loyalties, asking if they were Steelers fans. One of them responded, “Not so much Steelers fans, as much as anti-New England.” she tried to explain: “I grew up just outside New York, and then went to school in Boston, so I’ve developed a hatred for their teams.”

None of us could understand the commentary on the game, as it was it Spanish. The graphics were from CBS, but overlayed in the corners were FOX Sports logos. The game was being carried on FOX Sports International, but was using the CBS feed and their own announcers. It was just as well. It was actually nice to just watch the game and draw my own conclusions about what was happened and what was going to come up next.

It was probably just paranoia, but I kept getting the impression that the announcers were biased towards the Steelers. I think it was the excited “WHIIILLEEEE” cry each time Willie Parker had a decent run, or the “BEEEEG BENNN” when Roethlisberger made a completion. The Patriots long plays barely seemed to get a reaction.

As the game went on, people occasionally stuck their heads in the door to find out the score, and the conversation at the beginning of the article took place several times. One guy, clearly a Steelers fan, hung around for a little bit excited that they were only down four points. He tried to elicit support for his Steelers in the room, but with little success.

I should note that the the two women left and came back a few times. When Brady threw the 63 yard TD to Moss, my wife and I were (of course) alone in the room.

As the Patriots pulled ahead in the second half, the visitors waned, usually just looking in to see the score and shaking their heads. When the Brady to Moss to Brady to Gaffney play happened, I was by myself. Our room was ready and my wife went to check it out. The two biggest plays of the game, and there was no one else around to enjoy (or anguish over) them.

By the time the fourth quarter was winding down, the room was completely empty.

That was it. No post game interviews. No “Fifth Quarter” Not even the Mike Reiss updates on the computer to pour over. We simply went on to enjoy the rest of our vacation.

We missed the Jets game. We were supposed to fly JetBlue on Sunday afternoon, which meant I likely would’ve been able to watch the game on their DirecTV service (parts of it anyway) but with the flight canceled, we went to visit another resort. They had TV’s in the room, but the Patriots weren’t on. The Steelers/Jaguars game was being shown, with the same announcers. More excited cries over Parker and Roethlisberger were heard throughout the afternoon. Until of course, the Steelers lost. Again.

Felger replaces Dickerson on Sports Tonight

Hot off the presses from Comcast SportsNet:

MIKE FELGER JOINS COMCAST SPORTSNET AS MOHEGAN SUN SPORTS TONIGHT CO-HOST

Boston Herald Football Writer & ESPN Radio Boston Personality Joins Gary Tanguay

BURLINGTON, MA ­– As a self described impartial observer of the Boston sports scene, Mike Felger revels in his ability to play devil’s advocate and singe local sports fans for their unabashed homerism. Felger has been bringing that attitude to the Boston sports scene for nearly 20 years and starting tonight he’ll be bringing it as the official co-host of Comcast SportsNet’s Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight.

Felger, the lead football writer at the Boston Herald and afternoon host on ESPN Radio Boston, has been a regular Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight contributor and fill-in host since 2002. Felger will co-host Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight with long-time Comcast SportsNet personality Gary Tanguay. Felger replaces Greg Dickerson, who was named Comcast SportsNet’s full-time Celtics courtside reporter at the beginning of the 2007-08 Celtics season.

“I think you can inspire love and hate simultaneously in sports fans by simply being objective. I think it’s important that if criticism is warranted, you don’t ignore the home teams. Hopefully, that’s what I bring to the table,” said Felger. “In case viewers hadn’t noticed, I’ve been sitting in those chairs a lot and the beauty of this is there will be no prep time for me. No adjustment period. Gary is a pro, we know how to work together and there’s plenty to talk about. We’ll keep this show rolling.”

As co-hosts, Tanguay and Felger will analyze and debate the top local sports stories of the day with a regular rotation of Boston beat writers, columnists, sports personalities and athletes. Tanguay and Felger will also anchor Comcast SportsNet’s coverage of major Boston sports events, including the Patriots potential trip to another Super Bowl and the opening week of Red Sox Spring Training. During football season, Felger will continue to file his 4 Downs with Felger report.

“I love working with Felger because he brings intensity to every show,” said Tanguay. “Sports Tonight is about having an opinion and if Felger is anything, he is opinionated. He always has something to say, even if his opinion is wrong.”

