Bruins Sleepwalk Through Matinee, Patriots Grades In

Tuukka Rask was solid in net, but his teammates in front on him let him down, playing an uninspired brand of hockey which resulted in a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche yesterday afternoon.

Bruins need to wake from Cup dream – Joe Haggerty says that it is time for the Bruins to lay off the snooze button. Kevin Paul Dupont says that it is tough to give the Bruins a pass for this performance. Mick Colageo has the Stanley Cup hangover still lingering for the Bruins.

Tuukka Rask gets back in swing – Joe McDonald looks at a solid afternoon for the Bruins backup.

Team’s passion takes a holiday – Stephen Harris has the Bruins playing without edge or punch yesterday.

Both the Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa and the Herald notebook from Steve Conroy look at a quiet afternoon from the Bruins top line.

Making The Grades – Jets at Patriots – Jeremy Gottlieb on Patriots Daily leads off our list of Patriots/Jets Report cards. More grades from Ron Borges | Kirk Minihane | Jeff Howe | Hector Longo | Derek Havens | ESPNBoston | Boston.com

Pats going back-to-back with Ryan defenses – Tom E Curran has the Patriots getting set to go against another Ryan-led defense. Shalise Manza Young has more on this theme.

With Dallas looming, Patriots offense looks to sharpen things up – Christopher Price has the offense with some work to do heading into this week.

Pats hold ground, get off field – Ian Rapoport has the Patriots able to get the Jets off the field on Sunday. Kevin McNamara says that this performance was one that the team can build on.

Ihedigbo rises to occasion vs. former team – The Globe notebook has the former Jet making an impact for the Patriots. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport has a good week of practice paying off for the Patriots. The Patriots Journal has Aaron Hernandez and Albert Haynesworth making an impact in their returns. The Enterprise notebook from Glen Farley has more on the Patriots facing another Ryan defense.

Writing on wall for Red Sox to sack Chicago-bound Epstein – Gerry Callahan thinks that Theo Epstein will not be with the Red Sox for much longer.

Red Sox have an heir apparent at GM – If Epstein does go, Mike Fine thinks that his replacement is already in the system.

Farm system went dry for most of the season – Brian MacPherson looks at an unproductive season from the farm system.

Jonathan Papelbon bracing himself for the brave new world of free agency – Rob Bradford has the Red Sox closer pondering his future.

Sports Media Musings: Tony Massarotti Confuses, Hank Williams Jr. & His Rowdy Friends, Tito & Buck?

Light round-up today after the special mid-week edition

Leading Off

Was Tony Massarotti drinking at the open of the Wednesday edition of “Felger & Mazz”? Was I drugged at roughly 1:50 P.M. by a potent uknown substance? These are questions that need to be answered. I swear, when posed the question of whether he would have fired Terry Francona by his co-host Mike Felger, Mazz gave about 16 different answers..

“I wouldn’t have fired him, but if I was John Henry I would.”

“Yes he did deserve to be fired.”

“I’m easy though, I wouldn’t have fired him.”

Mazz was much more clear in his approach when asked about Theo Epstein..

“He doesn’t deserve to be fired, yet. But he’s getting in that area.”

Right.

Mazz was seen, later that night, wondering the streets of Waltham incessantly YARM-ing (YARM – “You’re Absolutely Right Mike”) to anyone who would listen.

Since we’re talking about this — Here is a fun retro-column by Mike Barnicle on the relationship between Theo and Tito. It was posted in July when the Sox were rolling.

You Want Me On That Wall…You NEED Me On That Wall..

Somewhere along the way – I was either reading or watching the 17th piece on Hank Williams Jr. and his well-played analogy about our President and Hitler that went over super-well – I remembered that this was the dude who sang the opening theme of Monday Night Football. Then, somewhere along the way, I figured out this was the best traction ESPN has gotten this season for the extraordinarily expensive package.

