#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.

#5 The Brady/Bledsoe Decision

This is number five on my list of the top episodes in the Boston sports media this decade.

When Drew Bledsoe was hit in the chest by the Jets Mo Lewis late in the second game of the 2001 season, and a second-year QB named Tom Brady trotted out on the field, who of us knew that the decade had then really begun for Boston sports? 

Three Super Bowl championships later for the Patriots, and two Super Bowl MVPs and a regular season MVP, along with a record-setting 50 touchdown undefeated season in 2007 later for Brady, the decision to stick with Brady over Bledsoe even after the latter was healthy enough to return that season seems inarguable.   

It was anything but at the time.

Drew Bledsoe, while at times maddening on the field, had developed a strong relationship with the press. Bledsoe was always there after the game, win or lose, whether he had played well or poorly, answering the questions from the press, and taking responsibility for losses (Even though he didn’t make changes in his game to improve what caused those losses). It was said he talked to the media quite a bit off the record as well, becoming a primary source of information “behind the scenes,” “back channel” communication for writers like Ron Borges, Kevin Mannix and Nick Cafardo.

Bledsoe-BradyWhen Bledsoe was hurt, the Patriots then fell to 0-2 on the season, and there was speculation that coach Bill Belichick, in his second year with the team, could be in jeopardy of losing his job. With Tom Brady under center the next week, the Patriots routed Indianapolis 44-13, but then lost in Miami 30-10 the following week, to put the Patriots at 1-3. Things seemed grim. The San Diego Chargers, led by Doug Flutie came to town the following week, and after trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter, Brady led his first fourth quarter comeback in the leading New England to a 29-26 OT victory.

During this time, the airwaves and newspapers were filled with debate as to whether the Patriots should stick with Brady, or give Drew Bledsoe his job back when he was ready to play again. Bledsoe himself talked about getting “my job” back.  Media members took sides. Pete Sheppard was an early Brady adopter, while Glenn Ordway was a Bledsoe guy. In general, it seemed that the younger media set were with Brady, while the older set, who had been around the team longer, and perhaps benefited from Bledsoe’s “back channel” information, sided with Bledsoe.

In mid November, the Patriots sat at 5-5 following a home loss to the St. Louis Rams. The next day, on Monday, November 19, Bill Belichick announced that Tom Brady would be his starter for the “foreseeable future.” Bledsoe had been cleared to return to action, but would not be getting “his job” back.

The Bledsoe backers in the media immediately went on the offensive, blasting Belichick, with Borges claiming that the coach had outright lied to Bledsoe. Borges later bragged on the radio that he himself had counseled Bledsoe during this time.

While the sports radio hosts and newspapers columnists were talking non-stop about Brady-Bledsoe, the real shows came on the Sunday night TV sports shows, specifically Sports Final on WBZ, which often had Borges, Cafardo and a young Herald reporter named Michael Felger on. These segments had a WWE-feel to them, as the three of them pulled no punches in debating this topic. Borges and Felger would shout at each other during these segments, while Cafardo’s role was mostly to roll his eyes while Felger was talking, throw up his hands periodically and mutter “Bledsoe” over and over.

Even after the Patriots had won the Super Bowl behind Brady, this episode continued on. It actually continued on for at least two more seasons.

When the Patriots traded Bledsoe to the division rival Buffalo, it started all over again. Borges and Cafardo would denigrate Brady while saying how huge a mistake it was, not just to get rid of Bledsoe, but to trade him within the division.

During the 2002 preseason, Borges was heard on Sports Final declaring that Damon Huard should be the Patriots starting QB, based on the performances in the preseason. The Patriots struggled in defending their Super Bowl championship, finishing 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Brady threw for 3764 yards that season with a league leading 28 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Bills jumped from 3-13 in 2001 to 8-8 in 2002, with Bledsoe throwing for 4359 yards with 24 touchdowns. His performance was lauded by his media supporters, while Brady was dismissed as a “system quarterback” who didn’t have the arm to make a deep throw.

The 2003 season began with the Bills routing the Patriots 31-0, days after New England had released Lawyer Milloy and he had signed with the Bills. In that opening game, Brady struggled, throwing for only 123 yards with four interceptions. Bledsoe meanwhile, threw for 230 yards and a touchdown.

Feeling his oats, Cafardo wrote that week about not hearing from the Bledsoe bashers, who “tend to hide when he plays well” and how he’s never “seen a team do so much to help a competing team within the division get so good so fast.” He said felt a long way from the 10-6 he predicted for the Patriots prior to that season. The Patriots finished 14-2 while the Bills fell to 6-10.

