New Look Patriots Back To Work

So…did anything happen while I was gone? Pretty quiet week?

The Patriots will have a different look to their offense for the rest of the season as they jettisoned Randy Moss and brought back former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch. This seems likely to result in a more methodical, ball-control offense the rest of the way, hoping to use up more time on the clock and give a young defense more time off the field.

Preparations are being made to face the team that ended their 2009 season, as the Baltimore Ravens come to town on Sunday. It will be the toughest test yet for the Patriots, with Baltimore a sexy pick to win the AFC.

Worry Wart – Game Five vs. Baltimore - Chris Warner is uncomfortable about this one.

Ravens will be measuring stick for Pats - Mike Reiss says that this game is a chance to build on what the Patriots started in Miami almost two weeks ago.

Ravens-Pats interesting on many levels - Jonathan Comey says with the Ravens coming in, it’s not a great time for the Patriots to be charting a new course.

Patriots get return on gamble with Tate - Rich Garven has the young receiver rewarding the Patriots investment in him.

Patriots’ Moss-less offense an option play for Brady - Mary Paoletti has Brady talking about the new-look offense.

Business as usual - Mike Fine has Bill Belichick taking a trip down memory lane before getting down to the Ravens.

Tom Brady, Deion Branch reconnect - Karen Guregian has the QB and receiver looking to pick up where they left off. She also has Belichick comparing rookie Devin McCourty to future HOF linebacker Ray Lewis.

Arm angles - Shalise Manza Young says that the Patriots will have a new look for the Ravens.

Ngata, Lewis are a daunting challenge for Pats - Tom E Curran looks at a tough challenge ahead for New England’s offense.

Winning makes Boston place to play - Steve Bulpett looks at why the Celtics are among the most desirable teams to play for these days.

Home true value for Celtics’ Lasme - Bill Doyle has the former UMass star making an impression with the Celtics.

From childhood hero to ‘brother’: Erden learns from Shaq - Jessica Camerato has Semih Erden enjoying his time around Shaq.

Who plays shortstop next season? - Gordon Edes wonders if Jed Lowrie will get a shot at the position.

The Boston Bruins line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton is scoring quickly - Mike Loftus looks at the impresive start for the Bruins first line.

BC in need of rescue by Rettig - Eric Avidon says that the Eagles need the true freshman to lead them.

A swing and a miss in Ted Williams tribute - Claudia Williams takes exception to a line in a recent Dan Shaughnessy column about her father.

Newly-Manned Pats Prepare For Ravens

A slow start in what has typically been one of the busiest periods on the Boston sports calendar, as the B’s reacclimate to the West, the Pats come off a week’s bye, and the Sox are on a much longer one. As Bruce is coming back tomorrow, I’m determined to get in one Randy-free Morning Links, but there’s a new kid in Foxborough so we’ll start there.

Patriots

Nine months later, visions of Ray Rice romping 83 yards still dance in the heads of Ian R. Rapoport and Jerod Mayo, as the Pats keep the pain fresh in preparing for the Baltimore Ravens’ visit to Gillette Stadium this Sunday. Joe Zarbano puts the Ravens atop the WEEI Power Rankings for the second consecutive week. And it doesn’t get any easier. Tom King feels there is only one game leading up to Thanksgiving in which the Pats will have a clear talent superiority. Dave D’Onofrio will take a 3-1 start, but has these next six games determining where the 2010 Pats are headed. Bob Ryan labels this a “House Money Year” that is not headed for the sidelines of Cowboys Stadium for Bill Belichick.

Ron Borges has Deion Branch coming back to new faces and a sprawling mall at Gillette. Despite the changes around him, Rapoport says Branch is the same person on the same team, just a different player in a different situation. Monique Walker has those things that have stayed the same being enough to excite Branch upon his return. Kevin McNamara has Branch wishing he’d never left New England. Mike Reiss thinks that having something end where it once began is not always a bad thing in football. However, the Pete Towshend Belly Factor is ruining this reunion for Jerry Thornton. With Branch for Moss, Jim Donaldson still has the Pats in the red on the plus-minus scale.