Week 1 – Pats vs Fins … Raiders vs Broncos

Week 2 – Rams vs Giants

Week 3 – Redskins vs Cowboys

Week 4 – Colts vs Bucs

Not exactly a murder’s row of games. Williams’ scandal falls somewhere between ‘Skins/Cowboys and Pats/Fins as far as relevancy. And that’s only if you’re a believer in the Tom Brady effect and also bizzaro Rex Grossman being who Rex Grossman actually is.

Anyway according to Williams’ website, it was HIS choice to leave the four-letter network. Classic. (Thanks to TheBigLead.com for finding this nugget)

“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment
Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE.  It’s been a great run.” — Hank Williams Jr

I think I read the quote six times before it properly resonated. Two things before the rest of America and I move on..

1.) Is anyone else reminded of Col. Jessup from A Few Good Men and his tirade? And yes, I’ll concede this is my favorite movie of all time and maybe that’s why I’m using it. Also if it’s running on AMC, I’m sitting down and watching it — no matter what scene.

Anyway, Can’t you see Williams saying..

“Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.”

I don’t know, I feel like Williams thinks he has that sort of pull.

2.) It has GOT to be a red-flag when you go to google Hank Williams Jr. and the search engine auto completes the search with “Hank Williams Jr. Confederacy.”

Food For Thought

Last night I spoke at Boston University about being a sports media critic. In the period, I was asked if I would have written about the Red Sox drinking in the clubhouse. I came to the conclusion that if I strongly felt it was a reason for the demise then I would have. However, if the drinking wasn’t an issue, then I would have stayed away.

Felger went after the beat reporters for holding off this information. A student in the class brought up the point that relationships have to be maintained and, at the end of the day, you can’t bite the hand that feeds you. To that I say, write a retraction. If you felt Tomase was headline-grabbing and this wasn’t relevant, then write a column about other reasons why the collapse happened.

I do subscribe to the theory that this WAS an issue. One can tell reading quotes from different players that guys weren’t taking care of themselves. And it turns out if you are a professional athlete, it IS DETRIMENTAL to be out of shape. I confirmed this fact with Shaq.

Since we’re here, Gerry Callahan is still awesome in print. Great read.

Tito To Fill-In

Terry Francona will be filling in for Tim McCarver during Game 1 & Game 2 of the AlCS as Fox’s analyst. So he goes from an ownership group which, although successful, oozes arrogance to Joe Buck… Who does much of the same.

How do you all think he’ll do?

Banner Night On Tap For The Bruins

The Bruins will raise their Stanley Cup Championship banner to the rafters this evening, and then set about the task of defending that title as they open the NHL regular season with a matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Go ahead, enjoy those shivers up your spine – Kevin Paul Dupont graciously gives you permission to enjoy yourself tonight – at least until the puck is dropped. Stephen Harris has the Bruins ready to turn the page on last season.

Odds stacked against another Cup – Bud Barth says that among all the pitfalls that come with being a defending champion, there is one advantage. Mike Loftus looks at what the Bruins must do to keep the Cup. Joe McDonald says that the Bruins are in a great position. Fluto Shinzawa says that it is very much by design that this team is essentially the same one that won the Cup in June. Mark Divver says that this team could be even better than last year. Harris says don’t bet against them hitting that jackpot again.

Bruins push over the Sox in Boston – Joe Haggerty says that the Bruins have replaced the Red Sox as the resident rock stars in Boston. Steve Buckley has the Bruins stepping in as the Red Sox fail.  Bill Burt says that the Bruins have become a model franchise.

Banner year ends here – Mick Colageo says that hockey will feel different once the game begins tonight. Douglas Flynn says that the Bruins will need to keep their emotions in check once the game begins.

Still affected by hits – Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook has Marc Savard still dealing with post-concussion symptoms. The Herald notebook from Steve Conroy reports that the Bruins will not sign Chris Clark, who was here on a tryout.

Rex Ryan’s defense has Tom Brady’s number – Karen Guregian looks at the challenge facing the Patriots quarterback this week.

