Maybe The Media Can Now Move On From SpyGate

News came down a little while ago of the punishment handed out to the New Orleans Saints in the bounty program that was operated under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is now with the Rams.

  • Saints Head Coach Sean Payton is suspended for the entire 2012 season without pay.
  • Saints GM Mickey Loomis is suspends for eight games.
  • Saints Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt is suspended for six games without pay.
  • Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely, with Roger Goodell re-assessing the situation after the 2012 season.
  • The Saints give up their second round picks this season and next season.
  • The Saints franchise is fined $500,000.

There will also apparently be player discipline coming down at a later time.

This makes the Patriots 2007 punishment look like a slap on the wrist.

(Of course, for some, this will go the other way, and some will claim the Patriots got off too lightly and will call for a retroactive suspension of Bill Belichick.)

Edit…and we have a winner:

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Celtics, Bruins Take A Breather, Bob Ryan Takes A Tour

The Celtics and Bruins had the night off last night, and have tonight off as well, a rare two night respite in their respective leagues.

The Celtics are still looking for a backup big man, needing to get their roster finalized before Friday’s playoff eligibility deadline. None of the available names are really intriguing, though Steve Bulpett drops the name of Reggie Evans out there, who would be an absolute perfect fit. I’m not sure why the Clippers would buy him out though.

The Bruins are still trying to figure out the best line combinations, while also seeing if Marty Turco can help them at all.

Plenty of bouncing around – Bob Ryan visited all 21 New England NCAA Division I basketball programs this winter, and files a report from each and every venue.

Who has the sports passion to do this type of piece when Ryan retires? No one.

What will the Patriots accomplishments in free agency mean for them come draft weekend? – Christopher Price examines how New England’s free agent signings could impact their draft plans.

There is no option, Patriots must put the ‘D’ back in their draft – Glen Farley says that the Patriots have no choice but to load up on defense in the draft.

Patriots still have big holes to fill – Like Tony Massarotti yesterday, Bill Burt doesn’t think the Patriots have addressed their needs this offseason.

Patriots fans will have something to cheer for – Jonathan Comey says that getting worked up over football in March is a futile exercise, though the chase for a championship is always worth it.

Rivalry stays the same – Ian Rapoport says that even though Peyton Manning will be in a new uniform, the rivalry with Tom Brady will carry over.

Who’s managing Bobby V? – Gordon Edes has a look at Bobby Valentine’s right-hand man, who keeps him on track and on schedule every day.

Will Valentine’s candor wear on Red Sox? – Sean McAdam notes that “with six media outlets traveling during the regular season and two all-sports radio stations on the lookout for topics to discuss.” Bobby V’s candor could prove problematic.

A retro fit for Matsuzaka – Nick Cafardo has Daisuke Matsuzaka enjoying his time working with Valentine thus far.

For starters, questions remain: An updated look at Red Sox rotation competition – Alex Speier updates us on the competition to round out the rotation.Ron Chimelis assigns power ratings to the candidates.

O’Neal: ‘I never spoke to [Ainge] about a buyout’ – A. Sherrod Blakely talks to Jermaine O’Neal about his time in Boston, and wanting to set the record straight about reports he requested a buyout so he could join the Heat.

Greg Stiemsma goes home – Bulpett has the rookie center talking about returning to his home state for the first time since joining the Celtics.

Bruins Blow Away Leafs, Celtics Hold Off Hawks

Both the Bruins and Celtics pulled out victories last night, but in much different fashion. The Bruins were in control from start to finish last night in a 8-0 romp over the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Celtics played an ugly game in Atlanta, used a fourth quarter run with some hot shooting from Ray Allen to build a double-digit lead, and then hung on for a 79-76 win over the Hawks.

The Patriots remained busy, signing tight end Daniel Fells, receiver Donte Stallworth, offensive lineman Robert Gallery and special teams/defensive back Marquice Cole.

Mike Reiss also broke the news that Logan Mankins played the end of the season on a partially torn ACL, which required surgery after the Super Bowl.

