Lynch Gets Scoop on Teixeira Talks

WCVB-TV’s Mike Lynch reported tonight that Red Sox officials were down in Texas tonight meeting face-to-face (an indication of progress in the talks) with agent Scott Boras about free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Other outlets jumped quickly to confirm the story, but Lynch was the first in with the news.

WEEI.com: Report: Red Sox officials meeting Boras to talk Teixeira

Boston.com: Reports: Sox in Texas meeting on Teixeira

BostonHerald.com: Ch. 5: Red Sox meeting with Boras now in Texas about Teixeira

Update: 11:15 pm Now apparently the Sox are out of it, after John Henry sent an email to media members saying that after listening to the other offers that Teixeira got, the Red Sox are “not going to be a factor” in the race to sign the free agent.

Wow. I don’t understand why Henry would email the media on this.  Does he love the drama?

This is Manny’s fault. I’m sure of it.

CSN Plans “Manny being Manny” Special for Christmas Night

From Comcast SportsNet:

COMCAST SPORTSNET PREMIERES MANNY BEING MANNY:

THE FINAL DAYS IN BOSTON ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT

Half Hour Special Recaps Ramirez’s Roller Coaster Career in Boston

BURLINGTON, MA – “Manny Being Manny” has been branded in the lexicon of Boston sports for all time, and Comcast SportsNet analyzes Manny Ramirez’s record-setting, charismatic, and sometimes controversial Red Sox career, and his departure from Boston, in a 30-minute documentary special premiering on Christmas night at 8 p.m., immediately following the Celtics-Lakers Post Game Live.

Comcast SportsNet examines the triumphs and turmoil of Manny’s time with the Sox and the key moments in his last season as a member of the Old Towne Team. The Manny Being Manny special:

  • Analyzes Ramirez’s Red Sox legacy, his bond with fans who continually forgave his transgressions, his off-season preparation for the 2008 season, and his hiring of super agent Scott Boras.
  • Reviews the key moments that led up to his departure: the Youkilis dugout incident; the Jack McCormick clubhouse incident; Manny’s no-swing at bat in Yankee Stadium; and his mysterious July knee injury.
  • Concludes with a perspective of Manny’s time in Boston, which featured two World Series titles, a World Series MVP, four trips to the postseason, and the most prosperous run for the Red Sox in a century.

Manny Being Manny features candid comments from noted Boston sports writers and personalities, including Dan Shaughnessy (Boston Globe), Steve Buckley (Boston Herald), Sean McAdam (Boston Herald), Gerry Callahan (WEEI), and Rob Bradford (WEEI.com):

McAdam on Manny’s legacy…

“In addition to all the craziness and the antics and the anecdotes that took place in those seven and a half seasons, I think his legacy ultimately is the great numbers that he put up, and that he will be remembered as the Red Sox’s greatest right-handed hitter anyway.”

Buckley on what Manny Being Manny means…

“That whole Manny being Manny thing actually had some teeth to it in a sense that when Manny did something, most players would simply say that’s Manny being Manny.”

Bradford on the hiring of Scott Boras…

“What you have to remember is why players go with Scott Boras. There are two reasons – No 1 obviously is he gets the money, but the other thing is he takes the bullet.”

Callahan on Manny vs. Youkilis…

“I don’t care what Youkilis said, (Manny) is a grown man – he smacks another teammate and people defend him. That was the day that I decided he could do anything.”

Shaughnessy on the McCormick incident

“The Sox, I thought, were embarrassingly not active in that thing. They didn’t publicly sanction him. They didn’t suspend him, which they should have done. It was one more moment of enabling and letting this guy do whatever he wants to do.”

Shaughnessy on the Yankee Stadium at bat…

“In retrospect, now, it looks like part of the plan to get out of here. It’s taken on a more sinister look to me. I do think he was up there having a day off and just sticking it to them.”

Manny Being Manny premiers on Christmas night immediately after Celtics Post Game Live at 8 p.m. and will rerun exclusively on Comcast SportsNet throughout the off season and Spring Training. The schedule includes telecasts on:

December

Thu, 12/25 8 & 10:30 p.m.
Fri, 12/ 26 9 p.m.
Tue, 12/30 7:30 p.m.
Wed, 12/ 31 7 p.m.