McNamara’s Patriots Journal is not surprised that offensive lineman Nick Kaczur was officially IR’d yesterday.

Celtics

The C’s started a stretch of four games in five nights with a 103-92 loss in Philly last night. Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers liking the packed game schedule because it opens up more time for practice. As for last night’s loss, Evans Clinchy has the Shrek and Donkey duo of Glen Davis and Nate Robinson getting some extended minutes. A. Sherrod Blakely finds the C’s bench good enough to hang with the albeit bad 76ers starters for much of last night. Paul Flannery calls the C’s bench a bunch of misfits who flew under the radar because of what they couldn’t do and whose unique compensatory skills were overlooked.

Bulpett’s Celtics Notebook has neither Jermaine O’Neal nor Rivers frustrated by the former’s lack of offensive flow so far this preseason. Julian Benbow has O’Neal on the bat phone and looking for his missing offense. He still brings the D though. Chris Forsberg tells us that O’Neal and Davis will be pushing each other all season to take charges.

And to close on a self-gloss note, I have the C’s in a season-long battle with the Heat for Eastern supremacy and the chance for a rematch against the hated Lakers.

Bruins

After an 11-day European trip, Fluto Shinzawa has the B’s reacquainting themselves to a Stateside schedule before getting reacquainted with the ice. As Joe Haggerty points out, the Premiere series gave the B’s a unique bonding experience and it portends of great days to come next June.

Rich Thompson has Nathan Horton looking to fill a humbling gap in his resume this season. Despite some new offensive prowess, Douglas Flynn has the B’s not intending to part with the stingy defensive ways that brought them to the postseason last year.

Red Sox

Kevin Gray has New Hampshirites continuing to make steady inroads into MLB front offices, as Sox scout Allard Baird is a candidate for the Mets’ GM vacancy. Sean McAdam has Sox coaches Tim Bogar and DeMarlo Hale candidates for the Blue Jays managerial vacancy.

Gordon Edes recounts years when Theo was brilliant in maintaining an effective bullpen, and years when he failed, but 2010 was a case of total disintegration.

As always, it was a lot of fun hosting Morning Links this past week. Thanks for dropping by. Bruce will be back at the helm again tomorrow morning, ready to take you into the Branch II era at Gillette.

Everything Old is New Again

Last Wednesday, it was Randy Moss putting on a purple #84. Yesterday, it was Deion Branch coming back to New England.

Karen Guregian and Ian R. Rapoport team to say Branch’s chemistry with Tom Brady and knowledge of the offense made it time for this return to happen. Shalise Manza Young has things coming full circle since that somber day when Branch’s initial trade to Seattle was announced. Christopher Price has Branch’s arrival buying more time for younger receivers to develop within the Pats’ system. Mike Reiss thinks a fourth-rounder for Branch was a steep price tag but, hey, the Pats were rich in draft picks anyway. Tom E. Curran wonders if this wasn’t just some wish-list pickup to appease Brady.

Don’t look for many changes to the offense with Moss out and Branch in, as Guregian’s Patriots Notebook has Belichick and player personnel director Nick Caserio insisting they’ll be using the same playbook. Jeff Howe says Branch’s acquisition makes the Moss trade a bit more digestible. Guregian says Wes Welker will feel Moss’ absence the most.

Guregian also has Hairgate morphing from a Brady vs. Moss undercard to a Belichick vs. Charley Casserly main event. Young’s Patriots Notebook has Belichick no fan of Casserly.

Lee’s Patriots Notebook has RB Danny Woodhead impressive every time he has touched the ball. Michael Vega has offensive lineman Dan Connolly keeping to his meat-and-potatoes roots, even in trendy Boston restaurants.

