Friday/Saturday Megalinks

Ken from Fang’s Bites with the megalinks well into the wee hours of Saturday morning. Here’s the deal. When I’m in the home office, I don’t have internet access. When I don’t have internet access, I can’t post an update. Then when I have to drive into Boston at 2 p.m., I get home late. Then when I get a call to pick up someone at the train station, I don’t get back home to blog until late. So I’ll have to combine the megalinks with the Saturday morning links.

I’ll provide you with the Weekend Viewing Picks.

The Patriots will try to avoid the season sweep at the hands of the Dolphins. This will be one of two intriguing early games for CBS. The other will be the Jets at the undefeated Titans. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf will be in South Florida for the call of the Pats-’Fins game on WBZ and CBS 12. For the late games, Fox 25 and 64 have the Giants at Arizona. In primetime, 7NBC and NBC 10 will show Indy-San Diego. You can check out the viewing schedule, announcing assignments, coverage maps, satellite TV and radio channel assignments and anything else I left out in the NFL Viewing Picks.

College Football goes into its rivalry games on Saturday and we have a bunch of great matchups. Versus has Yale-Harvard from Cambridge at noon. Boston College at Wake Forest will be seen on ABC at 3:30 p.m. The only other local game of note is Hofstra at UMass (CN8, 2:30 p.m.). Texas Tech at Oklahoma where ESPN’s College Gameday will broadcast live and ABC will showcase in primetime will be on WCVB and ABC6. Other national games include Michigan at Ohio State on ABC at noon, Yale at Harvard on Versus also at noon, Stanford at Cal on ABC at 3:30 p.m., and Ole Miss at LSU on CBS also at 3:30 p.m. The College Football Viewing Picks contains your national TV schedule.

In the NHL, the Bruins have a chance will head up north to Montreal to take on the Habs. NESN shows the game live at 7:30 p.m. Satuirday.

The Celtics will take on Toronto at 1 p.m. Sunday on Comcast SportsNet.

Other action this weekend includes another edition of HBO’s World Championship Boxing in which Ricky Hatton defends his IBO Jr. Welterweight title against Paul Malinaggi. HBO has it at 10 on Saturday night.

Annika Sorenstam failed to make the final 16 of the LPGA’s ADT Championship and Golf Channel and NBC will have to do without her unless she makes a visit to the broadcast booth on Saturday and Sunday. Golf Channel has Saturday’s action starting at 2 p.m. and NBC has Sunday’s action starting at 3 p.m. Sunday. This was Annika’s final LPGA event as she announced her retirement earlier this year.

The MLS Cup will be played on Sunday with the Columbus Crew taking on the New York Red Bulls for the title. ABC has it 3:30 p.m.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention CFL’s Grey Cup which will be aired on TSN and Versus Sunday at 6 p.m.

Let’s go to your links now.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand writes that not even Executive Privilige will be able to change the BCS for now.

Guest blogging for CNBC’s Darren Rovell, Jim Zissler of the Inside Sports & Entertainment Group tells us what a Super Bowl would do economically for New Orleans. Joe Favorito blogs for Darren and talks about former 49er and Jet Ronnie Lott helping current players give back to the community. Joe has a good article on UFC going into the collectibles market.

David Goetzl of MediaPost says ESPN is beginning to charge to watch video on the web (you may have to register, but it’s worth the read). David also writes that Versus is going to make a concerted effort to keep the NHL.

Ben Grossman of Broadcasting & Cable writes about HBO using Facebook to promote its De La Hoya-Pacquiao 24/7 series.

Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News reports that Comcast SportsNet Northwest has picked up another cable carriagle deal.

And Mike says Golf Channel will air a three part special with Tiger Woods conducting a clinic for a group of amateur players.

Elaine Wong of Brandweek says the NFL will kick off online voting this weekend for an ad that will air during the Super Bowl.

Puck the Media has another installment in its NHL Tournament of Announcers.

The Sports Media Watch has a look at the primetime ratings for Week 11 in the National Football League. And the SMW has some ratings news and notes.

The Big Lead talks with ESPN’s Outside the Lines host (and an original SportsCenter anchor) Bob Ley.

