Patriots Stumble Their Way To Yet Another Disheartening Victory

For the middle 30 minutes of yesterday’s game, the Patriots played well. The first 15 and final 15 – not as much. The Patriots withstood three fourth quarter touchdowns from the Indianapolis Colts and managed a 31-24 win at Gillette Stadium to move to 9-3 on the season.

Let’s get right to the grim analysis.

Late fade tarnishes Patriots win – Ian Rapoport has things almost getting away from the Patriots. Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots kicking themselves after this one.

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Despite win, Patriots lack finishing touches – Chris Price has the fourth quarter as the big story.

Scary secondary: Even Colts torch Patriots DBs – Ron Borges has the Patriots embarrassed by the Colts in the fourth.

Even with win, this defense still can’t be trusted - Hector Longo isn’t confident in the “bend-and-nearly-collapse” Patriots defense.

Unfinished product - Mark Farinella has the Patriots continuing their way to a “fraudulently high seed.”

A good unhappy ending? – Bob Ryan says that this one left fans with plenty to worry about.

Dangerous experiment: Bill Belichick’s plan almost goes awry – Karen Guregian has the mad scientist’s lab work nearly causing an explosion. Tom E Curran says that Belichick’s decisions with the lineup show that he, contrary to his words earlier in the week, did not take the Colts seriously.

Now that we got all of that out of the way, there were a few positives to take away from yesterday:

Patriots better than it seemed – Mike Reiss calls for a little perspective.

Gronkowski leaving his mark – Greg A Bedard notes that this Gronkowski guy is pretty good.

Tom Brady Follows Very Simple Game Plan to Victory Over Colts and Other Leftover Patriots Thoughts - Michael Hurley with a bunch of thoughts and screengrabs from yesterday.

On field, a clean Slater – Monique Walker has Matthew Slate doing pretty well at safety yesterday.

Brady excelled at accelerator – Michael Vega notes that when the Patriots were in the no-huddle, they were almost unstoppable.

Grab bag of numbers for Welker – The Globe notebook has Wes Welker once again putting up all sorts of numbers. The Herald Patriots Notebook has Peyton Manning getting encouragement from the Gillette fans. The Patriots Journal has center Nick McDonald getting a baptism by fire in his NFL debut.

Pedro fires Sox salvos - Michael Silverman has Pedro Martinez weighing on on the Red Sox collapse.

Different approach from Red Sox? – Gordon Edes looks at what to expect from the Red Sox at the winter meetings.

A Friday Evening Megalink Thing

Let’s give you some linkage on this Friday. Been a busy day. You deserve some links

The Weekend Viewing Picks provide your sports and entertainment TV watching. And now to your links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand and Mike McCarthy debate whether networks should hire ex-coaches knowing full well they could make news and leave for another job.

ESPN Ombudsman Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute takes the Alleged Worldwide Leader to task for its failure to press the Bernie Fine/Syracuse story and holding a tape for eight years.

Alex Weprin of TVNewser writes that ESPN has hired Bloomberg News sports business reporter Michele Steele.

Over to Gregg Rosenthal of Pro Football Talk who has Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid angry at NFL Network for its portrayal of wide receiver DeSean Jackson after last night’s game with Seattle.

Mike Reynolds from Multichannel News discusses the viewership increase for Thursday Night Football.

Mike writes about the quintet of games that will open the NBA season on Christmas Day.

Dan Fogarty of SportsGrid has an advance clip of a CNN Sunday interview with ESPN Vice President of News Vince Doria speaking about the handling of the Bernie Fine/Syracuse story.

Dan has a very strong promo for the return of the NBA.

Glenn Davis at SportsGrid notes that on the Dan Patrick Show, TNT’s Charles Barkley had some fighting words for notorious sports self-promoter Skip Bayless.

Jason Dachman of Sports Video Group writes that mobile truck operators are happy to have the NBA back in action.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell says while the NBA Lockout has been settled, there’s still a battle that will continue for several years.

Sports Media Watch looks at the NFL ratings for Week 12 for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.

Ben Koo of Awful Announcing looks at the machinations behind a longer Thursday Night Football schedule.

East and Mid-Atlantic

At the Boston Globe, Chad Finn looks at how Twitter broke the Bobby Valentine-to-the Red Sox story and he handicaps the race to replace Heidi Watney as NESN Red Sox reporter.

Howard Beck at the New York Times notes that current NBA players are returning slowly but surely to NBA TV which has been stuck showing games from the 1980′s and early 1990′s.

The New York Post’s Claire Atkinson reports that the NFL is looking for big bucks from NBC to renew the rights to Sunday Night Football.

The Post’s Phil Mushnick wants the networks to stop showing touchdown celebrations.

