Sox In Japan, Game 2

David Scott has ESPN.com needing to explain a weird online gaffe involving the late Cory Lidle.

The Red Sox got the regular season off to a bang with their 6-5 extra innings victory over the Oakland A’s in Japan yesterday. This morning the two clubs are at it again with the A’s currently holding a 4-1 lead in the 6th.

Gordon Edes has Manny Ramirez and Brandon Moss leading the Red Sox to victory yesterday. Michael Silverman has the offense coming to the rescue of Daisuke Matsuzaka and the pitching. Jeff Goldberg has a number of observations from opening day. Sean McAdam has Ramirez and the Red Sox getting off to a quick start yesterday.

Rob Bradford says that the “new” Manny Ramirez was a hit on opening day. Amalie Benjamin has more on Moss making the most of his opportunity to get into the lineup on opening day. Bradford has more on Moss replacing J.D. Drew and saving the day for the Sox. Lenny Megliola kept a running thoughts diary as he got up and watched the game yesterday. Kevin Gray also had a number of thoughts.

Bradford looks at today’s starter, Jon Lester as he gets ready for his 2008 debut. McAdam has Bud Selig taking in the season opener yesterday. Bradford has the Red Sox and A’s visiting the United States Embassy yesterday as well. Jon Couture says that opening in Japan is just part of the price they have to pay for their success. Joe Haggerty thinks that Mike Lowell could be even better this season. Bob Stern has Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima as question marks for the Sox heading into their second season with the team.

Bill Burt and Peter Schworm check in with some early rising Sox fans who went out for the season opener. Michael Medeiros also has a story on this topic.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell recaps the DirecTV outage yesterday.

Edes’ notebook has a look at a shaky outing from Jonathan Papelbon yesterday. Silverman’s notebook has Dice-K apologizing to fans for his poor performance yesterday.

Bruins

The offense broke out last night, scoring 6 times on the Maple Leafs in a 6-2 Boston victory. Kevin Paul Dupont says that while the standings didn’t change that much, the Bruins could hold their head a little higher after last night’s performance. Stephen Harris has the Bruins getting a badly needed lift and victory last night in Toronto.

Harris’ notebook reports that the Bruins leading scorer, Marc Savard, has a broken bone in his back, though possibly in “the best place to break your back.” Dupont’s notebook has Chuck Kobasew being felled by a Zdeno Chara slapshot to the ankle, and has Dupont showing a little frustration with the Bruins Patriots-like stance on injury information. (Might be the only time we compare the Bruins to the Patriots…)

Celtics

We’ve got a couple of new pieces on on the BSMW Full Court Press, there are Random Thoughts and Further Reflections and a A Second Open Letter to the Readers.

Peter May has Sam Cassell drinking Tom Thibodeau’s Kool-Aid, which means working hard on the defensive end. Jessica Camerato has Cassell possibly looking at his last chance to get back to the NBA finals, where he hasn’t been since the first two seasons of his long career.

Mark Murphy has the Celtics getting ready for the Suns tonight, and hoping to avenge one of their worst games of the season. Jackie MacMullan has Shaquille O’Neal finding his place with the Suns, and with the help of Bill Russell, accepting his reduced production and role. He also takes a nice swipe at Ricky Davis, praises James Posey, and looks forward to playing the Celtics now that they’re back to being “Boston Boston.” Shaq is always entertaining, and this is a good read from MacMullan.

NCAA

Down by 22 points with less than 15 minutes left in the second half to Syracuse, things didn’t look good for the UMass Minutemen. Then it happened. They staged a stunning comeback to win the game and earn a spot in the NIT Final Four with a 81-77 victory in the Carrier Dome. Erik Gallant wonders if this was the greatest comeback in NCAA history.

Jackie Friedman and Kerri Fleming have reports on the UMass victory. Eli Rosenswaike has the story in the Herald.

Marty Dobrow has Bentley trying to keep their unbeaten season (33-0) perfect as they head into the NCAA Division 2 Elite Eight. Mark Murphy has more on Bentley’s quest for the perfect season. Sean Jacquet has the Falcons looking to finish the job this year after falling in the elite eight last year.