Local talk seems centered on Tim Tebow and speculation from ESPN’s John Clayton that the Patriots would be a favorite to land Tebow in a trade from the Broncos. Based on Tebow’s pre-draft dinner with Bill Belichick and his relationship with Josh McDaniels who drafted him with the Broncos, it might seem possible, but in reality the idea is rather far-fetched.

In addition, the Celtics announced that Jermaine O’Neal will undergo season-ended surgery on his wrist. The Celtics are in the market for a waived/bought out/free agent big man, but the picking will be slim.

Bruins Complete Season Sweep by Dominating Toronto, Regain a Bit of Their Swagger With Strong All-Around Effort – Douglas Flynn has the Bruins looking strong at the Garden last night.

Bruins showing lineups, methods for playoff run – Joe Haggerty has the Bruins looking to get serious.

‘Statement game’ a strong sendoff – Mick Colageo has five things to take away from last night.

Bruins feeling positive vibe – Jackie MacMullan has Tim Thomas saying that the Bruins are back on track.

Third watch: Kelly’s new line jells – Stephen Harris says that the re-emergence of the third line is key for the Bruins.

Thornton’s style: Praise from all corners – The Globe notebook has Shawn Thornton’s style appreciated by more than just his teammates. The Herald notebook from Steve Conroy says that Peter Chiarelli is done signing deals until after the season.

C’s warm up in Hotlanta – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics fighting through for this win.

Jermaine O’Neal can’t fulfill promise – Chris Forsberg looks at the failed era with the Celtics.

Bill Belichick’s master plan unfolds – Mike Reiss says that Bill Belichick is working towards his goal of a deep, competitive roster. Predictably, Tony Massarotti says he can’t discern whether the Patriots are better – or worse.

Tebow to the Pats? It’s up to Tebow – Bill Burt says that Tim Tebow will only be a Patriot if he is OK taking a lesser role.

What A Week It Was: Patriots Sign Lloyd, Manning Joins Broncos – George Cain reviews the week in the NFL.

With ace backing, Lester Sox’ Opening Day starter – Peter Abraham has Bobby Valentine naming the lefty as his opening day starter, and Josh Beckett to start the home opener.

Boston Red Sox must solidify pitching staff – Mike Fine says that getting the top of the rotation set is the easy part. Who will round out the staff is the real question.

Beyond the opening acts: Why Buchholz holds key to Red Sox rotation – Alex Speier says that beyond Lester and Beckett, Clay Buchholz is the real lynchpin to the rotation.

Mentors played key roles for Sox – John Tomase has several Red Sox talking about their baseball mentors.

Charlie Pierce on Manny, Boston Media

Interesting column from Charles P. Pierce on Grantland today.

St. Patrick’s Day With Manny Ramirez

In the column, Pierce takes a few paragraphs to recall how things ended in Boston for Manny. (Emphasis mine)

His last great run was in Boston, where he helped the Red Sox win the only two world championships that the team has won since 1918. It ended ugly there. Ramirez was accused, in no particular order, of being disloyal (for meeting New York Yankee Enrique Wilson after a game), of being violent (for an altercation with a clubhouse man), for jaking it with injuries, and, literally, for being opposed to veterans and to children with cancer. His achievements at the plate, where he hit 274 home runs, were attributed to his uncanny “natural” ability to hit the baseball in the middle of all the drama he created around himself. His talent was infantilized. He was a child genius on the field, and he was the personification of mature menace off it. That was the identity that attended him in Boston.

He was shuffled out of town during the 2008 season in a three-way deal that landed him with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The deal was attended by some strategic leaking from the Red Sox front office — something of an administrative trademark under present ownership — whereby the local media could exercise their tender consciences over the departed blight that was Manny Ramirez. His name was among those that turned up in the strategic leaking of the allegedly “confidential” results of a 2003 drug testing survey. When he failed a drug test with the Dodgers in 2009, half the Boston media took victory laps on his head. When he retired from baseball last year rather than face a 100-game suspension for failing another test, much of the national media followed.

(Ridding the Red Sox of bad characters was considered one of the triumphs of current Red Sox ownership. This view held until last autumn’s complete collapse, when it was discovered that several of the gritty gamers that management had brought in spent their time downing beers and chowing down on fried chicken during games. This, it appears, will be the topic of media outrage until approximately 2016.)

