It’s The Friday Megalinks!

We’re back after a two week absence. Nice to be doing the megalinks once again.

For all of your sports and entertainment viewing, check out the Weekend Viewing Picks.

Let’s get to your links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand feels Tiger Woods would be best served talking to David Letterman.

Reid Cherner and Tom Weir of USA Today’s Game On blog say Erin Andrews and her father, investigative reporter Steve Andrews are expected to be at Michael Barrett’s hearing on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Peter Gammons bids adieu to ESPN.

Daniel Lyons of Newsweek explains the real reason behind Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal.

Sports Illustrated is looking back at the last ten years in sports.

Richard Deitsch looks at the best and worst in sports broadcasting.

Bryan Armen Graham reviews the last ten years in sports movies, TV shows and blogs.

Gene Menez lists the best quotes.

And Pablo S. Torre looks at some of the sports personalities who left a big impression over the last ten years.

The Nielsen Wire blog says sports and reality TV topped the ratings this year.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell gives us a preview of the next giant minor league concession item.

Darren says an Irish bookmaker is actually taking bets on which endorsement Tiger Woods will lose next.

Evan Weiner in Examiner.com examines some of the problems facing the NFL and the BCS.

Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News says DirecTV avoided arbitration at the last minute and came to an agreement to carry Comcast SportsNet New England.

Mike writes that Comcast’s Versus lost 9 million subscribers on December 1 when a three month free preview on several providers ended.

Mike adds that YES Network will carry a college-pro basketball doubleheader on December 19 from the Izod Center in Newark.

Amanda Rykoff recaps last week’s Princeton Sports Symposium.

The Sports Media Watch notes that last week’s SEC Championship drew excellent ratings on CBS.

Chris Byrne from the Eye on Sports Media says Army-Navy will get the big game treatment on CBS Saturday.

Milton Kent of Fanhouse talks with Joe Theismann who’s looking forward to being back in the broadcast booth for NBC.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe reviews first week of Comcast SportsNet New England’s SportsNet Central.

Bill Doyle from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette talks with Worcester Sharks radio voice Eric Lindquist.

Kristine Leahy has The Five on WEEI.com.

Also from WEEI.com, Dan Rowinski transcribes an interview conducted with Peter Gammons. The story also has a link to the audio.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times says NBC may lose money on Notre Dame football, but it still values the property.

Alan Schwarz of the Times says the NFL TV partners are now toning down the emphasis on big hits and increasing the discussion on concussions.

Ira Boudway in New York Magazine wants to know why Rick Reilly is anchoring SportsCenter.

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News says the Baseball winter meetings keeps the sport in the forefront in the middle of football season.

Phil Mushnick in the New York Post says if Fuzzy Zoeller didn’t get a second chance, then why should Tiger Woods? Phil’s logic makes no sense.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union says former newspaperman Peter Gammons is changing with the times.

Ken McMillan from the Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record has the TV schedule for Indy Car Racing.

Ken says Nets fans watched while the team was in midst of its winless streak.

Ken hopes CBS gets a ratings boost by moving Army-Navy to the last game of the college football season.

John Pittaresi of the Utica (NY) Observer-Dispatch says ESPN Radio will be coming to a local radio station in March.

The Washington Business Journal picks up a story from Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand that ESPN plans to produce daily afternoon shows, “Around the Horn” and “Pardon The Interruption” in HD starting next year.

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner talks with CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson about calling his first Army-Navy game.

Jim reviews ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on “The U”, the University of Miami’s football program that airs Saturday night.

South

Jeff Elliot of the Florida Times-Union says the SEC Championship Game was a ratings boom for CBS.

Sarah Talalay of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has some Friday sports business links.

Jorge Milan of the Palm Beach Post reviews ESPN’s documentary on the University of Miami.

Ray Buck in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki reveals his fun side on a new Fox Sports Southwest documentary.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News says a local sports TV reporter asked the right question to Cowboys coach Wade Phillips.

Barry reports that the Texas Rangers have re-signed TV announcer Josh Lewin.

To the Houston Chronicle and David Barron who writes that the media is bashing the Bowl Championship Series.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman talks with ESPN NBA analyst Hubie Brown.

Mel also has his media notebook.

Midwest

Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the NBA is looking into allowing legalized gambling on games. Where is Tim Donaghy?

Bob Wolfley of the Journal Sentinel praises ESPN for majoring in journalism.