Patriots/Misc

Karen Guregian and Mike Reiss each have Richard Seymour among those starting off fresh in the Patriots offseason conditioning program which started this week at Gillette Stadium.

Amy Derjue on the Boston Daily blog follows up on the Brian McNamee appearance at a local nutritional store this week as noted in yesterday’s afternoon post here on BSMW.

Tuesday Thoughts and Links

What? No ceremonies marking today’s 37th Anniversary of the Patriots changing their name from the Boston Patriots to the New England Patriots? (Edit – that’s according to NFL.com. I’m not sure where the whole Bay State Patriots name fits in here.)

Ummm, Butch? If you’re trying to be clever with the signatures to your posts from Japan, it should be Butchie-San, not Butchie-son

Succinct analysis from Glenn Ordway on the Red Sox win: “Dice-K sucked, Snyder sucked, Papelbon sucked.” OK then. I guess that’s all we need to know.

Reid Laymance has the official word from DirecTV on this morning’s outage.

Gordon Edes has the game story of today’s (last night’s?) Red Sox opening day win over the A’s out in Japan. Michael Silverman has the story for the Herald.

Dan Shaughnessy wonders what General Douglas MacArthur would have thought about the scene in Japan. You know, I was wondering the exact same thing…

Chad Finn has his 2008 Red Sox season preview.

Jeff Passan has Manny Ramirez enjoying the million yen he won with his MVP performance today.

Sean Deveney says that Dice-K’s wild start doesn’t really mean anything.

Dayn Perry says that today wasn’t really opening day.

Bill Simmons has some thoughts on the NCAA tournament.

Tom Curran says that Roger Goodell cherry-picked the 49ers tampering case to punish.

Scouts Inc. has Randy Moss back on top as the best receiver in the NFL.

I’ll credit a BSMW message board poster for pointing out the ad on the bottom of the Boston Herald sports page today:

Boston Herald back cover

That “sports nutrition” place in Everett is promoting an appearance by Brian McNamee in the store this Thursday? Why? Then again, the man might be a hero in these parts for taking on Roger Clemens…

BSM Approval Ratings – Amalie Benjamin

Amalie BenjaminToday’s subject is Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe.

The SoSH Wiki has a quick profile of Benjamin, who has been on the Red Sox beat for the Globe for the last couple of seasons. She was also an intern with the paper duing her college years.

Benjamin has become a regular on Red Sox coverage with NESN, becoming a television presence as well as a newspaper writer. She handles much of the blogging duties on the Globe Extra Bases Red Sox blog as well.

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Amalie Benjamin Approval Ratings
View Results

Sox and the Rising Sun

Morning links while watching the Red Sox season opener…

Apparently, DirecTV had a very untimely (for Red Sox fans) outage this morning. An explanation has not been issued as of yet…
(Update: Eric Wilbur has a post on the DirecTV topic.)

J.D. Drew has been scratched from the lineup due stiffness in his lower back.

Michael Silverman has the Sox beginning their title defense with a game against the A’s this morning in Japan. Dan Shaughnessy has this morning as an odd way to begin a title defense. Sean McAdam says that with his illness fully behind him now, Jon Lester’s time has come. Joe Haggerty has the Sox hoping that the same crew can deliver a second title for the Red Sox.

Gordon Edes has Daisuke Matsuzaka’s old club struggling despite the $51.1 million windfall they received as the posting fee for Matsuzaka. Amalie Benjamin has the whole nation of Japan watching Matsuzaka today as the leads off the regular season at the top of the Red Sox rotation. Rob Bradford has Manny Ramirez starting this season in a much better place (in many ways) than he started last season in. Joe McDonald has veteran Joe Thurston hoping to earn a callup with the Sox sometime this season.

The Herald notebook has Coco Crisp with his injuries behind him, and ready to go. Amalie Benjamin’s notebook has the Red Sox with a juggling act on their hands as they set the active roster for these games.

