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.

Week Log: Grabbing a Gators Cap and a Beer

Red Sox

Payback can be a bitch. Following the Angels’ 3-0 sweep over Boston last October, the Red Sox have responded with a vengeance. Although most fans would prefer the ALDS win, the Sox have taken nine straight when it counts the most – i.e., lately. On Tuesday, Ryan Kalish and Clay Buchholz did the damage in this most recent series opener. Red Sox Monster has Terry Francona’s move of Kalish to center raising lots of questions about Jacoby Ellsbury’s future. Kirk Minihane thinks that Buchholz’s 2010 has been the very definition of a break-out season. With the Sox bullpen in shambles, The Bottom Line hopes the rest of the rotation took notice of Buchholz’s 7-inning outing Tuesday.

Perhaps they did. Throw in another seven from Lackey last night, then Bard in the 8th and Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th, and Surviving Grady has all the ingedients for a textbook ‘W’ . . . almost. Sean McAdam thinks Paps’ milestone 30th save last night may have been more important as a boost to his confidence. Full Count applauds Francona’s pinch-hitting elections in the 7th, although bats were optional for those plate appearances.

The bad news is that Better Red Than Dead says .700 baseball will be needed just to tie for the Wild Card, and National League teams aren’t walking in that door to help the Sox anymore. Bosox Injection cites injuries as a great and convenient excuse for missing this postseason, although Two Cents From Beantown suspects the Sox use injuries as an excuse to unfairly stock the roster. If the Sox do go on a tear from here on out, Fire Brand Of The American League would not be surprised in the least.

Over The Monster has the highest paid starters also doubling as the most disappointing performers. I’m Just Sayin’ is just saying that Lackey and Josh Beckett need to pitch like aces before Theo throws more good money after bad. Extra Bases would throw a pile of Theo’s money at Adrian Beltre this winter. Boston Dirt Dogs has money tight among scalpers as well.

Patriots

Coming off a win in their preseason opener against the Saints last Thursday night, the Pats scrimmaged the Falcons down in Atlanta this week leading to tonight’s game. Pats Pulpit theorizes that trips like these are designed to cram in as much experience for first- and second-year players as possible.

You can’t blame a guy for asking, but Masshole Sports is blaming Falcon Matt Ryan for asking Tom Brady for QB tips. Why should Ryan even bother if Michael Felger is right? PatsFans takes Felgie to the woodshed for asserting that Tom Terrific is no longer a playoff-caliber QB. Luckily, Extra Points has the Pats brass feeling good about the development of Brian Hoyer. Michael Hurley has Brady gunning for perfection in everything so far this summer.

NE Patriots Draft updates their roster predictions after a promising performance against the Saints. After his Brady attack, Felger pines for a Welker/Edelman tandem of slot receivers rather than butting heads against the wall with non-performing TEs. Pats Chowder would find Ty Warren’s IR a little easier to swallow if Bill Belichick hadn’t let Jarvis Green walk. It Is What It Is considers the mystery of punter Zoltan Mesko, the Most Interesting Man in the NFL. Stay thirsty, my friend.

If Chucky Gruden’s fawning on Monday night didn’t clue you in yet, there ‘s going to be a lot of Jets obsession this season, but Boston Blood Sox thinks they still suck. Patriots Gab says to go ahead and push the Pats to the back of the pack because that’s where they like it.

Odds & Sods

The fight for Jerry Thornton is over, as he officially endorses Brett Favre’s candidacy as the most beloved athlete in all of sports. Speaking of pseudo-retirement, Evans Clinchy speculates on Rasheed Wallace’s worth in a mid-season return next year. Marc Savard may not be returning, as Joe Haggerty has the center hurt by the B’s shopping him around this summer.

Toeing The Rubber rails against Rob Dibble and misogynists everywhere as she recounts some of her own bad experiences. And Another Thing . . . remembers the greatest baseball ballplayer and most significant musician of all time, who both died on this week 29 years apart. Boston Homer hopes that what goes around comes around for Dustin Johnson, who handled his two-stroke penalty on the 72nd hole in last weekend’s PGA Championship with class.