From Crain’s Chicago Business, Ed Sherman lists his winners and losers in sports business and media.

Fox Sports Midwest will carry next Tuesday’s Brett Hull retirement ceremony.

West

Jody Genessy of the Deseret (UT) News interviews TNT’s Craig Sager about his loud wardrobe.

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret News says Fox Sports gave the Mountain West Conference a little more respect in the BCS Selection Show, but not much.

Jay Posner from the San Diego Union-Tribune talks with Chargers voice Josh Lewin who has a “home” game this weekend.

John Maffei of the North County Times writes about the local cable TV production of four high school football championship games.

Jim Carlisle in the Ventura County Star notes that the Lakers are using replacement announcers for their radio broadcasts this month.

Jim writes that Peter Gammons gives MLB Network some added credibility.

Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times says MLB Network made a big splash this week by hiring Peter Gammons.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News looks at some of the biggest trends that hit the sports media over the last ten year.

Tom has some media notes in his blog today.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail looks at the increased ratings for sports radio in Canada.

In the Toronto Star, Chris Zelkovich writes about Buck Martinez becoming the TV play-by-play man for the Blue Jays.

William Houston in Truth & Rumours feels Martinez going to the Blue Jays booth is the right move.

And that will conclude the Friday megalinks. I’ll have links on Saturday and Sunday at the Fang’s Bites at BSMW page so visit there often.

Friday Quicklinks

Turning you over to the link sites while I enjoy the last day of my vacation…

The Celtics were in D.C. last night to face the Wizards. They came away with their ninth straight victory. Check all the coverage over at CelticsLinks.com.

The Patriots are getting ready for the Carolina Panthers, while also dealing with fallout from sending four players home from practice yesterday. Patriots Daily gets you ready for the game, with some First Impressions from Greg Doyle, and the Worry Wart from Chris Warner. PatriotsLinks.com takes care of the rest.

The Bruins hosted Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second time in five days last night. They managed to hold on for the win. Check BruinsLinks.com for a roundup of all the stories on the game.

Chad Finn has his media column today, and takes a look at how well Comcast SportsNet has fared since relaunching their on-air and web presences. Bill Doyle talks with Worcester Sharks radio voice Eric Lindquist.

Be sure to check in later for Ken Fang and the Friday megalinks.

Sox and Pats: Bridging To Nowhere?

We’re hearing a lot of talk these days about the Patriots being in a bridge year as they break in a new generation of defender, ideally under the cloak of a machine-like offense that was supposed to cover up the growing pains. Now, in case you missed it yesterday, Tony Massarotti had the Sox in a “developmental gap” and braced us for no 2010 postseason in favor of the greener pastures of 2011.

So don’t get too excited about baseball’s winter meetings, which wrap up – or is it fizzle out? – today, nor the Hot Stove in general. Just take out that credit card because ticket prices are going up and your cable bill probably will, too. See, the Sox are also in bridge mode, but Dan Shaughnessy says theirs is more like a bridge over troubled waters. Let’s look at what little we can expect this week and beyond.

Hot Stove / Red Sox

Don Orsillo blames the economy and a weak free agent class and says the winter meetings are about laying groundwork rather than actually executing. Not so with Mike Lowell, whom Nick Cafardo calls the classiest player to ever don a Sox uniform as he awaits a yet unconfirmed trade to Texas for C/1B prospect Max Ramirez. Rob Bradford examines why each side would want to do this deal, which he points out could still blow up. John Tomase says the Lowell deal clears the way for Adrian Beltre – and, yes, Scott Boras – to come to Boston. Alex Speier considers the appeal of Beltre, which is predominantly an issue of leather. Lou Merloni catches up with Boras during his annual winter solstice court. Tomase and Michael Silverman have Sox pitching coach John Farrell intimately familiar with another Boras client, Matt Holliday.

Amalie Benjamin says that the Sox look to have read the market correctly on Jason Bay, which sounds a bit like Theo is once again whistling past the Bronx. Speier says a fifth year could get it done in re-signing Jason. But with the Mets expressing interest in Bay, Michael Silverman has Jacoby Ellsbury as a backup plan in left, putting the Sox in the market for a centerfielder. Joe McDonald has Theo interested in Ex-Brewer CF Mike Cameron, who in turn is not interested in a bench role. Daniel Rathman plays a little moneyball in defending Theo’s decision not to pursue CF Curtis Granderson, instead letting him go to the Bronx. Is anybody else out there not overly bothered by the sight of Granderson in pinstripes next year?