Now let’s move across the country from West to East this time.

West

Gary Washburn of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says FSN’s DeMarco Farr still sees some drama in today’s Apple Cup despite one win between Washington and Washington State.

John Ryan of the San Jose Mercury News says the Stanford-Cal game will be aired in boring Standard Definition on ABC.

The Los Angeles Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth says NFL Commish Roger Goodell surprised a few fans by returning their calls after they complained about not being able to watch NFL Network. And Tom has some media notes in his blog. Tom reviews the week in blogging on his own accord and on others.

Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times notices that Dick Vitale’s latest book is short on Pac 10 references.

Robert Rector of the Pasadena Times says ESPN’s purchase of the BCS means the start of a lot of changes on TV.

Scott Reid of the Orange County Register says the total price for ESPN to get the BCS TV rights shows that the property is actually undervalued.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star has some mixed feelings on the BCS move to ESPN in 2011.

The North County Times’ John Maffei says with a below .500 record, the San Diego Chargers are certainly not primetime darlings this season.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune says this Sunday night amounts to a home game for NBC’s Al Michaels. Jay also looks at the ratings from last weekend in San Diego.

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News says BYU-Utah will mark the mtn.’s first HD telecast.

Midwest

Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star says Ian Eagle has been very busy calling NFL games for CBS Sports and Westwood One Radio.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says St. Louis University will have 13 men’s basketball games on TV this season, but not all of them will be available locally. And Dan reports that a local sports radio talk show has been suspended for allegedly breaching his contract.

Paul Christian of the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin writes it did not take long for former Pro Bowl Safety John Lynch to find a job after retiring from the NFL.

I should have picked this up when it first was published last week, but better late than never. Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes that Twins radio broadcaster John Gordon has reupped with the team for two more years.

Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune has the Weekend Viewing Picks for Chicagoans.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob Wolfley writes that ESPN’s Dick Vitale is trying to tone down after losing his voice last season.

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press says the BCS did a money grab to put its games on ESPN.

Marc Katz of the Dayton Daily News says when the dust settles, it’ll be the fans who will shell out to watch the BCS on ESPN.

South

Mel Bracht of the Oklahoman writes that ESPN’s Hubie Brown was looking forward to seeing the OKC Thunder on Friday. Mel has a look inside the numbers on College Gameday which will be in Norman. And Mel has some media news and notes. And in his blog, Mel talks with ESPN’s Jay Bilas and has some items that did not make his column.

Now to add some Texas flavor to the megalinks.

Starting with David Barron of the Houston Chronicle, he says ESPN/ABC’s Craig James has more than a vested interest in the Texas Tech-Oklahoma game.

Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says ESPN has gobbled up another big event just before Thanksgiving.

Jerry Garcia of the San Antonio Express-News writes that the Spurs are the highest-rated NBA team on TV thus far in the young season.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News delves into why Cowboys running back Marion Barber gives the media the silent treatment. In his blog, Barry says Deion Sanders of the NFL Network gets high grades, but gets low grades for being a friend of Terrell Owens.

Eric Crawford of the Louisville Courier-Journal feels ESPN is getting too big.

Now for some Florida flavor in the links.

Dave Darling of the Orlando Sentinel looks at a Sun Sports behind the scenes documentary on what it takes to stage a University of Florida football game.

To the St. Petersburg Times where Tom Jones talks with former Rays TV analyst Joe Magrane who’s joined the MLB Network.

Mike DiRocco of the Florida Times-Union talks with CBS’ Gary Danielson about Florida’s Tim Tebow.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Jim Williams of the DC/Baltimore Examiner says Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles are happy to be on the road for Sunday’s game against the Ravens. And Jim says Maryland basketball and football are on the viewing menu this weekend.

Tim Lemke of the Washington Times has a look at how the sagging economy is affecting sports especially with the LPGA. And Tim says Michigan’s upset over UCLA in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament on Thursday gave a shot in the arm to the auto industry.

Ray Frager of the Baltimore Sun writes that the BCS going to ESPN is leaving out a large segment of fans who don’t have cable.

