Media Circling Wagons Around Shaughnessy Are As Clueless As He Is

I’m convinced that the majority of these media people 1) only read the headline or summary of the column, namely that sportwriters shouldn’t root for teams,  and 2) have no idea about some of the stuff Shaughnessy has pulled over the years.

I’m not going to launch into another 2000 word screed here. Just want to reemphasize a couple of things.

I keep hearing from media, while Shaughnessy goes on his media victory tour “Dan’s absolutely right, media shouldn’t be rooting for teams.” – as if that is the entire issue here. The enabling hosts cry “But it would be so boring if there weren’t brave people like Dan and Ron Borges around!  They’re making this into “Shaughnessy makes fans mad because he picks against the locals!!!”  As if that matters at all. I don’t care who he picks to win.

Let me be clear: I don’t think sportswriters should be rooting for the home team.

It is possible though, to write entertaining columns while remaining detached from the outcome and without completely trashing the locals.

I understand that Dan Shaughnessy is simply not a talented enough writer to do this. He’s no Ray Fitzgerald or Leigh Montville. He’s not Bruce Arthur. He only knows one way, and that is the misery way. Shaughnessy is utterly predictable.

Either that, or he’s just too lazy.  Yeah, he’s not there to root. He’s there to troll the fans. That’s brave? That’s creative? When was the last time you ever learned something from a Shaughnessy column? The next time will be the first time for me.

This morning Shaughnessy said his not caring about the outcome allowed him to sit and write after the Patriots blew a 19-0 season instead of “wetting his pants” like the fanboys and presumably others in the pressbox were doing. Even on the air, he needs to bring that game up whenever possible.

How noble. How brave. Yes, Joe Sullivan, I know Shaughnessy is the bravest columnist you’ve ever seen.

I can see how others in the media just want to hold him up as a shining example of their profession.

 

.@Dan_Shaughnessy Is Here To Troll, Not To Write

It seems like Dan Shaughnessy isn’t feeling the love as of late. Why else devote a whole column to trying to justify his pitiful existence?

As usual, Dan also completely misses the point, and shows repeatedly just how clueless and out of touch he really is.

I’ve sort of shied away from the Dan Shaughnessy topic for a few years, mostly because most people who come here have already tuned him out. Beating a dead horse isn’t enjoyable for anyone.

That said, his submission this morning needs to be exposed for the pathetic cry for attention that it really is.

Do you want coverage or celebration? Do you want subjective commentary and analysis, or do you just want writer/fans rooting for the local teams to win?

It is interesting to me that Dan used the word “subjective” here. It is of course, the opposite of “objective.” A subjective commentary integrates the writer’s personal perspective, feelings, beliefs, and yes, biases.

We’ll go more into this later, but I find it really curious that he talks about being the opposite of objective, but then attempts to hide behind the “rules of journalism” and so forth.

But to answer Dan’s question, and I’ve said this dozens of times before, fans don’t want the media to root for their teams. But they don’t want them to be rooting against them, either. It’s called being objective, which I’m convinced, many people in media have no idea how to be. To them, being snide, and negative is being objective.

So anyway, Dan claims that many Patriots fans came up to him down in Florida and asked Don’t you want the Patriots to win?

I call BS. If anyone knew who Shaughnessy was enough to approach and talk to him, they already know what he’s about. I just find it extremely unbelievable that legit Patriots fans would go up to Shaughnessy and ask him that.

Now that he’s got that impossible scenario set up, he unloads:

I don’t care if they win. I don’t care if they lose. I love sports. I love football. I love the story. The story can be great, win or lose. But I am not emotional about the outcome. Overall, of course, it’s better to work in a region with good teams, and Boston has more than any other city. Most of the time it’s a great story if they win. It’s even good for the city. Money flows. Strangers talk with each other. Sometimes it’s a good story even if they lose.

I’ll state this right now. Dan does not love sports. He especially does not love football. How else can you explain that 90% of his columns (that’s an unscientific measurement, by the way) are miserable trolling attempts to anger people? Even when he writes “positive” he does it in a way that is so far over-the-top that you know that he is still trolling. He’s mocking you.