Pats’ pass rushers poised to take advantage of Jets’ porous offensive line – Christopher Price looks at whether this is the week the Patriots pass rush finally breaks through.

Pats Pregame Points: Game Five vs. Jets – Chris Warner says there is plenty to think about this week.

Patriots Ellis, Ihedigo to face former team – Tim Whelan Jr. has a pair of former Jets getting ready to face their old teammates. Mark Farinella has Shaun Ellis saying that his coaches haven’t asked him for too many secrets.

Brady calls an early end – The Globe notebook has the Patriots QB breaking off his weekly press conference after repeated questions from the media about comments from Antonio Cromartie. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport has more on Brady refusing to talk about Cromartie. The Patriots Journal has more from Ellis. The Jets notebook from Ron Borges has the Jets in awe of Wes Welker. The Globe Jets notebook from Julian Benbow has Rex Ryan keeping things light this week.

Ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona on Big Show: ‘Maybe it was just time’ – Alex Speier has the highlights of Terry Francona’s appearance on The Big Show yesterday.

No clues on Theo Epstein’s future – Michael Silverman says there is nothing new on the status of the Red Sox GM.

Crawford’s first season in Boston a forgettable one – Tim Britton looks at the season-long struggles of the Red Sox big free agent signing.

From Billy Beane to Theo Epstein, life comes full circle for Red Sox – Speier compares the Epstein/Cubs situation to when the Red Sox tried to get Beane from the A’s.

This was the big topic of conversation on 98.5 this morning:

[blackbirdpie id=”121927578582913024″]

With Jets Week Here, Sox Autopsy Continues

We’re off to a little bit of a slow start to Jets week, but that could change as soon as Rex Ryan stands before a microphone.

Cease-fire in ongoing war with Jets – Paul Kenyon notes that the silence could be because both teams have some serious issues to deal with right now.

Rex Ryan lights into Jets with Pats game looming – Karen Guregian has the Jets coach ripping into his team after their second straight road loss.

Rob Gronkowski On His Way to Becoming Best Tight End in Football and 19 Other Patriots Thoughts – Jeff Howe looks at a number of issues around the Patriots.

44 lines about 22 Patriots issues – Tom E Curran also weighs in on the team.

He was paving the way – Despite limited chances and production in the passing game, Greg A Bedard thinks that Sunday might’ve been the best game of Rob Gronkowski’s career.

Former Jet Shaun Ellis still settling in – Ian Rapoport talks to the former Jet about his first game against his old teammates.

Defense excelling in pressure situations – The Globe notebook has coach Pepper Johnson happy with the play of his defensive line. The Herald notebook from Karen Guregian has Patriots players prepping for the Jets. The Patriots Journal has more from Pepper.

Gonzalez skates around question about state of Red Sox clubhouse – Christopher Smith has the Red Sox slugger hesitant to talk about the state of the clubhouse after his first season with the team.

Cubs come calling for Epstein – Sean McAdam reports on the Cubs interest in the Sox GM.

Attempting to unlock the future of a much-maligned Red Sox pitching staff – Rob Bradford has a look at the future of the Red Sox pitching staff.

A one-sided argument for Sox infield – Brian MacPherson notes that while the right side of the Red Sox infield is all set, the same cannot be said for the left side.

Red Sox have shied from big names – Gordon Edes says that the Red Sox are likely to hire a lesser-known name.

What’s next for Brad Marchand? – DJ Bean wonders what this year holds for the second-year forward.

Bruins’ party almost over – Joe McDonald says that it is just about time to get back to work for the Bruins.

Bruins need to capitalize early on home ice – Joe Haggerty says that the Bruins need to take care of business at home early in the season.

Sports Media Musings: 98.5 The Sports Hub Wins The Summer, WEEI Finishing 8th

98.5 The Sports Hub took the momentum obtained from their win in the spring ratings period, and never looked back. In the summer ratings period, released by third-party Arbitron yesterday, “The Sports Hub” found itself in the poll position again, earning the highest share among the coveted men’s 25-54 demographic in the Boston market. Chief competitor, WEEI, finished in a tie in the 8th position in the demographic.