Felger, a Milwaukee native, is a graduate of Boston University and covered the Boston Bruins (1997-98) and the New England Patriots (1999-present) for the Boston Herald. Felger has been a regular guest on Boston sports television and radio since 2000, and began hosting his own afternoon show on ESPN Radio Boston in 2004.

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Dan Snapp on Patriots Daily examines the “honor” of Pro Bowl selections for your home town team.

Curt Schilling weighs in on the Mitchell report.

With the team back at the top of the NBA standings, J.A. Adande explores the issue of race and the Boston Celtics.

Bill Simmons checks in with his 7th annual NBA trade value rankings.

Apparently, Jonathan Papelbon‘s dog ate the World Series ball.

The Johan Santana trade rumors carry on. Charley Walters says the Red Sox are still the favorites to land the Twins ace.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The last game was a blueprint for other teams on how to beat the Patriots. Rich Cimini says the Jets did just that.

Hawaii on Horizon for Eight Patriots

There are worse places in the world than Cancun to be stranded while the Northeast undergoes a huge snow and ice storm. Originally scheduled to come back on Sunday, the storm grounded all flights to Boston from where we were, forcing us to extend our stay by two days.

Back in the cold, I’m tanned, rested and ready to settle in and watch the Boston winter sports scene unfold over the next few months. It promises to be an eventful time.

David Scott reports this morning on a front office shakeup at Comcast SportsNet, and also comments on the NCAA’s new live-blogging policy.

Eight Patriots received word yesterday that they will be recipients of a tropical vacation of their own come February as they were named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster.

Over on Patriots Daily, Scott notes something that six of the eight Patriots Pro Bowl selections have in common.

Mike Reiss has Rodney Harrison talking about his eight teammates who received the honor yesterday. John Tomase has the eight selections tying a team record set in 1985. Mark Farinella says that the Patriots that are going to the Pro Bowl are all worthy selections. He’s just glad Chris Hanson didn’t make it. Shalise Manza Young cites Ty Warren and Wes Welker as two deserving Patriots who weren’t honored. David Heuschkel notes that it is fitting that three of Tom Brady’s lineman join him in Hawaii. Christopher Price says that the Patriots can’t really use Pro Bowl snubs as motivation this season.

Tomase also weighs in with his latest Tale of the Tape review of Sunday’s game. Steve Buckley says that not all of the 1972 Dolphins are obsessed with the Patriots efforts to join them in the record books. Eric McHugh has his Patriots Report Card, and adds that we shouldn’t expect the team to let off the gas in the final two weeks of the season. Bill Burt has Welker fooling even the experts. Lenny Megliola has even Miami fans feeling hopeless about this Sunday’s game. Reiss’ notebook examines the Patriots fantastic four at linebacker, who looked fresh against the Jets despite their increased workload.

Mitchell Report

The fallout from the Mitchell report continues, as Roger Clemens broke his silence and denied the allegations laid forth in testimony given by his former trainer that he had injected the Rocket with both Steroids and HGH during his time with the Blue Jays and Yankees. Gordon Edes has the statement from Clemens, while Dan Shaughnessy says that it’s hard not to jump to conclusions with Clemens.

Largely lost in this whole mess has been the media’s role in the entire steroid era. If you missed it, in the Editor and Publisher, Joe Strupp examines How, Years Ago, Baseball Writers Blew the Drug Scandal. Well worth the read.

Celtics

The Celtics will face their first test of the young season when they take on the Detroit Pistons tonight at the Garden. Jeff Horrigan says everything has changed since these two teams last met. Desmond Conner says that the Celtics next 15 games will tell us whether this club is for real. Peter May has Ray Allen giving the Celtics a lift with his return to the lineup tonight. Jeff Howe says that the Celtics are sacrificing personal stats for the good of the team.

Tony Massarotti has a mini-feature on Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who has pressed all the right buttons thus far this season. Scott Souza has Allen confident that his shot will return to form after giving his ankle some rest. Over on the BSMW Full Court Press, Mike Brilliant offers up a Celtics Report Card for last week.

Horrigan’s notebook has more on Allen returning tonight. May’s notebook has the Celtics cutting rookie forward Brandon Wallace in order to get some salary cap flexibility for the stretch run.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa has the account of the Bruins 3-2 loss to the Senators last night. Bud Barth says that the lack of goal scoring is really hurting the Bruins right now. Steve Conroy says that the Bruins just weren’t good enough to keep up with the conference leading Senators.