Bob Fernandez of the Philadelphia Inquirer says the Comcast-NFL Network dispute could be heading for trial.

Ken Schott of the Schenectady Gazette says ESPN is buying up everything.

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News feels the NFL should address the gambling issue out in the open. Bob must have placed a bet on the Chargers-Steelers game.

The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick rails against the Personal Seat License and tries to tie them in with flexing games.

The Post’s Mike Puma has five questions for ESPN/ABC’s Craig James.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reviews the new four DVD set of the late, great ABC SportsNight series.

Newsday’s Neil Best mentions that Chris Russo was out for two days from his Sirius XM show.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette writes that long-time Patriots radio voice Gil Santos plans to be on the job for the foreseeable future.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell of the Boston Globe says Yale-Harvard gets some national exposure on Saturday.

Canada

William Houston Toronto Globe and Mail says the economy has forced Canadian newspapers to cut back on sending reporters to the CFL’s Grey Cup this weekend.

Jennifer Wells of the Globe and Mail says while all of the TV ads are sold out for the Grey Cup, the CFL needs to do a better job in branding.

Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star says TSN will try to have all of the angles covered for its first Grey Cup telecast.

And that’s going to do it. Enjoy your weekend.

Friday Links and Thoughts

Yesterday in the Globe’s OT, Chad Finn put forth the theory….and that’s ALL it was, as Finn states he has “no hard evidence to support this suspicion” that led him to write this…that if the Red Sox were to sign free agent slugger Mark Teixeira, that Theo Epstein “should at least gauge interest” in David Ortiz out on the market.

Today we get a good example of how the modern information age loves to take things and “re-report” them in the most sensational way possible. On the NBCSports.com’s “Scuttlebutt” they link Finn’s column with the headline If Red Sox get Tex, Big Papi is gone. Sounds pretty definitive. Si.com’s Fannation also ran with the story, as a “hot rumor,” simply citing the Boston Globe as the source.

The fact that these outlets could take Finn’s opinion – the piece was just an opinion column – and turn it into some kind of hot “rumor” is exactly what is wrong with so much of the sports coverage we get today. Finn wasn’t reporting anything, and much of the piece is in fact a tribute to Ortiz, who Finn clearly does not want to see traded.

Bill Simmons says that home field advantage isn’t what it once was. He also has his Week 12 picks.

Eric Wilbur, as he does every week, rounds up the predictions for this weekend’s Patriots game. A surprising majority appear to be picking the Patriots, which runs counter to my own gut feeling. (Which might be a good thing.)

Ronnie Brown is getting ready for an even bigger and better game against the Patriots this time around.

Wes Goldstein has the Bruins putting it all together under Claude Julien.

Tony Massarotti thinks that the Celtics have the East all wrapped up already.

Jessica Camerato says that these Celtics have swagger…and their opponents don’t particularly appreciate it at times.

Tom E. Curran says that Matt Ryan is starting to look Brady-like down in Atlanta. Lawyer Milloy backs him up.

Dave Hollander has an extensive interview with Erin Andrews.

Jason Whitlock goes after the media for their bashing of Donovan McNabb.

Even if you weren’t a fan of Mike Mussina, you’ve got to admire that he had made his mind up before the season that he was going to retire, but didn’t tell anyone, and that even his first ever 20 win season couldn’t change his mind.

Ken Fang’s Megalinks will be up either later tonight or at latest tomorrow morning…

Pistons Don’t Have The Answer For Celtics

Even with a 10-2 record heading into last night, some were calling the Celtics a disappointment thus far this season because of their struggles on offense and tendency to fall behind early on in games. Boston fell behind 13-2 to start the game against the Pistons at the Garden last evening, but turned things on and cruised to an impressive 98-80 win over their rivals from the motor city.

On the BSMW Full Court Press, Jeremy Gottlieb takes another look at what we’ve learned so far about the Celtics.

