Friday Night Megalinkage

Ok, time to do the Friday megalinks. Coming at night again after shuffling between two offices and playing chauffeur. So blogging had to take a back seat for a bit.

For the Weekend Viewing Picks, go here to check out what’s happening in sports and primetime TV.

Time for the links.

National

USA Today’s Mike McCarthy talks about the play about legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi heading to the Great White Way.

Mike Lopresti of USA Today discusses the ESPN Outside the Lines report that has many people buzzing about ballpark food safety.

Milton Kent of Fanhouse is confused as to why a former ESPN executive with a poor track record would be brought on by NFL Network to consult on programming.

Kevin Hench of Fox Sports writes that the spiked LeBron James story by ESPN only raises questions about its relationship with certain athletes.

David Goetzl of Mediapost says Proctor & Gamble will be seen aplenty during Olympics coverage from 2012 – 2020.

John Eggerton at Multichannel News talks about Fox’s Jay Glazer joining NFL Network to compliment his regular job.

The Sports Media Watch says the MLS All-Star Game saw a 50% ratings jump as compared to last year.

Paulsen at SMW has some various MLB ratings news and notes.

SMW has some ratings news on other sporting events.

Joe Favorito wonders if the Pac 10/12′s media blitz in the East will give the conference some juice outside of its normal footprint.

The Big Lead has a quick roundup of media reaction to the ESPN spiking of Arash Markazi’s story on LeBron James’ Boys Night Out in Las Vegas.

SportsbyBrooks notes that Rich Eisen’s contract with the NFL Network expires on Sunday.

Dave Kohl at Major League Programs explores how a radio interview with Minnesota Timberwolves President David Kahn got him fined by the NBA.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Fearless Leader Bruce Allen writes in SB Nation Boston about the whining by Red Sox beat writers when a player doesn’t speak with them.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times says ESPN’s spiking of the LeBron James story on its website raises more eyebrows on its relationship with the Miami Heat player.

Phil Mushnick at the New York Post feels USC coach Lane Kiffin is complaining for the wrong reasons.

Pete Dougherty in the Albany Times Union reports that Time Warner Sports will produce one hour specials on the Buffalo Bills throughout the preseason.

Ken Schott of the Schenectady Gazette continues to shake his head on the ESPN/LeBron James relationship.

Ken McMillan at the Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record has the entire NFL TV preseason schedule.

Dave Hughes of DCRTV writes in Press Box of the continued lineup changes at one Baltimore sports radio station.

Jim Williams in the Washington Examiner says New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is ready for his closeup on this season of Hard Knocks on HBO.

The great Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog discusses some changes with the Post’s beat writers.

South

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says the Dolphins are starting a very aggressive multiplatform campaign in South Florida.

Shannon Owens of the Orlando Sentinel writes that ESPN was correct to pull the LeBron James story off its website, but not for the reasons you think.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Ray Buck says former Dallas Cowboy and current sports radio co-host Nate Newton has slimmed down. A lot.

In the Houston Chronicle, David Barron talks with NFL Films President Steve Sabol about the new season of Hard Knocks.

David has an extensive interview with ESPN’s vice president for content John Skipper on a myriad of subjects. It’s at the bottom, but Skipper notes that ESPNews’ viewership is in decline and changes could be coming both ESPN Classic and ESPNews in “30 to 60″ days. Nothing like burying the lede.

Midwest

Michael Zuidema from the Grand Rapids (MI) Press talks with Ray Bentley who will be leaving ESPN2′s warm booth to become a sideline analyst for ESPN 3D’s college football productions.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business says MLB Network will have two new episodes of “The Club” on Sunday.

Ed also has his winners and losers.

Paul Christian of the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin says Minnesota native Brad Nessler will call the 2nd game of the opening Monday Night Football doubleheader in September.

West

John Maffei at the North County Times says filming on the movie version of “Moneyball” begins this weekend.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News has former ESPN’er Roy Firestone looking to get back to his old roots.

Tom explores why ESPN killed the LeBron James story.

Tom has his usual extensive media notes.

Canada

Chris Zelkovich in the Toronto Star says a new Rogers Sportsnet channel means more money for Canadians to pay on their cable bills.

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail says the new Rogers Sportsnet channel will allow for more live sports for Canadians.

And we’re done with the megalinks.

Red Sox/Tigers Tickets Selling for 52% Above Season Average

Here’s the first in our series of quick posts with information from TiqIQ. As you can see from the graph below, tickets for this weekend’s Red Sox/Tigers series – the first Red Sox games at Fenway in 10 days, and Johnny Damon’s return to Boston not wearing a Yankee uniform – are selling at 52% above the season average.