Kevin Paul Dupont has B’s coach Claude Julien commenting on his team’s recent sloppy slide. Dupont also has a look at the Bruins latest cult hero, 19-year-old Milan Lucic, who has shown a willingness to mix it up. Rich Thompson has more on Lucic. Dupont also has the Bruins receiving an encouraging report on Patrice Bergeron.

Shinzawa’s notebook has defenseman Andrew Alberts suffering from headaches, which sidelined him last night. Barth’s notebook has Tim Thomas sitting out another game last night. Conroy’s notebook has more on Alberts being scratched.

Not Always Pretty But Always Effective

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

“Eric…..nice game…..that was awesome”

That’s it? No walking directly off of the field, no chocking out cameramen? All we have to look back at is a simple few words with a happy grin. For all the buildup that was “CameraGate”, “SpyGate”, “HateBowl”, whatever you can come up with, Sunday culminated in the most boring game of the season. There was no “RunningupthescoreGate” to discuss. Robert Kraft and Co. didn’t have to install a NBA scoreboard in order to hold the three-digit score, Vegas didn’t break any records, ultimately the Patriots did what they always do, win, no matter how pretty. Let’s face it, Sunday was not pretty but we’ll take it. 14-0 and getting ready to welcome in the surging Dolphins on Sunday, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Michael Felger has the Patriots Report Card. Everyone made the Honor Roll except Tom Brady and the wide receivers. Felger sites Brady’s insistence on getting Moss the ball, even in coverage as the reason for his average grade. Brady admitted that he sometimes locks in on Moss even when he’s double covered. Felger even has a strange name in the “Back of the Pack”. Over in the New York Post Mark Cannizzaro has the Jets’ Report Card. Brady and Co. should not fret about their passing grade because the Jets’ QB’s will be heading to summer school. While option-QB Brad Smith had marginal success, he was just a small part of the “man-genius” surprises the Jets cooked up for the Patriots.

Over at Patriots Daily, Christopher Price has his weekly “Inside Gillette” segment. Chris looks at the Patriots clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and Belichick’s success at home.

Christopher Gaspar has the elements, as well as, opponents playing a role in the offense going from superhuman to just superb. With Sunday’s win the Patriots clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, although based on history this does not always guarantee success. There’s good news for Patriots’ fans though.

It was just last week that Seymour told reporters that his knee was not 100% but Sunday’s game versus the Jets showed otherwise, Bill Belichick discusses the continued progress of Richard Seymour, who coming off of surgery has slowly began to make an impact. Shalise Manza Young has Randy Moss describing how it felt to lineup as a fullback for a play.

Peter King checks in with his Monday Morning Quarterback. Peter puts down his latte and goes for a walk with former Giants safety George Martin. Martin is walking from the George Washington Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge to raise awareness for the 9/11 First Responders, who are now facing severe health issues related to the tower collapses. Peter speaks with Pats RB Lawrence Maroney in the Fine Fifteen.

In Michael Silver’s Morning Rush, he has the Dolphins feeling like they just won the Super Bowl after their comeback overtime victory over the Ravens. Patriots fans came out in full force in Silver’s mailbag, or as he so eloquently puts it “Trippin on E(Mail)”, voicing their displeasure with Silver’s “Hate-riots” article from last week. In case you missed it, Silver sat down with Nancy Brady, Tom’s sister, and detailed for her “Six reasons why almost everyone hates the Patriots.”

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has his weekly 10-Pack, Florio takes a page out of Ted Sarandasis’ book on stadium construction, giving Robert Kraft some construction advice. While the statement may be tongue-in-cheek, the notion that the Patriots cannot play in cold weather is rather baffling. This assumption is based on what?

Don Banks has Bill Belichick treating the last two games of the season like all the rest.

Awful Announcing was not impressed with Joe Buck’s performance on Sunday.

Celtics

Over on Full Court Press, Kevin Henkin is placing the C’s on a microscope slide and as you’ll see, no degree of minutia escapes his lens. He’s discovering what every Patriots journalist knows: that the rules of examination must intensify when your subject approaches perfection.

Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders is impressed with the early success of the Celtics. He even wishes his former player Kevin Garnett success in the playoffs, with a small stipulation. Mark Spears looks at James Posey who coming to Boston via trade this offseason, expected this team to be a powerhouse on offense. Yet, the defense has provided the firepower for the best record in the NBA. Steve Bulpett sits down with Tommy Heinsohn to discuss the similarities between this Celtics team and the 1963-1964 team Heinsohn was a part of.