Celtics

After sweeping through Texas, the Celtics suddenly find themselves unable to close out games, blowing their second straight seemingly comfortable second half lead in as many games. Last night, the Philadelphia 76ers stormed back on the Celtics, winning 95-90 at the Garden.

Marc J. Spears says perhaps it was just one of those nights coming off a long road trip for the Celtics. Mark Murphy has Philadelphia wearing down the Celtics with their endless supply of energy. Jessica Camerato had a live blog of the game. Scott Souza has things crashing down on the Celtics in the fourth quarter last night. Bill Doyle has the Celtics suddenly losing their ability to close things out in the fourth.

Jeff Horrigan has Kevin Garnett and the Celtics learning a big lesson from last night. Lenny Megliola says that the Celtics need to get used to getting the best effort from the opposition each and every night. Mike Fine has poor shooting by the Celtics in the fourth letting the Sixers back in. Horrigan also looks at the turnaround of the Sixers both last night and this season in general. Jim Fenton has Doc Rivers experimenting with his rotation in order to try and get his bench more experience together. Bob Halloran says that we should all be very disappointed if the Celtics don’t win the NBA title.

Spears’ notebook has the Atlanta Hawks eager to get a shot at the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Murphy’s notebook has Doc Rivers pleased with the “Seats for Soldiers” promotion put on by the Celtics last night. Doyle’s notebook has Garnett scoring Eastern Conference player of the week for last week.

Bruins

Kevin Paul Dupont says that times are desperate for the Bruins, and its not just the offense that is ailing them. Steve Conroy has the Bruins shorthanded at practice yesterday. Matt Porter looks at some of the things that the Bruins do to get ready for games, including a soccer game in the hallway. Mike Loftus says that the Bruins need some of their youngsters to step up right now with all the injuries.

Dupont’s notebook has Marc Savard and Andrew Ference the latest Bruins touched by injury. Loftus’ notebook says that the Bruins will be shorthanded for their home-and-home series with the Maple Leafs this week.

Patriots/Other

Mike Reiss and Christopher L. Gasper has Sammy Morris joining his teammates for offseason workouts, which began yesterday. They also report that the Patriots are not interested in Pacman Jones. Karen Guregian has a look at Jarvis Green, who will be on today’s episode of “Montel” with Montel Williams, shedding tears because of the joy he provided a Hurricane Katrina victim.

Frank Dell’Apa has the Revs’ Shalrie Joseph performing double duty this week, playing for both New England and his national team of Grenada. Dell’Apa’s notebook has the Revs starting the season a bit shorthanded.

Mark Blaudschun has the Boston College football team starting over with spring practice and beginning life without Matt Ryan.

Rich Thompson has UMass hitting the road for Syracuse in the NIT Quarterfinals.

Monday Afternoon Links

Jayson Stark has the Red Sox radically shifting the face of baseball with their recent success.

Ken Fang has his usual thorough collection of Monday morning sports media columns and coverage.

Richard Deitsch of SI.com has a look at NCAA Tournament coverage, with a focus on Billy Packer.

Pete Prisco has a look at the needs of AFC East teams this offseason.

Peter King in his Monday Morning QB column has the Patriots among those teams he expects to make a trade on draft day.

He makes reference to an appearance that the ubiquitous Sen. Arlen Spector made on the Rush Limbaugh show last week, which included the following exchange:

RUSH: Lot of football fans in this audience. Since the Super Bowl we’ve heard very little about this guy in Hawaii, Matt Walsh, that claims to have videotape of the New England Patriots and the St. Louis Rams walk-through the Saturday before their Super Bowl. What’s the status of that?

SEN. SPECTER: Well, the status of it is that there has been an exchange of correspondence between Walsh’s lawyers and the NFL lawyers. I’ve seen the letters. Walsh’s lawyer let me see them on a promise of confidentiality, and I believe an objective and fair reading of those letters is that the NFL is discouraging Walsh from coming forward.