What’s next after the winter meetings? Peter Abraham says it’s Aroldis Chapman, as the Cuban leftie will (not) be airing it out next week. And it might have been a bait-in-switch with Casey Kelly as Paul Jarvey reminds us the chance to both pitch and play shortstop was a sweetener in luring him away from football. Dan Barbarisi has Kelly following his heart in deciding to become a full-time pitcher.

Patriots

The week’s preparations for the Carolina Panthers got started yesterday . . . for most of us. Shalise Manza Young calls Coach Bill Belichick’s decision to discipline four tardy players interesting and rare as the Pats sit on the brink of turmoil. Albert R. Breer calls it a risky move on Belicheck’s part, as the luster is wearing off his three Super Bowl rings. The fact that the Misisng Four have been among the missing all season makes Bill Burt wonder. Eric Ortiz says Belichick at times has about as much compassion as a hand grenade. Karen Guregian suggests this over-the-top move is symtomatic of deeper-cutting problems. Ron Borges has Richard Seymour saying he would have been in to work on time. Ian R. Rapoport says Tom Brady’s punctuality didn’t help the Tardy Four’s cause.

Monique Walker has Brady with a short night of sleep between the birth of his son and leaving for Foxborough early enough to actually get there on time. Glen Farley has Brady trading yesterday’s practice for a child to be named later. Rich Garven is concerned that Brady’s ailments, which caused a rare missed practice, may be more than typical discomfort.

Young’s Patriots Journal finds Belichick still in denial over opponents’ ability to shut down Randy Moss.

Celtics

The Celtics kick off a three-game road trip tonight in Washington, and Jim Fenton points out the C’s are 67-25 away from Boston over the last two-plus seasons. Gary Washburn says Ray Allen could reach a big milestone during tonight’s game against the Wizards in D.C.

Mark Murphy says Marquis Daniels’ thumb injury will subject the C’s depth to its biggest test of the season. Speaking of thumbs, remember Big Baby Davis? Well, he’s behind in his return, but Jeff Howe says he has a new dog to help in the recovery process. Bill Doyle says Daniels’ injury was not a factor in Tony Allen’s return to the floor on Tuesday against the Bucks.

Robert Lee has KG back in full form on offense but not quite there yet on D. Murphy traces the roots of Rajon Rondo’s leadership back to his high school days. Eight straight wins is good, but Evans Clinchy is impressed with Rasheed Wallace’s non-tech streak, which now stands at three. And A. Sherrod Blakely has Sheed’s shot regaining its “flow-matic” qualities.

Bruins

Mike Loftus doesn’t expect a repeat of Saturday’s easy win when the B’s take on Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs at the TD tonight. Steve Conroy agrees there will be no perfect storm brewing for another B’s blowout tonight.

John Beattie says there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for Milan Lucic, who could be back in time for the Winter Classic. Speaking of which, Fluto Shinzawa has the Ice Man coming to Fenway Park, while Boston.com brings us this cool how-to manual for building a hockey rink on a baseball diamond. If you’re going on New Year’s Day, Shinzawa hopes it doesn’t rain on your parade.

Loftus calls Johnny Boychuk’s first NHL goal one of the best moments of one of the best games of the season in the win over the Leafs last Saturday.

Thanks for letting me update you this week. Ken Fang will be covering the action tomorrow, Bruce will be back in on Monday, and I’ll be klogging again next Thursday. Until then, follow me on Twitter for any breaking links.

Lesley Visser PFW Column Outtakes

For my most recent column for Patriots Football Weekly, (November 25th issue) I had the great priviledge of talking with CBS broadcasting legend Lesley Visser – the only woman to be honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Visser was a pleasure to deal with, and seemed genuinely excited to talk with me about her career and the things she has accomplished over the years.

After submitting the column, I had a bunch of material left over from the interview, some of which I thought was too good to let go to waste, so I thought I’d share it with you here.

Most people today know mostly her for her television work with CBS, ABC and now CBS again, but in the article, I talked with her about how she became the first woman assigned to an NFL beat when, in 1976, the Globe sent her as a 22-year-old, to cover the Patriots. The press credential issued her by the team actually stated “No Women or Children Allowed in the Press Box.” She couldn’t get into the locker room either, and there was no ladies room easily available to her. It wasn’t an easy time for her, but she tried to keep a sense of humor about it. At least now she can look back on some of those events and laugh.