And, oh yeah, there’s football this Sunday as the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens come to town. You won’t hear them talk about it, but Robert Lee bets payback is on Pats’ minds this week after the Ravens unceremoniously dumped them from last year’s playoffs. Reiss thinks the Pats are positioned to join the NFL’s elite this Sunday.

Celtics

Just a few player development pieces as we make our way through the preseason schedule, starting with an eager and restless Kendrick Perkins, who reminds Steve Buckley that most pro athletes want to be doing what they are gifted to do.

Mark Murphy brings us Marquis Daniels’ tireless work to expand his arsenal behind the three-point arc. Frank Dell’Apa has Nate Robinson now completely ready to be a Celtic. Chris Forsberg traces Stephane Lasme’s trans-global journey to the Celtics roster and a second chance in the NBA.

Murphy’s Celtics Notebook has KG schooling the new bigs, and Doc Rivers says they’d be wise to listen.

Odds & Sods

D.J. Bean has the Bruins returning from their 11-day European excursion richer from the experience. Tom Caron considers the trip overseas to be a success, due in large part to the Bereron and Chara extensions.

Joe Haggerty‘s bedroom walls must be covered with Taylor Hall Fatheads, as the maiden version of his Power Rankings put Edmonton at #2 and the B’s considerably further down the list. Get over there and give him hell.

In his blow-by-blow account of last night’s Jets win over the Vikings, Kirk Minihane says it just wouldn’t be a Brett Favre game without him throwing a game-ending pick-six. And Michael Felger went all the way to the New Meadowlands last night to find for himself this mysterious safety always over the top of Moss. Needless to say, his search was fruitless.

Tomorrow is cross-over day and Morning Links may be a bit late. Be patient, and, as we advise every day, check back here for the latest on breaking events on the field, on the air, and in the press.

Bruins Open With Czech Split

We’ve got a four-sport edition to kick off your Columbus Day morning, but only one team played any meaningful games this weekend, so the B’s draw the lead-off spot.

Bruins

Some bad news and then some good news this weekend, as the B’s fell to the Phoenix Coyotes in their season-opener in Prague, 5-2, on Saturday, but came back strong with a 3-0 win yesterday. After some terrible play in the opener, Stephen Harris labels yesterday’s victory a textbook showing of aggressiveness behind a 29-save shutout for Tim Thomas. Douglas Flynn calls it a case of old and new stepping up, as Thomas records his 18th career shutout and both Nathan Horton and rookie Tyler Seguin lit the lamp. Kevin Paul Dupont says that for all the puck-chopping in Saturday’s loss, yesterday will be remembered for improved puck management. Mary Paoletti marvels at the difference 19 hours can make.

James Murphy has Thomas sending notice to the hockey world that his hip is fine after offseason surgery. D.J. Bean is already rethinking his goals prediction for the rejuvenated Horton, who netted two in Saturday’s loss and another one yesterday. Mike Cole has former teammate Stephen Weiss saying Horton has the talent to be among the league’s best. Harris’ Bruins Notebook recounts Seguin’s first NHL goal.

Joe Haggerty says those days of goal-scoring sinkholes are gone, as the Black and Gold are rolling out some offensive firepower this season. Harris’ Bruins Beat calls the B’s well nigh unbeatable when they play with an identity and confidence.

It looks to Dupont’s Bruins Notebook that Blake Wheeler is ready to mix some grit into his tool kit.

Celtics

The lively experiment that is this Celtics preseason continued yesterday, with the C’s downing the Toronto Raptors, 91-87, at TD North. Kevin McNamara has Doc Rivers’ decision to pull back on his starters paying off in this win. Paul Flannery thinks things have been working out just fine in Doc’s master plan of letting the second unit close games out.

Mark Murphy credits the C’s bench, led by Marquis Daniels, for delivering yet again yesterday afternoon. Evans Clinchy has last year’s tentative Daniels replaced by this new go-to version following some big fourth quarter buckets against the Raptors. A. Sherrod Blakely has Jermaine O’Neal exhibiting the defensive-minded, shot-blocking skillset that made him so coveted this summer. Chris Forsberg‘s Postgame Notes has more on Jermaine’s defense and Shaq’s Garden debut.