Brett Cyrgalis of the Post has five questions for ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler.

Newsday’s Neil Best bids adieu to WFAN’s Tracy Burgess who left the Boomer and Carton show today.

Neil looks at ESPN being a stepping stone for coaches who are looking for their next job.

Neil has a quickie review of the ESPN Films documentary on former quarterback Todd Marinovich.

And Neil notes that local football players aren’t making news on social networks, but the old fashioned way… on radio.

Bob’s Blitz has pictures of Tracy Burgess’ last day at WFAN.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union says Fox is trying to get the word out that it’s back in the college football business.

Keith Groller of the Allentown (PA) Morning Call says Fall River’s Chris Herren, the subject of ESPN Films’ Unguarded documentary, will be in the local area to talk about his battle with addiction.

Dave Hughes from DCRTV.com has the latest Baltimore/Washington DC sports media news in this week’s Press Box.

In the DC Sports Bog at the Washington Post, Dan Steinberg tells us what happened to local sports radio host John Riggins who’s been missing as of late.

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner talks with Fox Sports’ Gus Johnson and Charles Davis about calling back-to-back conference championship games on successive nights.

South

David Barron in the Houston Chronicle talks with NFL on Fox sideline analyst Tony Siragusa who will be part of the crew calling the Atlanta-Texans game on Sunday.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman talks with ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge who will call the annual Bedlam game.

Mel says Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Tim Brewster are pulling double duty this weekend.

Midwest

John Kiesewetter in the Cincinnati Enquirer notes that Time Warner Cable will be busy with local high school football this weekend.

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press writes that the Detroit Lions have received more national media attention whether it’s deserved or not.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob Wolfley has Fox’s Charles Davis talking about Wisconsin running Montee Ball’s Heisman Trophy chances.

Bob says NASCAR races will be airing on a different Milwaukee radio station next year.

In Crain’s Chicago Business, Ed Sherman has his weekly winners and losers.

Paul Christian of the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin says it’s going to be a busy weekend for Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Tim Brewster on Fox.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says St. Louis University may be a rising college basketball program, but it hasn’t translated to more national exposure.

West

John Maffei of the North County Times says local Cox subscribers will be able to see Time Warner Cable’s coverage of the state high school football championships this weekend.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star says the Pac-12 Championship won’t be the showcase that Fox had in mind.

Jim says the SEC Championship will have BCS National Championship Game implications like it always does.

Jim has his weekend viewing picks.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News says Fox is doing its best to sell a less than stellar Pac-12 Championship Game matchup.

Tom has what didn’t make his column in his blog.

Tom says the new Los Angeles Dodgers radio flagship will hire former manager Kevin Kennedy as a postgame host.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail gleefully points out that Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada is drawing lower ratings than in the past.

And that’s going to do it for our linkage tonight.

Sports Media Musings: Bill Simmons Stars In Tommy Boy, Lessons from Portnoy, Quick Musings

Bill Simmons doesn’t like making you pay for his content. I believe that. I really do.

On his podcast with Chuck Klosterman, before his best-selling tome The Book of Basketball was released,  Simmons rationalized the 700 page length saying, “I didn’t want to split it up into two volumes. I hate making people pay for my stuff.”

This made the Sports Guy’s column last Thursday that much more compelling. The first half of the piece detailed reasons why the Grantland Quarterly, um, exists and also, um, why you should buy it!

Perplexing.

The book, essentially, is a cumulative collection of Grantland pieces. Almost like a “Best Of” from the first three months of the site’s existence. Of course this can all be had by clicking on the Grantland archives, but that is neither here nor there.

Here are the five reasons given why this even exists –

1.) Simmons wanted to have something physical to exist in case the internet blew up (he joked). He admits having something tangible is a completely selfish reason. Okay, then.

2.) The book’s goal is capturing ‘the period’ in sports history. What he actually means is reading the pieces and remembering what that period meant. Though, when talking about this in detail, Simmons recalls the struggles of writing around two lockouts, being understaffed, and trying to launch the site. Where does the consumer come in? Are we supposed to have our own thoughts on Grantland’s oral history on the National? Because I don’t have an emotional connection to that piece besides, maybe, ‘This is interesting.’

3.) Probably the only consumer-based reason: Re-inventing the product to book form (to take on the beach or vacation with you) and also adding small retrospective changes to the columns.

4.) From most logical to most self-serving, Simmons talks about creating the collection for his father. I don’t really have anything to say besides, “Put it in a card, dude.”

5.) Finally, Simmons gives a pitch on why the quarterly is a great buy and an even better gift!

If you give the Quarterly out as a holiday present to someone who doesn’t know Grantland, they’ll open it, feel the cover, see the drawings and special wrinkles and think, My God, you shouldn’t have!!!!!