Let’s close on an important note, as NESN tells you how you can contribute to the Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon going on today and tomorrow.

Now, about that cap and beer

The Boston blogging landscape changes fast. It has to. New bloggers with a little spare time step into the jetstream daily, as existing ones struggle to retain reader share and their day jobs while manning shields against attack from the mainstream media. This is what I like to call the off-Broadway of the Boston sports world. These bloggers give us color – and sometimes, off-color – but they speak with an unfiltered voice that is missing in traditional outlets.

For 20 months now, Bruce has given the blogging community and me the chance to have that voice heard. It is an opportunity I can no longer reap. For me, the mainstream media has been most hospitable, and readers keep coming to our site. However, Week Log is falling victim to the most virulent of blogging obstacles: the day job.

In some ways I envy the full-time press who make a living at what is a true passion of mine, and have access to perqs I must stand in line and pay for. Then again, I can’t be fired for the vagaries of my headwear, so when The Man continually asks me to do more with less – as he is everywhere and to everyone in this economy – I can either comply or put on a Gators cap, grab a beer, and slide down the chute. The problem is, I’ve never looked good in a cap. The choice is one of necessity.

I’ll still be around, backing up Bruce on Morning Links and keeping slots open for the occasional special edition Week Logs, such as when the Sox make the 2010 playoffs. Look for advance notice on Twitter and Facebook. And, as always, I’m at [email protected] Thanks for all your support. Until the next gig . . .

Week Log: Ready For Some Football

Welcome back for another Week Log and, more importantly, another NFL campaign. The always controversial preseason kicks off for the Pats against the defending Super Bowl-champion New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium tonight, so let’s start in Foxborough.

Patriots

Pats Fans give you five good reasons for watching this game tonight, as if you needed any. Patriots Gab has the Saints following the Patriots model to perfection last season. Patriots Daily is worried how the Pats will fare tonight given all the new kids who’ve never played a down before.

Boston Sports Then And Now tries to figure out how the Pats can pressure opposing QBs this fall, while Pats Pulpit examines the lingering question of inside linebackers. NE Patriots Draft has Aaron Schobel a potential resolution to the uncertainty at outside linebacker. It Is What It Is has long-forgotten CB Terrence Wheatley beginning to pay dividends.

On ESPN Boston New England Patriots Blog, Mike Reiss doesn’t believe a Tom Brady deal will be done before kick-off tonight. The Rap Sheet reveals how Randy Moss kept himself in great shape this offseason, while Extra Points examines Wes Welker’s long and improbable comeback to the September 12th opener.

Pats Confidential‘s eyes tell them that, despite impressive career stats, Drew Bledsoe does not belong in the Hall of Fame. Jeff Howe has ex-Pats and Raiders CB Mike Haynes defending Jack Tatum’s 1978 hit of Darryl Stingley as coming in an intent-to-hurt era. Yeah, that works for me.

Red Sox

With a split salvaged in the Bronx, Boston Blood Sox has things not so doom-and-gloomy to start this baseball week. Hit And Run With Dan Roche says the chance to redeem yourself as Jon Lester did on Monday is what baseball is all about. Confessions of a She-Fan bemoans her Yanks’ lost game of what ifs. Subway Squawkers thinks this series lacked the typical Sox-Yanks buzzworthiness.

Recent Yankee woes have Bosox Injection declaring the full-time sport of scoreboard watching officially back in season. Extra Bases says there’s still plenty of room on the pennant-chasing bandwagon. Boston Sports Blog believes this 2010 edition is more entertaining, a better story, and a better team than last year’s. All the unsung heroes that have kept the Sox in dreaming range of the playoffs remind A Very Simple Game of the 1967 Impossible Dream team.