Frank Dell’Apa has Rajon Rondo leading the way last night, and outplaying Allen Iverson in the process. Steve Bulpett has the Celtics absorbing the opening punch by the Pistons, and then turning the tide in their favor for the rest of the night. Jeff Howe has the Celtics undressing the Pistons last night at the Garden. Bill Doyle says that the new matchups created with the Iverson trade favor the Celtics, and that was evident last night. Tim Weisberg says that through the first two games, it appears clear who the better team is. Robert Lee looks at what was a big win for the Celtics, even if they won’t say so.

Marc J. Spears says that the Celtics have not seen the real Pistons yet in the first two matchups between these clubs and should prepare to see a more talented foe come playoff time. Scott Souza says maybe the Pistons were just tired last night.  Steve Buckley has Tony Allen burning the Pistons for the second time this season. Howe has a slimmed down Kendrick Perkins showing new energy on defense and off the glass this season. Lenny Megliola wonders if Stephon Marbury could be a fit for the Celtics. Paul Flannery has Rondo revitalized last night against Iverson and the Pistons.

Spears has Kevin Garnett returning to the court in Minneapolis tonight for the first time since his trade to the Celtics, (he missed last season’s game with an abdominal strain) a moment which should prove to be emotional for all involved. Mike Fine has more on Garnett’s charged-up return to Minnesota.

Dell’Apa’s notebook has more on Garnett’s return to Minnesota tonight. Bulpett’s notebook has the Celtics expecting Garnett’s emotions to red-line tonight in his return to Minnesota. Doyle’s notebook has more on Garnett’s return to the city he called home for 12 seasons.

Patriots

On Patriots Daily, Britt Schramm outlines what the Patriots need to do to beat the Dolphins.

Ron Borges says that the Patriots can’t and won’t be fooled by the “Wildcat” in this matchup with the Dolphins. Jennifer Toland agrees that the Patriots won’t be ambushed by the “Wildcat” this time around. Ben Swasey says that lessons learned from the last meeting should help in this game.

Eric McHugh looks at what Matt Cassel has accomplished with his feet this season. Christopher Price has Cassel giving hope to backups everywhere with his performance this year. Christopher L. Gasper has Cassel playing while the guys he used to back up - Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart (and Tom Brady) - sit and watch. Mark Farinella has Cassel proving to be a patient student. Karen Guregian has Cassel’s feet putting the Dolphins defense on alert for Sunday. Shalise Manza Young has Cassel’s story inspiring the current USC backup QB.

Price examines the struggles of the Patriots kickoff unit this season. Karen Guregian looks at the disappoint which has been Benjamin Watson.

Jim McBride has his NFL picks. Jim Lazar has the picks in the Herald.

Bill Doyle chats with Patriots radio broadcasting legend Gil Santos.

McHugh’s notebook has Cassel returning to an unpleasant memory in Miami. Gasper’s notebook has the Patriots looking at a physical game with the Dolphins on Sunday. Farinella’s notebook has the Patriots getting ready for the Wildcat on Sunday. Toland’s notebook has Cassel’s mobility helping him improve his game. Guregian’s notebook has a look at the dramatic drop-off in numbers for Mike Vrabel this season.

Bruins

Mike Loftus has David Krejci getting the right pep talk to be able help the Bruins. Tony Lee has patchwork lines getting the job done for the Bruins. Joe Haggerty has the high scoring Bruins machine just rolling along. Bill Burt has the longest tenured Bruin, P.J. Axelsson enjoying the ride this season. Barbara Matson says that situational play has pushed the Bruins over the top this season. Rich Thompson looks at Marc Savard notching his 600th career point in the win over the Sabres.

Loftus’ notebook says that the Bruins can’t afford to look past the Panthers.

Red Sox/Misc

Michael Silverman has the Red Sox lusting after Mark Teixeira. Alex Speier has the Red Sox offseason puzzle starting to take shape.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has the Harvard/Yale rivalry getting national exposure this year.

Late Links Thursday

Just some quick links to catch up on a few things…

The Bruins overcame a sloppy start to beat the Sabres 7-4. Catch up on all the Bruins talk at BruinsLinks.com.

There’s a doubleheader on Patriots Daily today, first, Dan Snapp looks at Brett Favre having one of his most impressive games…ever…last Thursday against the Patriots.