As you can also see, if you’re looking to go to Fenway this weekend, Sunday’s tickets are currently getting the lowest prices. Go to the Boston Sports Ticket Watch page to look for the best priced seats this weekend.

Former Yankees beat writer Peter Abraham, who now writes for the Boston Globe says that It’s time to give Johnny Damon his ovation. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that notion, but apparently there is interest in Damon’s return.

Setting Up Camp In Foxborough

The Patriots kicked off their 2010 training camp yesterday, putting the players through double-sessions on a wet day down at Gillette. You can get all the Patriots stories this morning over at PatriotsLinks.com, below are a few of the top stories.

Andy Hart of PFW has observations from Practice One and Practice Two.

Patriots camp filled with fresh faces - Mike Reiss has first and second year players getting their shot right from day one of camp.

Belichick remembers when training camps were a real grind - Jim Donaldson has the Patriots coach remembering when training camp started on July 5th and there were six preseason games and multiple scrimmages as well.

Tactic is a bit off the wall - Shalise Manza Young has this Patriots group looking to make their own memories, rather than living off the glory of past squads.

Kaczur willing to learn at guard - Jennifer Toland examines Nick Kaczur’s move to left guard in the absence of Logan Mankins.

Revamped Patriots Want Brady to Remain - From the New York Times, Judy Battista has Robert Kraft again stating that Tom Brady is “going to be here.” (Tom E Curran doesn’t like his tone.)

Stephen Neal longs for Olympic glory - Ron Borges has the Patriots guard revealing that he still dreams of winning a Gold medal in wrestling.

Eight observations on opening day of camp - Hector Longo brings his unique perspective to yesterday’s sessions.

No letup for Wes Welker - Ian Rapoport’s notebook has the injured receiver still working hard on the sidelines.

Slicing up the Red Sox’s boring pie - Bill Simmons weighs in on the Red Sox.

His prospects are good - Amalie Benjamin has the Red Sox minor league notebook this week.

Red Sox set up to wait - Scott Lauber thinks that the Red Sox might wait until the waiver trade period to make a deal.

After West Coast trip, time of the essence for Red Sox - Jon Couture says that the Red Sox room for error is trending towards zero.

 C’s sign Von Wafer - Chris Forsberg looks at the Celtics adding the former Rockets guard.

Media Roundup: More Whining And Complaining In Boston - My SBNation column this week looks at more complaining from the Boston sports media.

I’ve also got a full Metro Column on the ugly Hideki Okajima situation earlier in the week.

The “Black Cloud” Arrives

@capeleaguer agree. I feel like Thursday is hanging over me like a black cloud. excited to see what develops but…Tue Jul 27 23:40:41 via web

Sorry to pick on you Shalise – but you do know the whole world can see these Tweets, right?

The “black cloud” has arrived – Patriots training camp opens this morning, and with it, another long work cycle for the media covering the team. I do understand the sentiment above – the start of camp means a lot of six and seven-day work weeks from now until January - but I still don’t think it is wise to describe it as a “black cloud” hanging over you.

With the start of training camp, I feel it is appropriate to turn to our Patriots Daily Senior Foreign Correspondent Scott A Benson, who weighs in with The Boys of Late Summer – A Primer.

Time to spot players who can get it done - I picked on Shalise a little above, but I did enjoy her breakdown today of the younger players who need to step it up this season.

New faces, old confidence at Patriots training camp - Jonathan Comey looks at a few key guys on the roster to watch for this training camp.

Patriots must establish roles at camp - Mike Reiss says that this is the major underlying theme at this year’s training camp.

Vince Wilfork fine with doubters - Karen Guregian has the nose tackle embracing the underdog role this season.

Five questions surrounding Patriots defense - After looking at the offense yesterday, Robert Lee examines the defense today.

Rating the Roster, Training Camp Edition (Part 7) - Christopher Price has been rating the roster, here are the top 17 players on the Patriots right now.

Coach’s crew no longer the picture of supremacy - Hey, it wouldn’t be football season without Professor Ron Borges around to throw a wet blanket on things.

So these aren’t lines meant to stir up the fan base and generate clicks and comments?

Today, the grass looks great, the locker room smells great, the players are great and the kiddie corps of assistant coaches Bill Belichick has surrounded himself with are budding geniuses, not the underpaid lab assistants many of them appear to be.