I’ll give Dan a little credit, he at least makes it into the 1990′s with his pop culture reference in this column.

You’ve no doubt seen “The Fugitive” with Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford. It’s a classic. There’s a scene early in the film where Jones, as Deputy US Marshal Samuel Gerard, pursues fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford) through a viaduct in a dam. In the ensuing confrontation, Kimble points a gun at Gerard and says, “I didn’t kill my wife.’’

With nary a shred of emotion, Gerard barks, “I don’t care.’’

That’s it right there, people. It’s not the marshal’s job to determine Dr. Kimble’s guilt or innocence. The marshal’s job is to bring him in.

That’s me. I write the stories. I care about the stories. But when my head hits the pillow at the end of the day it does . . . not . . . matter to me if the Patriots won or lost.

Of course Shaughnessy fancies himself the journalistic equivalent of Tommy Lee Jones’ character. Of course he does. (As noted by Craig Calcaterra, if Shaughnessy’s job is not to determine guilt or innocence, why did he write the May column accusing David Ortiz of using steroids?)

He cares about the stories. The problem is, he focuses exclusively on stories that are usually contrived controversies, innuendo, settling scores, making a splash so he can make extra money with a Jim Rome appearance, or just lazy, recycled bits that he’s written a dozen times before. Is it a “good story” if no one enjoys it?

He doesn’t care if the locals win or lose? This is the guy who put his kids through college by writing about the misery of Red Sox fans having to deal with a made-up “curse” and as long as the team kept losing, he could keep adding chapters to his book. He had a financial stake in the team losing year after year – the more painful the ending, the better.

For years, Shaughnessy’s email was [email protected] But no, he doesn’t care if the team won or lost.

Now we get into the most ridiculous part of the column:

This is how we were trained a few decades ago. We were instructed not to root for the home team. Just deliver the story and the analysis.

That’s the way it is in other departments of a legitimate news operation. Journalists who cover politics, science, medicine, labor, and international relations are asked to put their agendas on the shelf. Tell the story. The reporter covering the Romney-Obama election is not supposed to be a fan of either candidate.

Why is it presumed to be different for us? Why do readers expect — and in some cases, demand — that sports reporters be fans of the team they cover? This amazes me. Are we supposed to suspend all rules of journalism because we cover sports?

Have you stopped laughing yet? Asked to put their agendas on the shelf. Does anyone have more agendas than Shaughnessy does? What a fraud. This is the guy who, because he was supposedly snubbed by the Kraft family at some breakfast the team put on over 15 years ago, continues to slam them every opportunity he gets.

Readers don’t expect, much less demand that sports reporters be fans. That’s utter nonsense. The real reason Shaughnessy is hated goes right over his head. Rational people are not upset that he doesn’t’ root for the home team. They object to the manner in which he continually attacks certain home teams and players.

Remember earlier Dan asked if we wanted “subjective” analysis? Wouldn’t that go against these “rules of journalism?”

OK, some might say “He’s a columnist, he’s supposed to give his opinion, and be controversial.” I’m not the one citing “rules of journalism” here and attempting to hide behind them as some an excuse for his work. Is a columnist exempt from these “rules of journalism?” If so, why is he then citing them? Is it against the rules of journalism to use the people you supposedly cover to also get your children jobs and internships?

Trust me when I tell you this whole thing has changed. When I came into this business in the 1970s, it was OK for sports reporters to be skeptical and critical. It was not a crime against humanity if you suggested the Patriots or Red Sox might not win the championship, or perhaps might not be serving the best interests of their fans. It was OK to occasionally poke fun at Haywood Sullivan or Billy Sullivan.

I’ll take Dan’s word for it. I know there were plenty of critical sports writers in those days. I also know there were columnists like Ray Fitzgerald, who wrote columns that are still enjoyable to read today. 30 years from now, what will people think if they look back and read Shaughnessy? Why was he so miserable? Leigh Montville shows that a columnist doesn’t have to be constantly bashing the locals in order to be successful.

But if you also read Howard Bryant’s Shut Out, you know that there were plenty of sportswriters in the 70′s who covered the Red Sox and ignored the team’s racist practices. So I’m not sure his claim that they were so critical holds up very well there.