Surviving Grady is hearing the footsteps now as the Sox crept closer to the Yankees with a win to open their series in Toronto on Tuesday. Better Red Than Dead‘s prognostication of doom in Toronto got off to a bad start after Mike Lowell’s go-ahead homer proved the difference. Boston Dirt Dogs is glad to see Lowell back in the swing. The Bottom Line has timely hitting and – yes! – the bullpen as two sights for their sore eyes. Full Count calls last night’s win a collective effort by Clay Buchholz and the bats. Red Sox Monster says Buchholz keeps getting better and better. Over The Monster has the Sox closing the long ball gap between them and the Blue Jays after last night’s 4 HR effort.

Fire Brand of the American League does some reworking of the Sox lineup to maximize run-scoring potential. Beantown Sports Observer thinks it well worth the wait for Carlos Delgado to recover his stroke. The Mighty Quinn Media Machine wonders if the No. 21 jersey will be available when Delgado gets to Boston. And to goldbricking slackers like Jerry Thornton, J.D. Drew is a hero.

Finally, Beyond Fenway reports on an unprecedented trifecta of Players of the Week down on the Sox farm.

Odds & Sods
. . . an unstructured wandering through the Boston blogging world

With UFC en route to Boston, SportsCenter 5 Overtime Blog says Shaq will not be the biggest thing to come to town this summer. We’re Just Saying found their summer oasis in the parks of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

As the Revs prepare for a chance to become the first two-time SuperLiga champs, New England Revolution compares this run to 2008.

Hey, are the big media outlets really plagiarizing the work of Masshole Sports? You be the judge as the prosecution takes the stand.

Thanks for checking in. We’ll be back next Thursday.

Week Log: Seven And Fading

Beantown Sports Observer gripes that after an early summer flood of interesting topics, there is zilch gong on now unless you count baseball. Fortunately, Week Log does count baseball so let’s get started there, where the count is presently at seven games back – eight in the lost column, five in the Wild Card.

Red Sox

With MLB-leading run production, yet middle-of-the-pack starters and the third worst bullpen in the A.L., SawxBlog calls 2010 the Year of the Strange. But as the deficit in the standings grows, Peter’s Red Sox Forever is just calling it a season.

Red Sox Monster stops short of calling Daisuke Matsuzaka’s gem on Monday his best start ever, but agrees it was just what the Sox needed to open a 10-game West Coast swing. The Soxaholix sees a favorable pattern developing when Dice-K walks two or fewah battahs.

When the Sox reward Surviving Grady‘s time and emotional investment with a spirit-deflating loss as they did on Tuesday night, everyone pays. Nor is there any joy at The Joy Of Sox after Terry Francona left Jonathan Papelbon in the pen during the extra innings loss. Tim Wakefield blew a four-run lead earlier that night, as The Bottom Line likens his knuckler to a box of chocolates. With Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett back, The Mighty Quinn Media Machine speculates it could have been Wake’s last start ever. I’m Just Sayin’ wonders if the returning Buchholz and Beckett are enough to make the Sox contenders again this year. Full Count has Buchholz off his game yesterday, struggling in each of his four-plus innings. Tony Lee has the oft-forgotten Jed Lowrie’s return the brightest spot in yesterday’s rubber game loss in Oakland.

Boston Dirt Dogs has Theo & The Trio’s administration denying they’re doing things on the cheap, while Touching All The Bases recalls the baseball vagabonds brought in during the Dan Duquette administration. And the baseball team might be fading, but Keep Your Sox On has the Remy/Orsillo broadcast tandem GQ‘s pick as best in the American League.

Patriots

All this speculation concerning a potential Tom Brady holdout makes Michael Hurley wonder if the NFL offseason has run its course. Extra Points has Brady’s name conspicuously absent from SI’s Fortunate 50 list that places Vince Wilfork at No. 38.

See how far down the list the Pats sit on the training camp edition of It Is What It Is‘s Power Rankings. NE Patriots Draft annoints the Packers and Patriots as bride and groom in their 3rd annual Ridiculous NFL Preview. Pats Pulpit explains why Randy Moss fared well in their preseason look at Most Valuable Patriot candidates.

