Patriots Day Afternoon Links

Robert Cheruiyot won his fourth Boston marathon today, while the Red Sox finished off a four game sweep of the Rangers with a 8-2 win at Fenway today.

Some links from around the web:

Bill Simmons finds himself watching hockey again with the Bruins’ comeback against Montreal. He still vows not to put a penny into the Jacobs’ pockets though…

Darren Eliot examines what the Bruins can accomplish with a win tonight in Montreal.

Former Bill Belichick colleague Michael Lombardi describes what the Patriots coach is looking for as the draft approaches.

Peter King has his mock draft in Monday Morning Quarterback.

Chris Sheridan has the Celtics celebrating their win last night by playing wack-a-Powe.

Jeff Goodman says Rajon Rondo gives the Celtics yet another weapon.

Arash Markazi talks with Bob Cousy about the Celtics return to glory.

Richard Deitsch checks in with a new edition of Media Circus.

Our own Ken Fang has his collection of Monday media links.

Approval Ratings – Jason Wolfe

Jason WolfeToday we’ll get a chance to opine on someone who isn’t actually a sports media member, but who has a huge influence on the sports media scene here in Boston.

We’re talking about the VP of Programming & Operations for Entercom Boston, Jason Wolfe. He also serves as Vice President AM Programming at SportsRadio 850 WEEI. (That’s all according to his LinkedIn profile.)

As I mentioned, Wolfe isn’t on the air on WEEI, but he determines who is. He took over programming duties of WEEI from Glenn Ordway a few years back. His goals for the WEEI programming as stated to Boston Magazine are as follows:

“Our goal across the board is to push the envelope,” he says. “If we didn’t do it that way, we would be going back to what we used to be, which was reading the box scores.” The station is long past needing the credibility that came with having reporters from New England’s most prestigious newspaper take part in its shows. “We’re much more successful than we were when we had them on,” Wolfe says. It’s also long past needing to say it’s sorry; being number one means not having to even care who you offend.

Wolfe now oversees talk station WRKO as well, which hasn’t yet enjoyed the phenomenal ratings success that sister station WEEI has seen.

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Jason Wolfe Approval Ratings
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Another Winning Weekend For Boston

So, not too much happening around here at the moment, is there?

It was another amazing weekend in Boston sports, as the Bruins won a thriller at the Garden on Saturday night to force a deciding game seven tonight, the Celtics romped in their first playoff game at the Garden in over one thousand days, and the Red Sox took three from the Rangers over at Fenway, coming up with a couple of exciting comebacks along the way.

It spills over to today, as the Boston Marathon, Red Sox/Rangers over at Fenway, and the Bruins/Canadiens game seven in Montreal are all on the schedule.

Marc J. Spears has the Celtics taking care of business with their 104-81 game one rout of the Atlanta Hawks. Jessica Camerato has a game blog from last night’s action at the Garden. Mark Murphy says that everything the Celtics did worked like German engineering last night. Kevin McNamara says that the Celtics were all business in their game one win over the Hawks. Scott Souza has the Celtics determined to keep their mantra of never being satisfied going throughout the postseason. David Willis has the Celtics manhandling the young Hawks in the game one victory. Jim Fenton has the Celtics getting their playoff run off to the right start. Jeff Howe has the Celtics using an all-around effort to clip the Hawks wings in game one.

Kevin Henkin on the BSMW Full Court Press offers some stream-of-consciousness observations while attending the game last night.

Peter May has the Celtics using familiar methods and tools to achieve victory last night in game one. Tony Massarotti says that clearly, the NBA playoffs are back in Boston. Lenny Megliola says that last night went as expected for a team with championship hopes. Steve Bulpett has several of the Celtics weighing in on the first game of the San Antonio-Phoenix series, a game which they say really helped put them in the mood for playoff basketball.

Bob Ryan has Rajon Rondo taking control of the situation in his first NBA playoff game. Steve Bulpett says that Rondo was unflappable in his matchup with playoff vet Mike Bibby. Tim Weisberg says that Rondo sure didn’t look like a playoff rookie last night.