Bob Ryan revels in this fourth season of the three-year window for a championship, courtesy of a 94-second span in Game 7 that left us all a bit soured. Murphy has Nate Robinson no longer needing old Knick plays inserted into the C’s offense for him. Dan Duggan has Stephane Lasme playing for a locker.

Patriots / Red Sox

As we hit the quarter-pole, it’s been an action-packed season for Ian R. Rapoport so far, both on and off the field. Timing is everything, as Robert Lee has the Pats’ bye week coming at the perfect time.

You know we’re in a bye when hair disputes become newsworthy. Rapoport brings the Randy Moss camp’s denial over his alleged hair tiff with Tom Brady. Bathed in purple, Nick Cafardo has Moss feeling the love in Minnesota, and not wanting people to think this thing can ever go sour. Jeff Howe has his ex-teammates in New England routing hard for Moss . . . tonnight. This piece by Christopher Price in which Brady’s personal passing mentor talks about the Moss trade’s effects on his protege broke on Saturday night, but it garnered some talk on the airwaves yesterday, so we’re bringing it to you this morning.

You may not see him on the field, but Mike Reiss has Shawn Crable making an impact in practice. Ryan is two-sporting it this morning as he looks behind the scenes as Ron Jaworski’s search for the seven games that have shaped today’s NFL.

Given the injuries to the Red Sox last season, Michael Silverman calls the bench play in 2010 a resuscitation order that worked to keep the team alive throughout most of the summer.

Brian MacPherson thinks Carl Crawford could be the next franchise-changing free agent, and believes the Sox may have the best chance to get him.

Odds & Sods

Things are ugly on The Heights, as Mark Blaudschen tells us where the Eagles are struggling after three increasingly embarrassing losses, the most recent on Saturday, 44-17, to North Carolina State.

John Shimer brings us some internatinal finance intrigue, as John Henry attempts to fold the Premier League’s Liverpool Reds into his New England Sports Ventures empire without crippling the franchise on the field in the process.

Finally, despite the pain involved, Rich Levine can’t stop paying attention to Brett Favre. Knock yourself out tonight, Rich.

Whether we’ve found you at home, on vacation, or at work this morning, have a great Columbus Day. May Randy torch Darrelle Revis and that Jets secondary tonight, and we’ll see you here again one more time tomorrow morning.

Rolling Moss Still Gathering News

Well, what did we expect? It was a blockbuster trade, one of the biggest in Boston since . . . the Patriots acquired Moss from Oakland during the 2007 draft. Foxborough has found a way to keep the Patriots in the news during a bye week, so let’s indulge them this final time.

Patriots

Ian R. Rapoport has nothing but kind words for Moss coming out of Gillette Stadium yesterday. Robert Lee has the Pats locker room sad to see Moss go but still believing in themselves. Michael Vega has former teammates reconciling the trade as a “business decision.”

Christopher Price hopes Moss’ place on the field can be filled as fast as his vacant locker was. Karen Guregian has Moss one of the best people Vince Wilfork has ever met. Mike Reiss has Bill Belichick citing a combination of factors leading to the trade, none of which involve alleged friction with Moss. Bob Ryan didn’t really expect the truth anyway. Jeremy Gottlieb throws two more cents into the percolating pot that is Randy Moss.

Jerry Thornton broke the cardinal rule of being a Belichickian when he let the Moss trade shock him. Lee’s Patriots Journal has Wes Welker also surprised but ready to step up his game. Rapoport’s Patriots Notebook has Tom Brady never surprised about anything anymore.

Lest we forget, there are other things going on in Foxborough. Remember Logan Mankins? Tom E. Curran reports confirmed rumors that the Pats are in discussions to trade him to the Chargers for Vincent Jackson. However, in a Rap Sheet post, Rapoport has Mankins’ agent saying something else.

