Shots Wraps up 2008

We’ll let David Scott carry the load this morning, as he takes some time from his book to present to us The 2008 Shotties – NESN and Globe Rift Widening; Ordway Losing Bargaining Power Daily.

Some new stuff in there, the latest on Glenn Ordway’s future at WEEI and Bob Ryan commenting on the cancellation of his Globe 10.0 at NESN, combined with a look back at many of the top stories of 2008 in Boston sports media.

He goes into two of what were my remaining three top stories this year – the launch of WEEI.com, the Herald’s questionable moves and judgement regarding personnel and their handling of Spygate, and has a number of other observations, notes and shots.

Regrettably, I’m going to have to punt this morning and hand the coverage to Bruinslinks.com and CelticsLinks.com for last night’s Bruins win (9 in a row) and Celtics loss (3 out of 4).

Price is Right for WEEI.com

Got a nice note from Christopher Price of the Boston Metro this afternoon, letting me know that starting next month, he’ll be leaving the Metro and joining WEEI.com as the Patriots writer for the site.

Price will also serve as assistant editor for WEEI.com.

Price has covered the Patriots for the Metro since 2001, and his weekly “10 Things We Learned Yesterday” column became a must-read for Patriots fans following each game. Price is also the author of The Blueprint: How the New England Patriots Beat the System to Create the Last Great NFL Superpower.

This is another nice hire for WEEI.com, which continues to collect competent writers and reporters who cover the teams thoroughly and without an axe to grind. (Which made the Ron Borges hire so strange to begin with.) Good luck to Chris!

Top Stories 2008: Baseball Beat Musical Chairs

As we continue our series on the biggest Boston sports media stories of 2008, we come to a crazy few weeks this summer on the baseball beat in the local papers and websites. In that span, we saw the following movement:

Gordon Edes: Boston Globe to Yahoo! Sports

Rob Bradford: Boston Herald to WEEI.com

Alex Speier: NH Union Leader to WEEI.com

Jeff Horrigan: Boston Herald to Private Sector

Tony Massarotti: Boston Herald to Boston.com

Sean McAdam: Providence Journal to Boston Herald

Adam Kilgore: Washington Post to Boston Globe

Daniel Barbarisi: Providence Journal city hall beat to Red Sox beat.

Looking through that list, it seems easier to point out that the only people who stayed put in their baseball gigs were Amalie Benjamin and Nick Cafardo of the Globe and Michael Silverman of the Herald.

All of that movement certainly gave this site plenty to report on during those few weeks.

Already 2009 For Patriots

The Calendar is still 2008, and we’re still technically in the 2008 NFL season, but it’s all about 2009 for the New England Patriots, who will not be playing football in January for the first time since the 2002 season.

Christopher L. Gasper has the team trying to find some consolation in the longer-than-usual offseason facing them. Mark Farinella has the Patriots cleaning out their lockers with a mixture of satisfaction and frustration.  Robert Lee has the Patriots proud of their 11 wins, but frustrated at not being in the playoffs.  Rich Garven has the Patriots doing a lot more right than wrong this season. Alex Speier has the Patriots among the best near miss teams of all time.

If you’re looking for a fall guy, Eric McHugh has a list of those you can blame for the Patriots not making the playoffs. Shalise Manza Young points to the failure to stop the Jets in OT as the reason the Patriots are home now. Ron Chimelis points to the coin flip prior to that period as the key to the Patriots season.

Mike Reiss provides a breakdown of the team’s personnel at each position, with their contract situations. Karen Guregian has a look at the top five questions facing the Patriots this offseason. Tim Weisberg has the Patriots already beginning a new chapter. Brian MacPherson looks ahead to an offseason of big decisions. Steve Krause has the Patriots reflecting and reevaluating as the offseason arrives.

In his report card, Ron Borges has all “B’s”, with the exception of one “A” and one “C.” In Michael Felger’s report card, he has Bill Belichick putting to rest this season all the questions about whether he could win without Tom Brady. Ian Clark has the football gods being cruel to the Patriots in his report card.

John Tomase examines what’s next for Matt Cassel. Chris Kennedy says that the Patriots will have a lot more free time this winter to think about what to do with Cassel.

Farinella has Bill Belichick talking about getting some rest this offseason for the players and coaches. Bill Burt says that Wes Welker was the Patriots 2008 MVP and is their new poster boy. Tomase looks at the case of James Sanders, who will be a free agent this spring.