I had my own challenges, which I mostly kept to myself and later wove them into funny stories. There were no provisions for equality in 1976, no locker room access, I had to wait in the parking lot, rain or snow, to interview the players.

After the third game of the season, when the Patriots went to Three Rivers and beat the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers, I was waiting outside for Terry Bradshaw. when he finally emerged and I went to ask him a question, he took my pen and notepad, signed an autograph and hustled away. I had to chase him, saying, “No, wait, I’m a reporter!”

Terry’s now a great friend of mine and he always tell me his autograph was worth more “than any damn story” I was going to write.

We talked about Robert Kraft, who at the time was just a Patriots season ticket holder, but he was also the owner of the Boston Lobsters of World TeamTennis. Kraft was the first person to let Visser into a professional sports locker room with the Lobsters. (They were actually a fairly big deal at the time.) Visser says:

The Krafts, including Jonathan and Myra, have always been risk takers. back with the Lobsters, Robert Kraft took a chubby Martina Navratilova and gave her a place to thrive, a chance to adjust to the United States. I still talk to Martina about it, and she remains grateful for the opportunity.

She mentioned watching game film with Ray “Sugar Bear” Hamiliton that first season to help her pick up a deeper knowledge of the game. Even though she had some ups and downs, and made some mistakes on the beat (one of which is chronicled in the PFW column), the Patriots as a whole, were great to her, and they have remained that way to this day.

Some things don’t change. Gino Cappelletti and Gil Santos were as wonderful then as they are now. Stacey James is one best P.R. men in the business and the coaching staff has magnetic names like Pepper Johnson and Dante Scarnecchia. Tom Brady is as classy now as Steve Grogan was back then, Chuck Fairbanks was kind to me.

I hope it doesn’t blow his cover, but I actually have a couple of hand-written Christmas cards from Bill Belichick.

We talked about some of her memories from her years on television, and among the things that stood out to her was all the times she was out in the elements on the sideline, and the various things she tried out in an attempt to keep warm:

In 15 years of doing network sideline reporting, I’ve been freezing in Buffalo and Kansas City, Soldier Field and Foxboro. and I’ve tried everything to stay warm. I remember doing a game in Green Bay and I tried battery operated socks. They were primitive, (with) giant “D” batteries hanging out the back of my boots. I was clumping around the endzone and, of course, the batteries went dead in the second quarter.

John Madden said to me, “You’re the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen.”

Visser has been a pioneer for women in the field of sports media. I mentioned to her that when you’re the one blazing the trail it’s not always easy to find role models, and asked how she dealt with the pressure that came with each challenging and groundbreaking assignment she was given.

I remember once asking Billie Jean King what the pressure was of always being in the Wimbledon final and she said, “Are you kidding? Pressure is a privilege.” She wrote it on a napkin for me 20 years ago and I have it framed next to my computer. I’ve reminded myself of that quote, most recently when I became the first woman analyst in an NFL booth.

We ended the conversation by talking once more about her connection to the Patriots, both past and present. She’s been back here in New England to cover the Patriots this season, (and written about it for CBSSports.com) and how she feels about her role in New England football history.

A few weeks ago, I covered that wonderful snowglobe of a game against Tennessee. In the locker room afterwards, Junior Seau laughed, “Don’t call those throwback uniforms, I played against those uniforms!” We had a private laugh. I was proud to have covered those uniforms.

This interview was one of the highlights I’ve had since getting into this sports media thing back in 2002. It’s opportunities like this which really make this experience rewarding.

Peter Gammons Joins NESN and MLB Network

Just mere hours after we learned that Peter Gammons was leaving ESPN, we learn that he joined MLB Network. That was expected. But was not expected was the announcement this evening that Gammons was joining NESN and NESN.com. This is a big coup for NESN which gets him from ESPN and the ESPN Boston site. Peter will not only be seen on NESN and MLB Network, he’ll write for NESN.com and MLB.com.

Here’s part of the press release that was issued by NESN this evening:

Gammons will serve as a studio analyst, reporter and offer commentary for over 50 of the network’s hour-long pre and post game shows and as co-host of Red Sox Hot Stove and Red Sox Spring Break LIVE. He will also make regular contributions to NESN.com.