It wasn’t really until Brady won his second Super Bowl MVP following the 2003 season that this argument began to die down somewhat. But not completely. Borges continued for years to stick up for Bledsoe, and insisting that he was wronged by Belichick. Ron would make quite a stir whenever he could get a radio station  (usually Eddie Andelman’s show on 1510am) to give him an outlet for his madness.

It’s easy to forget now, with all that Brady has accomplished in his career, and how huge of an icon he has become, on and off the field, but Bill Belichick’s decision to stick with him as his starter was one of the most intensely debated incidents of the decade.

Wednesday 10-Spot

Actually a pretty tough day in which to find 10 articles to highlight. Maybe I should’ve just made it five… 

Brady Has Negotiated A Brutal Stretch In 2009  – There has been a whole lot of bellyaching and criticism aimed at the Patriots this season. Kerry Byrne wants you to know one simple fact: The Patriots have faced an unbelievably tough and statistically improbable collection of defenses this year. And given this slate, Brady has outperformed every quarterback in football in 2009.

For Brady, all routes lead to Welker, Moss – Albert Breer is going in a different direction, noting that since the Patriots added Randy Moss and Wes Welker, the offense isn’t as balanced as it was earlier in the decade.

Wes Welker defies odds as one of NFL’s best – Ian Rapoport with a mini-feature on the Patriots “little engine that does.”

Who’s naughty, nice among possible Patriots’ playoff opponents – With two games still to go in the regular season, Shalise Manza Young trots out the list of possible first-round playoff foes for the Patriots.

Paul Pierce never gave up – Mike Fine has the Celtics captain overcoming a tough shooting night to still lead the shorthanded Celtics to victory. 

Familiar look without Kevin Garnett – Steve Bulpett notes that the absence of Kevin Garnett was very obvious in the first half last night, but the team did overcome the void in the second half.

A Not-So-Subtle Reminder – Paul Flannery has three points of discussion from last night’s win.

 Much still up in the air for Lowell – Notable only because most of the material Amalie Benjamin uses in this piece comes from WEEI.com. (Which she does give credit to.)

For ex-PawSox player Lombard, trip to Indianapolis pays off with job offer from Boston – Joe McDonald has the 16-year playing career of George Lombard resulting in being named the hitting coach of the Single-A Lowell Spinners.

Bergeron ready for next big assignment – Mike Loftus has Patrice Bergeron back in his pre-concussion all-purpose role for the Bruins.

Also check out the 50th Anniversary Minute – the 2006 Patriots from Brendon Rosenau on Patriots Daily.

You probably weren’t going to go out of your way to find him anyway, but you’ll want to avoid Mark Farinella today. Dated Belichick/Spying references, snide future scenarios involving Tom Brady’s kids, recommended drugs for Randy Moss’ habit of “dogging it” and a shot at Charlie Weis.

Check back later for number five on our list of the biggest Boston sports media episodes of the decade

#6 The Death of Will McDonough (and others)

This decade has seen the passing of a number of Boston sports media figures, some big names, some smaller, some after a long life, some taken from us way too soon.

The passing of Will McDonough on January 9th, 2003 was among the biggest passings of the decade.

McDonough’s death was the true end of an era. He was the last of the “old school” style of reporter/columnist, who wasn’t really all about writing flowing prose, but about getting information from his sources and passing that along to the readers. McDonough got personally involved in many of his stories, a huge example being the Bob Kraft/Bill Parcells split, where McDonough was basically right in the middle between the two sides. Then was the time he got in an altercation with Patriots cornerback Raymond Clayborn in the locker room.

The day after his passing, McDonough was remembered on sports radio by one friend and colleague after another. There were dozens of articles and columns written about him.

McDonough was active right up to the last days of his life. He had hosted a sports radio program with Bill Parcells on 1510 AM that season, and had just had a public war of words with the Red Sox Larry Lucchino in his final columns. McDonough was a pioneer, becoming the first NFL reporter to take his act to television pregame shows.

The loss of McDonough was felt throughout the Boston sports media world.

There were other notable passings in the sports media world this decade. Another that really touched a lot of people was the suddenly, untimely death of Hartford Courant Patriots beat reporter Alan Greenberg. Greenberg’s death sparked off an organic outpouring of tributes to him and his like here on BSMW, and sports media people from around the country emailed in their thoughts and memories of Alan. This post from that week has links to the pages of tributes received after Greenberg’s death.