Then, Tyler Carter notes that soft zone (and a coin flip) doomed the Patriots last week.

For the second week in a row, we’ve got a BSMW hater in Michael Felger‘s mailbag. No biggie though, Rockie from Southie is just torqued off that I don’t let his childish comments pass through the filter on the front page here.

And for the record…I like Felger. I don’t like the stands he takes at times, and I think his anti-Patriots, anti-Moss stands are clearly contrived, but I’ve always liked that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and that he obviously does watch and enjoy sports, something that can’t be said for all his colleague in the media.

Of course, if you want a mailbag solely devoted to football, the Ask Reiss one is the way to go.

Kerry J. Byrne says that the Patriots pass defense is a disaster of Titanic/Hindenburg proportions.

Chad Finn wonders if David Ortiz might be the odd man out if the Red Sox end up signing Mark Teixeira.

Michael Silverman says that the trade of Coco Crisp is just the start of a busy offseason for the Red Sox.

Schilling Weighs in on Pedroia, Watney Extended

A couple of late morning notes today:

I’ve sworn off his blog, but apparently Curt Schilling is finding new outlets to express himself. He’s a Guest Columnist on WEEI.com this morning, weighing on on Pedroia being named the MVP and also about Evan Grant leaving Pedroia off of his ballot.

The very busy Jessica Heslam reports that NESN has signed Heidi Watney to a contract extension.

Also, the Red Sox have traded center fielder Coco Crisp to the Royals.

Celtics Hold Off Knicks Without KG

Playing without the suspended Kevin Garnett last night, the Celtics had to hang on in the fourth quarter, but thanks in part to a late Brian Scalabrine three-pointer, they were able to come out of last night with a 110-101 win over the New York Knicks.

Frank Dell’Apa says that the Celtics, especially the reserves, made a loud statement with their play last night. Robert Lee has the Celtics proving they can win a big game without Garnett. Steve Bulpett has KG’s teammates stepping up big in his absence. Scott Souza has Scalabrine stepping into Garnett’s spot in the starting lineup for the win. Bill Doyle has the Celtics grabbing a season high 110 points in the win. Jim Fenton has Leon Powe and Kendrick Perkins making their presence felt last night.

Ron Borges has a look at Brian Scalabrine, who has attained the title of “cult hero in residence.” Barbara Matson has new folk hero Scalabrine just happy the Celtics got the win. Paul Flannery has Scalabrine offering reminders of why he is so valuable to the Celtics. Lee has the Celtics unhappy with the Garnett suspension. Borges has more from the Celtics on the suspension.

Alan Siegel has the Knicks hoping to run their way out of the NBA cellar. Jessica Camerato has Quentin Richardson with plenty of bad things to say about the Celtics after the game last night.

Dell’Apa’s notebook has Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge irked by the Garnett suspension. Bulpett’s notebook has the Knicks with plenty to say after this one. Doyle’s notebook has some strong words from Doc Rivers on the suspension of his star. Fenton’s notebook has more on Rivers.

Pedroia is AL MVP

Amalie Benjamin has Dustin Pedroia adding the AL MVP to his already impressive trophy collection. Sean McAdam says that success won’t ruin Pedroia. Joe Haggerty has Kevin Youkilis coming in third in the voting with Pedroia the winner. Jon Couture says that Pedroia has made proving people wrong a way of life. Dan Barbarisi has Pedroia proving that big things can come to the little guy. Jeff Goldberg notes that Pedroia didn’t even have a bonus in his contract for winning the MVP. Paul Jarvey has Pedroia capping off one of the best seasons ever by a second baseman. Alex Speier has Pedroia saying So long, skeptics.

Rob Bradford says that Pedroia is history in the making with the start that his career has gotten off to. Dan Shaughnessy says that this “is simply one of the amazing sports stories of our time.” He also calls him the “most unlikely man to win this award in the history of major league baseball.” (Zoilo Versalles anyone?) Joe McDonald says that the Red Sox feel that the best is still yet to come from Pedroia. Lenny Megliola recalls the spring of 2007 when all the fans wanted Alex Cora playing second base instead of Pedroia. Brian MacPherson has Pedroia always finding a way to get an edge. Mike Fine has Pedroia needing that edge to drive him further and further.