Boston Sportz has a look at what the Celtics might look like as members of the hit TV show “The Office”.

Red Sox

“I’m not talking to y’all about it”

If you were waiting for Roger Clemens to come out and give a pre-meditated statement to the press, ripe with apologies and gut wrenching stories of tough decisions, don’t hold your breath. The brief statement above is all the “Rocket” could muster yesterday outside his palatial mansion as he continues to refuse to speak about the Mitchell Report. The fact that McNamee signed a proffer agreement with federal prosecutors last summer only serves to add credibility to McNamee’s testimony. The New York Times explains the punishment McNamee would face if he lied to investigators.

Gerry Callahan has the world crumbling around the fraud that is Roger Clemens. With Andy Pettitte coming out and confirming Brian McNamee’s claims, Clemens is now cornered like a “sewer rat”. Callahan now has Clemens and Bonds together as “the bookend bums of baseball.” Clemens teammate Mariano Rivera says he “admires Pettitte for coming out and saying he did it.” Is that a direct shot at Clemens? Who knows, but Roger is already losing out on speaking engagements. Jayson Stark somehow tries to make the case that Clemens and Bonds are different. Curt Schilling has some advice for Clemens on how he should handle this.

On the non-steroid front, Gordon Edes reminds us that the Red Sox have done some of their best work after the holidays. Explaining that the Sox are still in the running to acquire the services of Johan Santana, adding that the Red Sox are in a position of strength, not desperation.

Fun Never Sets On The Boston Empire

(Keeping you current on all the sports news this busy Monday is guest blogger Bob Ekstrom, finishing what he started earlier this morning.)

Wow! When you’ve got home teams like ours, there is no limit to the quality of writers or writing that one can come across simply by sitting at a computer monitor. It is nearly impossible to catch every good piece, and that’s why BSMW is here with some more for you to peruse over a sandwich and a bag of chips.

Patriots

Dave Goldberg says yesterday’s conditions offered the perfect dress rehearsal for the post-season. Chris Price has neither rain nor snow nor any other slop doled by Mother Nature standing in the way of a 14-0 start. Tom King says that even though Mangini and the Jets left with their dignity intact, it was still a successful day in New England. Ian Clark is thanking the defense for this one. Russ Charpentier has Belichick setting aside his test tube of high-octane offense to win one in the trenches. And what would a NYJ loss be without the perspectives of Mr. Jet himself, Mark Cannizaro, who is as entertaining a voice as any emanating from the Empire.

In his weekly 10 Things We Learned Yesterday, Chris Price alleviates any fears over the Patriots’ non-existent running game and red zone defense, to name just two. Dan Shaughnessy relates the some tribulations of the do-it-yourself fan attending yesterday’s game. The Globe also has a nice gallery of the many records still in New England’s grasp over the next two weeks.

Odds & Sods

In case you spent the night catching up on household chores that didn’t get done during the game, you probably missed CBS’s 60 Minutes and may not know that the honeymoon is over between A-Rod and Scott Boras.

No matter. As Mike Lupica tells it, Dr. Boras is spending too much time on Mitchell Report damage control to be mailing Christmas cards to the Rodriguez residence.

Bob can be reached at [email protected]

The Handshake Seals The Contract

(This morning’s links are brought to you by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom.)

In addition to grounding Bruce from his return trip home, yesterday’s weather paired with an energized Jets secondary to foil Tom Brady’s own flight plans. No. 12 posted his worst stats this season, but the Patriots still became only the second team in NFL history to reach 14-0 with their 20-10 rain-swept victory yesterday at Gillette Stadium. Of greater importance to all of America was the handshake between coaches that followed, and Steve Buckley tells us not to deny it: we cared just as much! Lenny Megliola is bored and says it’s time to seal this case shut.

Anyway, there’s a lot of reaction to this one, so we better get started. And what better place than over on Patriots Daily where Scott Benson takes a Dylanesque rear view of yesterday’s twists, from a Jets team looking for respect to the enamel of Bill Belichick’s teeth looking for the light of day.