January

Thu, 1/1 8 & 10:30 p.m.
Fri, 1/2 5:30 p.m.
Sun, 1/4 9 p.m.

Hopefully I’ll be getting a chance to see this before it airs, but at this point it seems to me too early for a retrospective of this sort on Ramirez. The emotions are still raw, his exit overshadows all the wonderful things he did at the plate in his time here.

Having Callahan and Shaughnessy on the program ensures that there will be plenty of bile and that this will be no puff piece on the talents of Ramirez. The quote from McAdam above is what I believe the perspective on Manny will be 10 years from now, and is the correct one.

Sweet Sixteen (in a row) For Celtics

The Celtics won their sixteenth game in a row last night, topping the pesky Hawks 88-85 down in Atlanta.

Frank Dell’Apa has the Celtics taking care of business down the stretch for this win. Mark Murphy has Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen sealing this one in the final seconds.

The Globe notebook has Doc Rivers confirming the Celtics interest in Dikembe Mutombo. Murphy’s notebook has Paul Pierce ready to go last night after the scare with his knee.

Patriots

Mike Reiss has a look at rookie cornerback Jonathan Wilhite who has raised his game in recent weeks and finds himself in the starting lineup with a huge challenge coming up on Sunday. Christopher Price has Wilhite and Jerod Mayo a rare pair of rookies making big contributions to the Patriots defense. Shalise Manza Young has more on the strides that Wilhite has made in his rookie season.

On Patriots Daily, Dan Snapp looks at JP Losman infuriating Patriots fans with his incompetence in the same manner that Bills fans have grow accustomed to.

Karen Guregian has the Patriots aware of the need to get pressure on Kurt Warner Sunday. John Tomase has a look at the potent passing attack of the Cardinals. Kerry J. Byrne says that the Cardinals are going to need balance to beat the Patriots on Sunday. Andy Vogt has Kurt Warner enjoying his revival in Arizona. Will Leitch has an Idiots Guide to the Cardinals. Matt Eagan has the Patriots preparing for the Arizona firepower.

Michael Felger attempts to stick to straight football in his mailbag this week. Chris Kennedy says that it is a rare December when the Patriots are struggling just to make the playoffs. Guregian has Richard Seymour shrugging off his Pro Bowl omission.

Mark Farinella has Stephen Gostkowski leaving his own footprint with the Patriots. Jennifer Toland has Gostkowski making the memories of Adam Vinatieri fade. Brian MacPherson has Gostkowski praising his “team” of long snapper Lonie Paxton and holder Chris Hanson.

Reiss’ notebook has Matt Light’s status for Sunday still unknown. The Herald notebook has the Patriots hosting a pair of veterans for tryouts yesterday. Farinella’s notebook has Ellis Hobbs picking up AFC Special Teams player of the week honors. Toland’s notebook looks at the Cardinals’ struggles on the East coast this season. Young’s notebook has Gostkowski and Wes Welker enjoying their Pro Bowl status.

Red Sox

Nick Cafardo has the Red Sox as the perceived leaders in the chase for Mark Teixeira. Sean McAdam says that the Sox will not get into a bidding war for Teixeira. Bill Reynolds thinks that it is wrong for us to have to wait for Teixeira to make up his mind.

Curt Schilling tells us why Boston is the best place to play. Jon Couture looks at the GM of the brand new New Bedford Bay Sox of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

Adam Kilgore has Kevin Youkilis and the Sox taking initial steps towards a new deal. Joe McDonald says that Rocco Baldelli’s “updated” diagnosis bodes well for his career. Alex Speier says that Jed Lowrie will put an end to the Red Sox free agent carousel at shortstop.

Bruins/Misc

 Fluto Shinzawa looks at the solid puck handling by the goaltenders for the Bruins. Stephen Harris has the Bruins working hard not to be tripped up by “trap games.” Mike Loftus has the Bruins enjoying their home winning streak.

Mark Blaudschun says that the Boston College football program is officially a success.

Dan Shaughnessy is in top form today with shots at Bill Belichick, Bob Kraft (lightweight football team?), Curt Schilling and Deion Sanders, along with a statement that Theo Epstein is flirting with Karma by signing Junichi Tazawa and offending Japanese baseball.