Sadly the person who first told me about Alan’s death was Dan Pires, who died himself just over a year later, also much too soon. Pires was extremely popular in Foxborough and on the Patriots beat, a huge family man, and by all accounts, a loyal and cherished friend.

Another pioneer we lost this decade was Larry Whiteside – the long time Boston Globe baseball writer, who died in 2007. In the 1970’s he was the only African-American reporter covering a major league baseball team on a daily basis for a major metropolitan newspaper. He was honored with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the baseball Hall of Fame and was the creator and keeper of “The Black List” of African-American reporters and copy editors designed to aid sports editors in helping hire black journalists. Nick Cafardo had some thoughts on a great man.

Television sportscasting legend Don Gillis passed away in 2008 at the age of 85.  

TV (and radio) Play-by-play legend Curt Gowdy died in 2006 at the age of 86.

Longtime Globe sports columnist  Clif Keane, the original Poison Pen died in 2003.

Earlier this year, we lost longtime Bruins voice Fred Cusick at the age of 90.

John Callaghan – longtime sports anchor for channel 7 died in 2008 at the age of 81.

George Bent – a pioneer in the world of sports radio, from the 1960’s to the 1980’s died in 2007.

Dick Radatz – the most dominant relief pitcher of the 1960’s, who went on to become a regular on WEEI and on various sports television shows, passed away in 2005.

I know I’ve forgotten some…there’s one name…another long time sports writer here in Boston, that passed away this decade, and for the life of me, I can’t think of it.

Who have I missed on this list?

EDIT: Here’s a few additional names as pointed out by readers:

Ernie Roberts, former Globe Sports writer and editor, died earlier this year.

Legendary Red Sox radio voice Ken Coleman passed away in 2003.

Legendary Red Sox TV voice Ned Martin died in 2002, while returning home from the Fenway Park memorial service for Ted Williams.

(How in the world did I forget Coleman and Martin?)

Patriots Don’t Grade High In Win Over Bills

The report cards are out, and the results are pretty tough for the Patriots again this week.

Jeremy Gottlieb on Patriots Daily says that this one was even uglier than last week’s win over the Panthers, which he didn’t think would be possible. Steve DeOssie says that the Patriots offense barely passed a test that they should have aced. Ron Borges says that the offense once again disappeared like it was held hostage at halftime.

Mike Reiss wonders why all the national critics (Hello, Peter King.) aren’t shouting “Arrogance!” and “Hubris!” over Mike Tomlin’s on-sides kick on Sunday.

Adam Kilgore has Bill Belichick raving about the performance of Mike Wright on Sunday. Danny Picard has more on the praise for the fifth-year defensive lineman. Rich Garven notes that Ron Brace also got some praise from the head coach, along with Wright. Ian R. Rapoport has the Patriots secondary and defensive line working well together on Sunday.

Robert Lee wonders if there is something seriously wrong with Tom Brady. Tom E. Curran says that this team is just OK, and won’t go far in the playoffs. Picard has Belichick looking for more consistency from his team. Glen Farley says that there are no guarantees for the Patriots going forward, even for Sunday.

Rapoport has the Patriots glad to cure the road blues that they’ve had all season. Jonathan Comey says that this Patriots team doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be a champion. Jeff Howe points out that the Patriots still have a slim chance of earning a first-round bye.

Steve Buckley says that there has been too much criticism of Randy Moss. Lenny Megliola says that the Patriots are fortunate to be in strong playoff position.

The Globe notebook has a “hat and T-shirt game” on tap for Sunday. Rapoport’s notebook has more on the praise for Wright. Lee’s Patriots journal has more on Wright. Farley’s notebook has Wright being modest about his role, and looking to get better.

Bruins

Joe Haggerty has old reliables coming through for the Bruins last night in Ottawa. Fluto Shinzawa has Tim Thomas pulling out all the stops in the 2-0 win. Stephen Harris has the Bruins getting their tenth win in a row against the Senators. Graig Woodburn has some key Bruins re-emerging last night.

Shinzawa’s notebook looks at the move of Steve Begin to the top line. Harris’ notebook has Shawn Thornton doing the gritty work.

Celtics

Mark Murphy has Paul Pierce feeling married to Doc Rivers and his system, even after a shaky beginning to the union. Jessica Camerato has Pierce’s overall versatility making him one of the most dangerous players in the league. Scott Souza says that the Celtics need Pierce to be more aggressive offensively. Frank Dell’Apa has Pierce being told to trust his instincts on offense.