Steve Buckley discusses the dueling stories about the status of Tom Brady’s knee. Bill Reynolds says that there should be no moaning or groaning over the fate of these Patriots, who overachieved to 11 wins. Jennifer Toland has the Patriots dealing with their fate. Glen Farley has more on the sudden end to the season for New England. Peter Schworm has Patriots fans left out in the cold following the season.

Scott Benson looks at the annual interest and speculation over Scott Pioli’s future. Guregian looks at the interest in Scott Pioli and Josh McDaniels by the Cleveland Browns. Glen Farley has the Browns getting permission to talk to Pioli. Garry Brown says that the Dolphins are living proof that if you hire Bill Parcells, the playoffs will follow.

Gasper’s notebook says that the demand for Pioli and McDaniels has already begun. Guregian’s notebook has the Patriots saying their goodbyes yesterday. Lee’s notebook has Cassel and the Patriots with a wealth of options this offseason.

Celtics

Marc J. Spears has Doc Rivers trying hard to limit Kevin Garnett’s playing time. Steve Bulpett says that tonight’s road trip finale in Portland will be a key test for the Celtics. Jim Fenton has the Celtics needing a win tonight to avoid a losing road trip. Paul Flannery looks at how teams like Portland circle games with the Celtics on their calendar far in advance. Jessica Camerato looks at how fatherhood impacted the Celtics in 2008.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa and Stephen Harris have coach Claude Julien dropping Milan Lucic to the third line. Steve Conroy looks at how young talent and inspired play have brought the Bruins back to the top. Joe Haggerty talks to the agent for Patrice Bergeron about how his client is doing. Conroy has some things to expect in the Bruins future.

Red Sox

On SI.com, Jon Heyman and Tom Verducci report that after the Sox lost out on Mark Teixeira, they tried to pry Hanley Ramirez away from the Marlins and bring him back to the Red Sox organization. Curt Schilling weighs in on the signing of Josh Bard and Brad Penny.

Top Stories 2008: Buyouts and Cuts

We’re going to have a mini-series this week looking back at some of the top sports media stories in the Boston area from this past year.

#5 on our list of sports media stories is the buyouts and cutbacks seen in sports departments in 2008.

The Boston Globe went through another round of buyouts this year, and columnist Jackie MacMullan, NBA writer Peter May and assistant sports editor Ken Fratus were among those who took buyouts from the paper.

The Providence Journal offered buyouts to its staff, though it doesn’t appear that the sports department was severely impacted.

The Hartford Courant essentially cut all of their day-to-day Boston sports coverage. Patriots beat writer David Heuschkel and Red Sox beat writer Jeff Goldberg were among the casualties of this decision.

The Gatehouse News – which publishes the MetroWest Daily News, Quincy Patriot-Ledger and Brockton Enterprise among their local holdings also had staff cutbacks this year. Daily News Patriots beat writer Douglas Flynn was probably the most high-profile writer who lost his job from the staff reductions.

On the TV side, longtime sports director Bob Lobel took a buyout from WBZ – a story that is bigger than this entry.

Entercom Boston – the parent company of WEEI and WRKO also had staff reductions this year.

11-5 Not Good Enough For Patriots

Sometimes it stinks being right.

I took a little heat from some readers last week for emphatically stating that there was no way that the Jets or Jaguars would win yesterday. I didn’t think I was being too bold in making that statement, considering the teams and coaches involved. It seemed pretty obvious, in fact.

Back in August when the Jets traded for Brett Favre, Patriots fans smirked, knowing that the Jets season would now end with Favre throwing some bonehead, killer interceptions in the biggest moment of the biggest game of the season. Little did Patriots fans know that their playoff fate would also be tied to those interceptions.

The Patriots made their own bed this season. The losses to the Colts and at home to the Jets are the reason they’re cleaning out their lockers today instead of preparing for the postseason. Since the league was so uneven this season with so many really poor teams (and conversely teams with good records from beating up on the poor teams) that the Patriots 11-5 record just wasn’t good enough.

Boston fans can take solace in the fact that we two first place teams playing this winter in the Celtics and Bruins to bridge the gap to the summer.

Yesterday was a busy day in Boston sports, with the Patriots, Bruins and Celtics all playing, and the Red Sox making a couple of moves as well.