Welker, Gostkowski are Pro Bowl Bound

We’re still without electricity and the snow is flying up here at BSMW Headquarters, but that’s not going to stop the morning links today…

The NFL announced the Pro Bowl starters and reserves yesterday, and two Patriots found themselves on the AFC roster, wide receiver Wes Welker was named as a reserve, and placekicker Stephen Gostkowski is the starter at his position.

Mike Reiss says that both players are especially deserving of the honor. Eric McHugh has a further look at the two first time Pro Bowlers. John Tomase has Welker saying that when the coach called him into his office yesterday afternoon, he thought he was in trouble. Mark Farinella has more on the two Patriot selections. Daniel Barbarisi says that it is quite a difference from last season’s eight Pro Bowlers for the Patriots.

Ben Swasey looks at a few deserving Patriots who didn’t make the cut. Barbarisi has the Patriots secondary bracing for busy day against the Cardinals. He also has Brandon Meriweather making his name as a player and leader on the Patriots defense.

Reiss has Tom Brady a surprise guest at the annual Patriots’ Salvation Army Holiday Party. Tomase has Brady making his first public completion since September at the event.

Reiss’ notebook has a look at Brandon Meriweather, who has emerged as a steady force on the defense. Tomase’s notebook has Marshfield native and former Patriot Sean Morey making his first Pro Bowl yesterday as well. McHugh’s notebook also reports on Morey.

Celtics

The Celtics 15 game winning streak will face a stiff test tonight as they travel to Atlanta to take on the pesky Hawks. Marc J. Spears has the Hawks website getting fans up for this one. Steve Bulpett has the Celtics wary of the Hawks, but notes that Paul Pierce should be able to go in this one. Mike Fine has more on the tough test on tap tonight for the Celtics.

Robert Lee has a look at Rajon Rondo’s breakout season. Scott Souza has Gabe Pruitt proving his worth. Jessica Camerato has Pruitt earning praise from both Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge.  Tim Weisberg says that Ainge’s patience with Rivers has paid off big. Bill Reynolds says that the Celtics have something very special going on this season.

Red Sox

Sean McAdam reports that the Red Sox are not willing to give Mark Teixeira a 10 year contract. Joe McDonald wonders if the Red Sox are waiting for all other offers to come in so that they can trump them. McAdam’s notebook has Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis waiting for the call to join the US team in the World Baseball Classic.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa looks at the Bruins power play becoming a strength for the club. Stephen Harris has the team getting into the Christmas spirit. Mike Loftus has rookie Matt Hunwick making the most of his opportunity. Tony Lee has a look at the hot streaks by the Bruins and Phil Kessel.

Jimmy Fund Patients To Help Broadcast Bruins on Thursday Night

A nice move by NESN:

Two Jimmy Fund Clinic patients to help broadcast Bruins-Maple Leafs game on NESN on Thursday, Dec. 18

BOSTON—Two Jimmy Fund Clinic patients at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both avid hockey fans, have been given a dream assignment: to help announce the New England Sports Network’s live broadcast of the Boston Bruins – Toronto Maple Leafs game on Thursday, Dec. 18.

Eric Miller, of Shrewsbury, Mass., and Caroline Fries, of Barnstable, Mass., have been learning the finer points of announcing a professional hockey game from NESN’s Jack Edwards, the Bruins play-by-play announcer. Miller and Fries have met with Edwards several times and have been in the broadcast booth during a game to observe Edwards and his partner, Bruins color analyst Andy Brickley, at work.

Fries, 17, was diagnosed in October 2005 with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue. The cancer recurred in June 2007. Miller, 20, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma on his right tibia in May 2008. Both are in active treatment for their cancers.

On the day of the game, Fries and Miller will be at TD Banknorth Garden to watch the Bruins morning skate and later take part in the pre-game production meeting. During the game, they each will take Edward’s place next to Brickley in the broadcast booth and call the play-by-play. One of them will step in during the middle of the first period, with the other during the middle of the second period.

“Eric and Caroline are amazing people who love hockey and the Bruins, so to have this opportunity to help them focus on something other than their cancer is absolutely wonderful,” said Lisa Scherber, activities coordinator for the Jimmy Fund Clinic. “We are so grateful for Jack Edwards and his NESN colleagues for being so generous with their time, for befriending Eric and Caroline, and helping them prepare for their on-air debut.”

