Fred Cusick Passes Away at 90

The Bruins Blog on Boston.com is reporting that Fred Cusick, former play-by-play voice of the Bruins has died this afternoon at the age of 90.

Though best known for his Bruins calls, Cusick also was an analyst for the first ever Patriots game, and served as the PA announcer at Fenway Park for two years, and did a famous 1963 interview with Francis Ouimet – winner of the 1913 U.S. Open and subject of The Greatest Game Ever Played.

All of this and more was chronicled in his book, Fred Cusick – Voice of the Bruins, which I reviewed back in 2007.

His death comes just one day before he was to be inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame. It also comes on the same day that a recent interview with Cusick by Emily Sweeney was posted on Boston.com.

First Impressions – ESPNBoston.com

The new ESPNBoston.com launched yesterday, coinciding with the start of the Patriots season on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

This is the second localized ESPN site that the company has launched, following ESPNChicago.com. Dallas, Los Angeles and New York are planned in the next year.

Regular initial contributors to the Boston site are as follows:

  • Mike Reiss – Former Boston Globe NFL writer, who will cover the New England Patriots;
  • Tedy Bruschi – Three-time New England Patriots Super Bowl champion will offer his NFL insights and analysis in multiple contributions per week;
  • Peter Gammons – Hall of Fame honored ESPN Baseball analyst and Boston-area native who spent nearly 15 years at the Globe will contribute columns on the Red Sox;
  • Michael Smith– Sr. Writer for ESPN.com and E:60 correspondent who spent three years covering the Patriots during the recent Super Bowl runs will contribute coverage of Boston sports;
  • Howard Bryant – ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine senior writer, Boston native, Western Mass. resident and former Boston Heraldwriter, will contribute reporting and columns on New England Sports;
  • Amy K. Nelson – ESPN.com writer, born-and-raised in the Boston area and a graduate of Hampshire college, will cover the Boston Red Sox daily and author a Red Sox blog;
  • Matt Kalman – Boston-area journalist and blogger who will author Boston Bruins blog.

Grabbing Reiss as the cornerstone piece of the site was a great move, and it weakens potential competitor Boston.com at the same time. (Really, the only reason I now have to go to Boston.com other than the morning Globe stories is Chad Finn.) Kalman has a great Bruins blog (thebruinsblog.net) and is also a great hire for the site. Interestingly, the Boston Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, will not be doing original columns for the site, though he did do a chat for the launch last night.

Getting original columns from Gammons will be a treat, having the thought-provoking Bryant back on the local radar is a positive, and Michael Smith will be a welcome addition as well, as I haven’t seen too much of him in the ESPN empire. What remains to be seen of course, is how much original content we’re going to get from this trio.

In the weeks ahead, ESPNBoston.com will also add dedicated reporter/blogger coverage of the Boston Celtics, New England Revolution and major collegiate sports programs in the area.  The site will also grow to offer small college and regional high school coverage.

Overseeing the day-to-day editorial operations of ESPNBoston.com are Managing Editor Peter Lawrence-Riddell, a native of Amherst, Mass., graduate of Bates College in Maine and 10-year veteran of ESPN.com, and senior editor David Lefort, a Whitinsville, Mass. native and the former online sports editor for the Boston Globe.

The site is the home of ESPNBoston SportsCenter, hosted by ESPN anchors and produced originally each day.  The video series will provide fans a 3-6 minute roundup of the city and region’s sports news, teams, highlights, figures and stories each day.

 The new site also features a custom Boston video hub, offering a library for the latest highlights, news, analysis and original content from ESPN programs including exclusive, original Boston content from the teams at ESPN programs including Baseball Tonight, NFL Live, College Football Liveand more. The 16×9 video player will be featured on the front page and main index pages delivering an integrated video experience.

The player does auto-start when you load the page, which is a little annoying, especially if you’re working in a quiet office, but in the lower right hand corner of the video screen, you can choose to turn the auto-play on or off.

Last night the site had a chat with Bill Simmons which started at 7:00pm, and ended at 9:20pm. Gammons and Bruschi had also held chats earlier in the day.

The site layout is clean, well laid out, and easy to navigate. There’s a lot of content there without being overly “busy” like some other local sites can be at times.  

ESPNBoston

While there is a lot of “recycled” content, both from the main ESPN.com site and from wire and AP reports, it’s pretty nice to have all the Boston content in one place. As for the original content, Reiss is the big draw to start with, and he has already picked up on many of his familiar features on his blog, including formation statistics and inactives analysis. Reiss was also on the ESPN pregame show last night, where they pimped the site a little bit.

Overall, the online competition in Boston is heating up. With ESPNBoston.com would seem to impact the sports side of Boston.com the most, but is also a new competitor for WEEI.com…which given some of the rumorsout there, could be an interesting scenario. CSNNE.com plans to relaunch their site sometime in the fourth quarter, harnessing their new content from NECN, and creating a site of local voices, video content and fan interaction.

All of this adds up to plenty of options for Boston sports fans – the real winner of all this competition.

The Great Escape

With 5:32 remaining in last night’s Patriots season opener at Gillette Stadium, things weren’t looking so hot for New England. Trailing 24-13, things looked bleak. The Bills had just scored a touchdown, while Tom Brady had yet to pass for one on the evening. According to Randy Moss, Brady entered the Patriots huddle, and said “We’re going to win this game.”