RUSH: Really? Because their statements are just exact opposite.

SEN. SPECTER: Well, the NFL says they’re trying to encourage them, and I issued the challenge to the commissioner a couple of Saturdays ago, and they put out a Sunday release that they were making substantial progress. Well, we’ve had almost two weeks since that Sunday release, and nothing has happened. I believe those… Listen, I think the NFL has a duty of integrity. They have an anti-trust exemption, which gives them a preferred position. They are role models. If you can cheat in the NFL, you can cheat in college or high school or sixth grade math test. I think ultimately, Rush, if we get enough fire under it, they’re going to have to show those letters — and when they do, they’re going to have to change their tune and let Walsh testify, because those reports are looking pretty strong, but there was filming for the 2002 Super Bowl.

I’d like to think that the United States Senate also has a “duty of integrity,” Senator.

Boston Sports Media Approval Ratings

Starting today, I’m going to try to run a quick noontime opinion question each day regarding a member of the Boston sports media. This idea is “borrowed” from the great Deadspin.com, so I want to make sure credit is given there…

The concept is simple. Each day I name a Boston sports media member, and you vote – either Approve or Disapprove. You can then add your thoughts on the person in the comments section.

Today’s subject is WEEI’s Michael Holley.

Holley started out in Boston with the Boston Globe, then left for Chicago, only to come back a few months later. He rejoined the Globe, and then left again. He has been the midday co-host on WEEI’s Dale and Holley show for the last several years. He is the author of three books on the Boston sports scene, profiles of Bill Belichick, Tedy Bruschi and Terry Francona.

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Michael Holley Approval Ratings
Total Votes: 1616 Started: March 24, 2008 Back to Vote Screen

Sox Get Ready For Opener in Japan

Rob Bradford has Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz happy to have gone on the trip to Japan, even if they’re not scheduled to pitch in the big league games this week. Amalie Benjamin has the ex-Yomiuri Giant, Hideki Okajima being cheered wildly in his return to his former home stadium. Jeff Goldberg has the Red Sox ready to start the season with the A’s.

Sean McAdam has a preview of the Red Sox as they get set to open the regular season tomorrow morning. (ET) Bill Burt also offers up a season preview for Boston’s favorite nine. Jon Couture says that all the parts are in place, but repeating won’t be easy for the Red Sox.

Dan Shaughnessy has some scenes and observations with the Red Sox in Japan. Michael Silverman says that jet lag is still an issue with the players. Joe McDonald has Josh Beckett proceeding with caution in his rehab. Joe Haggerty has Dice-K and Okajima excited about their return to Japan. Couture says that the Red Sox present a good mix of youth and veterans.

McAdam has J.D. Drew wishing that the regular season had already started. Bradford has Drew swinging a hot bat so far this spring. Bradford also has Jon Lester arriving in Japan, and ready to take his spot as the #2 starter to begin the season.

Silverman reports that 2009 will see a new and improved World Baseball Classic.

Silverman’s notebook has more on Hideki Okajima getting a huge welcome in his return to the Tokyo dome. Benjamin’s notebook has J.D. Drew continuing his hot spring with a grand slam.

Silverman also posted a Web Exclusive feature on Daisuke Matsuzaka’s high school years.

The Boston Herald has their Red Sox preview this morning. With an addition 10 articles in this section, there’s certainly a lot of material in there. We’ll try to get to all of it.

Tony Massarotti looks at whether the 2008 Red Sox will have a better chance of repeating than did the 2005 Red Sox. Michael Silverman takes a look at the Sox at each position and notes whether they have what it takes to make another October run. Steve Buckley says that the Red Sox possess a rock-solid foundation which gives them an excellent shot at repeating.

Jeff Horrigan has a look at the double play combination of Julio Lugo and Dustin Pedroia, the first time the Sox will have had the same combination to start the season in consecutive seasons in the middle of the infield since 1990. Silverman has a piece on newcomer Sean Casey, who is happy with his role as a backup with the World Champs. Bradford writes about how Josh Beckett has become a leader with the Red Sox.