Ah, the good old days.

Let’s see, it was Dennis and Callahan who often stated that Manny hated kids with cancer, the infantilization of Manny’s talent pure Shaughnessy. We’ve gotten used to the “strategic leaking” from the Red Sox front office, and 2016 seems a minimum possible lifespan of the phrase “beer and fried chicken” in connection to the Red Sox.

Busy Weekend For Patriots

The Patriots had a busy few days, signing a number of free agents – safety Steve Gregory, receiver Anthony Gonzalez, defensive end Trevor Scott, Receiver Brandon Lloyd and tight end Daniel Fells. These signings, along with some re-signings and the deal with Jonathan Fanene earlier in the week give the Patriots some good depth and competition at some key spots. There could be more to come, but for now, this should quiet the masses calling for action.

Brandon Lloyd makes a big splash – Mike Reiss says that while some of the signings were for depth, Lloyd could be an impact player for the Patriots.

Lloyd gives Patriots a receiver with plenty of fight – Tom E Curran looks at one of Lloyd’s biggest pluses.

Sound Pats philosophy: Load the gun – Hector Longo says loading up for the stretch run of Tom Brady’s career is smart, and does some Felger-bashing (without naming Felger.)

Lloyd’s signing goes a long ways toward answering what ails Patriots – Glen Farley says that New England started free agency by “dinking and dunking” before going deep with Lloyd.

With deadline behind them, Celtics face uncertain future – Paul Flannery has the Celtics now dealing with the reality of their situation.

Celtics not aiming high for big help – Chris Forsberg says that the Celtics know that they aren’t likely to get much help on the buyout market.

Allen’s health maintained by changes in footwear – Jessica Camerato has a look at how the proper sized shoes have really helped Ray Allen’s career.

Celtics in dire need of rebound – Steve Bulpett’s notebook has Doc Rivers looking forward to the next three games.

Ray(s) of hope: The Red Sox’ starters’ new blueprint for success – Rob Bradford looks at whether the Red Sox starting pitchers can be more like Tampa’s.

Different signs of spring – Nick Cafardo has Tim Bogar learning from Bobby Valentine, whom he may replace some day.

Digging deep to halt a skid – Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins got some nice contributions in their shootout win over the Flyers on Saturday.

Bruins eyeing a clean Leafs sweep – Steve Conroy has the Bruins looking for a season sweep of the Maple Leafs tonight.

Doing Some Friday Megalinks Now

Let’s do some megalinks on this Friday.

The Weekend Viewing Picks are up and running. Lots of sports as the winter NCAA Championships including the basketball tournaments are underway.

Let’s get to your links.

National

Michael Hiestand from USA Today praises CBS/Turner for bringing the NCAA head of men’s basketball officiating back to explain controversial calls.

Reid Cherner of USA Today’s Game On blog remembers a great NCAA Tournmament buzzer beater from 1981 as called by NBC’s Marv Albert.

Sports Business Daily notes the overnight ratings for Thursday’s games from the NCAA Tournament were down, but still considered a win for CBS/Turner.

Matt Carmichael from Advertising Age tells us which two schools were Googled the most during yesterday’s NCAA Tournament action.

Dan Fogarty at SportsGrid has the absolutely hilarious video of a WGN morning news anchor trying to amp up the volume at ESPN’s Dick Vitale while technical difficulties arise.

Karen Hogan from Sports Video Group writes that the National Invitation Tournament may be the NCAA Tournament’s ugly sister, but it still gets major treatment from ESPN.

To Matt Yoder at Awful Announcing who notes another Twitter feud involving CNBC’s Darren Rovell, this one with Bomani Jones.

Sports Media Watch says Thursday’s 2nd round NCAA Tournament games received slightly lower overnight ratings from the year before.

Dave Kohl of The Broadcast Booth wants to know why name calling in sports radio is a more punishable offense than inaccurate reporting.

Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy asks if the NHL’s new Stanley Cup ad campaign to replace the great “History Will Be Made” promos can be as successful.

Laura Northrup of the Consumerist wonders why NBA League Pass hasn’t adjusted to Daylight Savings Time?

All Access says ESPN Deportes Radio in Chicago has picked up the Spanish rights to the White Sox.