And win they did. Brady led the team on a scoring drive, hitting Ben Watson in the end zone to pull the Patriots within five. They then failed on the two point conversion, but then forced a fumble on the following kickoff, recovering the ball in prime territory. Brady then hit Watson again for the winning touchdown, giving the Patriots a dramatic 25-24 win.

On Patriots Daily, Chris Warner gives us the gut check from last night.

Christopher L. Gasper has Brady leaving no doubts about his own comeback from knee surgery with the game winning comeback he led his team on. Ian R. Rapoport has the Patriots able to appreciate what they had temporarily lost while Brady was out last season. Shalise Manza Young has Bill Belichick and the Patriots proud of the win, no matter how they got it. Andy Vogt says that the Patriots might’ve been in a no-win situation last night. Jennifer Toland says that opening night was a blast from the past as well as a party for the present. Glen Farley says that the degree of difficulty in this comeback was a “10.” Mark Farinella says Al Michaels would’ve liked the miracle finish last night. Steve Krause has the Patriots getting the final say last night. David Pevear says that with Brady back, the economy can’t be far behind. Jeff Howe examines yet another epic comeback for Brady.

Bob Ryan says that the Patriots know how poorly they played last night, they know how lucky they are to escape, and says that they will clean things up. Howard Bryant has Tom Brady and good fortune leading the Patriots to the win. Ron Borges says that in the end, some things don’t change. The Patriots find ways to win, and the Bills find ways to lose. Michael Felger says that the Patriots showed that they still have the knack. Jim Donaldson says that the final four minutes were pure Brady. Ron Chimelis says that last night’s win was certainly no reason to be making hotel reservations in February. Christopher Price chalks up 10 things we learned last night.

Dan Shaughnessy notes that though Brady started a bit slow last night, by the end it was as if he had never left.
He also adds this “aside”:

(Aside: I wonder if any of Belichick’s young fans think the Buffalo franchise was named for New England’s coach? The Cleveland Browns, after all, were named after Paul Brown. Why not the Buffalo Bills after Bill Belichick?)

There’s a shot there, but I’m just not sure if it’s at Belichick, the fans, or both. Dan Ventura has Brady warming to his task as the night went on. Jonathan Comey has Brady turning up the tempo, and breaking the Bills hearts. Bill Burt, who trashed Brady yesterday, looks at the Patriots QB leading the team back in the 4th. Mike Reiss checks the personnel on the two-minute offense drives at the end. Farinella notes that there was no panic in the Patriots down the stretch. Krause has Brady showing that 60 minutes means 60 minutes in football. Rich Garven has Brady showing his flair for fantastic finishes.

Steve Buckley has Benjamin Watson going from the cutdown bubble to opening night hero. Monique Walker has Watson showing why he is still on this team. Mike Reiss has more on the redemption for Watson. Donaldson has Watson catching some praise from Brady following the game. Hector Longo has Watson reuniting with the Foxborough faithful last night. Brian MacPherson has Watson making the most of his chances last night. Mike Lowe has Watson silencing his many critics with his performance.

Chris Forsberg has Randy Moss with another big night, and another step up in the NFL record books. Dan Duggan has Moss admitting to a few opening night jitters. Robert Lee says that for Moss it was like old times in the second half. Reiss has Moss looking ahead to the Jets this Sunday. Farinella says that Moss has  fully adapted to the environment in New England.

Karen Guregian has the Patriots pass defense getting it done when it counted.Brian MacPherson tells us that the Patriots defense will be in serious trouble if Jerod Mayo is seriously hurt. The Patriot Ledger says that the injury doesn’t bode well for the Patriots. Kirk Minihane says that there are still plenty of questions around this Patriots team.

Julian Benbow peeks inside an emotional Bills locker room following the game. Robert Lee looks at the decision by Leodis McKelvin to bring the kickoff out of the end zone following the first Watson TD. Donaldson has McKelvin running into trouble on the play.

Benbow and Walker have former Patriots running back Sam Cunningham coming back to Foxborough for the first time since his career ended in 1982. Rapoport and Ventura have Cunningham joining in the Pats’ anniversary fun this weekend. Guregian has Robert Kraft missing Richard Seymour, and expressing his affection for the former Patriots lineman.

Walker has recent retirees Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison getting together prior to the game. Guregian has Ty Law still open to coming back to the Patriots. Sorry Ty, I think that train has left the station. Your best chance at coming back was probably last season, and you chose the Jets. (The Jets!)

Duggan gives us the Best and Worst from last night. Reiss talks to all involved in the key play of the game last night. Duggan also has quotes from McKelvin’s return, which he tabs as the play of the game. Krause has more on the game-changing play at the end.

Rich Garven has news and notes, facts and figures. The Metro has a look at what went right and what went wrong last night. Eric McHugh has a little chalk talk. Lauren Carter gets some fan reaction. Neil Keefe wraps up a number of items from last night.