Google Trends Tracks Boston Sports Searches in ’08

Got this information in an email from a BSMW reader at Google:

Last week we released our 2008 Google Zeitgeist, a microsite detailing the
most popular searches and topics from the past year in the U.S. and
worldwide: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist/index.html

But what does that mean for Boston sports?

As I and a bunch of other Googlers with Massachusetts origins were looking at the zeitgeist, we began talking about Boston sports trends over the course of ’08.  Thought you might like to see what we found.

All the information can be derived using the free Google Insights for Search tool — which was released earlier this year for advertisers, marketers, and all internet users. 

But on to the nitty-gritty…

What team is at the searching heart of Boston?

Well, nationwide:
– [Sox] win overall with a healthy amount of searches year-round
– [Pats] spike in Jan/Feb
– [Celtics] skyrocketed in June
– is the future looking up for the Bruins?

Within Massachusetts, [Red Sox] still have a steady lead, but the
[Patriots] and [Celtics] are neck-in-neck.

If you play with the “regional interest” tab, you’ll see:
[Patriots] are tops in Foxboro, but Brookline leads proportionally for
[Red Sox] and [Celtics] and Beverly and Waltham dig the [Bruins]

[Beat LA] was the chant to search for — with [Yankees Suck] staying
steady but low in ’08

Compare that to the ’04 to ’08

In the [Red Sox] v. [Yankees] searches of ’08, [Red Sox] just eeked them out — with a huge spike in October, as you watch the Yankees die out.

But in terms of U.S.-wide [Red Sox] searches, the top states are:
1. Massachusetts
2. New Hampshire
3. Maine
4. Rhode Island
5. Vermont
6. Connecticut

and, how’s this:

7. North Dakota
8. New York
9. New Jersey
10. D.C.

Compare, though, to the Red Sox / Yankees rivalry over the last four years.

[Scott Boras] made a nice jump in February the same week Gary Sheffield called him a “bad person” and Manny signed him as his agent. He was most popular in terms of searches in Massachusetts than anywhere else.

But look at the dive Manny took after his trade (at least amongst Boston searchers).

Who was [Matt Cassel] until September?

[Tom Brady] still is up on Cassel– in Massachusetts

and nationwide.

On the subject of Brady, notice the spike in in searches for “anterior
cruciate ligament

With the Celtics — Boston loves [Pierce], but [KG] commands the nationwide search lead:
Kevin Garnett v. Paul Pierce v. Ray Allen
– in the U.S.:
in Massachusetts

[Celtics] v. [Lakers]

In the great comparison of Boston coaches: Terry Francona v. Bill
Belichick v. Doc Rivers v. Claude Julien

Pedroia, Pedroia, Pedroia

Look at August and September: – moves out of cleanup & MVP chants roar through Fenway

– correlate with this timeline:
August 28: Pedroia grand-slam at Yankee Stadium
August 31: Pedroia moved to cleanup spot
September 3: Pedroia gets 5 RBIs.  Hear the chants: “MVP, MVP, MVP”

Who cares most to find [TBS] — New England during the baseball playoffs

a Tampa Bay Rays bandwagon? — look at the search jump in the playoffs?  How about before?

Finally, the first things last — top sports searches and fastest-rising sports searches in Massachusetts

TOP 10 sports searches for ’08 in Massachusetts:
1. red sox
2. football
3. sports
4. golf
5. soccer
6. baseball
7. nfl
8. basketball
9. patriots
10. celtics

Fastest-rising sports searches of ’08 in Masachusetts
1. nbc olympics, growth greater than 5000% from ’07 to ’08
2. beijing 2008 — same; more than 5000% increase
3. 2008 olympics — 1250% increase from ’07 to ’08
4. olympics — 600% increase
5. euro 2008 — 550% increase
6. lakers — 250% increase
7. celtics — 110% increase
8. giants — 60% increase
9. boston celtics — 60% increase
10. mma — 50% increase
also

Patriots Keep Pace

After the New England Patriots put yesterday’s game out of reach scoring TDs on their first three possessions, didn’t you sympathize for all those die-hard fans in rainy Oakland Coliseum? Me neither.

In fact, nothing stirred me more than the still quiet of the Black Hole, interrupted by raindrops echoing off chainmail vests and the light breeze whistling through choke collar spikes. They came to avenge a properly-called tuck, but were instead served notice that there’s a class difference between these two teams that all the black and gold lacquer in the world can’t mask.