Tom E. Curran on NBCSports.com reported yesterday that Tom Brady is behind in his rehab and that his 2009 season would be in doubt if a second procedure became necessary. Peter King disputed that account on the NBC Football Night in America pregame show, and Shira Springer (Shira Springer!?) also disputes the account in the Globe this morning. Because there are apparently two different camps of sources out there on this topic, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com of course immediately jumps in and asserts that this MUST mean there is a rift between Brady and the Patriots. The Curran report also conflicts with what Charlie Casserly had reported on the CBS Pregame show last Sunday.

Chris Warner on PatriotsDaily.com  reviews the frustrating end to the season for New England. Chris Price chimes in with the final 10 Things We Learned Yesterday column of the season for the Patriots.  Michael Felger says that you shouldn’t be at all surprised at what Brett Favre did yesterday. (We weren’t.)

Check the rest of the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com – again with a new streamlined look and article previews.

Thus begins what is sure to be a fascinating offseason for the Patriots. Eric McHugh has a look at a few of the issues needing to be dealt with. Hector Longo says that the Patriots have to keep Matt Cassell with Brady’s situation unclear.

Bruins

The Bruins won their eight straight game last night, 2-1 over the Atlanta Thrashers. Steve Conroy has Manny Fernandez turning in a “brilliant” performance in net for the B’s. Fluto Shinzawa has Cam Neely offering congratulations to Fernandez following the game.

Conroy’s notebook has Michael Ryder getting his groove back with the Bruins. Shinzawa’s notebook uses the same term to describe Chuck Kobasew.

Celtics

The Celtics got back to their winning ways with a 108-63 thumping of the Kings in Sacramento. The 45 point win by the Celtics was the largest defeat at home in franchise history for Sacramento. Marc J. Spears has the Celtics getting back to business in the win. Steve Bulpett says that four quarters of the Kings was just what the Celtics needed.

Tim Weisberg says that the Celtics two losses last week aren’t about to derail their season. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics might need some bench help. Jeff Goodman looks at what the Lakers loss means to the Celtics. Bulpett looks at the strides made by Ray Allen in his second season with the Celtics.

Spears’ notebook has Kendrick Perkins returning to action for the Celtics, and has an update on Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens from the D-League. Bulpett’s notebook has more on Perkins’ return to the lineup.

Red Sox

Sean McAdam has the Sox reaching an agreement with former Marlins and Dodgers ace Brad Penny and bringing back former backup catcher Josh Bard. Amalie Benjamin also reports on the developments. Rob Bradford has Penny confirming the deal.

Robert Preer says that 3-D sportscasts might be the wave of the future.

Friday/Saturday Megalinks

Ken from the Fang’s Bites blog and here with your megalinks late once again, but late is better than never.

Of course, we have the Weekend Viewing Picks to start.

We go into the last weekend of the NFL regular season with the AFC East still up for grabs. The Patriots travel to Buffalo at 1 p.m. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf will have the call. If the Pats win, then it will be time to root for the Jets as they take on Miami at 4:15 p.m. Both games will be carried on WBZ and WPRI. This being Week 17, all blackout rules are thrown out so CBS and Fox have both doubleheaders. The very last game of the regular season, Sunday night’s Denver-San Diego game will decide the winner of the AFC West and the last playoff spot. 7NBC and NBC10 will have the game at 8:15 p.m. The entire viewing schedule plus distribution maps can be seen in the NFL Viewing Picks.

After winning 19 straight, the Celtics are now the owners of a two game losing streak, and they’ll try to break that in Sacramento on Sunday. Comcast SportsNet has the game at 9 on Sunday night.

The Bruins travel to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes. NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley will have the call of that game, Saturday night at 7. Then the B’s go to Atlanta for a game on Sunday against the Trashers and NESN will have that game as well at 5 p.m.

There are four college bowl games taking place this weekend, three on Saturday and on Sunday. ESPN will carry all of them. The Meineke Car Care Bowl kicks off the tripleheader on Saturday pitting West Virginia and North Carolina at 1 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., it’s the Champ Sports Bowl with Wisconsin battling Florida State, then in primetime at 8 p.m., it will be the Emerald Bowl as Miami (FL) takes on Cal. Then on Sunday, the Independence Bowl has Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech at 8:15 p.m.

Not much for college basketball this weekend as the holiday break takes hold. But CBS has West Virginia at Ohio State, Saturday at 4 p.m. You can take a gander at the national schedule in the College Basketball Viewing Picks.

Now onto the links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand gives you a 2008 sports media quiz.