Bruins

It’s on to the NHL season as the B’s are in the Czech Republic awaiting their first two regular season games this weekend. It’ll be a home-and-home of sorts against the Phoenix Coyotes at the O2 Arena in Prague. D.J. Bean looks back on the B’s now-concluded preseason, with Nathan Horton’s play topping his highlights.

Kevin Paul Dupont has Patrice Bergeron signing a three-year contract extension last night in Prague. Douglas Flynn says Bergeron’s extension was the culmination of a summer-long pursuit. Joe Haggerty has GM Peter Chiarelli holding up at the Prime Minister’s Palace until this one got done.

Stephen Harris has Zdeno Chara hoping to get an extension of his own. Mary Paoletti takes a closer look at the B’s captain.

Dupont’s Bruins Notebook dubs Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron the new “gold-dust twins.”

Red Sox

Before the Sox begin to dabble in the free agent market this Hot Stove season, Sean McAdam says they have to address some free agents of their own. John Tomase has Sox scouts sniffing at former NL Cy Young winner Brandon Webb. So, now we know Theo’s planned counter-attack to the Yankees’ imminent acquisition of Cliff Lee.

In the Herald’s continuing Taking Stock of the Sox series, Michael Silverman dissects this past season along the injury line.

Jim Donaldson has some words of remembrance for Ben Mondor, who rescued the PawSox from bankruptcy and owned them for the last 34 years until his death last Sunday.

Odds & Sods

Chris Forsberg calls Marquis Daniels a cog in Boston’s ballyhooed bench squad after helping the C’s to a 96-92 win over the Nets last night in New Jersey. A. Sherrod Blakely has Delonte West and the second unit sparking a comeback in this one.

Eric Ortiz spews some Belichickian wrath at the St. George’s football program after the Rhode Island prep school pulled out of last weekend’s game to avoid getting hurt.

Justin A. Rice has David Shinskie’s struggles opening up the QB job on The Heights.

Those of you lucky enough to be setting out on a three-day weekend, enjoy every minute of it. For the rest, we’ll see you back here on Monday morning. Have a great bye, all.

Will Moss-less Pats Pack Any Punch?

Good morning, Boston. Nice to be back bringing you Morning Links while Bruce is away. I’ll be doing things old school for the next week. No top tens, but not exactly full coverage. Just some great reporters and columnists in and around Boston covering the morning’s hot topics.

With Theo’s bridge leading to a quiet autumn and the Pats’ upcoming bye, it figured to be an easy week ahead. Then came yesterday’s Randy Moss bomb, so let’s head to Foxborough first.

Patriots

Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots undergoing a vintage makeover with the trade of Moss to the Minnesota Vikings yesterday, ditching the long ball in favor of no-name receivers. Among Kirk Minihane‘s ten thoughts on the trade is his praise for Bill Belichick’s decision to cut bait during Act I of Moss’ season-long pity party. Mike Reiss credits Belichick for having a sense of trouble brewing. However, Ron Borges berates Belichick for trading tutti-frutti and not even getting vanilla in return.

Karen Guregian attributes irreconcilable differences between Moss and ownership – not Belichick -to yesterday’s divorce. Jackie MacMullan calls it another case of Randy getting what he wanted. Josh Bousquet follows the problem child Moss through three teams and three ignominious exits. Christopher Price has Moss a complicated indididual, while CSNNE.com brings in the medical experts, who diagnose Moss with a case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Ian R. Rapoport collects comments on the Moss trade from around the NFL, including Jets CB Darrelle Revis’ eulogy of the Pats’ vertical game. Extra Points brings us a few more Revis barbs directed at Moss. Guregian has more talk of condensed spaces and hamstrung offenses circulating among football pundits. On the fan side, Michael Carraggi and Emily Wright team up to call it a split decision. Rich Garven is already looking forward to Halloween when Moss returns to Foxborough.