Karen Guregian has the Patriots completing the sweep in this two-game West Coast swing with their 49-26 victory. Christopher L. Gasper says this win against the NFL’s clown franchise counts like any other, and they’re all important down the stretch. And, while everything around them was ugly, Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots coming up beautifully in Oakland.

Gregory Lee Jr. has the Raiders as the perfect cure for New England’s inconsistent ground game, which piled up 277 yards yesterday. Eric Gilmore has Sammy Morris leading the way with 117 yards, setting his single season career-best in the process. Art Spander has the buzzards from New England picking at the carcus of the self-proclaimed Team of the Decades. Despite the win, Michael Felger feels the frustrations of having to rely on an unreliable NFL for playoff assistance. Chris Warner counts the Bills’ and 49ers’ performances as part of the bad in an otherwise good day.

Mike Reiss has Randy Moss playing large in his old stomping ground, moving into the NFL’s top ten all-time in receiving yards among his other accomplishments. Manza Young also has Wes Welker establishing himself in the history books with six catches yesterday. Rich Garven has Welker’s milestone performance exasperating Raiders fans. Guregian’s Patriots Notebook has Welker and Belichick both celebrating century accomplishments. In his Patriots Notebook, Gasper reminds us of another Patriot who felt vindicated with a win in Oakland. John Tomase says it was quite the payback for both Moss and Lamont Jordan. Brian MacPherson makes an interesting positional comparison of some no-name Patriots against their big-name counterparts.

Dan Shaughnessy is moved by the gutsy performance of Matt Cassel, who threw for 218 yards and 4 TDs only days after the passing of his father. Ron Borges has Cassel’s cell phone eerily quiet in the locker room after yesterday’s win. Jim Donaldson says Cassel’s big performance earned him even more respect as he did his part in keeping his team’s postseason hopes alive. For Garven, Cassel’s first game without his dad was one of his finest.

The Herald tops its Player of the Game award with Cassel. Chris Price puts teammates’ admiration for Cassel high on his 10 Things We Learned segment. Yes, I know they’re unranked, but I’m reading between the lines here. Statistics and a reverence for Raiders fans strongly influenced Borges’ Best & Worst. Ellis Hobbs makes the Herald’s Play of the Game.

Red Sox

Michael Silverman suggests the Red Sox are preparing an 8-year offer for Mark Teixeira that will be a record for this ownership group. And even though Boston writers have seemingly discounted the Empire’s ticket in the Teixeira sweepstakes, George King warns us otherwise. When it comes to the Bronx, you have to keep your head on a swivel around here.

The Patriots weren’t the only ones working in the rain yesterday. Pat Bigold has the account of Hideki Okajima’s Honolulu Marathon. The AP is now reporting Daisuke Matsuzaka has been named to Japan’s WBC team, where he made his mark in 2006. Steve Buckley states his case for Jim Rice’s place in the Hall of Fame.

Odds & Sods

Mike Loftus has our beloved Bruins taking care of business.

This came out yesterday, but offseasons like those of the Mets and Yankees remind Nick Cafardo of another team – the 2007 Detriot Tigers. You would think the Tigers’ last-place finish last year would alarm our Met and Yankee rivals, but they’re too wrapped up in what the Bosox will be wearing.

George King now reveals why it took more than three weeks and a Cashman vs. Cashman bidding war to entice a reluctant C.C. Sabathia to go to the Bronx.

We’ve got the Celtics and their 14-game winning streak on tap for tonight. Mike Fine has a nice piece on Jerry Sloan, the Utah Jazz head coach and model of consistency.

That’s all for now, but we’ll keep our eyes on Hot Stove developments during the day. Also, be sure to check in on Patriots Daily for the latest post-game coverage. Bruce will be back at it tomorrow. Until then, thanks as always for penciling BSMW in as your lead-off hitter.

Friday Megalinks Posted During the Day … What A Concept!!

Ken from Fang’s Bites with the Friday megalinks. With my laptop back and my internet back in order at work, I can actually post the Friday megalinks at a decent hour. So let’s get cracking without any delay.

As usual, we begin with the Weekend Viewing Picks.