“I’m a New Englander who wanted to be Jackie Jensen,” said Peter Gammons. “I started out at the Boston Globe and wrote about Jerry Remy when he was at Somerset High School. I was lucky enough to be there for the Munson-Fisk fight in 1973 and The Sixth Game and the ’78 playoff, and when my local cable company wouldn’t put NESN on our system I signed the override petitions.”

“NESN has given me the opportunity to come back to my roots and once again be part of my neighborhood, and I am truly excited about it. During the 2007 World Series, Matt Holliday said that what differentiated Fenway Park from any other stadium is that fans don’t react, they anticipated, and that creates a tension unlike any other audience in sports. It is a great feeling to be back with that audience.”

And not to be outdone, MLB Network and MLB.com had a release of its own:

MLB Network and MLB Advanced Media today announced that Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons has joined MLB Network and MLB.com as an on-air and online analyst. As part of a multi-year deal, Gammons will offer analysis and commentary on MLB Network for breaking news and special events like the Trade Deadline, First-Year Player Draft, Winter Meetings and Postseason. Gammons will also serve as a signature and regularly featured writer for MLB.com’s new columnist initiative, writing commentary on breaking news and posting several articles online each week.

During the 2009-2010 offseason, Gammons will appear on Hot Stove, MLB Network’s nightly offseason studio show featuring updates and analysis of the moves all 30 clubs are making and planning in preparation for the upcoming season. He will also contribute to MLB Network’s Spring Training program 30 Clubs in 30 Days and do studio work on short documentary-style pieces and other select programming. Gammons will also be a regular analyst on MLB Tonight, MLB Network’s signature nightly studio show.

So the baseball winter meetings have gone from very quiet to very busy with this news about Peter Gammons.

Peter Gammons To Leave ESPN

In a story that is just breaking, ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys has tweeted that Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons has announced that he will leave ESPN after the Winter Meetings this week.

Gammons joined ESPN back in 1989 becoming along with fellow Boston Globe writer Will McDonough, one of the first newspaper reporters to join a TV network. McDonough was hired by CBS Sports around the same time. Here’s the release.

Gammons Ends Hall of Fame Run with ESPN

Baseball Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons has decided to pursue new endeavors and will no longer be a contributor to ESPN after this week’s winter meetings.

Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production:

“As a print journalist moving to television, Peter was a pioneer who became a Hall of Famer. His contributions to ESPN will never be forgotten. We’re sad to see Peter go, but understand his desire for new challenges and a less demanding schedule.”

Peter Gammons:

gammons

“My decision to leave ESPN and move on at this point in my life has been conflicted. I owe a great deal of my professional life to ESPN, having spent more than half of my 40 years in journalism working for the network, and the choice to move on was made with nothing but the strongest feelings for the people with whom I worked. ESPN gave me a great deal more than I gave it, and will always be a huge part of who I am.

“I will forever be joined at the hip with John Walsh, who hired me as an ink-stained wretch, plunked me on TV and has always been a guiding spirit. Understand how the people who run ESPN treat people: when I was felled by a severe aneurysm in 2006, George Bodenheimer, John Skipper, Norby Williamson, my former Boston Globe boss Vince Doria and everyone made certain that my family and I had the best care and support, far, far beyond any reasonable expectation. My ESPN life has been lined with foxhole people whom I’ll never forget.

“I’ve been able to work with my closest and oldest friends, like Jayson Stark, Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, Peter Pascarelli, Jerry Crasnick and Charlie Moynihan. I spent three seasons doing games with a producer, Tom Archer, who is among the most revered leaders I’ve ever met. I told everyone last October that the team baseball coordinating producer Jay Levy put together with Mark Preisler and Marc Carman was the most creative in my 20 years on the show. I apologize to hundreds of people I owe for all these years for not mentioning their names.

“You would have had to be there for 20 years to know how hard so many good people sweated in anonymity to make all of us look as if we knew what we were doing.

“My friend Tom Rush – who taught James Taylor and me our first guitar chords – once wrote how strange it seems to walk away alone. With no regrets.”

John Walsh, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor:

“Peter was the best and the brightest in making the transition from print to video. For ESPN, he contributed 21 Hall of Fame years as a journalist and, throughout, set the standard for others to reach for.”