In light of Moss’ departure, Worry Wart Chris Warner is even more concerned about the Pats’ soft defense. And in a travesty of justice, Jill Steward has Patrick Chung beaten out of AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Celtics

The Celtics got their exhiibition season underway last night in Manchester with a 93-65 win over Philadelphia. Julian Benbow has the C’s pulling out their familiar tough-defense calling card against the 76ers. Mark Murphy has 7-foot center Semih Erden the big surprise, pouring in 13 points and grabbing five rebounds. A. Sherrod Blakely says Erden’s NBA debut was just what the C’s need – defensive-minded role players. Evans Clinchy has practice making perfect for Erden.

Murphy has first-round pick Avery Bradley, whose recovery form ankle surgery could limit him to D-League play this season, savoring his role as spectator last night.

Red Sox

Ahhh, the quiet autumn morning around The Fens, with only the talk of next year. Gordon Edes starts us off with Yawkey Way believing David Ortiz can still make a profound impact on the Sox offense next year but questioning whether he’s worthy of a multi-year contract. Alex Speier tells you why the confoundingly inconsistent Daisuke Matsuzaka still figures in Boston’s 2011 plans.

Scott Lauber says the Sox are in a Catcher-22 predicament over whether to re-sign Victor Martinez this offseason. Sean McAdam has prospect Ryan Westmoreland oozing determination during his miraculous recovery from brain surgery last March.

That’s it for now. Bruins fans can send their hate mail my way at [email protected] Barring a Wes Welker trade for a 2012 fourth-round pick, we won’t see each other again until tomorrow morning.

Bye Week

Just as a heads up, I’m going to be taking advantage of the bye week here, and take some time to go visit family out West. With another baby coming in December, this is likely our last chance to get out there for a while.

Bob Ekstrom will be filling in for the next few days, and I’ll be back the middle of next week.

The Patriots report cards should have a decidedly different feel this week. Check out Patriots Daily for Jeremy Gottlieb’s report card this morning, and head to PatriotsLinks.com for the other report cards, as well as the all the breathless coverage on Randy Moss to the Vikings.

The Celtics open their preseason schedule tonight in Manchester, NH against the Philadelphia 76ers. Check the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

So what did everyone think of Four Days In October last night?

Patriots Romp To Special Win In Miami

Since the start of the season, media members have identified a number of areas of concern regarding the 2010 Patriots. They include poor defense, inability to win on the road, and poor second half performances.

The Patriots made nice progress in all three areas last night, taking a 7-6 halftime deficit and turning it into a 41-14 win in Miami over the Dolphins. Patrick Chung blocked a punt and a field goal, and returned an interception for a touchdown, and Rob Ninkovich had two interceptions as the Patriots made a statement on Monday Night Football.

Obviously, it wasn’t all perfect, as the Dolphins still had success in moving the ball up and down the field, but the Patriots got big plays when they needed them, on the road, in the second half. Get all the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com, but in the meantime, here are the top links from this morning:

 Ten Things We Learned Monday: Patriots’ win a retro classic - Christopher Price runs down the important things to take away from this one.

Patriots earn the right to revel- Tom E Curran says it was a good night for “told ya so.” 

How’d they do it? Let’s count the ways - Bob Ryan has never seen anything the likes of what was happening on the field last night in Miami.

Inspired Patriots rise on road - Ian Rapoport has a Bill Belichick pregame speech setting the tone.

Patriots all smiles after rout at Miami - Mike Reiss has Belichick “positively giddy” after this one.

Altogether exciting win - Albert R Breer wonders if this was just “a flash in the pan” but says that last night everything came together just as they drew it up. On the Extra Points blog, Breer says good-bye, as he heads out to Los Angeles to begin his new job with NFL Network.

Unsung heroes make Monday night very special for Patriots - Jim Donaldson says that this Patriots team has a chance to be special.

Defense dials up the pressure - Mark Farinella has the Rob Ninkovich and the Patriots defense getting the job done last night.