The NFL is now in the final stretch. The Patriots are still out west and they’ll take on the Oakland Raiders on WBZ and WPRI, Sunday at 4:15 p.m. Kevin Harlan and the World’s Worst NFL Analyst Rich Gannon will have the call. In primetime, you have the feuding Dallas Cowboys hosting the Giants on 7NBC and NBC10 at 8:15. Check out the entire Sunday viewing schedule in the NFL Viewing Picks.

The Celtics are home tonight hosting the New Orleans Hornets. Because the game is being picked up by ESPN, the start time for the game at the Garden will be at 8:05 p.m. However, you don’t have to be subjected to ESPN’s call as Comcast SportsNet with the venerable Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn will be sitting courtside for the game.

The Bruins are on the road taking on Ilya Kovalchuk and the Atlanta Thrashers tonight at 7:30. And then tomorrow, the teams turnaround and play at the Garden at 7 p.m. NESN has Jack Edwards, Andy Brickley and Naoko Funayama calling the action for both games.

This weekend marks the season premiere of college basketball on CBS, but without Billy Packer for the first time since 1981. Clark Kellogg will be on the case as the #1 analyst working the Indiana-Kentucky game Saturday at 4 p.m. As for the New England teams, UMass takes on Kansas on ESPN at 2 p.m. on Saturday. URI hosts Central Connecticut State on Cox 3 in Providence. Check out the national TV schedule in the College Basketball Viewing Picks.

After the NFL and college basketball, the pickings are slim. Starting with boxing, HBO will re-air the pummeling of Oscar De La Hoya at the hands of Manny Pacquaio on Saturday along with a new fight involving Wladimir Klitschko defending his IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight title against Hasim Rahman at 4:45 p.m.

Versus has a Saturday night boxing event involving James Toney and Tony Thompson fighting for the vacant IBA heavyweight title at 9, then Showtime will carry two fights live from Atlantic City starting at 11 p.m.

There is some college football on Saturday and that will involve the smaller divisions as the Division II championship game takes place on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. and the Football Championship Subdivision semifinal on ESPN at 4. That will be followed by the Heisman Trophy presentation on ESPN at 8 p.m.

Following the Heisman Trophy, ESPN will show a documentary on the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts featuring some new footage. From what I’ve been told, it’s very good so TiVo, DVR, videotape (if you still have a VCR), find a way to keep it for prosperity.

Spike has the UFC Ultimate Fighter finals from Las Vegas Saturday night at 9 p.m.

ESPN2 will have the NCAA men’s Division I soccer championship Sunday at 1 p.m.

And NBC will show the Ironman Triathlon at 2 p.m. Saturday and also show the Merrill Lynch Shootout, Greg Norman’s tournament, Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Now let’s do your links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand talks with TNT’s Marv Albert about some of the acting roles he’s tackled over the years.

Christopher Byrne’s Eye on Sports Media is amazed at the love for Screamin’ Gus Johnson.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell talks with Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant about his new Nike shoe line. And Darren says Atlanta Falcon QB and BC alum Matt Ryan is the NFL’s Most Valuable Player based on his impact on fan interest in the city.

Joe Favorito says Los Angeles Clipper Baron Davis is a player the fans can get behind.

Puck The Media has a guest column outlining the reasons why people don’t watch hockey.

The Big Lead has an interview with Sports Illustated MMA and tennis writer Jon Wertheim.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell of the Boston Globe speaks with ESPN’s NBA analyst Hubie Brown who call the Celtics-Hornets game tonight, plus Nancy breaks news that NESN will cease production of the “Globe 10.0″ program at the end of the year.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times says Oscar De La Hoya has held his own in drawing Pay Per View buys for his fights.

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post hates the replay rule in the NFL.

Justin Terranova of the Post has quotage from NBC’s Cris Collinsworth on this Sunday night’s Giants-Cowboys game. And Justin has five questions for CBS/CBS College Sports basketball analyst and ex-UMass coach Steve Lappas.

David Hinckley of the New York Daily News reviews ESPN’s documentary on the 1958 NFL Championship Game.

Newsday’s Neil Best recaps the Phillies’ Cole Hamels calling the Mets “choke artists” during a WFAN interview on Thursday. Neil also has a column on ESPN’s Dick Vitale who’s trying to rest his voice after throat surgery late last year. Neil has a bit more from Dickie V. in his blog. In addition, Neil has NBC’s John Madden waxing poetic about the Texas Stadium press box bathrooms.

