Week Log: Dreaming of a Partisan Christmas

This week is not the misery Michael Felger makes it out to be, but between bumper-to-bumper traffic, long lines at the register, and various ill-wills we hurl at each other in a Christmas panic exacerbated by last weekend’s snowout, one thing is alarming. Folks, when did Boston become a five-team sports town?

Parking lots with rear windows covered in ‘NY’ decals. Kids walking the mall with unbuttoned pinstriped jerseys hanging down below their too-low pantlines. Worst yet, my treasured sports retailers allowing Yankee merchandise to spill over from once-tolerable end caps to entire sections of store now. Yesterday, I looked on the wall of one prominent retailer to see five banners hanging – Pats, B’s, C’s, Sox, and – yes – Yankees.

Hopefully, a wave of partisan cleansing can wash over New England with the New Year and some new championship runs, but it’s not just the Sox. For starters, there are entirely too many Patriot haters in our midst, so let’s check in with their championship run first.

Patriots

Okay, baby steps en route to the Super Bowl, but a win is a . . . Well, let’s just say Pats Chowder isn’t exactly worried about how Coach Belichick will spend the 32nd pick of this year’s draft yet. Sunday was triply great for Patriots Gab – a road win, the re-emergence of Randy Moss, and a D that befuddled the Bills. The Trenches says the Pats’ serious pass rush against Buffalo was as effective as anything they’ve done this season. But Felger (he gets another shot since he’s going on vacation next week) says the secondary was inconsistent and, BTW, where is the second half offense? Tom E. Curren says the offense’s inability to close out an opponent makes for a confounding and maddening subplot to 2009. PatsFans says it’s a miracle the Pats have beaten the Bills 13 straight times.

Pats Pulpit offers one picture and a thousand words of praise for Laurence Maroney’s turnaround. The Rap Sheet has OL Dan Connolly, whose contract was extended yesterday, coming a long way. It Is What It Is says Connolly has given the Pats a lot of good snaps this season.

First And Ten From Foxborough thinks it a tall order to ask Tom Brady to repeat his performance the last time the Pats played Jacksonville during the 2007 playoffs. Extra Points now has Fred Taylor trying to back his way off Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio’s bulletin board.

NCAAF

BC Interruption spends Five Good Minutes with a left coaster as they preview this Saturday’s Emerald Bowl matchup between the Eagles and USC Trojans. Soaring To Glory thinks USC’s talent surplus will carry it past a non-BCS bowl letdown and the Eagles, although they’ve been wrong before. Eagle Insider has USC coach Pete Carroll guaranteeing his Trojans will play like it’s the national championship game. NE Patriots Draft runs down the top NFL prospects playing in this year’s Emerald Bowl.

Mark Herzlich’s winning battle against cancer is tops among BC Draft‘s ten best things to happen to the Eagles this year. It also tops Eagle In Atlanta‘s ten distinctly-BC events of the decade.

The UConn Huskies have a little more time before their next game as their PapaJohns.com Bowl date with South Carolina isn’t until the new year. Ramblings From The Runway has Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier impressed with the Huskies. JSilver’s UConn Blog has the Huskies winning the FWAA Courage Award for perseverance in the aftermath of Jasper Howard’s killing. And even though the 2009 season is more than a week away from concluding, UConn Football is looking ahead to 2010 and forecasting the biggest QB battle in school history.

B’s / C’s

Caveman Strong is see-sawing after a 1-1-1 road trip that leaves them realizing the B’s are not a Stanley Cup champion right now. The Black & Gold might be back on track after downing the Atlanta Thrashers last night at TD Garden for their second straight victory, but Joe Haggerty will tell you there were plenty of uncomfortable moments in this one. Bruins 2010 Draft Watch feels the yuletide spirit as the B’s gave their fans a Christmas win against the Thrashers while Phil Kessel gave Toronto fans bupkus.

Marc Savard’s first assist in nine games during the B’s win in Ottawa on Monday reminds I’m Just Sayin’ of the glory days of the Savard line that included Kessel. Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk would make Boston forget about Kessel, but James Murphy says it’s a little too early to put him in black and gold. Something’s Bruin asks Santa Chiarelli for a goal-scorer this Christmas. Naoko Funayama marvels at the clarity of Milan Lucic’s complexion this late into the hockey season.

After a bad loss to Philly on Friday the C’s got it back together on Tuesday night, downing the Pacers at TD Garden before heading out on a four-game road trip. Green Street says it was a half-hearted effort against Indiana and that won’t cut it in Orlando on Christmas Day. A. Sherrod Blakely says Tuesday’s win was the first in a line of games the C’s plan to play without KG, but Red’s Army is suspicious over Danny Ainge’s use of the word “structural” when referring to a bruise on KG’s thigh. In his new exclusive arrangement with Celtics Blog, Paul Pierce traces his roots with KG back to their AAU days.

Red Sox

We’re going to close with an abbreviated check on the Sox. Forget the Mike Lowell thumb injury says The Crowe’s Nest, who think Lowell is a better one-year fit at third than Adrian Beltre anyway. Utility Lou says that when it comes to Lowell, the damage has been done, but it’s not to his thumb.