Bill Belichick was a genius once, when the players in the photos were still active.

Randy Moss has caught a lot of balls in three years, but not the long one the Pats needed most against the Giants at the end of Super Bowl XLII. The evidence of past performance suggests that Branch would have caught it in that situation, but Moss never will.

Right. It’s just the imagination of a “delightfully thin-skinned”* fan base. Carry on.

The Red Sox finished off a three game sweep of the Angels yesterday afternoon after Marco Scutaro snapped a 3-3 tie with an eighth inning grand slam that made a winner out of Josh Beckett, 7-3. Check all the links at RedSoxLinks.com.

Red Sox bring home hope from trip - Gordon Edes has the Red Sox coming home with hope.

I actually thought about linking Shaughnessy this morning, until I read his final paragraph. He apparently cannot even write a glowing column on the Red Sox without taking a shot at the Krafts. Pathetic.

Sox keep their season alive with sweep of Angels - Sean McAdam has the Red Sox potentially saving their season yesterday.

Lowell’s rehab assignment is one for the books - Daniel Barbarisi has a quick note on Mike Lowell tearing it up in his rehab assignment.

Beckett left rest to Scutaro - Peter Abraham took a lot of notes yesterday.

* Quotes added at the insistence of Joe, the Dolphins fan from the comment section.

Sox Take Another From Angels

John Lackey got the better of his former team, going 7 1/3 innings and giving up two runs to pick up his 10th win of the season in the 4-2 Red Sox victory. Get all the links at RedSoxLinks.com.

The WEEI ratings-gate scandal continues today. Jessica Heslam has Julie Kahn defending the station’s decision to start combining the AM & FM numbers. Whats interesting is that the station chooses to combine the numbers for ratings and PR purposes, but not for staff bonuses. She’s got Pete Sheppard speaking out:

Ex-WEEI personality Pete Sheppard, who was on Glenn Ordway’s “Big Show” for more than a decade, said he missed out on two hefty ratings bonuses – close to $10,000 – because program director Jason Wolfe said he couldn’t combine WEEI-FM’s Massachusetts listeners with WEEI-AM.

“He never would combine those ratings to give us our bonuses – never,” Sheppard, who was axed in January, said yesterday. “We pleaded with him twice – because it was a big chunk of money.”

Sheppard’s contract entitled him to a quarterly bonus – excluding the summer – when the Big Show was No. 1 among the coveted 25-to-54-year-old male demographic.

Seems a little hypocritical to me.

Okajima caught in culture clash - Rather than joining his colleagues in screaming about accountability in talking to the media, Gordon Edes waits a day, and then gets an exclusive with Hideki Okajima, who explains some of his reticence in talking with the media.

Sox ailing on airwaves, too - D.C. Denison and Alexandria McMahon in the Globe explore the reasons for the Red Sox drop in TV ratings.

For Sox, the real Lackey appears in his former park - Alex Speier looks at the strong outing for John Lackey.

Maturity has led McDonald to security - Daniel Barbarisi has a good story on outfield Darnell McDonald, who has discovered what it takes for him to remain in the majors after all these years.

Red Sox have dilemma at trade deadline - Mike Fine says that the Red Sox have decisions to make.

Pedroia is jolted by news - Peter Abraham’s extensive notebook has Dustin Pedroia not getting the injury news he was hoping for.

Pats wiping away remnants of glory days - Tom E Curran has Troy Brown revealing that the Patriots are attempting to make this team create its own identity.

Wicked-early look at Patriots roster projections - Karen Guregian tries to project the roster.

Five key questions on offense as Patriots begin training camp - Robert Lee looks at the Tom Brady-led offense and the keys to the season for that unit.

Celtics must pick up pieces - Julian Benbow has the team still looking to fill out their last remaining roster spots.

Andrew Brandt Interview In Patriots Football Weekly

If you happen to see this week’s edition of Patriots Football Weekly at a newsstand, be sure to check out my interview with National Football Post founder Andrew Brandt.

Brandt is the former Vice President of the Green Bay Packers, managing their salary cap and negotiating all player contracts from 1999-2008. We talked about his website (he’s trying to make it the Wall Street Journal of the NFL) the ongoing NFL labor situation, and a little bit about the Patriots as well.

In the conversation, we also went into the situations of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and how he feels that Brady’s new position as assistant player rep will not impact his negotiations with the club. (He talks more about Brady and Manning on the NFP today.)

The July 27th, 2010 issue is the current edition of Patriots Football Weekly.