Laura Nachman says ESPN’s Mike Tirico will broadcast his radio show from Philadelphia on Monday. Of course, Mike is calling the Browns-Eagles game, Monday night.

Ray Frager of the Baltimore Sun looks at ESPN’s documentary on the NFL’s Greatest Game Ever Played.

South

Doug Nye of The State writes that TV is not to blame for poor attendance at the University of South Carolina basketball games.

Dave Darling in the Orlando Sentinel has a short news and notes column today. In fact, it’s very short.

Jerry Greene of the Sentinel says Orlando residents like watching football and nothing else.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning dissects Joe Buck’s and Troy Aikman’s comments in the last moments of the Cowboys-Steelers game.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle looks into HBO’s documentary into the integration of Southern college football during the 1960’s.

Mel Bracht in the Daily Oklahoman also looks at ESPN’s documentary on the 1958 NFL Championship Game. Mel says the local regional sports networks like having control of the NBA digital rights. And Mel has his weekly news and notes.

Midwest

Marc Katz of the Dayton Daily News says CBS/FSN’s Tim Brando has done his homework to call this Sunday’s Wright State-Wake Forest game.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel enjoyed watching ESPN’s documentary on the 1958 NFL Championship Game.

Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune gives Chicagoans some weekend viewing picks.

Ted Cox of the Chicago Daily Herald says ESPN’s Greatest Game documentary lives up to the title.

Do you want another media column on ESPN’s documentary? Of course you do. Here’s Paul Christian’s review in the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin.

Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star notes that this is the 10th anniversary of the yellow “1st and 10 line” on football broadcasts. And Pete looks into the technology that goes behind superimposing the line on your TV.

West

Scott Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News feels radio is sometimes better than TV in bringing the action to the fans at home.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune is puzzled over a local sports talk radio host who was fired only to return to his job less than a week later.

John Maffei of the North County Times is also puzzled over the story.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star says 50 years later, the 1958 NFL Championship is still the Greatest Game Ever.

To Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times who looks at this Sunday’s “60 Minutes” piece on USC coach Pete Carroll’s efforts to curb gang violence.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News reviews HBO’s documentary on college football. And he expands further into his review in his Farther Off the Wall blog. Tom also has a story on the Lakers leaving its long time radio flagship station. Tom has some media news and notes in his blog. Tom reports that the Dodgers are taking Charlie Steiner off its TV broadcasts and devoting him full-time to radio meaning that there’s a rare baseball broadcast opening for the 2009 season. Finally, Tom hopes that the Sports Museum of Los Angeles won’t have the same fate that has befallen the Sports Museum of America in New York.

John Ryan of the San Jose Mercury News also devotes his column to ESPN’s documentary on the 1958 NFL Championship Game.

Gary Washburn of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer likes the competition that Comcast SportsNet Northwest is bringing to FSN Northwest.

Canada

William Houston of the Toronto Globe and Mail writes that TSN2 is close to a carriage deal in the metro Toronto area.

But Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star says a deal is not coming fast enough for Raptors fans.

That’s it. Have a good weekend. I’ll be back next week.

C’s Bust Through Number 23

Not to go all Jim Carrey on you this fine Friday morning, but Bucky Dent’s homer did put the Sox in a 2-3 hole, and Bill Buckner couldn’t come up with #1’s bouncer, allowing #22 to score the winning run. The Patriots’ perfect season ended back on 2/3, and, going into last night, neither of the two previous teams in Boston Celtics history that started 20-2 survived their 23rd game. I’m not superstitious, but facing the Washington Wizards (the alliteration does begin with the 23rd letter) on 12/11 didn’t sit well.

Well, this year’s squad has broken the hex with a resounding 122-88 victory over those Wizards down at the Verizon Center, as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen contributed 22 points apiece. Marc J. Spears provides the details on the Green’s largest blowout of the season. Steve Bulpett says the C’s are no longer on Macy Gray’s level. Yeah, that one woke me up, too.

In his Celtics Notebook, Spears has Ray Allen taking on the issue of selecting All-stars by popular vote, a system that’s dissing both Garnett and Rondo. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has ESPN’s Hubie Brown extolling Garnett’s contributions to the team.

Bulpett’s Celtics Notebook has the C’s keeping basketball in perspective with a trip to the Holocaust Memorial yesterday. Spears has James Posey receiving his ring tonight when the Hornets come to town.