Chad Finn of The Boston Globe has the full breakdown of how each time slot stacked up against one another here. Upon inspection, the numbers seem to be lopsided in favor of 98.5 — each program nearly doubles up counterpart, WEEI’s share. (“Gresh & Zo” triple “Mut & Merloni” in the share)

The only time WEEI held an advantage was the paltry 7 P.M. – Midnight period. This, most likely, was due to WEEI’s dissemination of the Red Sox games summer nights.

Going Double-Rainbow Guy — What Does This Mean??

I’ve talked about the importance of this particular ratings period since the spring book was released. I rationalized that the Bruins Stanley Cup run skewed the numbers, and the summer ratings would give us real indication of how these two entities are performing in relation to one another. Since their inception, “The Sports Hub” has championed the Bruins as the team’s flagship station. On the other hand, WEEI had long dismissed the Bruins as a viable topic in their programming. The numbers had to be exacerbated from an ‘EEI perspective and, incongruously, inflated like Barry Bonds’ head from a “Sports Hub” perspective…. Right?

Apparently not. Even with WEEI broadcasting “The Boys of Summer” The Choke Artists of Fall, “The Sports Hub” maintained dominance. Although, as the article points out, WEEI’s share did not include their new FM simulcast on 93.7 — which was available the last 3 days of the ratings period.

I’ve personally believed this period was critical, and will not bear any concessions to that notion because of 3 days. The FM thing is a real commodity which parent company Entercom should have implored much sooner. HOWEVER, I rationalized the Bruins run last time and I refuse to rationalize a ‘signal’ issue as an excuse for a station which was dominant from their launching point in the early 90’s all the way until 2010. The signal was never an issue for two decades — worthy competition doesn’t make it an issue now.

When news of the simulcast first arose, I wrote that Rule #76 was now in effect (No excuses, Play like a champion). And that still holds true. The ‘radio wars’ would have nothing to do with including different market figures (though WEEI is still including their Providence share), or a bad signal. Instead the name-of-the-game would now be about content.

Who is producing better entertainment? Who is producing better dialogue? Going forward these would be the questions answered by the ratings. But just because Entercom management is late to the FM party, does not preclude the here and now.

And the here and now suggests WEEI needs to do something…. and fast.

Predicting the Weather

Going forward each station has distinct advantages. WEEI has the ESPN affiliation and “Patriots Monday”. Both those factors amount to one thing: Great guests. “Dennis & Callahan” have a weekly can’t-miss interview with Tom Brady, “Mut & Merloni” have Troy Brown, and “The Big Show” has Coach Bill Belichick and Tedy Bruschi. One major disadvantage for ‘EEI is the ignominious end to the Red Sox campaign and the concurrent NBA lockout (WEEI broadcasts the Celtics).

98.5 The Sports Hub has lower-level Patriot players making appearances, and a plethora of local analysts. This seems like a large disparity, but “The Sports Hub” has always been able to do more with less. Presumably – because of their impressive ratings wins and also because they are the flagship station for the Bruins and Patriots – “The Sports Hub” will garner better guests in the future.

Perhaps the biggest advantage for “The Sports Hub” – and I’ve pondered this before – is the relationship with Comcast SportsNet New England. The “Felger & Mazz” simulcast on the flourishing television network displays a strong marriage forming. With a steady diet of ratings wins, what is stopping a CSNNE personality like Tom E. Curran from jumping from his spot as a guest on “The Big Show” to foray on to fellow CSNNE-er, Mike Felger’s world on “Felger & Mazz?” ESPECIALLY, if the show is being broadcasted on Curran’s primary employer, CSNNE? Joe Haggerty, CSNNE’s hockey writer, already made a similar move.

How Did We Get Here?

So what has happened here? Is it as simple as what Chad Finn said on my podcast? Are people just sick of WEEI’s “We’re number 1, we can do what we want” attitude?