Gammons bio

Peter Gammons, a highly respected Major League Baseball journalist, was an ESPN reporter/analyst for 20 seasons (1989-2009). He regularly provided analysis on ESPN’s Sports Emmy Award-winning Baseball Tonight. From 2006-08, he reported during ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecasts from the ballpark, generally from field level. Gammons also provided “Diamond Notes” and other reports for SportsCenter. Amongst his multimedia role, Gammons also wrote a column and a blog for ESPN.com.

Gammons, 64, was honored as the recipient of the 2004 J.G. Taylor Spink Award for outstanding baseball writing during the 2005 Hall of Fame induction ceremony July 31 in Cooperstown, N.Y. He was selected in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

He began his career as a reporter for the Boston Globe in 1969 and wrote a very popular weekly Sunday baseball column for many years. He has also worked for Sports Illustrated covering the National Hockey League, college basketball and Major League Baseball (1976-78, 1986-90).

In 1986, upon his return to Sports Illustrated as a senior writer following a second stay at the Globe, he wrote numerous stories covering some of baseball’s most important news events, as well as authoring “Inside Baseball,” Sports Illustrated’s weekly baseball notebook.

Peter is one of the most respected writers in baseball and his induction into the writers wing at the Baseball Hall of Fame is very much deserved.

It is not known where Peter is going, but speculation has it that he could join MLB Network.

More Fall-Out From A Party Gone Bad

It’s a Tuesday in early December, but in New England it looks like New Year’s morning after you wake up with a hangover to find the party’s over. Tom E. Curran puts it best in describing this as a natural evolution that is going to get worse because, as he says, the Patriots don’t even suck yet. Loss by successive loss, Bill Reynolds sees the Foxborough dynasty ending and their emperor naked.

Ian R. Rapoport has Laurence Maroney and teammates trying to establish a new identity. Karen Guregian thinks something must be drastically wrong for Tom Brady to call out his teammates like he did. Bill Burt calls out Tom Brady, saying every one of the five losses this season has his signature on it. Robert Lee looks at lost opportunities on both sides of the ball.

Speaking of both sides, Jeff Howe still figures the Pats are a game up with four winnables remaining, and Lee has Maroney insisting the Pats are in the AFC East driver’s seat, which, of course, is pretty much where they sat in Denver, Indianapolis, and Miami. Boy, I’m feeling good. Mike Petraglia has Coach Bill Belichick proclaiming this to be a four-game season, but Rich Garven says that, if answers haven’t come after twelve games, don’t expect any in the last four. Chris Warner says the Pats seem to be gettng worse as they play into December.

Ron Borges’ Patriots Report Card is out and he’s going to need to replace a couple of keys on his board after this one. If you need a clue, try De- Fense. In his own report card, Steve DeOssie is not so high on the oFFense. Jeremy Gottlieb is much kinder, using ‘D’ to spell Defense and with a conspicuous absence of any F-bombs.

Garven’s Patriots Notes thinks CB Darius Butler would do well to forget his first start, while Petraglia has Belichick hoping CB Darius Butler has a short memory. As Michael Vega tells it, the defense is now being counseled by the inactive Shawn Springs. I guess it’s a matter of if you can, do; if you can’t, teach. Hey, did anybody have a cleaner uniform than Springs on Sunday? Christopher Price says Miami QB Chad Henne did.

And Rapoport closes out with Belichick realizing diminishing returns on fourth down conversions.

Red Sox

The winter meetings are in full swing in Indianapolis this week. Tom Caron reports on business without urgency, in stark contrast to last year’s meetings and not exactly what we Sox fans want to hear.

Daniel Barbarisi has the latest in the Jason Bay watch after the slugger turned down arbitration yesterday. Nick Cafardo has GM Theo Epstein being coy about the prognosis of signing Bay during the winter meetings. Daniel Rathman adds the California Angels to the Bay watch. Sean McAdam says the Angels may force Boston’s hand because Theo’s two viable alternatives aren’t so good. Alex Speier plays with statistics and sees life without Bay as not so bad now that Marco Scutaro is on the roster. Michael Silverman considers the options for a Bay-less Sox, who would be served up on a platter for Matt Holliday and agent Scott Boras.

In other rumors and speculation, Rob Bradford is reporting interest in former A’s pitcher Justin Duchscherer. John Tomase states his case for Miguel Cabrera, who has a long history with Sox owner John Henry.