Bob Ryan has former members of the Hawks still unable to get over that game seven loss twenty years ago to the Celtics. A win in that game for the Hawks would’ve really established pro basketball in Atlanta, something that still hasn’t happened to this day. Jennifer Toland checks in with former Hawk (and Celtics short-timer) Dominique Wilkins, who reminisced about those 1980′s matchups between the teams.

Monique Walker has the Hawks vowing to bounce back in game two on Wednesday night. Dan Ventura has the Hawks insisting that they aren’t done after the game one rout. Ventura has former Celtic Joe Johnson saying that he’s not out for redemption in this series.

Spears’ notebook has a couple of Doc Rivers’ assistant coaches being courted for heading coaching jobs across the league. Murphy’s notebook has the Celtics drawing energy from the pumped-up crowd at TD Banknorth Garden. McNamara’s notebook has the Hawks youngsters getting some advice from the veteran Bibby and some schooling from the veteran Celtics. Bill Doyle’s notebook has the Celtics learning from the Bruins as to what damage an eight seed can do to a top seed in the postseason. Willis’ notebook has old friends Rivers and Wilkins on opposite sides for this series. Fenton’s notebook has more from Wilkins on Rivers and the Celtics.

Red Sox

Jeff Horrigan has the Red Sox erasing a five run deficit to defeat the Rangers 6-5 at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon. Gordon Edes has the Sox coming back to win even without the red-hot Manny Ramirez, giving the rest of the team a boost of confidence. Joe McDonald has Dustin Pedroia coming to the Sox rescue with a keep hit on what was supposed to be his off day. Jeff Goldberg recaps another rally for the comeback kids. Ron Chimelis has the Sox walking their way to this win. Bill Ballou has the Sox winning another game they shouldn’t have. Bob Stern has David Ortiz storming around the bases for the Red Sox victory. Mike Petraglia also recaps the action from Fenway.

Nick Cafardo has Jed Lowrie coming up with another big hit, and teaming with Jacoby Ellsbury to form an impressive rookie duo for the Sox. Buckley has Lowrie taking advantage of his call up and enjoying it while he can up here in Boston. Alex Speier says that Lowrie’s time in the big leagues might be short this time around. Jon Couture has Lowrie making the most of his chance with the Red Sox.

Jim Donaldson has the Red Sox showing tenacity in their recent comebacks. Steve Buckley has David Ortiz helping the Red Sox with his baserunning – twice – yesterday.Steven Krasner notes that the Rangers were unable to take advantage of Ramirez’s ejection. Joe Haggerty looks ahead to brunch at Fenway today. ESPN will be teaming up with Robert Redford to produce a film on Jackie Robinson, a project that is slated for cinematical release.

Horrigan’s notebook has Manny getting an early exit after arguing a strike call with the umpire. In Edes’ notebook, he has Tim Wakefield being extremely efficient with his pitches, throwing strikes and only using 86 pitches in eight innings. McDonald’s notebook has teammates picking up the slack after Manny was tossed out. Goldberg’s notebook has Big Papi using his legs to help beat the Rangers. Chimelis’ notebook has Wakefield’s location nearly perfect in this one. Ballou’s notebook has Terry Francona’s plan to give guys a day off being foiled once again. Stern’s notebook has more on Manny’s ejection.

Bruins

It’s all on the line tonight in Montreal as the eighth seeded Bruins attempt to complete their series comeback against the top seeded Montreal Canadiens.

I half expected to see a Kevin Paul Dupont column today demanding the Zdeno Chara be stripped of his captaincy, but there’s a lot that is different about this game seven with Montreal from the last time these teams were in this situation, four years ago.

Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins are already battle tested for this situation, having been playing elimination games for a month so far. Steve Conroy has the Bruins hoping to complete the biggest comeback in their 84 year history tonight, and hand the Canadiens the biggest series choke of their 99 year history. Douglas Flynn has the Bruins acting as if they haven’t accomplished anything just yet. Bud Barth has the B’s one win from a historic upset. Mike Loftus has the Bruins and Habs each going for the knockout tonight.