Then, Simmons went there. The “Exclusive Club” sales pitch route…

We printed a relatively small number of them; once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Simmons, who is the earliest benefactor of the Internet age in sports journalism, portrays himself as a man of the people. He writes from a fan’s perspective. Even through his prolific success, the Sports Guy has maintained that voice. He is conventional wisdom.

(The bitter blogosphere will tell you otherwise)

Consequently, the strangest aspect of this whole pitch was Simmons struggling through his own agendas while telling us why we should buy the Quarterly like he is Chris Farley in Tommy Boy. His own trepidation of sounding like an infomercial on NESN is palpable. (Had to get that dig in there)

Your default mechanism might be “That’s a lot of money” or “Why would I pay for stuff I already read?” Believe me, I get it — I hate making people pay for content. Actually, I hate making people pay for anything. Once upon a time, I was creditors-chasing-me-down-for-outstanding-bills-from-two-years-ago broke. I remember being 30 years old and still looking forward to Papa Gino’s “All You Can Eat Pizza” night for $5.99 (I think it was Tuesdays) and thinking, I graduated from college eight years ago, there’s something totally wrong with this picture.

This is the first time I’ve seen Simmons struggle with himself. He tries to see the illogical point of view in this purchase through the eyes of the former version of himself (the bartender – living paycheck to paycheck ). But once you reach a point of success, part of you changes by nature. Simmons isn’t in Cambridge watching 90210 re-runs anymore. He is the guy who accidentally broke the Randy Moss trade via Twitter last year and has made a kajillion dollars off Ralph Macchio references.

Quick Musings

1.) 12:30 pm last Friday, an hour before the early season showdown between the Bruins and Red Wings, NESN showed a re-run of NESN Daily. CSNNE countered with a pre-game show featuring the usual suspects. The game was nationally televised on NBC (who obviously work in conjunction with CSNNE), and CSNNE had immediate post-game analysis.

NESN had a breakdown of the action at 10 pm that night, nearly 6 hours after the game was over. I’m telling you, it’s one thing to avoid teams you don’t broadcast (although, I still think that’s reprehensible) but NESN is teetering a line with their Bruins coverage that I wouldn’t venture.

2.) I do, on the other hand, enjoy Dale Arnold leading the pre/post game shows on NESN. He’s landed nicely.

3.) I refuse to talk about Heidi Watney’s appearance on “Dennis & Callahan” yesterday. As one prominent media member told me, “Her exit has gotten more play than Jonathan Papelbon.”

4.) Saw David Portnoy, El Presidente of Barstool Sports, talk at Northeastern the other night. I asked him if he regretted “Baby-Gate” and – as always – Portnoy delivered his, “No, I look back and I still think that was a funny post.” Also after he conceded he’s older and sees his role posting lewd material diminishing, Portnoy quipped, “I’ll always be El Presidente!”

Say what you want, and I’ve said plenty, Portnoy is extremely successful. He admitted much of the business side of Barstool is “ass-backwards,” and is not sure how to deal with logistics of sophisticated financial dealings (like giving others equity). HOWEVER, the guy is worth $2 million and understands the street side of business (brand promotion, staying true to your audience, etc).

5.) Speaking of Portnoy, El Presidente took a nice jab at NESN’s Michael Hurley for ‘stealing’ a Barstool post. He even went to said-post and commented, “Where have I seen this?”

My first thought was, “Well it’s the Internet, and this sort of content cycles and isn’t really owned by Barstool. Even if Hurley DID get it from BSS, it’s not really stealing.”

@nesnmhurley when you just post our exact post 5 seconds after we do we get inundated with people slamming you. Keep it clean brah

My next thought was, “People actually read NESN.com?”

The Future Of Media – “Value-Added Insight”

By Roy Reiss

Did you happen to notice how the University of Arizona recently announced the hiring of their new football coach?

[blackbirdpie id="138777752001187840"]

“And the new Arizona football coach and his family is…..” tweeted Athletic Director Greg Byrnes. It included a link to an iPhone photo of Byrnes, the new coach and his family. No formal press statement, no news conference, rather a unique and novel announcement using the social media, thus bypassing the traditional method.

We already see the Patriots utilizing twitter to announce some signings, roster movement and other transactions. Picture the Red Sox announcing their new manager in this fashion. Or for that matter, any team choosing this route to communicate with their followers. Teams can control the message being delivered in the manner they desire which is a fascinating concept after so many years of depending on the traditional media.

Is it a sign of the times? Is this the way clubs will reach out to their fans in the future? If so how will this impact the people covering teams and those ready to enter the news gathering world?

It’s an interesting subject that’s being debated daily in many newsrooms of the traditional media and the new media around the country. And hopefully in the classrooms for those aspiring young journalists at institutions of higher learning from coast to coast.