Gasper’s notebook has a look at Mayo’s injury and the mystery around it. Rapoport’s notebook looks at the “potentially devastating” blow to the defense that Mayo’s injury could pose. Young’s Patriots journal has Kraft admitting it can be hard to say good-bye to players. The ProJo also has a few other notes in a separate column. Vogt’s notebook has NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaking prior to the game. Toland’s notebook has Al Davis revealing more details of the Seymour trade. The notebook from Tim Weisberg looks at an early uneven performance from Brady last night. Farinella’s notebook has the Patriots all-time team being honored at halftime. Lowe’s notebook looks at a night of celebrations at Gillette.

Red Sox/Misc

Amalie Benjamin says that the Red Sox playoff hopes hinge on their starting pitching, which has not proved to be as deep as predicted prior to the season. Sean McAdam has Jonathan Papelbon delivering on his vow to get back to his old dominant self down the stretch. Bill Ballou wonders if the Red Sox success at Fenway will be enough to allow them to hold off the Rangers.

John Tomase has Daisuke Matsuzaka set to start 2009 all over again. Daniel Barbarisi has Dustin Pedroia’s power number creeping up once again.

Benjamin’s notebook says that the Rangers have a tougher schedule down the stretch, giving the Red Sox an advantage in the wild card chase. Tomase’s notebook says that this week should be a playoff preview with the Angels coming to town.

Fluto Shinzawa has David Krejci optimistic on his recovery, but not sure he’ll be ready for the season opener. Rich Thompson has Dennis Wideman improving his work in the defensive end last season. Thomas Grillo has the Bruins hoping to follow the lead of the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics in getting on the lottery bandwagon.

All Eyes on Brady, Patriots Tonight

Tom Brady makes his return to the NFL tonight as the Patriots kick off the regular season with a Monday Night Football (7:00pm, ESPN, Channel 5 locally) matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

On Patriots Daily, Scott Benson offers some Final Thoughts on the matchup, and other features leading up to tonight’s game include Matchups of the Week by Dan Zeigarnik, some Pregame Media Notes, we were Trading Places with a Bills blogger for thoughts on the game, Chris Warner is our Worry Wart and Greg Doyle offered his First Impressions on the Bills.

From the new ESPNBoston.com, Mike Reiss gives us five storylines to watch out for tonight. Earlier, he had offered a welcome to the new Patriots blog he is writing for the site.

Bill Burt says that Tom Brady is not perfect, and recaps all the recent failure in his life and football. Paul Flannery looks at how Brady’s injury last season altered the whole landscape of the NFL, and the careers of personnel men, coaches and players around the league. Ron Borges says that Brady is used to seeing star players traded. Karen Guregian says that tonight is the moment of truth for Brady and the Patriots. Reiss says that Brady is ready and able for tonight. Shalise Manza Young has more on Brady’s return to the Patriots. Rich Garven says that the wait is finally over for Brady and the Patriots. Mark Farinella says that it is finally time to get real for the Patriots. Glen Farley thinks it’s ironic that Brady returns on a Throwback night.

In the Globe, Bob Hohler has a feature on T.O., what he can bring to the Bills, and how the Patriots plan to stop him. Jim Donaldson insists that the Bills won’t be much of a challenge tonight. Jonathan Comey says that Bob Kraft deserves all the credit he gets for turning the Patriots into what they are today. Andy Vogt says tonight we’ll get to see if these Patriots are as good as the pundits are saying they are. Farinella thinks that these Patriots can win while rebuilding.

Christopher L. Gasper has the Patriots already looking at the importance of division games, knowing that losses to the Dolphins and Jets kept them out of the playoffs last season. Glen Farley says that these Patriots are not a Super Bowl contender. Young looks at how the Patriots revamped secondary gets a challenge tonight. Christopher Price offers up 10 Truths about these Patriots. He also looks at a big role for Leigh Bodden this season.

Ian R. Rapoport looks at five things we might be talking about tomorrow morning. Shalise Manza Young looks at how the Bills and Patriots matchup. Brian MacPherson says that we might get surprised tonight, but not by the outcome. Farinella gives us his NFL Predictions. Price gives us his Five Things To Watch For tonight.

Young manages to get Up Close with . . . Bill Belichick to find a few of his likes and dislikes.

Jackie MacMullan had quite a feature on Jerod Mayo in yesterday’s Globe.

Gasper’s notebook has Laurence Maroney excited for tonight. Rapoport’s notebook has Patriot veterans looking back at some memorable season openers.

Red Sox

The Red Sox swept a doubleheader yesterday and a three game series overall from the falling Tampa Rays.

On ESPN Boston, Amy K. Nelson looks at big games from Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester leading the Red Sox to the sweep. Amalie Benjamin has the Red Sox headed in the right direction. John Tomase has the Sox putting the Rays to bed with the sweep. In the ProJo Joe McDonald looks at game one, while Daniel Barbarisi recaps game two. Bill Ballou has the Sox getting things settled, just in time. Jim Fenton has the Sox boosting their Wild Card lead with the sweep. Rob Bradford says that the Red Sox have landed on their feet.

Adam Kilgore has a look at Jon Lester’s outing yesterday which was just the latest in a series of dominating starts for the lefty. Kilgore also has a look at the strong outing by Clay Buchholz in the first game. Steve Buckley has Buchholz showing that he belongs in the bigs. Buckley says that the whole top starting trio  for the Sox is finding their groove. Lenny Megliola has Lester and Buchholz both looking impressive yesterday. Mike Fine has the Sox terrific trio peaking at just the right time.

