Manny Hits Home Run Number 500

Not a bad weekend thus far for Boston sports fans.

Manny Ramirez hit the 500th home run of his career tonight in Baltimore. It was struck in the seventh inning, on the first pitch he saw from former teammate Chad Bradford. On NESN, Don Orsillo gave the call, and then he and Jerry Remy let the moment speak for itself.

Sean McAdam has an appreciation of Manny’s career and accomplishments on ESPN.com

Somewhere, Mike Adams was heard complaining that Manny watched the home run for too long and didn’t run the bases quickly enough.

Check the coverage as it is posted at RedSoxLinks.com

Celtics Return To Finals

The Celtics got the job done on the road last night, closing out the Detroit Pistons 89-81 in Auburn Hills Michigan. They now are in the NBA finals, where they will play their great rivals of the 1960’s and 1980’s, the Los Angeles Lakers.

I got chills just writing that.

In the early returns, I can already tell that the focus on this series from a national perspective is going to be much more on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers rather than on the Celtics. I think I’m ok with that. Just keep Bennett Salvatore away from the series, please.

Don’t believe me on the Lakers focus? Check out what the ESPN Experts are predicting:

ESPN Picks for the NBA Finals

Over on the BSMW Full Court Press, Matt Richardson has a look back at last night.

Though Bill Simmons doesn’t think the Celtics have a chance against the Lakers (HAS to be a reverse jinx attempt), the series should feature a less physical style of play than the six games Boston just went through with the Pistons. Ignoring Shaughnessy’s front page story in the Globe, I went to Bob Ryan first this morning. Steve Bulpett looks at Paul Pierce getting his chance to write his own chapter in Celtics championship history.

Globe columnist Kevin Cullen has an online-only piece on Boston.com about the Celtics getting back to the finals, and takes a look back at how the Celtics were the most progressive team in the 1960’s with regards to race.

Jeff Jacobs has the Celtics riding their defense to the finals. Jim Fenton credits the stirring fourth quarter rally by the Celtics. Rob Duca says that the Celtics earned this one.

Get the rest of your Celtics fix at CelticsLinks.com.

The Red Sox won in extra innings in Baltimore last night, check the coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

They’re Back! The Friday Megalinks are Here!

Ken from Fang’s Bites here. After a week’s absence and the start of my massive computer problems, I give you the Friday megalinks. I appreciate your patience during this tough stretch for me. About another week and I should be back on track.

Let’s go over the viewing weekend before we get into the megalinks.

Weekend Viewing Picks

There are plenty of sporting events to watch to avoid taking your significant other to “Sex and the City”.

The NBA Playoffs potentially have the weekend off if the Celtics win at Detroit in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight. ESPN has tonight’s game at 8:30 p.m. If the Pistons win at home tonight, then Game 7 would be played Sunday night on ABC (WCVB, ABC6 and WMUR) at 8:30.

The Red Sox hope to right their travel woes in Baltimore this weekend. NESN has all of the games. Night games tonight and Saturday at 7. An afternoon game on Sunday at 1:30.

Fox has its usual slate of three MLB games on Saturday with Joe Torre returning to New York as his Dodgers take on the Mets, Atlanta travels to Cincinnati and the Detroit Tigers travel out west to take on Seattle. All games begin at 3:55 p.m. On Sunday, TBS carries Florida at Phialdelphia (1 p.m.), WGN has the Cubs hosting Colorado (2:10 p.m.) and the ESPN Sunday night game will be the Dodgers at the Mets (8 p.m.).

The Stanley Cup Finals are in full swing. NBC has Game 4 of the Detroit-Pittsburgh series Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tennis fans can watch the French Open on Tennis Channel and NBC this weekend. Tennis Channel has coverage starting at 5 a.m. with NBC starting up at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

NASCAR heads over to the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware and the Nationwide Series race, the Heluva Good! 200 will be on ESPN2 this Saturday at 3. Fox has its last race of the NASCAR season, the Sprint Cup Best Buy 400, Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

The Indy Car Series is in Wisconsin on ABC, Sunday at 4.

The PGA Tour continues without Tiger Woods as the Memorial Tournament will be on both the Golf Channel and CBS throughout the weekend.

NBC has the LPGA’s Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika Sorenstam at 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

If you’re a softball fan, the Women’s College World Series is on the ESPN family of networks from Oklahoma City.