I’m not sure. Here are a couple of things to think about though. I’m not using this as an opportunity to give myself exposure, but listen to my podcast with Rich Shertenlieb of “The Sports Hub.” He talks about important lessons such as never becoming complacent, learning how to fail, and taking chances. He sounds like a down-to-earth guy who is “Youngry” (young & hungry). And these qualities come through in “The Sports Hub” culture.

On the other side, it feels like decades ago when Gerry Callahan infamously told Jessica Heslam he was hiding under his desk because he was ‘afraid’ of the competition. These sarcastic remarks, along with Callahan feigning he had never heard of “Toucher & Rich”, no longer feel arrogant — they feel ignorant.

A Word On Finn

Years ago, Chad Finn wrote a column stating if a station came along with a strong signal and real commitment that WEEI would get a run for their money. This, of course, came to fruition with CBS putting together “The Sports Hub.” In his coverage, Finn has maintained a mostly objective point of view. Obviously, at times, it is transparent he is rooting for what he thought in the original column was a fictitious station, but his reporting of the numbers has been straight-forward.

Yet John Dennis still felt the need (maybe out of frustration) to take a small shot at the Globe reporter on Twitter…

@GlobeChadFinn You left out the “Whooey, Chad is jacked and pumped” part !

Realizing this was social media, Finn deftly avoided any run-in by deflecting the shot..

@JohnDennisWEEI Nice. Actually, have enjoyed listening to you and Gerry take apart the Sox the past couple of days. Credit where it’s due.

Finally, Dennis decided to show he is working on reaching that younger demographic by referencing a show that existed in the mid-70’s…

@GlobeChadFinn As Fred Sanford famously (and often) said….”I think I’m gonna have the big one Elizabeth.”

Why Were The Seymour Trade and “LateGate” Not Detailed in Belichick Film?

While there has been plenty of praise for the recent two-part NFL Films documentary on Patriots coach Bill Belichick, there has also been a few pockets of criticism, mainly because two of the biggest events from that 2009 season are not detailed in the film.

The preseason trade of Richard Seymour to the Raiders, a move debated to this day, was only mentioned in the context of the aftermath of the trade, in a scene in which Patriots management discusses the move in relation to how they will now approach re-signing nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

The late-season incident in which four players (Adalius Thomas, Derrick Burgess, Randy Moss and Gary Guyton) showed up late for a meeting and were sent home even though there was significant snowfall on the roads was another incident that season which received plenty of media coverage and outcry. This episode was not mentioned at all in the film.

The absence of these events from the film has led some to question the integrity of the production. Even Chad Finn on Friday wrote in the Globe:

But criticism that relevant developments during the season were glossed over if not ignored entirely are just. Patriots fans would love to have any insight on the machinations that led to Richard Seymour being dealt to Oakland. And if there was a reference to “LateGate,’’ when  Belichick sent four players home after they were late to a morning meeting because of weather conditions, it was brief enough to escape notice here. NFL Films said the Patriots did not request that anything be omitted other than some footage that included play-calling terminology. If that is indeed the case, shortchanging the Seymour story in particular was a glaring omission in an otherwise superb production.

As part of an article appearing this week in Patriots Football Weekly, I had the opportunity to interview the film’s director/producer, Ken Rodgers, and I asked him specifically about those incidents. Here’s how that part of the interview went:

Bruce Allen: I’ve seen some media gripes about two events from the season that were fairly big in nature, but in one case just briefly mentioned and in the other, not mentioned at all. The trade of Richard Seymour and the late-season incident in which four players were sent home after arriving late for practice. Did these things happen when the cameras weren’t around and rolling? Or in the case of the second event, was it just not the big deal that the media made it out to be?