Tom E. Curran sees the secondary as a serious tender spot in the Pats’ hopes of returning to the NFL’s elite. Patriots Daily looks at the shake-up among the big fatties on the defensive line.

On ESPN Boston’s New England Patriots blog, Mike Reiss explains how the Pats roster is 6th-oldest in the NFL despite including 24 draft picks from the last two years. The Rap Sheet has first-round pick CB Devin McCourty’s agent confident you can throw his client into the youth movement come the start of training camp. And Boston Sports Then And Now looks back on The Decision I, when Bill Belichick dissed the NYJ in LeBronian fashion.

Odds & Sods

Our weekly perusal of the Boston sports blogging community starts with Mass Hysteria, which is concerned about nicknames for a C’s team that could sport five guys over the age of 33. The Crowe’s Nest serves up another reason to root against the Miami Heat next season.

Jessica Isner has all the shootout action from last night’s Football at Fenway club soccer match. Better Red Than Dead can’t imagine how this event can be viewed as anything but a success, while Toeing The Rubber wonders what genius decided to screw with the Fenway Park field by scheduling non-baseball events in mid-season. Fenway Pastoral thinks this excessive whoring out of Fenway Park speaks to a new organizational arrogance on Yawkey Way.

ESPN Boston’s New England Revolution blog has Steve Ralston missing out on a swansong game with the Revs before retiring on Tuesday. Masshole Sports says Tim McCarver’s stand against George Steinbrenner is better late than never.

You can have your HBO, but nothing shall come between Boston Sports Blog and their HD sports programming. And finally, a shout out to SoxSpace News for getting some quality face time on NESN.

The blog ranks are a little light with summer vacations, and that’s where I’ll be for the next two weeks. Week Log won’t be back again until August 12, when we welcome all the new faces that Theo acquires between now and the trading deadline next week. See you then.

Week Log: Second Half Kick-Off Edition

It’s the dog days all right. NHL and NBA hot stoves have cooled; NFL OTAs are done and training camp awaits; and the three-day MLB All-Star break has just concluded. We stand ready to roll into the official start of the second half of the Red Sox season, so let’s kick it off there.

Red Sox

At 51-37 at the break, Boston Blood Sox calls it a laudable first half for the Sox, but the fourth-best record in all of baseball may still leave them out in the cold come October. Touching All The Bases has the best and worst of the first half of a season they think shouldn’t start until May 1. Beantown Sports Observer looks at the castoffs and journeymen who have kept the Sox within striking distance of the A.L. East lead. Jessica Isner has Erin Andrews, in particular, looking at one of Boston’s first half surprises.

Red Sox Monster defends MLB’s All-Star Game as the greatest in professional sports. SawxBlog concedes it is head-over-heels the best among all-star games, but finds it a ridiculous determinant of home field advantage in the biggest series of the year. Mass Hysteria would rather watch the All-Star Game than get a pizza with Hanley Ramirez.

Fenway West thinks David Ortiz may have earned his option year after winning the All-Star Home Run Derby Monday night. BoSox Injection says it’s tough not to be happy for Big Papi. Boston Sports Then And Now hopes this win will do for Ortiz what the Three-Point Contest did for Paul Pierce. Peter’s Red Sox Forever has Papi’s baserunning costing the A.L. home field advantage in the World Series.

If you’re looking forward to seeing Clay Buchholz or Victor Martinez right out of the blocks after the All-Star Break, Brownie Points will set you straight. Fenway Nation has Jacoby Ellsbury’s account of his injuries contrasting that of Sox brass. Hit And Run With Dan Roche has Josh Beckett hitting 96 down in Pawtucket, and on schedule to return mid-week next week. Baseball Heavy calls Beckett a good pitcher but a questionable human being.

Red Sox Reality Check takes pleasure in watching Jon Lester evolve into one of the elite pitchers in baseball. Surviving Grady pleads for a return of The Pappet.