Everything old is new again for Patriots - Michael Felger laments that he’ll have to spend the next two weeks ripping the Red Sox.

Chung’s handiwork paid off big - The Globe Notebook has a look at the huge effort from safety Pat Chung.

Jermaine makes his big splash - Bill Doyle has the “other O’Neal” hoping to take another duck boat ride in June after getting his first taste of one this weekend.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers happy with second unit - Scott Souza has the coach impressed with his bench thus far.

Catching up with Brian Scalabrine: Part 1 - Jessica Camerato has the ex-Celtic talking about his time in Boston.

Success on Krejci’s menu - Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins center enjoying some home cooking, and looking forward to a big season.

Comcast SportsNet has sent Joe Haggerty and Mary Paoletti to Prague to cover the Bruins opener. Here is the schedule for the week:

Tue, Oct 5

  • CSNNE.com blog postings from Prague by Joe Haggerty

Wed, Oct 6

  • Prague walk-a-bout with Johnny Boychuk
  • SportsNet Central & CSNNE.com coverage of morning skate

Thu, Oct 7

  • NHL clinic with Sternberk, CZ native David Krejci
  • SportsNet Central & CSNNE.com coverage of morning skate

Fri, Oct 8

  • One-on-ones with 1st round pick Tyler Seguin and GM Peter Chiarelli
  • SportsNet Central & CSNNE.com coverage of morning skate

Sat, Oct 9 and Sun, Oct 10

  • Pre and Post game coverage from O2 Arena before and after Bruins-Coyotes games

The Providence Journal has a number of articles on the passing of PawSox owner Ben Mondor.

Paul Kenyon: Tough businessman Mondor became a lovable figure while running a baseball team

Bill Reynolds: Mondor was an unlikely hero for Rhode Island sports

Jim Donaldson: Ben never pointed the spotlight at himself

John Gillooly: Mondor turned a bankrupt team into a R.I. institution

“Four Days In October” Preview

I just finished watching the screener DVD of Four Days In October, the ESPN 30-For-30 film that makes its debut tomorrow night at 8:00 PM on ESPN.

Despite the presence of Lenny Clarke, I’m glad to say the film is tremendous. Clarke is paired with Bill Simmons at a bar and the film comes back to them at various moments during the one-hour film. In small doses like this, Clarke was OK. He even made me smile a couple times, something I don’t recall doing with Lenny Clarke jokes before.

The film focuses solely on the 96-hour stretch in October of 2004 when the Red Sox came back from a 0-3 deficit to beat the New York Yankees. Starting with Kevin Millar talking to Dan Shaughnessy prior to game four (when Shaughnessy had referred to the Red Sox as “pack of frauds” in his column – a point referenced by Millar) the movie moves quickly, with no narration, just jumping through audio and video clips from those four days.

Along the way, you are reminded just how unsufferable Joe Buck was/is. Even in game seven, he’s making comments, which, knowing now how things turned out, are patently ridiculous, and maddening at the same time. He refused to give up hope in the curse to the very bitter end.

Simmons has taken heat for making the comment that people have forgotten just how huge David Ortiz was in this series. The comment might sound silly on the surface, but watching this film, you get what he meant. It wasn’t just the game-winning hits in games four and five. Ortiz was everywhere in that series. The Yankees were terrified of him like they’ve been of no other Red Sox player. Ever.

There’s plenty about Schilling and the bloody sock in game six, including a look under the bandage, and pregame talk from ESPN talking heads who were dismissive of Schilling’s ability to pitch effectively in the game. There are other details that you forget a little over the years, like the police in riot gear having to surround the Yankee Stadium field after the umpires overturned the original call on the play in which Alex Rodriguez slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove. The play is well remembered, of course, but the reaction of the Yankee Stadium fans and the need for the riot police had slipped my mind.