I love the phrase ‘crime against humanity’ slipped in there – isn’t that what Dan and his buds usually accuse Bill Belichick of on a regular basis?  Also they could “occasionally poke fun at” ownership. Does anyone with half a brain think that Shaughnessy is “poking fun” at Robert Kraft when he takes his shots?

 Naturally, the Internet is a good source of explanation for this new dynamic. The web gives fans an infinite forum. Fans have a place to read like-minded people. It’s like one giant sports-talk show with no hosts interrupting. It turns out that fans love reading other fans. And, naturally, they all love their teams. What a surprise. Now they expect everyone else to love a team. It’s the wild west of fanboys.

Stupid “fanboys” reference. Check.

But not everything is always great and it’s OK to point this out now and then. Opinions about sports don’t impact important issues that touch our lives. This isn’t about taxes, abortion, gun control, or health care. It’s about first-round byes and Cover 2 defenses. If we have differing opinions about Wes Welker, it doesn’t mean we can’t get along with one another.

And then:

In this spirit, I submit that the 2013 Patriots are headed to an unfortunate ending this season. Please don’t take this as negativity. It’s just an opinion. I may be wrong. But it really won’t matter if I’m right or wrong. It’s sports. It’s entertainment. It’s fun. And it’s not going to change your life or mine, one way or another.

Wait, so the entire point of this column was to tell us that the Patriots are headed to an unfortunate ending this season. Was it only eight days ago you wrote a ridiculous, over-the-top piece about how the Patriots were going to win the Super Bowl? (By the way, I don’t think the Patriots win the Super Bowl this season, but that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the remaining games.)

Setting that aside for the moment,  Dan is telling us that sports doesn’t matter. It’s unimportant. It’s not life or death. It’s not death, taxes or politics.

OK, granted. Then why all the references to the vaunted rules of journalism above? Isn’t this a contradiction? He has to follow these rules (which he doesn’t) but the subject of sports doesn’t compare to politics or actual news reporting. If we’re talking apples and oranges here, why does it matter? He says it doesn’t. So what is the point here?

I have no problem with pointing out problems on the local teams. I have a problem with him being a totally biased, agenda-riddled prick while doing it, and then hiding behind some “rules of journalism” which he flaunts by being “subjective” when he pretends to be “objective.”

Dan – It’s OK to have your opinion. But you need to own it, not hide behind some “rules of journalism.”

Going back to Dan’s Fugitive reference, does he know how the movie closed out?

Dr. Richard Kimble: I thought you didn’t care?
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: I don’t.
[laughs]
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Don’t tell anybody, OK?

Shaughnessy cares. Much more than he’ll ever admit. He just wants you to think he doesn’t.

Do you know why he cares? Because he’s a dinosaur. Even Carl Everett would admit this. He’s rapidly approaching extinction. In 1993 his employer was purchased by the New York Times for $1.1 billion. It was sold this fall for $70 million, or less than half what the Yankees will be paying Jacoby Ellsbury over the next seven years.

The Globe has to ‘double count’ subscribers in order to even seem respectable. Shaughnessy is behind a paywall, meaning fewer and fewer people are reading him, which means he has to try harder to get attention.

No Dan, we don’t want you to root for the local teams. We just want you to go away.

Comcast Launches Bruins On Demand

Similar to programming they’ve done for the Red Sox and Celtics in the past, Comcast has now launched Bruins on Demand – another way fans can catch up with latest from the Black and Gold.

Here is the release:

BOSTON – Comcast launched a new series of programs available as part of Bruins On Demand in partnership with the Boston Bruins and NESN. The partnership will deliver Bruins fans wall-to-wall coverage of the team, ranging from behind-the-scenes features to entire game replays.

Bruins On Demand is available to Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers to put fans in control and give them access to in-depth coverage of the players and team as well as press conferences and community events produced by the Boston Bruins. With the latest Bruins On Demand programs, fans can get to know Brad Marchand, Kevan Miller, Dougie Hamilton and other stars. In addition, Bruins On Demand offerings will include the “Behind the B” series as well as “The Week Ahead,” which is a preview of the on and off ice happenings of the team in the coming week produced by BruinsTV. Furthermore, Bruins On Demand enables fans to tune into replays of NESN’s Bruins game telecasts within four hours of each game’s conclusion. Games are available On Demand for 24 hours.