John Beattie has top farmhand Casey Kelly giving up the slash in his position. The P /SS will now be just a P after Theo invaded Florida last week. Barbarisi and Joe McDonald have the decision to become a full-time pitcher being all Kelly’s. However, as Amalie Benjamin tells us, this marks a complete reversal from Kelly’s stated desire during last season. Good thing Theo knows a thing or two about shortstops in helping Casey with “his” decision. Tomasi and Silverman have Kelly jumping on the pitching train and fast-tracking to the majors.

Finally, Peter Abraham has an improving rapport between the Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka, which can’t be good news for Dice-K personal trainer Takanori Maeda.

Celtics

The C’s put their seven-game winning streak on the line at TD Garden against the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. Evans Clinchy calls it a pivotal game for the Eastern Conference and looks forward to the Rajon Rondo / Brandon Jennings matchup. Bob Ryan tells you why Jennings should be indebted to the human toothpaste that is Kevin Garnett.

In the midst of a sub-par offensive year, Gary Washburn has Ray Allen getting defensive. A. Sherrod Blakely wants to see the C’s hit the boards more this Christmas.

Odds & Sods

Gerry Callahan says that, when it comes to self-destructive behavior, the Patriots are mere club pros compared to Tiger Woods.

Brendan Hall has Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick collecting pine after a bad game in Montreal.

Thanks as always for starting the morning with us. I’ll be back on Thursday but Morning Links will be back tomorrow. In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted with any breaking news. E-mail me at [email protected], or follow me on Twitter.

Jimmys And Joes And The Newest Of Lows

Bruce is away this week, so I’ll be doing some pinch-hitting. I may not be quite the power hitter, but I’ll try to get on base for you each day. So, let’s lead off with the Patriots.

Patriots

In what’s becoming a recurring theme, the Pats gave up another one on the road and in the fourth quarter yesterday, going down to the Dolphins in Miami, 22-21. Ian R. Rapoport says a slew of issues inside the 20-yard line leaves the Patriots losers of three of the last four and a mere one game up in the AFC East. For Jim Donaldson, it all came down to defensive stops, and the Patriots once again didn’t have any. Tom E. Curran is confounded over how bad the Patriots are in the second half. And what would Mondays be without Christopher Price, the godfather of sports lists, running down Ten Things We Learned Yesterday about our under-achieving Patriots?

In a constant redrawing of the line in the sand, Chris Warner now calls this loss the lowest point of the season. Christopher L. Gasper has the Pats failing in the five-contest crucible that was supposed to tell us all where this team was headed. Curran is troubled by the organization’s apparent acceptance that the Pats are closer to mediocre than to elite. Mike Petraglia has Tom Brady saying the Pats don’t fight very hard.

Once again this week, it’s a feeding frenzy of assessing blame. Ron Borges finds cause for another X’s-and-O’s-and-Jimmys-and-Joes reference, citing bad drafts and bad free agent signings as the reason for today’s lack of talent. Monique Walker has Tom Brady failing to put any points on the board on two different red zone trips. Despite countless chances, Karen Guregian says Brady could not find a way to lead his team to victory. Michael Felger is astounded at how much damage a three-man rush can inflict on the Pats’ offense.

How about something good? Well, Boston Metro calls Randy Moss a playmaker and Sam Aiken’s catch one of the best of the season. Of course, Donaldson points out that a 5’10″ rookie stood taller than the 6’4″ Hall of Famer that is Moss, and Rapoport’s Patriots Notebook notes Aiken couldn’t come up with a big play when it mattered most. Donaldson also has Aiken going from brilliant to . . . well, the opposite of brilliant. Walker’s Patriots Notebook has Aiken getting his hands on two big balls in the fourth quarter, but coming up with neither.

Shalise Manza Young calls the offense stagnant and defense porous when it comes to second halves on the road. Brian MacPherson has the Pats’ secondary two weeks late and two corners short of being good. Albert R. Breer says Miami QB Chad Henne never heard so much as a grunt from the Patriots’ ineffective pass rush. Cristina Ledra has Henne the latest QB to post a career-day performance against the New England secondary. Henne’s effort wasn’t bad for a guy Miami writers like Edwin Pope have been ready to write off at one time or another.