Mike Fine has Tony Allen’s latest comeback going well. A. Sherrod Blakely has Allen making the most of his increased minutes in the absence of Marquis Daniels. Murphy’s notebook has more on Allen’s stock rising. Camerato has Glen Davis planning on keeping slim during the holidays.

Misc

With six championships this decade, Bob Ryan examines the state of Boston sports in 2009.

Michael Silverman says that the Red Sox have still not closed the door on Jason Bay or Matt Holliday.

Gordon Edes has Mike Lowell saying that the Red Sox didn’t know about his thumb and didn’t treat it for seven weeks.

#7 A-Rod is Coming…Wait, No He’s Not…

Continuing my look back at the 10 top Boston sports media episodes of the decade…

Remember December, 2003? Yankees hysteria was at an all-time high following the Red Sox loss in the seventh game of the ALCS two months earlier. The Red Sox had already hired Terry Francona to replace Grady Little, and brought Curt Schilling onboard – a pretty big event in itself.  

bdd

Then word got out that the Red Sox were trying to land the reigning AL MVP, and in the process, attempting to change the entire face of their franchise. They had already attempted to rid themselves of Manny Ramirez, unsuccessfully, and now offered him up to the Texas Rangers (along with a kid pitching prospect named Jon Lester) for Alex Rodriguez. The trade was agreed upon, pending the Red Sox being able to work out a renegotiation of A-Rod’s record $250 Million contract.

In addition it was reported (by New York Newsday) that the Red Sox had also agreed to trade Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago White Sox for Magglio Ordoñez, which would complete their makeover,  replacing Manny and Nomar with A-Rod and Ordoñez.

It was so much of a “Done Deal” that The Boston Globe was even refering to him as Alex Rodriguez, the Sox shortstop-in-waiting, and calling him for comment on other Red Sox player moves, such as the signing of closer Keith Foulke. Kevin Millar went on ESPN SportsCenter and declared that he was glad to have A-Rod, and would take him over both Manny and Nomar.

Then it all fell apart.

Gene Orza, associate general counsel for the players’ union nixed the deal that had been agreed upon by Rodriguez and the Red Sox. This resulted in angry outburts from Larry Lucchino and John Henry (who posted on SoSH) and a total media monopoly on this story.

The story dominated WEEI, and the newspapers, to the exclusion of almost everything else. Even the regular “news” outlets couldn’t get enough of this story, websites crashed from the traffic it generated, and the Patriots, in the midst of a 14-2 regular season, heading for their second Super Bowl title of the decade, were an afterthought.

A Gordon Edes story in the Globe from December 31st, 2003, lays out what went wrong with the deal.

Then, a few weeks later in early 2004, just when things had settled down a little bit, word got out that the Yankees were interested in A-Rod, and they did manage to successfully work out a deal, making him into a third baseman. This pushed the Yankee hysteria even further, lasting throughout the 2004 season.

Ironically, it was an incident with A-Rod, that spurred the Red Sox on later that summer. Jason Varitek and A-Rod got into a scuffle, resulting in Varitek’s mitt being stuffed squarely into Rodriguez’s face, which many mark as one of many turning points of that season.

With the gift of hindsight, we see that things actually all worked out for the best. The Red Sox finally got past the Yankees in the postseason, and Manny Ramirez ended up as the World Series MVP, as the Red Sox swept the Cardinals for their first World championship in 86 years. Rodriguez proved to be a head case, not the leader and captain that the Red Sox would’ve expected him to be.

This whole episode was a total circus, and even now, six years later, stands out in memory.

Which Is It?

Thanks to reader Kevin for pointing this out.

Dan Shaughnessy on December 11th:

ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who watches more film than Martin Scorsese, says he has observed Patriot players loafing on defense. Dollars to doughnuts he’s talking about Thomas.

Dan Shaughnessy today:

So we have Pa Brady joining the chorus line of Moss defenders, which stretches all the way from Canton, Mass., to Canton, Ohio. Every person associated with the Patriots came to Moss’s defense last week, and several members of the team’s national media cartel also attempted to convince us that Moss didn’t tank against Carolina.

One of the prominent national media members defending Moss was none other than Jaworski. So Jaworski got stupid in 10 days and is now a member of the Patriots “national media cartel?”

Since when do the Patriots have a “national media cartel” anyway? Doesn’t he know that the whole country hates the Patriots?