Bruins On Demand programming is updated regularly and is available around the clock during the season with the ability to pause, fast forward and rewind selections for Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. It’s easy to access just by selecting the “Get Local” category from the On Demand menu, then choosing “Bruins On Demand”. As with the vast majority of Comcast’s 100,000 On Demand programs available on TV and online each month, Bruins On Demand comes at no additional cost to the company’s TV customers.

“We pride ourselves on producing and delivering compelling content to Bruins fans,” said Bruins President Cam Neely. “With this partnership, we will create programing that will be delivered through Bruins On Demand making it convenient for Comcast subscribers to keep up with the Bruins on a daily basis.”

“The addition of Bruins On Demand to our Get Local On Demand programming – which also includes the Red Sox and the Celtics – is another big win for our customers,” said Steve Hackley, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Greater Boston Region. “Bruins On Demand is perfect for busy fans to stay connected to the team at any time of day or night, with can’t miss features and full game replays that bring them all of the action on or off the ice.”

Good News: Patriots Don’t Win On Gift Pass Interference Call

So, all those big Patriots “fanz” who felt that last week’s win was “cheapened” by a “gift” pass interference call have to be waking up pretty pleased this morning, right?

I mean, better to lose honorably than to get a cheap win, right? So, congratulations, Pats Fanz on the loss!

The Patriots had issues scoring touchdowns in the red zone yesterday, which led to a 24-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins. If New England was able to get into the end zone a couple of times instead of having to settle for field goals, we’re probably not talking (as much) about the “abomination” that is Dont’a Hightower, (CSNNE poll question before the game.) or in Stephen Gostkowski pulling a John Kasay to set the Dolphins up nicely. The defense was troubling, but again, two TD’s instead of FG’s, and the conversation is much different.

Obviously, the team missed having the big target that is Rob Gronkowski, and that is going to be an issue moving forward. Hopefully they get Aaron Dobson back soon, as he was showing glimpses of being someone who can go up and get a ball.

Check all the Patriots coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

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Dan Shaughnessy had the Patriots winning the Super Bowl last week. This week, he says the idea that the Patriots could be the number one seed in the AFC was laughable. He of course, blames their troubles on “arrogance.”

As the heroes at Dan Shaughnessy Watch point out, here are Shaughnessy lines from the last couple weeks:

December 1st:

Less than a year later, the Patriots are flexing their muscles after last Sunday’s dramatic comeback over the Broncos. The 8-3 Patriots are favorites to run the table and return to the Super Bowl.

December 15th (yesterday):

This is where, on Sunday, the Patriots will assume their spot as the top-seeded team in the AFC.

Today:

but the notion that they were the AFC’s top seed is laughable.

It really must be nice to be able to write something on one day, and then the next act like it never happened.

Is there anyone lazier than Dan Shaughnessy? Seriously. Each of his columns reads as if it took 15 minutes to write. Just come up with the angle that is going to piss the most people off, and hit submit, and Joe Sullivan will call you the bravest columnists in the history of newspapers. It used to be that a columnist’s role was to make the reader think. To challenge some of their perhaps preconceived notions, and to perhaps stir things up by playing devil’s advocate. Now, it is simply to troll the fans.

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If you’ve suspected that Peter King writes much of the Monday Morning QB in advance, today’s edition probably seals that. In the Fine 15:

king-patsUpdate: Passage has been edited so that it now ends at “dominating no one.”

Clearly written after the loss to Miami, but before the Bengals laid down to the Steelers last night.  Most other sections are current, he’s got the Bengals losing, he notes that the top three in the AFC remained the same this week, but forgot to change the Patriots blurb.

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This morning on WEEI, the crew was bemoaning Brady’s lack of weapons, and their reliance on the tough scrappy guys like Welker, Edelman and Amendola. Gerry Callahan stated that he wished the Patriots had drafted Dez Bryant instead of Devin McCourty, who he says has been “fine, I guess”

Can you even imagine if Dez Bryant was here, how he would be treated by the Dennis and Callahan show? It would be Manny Ramirez, part II.