Big Night For Ortiz Powers Sox Over Angels

David Ortiz hit a pair of home runs last night as the Red Sox beat the Angels 6-3 behind a strong effort from Clay Buchholz on the mound. Buchholz picked up his 11th win of the season. Get the full links over at RedSoxLinks.com.

Sports rival claims ’EEI is padding Hub stats - We’ll start out the links with Jessica Heslam looking at the dispute over radio ratings. Jason Wolfe still sounds like a weasel.

Boston bats finally produce late - Sean McAdam has the Red Sox offense finally coming through in the late innings.

Martinez makes presence felt in return - Alex Speier takes a look at Victor Martinez’s return to the lineup.

A good place to start - Michael Silverman says that the Red Sox have needs as the trading deadline approaches, but starting pitching is not one of them.

Bard has quickly become one of game’s top relievers - Daniel Barbarisi with a look at the young fireballer’s development.

Ellsbury takes his first step back - Peter Abraham’s notebook has Jacoby Ellsbury finally getting into a rehab game.

The trials of training camp - Mike Reiss and Tedy Bruschi preview the start of training camp for the Patriots.

A look at six spots up for grabs at Patriots camp - Karen Guregian has a look at some positions where there are jobs to be won or lost on the Patriots roster.

These numbers might lie - Tom E Curran says that despite strong numbers, the Patriots running attack as a whole is not healthy.

Postional Previews – Wide Receivers - Patriots Daily with a rundown of the 13 receivers on the roster to open camp.

Finally…

Guess who?

Too bad Boras can’t speak for Hideki Okajima. Okie spit the bit Sunday, then refused to explain his strange decisions regarding his fielding of Mariners bunts. This prompted media members to complain about Okie’s lack of accountability, which in turn prompted assorted fanboys to say the writers are being crybabies. Let’s go over this one more time people: if players don’t explain themselves, they are snubbing you, not us. Personally, I don’t care if any of these guys ever say another word. We only ask them stuff because we presume you want to know. If you are OK with a guy turtling after coughing up a lead, then I’m OK with it.

Lets go over this one more time: I don’t care if Okajima talks to you or not, I just want him to stop being lousy on the field. I don’t feel snubbed because Okajima wouldn’t show his face after the horrendous outing. Does that mean I’m OK with his performance? Not at all.

Listening to 98.5 yesterday afternoon, Felger and Massarotti are not admitting defeat on this Brady situation, they’ve just changed their tune. Here’s how it goes now:

Felger: “Of course we knew Brady wouldn’t hold out, and we know that he’s going to get a new deal from the Patriots that will be close to Peyton Manning’s. But why did they make him BEG for it? They made this guy, who has won three Super Bowls for them, and made the Patriots the fifth most valuable franchise in professional sports, get down on his KNEES and BEG for it.”

Massarotti: “You’re absolutely right, Mike.”

Red Sox Ratings On NESN Down 35.8% From 2009

In an article from Sports Business Journal, John Ourand reports that the Red Sox TV ratings on NESN are down almost 36% from last season.

Red Sox lose RSN ratings lead

The Red Sox are still 5th overall in MLB in terms of local ratings, averaging a 6.52 per game on NESN.

Ourand has the following to say about the Red Sox decline, and notes that it crosses over to the radio side as well:

In Boston, the declining TV numbers are not the only evidence that suggests Red Sox Nation is more apathetic about this year’s team than in years past. Despite the fact that the team just had its 600th straight sellout at Fenway Park, the lack of the traditional enthusiasm around the local nine this year extends to the team’s radio broadcasts, too. For the first half of the season, Red Sox games on WEEI-AM were down 16.5 percent, to 107,500 listeners. The coveted male 25- to 54-year-old demographic was down 28 percent, posting a 10.2 average. It should be noted that the Celtics’ run in this year’s NBA playoffs required the relocation of 20 Red Sox broadcasts this spring from flagship WEEI-AM to WRKO-AM.

St. Louis has taken over the top spot, averaging a 9.70 on Fox Sports Midwest. The Red Sox have been at the top of this list every season since 2004.

Brady In Camp, Making Progress on New Contract

The following was reported last night, around the same time it was reported that Brady was in fact, already in camp, having reported with the rookies.

Tom Brady and Patriots making progress on a contract extension that could get done this summer. http://is.gd/dIEjuMon Jul 26 02:45:04 via web

What? All I’ve read in the Globe and heard on 98.5 FM is that Brady and the Patriots hate each other, and that if Brady were smart he’d skip the entire season.