Ken Rodgers: You’ve got it – we simply weren’t there.  While I was around for a majority of the season, we weren’t a Hard Knocks style crew covering every move the team or Coach Belichick made.  Since we were capturing history, covering every moment of this particular season wasn’t really the point – we were covering Coach Belichick and making sure we got all sides of him in all situations.  The Seymour trade happened on a random preseason day that we had no plans of being there (we did capture a meeting afterwards talking about the implication of that trade on the Wilfork deal) and I believe the lateness issue was during the Carolina Panthers week – and again, we simply didn’t shoot leading up to that game so we didn’t generate any material on it.  I can tell you that had I been there and captured anything on the subject that was good enough to make the film, it would have been in there.  My sense of it, however, was far more was made of that incident externally than what actually occurred internally.

Far more was made of the incident externally that what actually occurred? Shocking. I think the rumors at that time were that the increasingly disgruntled Adalius Thomas was the one who dropped the dime to the media on the LateGate incident, which propelled it into the spotlight.

So anyway, if you were among those wondering why these two events were not in the film, you now have an explanation from the ultimate source on it.

As time goes on, I’ll reveal some more of my interview with Rodgers, including his take on Mike Felger’s insistence that the original trailer to the film tried to revise history when it came to the 4th and 2 call in Indianapolis that season.

Note: If you use material in this post, including quotes, please give credit to BSMW and a link back to this article.

Grading The Patriots As We Head Into Jets Week

After Sunday’s 31-19 win in Oakland over the Raiders, some questions about the Patriots were answered, while others are still hanging out there. We saw that the Patriots have the potential to run the ball, and to win when Tom Brady isn’t at the absolute peak of his powers. On the flip side, we saw the defense get shredded once again, managing to hang on thanks to a couple of key mistakes on the part of Jason Campbell – mistake which, to the Patriots credit, they were able to jump on. Some might say, however, that this win was simply gift-wrapped to the underserving Patriots.

Here are the various report cards from this week:

Making The Grades – Patriots at Raiders – Jeremy Gottlieb on Patriots Daily called this one a must-win for the Patriots, and they got the job done.

Patriots report card – Ron Borges makes the following statement in his opener to the report card:

The Pats have scored 30 or more points in 12 straight games, second only  to the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf teams of 1999-2000. How’d that work out in St. Louis?

Well, let’s answer that, shall we? The Rams won the freakin’ Super Bowl in 1999! They lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl after that streak that Borges mentions was over.

That’s not to say that I’m thrilled about the chances of this edition of the Patriots right now, nor does that Ram team have anything to do with this version of the Patriots, but Borges is trying so hard to knock the Patriots by comparing them to a team that won the Super Bowl? Huh?

Patriots Report Card: Welker, Ridley head the Week 4 class – Kirk Minihane has the WEEI.com report card. Other cards from this week: Boston.com | ESPNBoston | Jeff Howe | Hector Longo | Derek Havens

Idle thought – Kevin Mannix should’ve patented the idea of the Patriots Report Card. The guy would be leading a much more comfortable retirement right now…

Defense now must hold it together – Greg A Bedard says that with all the injuries on defense right now, what you saw on Sunday might be as good as it gets for the Patriots defense right now.

Air attack not only weapon for Patriots – Ian Rapoport looks at how a no-frills, extremely efficient running game worked for the Patriots.

Gary Guyton steps into key role – Chris Forsberg and Dan Duggan look at Guyton replacing his friend Jerod Mayo on the Patriots defense for the time being.

Let the games(manship) begin: It’s Jets week for Patriots – Glen Farley has Jets week getting started.

Will Theo Epstein be next to leave? – Gordon Edes looks at the possibility that the Red Sox GM could follow Terry Francona out the door.

Uncertainty mounts on Epstein’s future – Sean McAdam says that the silence from Fenway on Epstein isn’t encouraging.

Hired to be fired: History says teams need managerial change – Alex Speier looks at the notion that teams need a managerial change every so often.

Kevin Youkilis, Sox mates not stand-up guys – Gerry Callahan says that Youkilis and the other so-called leaders of this team failed.

Search model found – If Theo Epstein is calling the shots on a new manager, Peter Abraham sees him going a similar route to what he did in 2003.

Red Sox have to put it back together – Mike Fine says that fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, as the Red Sox are discovering.