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Four things from the CBS broadcast yesterday:

Note to Simms and Nantz. It’s am-men-DOLE-uh, not AH-men-dole-uh. (It’s in the media guide and everything.) How annoying was that?

On the botched FG by Miami, they never picked up on the fact that the two ends flared out at the snap, indicating that the attempt was a fake. It was picked up in the press box though:

In Miami’s TD drive at the end of the first half, it was never mentioned that the clock did not run at all on the 2nd and 10 play to Marlon Moore. It was a pretty long play, as Tannehill left the pocket, and ran to fairly close to the sideline before throwing. The play took at good eight seconds or so to develop, which ultimately didn’t matter too much as the Dolphins scored pretty quickly, but it was never mentioned.

Finally, in the second half, when the camera was focused for an excessively long time on offensive coordinator Mike Sherman up in the coaches box, Jim Nantz casually mentioned “Jones is injured for the Patriots” but the camera and storyline remained fixed on Sherman. The Patriots have two Jones’ on defense but obviously one is much more critical than the other. Patriots fans were left to wonder if Chandler Jones was the next Patriot to suffer a season-ending injury or if he was going to be OK, or if it was Chris Jones. Kind of a difference there.

Globe 10.0 To Debate Whether Or Not To Boo Ellsbury Ad Today

On today’s Globe 10.0, Joe Sullivan and Chris Gasper will debate whether or not fans should boo the full-page ad that Jacoby Ellsbury took out in today’s Globe.

Would that surprise anyone?

This week has been a banner one for bang-your-head-on-the-desk sports talk radio storylines. Consider:

  • Patriots win cheapened by “gift” pass interference call.
  • Feigned outrage over Shawn Thornton’s beatdown of  Brooks Orpik.
  • Should fans boo or cheer Doc Rivers? (Can’t say that I’m upset that I missed this variation on the topic.)

I suppose there are those who enjoy these types of “debates” but none more than the hosts, who can just roll the topic out there and give the airtime to the loonies who call sports talk radio.

The Patriots now have the opportunity to control their own playoff destiny. Thanks to the San Diego upset of the Broncos last night, if the Patriots win their remaining three games, they will be the number one seed in the AFC.

They’ll have a challenge in Miami this Sunday, as the Dolphins appear to be trying to make this a statement game for themselves.

Here’s a few links that I enjoyed as we head into the weekend:

Northborough teen has been hot on trail at Winter Meetings – Chad Finn looks at an 18-year-old who has made a name for himself at the baseball winter meetings with several big scoops.

Curt Schilling plans to reinvent the way pitching is talked about in new Sunday Night Baseball role – Bob Raissman has the former Sox ace looking to bring a new style of TV analysis.

Inside the NHL’s process for player discipline – From Wednesday, Amalie Benjamin with a good look at how the NHL reviews and administers discipline for on-ice incidents.

Players have full belief in Brad Stevens – With the Doc Rivers return out of the way, Steve Bulpett looks at how the Celtics players have completely bought into their new leader.

Enjoyment Not An Option For Some When Following Patriots

In a way, it’s really a shame that the Patriots have set the bar so high on a year-to-year basis. Basically, if they don’t win the Super Bowl, the season is a failure, and anything they accomplished along the way is meaningless.

This mindset does not allow for appreciation of wins such as we’ve seen the last three weeks. Rather than looking at each game individually, the mindset instead looks at each game as an indicator of whether the team can be considered a true championship contender or not, and in doing so, focus is placed on the flaws, on the negative aspects of the game (“If they needed a comeback like that to beat the Cleveland Browns, they are in real trouble!”)

It is absolutely true that winning a championship is, of course, the stated goal of each season. In the early part of the last decade, the Patriots made it look easy, winning three Super Bowls in four seasons. Their failure to win one since then has been thrown back at them and their fans with increasing ferocity.