La Liga Talk has learned that Al Jazeera has obtained the US TV rights to Spain’s La Liga from Gol TV.

East and Mid-Atlantic

The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn talks with ESPN’s Dick Vitale.

At SB Nation Boston, BSMW’s Bruce Allen says social networking may have created spoiled fans.

Tazina Vega from the New York Times says the NHL is hoping to lure viewers by airing all of its Stanley Cup Playoff games on various NBC Sports platforms.

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post feels the CBS/Turner NCAA Tournament collaboration has become the Home Shopping Network. Whatever.

The Post’s Justin Terranova talks with CBS/Turner analyst Clark Kellogg.

Justin has 5 questions for MSG Network NBA analyst Kelly Tripucka.

Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog notes that the Onion has skewered the DC NFL Team.

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner talks with a Turner Sports Interactive executive on how Twitter is incorporated into this year’s NCAA Tournament coverage.

South

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says NBC will air this fall’s Miami-Notre Dame football game in primetime.

David Barron from the Houston Chronicle notes that CBS/Turner’s Charles Barkley criticized Baylor’s ugly neon yellow uniforms.

David has the CBS/Turner announcing assignments for Saturday’s NCAA Tournament action.

Mel Bracht from The Oklahoman notes that Cox Cable subscribers can access the NCAA March Madness Live app for free provided they authenticate.

John E. Hoover from the Tulsa World says the Big 12′s new TV deals will ensure the survival of the conference.

Midwest

John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes that Reds voice Marty Brennaman can be heard in a new UPS March Madness ad.

While Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel enjoys the NCAA Tounament, there are some things he can do without.

Ed Sherman at Crain’s Chicago Business announces he’ll no longer be writing his sports business and media blog for the publication.

Ed says he will be launching a new site on the sports media and I look forward to seeing it when it finally comes to fruition.

Brigid Sweeney of Crain’s Chicago Business notes that Bulls TV analyst Stacey King now has a new fashion line.

Paul Christian at the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin says the national Junior College championships can be seen online.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the local CBS affiliate didn’t help matters by taking up a large portion of the screen during NCAA Tournament action for weather updates.

West

Bill Center at the San Diego Union-Tribune says maybe, maybe Fox Sports San Diego will launch on Saturday provided MLB approval comes that quickly.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star looks at the Erin Andrews network sweepstakes.

Jim says the NCAA Tournament has become predictable.

Jim has his weekend viewing picks.

Richard Horgan of Fishbowl LA says ESPN will not discipline its SoCal reporters for getting a big story wrong on the Dodgers ownership bid process.

We are going to end the links there. Not as many as in past weeks, but still a hefty amount. Enjoy your weekend.

No Moves For Celtics, Bruins Blasted Again

Danny Ainge stood pat at the trading deadline yesterday, and the Bruins were blasted 6-2 by the Florida Panthers.

The Celtics not making a move was a mild surprise, if only for Ainge’s past history at this period. Michael Felger and Chris Gasper were mocking Ainge yesterday for not making a move, even dumping their big three for draft picks. Once again, especially Felger,  shows an embarrassing lack of knowledge about the NBA and the Celtics.

Felger brought up Ainge’s quotes about how he would’ve made moves that Red Auerbach supposedly turned down, and would never let the team get to that point. He mocked Ainge, saying he was afraid to make a move. That he talked a big game, but in the end couldn’t get it done.

The problem is, no one was offering Sam Perkins and Detlef Schrempf for Kevin Garnett. No one was offering Chuck Person, Herb Williams and Steve Stipanovich for Ray Allen or Paul Pierce.

As I’ve said before, Ainge has already “blown it up.” Without getting a major rebuilding piece for the future, there was no point in trading away one of the big three. Felger said how there are no worthy free agents this summer, but that’s only part of the point. Being under the cap by a large margin allows the team to take on salaries in trades, it allows great flexibility in a number of ways. Felger and Gasper were complaining that with Rondo and Pierce next year, the Celtics will likely just be a middle of the pack team, which is the worst place to be. That is true, in some ways, but they weren’t going to be any better apparently with any of the moves offered yesterday. It’s better to be under the cap and have that flexibility than to be locked up with no opportunity for movement.