And if Lowell can come boomeranging back to Boston, Surviving Grady wonders if Jason Bay is far behind. Extra Bases thinks that bringing back Bay can only be the precursor to another move. And Better Red Than Dead bemoans John Kruk offering John Henry a luxury tax-free bond in 2010.

That’s going to do it this Christmas Eve as a final shopping run awaits me. You can be sure there’ll be nothing with pinstripes under my tree tomorrow morning. From the gang here at BSMW, may your holidays be full regardless of whether or not your tree is, and we’ll see you back here one more time before the New Year. Follow me on Twitter for any last minute rescheduling.

#4 Plagiarism Scandals

The decade was rocked by two major plagiarism scandals involving newspaper sports reporters in Boston.

In February, 2005, the Patriots were in Jacksonville, getting ready for their third Super Bowl of the decade. Ken Powers was covering the team for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, when we learned on the morning of February 2nd, that he had been sent home from covering the team. The Editor & Publisher reported that Powers had been accused of lifting material from a Peter King Sports Illustrated story.

Later that day, with the help of a couple BSMW readers, I posted a side-by-side comparison of what King had written and what Powers had written.

Powers was promptly fired by the paper, after an investigation turned up “at least half a dozen” cases of plagiarism. He responded by telling WBZ-TV – “The termination is a terrible injustice to me.” – even as more cases were being posted here on BSMW.

It ws discovered that Powers had copied Michael Smith of ESPN.com and even his friend Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

BSMW got a mention in The New York Times during that week. Here is also the Associated Press story on the incident.

Since that time, Powers has been working as a reporter for The Community Advocate and Central Mass. Sports Insider.

Two years later, in a Sunday Football Notes column for The Boston Globe, Ron Borges used numerous passages originally written by Mike Sando of The News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington. The passages had been submitted by Sando to a “notes-sharing network” used by sports reporters across the country. Borges did not credit Sando in the notes, but there was a disclaimer at the bottom of the column (which ran most of the time in those Sunday notes columns) that “Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.”

Borges was then suspended for two months from the Globe, and barred from making outside media appearances.

Some have defended Borges, claiming that what he did was not really plagiarism. However, the Globe editor specifically stated in the announcement of Borges suspension that “The Globe does not tolerate plagiarism.”

Here are a couple of link collections about the story from that time period.

Media Reaction on Borges 

Borges Suspension Followups

After serving his two-month suspension, Borges wrote one column, relying on fired Raiders offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, who had been operating a bed-and-breakfast in Idaho prior to taking charge of the Oakland offense, to tells us that Randy Moss was washed up, that his skills were in decline, and Moss was “in denial of those eroding skills.”

Five days later, Borges “retired” from the Globe. He was hired by WEEI.com during the summer of 2008, and then bolted WEEI.com in September for a gig at the Boston Herald, where he remains.

In 2003, Hartford Courant college basketball writer Ken Davis was suspended for a month after he lifted nine paragraphs from a Syracuse sports writer. (Journalist Plagiarism/Fabrication Scandals – also used for background on the Powers and Borges cases.)

These scandals put a black eye on sports coverage, and journalism as a whole, and certainly were among the biggest stories this decade in the Boston sports media.

Thursday Quicklinks

A few links from this morning while you finish up whatever you need to do today.

On Moss: Media thinks they know, but they don’t  – Randy Whitehouse of the Lewiston Sun Journal takes on the “pack of agenda-driven members of the Boston media” who wouldn’t know hustle if it hit them in the face. This piece is actually a few days old, but was brought to my attention last night.

 A unique family business – Ron Borges with a nice look at three Patriots: Matthew Slater, Shawn Springs and Bruce Davis, Jr., who each followed their father into the NFL.

Patriots eye two-for-one deal – Mike Reiss  figures that if the Patriots win on Sunday, they’ll use next Sunday in Houston to get their veterans some rest.

Patriots looking for their own Christmas bonus – Mark Farinella says that the Patriots seem to have had a renewal of  a sense of purpose over the last two games.

Bruins take advantage – Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins using the power play to defeat the Thrashers 6-4 last night at the Garden.  

Different rules in Yankee swap – Michael Silverman says tha the Yankees matched toe-to-toe every move the Red Sox have made this offseason.

New pitchers to make interesting matchups in Red Sox-Yankees’ rivalry – Daniel Barbarisi says that the offseason starting pitching acquisitions by both the Red Sox and Yankees should make for some very intriguing matchups in 2010.

Rob Bradford says that the Red Sox are still talking internally about presenting another offer to Jason Bay, while ESPNBoston.com says that a Bay return would be a long shot.

Celtics are spending another Christmas on the road – Jim Fenton has the Celtics used to not being home for the holidays.

It has come time to lean on bench – Gary Washburn says that with Paul Pierce (and Marquis Daniels) out, the Celtics bench needs to really step up.

Jeremy Gottlieb on Patriots Daily goes Around The League for another week.