Patriots Have Enough

The Patriots are a step away from reclaiming the AFC East crown after their 17-10 win in Buffalo yesterday afternoon. This win wasn’t all that pretty, nor was it “sexy” enough for many, but a win is a win, especially on the road in the division. I actually was encouraged by the energy of the defense, along with the dusting off of an old game plan that I enjoyed watching immensely. The Patriots employed, as Chris Warner puts it, the cocktail party formation with a bunch of players just sort of standing and milling around the line of scrimmage. Given the Patriots lack of available bodies on the defensive line, the formation may have been out of necessity as much as strategic.

But overall, the tone from the fourth estate is very negative indeed once again this week…

Adam Kilgore notes that it was a pretty good day all around for the Patriots. Ian R. Rapoport says that the Patriots didn’t answer any questions about themselves with their play yesterday. Even Mike Reiss doesn’t seem pleased with how the Patriots played yesterday.  Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots using a little chaos to restore order.

Christopher Price trots out ten things we learned, while Tom Curran has the top five things to take away from the game.

Do you really want to read what Dan Shaughnessy has to say about Randy Moss? I know some of you do. The rest would do well to just skip this one. Even though Michael Felger‘s column is supposed to be about Laurence Maroney, there are enough shots at Moss in it to make it also worth the skip. Karen Guregian says that Moss didn’t wow anyone with his play yesterday.

Jim Donaldson sticks up for Moss, calling the criticism from his colleagues “vituperative and arguably excessive” over the last two weeks. Tom E. Curran also has a few words for the Randy rippers.  

Albert R. Breer discredits anything the Patriots did yesterday, chalking up the win to the number of Buffalo penalties on the afternoon. Ron Borges knocks the Patriots for scoreboard watching, saying that in the past, they only worried about themselves, not what anyone else was doing. Bill Burt needs to see a lot more from this team before he can feel any optimism for them. Duane Rankin has more on the rash of Bills penalties.

Monique Walker has Laurence Maroney once again leading the way in the running game. Brian MacPherson has Maroney serving as the Patriots’ grinder. Danny Picard notes that the Patriots were able to convert a third down late in the game to close out an opponent – something they hadn’t been able to do in recent weeks. Kirk Minihane has Maroney, Moss and the defense all getting some redemption yesterday.

Reiss looks a little deeper at the Defensive wrinkle that the Patriots employed yesterday. Guregian has Tully Banta-Cain picking up a hat trick of sacks. Donaldson has the organized chaos defense causing problems for Buffalo. Bob Matuszak has more the Patriots defense confusing the Bills. Zuri Berry has Tom Brady just happy to get the win.

Borges selects the Best and worst from yesterday. Rich Thompson picks the Play of the game. Young offers up game Analysis from both sides of the ball. Mark Farinella tells us who was hot and who as not. Hector Longo continues his season-long trashing of Jerod Mayo in his two-minute drill column.

The Globe notebook has Ron Brace finally getting to be a big part of the action. Rapoport’s notebook has the Patriots offense just good enough to get by – with the help of some Buffalo pass interference calls. Young’s Patriots journal has the Patriots choosing to feature the run against the Buffalo defense.  

Celtics

Frank Dell’Apa has the Celtics regaining their winning form with a 122-104 thumping of the Timberwolves at the Garden last night. Mark Murphy has the Celtics looking to make up for their loss to the 76ers. Jim Fenton has Paul Pierce finding the range last night. Bill Doyle has Pierce breaking out of his slump. A. Sherrod Blakely has the Celtics quickly putting the Philly loss behind them.

Gary Washburn notes that the Celtics made shrewd selections in drafting Kendrick Perkins and Al Jefferson directly out of high school. Steve Bulpett has Jefferson gushing about his former teammate, Perkins. Duggan has Jefferson keeping things in perspective out in Minnesota.

Tim Weisberg says that the Celtics are already being impacted by Rasheed Wallace’ temper. Blakely has Wallace saying he’s not going to change his game. Dan Duggan has Tony Allen making a contribution. Jessica Camerato has the Celtics putting on their Sunday best last night.

Dell’Apa’s notebook has Rajon Rondo wishing he could’ve set up Paul Pierce for another three-pointer. Murphy’s notebook has Pierce tying Danny Ainge with his 6-6 night from behind the arc. Doyle’s notebook has Wallace still upset over Friday’s ejection.

Your Friday Megalinks

Let’s do the megalinks on this Friday. And as usual, you can find your weekend viewing with the Weekend Viewing Picks.

Now we go the links.