Pat Eaton-Robb of the Associated Press looks at Chris Berman who enters his 30th year at ESPN.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell says the Detroit Lions with a chance to go 0-16 have plenty of merchandise to commemorate the possibility of a reverse perfect season. And Darren looks at the lengths one man went to buy the famous Honus Wagner baseball card.

Joe Favorito says the Portland Trail Blazers expanded on last year’s initial Hanukah night with success.

Alex Weprin of Broadcasting & Cable says the renewal of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry brought ABC some nice Christmas ratings. Alex adds that MLB Network continues to add to its on-air roster.

John Eggerton of B&C writes about the Christmas Day launch of the new Ski Channel which started airing on various cable systems and DirecTV.

Multichannel News has a video produced by R. Thomas Umsted which looks inside the launch of the MLB Network.

The Sports Media Watch says Celtics-Lakers was the second highest rated NBA regular season game of this decade. The SMW says ABC’s NBA doubleheader including Celtics-Lakers did well. SMW says after seven seasons of broadcasting the NBA, ESPN/ABC seems that its finally hitting its stride.

East and Mid-Atlantic

The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick rips poker on ESPN.

Justin Terranova of the Post talks with CBS’ Boomer Esiason about the Jets’ season finale against Miami. And Justin has five questions for Fox NFL Sunday’s Howie Long.

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News says while the media rips the Yankees for spending in a down economy, history shows that the spending doesn’t always lead to a championship.

Newsday’s Neil Best says the NFL is the 800 lbs. ratings gorilla. Neil has some numbers in his blog to back his column. Neil reviews the year in sports media. Neil also reviews the year’s most watched sporting events. Finally, Neil reviews his sports media predictions for this year.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times-Union writes that NBC is hoping for an assist from the weather for the NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day.

The Schenectady Gazette’s Ken Schott lists his top ten broadcast media stories of 2008.

Laura Nachman says a former CN8 host is moving over to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.

South

Roger van der Horst of the Raleigh News & Observer talks ACC hoops with ESPN analyst Jason Williams. Roger says the ACC is dealing in a position of weakness as it prepares to negotiate a new football TV contract.

Doug Nye of The State says the NFL’s Greatest Game Ever Played remains as important today as it was in 1958.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has the NFL explanation as to why Denver-San Diego was chosen as the Sunday night game instead of Dolphins-Jets.

Dave Darling from the Orlando Sentinel looks back at some of the best sports quotes of 2008.

Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram suggests some sports books to buy with your holiday bookstore gift card.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle says local Cowboys fans will be able to watch their team in action this weekend without fear of blackout.

Barry Horn in the Dallas Morning News has some reaction to various sports media actions. In his blog, Barry catches up with Stars TV analyst Daryl Reaugh. Barry writes that ESPN NFL analyst Emmit Smith took the coin used in the last ever Texas Stadium coin flip. And Barry says ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley is blaming the Cowboys’ strength and conditioning coach for the team’s annual folds.

The Oklahoman’s Mel Bracht talks with ESPN/ABC college football analyst Craig James about his passion for ranching.

Midwest

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids Press has his highs and lows for sports TV in 2008.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reviews the year in sports media.

I think two links in the Midwest are the fewest I’ve ever had out of a region (not counting Canada which is usually stuck on two every week).

West

From the Deseret News, Scott D. Pierce writes that replay impacted two area college basketball games over the past week.

Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic says Fox’s Jeanne Zelasko is applying for the Dodgers TV play-by-play gig.

Jay Posner from the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the Chargers’ Philip Rivers is a good fit on TV.

The North County Times’ John Maffei says that Al Michaels is happy to have a “home game” this Sunday night.

Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times says the TV ratings bear out that the Dallas Cowboys are truly America’s Team.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News writes that snow at Wrigley Field would make for a perfect day for NBC for the NHL Winter Classic. Tom has a shortened version of his media notes, but lots of video. Tom asks why not Jeanne Zelasko for the Dodgers play-by-play gig. Finally, Tom reviews his week in blogging.

Gary Washburn of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer previews the MLB Network launch.

Canada

Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star writes that TSN is providing plenty of coverage of the World Junior Hockey Championships from Ottawa.

Sheri Levine of the Canwest News Service says TSN will offer ten days of coverage from the event.