ESPN 2 will have the Reebok Grand Prix track & field meet from New York Saturday night at 8.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention the primetime network TV debut of Mixed Martial Arts as Screamin’ Gus Johnson will call the Elite XC Xtreme Combat bout which will include Kimbo Slice on CBS, Saturday at 8 p.m.

Now to our links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand profiles Mary Carillo who is doing the French Open for ESPN and NBC as well as working for HBO and CBS.

Now, I’ll start our links in the South, go up the East Coast, then move across the country and into Canada. It’ll make sense when all is done.

South

From The State in Columbia, SC, Doug Nye says baseball fans won’t be able to watch the University of South Carolina’s quest to go to the College World Series this weekend.

Barry Jackson in the Miami Herald says CBS officials are having mixed emotions about showing Mixed Martial Arts.

Dave Darling of the Orlando Sentinel also writes about CBS’ first venture in the MMA arena.

Tom Jones of the St. Petersburg Times says the local NBC affiliate will be pre-empting tennis and LPGA action on Sunday because of a telethon.

David Barron in today’s Houston Chronicle writes that FSN Houston is ready to move to new headquarters in the downtown area.

Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram talks about some announcing musical chairs in the Texas Rangers’ TV and Radio booths as analyst Tom Grieve leaves temporarily due to medical reasons.

Mel Bracht of the Oklahoman talks with ESPN’s John Kruk who is saying he lobbied for the assignment to call the Women’s College World Series. Mel writes that ESPN is bullish about softball’s ratings. In his notebook, Mel discusses MMA moving to CBS. And Mel has his weekend viewing picks.

East and Mid-Atlantic

In the Boston Globe, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell writes about the annual Hot Dog Safari hosted by Eddie Andelman.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times talks with CBS’ Gus Johnson who will call Saturday’s Mixed Martial Arts event. And Sandomir says the NHL outrated the NBA in Detroit on Wednesday.

From the New York Post, Phil Mushnick says it took ESPN too long to fire Pittsburgh talk show host Mark Madden for his comments about Senator Ted Kennedy.

The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman did not like the Mets’ dog and pony show on Monday.

Newsday’s Neil Best also discusses the Mixed Martial Arts event on CBS. In his blog, Neil says the NBA’s ratings are soaring in this postseason. And Neil talks with Fox Sports’ Tim McCarver who’s enjoying doing a schedule of national MLB games.

The Baltimore Sun’s Ray Frager talks with Orioles’ radio voice Joe Angel.

West

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) Morning News says CBS is wrong to pick up MMA.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune says the Padres are not concerned that their TV ratings have slipped this season. And Jay has the ratings from last week in San Diego.

John Maffei of the North County Times also discusses the CBS/MMA telecast.

Over to the Ventura County Star where Jim Carlisle wonders what CBS was thinking when it signed to carry four MMA events.

In the Los Angeles Times, John Scheibe in the Sound and Vision column talks about TV covering Joe Torre’s return to New York with the Dodgers.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News talks about CBS and MMA. Tom also has his extensive media news and notes in his Farther Off the Wall blog. And just to make you sick, Tom has pictures of various celebrities attending the Spurs-Lakers game on Thursday.

John Ryan in the San Jose Mercury News says the MMA event on CBS could get ugly.

Midwest

George M. Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal writes that Browns left tackle Joe Thomas will be co-hosting a fishing show on STO.

Mike Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press says MMA has hit the primetime.

Bob Wolfley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that NBC is hoping for a star-studded French Open this year.

Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune says former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly is ready to hit ESPN with a big bang starting Sunday.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad says the Timberwolves’ return to KFAN also means the return an adversarial relationship between the two parties.

Canada

William Houston of the Toronto Globe and Mail says Hockey Night in Canada’s dislike of Sidney Crosby is now bordering on the ridiculous.

Crash Cameron of the Edmonton Sun says legendary CBC NHL voice Bob Cole still has got game.

And Don Brennan of SLAM! Sports says despite his advanced age, Cole is not ready to leave the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast booth.

Blogs

From the Women’s Tennis Blog, there’s a great spread of Ana Ivanovic in Hello! Magazine.

Maury Brown from the Biz of Hockey blog says NBC saw a huge increase in the ratings for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals from last year.

In his sports marketing and public relations blog, Joe Favorito liked the way the Reebok Grand Prix track & field meet tried to get some pub.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell wonders if a meaningless last second shot in last night’s Spurs-Lakers game cost bettors some money.

The Sports Media Watch now with the Lakers in the NBA Finals, the league can be assured of good TV ratings.

That will do it. Enjoy your weekend.