Christopher L. Gaspar says that, while the means were somewhat unexpected, the end was another ho-hum victory. Douglas Flynn notes that this victory came without its requisite pound of flesh. Over at the Herald, John Tomase offers all the slips and slides of an anemic offensive attack and wonders about the running game’s ability to pick it up should Mother Nature stay grumpy throughout the playoffs. His more-appreciative officemate Jeff Horrigan celebrates Lawrence Maroney’s effort in bad weather.

Armed with the best 12th man in football, Bob Ryan says the Jets really blew their opportunity. Dan Ventura has Jets players saying yesterday’s loss was no different than the rest of their miserable season.

Despite wrapping up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, Bill Reynolds says these Patriots won’t be letting up. Killjoy Tony Massarotti focuses on the cons of playing starters the next two games. Mike Reiss looks at his ups and downs yesterday, while Massarotti offers his best and worst. Not to spoil things, but seldom-mentioned punter Chris Hanson made both writers’ lists.

On the missing persons front, Robert Lee has the forgotten Kelley Washington coming up with his best game as a Patriot. Gaspar also applauds Washington’s contribution, which was good enough to earn him Ventura’s Play of the Game. Turning to defense, Michael Felger is glad to have Richard Seymour showing signs of his pre-contract extension hunger. Jennifer Toland welcomes Eugene Wilson back into the line-up in place of the injured James Sanders. Lee also has Wilson re-emerging with two big plays.

Shalise Manza Young has another NFL record tied when Wilson became the 21st Patriot to find the end zone this season. Rich Garvin leads off with Wilson’s feat in his weekly update on key milestones.

Celtics

Only in Boston does a 20-2 team have to settle for second billing, but that’s where the Celtics find themselves this morning after beating the Raptors, 90-77, in Toronto yesterday afternoon. Boston came out strong, grabbing a 10-point first quarter lead and never looking back. Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers’ game plan executed to perfection with yesterday’s quick start. Marc J. Spears cites Boston’s top-ranked defense as the real key to victory.

While the C’s played their second game without the Big Three intact, Mike Fine talks about the other Allen filling in admirably. Bulpett’s Celtics Notebook updates us on Pollard’s rib, the Toronto nightlife, a leaky roof, and Ray Allen’s ankle. Spears’ Celtics Notebook has Allen projected to return to the line-up Wednesday night. Isn’t Boston big enough to find two original names for our beat writers’ features?

MLB / Red Sox

Anyone thinking that Andy Pettitte’s confession to George Mitchell’s charges would force Roger Clemens to cross over should probably think again, especially after reading Nick Cafardo’s caution that honor is not necessarily contagious, even among these joined-at-the-hip friends.

Another indictee taking the Clemens path over the weekend is old friend Brendan Donnelly. Rob Bradford has the former Sox pitcher denying steroids usage and that his non-tender by the Red Sox was linked to his inclusion in the Mitchell Report. At least Donnelly didn’t spend last winter preaching steroids abstinence to college kids.

Odds & Sods

It wasn’t all good on the football front this weekend. As the Pats climbed to 14-0, their draft position next April plummeted when Ocho Stinco dropped this game-tying touchdown on a fourth-down play with just over two minutes remaining Saturday night, preserving the now 4-10 San Francisco 49ers’ win. True to form, the three other 3-win teams proceeded to lose, along with all three 4-9 teams. Depending on tie-breakers, the Pats’ selection slot dropped faster than the pigskin through Ocho’s fingers.

Eric McHugh talks to a man caught in the crossfire of the modern-day Hatfields and McCoys feud between Foxborough and Hempstead.

Karen Guregian scolds us for throwing snowballs, conduct that led officials to the rare action of delaying yesterday’s game during the fourth quarter.

As always, I thank you for dropping in to start your week off on BSMW. Send thoughts, comments, insults – really, anything but snowballs – to me at [email protected] Have a great day.

The Artful Roger

(This morning’s links brought to you by our guest blogger, Bob Ekstrom)

Yes, it’s Saturday morning, that sliver of a window in which our sports media take respite from Hub-centric matters to engage in some Yankee talk. You won’t need to tune into WEEI’s Mustard & Johnson show today because we’ve got all there is to know about The Empire right here on BSMW. Like 22 former and current Yankees among the 86 players listed in this week’s Mitchell Report. However, at least one of them is trying to dodge Mitchell’s finger of justice. That would be Roger Clemens. As Don Amore points out, the Rocket has the most to lose with his entry into the Hall of Fame a potential toll. Beyond that, there’s his place in every discussion about the most dominant right-handed pitcher of all time, to say nothing of the purity of his only World Series ring received as a member of the 2000 Yankees team that has placed nine players onto Mitchell’s report, making them the Miami Hurricanes of this new era in Major League Baseball. While Clemens’ lawyer is on the same page, it looks like agent Randy Hendricks is already doing some damage control, pulling Rocket’s ‘don’t do drugs’ speech off the air. Hmmmm.