Peter Gammons has the Red Sox entering a “Dicey” stretch of games. Sean McAdam has Dustin Pedroia hot at home after a tough road trip. Brian MacPherson has Dustin Pedroia hitting an opposite field homer for the Sox. Barbarisi wonders if Jonathan Papelbon could win the Cy Young this year. Bill Burt says that the Rays are eating AL East Crow.

Benjamin’s notebook has Jonathan Papelbon showing that he’s at his best as the season winds down. Tomase’s notebook has Victor Martinez saving a run with a block of the plate. The Projo postgame tidbits has Bill Wagner pitching the ninth for the first time with the Red Sox. Ballou’s notebook looks at the homers by Pedroia and Jason Bay.

Bruins

Kevin Paul Dupont says that a trade of Phil Kessel is inevitable. On ESPNBoston.com, Matt Kalman says that these Bruins have unfinished business this season. He’s also got 5 questions to be answered this year. Joe Haggerty also has five big questions.

Fluto Shinzawa has Patrice Bergeron looking to get back to being a two-way force. Mike Loftus has Blake Wheeler looking to make a second year leap with the Bruins. Stephen Harris has Wheeler bulked up this season to try and avoid fatigue as the season wears on. Kalman says that a healthy Marco Sturm could make a big difference for the Bruins. Mick Colageo looks at why Boston is Derek Morris’ kind of town.

Shinzawa’s notebook has Blake Wheeler ready to play either left or right wing. Loftus’ notebook has several Bruins making returns from injury. Harris’ notebook reports on an early injury scare for Marc Savard.

On ESPNBoston.com, Howard Bryant looks at why Boston is a sports power.

ESPN to 850? WEEI to FM?

In his column today reporting on the shutdown of 890 ESPN, our pal Chad Finn tosses an interesting twist into the local sports radio state of things. He writes:

According to multiple industry sources, ESPN is in discussions to air some of its national programming on WEEI-AM 850 during nights and weekends, with WEEI intending to move to an FM station within months. (Entercom Communications, which owns WEEI, also owns two FM stations in Boston: WAAF 97.7/107.3, and Mike 93.7.)

ESPN Radio would then take over the 850 spot on the dial. The new ESPN 850 station would then be affiliated with the ESPN Boston website, which launches Monday.

Now THAT would be a big shuffle, which would just be latest in a series of frenzied moves by WEEI as they take on the new competitor in the market, 98.5 The SportsHub WBZ-FM.

I talked about the possible FM switch for WEEI a few weeks ago:

Will WEEI Add FM Simulcast In Boston?

That post looks at the options for WEEI in the FM market here, and what the possibilities might be. The move suggested above wouldn’t just be a simulcast, it would be a full switch to FM, with ESPN radio taking over 850…which would be sort of interesting. Why would WEEI want another source of sports radio competition in town, one with a signal that they previously occupied? Would WEEI want to hand ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning a spot where they could compete better with Dennis & Callahan? Unless they feel that having two programs locally to compete against WBZ-FM’s Toucher & Rich is the way to go.

Mike & Mike is the one show that ESPN seems to insist on local affiliates airing.

Dan Kennedy doesn’t think this is a smart move for ESPN.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how this all shakes out.

The Never Ending Friday Megalinks

Ok, as I was out for most of the day in Connecticut, I’ll do the megalinks while I can as I have to head back into the office again tomorrow.

The Weekend Viewing Picks have plenty to choose from as the NFL season kicks off in earnest on Sunday. College football has some early intriguing matchups on Saturday. MLB heads into the home stretch and the US Open tries to ramp up towards a conclusion plus NASCAR is in Richmond on Saturday.

The NFL regular season is here and we have a whole slate of games on Sunday. Fox has the doubleheader with Washington at the Giants being its featured late game. Early games on CBS and Fox include Jacksonville at Indianapolis and Minnesota with Brett Favre playing my Cleveland Browns. Then Sunday Night Football has Chicago at Green Bay. You can check out the entire Sunday schedule plus announcing assignments, the links to NFL distribution maps and other recommendations in my NFL Viewing Picks.

In the college ranks, two of the tastier matchups are Notre Dame at Michigan on ABC and USC at Ohio State on ESPN. Other good games include UCLA at Tennessee on ESPN and Purdue and Oregon on FSN. Your College Football Viewing Picks have the national games in full.

To baseball, Fox has three games on Saturday highlighted by the Mets-Phillies. MLB Network airs the Dodgers-Giants on Saturday night as does TBS on Sunday afternoon. Mets-Phillies is also your Sunday night game on ESPN.

The Red Sox washout on Friday means a doubleheader on Sunday. All games will be on NESN.

NASCAR is in Richmond for the Sprint Cup Series on ABC, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The US Open was sent into the spin cycle thanks to the rains that postponed play from Thursday night to Friday. Now the schedule has been turned on its head. It all leads to a Monday finish and I have the revised broadcast schedules right through the Monday men’s final right here.

To see the full picks including English Premier League games and primetime picks, go see the Weekend Viewing Picks.

Now to your links.

National

The Sports Business Daily’s Erik Swanson conducted a media writer and blogger roundtable about the NFL broadcasting and it included Neil Best of Newsday, Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Dan Levy of On The DL, Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead and your humble blogger. Some good topics were broached.