Tell me this wasn’t the single most predictable column this morning. If you had to guess yesterday about one column being written today – wouldn’t you have guessed that Nick Cafardo would write about Pedroia now being able to cash in with a big contract? Nick doesn’t disappoint, providing exactly what we knew he would do.

BSMW Guest Blogger Bob Ekstrom wanted to pass along his thoughts with the following passage:

As happy as we are with Pedroia’s selection, we’re as equally confounded by his exclusion off the ballot of Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant. Yesterday on WEEI’s The Big Show, Grant was grilled on his omission of Pedroia, and he defended himself weakly to say the least. In some later damage control, he now credits himself for over-analyzing MVP selection criteria in shunning Pedroia. As recently as September 20, he had Dustin fourth on his MVP ballot. So what happened after that? Well, Pedroia hit .391 for the balance of the season and carried the Sox into the playoffs, while Grant was obviously the one who shut it down.

Grant certainly was grilled on WEEI yesterday, and the station is pretty proud of it, having even issued a partial transcript of the interview on their website. Dan Lamothe has more on the sportswriter who snubbed Pedroia. The Rangers might find themselves angry at Grant next season, as Pedroia has been known to hold a grudge. However, Steve Buckley assures us that the MVP voting is still in good hands.

Alex Speier looks at how the Red Sox young stars will build on this season. Dan Duggan had Kevin Youkilis very happy for his teammate. Bill Burt has Sean Casey gushing over Pedroia. Lamothe also looks at a New York report that says that the Red Sox will be major players for A.J. Burnett in free agency. Sarah Green loves the hot stove.

McAdam’s notebook has more on Evan Grant leaving Pedroia off his ballot.

Joey Porter Won’t Shut Up. Doesn’t Have To.

Christopher L. Gasper has Joey Porter running his mouth and the Patriots ceding the floor to him. Mark Farinella has the Patriots focusing on Miami, not just Porter. Karen Guregian says that these have not been your typical Patriots this season, beating themselves on several occasions. She also takes a closer look at some of those missed plays or miscues that cost the team. Eric McHugh says that the Patriots are no strangers to trickery of their own – even against the Dolphins.

Jim Donaldson tells us what we knew already – the Patriots need to win this game. Mike Petraglia tells us why the media loves Joey Porter. The Telegram & Gazette has a look at the Pats roadmap ahead to the postseason. Ben Swasey says that it is gut-check time for the Patriots.

John Tomase has Stephen Neal and UFC Champion Brock Lesnar recalling their 1999 NCAA wrestling Tournament matchup, which Neal won.

Gasper’s notebook has Jabar Gaffney as a potential big contributor on Sunday. Guregian’s notebook has the Patriots choosing not to return Porter’s trash talk. Shalise Manza Young has Scott Pioli not interested in other GM opportunities around the league.

Bruins

Stephen Harris says Peter Chiarelli deserves a new deal. Fluto Shinzawa has Andrew Ference down after his tough break.

Pedroia Named AL MVP

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was named AL MVP today by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Chad Finn has story on Boston.com. Sean McAdam has the story on the Herald website. Alex Speier weighs in on  WEEI.com. Tony Massarotti points to the 18 at-bats when Pedroia stepped into the cleanup role after Manny Ramirez was traded as what tipped the scaled in Pedroia’s favor. That, and the fact that he is 5 foot 8.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News left Pedroia off his ballot completely. Before you slam him too badly, his first place vote went to Kevin Youkilis.

Mike Reiss has his Patriots Mailbag for the week.

On the BSMW Full Court Press, we weigh in on the ridiculous Garnett Suspension.

Eckersley To Stick Around at NESN for Awhile

The very busy Jessica Heslam also has the news that Dennis Eckersley and NESN have agreed to a multi-year contract extension.

This is great news for viewers of the NESN pre and post game shows, as Eckersely is easily the most insightful and entertaining analyst in their rotation.