Stephen Harris says that both teams have gained respect in this series. Harris also says that solid effort is what has brought the Bruins this far. Mike McMahon looks at the Bruins franchise facing a crossroads tonight in Montreal. Mick Colageo says that win or lose tonight, the Bruins are back in business. Tony Lee also looks ahead to tonight.

Shinzawa’s notebook has Tim Thomas getting through game six despite a wardrobe malfunction. Conroy’s notebook has more on Thomas’ problem with his mask on Saturday night.

Patriots

Lets welcome Chris Warner as he starts off Patriots Daily draft week with a look at some Patriots prototypes.

Get the rest of your draft links and information at PatriotsLinks.com.

The Friday Media Links, Better Late Than Never

Ken from the Fang’s Bites blog here with the Friday media links. My apologies for being so late. I was away from the office during the morning and then swamped with work. It happens sometimes. But the links are here and you can peruse them throughout the weekend.

This weekend, the NBA Playoffs begin and the NHL Playoffs continue. Baseball concludes its third weekend of play. The PGA Tour chugs into Hilton Head, South Carolina without Tiger Woods while NASCAR goes to Mexico for the Nationwide Series.

ESPN and ABC kick off the NBA Playoffs with four games on Saturday. Then TNT and ABC will combine for four more games on Sunday. The Celtics series with Atlanta tips off on Sunday night. Comcast SportsNet and TNT will both have coverage at 8:30 p.m. Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Bob Cousy will have the call from courtside at the Garden.

NBC Sports will carry two NHL games this weekend, Game 5 of the Philadelphia Flyers-Washington Capitals series on Saturday, then Game 6 of the Detroit-Nashville series on Sunday. Versus will also carry games throughout the weekend. For Bruins fans, NESN will put Game 6 of the B’s-Canadiens series from the Garden on Saturday in HD and if the game goes to a 7th game on Monday, that game will also be in HD. NESN will have the game starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Red Sox take on the Texas Rangers in a weekend wraparound series. Having already won on Friday, the Sox hope to continue their winning ways against the Rangers. NESN will have coverage of all games including the one on Patriots’ Day at the traditional time of 11 a.m. Fox Sports’ Saturday Baseball Game of the Week will have coverage of three games, Mets at Phillies, Cleveland at Minnesota and Dodgers at Braves starting at 3:55 p.m. TBS will goes back to its roots by showing Dodgers-Braves, Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball will have Mets at Phillies at 8:05 p.m.

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series takes the weekend off, but the Nationwide Series stops in Mexico City for the Corona Mexico 200 which will be seen on ESPN this Sunday at 2 p.m.

The PGA Tour’s Verizon Heritage Open will be on CBS on Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. CBS also has coverage of the LPGA Ginn Open both days starting at 1 p.m.

HBO’s World Championship Boxing has a Light Heavyweight Bout with Bernard Hopkins taking on Joe Calzaghe live from Las Vegas, Saturday night at 9:45.

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour will be in Charleston, South Carolina for the Family Circle Cup which ESPN2 will carry this Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Boston Marathon will be run Monday. With economic realities setting in, only WBZ-TV will have live coverage of the race. WCVB has dropped out citing expenses. And it marks the final time we’ll see Bob Lobel live from the finish line. WBZ will start its coverage at 8 a.m. Monday and will stream its coverage on its website starting at 9 a.m. Versus will start its live coverage at 9:30 a.m. and WCSN.com will also have a live stream of the Marathon for free.

The complete listing of sporting events and times can be seen at USA Today’s Sports on TV page.

I’ll start with USA Today’s Michael Hiestand as usual. He writes about CBS College Sports getting involved in competitive eating.

Now I’ll start in the East and Mid-Atlantic Regions.

East and Mid-Atlantic

David Scott of the Boston Sports Media Watch wonders when NESN will finally make its decision to replace Tina Cervasio. The season is almost three weeks old and so far, no sideline reporter in place for Red Sox games.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Bill Doyle has some quotes from TNT’s Charles Barkley in advance of the NBA Playoffs.

The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman says a player like Sean Avery (?) is good for the National Hockey League.