Kirk Minihane is left scratching his head over all the coaching inconsistencies. Jonathan Comey opines that 2009 has inflicted a mortal sting on Bill Belichick and left him in the weeds. And Dan Shaughnessy has Belichick going off the deep end on fourth down calls.

NCAAF

FBS bowl selections were announced last night and there are no surprises for either of New England’s entrants, with BC playing in the Emerald Bowl and UConn the PapaJohns.com Bowl. Mark Blaudschun attributes BC’s unexpectedly early date with the USC Trojans to the wacky world of college football bowls. Steve Conroy has yesterday’s pairings the culmination of a season-long closure of the chasm that once existed between the Eagles and Trojans. Desmond Conner has the UConn Huskies making their third consecutive bowl appearance, taking on the Gamecocks of South Carolina.

Red Sox

Going into the four-day rumor mill that is MLB’s winter meetings, Amalie Benjamin contends there are few deals the Sox really need to make, but MacPherson’s Sox Beat says Theo has plenty of work to do. Alex Speier says any team with a blockbuster trade in mind should look long and hard at the chips the Sox have stockpiled.

Odds & Sods

Tim Weisberg says the Patriots may struggle on the road, but the Celtics sure don’t.

Fluto Shinzawa says that former Bruins interim GM Jeff Gorton must have been wearing a mask when he robbed Toronto of Tuukka Rask.

With the count up to six – what do you want to call them, paramours? Sarah Green thinks Tiger Woods, Inc. has lost his right to privacy.

I’ll be laying back in a dentist’s chair by the time you get here, but I’ll be back again tororrow, repaired teeth and all, to bring you some more Morning Links. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter for any other breaking items.

Some Friday Media Links

Right at noontime today, my boss (also known as dad) came over to my house with a whole bunch of work to do and I’ve been doing it up until dinnertime. So it’s prevented me from doing the megalinks. I’ll do some links now. This weekend, I’ll be heading to New York for TARCon while the winter storm is heading up the East Coast.

Here are the Weekend Viewing Picks.

Here is some linkage.

USA Today’s Darren Rovell talks about CBS’ Dick Enberg leaving the network for the San Diego Padres.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell wonders how many people will watch the SEC Championship on Saturday.

Darren says one tournament that could feature the return of Tiger Woods could land a sponsor as a result.

The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick says the networks’ golf announcers will give Tiger a break whenever he returns to action.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union says CBS has a number one team worthy of calling the SEC Championship.

Ken McMillan of the Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record says CBS College Sports will have plenty of classic programming leading up to Army-Navy next Saturday.

Over at Press Box, Dave Hughes of DCRTV.com notes some potential problems at a Baltimore sports radio station.

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner says it’s going to be a busy viewing weekend.

Barry Jackson from the Miami Herald says ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on the University of Miami football program is fair.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle has some announcers weighing in on the SEC Championship.

You have Ed Sherman’s winners and losers in sports business and media at Crain’s Chicago Business.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel enjoyed Bob Knight during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this week.

Dan Caesar in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the one area where the Rams are doing really well is on TV.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune says it was a no brainer for the Padres to sign Dick Enberg.

John Maffei from the North County Times says the Padres made a big splash by hiring Enberg to announce their games.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star writes that NBC won’t be mentioning Tiger Woods’ transgressions all that much during coverage of his golf tournament this weekend.

John Scheibe of the Los Angeles Times looks at ESPN’s next 30 for 30 documentary.

Tom Hoffarth in the Los Angeles Daily News says now that Tiger Woods has apologized, the sports media should as well.

Tom has more on the Tiger Woods story plus his extensive news and notes in his blog.

Tom has reader reactions to Tiger.

Tom introduces us to a new Tennis Channel host.

That’s it. I promise to get these up earlier next week. Bruce will be out next week. When something breaks mediawise, I’ll make sure to put it up here.

Reilly – How long can Boston’s frenetic sports-media explosion last?

Adam Reilly has a piece in the Boston Phoenix this week looking at the recent expansion by several sports media outlets here in Boston, with 98.5 The SportsHub coming online, Comcast SportsNet expanding its on-air and web presence and even The Boston Globe shoring up its sports staff:

Goal rush! How long can Boston’s frenetic sports-media explosion last?

Toward the end, Reilly looks at what could bring an end to this unprecedented influx of sports coverage here in Boston – when the Boston teams stop winning championships and go back to just being average and below-average franchises.