Steve Buckley looks at the meteoric rise to stardom of Jonathan Papelbon. Silverman has a piece on Jacoby Ellsbury, who could be the next Red Sox prospect to shine in the majors. Bradford has J.D. Drew hoping that he’ll settle in and have a big year in his second season with the Red Sox. Horrigan has a look at the supporting cast in the bullpen which is always the key to a good team.

Celtics/Bruins

With the Celtics reminding us of the glory days, I thought it would be fun to compare the 2008 Celtics with the 1986 Celtics and try to see who would come out on top.

Kevin Henkin posts an open letter to the Celtics’ front-runners. Marc J. Spears has a look at Rajon Rondo and his passion outside of basketball…roller skating. Steve Bulpett says that Sam Cassell has already had an impact on the Celtics.

Fluto Shinzawa notes that none of the recent moves made by coach Claude Julien have been able to snap the Bruins out of their slump. Steve Conroy looks at what needs to happen in the next two weeks for the Bruins to make the playoffs.

It’s a Media Link Friday

Update: Head over to Scott’s Shots for a quick interview with Tina Cervasio on her new job with MSG.

It’s Ken from Fang’s Bites. Time for your Friday media links once again. The NCAA Tournament will be the subject of discussion in most of the media columns today.

First round action will conclude Friday night, then 2nd round action will start with a quadruple header on Saturday on CBS and a triple decker jones on Easter Sunday. All action can be accessed through March Madness on Demand at NCAA.com or through Mega March Madness on DirecTV.

The NCAA Women’s Tournament gets underway on the ESPN family of networks on Saturday. If your internet service provider has an agreement with the Alleged Worldwide Leader, you can watch all of the Women’s Tournament on your computer through ESPN360.

If you’re not a college basketball fan, there’s Tiger Woods going for his 6th straight PGA Tour win at the Blue Monster at Doral in Miami as the Florida Swing continues. The Golf Channel has 2nd round coverage of the CA Championship today at 2 p.m. then NBC Sports picks up the tournament on Saturday with four hours of coverage.

For tennis fans, there’s the Pacific Life Tournament which heads to the men’s and women’s finals on FSN.

And the NASCAR Sprint Cup takes the Easter holiday off, but the Nationwide Series will be in Nashville on Saturday on ESPN2.

Let’s get to your links.

Michael Hiestand of USA Today looks into the anti-ESPN Power Point presentation that’s been making the rounds at league offices and ad agencies. Earlier this week, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal broke the story about the slide show that had been created by ESPN’s competitors. Hiestand notes that the author is “Fox Network Groups”. Michael has now started a blog for USA Today and I say it’s about time. Welcome to the blogosphere, Michael. And here’s the Nation Newspaper’s complete listing of sports on TV this weekend.

David Scott has an interview with the always lovely Tina Cervasio who signed with MSG Network earlier this week.

Now let’s start out West and move eastward.

West

John Ryan of the San Jose Mercury News writes in his Morning Buzz blog that the NCAA Tournament is a true Made-for-TiVO event.

Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times writes about CBS’ first Mixed Martial Arts primetime telecast in May. Christine Daniels talks about the NCAA Tournament being the viewing pick of the weekend.

The Los Angeles Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth talks with the General Manager of CBSSports.com about March Madness on Demand which had some technical glitches on Thursday. Hoffarth has his extensive media notes in his Farther Off the Wall blog. And Ramona Shelburne of the Daily News has a story on Carter Blackburn who made his NCAA Tournament debut yesterday and did rather well in my opinion.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star enjoyed having games to choose from in the NCAA Tournament either through his computer or on DirecTV.

From the North County Times, John Maffei says Padres announcer Andy Masur is now more comfortable in his second year in the radio booth and gets to call tonight’s UConn-San Diego NCAA Tournament game as a bonus.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune talks with CBS Sports analyst Mike Gminski who will call the UConn-San Diego game tonight. Jay has last weekend’s TV ratings from the always classy San Diego.