Schefter’s article linked above has a few other nuggets that fly in the face of what we’ve been reading and hearing here from people who get paid to cover the Patriots. (Emphasis mine)

The Colts would like to re-sign quarterback Peyton Manning, the Saints Drew Brees and the Redskins Donovan McNabb. At this time, the Patriots and Brady appear to be the furthest along in their conversations, according to league sources.

Furthest along? So will the media descend on Colts camp now or Saints camp to talk about the “disconnect” between QB and club?

Now, as for that disconnect, and reports of unhappines from Brady:

There also was speculation that the relationship between Brady and the Patriots is strained. Yet, Brady was spotted this offseason having dinner with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others have been adamant that the relationship between the two sides is as positive as ever.

Adam Schefter is as close to a sure thing in the football media as there is. Apparently Patriots fans have to turn to him to get information on their team, as certain members of the media actually assigned to cover the team have been too busy speculating, “advancing the story” of the non-holdout and disconnect, and appearing on every media outlet they can to scream about the unhappiness of Brady.

I tuned into the beginning of CSNNE’s “Sports Sunday” and heard Michael Felger saying about the Brady situation. “Some think it is being overblown, but it’s NOT.” He went on to say how Brady has had a month to dispute the disconnect quote, and he hasn’t, so clearly it is true.

The Globe and certain radio personalities have positively embarassed themselves in this entire affair.

But don’t despair guys, you still have Logan Mankins and his actual acrimony with the Patriots.

Now, lets look at a few links from this morning:

The Red Sox continue their fall out of the playoff race, losing 4-2to the Mariners in Seattle. Hideki Okajima was saddled with the loss after not being to get outs on two bunts in the inning. In case you hadn’t heard, Okajima refused to talk to reporters after the game.

Why Hideki Okajima not talking means something - Rather than just whine about it, Rob Bradford explains why Okajima not talking following last night’s loss is important.

Sox must find relief for weak spot in ’pen - Michael Silverman says that the Red Sox need help in their weakest link.

Red Sox heading for trade deadline nightmare - Bradford looks at why the Red Sox aren’t likely to find much help this week.

Not bad outing for Dice-K, but pen gives it up again - Daniel Barbarisi’s Red Sox Journal sews up a few loose ends.

Questions need answering - Mark Farinella looks at the top issues heading into camp.

Patriots looking for answers - Ian Rapoport also has a list of questions.

Plenty of competition among linebackers - Glen Farley looks at the linebackers.

Sweating it out - From yesterday, Albert Breer looked at why a new deal for Brady will be so much harder than one for Peyton Manning.

Well-Krafted plan - Also from yesterday, Rapoport’s conversation with the Patriots owner.

Rajon Rondo now has national appeal - Mark Murphy’s NBA notes focus on Rondo’s spot on the national team.

Okajima Doesn’t Talk, Infuriates Media

So this is what happens when you don’t talk to the almighty Red Sox media:

True professionalism on the part of Okajima: Refusing to answer questions after today’s game. Got to be accountable. #redsoxSun Jul 25 23:45:48 via UberTwitter

Okajima so far refusing to take questions. Unprofessional to say the least. #RedSox.Sun Jul 25 23:30:42 via Twitter for iPhone

As has been his cowardly habit for most of his 3 years in Boston when he doesn’t pitch well, Hideki Okajima refuses to answer questions.Sun Jul 25 23:26:44 via OpenBeak

From the Dept. of No Accountability: #RedSox stories tonight, tomorrow will not feature Okajima’s perspective. He’s not talking.Sun Jul 25 23:28:28 via txt

Beltre talking about Oki there, and no we didn’t talk to him because as usual, Oki declined to speak to reporters after multiple requests.Mon Jul 26 00:02:52 via web

Adrian Beltre isn’t sure what Hideki Okajima was thinking on Kotchman bunt. Unfortunately, Okajima not willing to explain himself. #RedSoxMon Jul 26 00:00:38 via txt

Okajima probably probably should’ve spoken after the game, but as McAdam caustically observes above, he hasn’t talked after a bad outing in three years. What makes them think he was going to talk yesterday?

Also, on the topic of professionalism, Okajima may have been unprofessional yesterday, but what do you call the above? These guys all sound like a bunch of whiny little girls.

The followups on these tweets are equally entertaining, as apparently I’m not the only one who thought this. The reporters defend their outcries with “his teammates want to know what happened too.” Well, they can talk to him on the plane if they want to.

They really couldn’t write their stories without Okajima saying “I just didn’t have it today?”