Neil Best of Newsday writes that despite the New York Knicks not making the NBA playoffs, they’re still making an impact from the broadcast booth. Neil notes in his blog that two SNY shows predicted the Mets sweep of Washington this week. Also, Neil says the visit of Pope Benedict will push the Detroit-Nashville NHL playoff game from WNBC-TV to its secondary digital channel.

The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick rips into ESPN’s Joe Morgan. Again. Justin Terranova of the Post has five questions for former Yankees, Rangers and Diamondback manager and current ESPN MLB analyst Buck Showalter. And Justin talks with TNT’s Charles Barkley about the NBA playoffs.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times looks into the possible move of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City.

Paul Vigna of the Philadelphia Daily News writes the Phillies have become the first sports team to sign up for a service to measure people’s listening habits.

Ray Frager of the Baltimore Sun says three of TNT’s NBA analysts do not agree when it comes to handing out their end of season awards. Frager advises you to blog at your own risk, especially if you’re a Washington Post reporter.

Jim Williams of the DC/Baltimore Examiner says it will be busy this weekend as the Orioles, Nationals, Capitals and Wizards will all be in action and on TV and mostly in HD.

Midwest

George M. Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal says NBA TV analysts are not happy to see trash talking against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Charles Barkley’s forthright style on TNT irks some NBA players.

Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune talks about the Big Ten Network getting into Spring Football on Saturday. The Tribune also has the audio of Hall of Fame Cincinnati Reds announcer Marty Brennaman ripping Cubs fans during the broadcast Friday. Dave Van Dyk of the Tribune gets Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s reaction which really wasn’t much of a reaction.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad wishes announcers would stop harping on the referee and focus on the game.

Paul Christian of the Rochester Post-Bulletin says get ready for an NBA postseason onslaught.

South

Doug Nye of The State informs his readers that college baseball outside of the SEC is not as popular as other college sports.

Barry Jackson writing in the Miami Herald has ABC/ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy wondering what’s wrong with the Heat.

Dave Darling of the Orlando Sentinel says TV viewers should be prepared for a lot of documentaries and movies in the next few months. Subscribers to ESPN the Magazine get ready to be yelled at. Shannon J. Owens of the Sentinel reports Steven A. Smith will be joining the ranks at the magazine.

David Barron from the Houston Chronicle says the Rockets turned things around and made their radio broadcasters happy.

Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says ESPN NBA analysts Van Gundy and Mark Jackson are split on the Dallas Mavericks’ fate in the playoffs.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman has the opinions of various NBA TV analysts on the move of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City. Mel says the verdict is split on the Hornets-Mavericks series. And Mel has what to watch this weekend.

West

From the Deseret (UT) Morning News, Real Salt Lake, the MLS team, has signed an agreement with a local TV station to broadcast a package of regular season games. Scott D. Pierce says ESPN will look back at the 2002 Olympics Figure Skating judging scandal.

Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune talks with CBS’ Dick Enberg who has written a play about his college basketball broadcast partner and friend, the late Al McGuire. Jay Posner writes that the NBA is praying for a Celtics-Lakers final. In his media notebook, Posner says there’s no apparent end in sight in the NFL Network-Time Warner Cable dispute. Jay also has the ratings for San Diego from last weekend.

John Maffei of the North County Times says ESPN is jumping feet first into the movie business.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star writes it’s a good thing Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak decided not to trade Kobe Bryant in the offseason and it has led to higher ratings for the NBA and could lead to bigger things in the playoffs.

Larry Stewart of the Los Angeles Times says that TNT’s Charles Barkley is warning the Lakers not to look past the Denver Nuggets.

Tom Hoffarth’s media column in the Los Angeles Daily News also talks about the NBA wanting a Celtics-Lakers final for the ratings and media interest. Hoffarth has more stuff in his media notebook in his Farther Off the Wall blog. Tom also has an entry in which ESPN wants you to write a eulogy in case it ever bit the dust. I wouldn’t mind if ESPN bit the dust. Maybe this is ESPN trying to tell us something.