The role of the traditional beat person, electronic and print, in this new environment is becoming more clearly defined. Being first with a story isn’t quite as important as it used to be. Within minutes everyone knows and moves on to the next phase, thus diminishing the impact of who had the story first.

What is ultimately more important is the why. Insight and communicating with the sports consumer is the “new” method of reaching and cultivating a following.

Those on the outside can watch a Bobby Valentine managerial news conference as it happens. They can digest his every sentence and form their own opinions. So the role of the reporter is to offer something different rather than to spit back what the new Sox manager has just said. It’s called “value-added insight”. What does it all mean? And how will it impact the team and ultimately its fans?

Today’s fans are highly educated and expect more from the media than ever before. There’s videos, audio podcasts, and most importantly many avenues for the fan’s voice to be heard on just about every media platform. The new age reporter has to be multi faceted.

No longer is it acceptable to simply stick a microphone in front of an athlete and then report back what they said. The need is to take that statement or quote and bring it to the next level for a fan base that’s hungry for information and insight.

This week the media reported once again on the Jeff Saturday/Robert Kraft relationship that evolved from the NFL contract talks this past summer. It was old news delivered the same old way which offered little in the way of advancing a possible interesting story. Did anyone mention that Saturday will be a free agent at the end of the year, and maybe his relationship with the Patriots owner could influence his decision as to where to play in 2012?  That’s what the story should have been.

Now and moving forward in this exciting media landscape, “value-added insight” will determine who in the media comes out on top.

Roy Reiss, who started his career working for Curt Gowdy Broadcasting, was a former sportscaster on Channel 7. His son Mike now covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.

Lucchino Gets His Man, Bruins Win Again

Bobby Valentine will be introduced as Red Sox manager at 5:30 this afternoon. The Bruins won their 12th game in 13 tries last night as they downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 last night, and took over first place in the Northeast Division in the process.

The papers are full of articles on Valentine this morning, here is a sampling:

Team taking a big chance with this choice - In the Globe, Bob Ryan says that “the Red Sox have stolen a page from the old George Steinbrenner playbook.” Also in the Globe, Bob Hohler runs down Valentine’s obsession with charity, and Amalie Benjamin looks at his role as good citizen in Stamford, Connecticut. Peter Abraham looks at possibilities for the rest of the coaching staff.

Rise of Bobby V. raises eyebrows - John Tomase says that the hiring of Valentine completes a startling turn of events. Michael Silverman says that fans should enjoy having Valentine as manager. Scott Lauber has former players lauding Valentine’s approach, and Jay Greenberg also checks in down in Stamford, CT.

Bobby Valentine a wake-up call - Joe McDonald says that some Red Sox players may not like this choice, but they brought it on themselves, even if  they were told that “the team had no plans to hire “someone like Bobby Valentine.”

Bruins Cap Memorable Month With Another Win in Toronto to Finish November 12-0-1 - Douglas Flynn has the Bruins finishing off an incredible month. Fluto Shinzawa and Stephen Harris have more on the win.

November’s over… now what? - DJ Bean looks at what’s next for the Bruins.

Bruins sign Krejci to three-year extension - Joe Haggerty reports on a new deal for the Bruins center.

Comfortable in his new home - Shinzawa’s notebook has the Bruins former first rounder Joe Colborne, finding a home in Toronto. The Herald Bruins Notebook has more on Colborne.

Wonderful time of year for Patriots - Karen Guregian has the Patriots moving into Bill Belichick’s favorite time of the year.

Two schools of thought on recent run for Patriots’ defense - Christopher Price examines the two ways you can look at the Patriots defense right now.

Sacks, lies and videotape - Mark Farinella says that there is a whole lot of lying going on in Foxborough this week.

Easy win? How dare you! - Chris Forsberg has Belichick and Tom Brady dismissing talk that the 0-11 Colts will be easy to beat.

Secondary education continues with Patriots for versatile Edelman - Glen Farley looks at the expanded role for Julian Edelman.

Job Promotion For Dan Orlovsky - Jeff Jacobs looks at the former UConn QB, who will get the start this week against the Patriots.

Danny Ainge’s wheels turning - Peter May says that Chris Paul and Dwight Howard might be longshots for the Celtics, but Danny Ainge has to try. Steve Bulpett says that trading Rajon Rondo might work. Or it might not.

Closing window won’t change Danny Ainge - Bulpett has Ainge trying to reload while remaining a contender.

Changing of the guard - Julian Benbow has a mini-feature on Delonte West, who may be looking for a new team this week, even as he attempts to change his image.

Rivers may welcome a new-look Celtics team to camp - Scott Souza notes that the Celtics coach may have a whole new cast to work with.