Eckersley also received one of the highest Approval Ratings from the BSMW voting earlier this year, with a whopping 96% approval.

Eckersley, who went national for the MLB postseason on TBS, has gotten attention for his unique vocabulary. During the playoffs, TBS provided this “Ecktionary“:

Cheese = Fastball

Salad = Bad Pitch

Paint = Good Control

Johnson = Home Run

Moss = Hair

Boiling = Fat

Iron = Money

Filet = Ugly Person

Patriots Start Prep For Crucial Game With Dolphins

With the Patriots coming off a 16-0 regular season and Miami a 1-15 one in 2007, who would’ve thought that this Sunday’s game down in Miami would be so critical for both clubs?

On Patriots Daily, Scott Benson notes that if the playoff started now, the Patriots would be on the  Outside Looking In at the top teams. Brian MacPherson also takes a peek at the AFC playoff picture as we stand now.

Mike Reiss says that it will be interesting to see how much the Patriots use their tight ends against the Dolphins this Sunday. Shalise Manza Young says that the Patriots won’t be surprised by the “Wildcat” this time around. John Tomase notes that even though the Dolphins run the formation every week, it has still been effective. Mark Farinella says that the talk yesterday was all wildcat, all the time. Glen Farley says that the Patriots should be ready for the formation this time around.

Tomase has Joey Porter talking about why he hates the Patriots so much. Bill Burt says that the Patriots just need to turn it on like the ’07 Giants did. Farley has rookie LB Jerod Mayo making his presence felt.

Reiss’ notebook has more on the Patriots preparations for the “Wildcat.” Tomase’s notebook has the rookie season of Terrence Wheatley coming to an end after he was placed on IR yesterday. Farinella’s notebook has more on Wheatley’s season coming to an end.  

Bruins Top Leafs

Stephen Harris has Tim Thomas and the Bruins hanging on for a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. Fluto Shinzawa has Thomas surviving a late barrage by Toronto.

Upon further, further review, Mick Colageo reverses his column from yesterday and says that the officials got the call right on Saturday night.

Harris’ notebook says that Brian Burke will be the next GM of the Maple Leafs, not the Bruins. Shinzawa’s notebook has PJ Axelsson getting some point duty in the absence of Andrew Ference.

Celtics

Frank Dell’Apa has a mini-feature on Sam Cassell’s role as a player-coach with the Celtics and his passion to teach the game he loves. Jim Fenton says there isn’t much rest on the horizon for the weary Celtics. Scott Souza says that even though the team was fatigued, they still found a way to win in Milwaukee, which is a good sign for them.

Shira Springer has Magic Johnson saying the Paul Pierce is OK, but he’s no Kobe Bryant. Paul Flannery seems poised to leap aboard the Lakers bandwagon.

Steve Bulpett and Dell’Apa’s notebook have the NBA suspending Kevin Garnett for one game for the incident in Milwaukee Saturday night.

Red Sox

Gerry Callahan says that signing Mark Teixeira is worth the positional chaos it will cause the Red Sox. Paul Doyle says that Theo Epstein is the best GM in the game.

The AL MVP is handed out today, the Red Sox Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis are both top candidates. Mike Fine says that a strong case can be made for either player. Nick Cafardo says that there is no clear favorite for the award. Sean McAdam says that Pedroia could be the slight favorite, but both players could finish in the top three. Joe McDonald has Pedroia as the favorite to win the honor. Dan Lamothe provides a list of players who haven’t won the award to show how difficult it is. Rob Bradford looks at which player should win the award.

Monday Afternoon One-Liners

Among the Patriots items in Peter King‘s MMQB column today is the news that former Patriot Je’Rod Cherry is auctioning off his 2001 Super Bowl ring to raise money for children’s charities.

Mark Cuban is charged with insider trading.

Gordon Edes tries to identify the next wave of great catchers.

Michael Silver isn’t quite ready to annoint Matt Cassel as the Next Big Thing.

Bill Simmons might be ready to go there, though.

The NBA is apparently looking into that Garnett/Bogut incident from Saturday night.

Albert Breer and Ron Borges seem sold on the Tennessee Titans. Mercury Morris is.