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand conducts an NFL TV quiz.

As we head into a new NFL season, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch has a primer on the lineup changes for each network and there are quite a few.

Richard talks with new Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden.

Some stories from CNBC’s Darren Rovell. First he talks with the NFL’s Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto.

Darren notes that Michael Jordan has become the very first $1 billion athlete.

And Darren says it didn’t take long for extreme fighter Kimbo Slice to return to the spotlight.

Joe Favorito takes the time to remember those lost in 9/11.

Nellie Andreeva of the Hollywood Reporter says TBS has renewed the sports-themed “My Boys” for a fourth season.

John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable writes that the AT&T U-Verse picks up the NFL Network’s RedZone in time for Week 1.

Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News says the war of words between Cablevision and Tennis Channels is escalating.

Mike reports that CBS College Sports is teaming up with a high school sports website to cover high school football games.

John Consoli of Mediaweek says DirecTV will be peppering different ads throughout Fox’s NFL games this Sunday.

Also from Mediaweek, Anthony Crupi writes that the NFL will be offering full replays of blacked out games in their local markets on its website for 72 hours after the game is played.

The Sports Media Watch says the NFL season opener scored well for NBC on Thursday.

SMW says ESPN2 is crowing about its US Open ratings.

Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball says MLB Network airs a new behind the scenes show on Sunday.

The Big Lead has Erin Andrews quotage from her appearance on a man hating show on Friday.

Deadspin says former ESPN blowhard Sean Salisbury is out of another job.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe has the thoughts of Dan Marino and the other CBS NFL analysts about Tom Brady’s return to the Patriots.

Bruce Allen bids farewell to ESPN Radio’s Boston affiliate which is leading to rumors that ESPN will announce a new and stronger station to accompany its new website which launches Monday.

The Two Cents from Beantown blog has another edition of its show where it dishes on Derek Jeter and Richard Seymour’s departure from the Patriots.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette talks with Patriots radio voice Gil Santos about calling his 33rd NFL season.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times goes into the NFL replaying blacked out games on its website.

Richard is not a fan of Pam Shriver’s crowd reports during ESPN2′s coverage of the US Open. I disagree with this. I like Pam.

Neil Best of Newsday writes that despite network announcing upheaval, the NFL remains the sports ratings king.

Neil notes that Mets announcer Howie Rose teams with former Mets announcer Tim McCarver on Fox.

Neil says Tennis Channel is using MSG Network’s new high school sports channel in its latest salvo against Cablevision.

Neil tells us that WFAN’s Mike Francesa has a new simulcast on YES this Sunday.

Our man Neil has CBS’ Phil Simms giving Jets fans some advice on rookie QB Mark Sanchez.

Neil talks with Bonnie Bernstein about her new radio gig.

Our last link from Neil tonight. He says the US Open TV schedule is a mess.

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News has lost his mind.

Pete Dougherty in the Albany Times Union has the NFL TV analysts dishing on the area’s teams.

Pete has the NFL TV schedule for the Capital Region.

Ken Schott from the Schenectady Gazette writes that the NHL Network will carry 10 exhibition games this month.

Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard says the Orangemen will be on TV aplenty during Big East hoops season.

Laura Nachman notes that Bob Costas will be in Philadelphia for a reception for the release of Mitch Albom’s new book.

Laura also has the Eagles Radio Network pregame show announcing lineup.

Jim Williams from the Washington Examiner has video of Tennis Channel’s Jimmy Connors talking with ESPN/CBS’ John McEnroe.

Steven Goff of the Washington Post says the October 10 World Cup Qualifier between the US and Honduras may not be seen on US TV at all.

South

Alexis Stevens of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says breakout tennis star Melanie Oudin will be making more TV appearances soon.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says Jon Gruden has the potential to be a great analyst.

The St. Petersburg Times’ Tom Jones talks with Fox Sports’ Kenny Albert who calls the Cowboys-Bucs game this Sunday.

Etan Horowitz of the Orlando Sentinel says there are gadgets for your TV or cell phone that can help the displaced fan keep track of his/her favorite NFL team.

Roger Clarkson of the Athens (GA) Banner-Herald writes that Georgia fans had better be ready to see their team play at night more thanks to the new SEC contract with ESPN.

Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram talks with Fox’s Tony Siragusa about the Cowboys.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News says it doesn’t appear the NFL Network will be on Time Warner Cable this season.

Barry has the monthly sports radio ratings report.

Barry writes that those with DirecTV won’t be seeing the Texas-Wyoming game as Versus is still not on the satellite provider’s system.

Barry has Sean Salisbury’s take on his departure.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle has CBS’ Jim Nantz looking forward to calling the Jets-Texans game on Sunday.

Mel Bracht in the Daily Oklahoman writes that Spike will be in town to air a UFC card next week.

Mel has CBS’ SEC analyst Gary Danielson taking a shot at Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops over the return of QB Sam Bradford. Really?

Midwest

John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer says the Bengals gave HBO’s Hard Knocks good ratings compared to last season’s edition with the Dallas Cowboys.

Joe Reedy of the Enquirer says an extension helped the Bengals avoid a blackout this Sunday.