Prior to game seven you’re treated to snippets from the likes of Donald Trump, Jackie MacMullan and Yogi Berra, all certain that there is no way the Red Sox can finish off the comeback. Yet, even as they’re speaking, you can sense the confidence wavering ever so slightly. Others, like Spike Lee were admittedly nervous, and said so.

Johnny Damon is among those who comment here and there throughout the film, and he’s pretty subdued. You’ve got to wonder if the fact that he went on after 2005 to play with many of those Yankees caused him to be a little muted in his reactions to this event after the fact.  

The best part of this film is that there is no narrator leading the story along, no cadre of local media giving their retrospective “take” on the series, it’s just raw footage (some of it taken from Red Sox players’ camcorders and those of fans) put together with audio clips from the broadcasts (radio - both teams and national - and TV broadcasts from FOX). You just get to live through the ride again, seeing the events that changed history for this franchise. You’ll feel the emotion all over again.

It airs tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 5th at 8:00 on ESPN. Be sure to watch it.

Sox Say Good-Bye To 2010

The Red Sox wrapped up the 2010 season with a 8-4win over the New York Yankees at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon.

It was an injury-riddled, ultimately disappointing season that still managed its share of feel-good moments and things never really got ugly around the team, unlike other non-playoff teams of the last 10 years (2001 and 2006 come to mind).

Now we’re in the offseason, and management has a big task ahead of them if they hope to compete with the Yankees and Rays in 2011.

With Red Sox postmortems and the Patriots playing on Monday Night Football tonight, it’s a busy morning on the sports scene here. Here are the top articles from today:

No time to lose - Peter Abraham says that this might be the most important offseason since John Henry purchased the team in 2002.

Theo Epstein has a lot on his plate - Joe McDonald recaps some of the major items on Theo Epstein’s agenda this winter.

Season over, the Red Sox must start to answer some hard questions - Brian MacPherson also looks at the multitude of decisions that the Red Sox are facing.

Red Sox Final Report Card - John Tomase grades out the club. Christopher Smith also asseses the players. The Patriot Ledger lets you grade the team yourself.

Fenway salutes Varitek for years of service - Sean McAdam has the captain hearing it from the crowd on what was perhaps his last day in a Red Sox uniform. Gordon Edes and Nick Cafardo look at whether Varitek is really done with the Red Sox.

The real reason why Saturday was the perfect ending for Mike Lowell - Rob Bradford (who wrote a book with Lowell) looks at why the script couldn’t have been written better on Saturday.

Light touch to finale — Ortiz bunt - Peter Abraham’s notebook wraps up the weekend.

Mike Barnicle, Fraud and Plagiarist, Helps Guide America Through Baseball’s Era of Shame - Linked elsewhere, worth passing along here.

His gaze firm - John Powers has a nice feature on Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who finds himself atop the Patriots depth chart at running back after a long journey.

Patriots can’t come out flat against Miami’s steamroller approach - Karen Guregian says that stopping the running game is the biggest priority for the Patriots. (As an aside, that photoshopped image with the article is really the best the Herald could come up with?)

Miami defense lacking coverage answers - Even Ron Borges admits that talking about how bad the Patriots defense is has gotten old, and he wants to talk about how bad the Miami defense is.

What to watch for Monday against the Dolphins - Christopher Price has some things to look for tonight. Dan Zeigarnik on Patriots Daily also breaks down the matchups of the week.

Miami coach gets it - Mark Farinella has Tony Sparano talking about the challenges of facing the Patriots.

Five-point fix-it plan for Pats defense - Bill Belichick, are you paying attention? Hector Longo can fix your defense.

Who’s picking on the Patriots? - Mike Reiss looks at the Patriots coach employing an old motivational tactic.

It’s hard to pick Patriots over Dolphins - Tom E Curran looks at why everyone in the media is picking Miami to win tonight.

Support role for Celtics truly Jermaine O’Neal - Steve Bulpett has the veteran big man happy to be a piece on a contending team.

His game translates well - Kevin Paul Dupont has Zdeno Chara proving to be a big attraction in Europe.