I don’t know what Danny Ainge can do this summer, I just know I’d prefer that he have plenty of flexibility and room to make moves than be locked into a mediocre roster.

What Felger said yesterday was embarrassing. I don’t know why media people think it’s OK to embarrass themselves just to be edgy and controversial. It’s not entertaining.

Keep up with the Celtics at CelticsLinks.com. Track the Patriots visits and signings at PatriotsLinks.com.

Studio role doesn’t cool Vitale’s ardor – Chad Finn has a look at the indefatigable Dick Vitale.

Media Roundup: The Curse Of The Spoiled Fan – My SB Nation Boston media column looks at the fans who are seemingly never satisfied.

Fred Toucher and NESN have been in a bit of a feud over promotion of the “Cuts for a Cause” event.

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NESN responded with this statement:

NESN has supported the annual Cuts for a Cause event since its inception 5 years ago, ranging from financial support, promotion within NESN’s Bruins telecasts, interviews with participants and event coverage. Fred Toucher’s tweets have accused NESN of not supporting this event and that’s simply inaccurate. NESN had already started to promote this year’s event with a story on NESN.com and promotion within our Bruins coverage. NESN will continue to support the Cuts for a Cause event in the coming days.

This wasn’t what Toucher was looking for.

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With NBA Trade Deadline Today, Do The Celtics Make A Move?

The Celtics pulled out a second win on their West coast road swing, beating the Golden State Warriors 105-103 on a Kevin Garnett jumper with 5.1 seconds remaining.

Talk about trading one of the Celtics four stars has changed into talk about what the Celtic can do to add a big body to help out Garnett and Brandon Bass. Danny Ainge was on WEEI with Dale Arnold and Kirk Minihane (A pretty good pairing) this morning and put the chances of a deal at 50-50.

Celtics hold off Warriors, now await trade deadline - Gary Washburn has a look at the win, and what today might be like for the Celtics.

Kevin Garnett delivers on deadline - Chris Forsberg has Doc Rivers hoping to keep his team intact.

Celtics hope to stick around through deadline - Paul Flannery has the team hoping to stay together.

Celtics dealing with uncertainty - Steve Bulpett looks at whether Ainge will be able to get anything done today.

Heart surgery for Wilcox - Washburn’s notebook has the bad news that Chris Wilcox is done for the season.

Pats line up Jonathan Fanene deal - Ian Rapoport looks at the Patriots first free agent signing of the offseason, a tough, versatile defensive lineman from the Bengals.

Welker deserves his own big haul - With all the crazy money being given out to wide receivers over the last couple of days, Greg A Bedard thinks that it might actually bring the Patriots and Wes Welker closer to making a deal. Karen Guregian doesn’t seem so sure.

Bobby Valentine, Ben Cherington in good spot - John Tomase says that the two seem to be getting along just fine.

Melancon’s makeup seems like a good fit - Brian MacPherson thinks that Mark Melancon’s days in the Yankees’ organization will suit him well in Boston.

Bruins have lost trademark defense - Mike Loftus says that defense is where most of the Bruins problems are at the moment.

Bruins Rolled In Tampa

The Bruins had absolutely nothing last night and were rolled by the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 in down in Florida.

Bruins shockingly bad - Stephen Harris has the Bruins saying the right things before the game and still stinking the place up.

Seriously, it looks like the Bruins are going to lose the division - DJ Bean says that it sure looks like Ottawa will overtake the Bruins for the division.

Time for Bruins to learn from their mistakes - Joe Haggerty says that the Bruins are either falling into a very troubling pattern, or living out the definition of hockey insanity.

Marty Turco plan a net loss for one night - Harris’ notebook has the backup goaltender proving to be a massive disappointment last night. The Globe notebook from Kevin Paul Dupont has more on Turco.

The Patriots were quiet in the first afternoon/evening of free agency, choosing not to make a big first-day splash with some of the big name, high-priced free agents available. Mike Reiss has reaction from some impatient fans, with one calling the Patriots approach “shameful” and others demanding action.

No frenzy at Foxboro - Ian Rapoport has the Patriots taking care of a couple of in-house items, but mostly just biding their time.