Scott D. Pierce from the Deseret (UT) Morning News has a bone to pick with the Mountain West Conference’s TV coverage.

Midwest

Paul Christian of the Rochester Post-Bulletin talks about a whole range of topics including the number of entries in ESPN.com’s Tournament Challenge.

Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune talks with NCAA Tournament host Greg Gumbel.

In today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bob Wolfley feels interest going into this year’s NCAA Tournament is at an all-time low.

The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein has his viewing picks for the weekend.

South

Mel Bracht of the Oklahoman talks with CBS Sports’ Bill Raftery who will call the St. Joseph’s-Oklahoma game tonight. In his media notebook, Bracht incorrectly says March Madness on Demand is offering Westwood One radio broadcasts of the NCAA Tournament for the first time. They were offered last year as well. And Mel says there’s plenty of college action to watch this weekend.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle says a local sports radio talk host is back doing what he does best.

Ray Buck from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says ESPN’s baseball analysts have had little to say about the Texas Rangers’ chances this season.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Dave Darling gives his top 10 favorite Yankee Stadium moments.

In the Miami Herald, Barry Jackson says there’s a method to CBS Sports’ madness in choosing which NCAA Tournament games go where. And Jackson has Bob Costas trying to backtrack on his anti-blogging comments from last week.

Let’s head to South Carolina where Doug Nye of The State says the NCAA Tournament won’t have the sporting weekend to itself.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Jim Williams in the Baltimore edition of the Examiner talks with CBS’ Billy Packer who says Georgetown could be upset today by Maryland-Baltimore County. And for the Washington edition, Williams has Packer saying Georgetown can reach the Final Four. What? And in his Watch This! blog, Williams says the NCAA Tournament can be accessed by all types of media, via TV, radio, computer, satellite TV, On Demand, etc.

Ray Frager of the Baltimore Sun has the ESPN MLB analysts talking about the Orioles’ chances this year.

Heading to New York now, the Post’s Phil Mushnick speculates that ESPN’s Chris Berman won’t be at The Masters because Augusta National told the network not to send him. That’s a stretch. Justin Terranova has five questions for NBC Sports golf analyst Johnny Miller. And Terranova talks with ESPN’s Steve Phillips about Breakfast and Baseball as the Red Sox take on the A’s next Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

The increasingly bitter Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News lashes out at CBS for not allowing the players to be paid in the NCAA Tournament.

Neil Best of Newsday who’s not bitter, talks with CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus about his double role in leading two network divisions. From his blog, Neil has some things that didn’t make his column including comments from CBS News investigative reporter Armen Keteyian about his boss. Neil also has comments from McManus about the CBS Sports properties and trying to increase the ratings for Katie Couric. And Neil has a blurb on how WFAN’s morning and afternoon shows are playing nicey-nice for now.

Canada

The Toronto Globe and Mail’s William Houston says Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson will have a rare hockey doubleheader Saturday as they’ll call two games in two different cities for Hockey Night in Canada.

The Toronto Star’s Chris Zelkovich talks about a potential all-baseball channel in Canada. This is not to be confused with the MLB Network which launches next year.

Blogs

A couple of things from the Sports Media Watch. First, some ratings notes including TNT scoring for the Rockets-Celtics game on Tuesday. And the SMW feels CBS is entering this year’s NCAA Tournament on a low note.

The Sports Media Journal is now in the quarterfinals of the Sports Radio Madness host tournament.

Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball blog says Comcast will not offer the MLB Extra Innings package in HD while DirecTV will increase the number of MLB games in High Def this season.

Christopher Byrne of the Eye on Sports Media blog looks at the silly live blogging rules for the NCAA Tournament.

Joe Favorito’s Sports Marketing and Public Relations blog says the Yankees did the right PR move going to Virginia Tech this week, while the Red Sox did not in its pay protest for its coaches.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell is now in Day Ten of his Minor League Baseball Logo Contest. And Darren has some March Madness business notes.

Those are your links for today. Enjoy your weekend and I hope your brackets will be mostly intact after Sunday. I’ll be back next Friday.