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

Celtics-Lakers Delivers Highest NBA Regular- Season Rating in Four Years

From ABC/ESPN:

Lakers Win Over Celtics on ABC Earns Highest Regular-Season Rating in Four Years Audience is 66 Percent Higher than Last Year’s Christmas Game

The Christmas day rematch of last year’s Finals, in which the Los Angeles Lakers broke the Boston Celtic’s 19-game win streak 92-83, earned a 5.3 household rating on a fast-national basis, the highest-rated regular season NBA game in four years. The rating was 51 percent higher than last year’s late Christmas game on ABC, Phoenix Suns vs. Lakers (3.5), and delivered a 65 percent larger audience (9,960,378 viewers vs. 5,984,539).

In addition, the early game on ABC, San Antonio Spurs-Phoenix Suns, earned a 3.2 household rating, up three percent from last year’s early Christmas game on ABC, Miami vs. Cleveland (3.1) and a 15 percent larger audience (5,757,393 viewers vs. 5,020,417). Roger Mason hit a three-point shot at the buzzer for the Spurs to beat the Suns 91-90.

Lakers End Celtics Streak

The Lakers put an end to the Celtics 19 game winning streak last night with a 93-83 win over Boston in Los Angeles.

Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics turned into Plaxico Burress in this one.  You know…shooting themselves in the foot…Marc J. Spears has the Celtics giving the Lakers their due for the win. Paul Flannery says that this was clearly not just another game for the Lakers.

Steven Herbert has Pau Gasol providing a big finish for the Lakers.

Spears’ notebook has Big Baby Davis returning to the court following his car accident last weekend. Bulpett’s notebook has the Celtics missing out on Christmas eve with their families.

Patriots

Christopher L. Gasper says that what Junior Seau is doing in his return to the Patriots is nothing short of amazing. John Tomase pinpoints three plays that did in the Patriots season this year. Glen Farley has hard work paying off for the Patriots offense. Rich Garven has the Patriots continuing to work through the mounting injuries on the roster.

Kerry J. Byrne says that no receiver has ever made as big an impact as Randy Moss does. It’s quite a compelling case.  Dave Wedge has Ty Warren helping out a boy whose family lost their home in a fire. Brian MacPherson says that Matt Cassel has given Patriots fans the best possible Christmas.

Gasper’s notebook has Wes Welker focusing on winning, not the individual records he’s racking up. The notebook from Shalise Manza Young says that the Bills may be without Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters on Sunday. Garven’s notebook has the Patriots putting together one of their best ever season on the ground.

Misc.

Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins talking about the slap shot vs. the wrist shot. Stephen Harris has Peter Chiarelli already making plans for the future to keep the Bruins competitive.

Daniel Barbarisi examines Lou Merloni’s transition from the playing field to broadcast studio.

Yesterday, Sean McAdam suggested that the Red Sox might be done pursuing big name free agents. Jon Couture said that the Teixeira mess was a rare miss by the Red Sox.

New York Times Co Looking To Sell Globe, 17.5% Share of Red Sox?

From an article by Russell Adams in the Wall Street Journal late yesterday:

The Times Co., which faces a cash shortage accelerated by steep industrywide revenue declines, has been rumored for months to be open to selling non-core assets. Besides its flagship newspaper, the Times Co. owns the Boston Globe, About.com and a 17.5% stake in New England Sports Ventures, which owns the Red Sox, their fabled ballpark Fenway Park and most of the cable network that airs their games.

The Times Co. pushed discussions beyond the exploration phase early last month at a quarterly meeting of NESV’s limited partners at which the Times Co. indicated to the partnership its intention to sell. Since then Times Co. has been pursuing potential buyers, according to people familiar with the discussions. A Times spokeswoman declined to comment.

It is unclear what the Times Co. thinks it can get for its stake. Barclays Capital estimates the Times Co.’s investment is worth about $166 million; analysts and sports bankers recently told Reuters the Times Co. could raise at least $200 million if it sold its stake.

The Times Co. acquired its stake in NESV when it joined John Henry in the hedge fund billionaire’s $700 million purchase of the Red Sox in 2002. It is the second largest shareholder behind Mr. Henry. The stake was supposed to shore up the Globe’s advertising position in New England by packaging the Globe with New England Sports Network, one of the most powerful television outlets in the region. But it wasn’t enough to stop the decline in advertisers and readers.

It’s possible that the Globe could be packaged with the sports assets in a sale; Jack Connors, a former ad executive in Boston, and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch took a serious look at the Globe two years ago, when people close to them said they were valuing it at $550-600 million at the time. The Times rebuffed the inquiries. The Globe was recently valued by Barclay’s at $20 million.