Curran’s knee-jerk reactions to Day 1 of free agency - Tom E Curran weighs in on yesterday’s events.

Mario Williams Signing With Buffalo Bills Could Be Treacherous for Patriots and 19 Other NFL Thoughts - Jeff Howe also has some thoughts about what’s going on.

Wes Welker’s value seemingly on rise - Most of the talk this morning seems to be about how all the big money deals given to wide receivers will impact Wes Welker’s negotiations with the Patriots. Reiss looks at the situation here.

‘Wolf pack’ of Sox catchers have been inseparable - Tim Britton has a good look at the bond between the six catchers in the Red Sox camp.

Red Sox 5th starter Power Rankings: Felix Doubront takes the lead - Ron Chimelis thinks that the young lefty has the edge.

Valentine is happy inside - Hey, what you know? Another article on Bobby Valentine in the Globe. This one, from Peter Abraham has the manager talking about the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry.

Celtics still on the phones, but nothing imminent - A Sherrod Blakely has Danny Ainge doing a lot of talking, but a big deal seems unlikely. Gary Washburn has the Celtics weighing their options.

Paul Pierce, Ray Allen dealing with reality - Steve Bulpett has the Celtics resigned to the fact that they’re probably not going to get any help this season.

Interesting to hear Michael Cap is Crap Felger complain yesterday about the amount of “dead money” the Patriots are carrying on the cap (because of overpaying players of all things,) and how he says it is limiting their options in adding to the roster.

If that were true, wouldn’t that be the very definition of “cap hell” or “cap jail?”

Also, Jermaine Wiggins has no idea who Mike Reiss is? Way to be plugged in, Wiggy.

Celtics Get Good Road Win Against Poser Clipper Team

The Celtics played their second game in two nights out in Los Angeles, as they fought off a young athletic Lob City Clippers team who seemed more interested in posing after shots and trying to get tough with the older Celtics. The 94-85 win was paced by Paul Pierce’s 25 points.

This is the first west coast road swing I can remember that I think actually makes sense from a scheduling standpoint. The Celtics played two games in Los Angeles, staying in the same spot, now with a day off, they go to Oakland to play the Warriors tomorrow night. They then have Thursday off and play Friday in Sacramento, which is about an hour and a half drive away, meaning, if they wanted to, they could stay in the same hotel again for the three days. At the very least, it is a drive and not a flight. For an aged team, this four game stretch is about as ideal as they come for a tough trip.

Celts ruin Clippers’ fun - Steve Bulpett has the Celtics having to muck things up to win this one.

Celtics bounce back - Gary Washburn has the Celtics bouncing back from a discouraging first half.

Celtics show they’re still tough - Chris Forsberg has the Celtics winning a “bar-style” fight.

Will injuries force Danny Ainge to make another big move? - Paul Flannery has Danny Ainge saying that he doesn’t need to make a trade, just bring in a big body. Steve Bulpett has Ainge getting a lot of inquiries, but rival GM’s think he is asking for too much.

Brass to proceed with caution at deadline - Washburn’s notebook says that Ainge isn’t going to rush into anything. The Herald notebook from Mark Murphy has Keyon Dooling talking about his old team.

NFL Free Agency kicks off today at 4:00pm, and the experts are mixed on whether the Patriots are going to make a splash or not.

Patriots’ signs usually point nowhere - Mike Reiss admits that when it comes to trying to figure out Bill Belichick and free agency, it’s just a guessing game.

Mario Williams may be big free agent target for Patriots - Ian Rapoport thinks that the Patriots will at least inquire about the big free agent defensive end/linebacker.

He also thinks he’s heard of another potential target for the Patriots:

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Amendola would make sense as Welker 2.0 – Tom E Curran thinks that the Rams receiver could be the heir apparent to Wes Welker.

Will the Patriots cash in? – Shalise Manza Young thinks that Tennessee’s Jason Jones could be a target.

In their defense: How ‘The Fielding Bible’ views Red Sox in the field – Alex Speier sizes up the Red Sox defense.

No pain, and some gain for Bailey – Nick Cafardo looks at a mixed-results outing for the new closer.