The Pond Is Shrinking. The Fish Are Nervous.

(Your Guest Blogger du jour is T.J. Donegan. He can be reached at [email protected] for comments/criticisms.)

Those were the words uttered near the end of the final episode of HBO’s The Wire about the current state of affairs of modern media. Without giving anything away, for those who’ve never seen the show, the sentiment was basically summing up an immutable fact about media today: there’s not enough money to go around.

Hence we get the surprising-and-yet-not-so-surprising buyout yesterday of Boston Sports media veterans Jackie MacMullen and Bob Lobel. Also on the cutting block were several WBZ employees and Ken Fratus. David Scott has more on the cost-cutting at The Globe and Lobel’s departure.

As a journalism student I can tell you everyone entering this field right now is acutely aware of the fact that this is not a small problem and these high profile departures and layoffs are not the exceptions but the rule. Until media companies develop a sustainable business model in a world where almost all their content is available for free online, they’re going to keep shrinking until the numbers fit.

Anyway, onto the morning links.

Red Sox:

The Red Sox dispatched Oakland 2-1 yesterday with Daisuke Matsuzaka having his best outing of the young season, striking out nine, walking none, and only giving up two hits en route to the win. We know Matsuzaka can be dominant like this, but can he pitch out of jams and avoid the fatigue that plagued him last year?

Gordon Edes calls the performance “masterful” and has Dice-K reflecting on his poor outing in Japan. Jeff Goldberg has Matsuzaka determined to improve over his first performance in Tokyo. Goldberg also adds that the future remains unclear for the inconsistent pitcher.

Sean McAdam also has Dice-K reflecting on what could have been in his first start. Bill Burt reflects on Matsuzaka’s ups and downs and calls his performance Cy Young-like, although is reserved in his praise. McAdam also talks about Kevin Youkilis tying Steve Garvey’s 193 errorless streak at first base. Tony Massarotti has more on Youkilis’ amazing run at first. Jeff Horrigan has things returning to normal for the Red Sox. Cafardo has the best news not the win but that Beckett looks healthy enough to make his first start against Toronto.

Joe Haggerty has some thoughts about the possibility of life after Jason Varitek. The Union Leader’s Alex Speier has the fourth installment of their profile of the Red Sox farm system, this time focusing on the system’s scouts and what they look for.

The AP has coverage (linked through The Herald here but it’s just about everywhere) of the Red Sox checking in with the fourth highest payroll in MLB, even with Curt Schilling’s dead weight contract. Edes brings us more on the issue.

Cafardo has more on Papelbon getting his second save on the Extra Bases blog.
Goldberg’s notebook has Beckett on pace to return to the Sox rotation Sunday and on the errorless streak of Youkilis. McAdam’s notebook has Matsuzaka matching Luis Tiant with two starts in the first three games. Horrigan’s notebook also has Beckett targeting Sunday for his comeback.

Boston Celtics:

The Celtics marched onward toward a first seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a decisive win over the hapless Chicago Bulls last night, 106-92.

Marc J. Spears has more on the game. Spears also has a good piece from yesterday about the Celtics looking for more out of Tony Allen than the brief flashes he’s shown since his injury. The AP’s Andrew Seligman says the playoff picture for the Bulls and Celtics, now nearly polar opposites, is a little more clear. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune-via-Projo says Ben Gordon is looking for a Celtics-esque turnaround for the Bulls next season.

Mark Murphy has the Celtics shrugging off a slow start and some iffy performances (read: Rondo’s seven turnovers) to jet past the Bulls. Murphy also has some great stuff from Leon Powe on how much is really riding on his success with this team. If you didn’t like Leon already, you will after reading that.

Greg Lee has Doc being named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month, an award none of us thought he’d ever deserve. Spears’ Notebook talks about an incident between Bennie the Bull and Garnett last night involving a gallop-by (do bulls gallop? saunter? trot? or just charge? I feel like having two speeds–charge and walk–is a pretty inefficient way to get around. I don’t know, my entire knowledge of bulls comes from old cartoons and the 4 seconds I accidentally catch of rodeos when channel surfing.) T-shirt shooting. Murphy’s notebook has more on T-shirtGate. It really was April Fool’s Day, wasn’t it?

Men’s NCAA Basketball:

UMass made the once-upon-a-time-relevant NIT Final last night, beating the Florida Gators 78-66 to set up a matchup with Ohio State.

Michael Vega has more on the story and the New York City contingent of UMass’s seniors. Marty Dobrow had a great feature on UMass Senior Dante Milligan who has a special relationship with Madison Square Garden. Michael Gagnenit has A-10 Player of the Year Gary Forbes getting some redemption with the win last night.

Rich Thompson has a quick note about BC releasing two scholarship underclassmen.

The Patriots continued their off-season preparations and they made some mainstream media splashes yesterday with Belichick apologizing and Robert Kraft’s heartfelt address to the owners. It was more an occasion for talking head types to milk a little more airtime out of a dead issue (barring any Walsh-related revelations), really. Most of this is really non-news so I’ll send you on over to Patriots Links to dig your teeth into the incredible world of off-season rule changes and ownership meetings.

The Bruins are also in action tonight with a chance to keep their head above the playoff water if they can take down the New Jersey Devils. Head on over to Bruins Links to keep up with the action.

On a sadder note, Ed Collins of the Standard Times has a short profile of the life of Al Palmieri, which came to a close Monday morning after 85 years spent weaving through the local sports scene, most notably as a high school sports administrator in the Taunton area. He will be sorely missed.

Finally, I know Bruce linked to this about a week ago when the vault first opened but here’s a flashback from 1987 (admittedly before I was born, but whatever) from Sports Illustrated’s vault: The Mystique Goes On, by Jack McCallum, about the Celtics dispatching Detroit in Game 7 at The Garden with The Steal. If you love sportswriting, at all, you can’t help but spend a few hours combing through that site.

Enjoy.

  • Chris in Illinois

    You nailed it, TJ.
    Newspapers, I fear, are missing the forest for the trees. It’s one thing if a solid veteran like Jackie MacMullen is replaced by a competent up-and-comer. But when these cuts a purely cost-cutting, you end up carving out the heart and soul of a newspaper. It’s a changing industry now, and there’s no end in sight. Executives have failed miserably in their attempts to successfully combine the print product with the online product and keep revenue up.
    It’s how I lost my newspaper job here in the Chicago suburbs. And it’s why I won’t go back.
    Sadly, while the craft suffers irreparable harm, the communities these papers serve suffer more.
    The industry was much simpler – and better – when no one cared about revenue.
    (Since you already have a poster named Chris, I’m changing my monicker to Chris in Illinois.)