Michael Zuidema in the Grand Rapids (MI) Press talks with Fox rookie NFL analyst Trent Green about Lions rookie QB Matt Stafford.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talks with Brewers announcer Brian Anderson about his rather strange high ranking in a recent Wall Street Journal story.

In Crain’s Chicago Business, Ed Sherman has his winners and losers.

To the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Dan Caesar who writes that the local CBS TV affiliate continues to de-emphasize sports.

Dan tells us that the next two Missouri football games move to pay per view.

Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star writes about the continuing NFL Network/Time Warner Cable dispute.

West

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News feels BYU is in trouble after ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit sang their praises.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the NFC Champion Cardinals avoided a blackout on Sunday.

David Hattfield of Inside Tuscon Business explains how Fox Sports Arizona managed to get back into airing University of Arizona football and basketball.

Over to Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune who tells us that Fox switched games at the last minute to give fans a chance to see Brett Favre on Sunday.

John Maffei of the North County Times feels Jon Gruden is just right for Monday Night Football.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star says USC QB’s both past and present will be in the TV spotlight this weekend.

Jim writes that Melanie Oudin’s run at the US Open gave ESPN2 a ratings boost.

The great Diane Pucin (and fellow tennis fan) of the Los Angeles Times also talks about Melanie being a TV darling for ESPN2.

Diane says rain forced CBS to dig deep into its vaults during Friday’s coverage of the Open.

Joe Flint of the Times’ Company Town blog talks with NFL Network Czar Steve Bornstein.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News goes into bizarro world which includes the horrific Mark Whicker column in the Orange County Register this week. And thanks to Tom for linking to my post on the aforementioned Whicker story.

Tom goes over Lou Holtz’s pep talk for Ohio State that was seen Thursday on ESPN.

In his column, Tom talks about ESPN’s 3-D experiment for the USC-Ohio State game.

Tom has more on the 3-D experiment and a lot of other stuff in his media notes.

Tom also goes over the week in blogging.

Joe Kukura writing for KNTV in San Francisco says the Raiders have an extension until 5 p.m. local time on Saturday to prevent a blackout on Monday night.

Canada

Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star has a look at the ratings in Canada from last weekend.

Chris chronicles an on-air fight that was seen on Rogers Sportsnet and heard on sports radio in Toronto on Thursday.

Tom Tebbutt of the Toronto Globe and Mail feels CBS has too much say in the US Open scheduling.

The Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin talks with ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen who bemoans the lack of hockey on the Alleged Worldwide Leader.

Rogers Sportsnet has signed to be the Canadian home of the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football package.

And that is going to do it for Super Sized edition of the megalinks.

Farewell, 890 ESPN

Multiple reports have 890 ESPN shutting down sometime this weekend. The writing has been on the wall for some time now, and in way, it’s pretty amazing that they’ve been around since 2005, when they enlisted Michael Felger to go head-to-head with Glenn Ordway on afternoon drives. (Sound familiar?)

The 890ESPN.com domain is aleady inactive. With the new ESPNBoston.com set to launch on Monday, there have been a lot rumors floating around out there that ESPN is looking for a stronger local signal to serve as a platform for their national ESPN Radio programming.

Could Entercom sell 680 and ESPN take over there? I don’t see that happening, but who knows…

Fighting Words “Lost Chapter” on Patriots

Last week I posted an interview with Jerry Beach, the author of Fighting Words: The Media, The Red Sox and How Boston Finally Won It All.

Beach had mentioned that he had written out a chapter on the New England Patriots and their relationship with the media, but that the chapter had been excluded from the book.

On his blog, Beach has posted the contents of that chapter, spread across three parts. Part one looks at why baseball lends itself to more thorough coverage than football as well as coverage of the Patriots in the early part of the franchise, leading up to the Bill Parcells era. Nick Cafardo explains why he enjoyed Parcells’ tenure as head coach:

“He was an interesting guy in his press conferences,” said Cafardo, who was moved from the Red Sox beat to the Patriots beat when Ron Borges was promoted to NFL columnist in 1996. “He wasn’t afraid to say things about players. He would go off on the writers. He was just very entertaining and he would always fill up your notebook.”

As we know, it’s not whether you win or lose, it all about whether you fill up the reporter’s notebook. That quote kind of tells you all you need to know about the mentality of a lot of sportswriters.

Part two of the chapter looks at the hiring of Bill Belichick, along with a look at his time with the Cleveland Browns, and how writers from that city still talk about how much they dislike him. Beach looks at Belichick’s refusal to provide colorful assessments of players – good or bad – immediately following a game, noting:

Such reluctance to discuss particular players runs counter to the needs of writers, who often need a quote about a particular player for a feature. And Belichick’s singular focus doesn’t leave much room for reflection or prognostication, which are also regular topics for writers.

Part threeof the chapter examines the Patriots policies on talking about injuries…noting that while Belichick gets labeled as uncooperative in this area, his practices aren’t all that different from what goes on all over the league, and explains how talking too much about injuries can be a disadvantage come game day. The chapter also looks at the Patriots attempts to coach their players on speaking with the media, and how the team has embraced new media:

They were the first American professional sports team to embrace new media in 1995, when patriots.com was launched. That year, the Patriots also became the first sports team to publish its own full-color weekly newspaper (Patriots Football Weekly).