Boston Dirt Dogs pays homage to George Steinbrenner, while The Crowe’s Nest reminisces of his only encounter with The Boss. Subway Squawker Lisa is shocked by the outpouring of sympathy and tributes from Yawkey Way. Toeing The Rubber doesn’t think that baseball lost ‘a good one’ so much as ‘a scandalous one’ on Tuesday.

Clubhouse Insider reports that the price hasn’t dropped for Kansas City OF David DeJesus. Fire Brand of the American League takes us behind the plate, as they examine the catcher’s craft of calling a game.

Patriots

Just another couple of weeks until camp! Pats Pulpit thinks the Pats went a long way in rebuilding their locker room by drafting character players in April. NE Patriots Draft has the NFL with a lot of work to do in signing first- and second-round picks, and the Pats are no exception as talks with first-rounder CB Devin McCourty are progressing slowly.

It Is What It Is has Terrell Owens willing to take less money and a lesser role to come to the Patriots. Having T.O. alongside Randy Moss is enough to give Masshole Sports a wet dream. Pats Fans examines the curious OTA of second-rounder TE Rob Gronkowski, whom some pundits bill as the complete player. Extra Points thinks Sebastian Vollmer is the biggest part of the Pats’ future on the offensive line. Patriots Daily has Tom Brady a polarizing figure in the ever-present war between optimists and pessimists.

Odds & Sods
. . . an unstructured wandering through the Boston blogging world

Steinbrenner was the second loss in the Yankees family this week. And Another Thing . . . remembers PA announcer Bob Sheppard, who evoked a semi-religious experience with his glorious tones. Although the Voice of God will never echo in Yankee Stadium again, its memories induce shivers and goosebumps through Greg Cavanaugh.

Green Street has new C’s center Jermaine O’Neal subordinating play time for the chance to win a championship. We’re Just Saying looks at the spectacle that was ‘The Decision.’

Last weekend’s 2-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy did wonders to bail out New Enlgand Revolution‘s mid-season progress report on five preseason predictions.

The Iroquois may have gifted lacrosse to the world. but Lacrosse Examiner has them being denied reentry into the U.S. if they play in the World Lacrosse Championships under their Iroquois passports.

With football around the corner, I’d love to hear about some good Pats blogs you like but never see on Week Log. Some of our old favorites won’t be back this season, so fresh blood is needed. Drop me a line. As always, I’m at [email protected]

Week Log: A Few Good Men . . . Still Standing

Welcome to July. This weekend marks the midpoint of the MLB season, so it’s time do something we haven’t done all year. That’s right: we’re leading with the Red Sox.

Red Sox

July 1 is marked on my calendar as the sixth anniversary of the night Jeter dove into the stands in the Bronx while Nomar, enjoying a night of rest, watched him from the safety of the Sox dugout. It’s also one day after Dustin Pedroia took grounders on his knees because he can’t stand on a fractured foot, while J.D. Drew watched call-ups do his job because he coudn’t play with a stiff neck. Surviving Grady wants the kind of guy like Pedroia on his team and wonders if that work ethic will ever rub off on Drew.

Boston Dirt Dogs has the Sox weathering this storm of injuries. And Another Thing . . . sees an exquisite fan experience in cheering for an injury-plagued team like these Sox. Jerry Thornton says to hell with the injuries because he’s going to ride some pure, undiluted optimism all the way to an October rolling rally. Fire Brand Of The American League looks back at some of the biggest surprise replacement players in Sox history.

On the field, the Sox had to settle for a split against the reeling Rays this week. Hit And Run has Tuesday’s starter John Lackey sticking to the script for victory in the face of all the recent injury woes. Fenway West has Tuesday’s game getting squirmy with some bad relief appearances. Over The Monster loved Dice-K’s Houdini act last night, but put the blame for this loss squarely on the arm of Manny Delcarmen. The Bottom Line says that if MDC hits the DL, Theo will be called upon for some desperate measures. Fenway Fruitgirl finds a magical place where even Delcarmen can throw strikes.