Red Sox and the Hot Stove

If Theo Epstein had any success in Las Vegas this week, it must’ve been at the tables. Amalie Benjamin recaps what appears to be an uneventful trip but suggests appearances can be deceptive. Joe Haggerty has an “aggressive” Theo extending offers to three free agents while in Vegas; we just don’t know who. Michael Silverman has a patient Theo keeping cool and citing progress. In her Red Sox Notebook, Benjamin does acknowledge some accomplishment with three Rule 5 signings.

Sean McAdam thinks there are only two finalists in the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes. McAdam also offers the pluses and minuses of both Boston and Los Angeles.

Bob Ryan is disturbed by the escalating costs to sign free agents in light of C.C. Sabathia’s 7-year, $161 million deal (don’t look now but that’s $23 million per). And Red Sox coverage can’t be complete without some weigh-in on the new uniform look unveiled yesterday.

Patriots

Guregian’s Patriots Notebook has Matt Cassel back from his father’s wake. Christopher L. Gasper and Rich Garven each have Cassel’s teammates offering their support. Shalise Manza Young recalls the elder Cassel’s excitement upon learning his son would finally get his chance to play. Glen Farley says Cassel’s return marks the opening of Crunch Time.

In Gasper’s Patriots Notebook, Vince Wilfork tells us something Belichick won’t: he’s in for Sunday. Manza Young says it’s good to see both Wilfork and Ty Warren back in practice. So, who else is hurt out there in San Jose? Here’s a quick look in at yesterday’s practice participation.

Manza Young also has rookie phenom Jerod Mayo missing Tedy Bruschi, but don’t figure it to slow him down. Ron Borges may think it sucks to be JaMarcus Russell right about now, but he is the anti-Cassel: money and no on-field success.

Mike Reiss brings us final returns from the fan portion of this year’s Pro Bowl vote and, if they hold, we won’t be seeing three offensive linemen again this February.

Odds & Sods

So, where in the world is Bruce Allen this rainy New England day? Let’s just say it’s not exactly God’s Country.

James Murphy commits the ultimate sacrilege this morning by poking a couple of pins in our Bruins’ bubble.

No link here, but did anyone else catch Glenn Ordway’s Big Show sign-off last night? Although it’s not his first lengthy vacation, this one could be longer than most. His contract is expiring, and the air time presented the perfect opportunity for him to review his accomplishments in 21 years behind the mike.

In another shameless ploy, Ken Davidoff has Manny Ramirez contemplating retirement if more offers don’t start pouring in. This may be the first time ‘Manny’ and ‘quit’ have ever been linked in the same story.

Thanks for starting your day with us, and be sure to come back for Ken Fang’s national links later this afternoon. I’ll be joining you again on Monday morning with all the reaction to the Patriots-Raiders game. See you then, and have a great weekend.

Huh?

I’m on the record as being a Bob Lobel fan, but he’s got me scratching my head with this opener to his OT column today:

Reading unsolicited e-mails from people you don’t know — unless, of course, they are secretly your immediate family — is a practice to try to avoid at all costs. Anyway, this one e-mail was particularly priceless to me. Check it out for yourself and pretend you are receiving it. It arrived after my last literary effort:

“I thought you sucked for every one of those 29 years. Especially the last 10 or 15, when you just mailed it in.”

Violation of personal rule No.1: Never read e-mails. Violation of personal rule No. 2: Never, ever answer e-mails. But, for this precious reader, I am going to violate those rules and probably regret it. Here goes:

What you say is really not true. Not about your assessment of this former TV sportscaster’s job performance. Not at all. And by the way, I do hate that word “former.” For your information, I did not suck for 29 years. Twenty-five or 26, maybe, but I did not suck for the whole body of work. It’s just not true. I also object to being accused of just mailing it in for the past 15 years. I’ll admit to maybe seven or eight, but not the last eight, what with all of the titles that were taking the town by storm.

Suck, yes, but not for the decades of which you accuse me. Mail it in, yes, but not for the amount of time of which you accuse me.

Then he goes on to talk about Red Sox ticket prices, the downtrodden and “eminently beatable Patriots” and baseball free agency.

I guess he’s being sarcastic and attempting humor with the first part, but I guess I don’t get it.