As Seen And Heard During Celtics/Mavs on TNT

Some items from last night’s TNT coverage of Celtics/Mavericks:

Reggie Miller on Craig Sager’s report on an argument between Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and head coach Avery Johnson: “Where there’s smoke there’s fire, so if both guys are downplaying it then something went on. The biggest complaint from Mark Cuban was about Brandon Bass and his play the other night against the Lakers, he only played 13 minutes. It was a high energy game and he’s one of their high energy players.”

Kevin Garnett on the recent comments made by Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor that Garnett tanked games last season: “Sam Mitchell told me this a long time ago, he said, ‘You take care of yourself and you do what you can do and at the end of the night you look at yourself in the mirror and you ask yourself truthfully, did I do everything I can do?’ and if you can live with that, then so be it.’ People are going to say what they got to say, people are going to say what they want to say. But just because you’re a billionaire doesn’t make you full of taste and class, so it’s cool with me.”

Craig Sager reporting on the NBA reprimanding Glen Taylor for his comments about Kevin Garnett: “(Glen) Taylor was summoned by the (NBA) league office and he has been reprimanded for comments detrimental to the game.”

Miller on Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor’s comments about Kevin Garnett: “The comments were personal and, in my opinion, way out of bounds. (Kevin Garnett) was an 11-time All-Star for the Timberwolves, league MVP in 2004 and outstanding in the community. I agree with Kevin, for Glen Taylor to make those comments it let’s you know that sometimes money can’t buy class. This is a guy that I’ve known for the past 10-plus years and he’s always given 100 percent…It’s just out-of-bounds for those comments.”

Miller on aging Boston Celtics guard Sam Cassell: “Jason Terry is taking the right approach with Sam Cassell guarding him. He knows (to) continue to move, because Sam’s not the same Sam Cassell of old. He’s a little bit older and it’s tougher for him to cover a guy like Jason Terry when he’s running off the picks.”

Miller on the Celtics sweeping the ‘Texas Triangle:’ “This was a measuring stick for the Celtics. Everyone was wondering (what would happen) when they went out West and had to go through the Texas Triangle and they came up 3-0 on them.”

Charles Barkley on his MVP selection: “You’ve got two guys who are legit MVP candidates in the East, and that’s Kevin Garnett and LeBron (James). They are contenders, but I can’t give it to LeBron. If I was going to give it to somebody in the East, I would give it to Kevin Garnett because they’ve got the best record. But the West is much tougher, much better competition. I’ve got to give (Hornets’) Chris Paul, Byron Scott and Tyson Chandler a lot of credit. Chris Paul has been a one man wrecking crew. But Kobe Bryant it the best player we’ve got in the NBA. You’ve got an injured (Andrew) Bynum, working (Pau) Gasol in and now Gasol is out, and to still have the best record in the NBA, that’s why I would give the MVP to Kobe Bryant. I’m going it to give guys with a better record facing better competition.”

Barkley on a locker room confrontation between Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and coach Avery Johnson: “The little dust up between Mark Cuban and Avery Johnson, confrontation is a part of sports. As long as you keep it in the locker room it can bring the team together. I think it’s going to help Dallas. Mark Cuban is my favorite owner and Avery’s got to take some criticism, that’s part of it. Now they’ve got to circle the wagons, and say, ‘you know what, this is our team and we’ve got tot stick together’ because a lot of people are trying to pull them apart.”

Barkley on assumptions that the Celtics will be the NBA Champions because they’ve gone 23-4 against Western Conference teams: “It’s not the same as playing a team four out of seven times. You’ve got to factor that in some teams might have played the night before and have been on the road or played four games in five nights. You can’t jump to that conclusion when you say they are 23-4 against the West. They are going to have a tough time with Cleveland in the second round of the playoffs and against the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. Under that theory they should trade Ray Allen because they’ve played better without Ray Allen, they beat the Champs (San Antonio Spurs) and the Houston Rockets.”