John Ryan of the San Jose Mercury News says the Houston Astros’ Miguel Tejada tried to take the high road during an ambush interview with ESPN’s E:60 news magazine. Ryan says Sharks’ TV announcer Randy Hahn had a good call of the Joe Thornton’s (remember him?) winning goal in Game 4 of its series with the Calgary Flames.

Canada

The Toronto Star’s Chris Zelkovich writes that Raptors analyst Jack Armstrong looks like he’ll be remaining on the team’s broadcasts even though the team is changing its TV home next season.

Sam Toman and Andrew Chin of the Toronto Globe and Mail write that three local hoops fans have gained an international following with their podcast.

Media Publications

Larry Barrett of Multichannel News says Yankees games are scoring for the YES Network.

John Consoli of Mediaweek writes that ratings for NBA regular season games on ESPN rose 14% from the year before.

Wayne Friedman of the Mediapost Publications wonders what impact NBC Sports veteran producer Michael Weisman will have on Comcast’s sports networks.

Brooks Boliek of the Hollywood Reporter says it’s round 2 for the NFL Network and Comcast.

Blogs

CNBC’s Darren Rovell wonders how much will the buried David Ortiz Red Sox jersey will fetch at auction.

Joe Favorito has the latest Public Relations Move of the Day in his sports marketing and PR blog.

The Big Lead talks about Will Purdue’s silly comments on blogs and Mike Greenberg defending them during the Mike & Mike in the Morning show on ESPN Radio.

Awful Announcing has the audio of TNT’s Charles Barkley criticizing ESPN’s E:60 ambush interview of Miguel Tejada on the Dan Patrick Show.

Other

From the “Rut ro!” Department, Selena Roberts and David Epstein of Sports Illustrated have found the man whom Jose Canseco calls “Max” in his new book and he does not corroborate any of Canseco’s claims.

Once again, my apologies for the tardiness of the links. I should be here with the links at its normal time next week. Enjoy your holiday weekend.

Approval Ratings – Bob Lobel

I figured we’d better get this one out of the way while we still can…

Today’s your chance to weigh in on the career and impact of legendary WBZ sports anchor and director Bob Lobel, who as we’ve recently learned is leaving the station as part of a round of cutbacks at the TV station.

Lobel had been with WBZ since 1979 and has been sports director since 1981. During the mid-1980′s he was courted by the national networks to host College Football Today, a job he turned down. He hosted Sports Final, which had many memorable moments, none more so than the night that Larry Bird, Bobby Orr and Ted Williams were in the studio at the same time. In recent years he also hosted Patriots Fifth Quarter following Patriots games.

Recent years held a few personal and health related problems, and he had clearly slowed down a step, but he was still a force in the local sports media. It’s unclear what the future holds for Lobel, but in my opinion it will be a shame if we don’t see or hear from him on a regular basis going forward.

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Bob Lobel Approval Ratings
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Bruins Stayin’ Alive, Saturday Night Fever On Tap

In what many people thought would be the final act of the hockey season around Boston, the Bruins traveled up to Montreal, facing elimination at the hands of the Canadiens. Boston had struggled to score goals all series, and found themselves down 1-0 in the second period. Then, the Bruins proceeded to score five unanswered goals the rest of the way, cruising to a 5-1 win, and sending the series back to Boston for a game 6 on Saturday night. Phil Kessel, who had been benched the previous three games, got the Bruins on the board with the tying goal.

Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins getting into the head of previously unflappable Montreal goaltender Carey Price. Steve Conroy notes that this isn’t the first time that the Bruins have been left for dead this season, only to rise up when it was least expected. Mick Colageo has the Bruins not willing to settle for a dignified exit just yet. Mike Loftus has coach Claude Julien pulling the right strings at the right time.

Kevin Paul Dupont says that Harry Sinden’s days with the Bruins should be finished after his comments earlier in the week to Dan Shaughnessy criticizing the team. Dupont says that it’s ok for columnists to knock the team, (as he points out that he did in calling for Joe Thornton to be stripped of his captaincy before game 7 against Montreal a few year back) but those kind of remarks cannot come from someone associated with the team, especially in the middle of a series. Stephen Harris says that Kessel may have taken a big step forward in his development as a player with his contributions and attitude last night.