In the report’s aftermath, we have Jose Canseco saying the biggest name of all was omitted. Whether the beneficiary of a clean bill or oversight, Amore has A-Rod glad to be an unmentionable. As Stan Grossfeld tells us, George Mitchell admits to incomplete data. What do you want for $20 million, anyway? Nor are the Red Sox above reproach. Rob Bradford has Sox GM Theo Epstein lowering his bar with the signings of Donnelly and Gagne.

Elsewhere along the Mitchell front, Tony Massarotti reports on some collateral damage to Jason Varitek, while Steve Buckley has Mo Vaughn’s family caught in the crossfire.

Celtics

Over on the BSMW Full Court Press, Kevin Henkin has a “Celtics Christmas Carol”.

The Celtics improved to 19-2 with a 104-82 win over the Milwaukee Bucks last night at the TD Banknorth Garden. Once again, as Mark Murphy notes, a strong third quarter put this one away. Mark J. Spears recounts the action as this edition becomes only the fourth in franchise history to win 19 of its first 21 games.

Steve Bulpett has Tony Allen turning in a great performance starting in place of the injured Ray Allen. Scott Souza had things a little touch-and-go for awhile last night in the C’s first game without the Big Three intact. Bill Doyle has more on Allen’s injury in his Celtics Notes column. Murphy’s Celtics Notebook takes a look at The Green’s record-tying homecourt success this year, among other things. Lenny Megliola is sounding a little superstitious in looking ahead to Wednesday’s bid for No. 13 and the history books.

Patriots

Over at Patriots Daily the gang checks in with their weekly “Patriots Roundtable”. In Bill Barnwell’s Outside Foxborough he looks at the curious Ravens trade for Willis McGahee.

Don’t slam the gavel on Spygate II quite yet. The New York Daily News has Bill Belichick calling former protege and all-around scoundrel Eric Mangini a liar.

As for on-the-field action, the New Haven Register offers a collaboration contrasting tomorrow’s starting QBs. Robert Lee suggests the Pats are well-advised to stay grounded, given the forecast of nasty weather. David Heuschkel has fullback Heath Evans saying the weather won’t affect New England’s uncanny ability to hold onto the ball.

Odds & Sods

Curt Schilling gives NECN’s Mont Fennel a glimpse of how he’ll be spending his golden years. I don’t know about you, but Schilling in a Roethlisberger jersey seems more obscene to me than seeing LeBron James wearing his Yankees cap to an Indians playoff game.

Judging by Kevin Gray’s On Baseball poll of Granite Staters, George Mitchell could well take next month’s New Hampshire primary if he threw his name in.

At last check, 25% of New York respondents think the Jets will beat the Patriots tomorrow. One has to wonder about the composition of that white stuff covering their front yards.

Thanks for having me back again this weekend. Be sure to wish Bruce a happy return on Monday morning, when he brings you all the latest on Sunday’s Patriots game. Until then, drop me a line at [email protected]

A Look Back and Ahead

(AM Links provided by Guest Blogger Brian Beaupre. Brian can be reached here.)

The big news from yesterday is obviously the long-anticipated Mitchell Report, which named names (had to slip that one in there). Personally, the report itself doesn’t reveal anything to me that I couldn’t already figure out with my own eyes. Take my favorite victim of the report yesterday, Roger Clemens, for example; what athlete over the course of time gets stronger, throws the ball harder, and has the energy/recovery time to pitch well into your 40’s? You can throw Barry Bonds in the mix here, but you get my point. I was convinced Clemens and Bonds were doing something, not just because their necks were the size of a basketball, but because they achieved success at a time in their careers when that just doesn’t happen; nobody gets physically stronger and develops a quicker recovery time as they get older, let alone as they inch toward their 40’s and 50’s. I hate to throw blanket assumptions or “I told you so’s” out there, but did these guys showing up in this report really surprise you as someone who has watched baseball for years?