Red Sox Monster has the Sox with a serious, serious problem in their bullpen. Boston Sports Blog rips the theory that the Sox are winning in spite of their outfield.

BoSox Injection adds their two cents to the All-Star voting discussion by adding in two Sox as starting positional players. Soxspace News calls All-Star voting a joke system and lobbies for a remedy to the injustice of Adrian Beltre sitting at fourth on voting among A.L. third basemen.

Celtics

Lots of personnel activity these days, starting at the top. Doc Rivers’ decision to return for the final year of his contract is one less unanswered question for Beantown Sports Observer this offseason. It’s also one less worry for Gino’s Jungle, who would not like any other coach at the forefront of the C’s. I’m Just Sayin’ thinks Doc’s return makes it likely the C’s will be keeping Paul Pierce around.

Pierce, of course, became un unrestricted free agent at the stroke of midnight this morning. Green Street says his opt-out makes Danny Ainge’s life a little more difficult this offseason, while Red’s Army thinks it gives Danny cause for pause . . . and maybe even an opportunity. LOSCY is all for bringing the Big Three back for not one, but two more reunion tours. North Station Sports says C’s fans should be worried about losing Ray Allen.

4Sportboston thinks Ainge did as well as could be expected by drafting Avery Bradley, who was ranked ahead of John Wall only a year ago. Mass Hysteria has second-round pick Luke Harangody filling the need for a tall, goofy white guy now that Brian Scalabrine’s contract is up.

Bruins

Bruins 2010 Draft Watch says Tyler Seguin is more mature and better ready to make the transition to the NHL than his No. 19 namesake Joe Thornton was back in 1997. Two Cents From Beantown thinks we should contain our speculation over what line Seguin will be on until he actually makes the team. Masshole Sports says Beantown hasn’t had a player this hot – errrr, marketable – in a long time.

Stanley Cup of Chowder runs down the B’s selections after Seguin, while The Hockey Blog Adventure is going nuts for the B’s second selection, Jared Knight, a kid who goes to the net. Boston Sports Then And Now calls the Mark Recchi re-signing an impactful choice that will have positive effects on the development of Seguin and the other rookies.

View From 311 berates the Red Sox for not bringing out the real catchers to handle first pitch duties with Seguin and recently-acquired Nathan Horton. John Beattie has GM Peter Chiarelli still open to making a few more trades. Rink Rap thinks trading Marc Savard will help the B’s get faster and stronger up front next season.

Patriots

July means summer taining camps and trips to Gillette with the boys, where security teams with large badges tell us all the places that we can’t access as non-family, non-VIP, non-season-ticket-carrying visitors. Despite 7 of 12 picks still unsigned, It Is What It Is has the Pats right in line with the rest of the NFL when it comes to signing the 2010 draft class. Pats Pulpit says the pieces we’ve been told on the Logan Mankins front aren’t fitting.

Notwithstanding the loss of an All-Pro left guard, PatsFans thinks red zone offense is the one area the Pats improved on the most during this past offseason. Mike Reiss says the Pats have one of the deepest groups in the NFL at safety, but don’t put them in the upper tier just yet.

Extra Points is taking the over on Tom Brady and Wes Welker, but going with the under on Randy Moss. NE Patriots Draft finds fault with various Madden ’11 Pats player ratings.

Odds & Sods
. . . an unstructured wandering through the world of . . . .soccer?

On Corner Kicks, Revs midfielder Chris Tierney opines that the U.S. played the most exciting brand of soccer in this World Cup. World Cup Central says that, despite the lack of a deep run by the U.S., soccer is coming up stateside in the short-term.

In the wake of being banned from an upcoming UFC event, Wicked Good Sports finds three other homes for that pestilence of the World Cup, the vuvuzela.

Six States, One Blog has GM Brian Bilello giving Revs fans continued hope for a new urban stadium by naming places.

Have a great and very long Fourth of July weekend and wee’ll see you back here next Thursday afternoon.