Dupont has the goal by Glen Metropolit on a fumbled exchange from Price as the key play of the game. Harris says that Glen Murray could be in his last days as a Bruin. Sean Farrell has the Canadiens lamenting that they didn’t finish off the Bruins when they had the chance. Conroy has the Bruins looking to the comeback blueprint that their own coach used in 2004 to bring the Canadiens back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Bruins. Ron Chimelis has the Bruins resurfacing on the Boston sports scene in this series.

Shinzawa’s notebook has Thomas and the defense pulling out all the stops last night. Conroy’s notebook has Metropolit breaking his own scoring hex with his third period goal.

Red Sox

Manny Ramirez continues to just ravage the New York Yankees. The Red Sox slugger hit a pair of home runs last night, prompting a pitch behind his head from Yankees reliever Kyle Farnsworth, which elicited a knowing and acknowledging nod from Sox ace Josh Beckett in the dugout, who could very well recall the incident at a future time. Beckett wisely chose not to comment further on the matter after the game. The Red Sox went on to beat the Yankees 7-5 at Yankee Stadium.

Gordon Edes has Ramirez likely disappointed that the Sox and Yankees don’t play again until July. Michael Silverman has Ramirez putting the Sox on his back last night for the win. Joe McDonald has Manny bashing in full effect last night as the Sox slugger again does a number on the Yankees. Dom Amore has the Yankees still unable to figure out Ramirez, who has hit 55 of his 495 career home runs against them. Bill Ballou notes that “it is players like Josh Beckett and Manny Ramirez who separate the playoff teams from the ones that simply fill out the schedule.”

Jackie MacMullan has an enjoyable look at Ramirez, who might just finally be getting some of his proper due from some septics in town. (Mike Adams excluded, of course) Rob Bradford looks for clues from Manny to explain his change in persona, and also in results at the plate as compared to last season. Jeff Jacobs has an aging Mike Mussina just unable to solve Manny. Dan Lamothe has a look at what has turned into Manny week for the Red Sox.

Amalie Benjamin has Josh Beckett with his best and longest start of the season thus far. Sean McAdam notes that just as in the playoff, Beckett comes up big when the Sox need him. Steve Buckley looks at Jonathan Papelbon, who relishes every minute of these Red Sox/Yankees rivalry games. Alex Speier look at Papelbon and the “Godfather” of closers, Mariano Rivera. Nick Cafardo has a look at struggling shortstop Julio Lugo. Buckley has J.D. Drew hoping that the rest of the season goes like it has started thus far for him. Joe Haggerty has Jacoby Ellsbury working hard to fill the role that had been held by Johnny Damon with the Red Sox.

Amalie Benjamin examines the trend of Red Sox/Yankees games to last over four hours. Tony Massarotti also attempts to tackle this subject. McDonald also takes a crack at explaining the marathon games between the two teams.

You can check more coverage from New York on NYYankeesLinks.com.

Edes’s notebook has Craig Hansen mowing down batters in Pawtucket and emerging as a candidate for a callup should the Sox need bullpen help. In Silverman’s notebook, he has more on the purpose pitch from Kyle Farnsworth at Manny’s head. The Projo notebook has more on the heat thrown by Farnsworth at Manny. Ballou’s notebook has Dustin Pedroia following up his rookie of the year campaign with an All Star like start to this season.

David Scott says that there is no excuse for the sideline reporter-less NESN…

Celtics

The Herald has a huge playoff preview spread today. You can also see all the stories listed at CelticLinks.com.

Marc J. Spears has Mike Fratello pumping his former player Doc Rivers as the NBA Coach of the Year. Scott Souza has the Celtics veterans saying that the playoffs are a whole new ballgame. Jim Fenton has Rivers still haunted by the 1988 Hawks-Celtics game 7. Mike Fine has James Posey’s bear hugs becoming as much of a Garden staple as ML Carr’s towel or Larry Bird wiping the bottom of his shoes with his hand. Robert Lee has the Celtics starting their preparations for Atlanta.