National

We begin with a story that could get quite interesting. Fox is negotiating with Time Warner Cable to get a transmission fee, but the talks have gotten so contentious that Fox is threatening to pull all of its channels. Franklin Paul and Yinka Adegoke of Reuters have the story.

Reed Albergotti, Vanessa O’Connell and Russell Adams of the Wall Street Journal investigate how Tiger Woods gave Men’s Fitness an interview in 2007 in order to squelch a story about one of his affairs in sister publication, the National Enquirer. 

Anthony Crupi of Mediaweek writes the absence of Tiger Woods from the PGA Tour will affect CBS the most.

Diego Vasquez from Media Life Magazine says Tiger is losing credibility with the public.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell asks if Tiger Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, would really make a good endorser.

Darren says a former Survivor winner is trying his hand at selling Russian hats with a sports twist.

Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News says Fox Soccer Channel got its highest ratings in a key demographic last week.

The Sports Media Watch says Ernie Johnson, Jr. will call his first NBA game since 2001.

Chris Byrne in the Eye on Sports Media gives you a primer on calling an NFL game in Spanish.

The Big Lead says when ESPN Los Angeles’ website launches on Monday, it will have assembled a pretty good lineup to challenge the Times and Daily News.

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe says MLB Network has made quite the impression in its first year.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette writes that NBC is looking forward to airing the NHL Winter Classic from Fenway Park on New Year’s Day.

Kristine Leahy of WEEI.com has today’s version of The Five.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times says this isn’t a good week for those who don’t have NFL Network.

Richard says Russian Mikhail Prokhorov is one step closer to owning the New Jersey Nets.

In the New York Daily News, Bob Raissman writes that the Mets losing is hurting their ticket sales and SNY ads.

The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick says there could be a change coming at the YES Network.

Laura Nachman says Fox is sending a familiar trio for this Sunday’s 49ers-Eagles game.

Dave Hughes of DCRTV.com writes in Press Box that Orioles fans have to get used to watching the games without Buck Martinez next season.

Jim Williams from the Washington Examiner ranks the first set of bowl games on whether they’re worth viewing.

Jason Reid of the Washington Post talks with ESPN’s Ron Jaworski about his on-air partner, Jon Gruden. 

South

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says former Dolphins running back Mercury Morris loves talking to the media when an undefeated NFL team goes deep into the season.

Sarah Talalay in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel explores a new cell phone ad starring Dwayne Wade and Charles Barkley.

And Sarah discusses a new line of personalized sports jersey photos.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News writes that the Cowboys continue to show confidence publicly.

Ray Buck in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram talks with NBA TV’s Kevin McHale about the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki.

To the Houston Chronicle, David Barron says high school football championship games will be all over local TV this weekend.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman talks with ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla.

Mel also has his weekly media notebook.

Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman writes that he broke down and signed up for the NFL Network.

Midwest

John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer says a former sports talk show host would like to return to the radio soon. 

Josh Slagter in the Grand Rapids (MI) Press looks at the fights HBO will re-air next week.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says there will be plenty of NBA action to watch on Christmas Day.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business has his weekly winners and losers in sports business and media.

Jim O’Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times writes about HLN’s Sunday special featuring TNT’s Charles Barkley. 

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cardinals Fox Sports Midwest team will return for next season.

Dan says despite not being able to show the Calgary-Blues game, Fox Sports Midwest scored in the ratings for the pregame Brent Hull retirement ceremony.

West

Scott D. Pierce in the Deseret (UT) News talks about the mtn. owning the rights to BYU home games.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune has CBS’ Boomer Esiason being high on the Chargers.

In the North County Times, John Maffei says one community won’t be able to see tonight’s high school football championship game.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star writes that local Time Warner Cable customers won’t be able to watch Saturday’s Cowboys-Saints game on NFL Network.

Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times previews Sunday’s HLN special featuring three of Turner Sports’ analysts.

From the Los Angeles Daily News, Tom Hoffarth notes that Lakers radio voice Spero Dedes has been missing games of late.

Tom talks with former Utah Jazz announcer “Hot Rod” Hundley who’s filling in for Stu Lantz on Lakers TV broadcasts.

Tom has more with Hot Rod in his blog plus his usual extensive media notebook.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin in the Toronto Globe and Mail says the diagnosis of one hockey player will send shockwaves about concussions to the media.

Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star says Don Cherry will never admit that he promotes hockey violence.

William Houston in Truth & Rumours reports that the Canadian Olympic Broadcasting Consortium will fall well short of its sales goal for the Vancouver games.

That’s going to do it for the megalinks.