In 1997, the Patriots began a nightly online program called “Patriots Video News.” The team also has an online radio station, carries all Belichick and Brady press conferences live online and archives the audio and transcriptions of these press conferences online.

These moves were ahead of all the other teams in the league, many of who do the same things. “Spygate” is touched on, and Beach notes that this incident “provided the most resounding proof yet: Under Belichick, the Patriots talked about what they wanted to when they wanted to and on their own terms.”

Beach notes that this chapter on the Patriots had to be cut from the final book because “there was just no way to put this in the book and maintain some sort of flow.” He adds that his original idea was to write “about how the Patriots, Celtics and Bruins are all secondary to the Sox in Boston,”  but that the end result got bogged down in “minutiae of Bill Belichick’s first two years and the Brady/Bledsoe controversy in particular.”

In the end, I’m rather glad that the chapter on the Patriots was omitted, not because of a lack of material, or because it wouldn’t have been interesting, but because it wouldn’t have fit in with what was a Red Sox dominated book.

I’ve never understood the fascination some in the media have with creating a competition between the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. They make it out as if fans can’t pull equally hard for all teams, but have to choose one over the other. The media might put the Red Sox ahead of the other teams in Boston, but I don’t think real sports fans in the region do. The chapter has some interesting material, and I encourage you to look it over. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before there is an entire book put together on the Patriots media practices anyway.

Red Sox Look To Keep It Going

Michael Silverman notes that for the second straight year, the Red Sox have hit paydirt with their big midseason trade. Last year it was Jason Bay, this year it is Victor Martinez. Silverman examines each of the seven late July trade-deadline deals made by Epstein during his tenure as GM.

Adam Kilgore notes that the difference between the 2008 Clay Buchholz and the 2009 edition are startling, and a result of confidence in his changeup. Brian MacPherson notes that the changeup has been important for a couple members of the Red Sox bullpen as well. Mike Fine looks at how good Billy Wagner has been for the Red Sox thus far.

Bill Ballousays that while Dustin Pedroia has been good this season, he hasn’t been as good as his MVP season a year ago. Daniel Barbarisi notes that the Red Sox can finish off the Tampa Rays for good this weekend. Lenny Megliola has the story of Kenny Reddick, Josh’s dad, who nearly lost his life in an electrical accident, but found therapy through his son’s baseball career.

Thomas Grillo reports that Janet Marie Smith, the architect behind the renovations at Fenway this season, has joined the Baltimore Orioles.

Silverman’s notebook states that the Red Sox bullpen is as good as it gets in the American League. Kilgore’s notebook has the Red Sox meeting today to decide the next step for Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Patriots

Christopher L. Gasper notes that the Patriots retooled secondary will get a big test on Monday night going against Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. Dan Duggan has a big piece of the unit, Leigh Bodden, liking what he sees thus far. Shalise Manza Young notes that Bodden has a short memory, an important asset for a CB. Jennifer Toland has Owens with his mouth already in midseason form.

Ian R. Rapoport has Fred Taylor starting a new chapter of his career with the Patriots after so many years with the Jaguars. Glen Farley has Taylor happy to just be out on the field again after finishing last season on IR. Mark Farinella also has a look at the veteran running back’s return to action.

Rapoport has injured rookie linebacker Tyrone McKenzie doing all he can to learn and get ready for next season. Christopher Price has several new Patriots getting their feet wet with the team. Duggan has TE Michael Matthews, acquired from the Giants, deciding not talk to his new teammates about a certain Super Bowl just yet. The Metro wonders if it is 2007 once more for the Patriots offense.

Bill Doyle has Gil Santos, who retired from his day job at WBZ-AM in January, rested and ready to start his 33rd season of Patriots games.

Rapoport’s notebook has the Raiders sending the 5-day ultimatum letter to Richard Seymour. Gasper’s notebook has more on the Raiders sending “the letter” to Seymour.  Toland’s notebook says that the moment of truth is near for Tom Brady and the offense. Farley’s notebook has former Steeler Kendall Simmons getting caught up on the Patriot way. Young’s Patriots journal has more on the 5-day letter.

Misc

Kevin Paul Dupont reports that Phil Kessel is done negotiating with the Bruins. Stephen Harris has the Bruins starting training camp with the Cup on the mind. Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook has Milan Lucic ready to start at full-speed.

New Globe Celtics writer Gary Washburn and Steve Bulpett look at Michael Jordan’s career as he is set to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame tonight in Springfield.

Ron Chimelis says that Jordan brings an air of royalty to Springfield. Laura Crimaldi says that Springfield is set to benefit from Jordan’s presence. Chimelis looks at the Trail Blazers 1984 draft blunder in which they selected Sam Bowie over Jordan. Jeff Thomas says that with Jordan, the true king is arriving at the Hall. Larry Silber looks back at Jordan’s first visit to the Hall.

Mark Blaudschun has BC linebacker Luke Kuechly enjoying his key role with the defense. Steve Conroy says that Billy Flutie knows his place with the BC football program. Blaudschun’s notebook says that each game will dictate which QB BC is using.

Check back at noon for a look at the “lost chapter” of Fighting Words which dealt with the New England Patriots and the media.

Week Log: Changing Of The Guard

Week Log is back in its regular time slot to drop in on our blogging friends once again. Thanks for all your patience over the last couple of weeks.