Spears’ notebook has Kevin Garnett getting the day off of practice for the birth of his child. Fenton’s notebook has Pierce ready to renew acquaintances with former teammate Joe Johnson in the first round. Fine’s notebook has more on Garnett’s absence from practice.

Bill Doyle has a look at Charles Barkley and his role on TNT’s NBA coverage.

Patriots

On Patriots Daily today there is a look at the top defensive prospects in the draft.

Mark Farinella has a look at the kickers in the draft. Mike Reiss has the Patriots signing veteran punter Scott Player to compete with Chris Hanson. Shalise Manza Young has Vince Wilfork getting his draft day fundraiser in order.

John Tomase has yet another piece saying that the Matt Walsh talks might happen soon.

Approval Ratings – Stephen Harris

On Herald Thursday, we check in today on hockey writer Stephen Harris.

Perhaps one of the lesser known Herald writers, Harris has nonetheless been around for a long time. He’s covered the Bruins for Herald since the 1979-80 season, though he also served as the Red Sox beat writer for five seasons during the 1980′s. Harris’ doesn’t usually do the game stories for the paper, instead doing more “overview” and analytical type articles.

Harris is also the closest thing that the paper has to an Olympic writer, having covered six Olympic games during his career with the paper. You don’t see or hear him much on the local airwaves, and I couldn’t even find a photo to use with his profile here.

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Stephen Harris Approval Ratings
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Sox, Buchholz Pummeled in Bronx

The Red Sox and Yankees engaged in an old-fashioned slugfest last night, with the Sox coming out on the short end of the stick. Last Friday night Chien-Ming Wang had stifled the Sox, holding them to two hits and a single run. Last night the Sox got to him for eight runs. However Clay Buchholz wasn’t any better, giving up seven of his own, and the bullpen was off last night as well with Julian Tavarez and Mike Timlin both getting rocked as the Yankees rolled to a 15-9 win at Yankee Stadium.

Amalie Benjamin says that the bullpen is being taxed and needs a strong effort from Josh Beckett tonight. Michael Silverman makes a rotten produce analogy for last night’s ballgame. Joe McDonald has the Yankees battering Clay Buchholz last night after seeing him for the second time in a week. Dom Amore has another account of the Yankees outslugging the Sox. Bill Ballou says last night’s game gives cause for concern, not so much for the results, but because of how things happened.

Tony Massarotti has a good piece looking back to the 2000-01 offseason when the Yankees signed Mike Mussina, who the Red Sox wanted, and the Sox signed Manny Ramirez and how those signings have worked out for each team. I wish Massarotti had taken it a step further and discussed how things might’ve turned out had the Yankees claimed Ramirez off waivers when the Sox put him out there in 2003. Would the Red Sox have two World Series championships right now? How much better would the Yankees have been?

Sean McAdam notes that weak starting pitching and a sinking bullpen equals a disaster for the Red Sox. Jackie MacMullan has Buchholz taking his lumps last night. Rob Bradford points to a lengthy at bat by Chad Moeller against Buchholz at the turning point of the game last night.

Nick Cafardo says that middle relief has been a problem for both the Red Sox and Yankees so far this season. Massarotti looks at more ‘Horrible results’ from Mike Timlin. Sarah Green says that David Ortiz’s slump is evident by his batting average on balls in play, or BABIP. Bradford has Bartolo Colon making progress in his return from injury. Steve Buckley has Joe Thurston getting a call up from the Red Sox to fill in for Alex Cora.

Steve Buckley has a look at the circus down in New York, where things seem to be getting more out of control each and every day. Remember when the line from stodgy media types was that New Yorkers and the Yankees didn’t view the Red Sox as rivals and the obsession was all one-sided? McAdam says that it makes no sense that Yankee Stadium will be empty for the last series of the regular season. Cafardo wonders if the Chicago Cubs would have more interest in Coco Crisp again, now that Alfonso Soriano is on the DL.

Benjamin’s notebook has Jonathan Papelbon trying to prepare for the long haul of the season. Silverman’s notebook has Kevin Youkilis and Crisp joining the ranks of the walking wounded for the Sox. The ProJo notebook has x-rays on Youkilis coming up negative. Jeff Goldberg’s notebook has more on the collapse of the Red Sox bullpen last night. Ballou’s notebook has more on Thurston.