C’s Mess With Texas

The Celtics finished off an impressive three game sweep in four days of the very tough Texas NBA contingent with a 94-90 win over the Dallas Mavericks. The Big Three led the way in this one, each of them scoring over 20 points, including Ray Allen, who was playing for the first time on this trip after hurting his ankle last Friday night.

Steve Bulpett has Allen coming back just in time to give the Celtics a big lift in big D. Marc J. Spears has more on the Celtics accomplishing a rare feat with the three game sweep of Texas. Check the coverage from Dallas in the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Scott Souza says that perhaps soon the Celtics might actually be viewed as championship favorites. Tim Weisberg says that the Celtics have enjoyed almost a spiritual success on this trip. Bulpett’s notebook examines how the Celtics keep winning even when they’re suffering through injuries. Spears’ notebook has an NBA official chastising Minnesota owner Glen Taylor for his comments about Kevin Garnett earlier this week.

Red Sox

Michael Silverman offers a detailed account of the trip to Japan which lost the Red Sox an entire day of existence. Sean McAdam also offers a travelogue from Fort Myers to Tokyo.

Rob Bradford has Mike Lowell recounting the story of his first trip to Japan – as a nine year old with the South Florida Little League All-Star team. Joe McDonald has Sean Casey talking about when he first knew he wanted to play for the Red Sox. Tony Massarotti notes that David Ortiz is already a big deal in Japan, as his 514 foot home run in a 2004 trip with other MLB stars is still remembered to this day. Silverman also notes that there won’t be much relaxation on this trip, as the Sox have a busy schedule ahead.

Jackie MacMullan has a piece on Red Sox pitching phenom Clay Buchholz, in which she calls the Red Sox decision to shut him down at the end of September “one of the truly bizarre twists of the 2007 championship season.” Really? Bob Stern says that a trio of homegrown positional starters is a key to the Red Sox success. Mike Fine says that the middle of the Red Sox lineup will need to be devastating again in order for the Sox to be successful. Terry Nau says that the Red Sox need to give Jason Varitek a new contract. Joe Haggerty looks at a new Jon Lester in 2008.

Bill Nowlin writes that games in exotic foreign locales are nothing new for the Red Sox franchise, which has played games in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands before this trip to Japan.

Nick Cafardo’s notebook says that the Red Sox won’t face punishment for delaying the game on Wednesday because of the situation with the coaches payments for the Japan trip. McDonald’s notebook has Jon Lester getting ready for his start in the second game of the regular season with a minor league tuneup yesterday.

Bruins

It’s like old times for the Bruins these days. And not the good old days, either. The B’s have been thoroughly owned by the Montreal Canadiens as of late, and this includes a 4-2 loss at the Garden last night.

Fluto Shinzawa has the Canadiens scoring their 7th straight win over the Bruins this season. Steve Conroy says that these losses to Montreal could derail the B’s playoff hopes. Tony Lee has Montreal continuing their dominance over the Bruins. Bud Barth and Douglas Flynn have the Bruins futility against Montreal reaching an all time low.

Stephen Harris says that once again, the Boston problem comes down to a lack of scoring. Matt Porter reports on Zdeno Chara getting back on the ice after missing the last five games. Mike Loftus has Patrice Bergeron planning on going with the team on their return trip to Montreal tomorrow night.

Conroy’s notebook says that it was a disappointing return to action for Chara. Shinzawa’s notebook has Tim Thomas’ best efforts not enough to stop Alex Kovalev and the Canadiens. Barth’s notebook has more on the return of Chara.

Patriots

The Patriots added to their secondary yesterday by signing free agent cornerback Fernando Bryant to a one-year contract. Christopher L. Gasper says that this signing is a “Filene’s Basement” approach to free agency for the Patriots. Shalise Manza Young says that whether or not Bryant can help on the field remains to be seen, though he’ll surely help in the community. John Tomase has the lawyer for suspended cornerback Pacman Jones saying that his client would be a good fit for the Patriots, and vice-versa.

Check back a little later for Ken Fang’s media links…