We’re going to lead off with football for a change, as the NFL season opens tonight. And what better place to start than with the defending champs, as the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Tennessee Titans to kick it off. The irreverent Deadspin lists many – but by no means all – of the reasons the Steelers suck. It’s all about Roethlisberger at NFL Nation, which isn’t sure the Steelers could survive a Brady-like disaster the way New England did last year. And speaking of Ben, Pro Football Talk says his black book is in demand.

It Is What It Is puts the Steelers just ahead of the Pats in their Week 1 power rankings, as does NE Patriots Draft, which isn’t quite ready to place the Pats on the top of the NFL’s elite list . . . yet. Tom E. Curran is, as he warns the legion of Patriots haters to brace themselves for a return of the Lombardi Trophy to New England. Michael Felger also loves that Pats’ chances to win it all, but no earlier than 2011. The Crowe’s Nest has the Patriots taking the AFC East this season.

First And Ten From Foxborough has Tom Brady being reminded that the last game he finished was in defeat. The Rap Sheet tells us to expect a full heaping of trash talk from No. 12 come Monday night. Blogging Fearlessly has old friend Pat Patriot back for the season opener and he’s larger than ever. Pats Pulpit let T.O.’s spygate snipes get under his skin.

In the aftermath (?) of the Richard Seymour apparent trade, PatsFans wonders if there will be more bombshells coming from Coach Belichick without the counterweight that was Scott Pioli. Wicked Good Sports has Belichick following his own set of rules. Kathryn Tappen still trusts in Bill. Thanks For Playing says neither Seymour nor the Pats ever intended to discuss a new contract after this season.

National Football Post dismisses the idea that Seymour’s absence has anything to do with contract extension talks; he’s just plain pissed off. Patriots Daily says Foxborough owes Seymour nothing except respect and gratitude. Touching All The Bases says liking this trade and missing Seymour can peacefully co-exist. Shutdown Corner sees a silver lining in this deal for the Raiders as it will stop Al Davis from making another draft mistake come 2011.

Fighting Words brings you the third installment of his missing chapter on the relationship between the media and the Patriots. Awful Announcing thinks the Tedy Bruschi signing may have been a bad move for ESPN. And if you didn’t know there was a Red Bull station in the Pats’ locker room, Reiss’s Pieces is here to set you straight.

Red Sox

The week saw the Sox drop three of four in Chicago, but rebound with a mini-sweep of Baltimore, who had taken two of three from the Texas Rangers last weekend. While Mazz is indebted to the O’s (2-12 against Boston this year), he calls these victories a smokescreen hiding a very mediocre team. Toeing The Rubber doesn’t care what you call them; it makes her happy to be piling on these wins.

Don Orsillo hopes Josh Beckett’s finish in Chicago on Monday will carry over to his next start. Sweet Spot says Beckett and Jon Lester are as good as any top-of-the-rotation combo in baseball, but there’s a precipitous drop-off after that. Hit And Run With Dan Roche agrees there are still questions at Number 3. Rich Levine thinks it’s time the Nation started trusting in Clay Buchholz after his gem to open the Orioles series on Tuesday night. Hacks With Haggs agrees Buchholz has come a long way since not being able to hold a 7-0 lead against the O’s in early August. Circling The Bases calls it unsporting to pitch Dice-K in a minor league playoff game.

Full Count proclaims Victor Martinez, last night’s hero, Mr. Everything – even on a mandated day off – while Boston Dirt Dogs crowns him King. Fire Brand of the American League may win his bet that David Ortiz reaches 30 HR, but he’s worried about the prognosis for Big Papi in 2010. The Bottom Line is worried about the prognosis for Jason Bay in 2010. UmpBump goes all geeky to determine the A.L. MVP and has Bay finishing second, but you’re not gonna like who he is runner-up to. Eric Ortiz reminisces about the days when his own swing could be likened to any – make that every – Major League hitter.

C’s and B’s

CelticsBlog wonders if the 2008-2009 C’s didn’t peak too early. You mean the season doesn’t end on Christmas Day? Red’s Army can’t find a bigger Tiger fan than Ray Allen. Basketbawful ranks the all-time great Larry Bird commercials. ESPN’s CelticsHub wants to hear you hate on the Lakers.

As the NBA considers replacement refs if a new contract can’t be worked out, Green Street says that not just anyone can come in off the street and officiate a game. Maybe not, but I have to believe they can keep the Trailblazers from putting six guys on the court.

The Bear Cave labels an OT victory in the B’s rookie game on Monday the first chapter in an exciting season. Kynch’s Corner! feels like a kid waiting for Santa to bring him his new B’s season tickets. Think these guys are primed for hockey?

Rink Rap says Toronto GM Brian Burke is not contemplating an offer sheet for Phil Kessel. Wicked Bruins Fan is bothered by the undisclosed terms of Coach Claude Julien’s new contract. Stanley Cup of Chowder calls yesterday’s signing of defenseman Andy Wozniewski nothing more than a depth signing for the Baby B’s.

Come on, Pats bloggers. This is your time to shine, but if your latest post is breaking news that Seymour got traded, that won’t cut it here. Kickoff is tonight, so let’s kick it in!

Enjoy the game if football is where your heart is. Even if it’s not, the Sox have an off-day so tune in anyway.