Celtics

Mark Murphy has the Celtics putting up win number 66 on the season – third all time in franchise history – behind a career high 27 points from Leon Powe in a 105-94 win over the New Jersey Nets to close out the regular season. Marc J. Spears has this regular season coming to a much different end than the last few for Paul Pierce and the Celtics. Bill Doyle has the Celtics capping off a memorable and record regular season, but remaining solely focused on the tasks ahead. Jessica Camerato has a game blog for last night.

Steve Bulpett has things going better this season than Paul Pierce could’ve ever even dreamed of. Lenny Megliola has the Celtics finally ready to begin their playoff drive. Kevin McNamara has a rejuvenated Paul Pierce looking forward to a title run. Jim Fenton has better days finally here for Paul Pierce as well as Celtics fans. Jeff Howe has more on the Celtics getting ready for their postseason push.

Spears’ notebook has the Atlanta Hawks planning to “shock the world” in their first round series with the Celtics, which is slated to begin at 8:30 pm on Sunday night. Murphy’s notebook has the Celtics interested in giving Doc Rivers a contract extension, but the coach wishes to wait until the summer time for any talks to begin. Doyle’s notebook has Rajon Rondo winning the Sixth Star award for the Celtics. In Fenton’s notebook, Celtics players push Doc Rivers for national recognition for the job he’s done this season.

Patriots

On Patriots Daily there is a dose of Random Notes from Bill Belichick’s press conference yesterday.

Christopher L. Gasper has Brandon Meriweather preparing for an increased role with the Patriots in 2008, the question being whether that will take place at cornerback or safety. Yes, he’s been hitting the Jugs machine this offseason to try and improve his hands…Shalise Manza Young has Bill Belichick talking about the offseason and the draft yesterday. Mark Farinella has a look at how the shortened time between picks in the first round will impact things. Christopher Price has the Patriots coach avoiding specifics in his session yesterday when it came to talking about players.

John Tomase says that value, and not need is the largest factor in determining who the Patriots will take with the seventh pick. Jennifer Toland also reports on the Belichick session, which happened to be his birthday, and cake was served to an appreciative media crowd. Mike Reiss’ notebook has Belichick saying that the team will consider staying out West on at least one of the back-to-back road trips out to the Pacific. He also has a number of other team notes.

Bruins

I’ve run out of time this morning (damn all those Red Sox/Yankees links), so I’m going to have to refer you over to BruinsLinks.com. Think of it as the CN8 to the BSMW NESN…

Bruins-Habs on NESNplus, Red Sox-Yankees in Sparkling HD on NESN

Bruins fans will not like this news. NESN has announced that Game 5 of the Bruins-Canadiens series will be moved to its NESNplus channel. This means that the game will be seen in Standard Definition, not in sparking clear HD.

This means that game 2 of the Red Sox-Yankees series will be on NESN HD on Thursday night. While NESN had been moving Red Sox games during conflicts with the Bruins-Habs series, the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry appears to take precedence.

Bruins fans in the BSMW forum are naturally up in arms over this and I can’t blame them. To find the NESNplus channel for your service provider, you can click here.

My sympathies to the Bruins fans.

Approval Ratings – Chris Collins

Chris CollinsToday we’re rating NECN main sports anchor Chris Collins.

Collins is a native of Peabody, and is marking his 10th year at NECN. Prior to joining the station he had worked in stations in Louisiana and Milwaukee before coming back home to Massachusetts.

Collins serves as host of the nightly “Sports LateNight” on NECN. His bio at the station website lists among his accomplishments “exclusive live interviews with Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe and Teddy Bruschi. He won national recognition for breaking the Notre Dame new head coach appointment story in 2001, and the Jeff Allison story in 2004.” (Note to NECN: an update might be in order for some of the bios on the site.)

Collins is an occasional guest or co-host on sports radio WEEI, though he hasn’t been heard on the station in some time.

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Chris Collins Approval Ratings
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