I think if this report had more current major league players involved, it would strike a stronger chord with some, including myself, as ~80% of the players referenced are retired, or approaching retirement, and can step away from the shadows of these details. One other thing that stands out to me is the recurring time frame for usage we see in the report, where, as we suspected, 2000-2003 is where the heavy activity falls. Not only is this the time frame, but you’re able to see the network of how these things happen, as it truly is just a bunch of buddies on the same team, who travel the same circles, passing on the information of a guy, who knows a guy, etc. Moving forward, I can only hope the present day major leaguers involved in this report don’t refute these claims and just admit to their usage, apologize, and move on. Any lame vitamin/supplement/I don’t understand how to read ingredients on a bottle excuses will just magnify the already tarnished image of players who will take the field in April with this hanging over them.

I really wanted to hype Sunday’s Pats game too, but as I open the links, this seems to be the top story. For me, the Pats pursuit of perfection and home field throughout the playoffs is more exciting than a 409 page snoozer, but as is becoming customary, I digress…

Mitchell Report

Bob Hohler recaps a crazy day for baseball, and highlights the past and no longer present Red Sox that appear in the report. Jeff Goldberg recaps the damning evidence that these players left behind, like checks, personalized post-its, etc. I guess I never understood why any of these guys would be so dumb as to leave a paper trail, let alone personal thank-you notes. Steve Buckley has an excellent piece on the perception of Roger Clemens moving forward, and the whether yesterday’s events will tarnish his legacy the way it has with Barry Bonds. I, for one, hope he gets the same backlash that Bonds has received, and hope that the same writers, media members, etc. who claim Bonds doesn’t deserve the Hall of Fame, asterisk, whatever, come to the same conclusions for Clemens. Sean McAdam also details the now permanent link between Clemens and Bonds, as both were driven to be the best and want more than they already had. Steven Krasner focuses on Clemens’ inclusion in the report, highlighting the evidence against him. Michael Silverman has more on Clemens being the most notable name in the report. Gordon Edes has Clemens’ lawyer somehow issuing a statement refuting the facts of the Mitchell Report, claiming Clemens now has “no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations.” Sure.

Dan Shaughnessy doesn’t see yesterday as a particularly good day for baseball, and wonders what good, if any, will come from this report when we look back on December 13, 2007. David Sandora has a brief recap of yesterday’s events and public comments. Tony Massarotti wonders what we really got out of this report, and digs deeper into the question of whether the general public (outside of the “keepers of the game”) actually cares about performance enhancing drugs, in any sport. Don Amore has another recap of the report and what Bud plans to do with it. Paul Doyle wonders what effect the report will have on teenagers’ decision to use performance enhancing drugs.

Now on to the Old Towne Team’s involvement in the report yesterday, which was minimal. Given the obvious conflict of interest questions raised about George Mitchell, one wondered whether no Red Sox would appear at all, or if they would be referenced as frequently as any other team to avoid speculation that there was bias involved. Yesterday’s findings sure didn’t do anything to subdue the criticism. Amalie Benjamin has the details on all of the former Red Sox mentioned in the report, including the email correspondence between Epstein and his scouts during the offseason last year, when they were looking into Gagne and Donnelly. Makes you wonder why they still signed both of them, right? Jim Donaldson asks that very same question in light of the email communication revealed in the report. Jeff Goldberg has more on the communication between the Sox baseball ops department mentioned in the report, and has the Sox denying they were leaked Donnelly’s details before hearing about the report. Joe McDonald runs down the complete list of players with Red Sox ties mentioned in the report. Rob Bradford details the emails and focuses on the presence of Gagne and Donnelly in the report.

Jose Canseco, the man who was on the soap box for years about steroids, was denied entry into Sen. Mitchell’s press conference. Duke Castiglione caught up with Jose for a little Q & A.

Ok, enough.

Patriots

Karen Guregian has Rodney Harrison stepping up his game at the perfect time for the Patriots. Jennifer Toland also has Harrison bringing his game to another level as of late. David Heuschkel has the Patriots practicing outside in preparation for this weekend’s weather, and addresses what makes me most nervous about this game, in that poor weather becomes the great equalizer in a football game. Remember the Steelers/Dolphins game a few weeks ago? Christopher Price has more on the Pats preparing to play in some rough conditions this weekend. Guregian checks back in with a piece on what I think was the biggest injury we have suffered this year, Sammy Morris. Although Kevin Faulk has done a fantastic job in getting tough yards, and more importantly, blitz pickup, Morris was not only able to spell Maroney (as humorous as that sounds), but he exceeded our expectations as a downfield runner.

Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider discusses the good health the Pats have been blessed with this season, generally speaking, and highlights the importance of the defensive line with an aging linebacker group. Right on cue, Shalize Manza Young has the Pats placing backup NT Mike Wright on IR. Guregian’s notebook has more on Wright’s injury and what it means for the team moving forward.

Check out Patriots Daily, where Scott Benson takes a look at the rich getting richer with Pats holding on to the 49er’s pick in the draft.

Bruins

Yes, they actually played last night, I even got offered $19 loge box tickets. Not enough to drag me out to the Garden in that weather. Kevin Paul Dupont has a weary Bruins team falling to the Devils last night, as they played their third game in four nights. Steve Conroy has more on the Bruins unable to continue their hot streak with a win at home. Conroy’s notebook has Auld losing his home debut as did Tuukka Rask last week. Dupont’s notebook has the Bruins engaged in trade talks to improve their depth on the forward and defensive lines. Barbara Matson has a piece on Mike Mottau, a BC alum and Quincy resident, returning home with the enemy last night.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett’s notebook has KG leading the NBA in All-Star votes. Jeff Howe has a piece on Ray Allen discussing his stint with the Bucks, as they come to the Garden for tonight’s game. Marc Spears checks in with KC Jones, who believes the C’s and the Garden are back, claiming Wednesday night he was watching “beautiful basketball. I remember the good old days with the Larry [Bird] and Bill Russell teams and it’s back.”

Thanks for checking in with us today, this weekend’s action includes, but not limited to; Bucks at Celtics tonight, 7:30pm, Blue Jackets at Bruins tomorrow night @ 7pm, and Sunday the Pats take on the Jets at Gillette @ 1pm (finally), and the Celtics visit the Raptors at 1pm as well. Can’t imagine the ratings for that one will be through the roof. Feel free to shoot me any comments at [email protected], and have a great weekend.

Mitchell Report Names Released

Dave here…

Earlier today Deadspin had printed a list of names that were to appear in today’s Mitchell Report. The names on the list were pretty shocking, with a number of former Red Sox players and two current players. Some of the names were out right jaw dropping.

As the day went on, the names turned out to be incorrect.

The Official Mitchell Report has been released, it’s contents are not as shocking as we thought earlier in the day. The good news for Red Sox fans is that there were only two current players, Eric Gagne (HGH, pg. 217) and Brenden Donnelly (pg. 224), mentioned in the report.

Extra Bases has some interesting excerpts from the report about the Red Sox having some reservations about Gagne and steroid use. Plus, the Red Sox are denying the release of Donnelly had anything to do with the Mitchell Report.

The report itself is over 400 pages in length, and is written in more of a narrative style, rather than a list. One of the most prominent names on the list is of course, Roger Clemens. Clemens use of performance enhancing drugs is described in detail, beginning on page 167.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle says the Astros should be embarrassed.

Baseball Reference has a complete list of the names in the Mitchell Report as well as a link to their statistics.

Former Red Sox MVP Mo Vaughn is listed in Mitchell’s Report, with a copy of a check in the amount of $3,200 written out to Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski (page 186)

David Scott checks in with his Scott’s Shots. He looks at the Mitchell Investigation, as well as, some chages over at CN8.

Hometown boy, Dan Wetzel, says that Roger Clemens is now the white Barry Bonds.

“Arizona Diamondbacks righthander Curt Schilling thinks twice before giving a teammate the traditional slap on the butt for a job well-done. “I’ll pat guys on the ass, and they’ll look at me and go, ‘Don’t hit me there, man. It hurts,'” Schilling says. “That’s because that’s where they shoot the steroid needles.”

The above quote is the lead on an article from June 2002 by SI’s Tom Verducci. If you have forgotten how the whispers sounded pre-“Game of Shadows” and BALCO, look no further than this piece.

“I thought Tom Brady was totally classless with Anthony Smith. Smith shouldn’t have made a guarantee, he’s an idiot, but you won the game, you proved your point. Why are you in his face now? That’s ridiculous. Tom Brady, every week, he’s going down in my estimation as a classy guy… totally classless.”

Bill Plaschke is the blowhard who said the above statement. He also writes in the LA Times that baseball will survive.