The focus on that big picture takes away the ability to appreciate what we see on a week to week basis. The wins against Denver and Cleveland, and to a lesser extent, Houston, if you just look at them from an entertainment and fan perspective were amazing. How many quarterbacks and teams in the NFL are even capable of pulling out wins like those? Each week as you watch other NFL games, do you see a team mismanaging the clock, or other game management scenarios and know that it likely would be different here? Are you capable of appreciating what you have, rather than howling about the play-calling, or engaging in this constant talk about how the draft has been bungled year after year?

After a win like that, do you say “Wow, I can’t believe they pulled that one out?” Or do you say, “Man, Josh Gordon ran all over them, and they needed a gift pass interference call from the refs to beat a lousy team?” or “I’d liked for them to have pulled off the comeback without a questionable call in their favor.” or “I don’t like winning this way.” I’m not saying doing the latter makes you less of a fan, but it does make me question how much you actually enjoy watching the team play. OK, strike that, if winning like that is not enjoyable to you, then why are you watching at all?

It doesn’t help that we have media members in town who actively troll fans on Twitter during the game, and then attack the fans in columns after the game. I don’t get it. Well, I do. Trolling is now an accepted form of getting attention, even if you look and sound like a complete moron. It’s sports radio, taken to 140 character chunks.

This media trolling takes a few forms: Mocking the expectations. Taking any credit away from the team for the end result. Insulting fans directly, accusing them of being overly sensitive, and then playing the innocent victim when any backlash comes their way.

It’s fair to question when things don’t go well. Being critical is OK when it is called for. But when the franchise has been the most successful in the league for a dozen years now, it’s also OK to sit back and appreciate what happens week-to-week without being angry and thinking only about how they’re probably not going to win the Super Bowl this year.

Speaking of that – when Rob Gronkowski went down on Sunday, I had the same thought many of you probably did – season over. The team’s Super Bowl hopes may have indeed been ended with that play, but if the last three weeks have taught us anything about this team, it is that they will fight to the very end, and will not quit playing even when the odds (and the scoreboard) are stacked against them.

That’s admirable. Try and enjoy what’s left of the season if you can. It may go against your nature, or against the tide of what gets shoved down your throat on the airwaves, print and web, but just sit back and appreciate what you have here.

While it is still here. Because it won’t always be.

The Pretzel Logic Continues…

YOU spent the last few years defending Ellsbury from the critics! YOU said he was a great player. So now that he’s signed with the Yankees, YOU should be pissed at YOUR team for not signing him! YOU are a hypocrite!

A variation of that has been the theme on Felger and Mazz since the news of Ellsbury signing with the Yankees came out. That, and a Tony Massarotti victory lap for being critical of Ellsbury all along.

Even the biggest Ellsbury fanboy would say that it would not have been a wise move to approach that offer that he ultimately got from the Yankees. Ellsbury was a productive, enjoyable player to watch while healthy during his time here, but there comes a point where even if the team wants the player back, it doesn’t make sense to over-extend, which is what would’ve happened.

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I admired the stand taken by Trenni Kusnierek (@trenni) of CSNNE this week, who initially took to Twitter to protest the repeated use of the word “ladies” to refer to dumb fans by the Felger and Mazz show.

Of course, her tweet also brought out a couple of  the neanderthals of Twitter.

Kusnierek also called into the show to make her point, and got Felger to see things her way.

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Meanwhile, I want to know who in the world said to themselves, Bob Halloran needs more sports radio airtime. The guy has been a semi-regular filling in on the Salk and Holley show, along with Andy Hart (Who I think has been good.) and while Bob is a good guy off the air, he’s incredibly annoying on sports radio. I thought his days in that genre were over, and now he’s back. Whether that is because of Salk, or the new WEEI management, I’m not sure, but wow. I’d rather listen to the insulting pretzel logic of Felger and Mazz than that.

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Your first-place Boston Celtics have gotten a little more attention as of late, but not all of it good. While they’re still only 8-12, there are people who are angry that they’re even that good. The Tankers are upset that the team is blowing their chances for a high enough pick to grab the next NBA superstar.

I don’t get that logic. When you have a team with young players like Sullinger, Bradley, Olynyk, even Jordan Crawford, to me, you need to get them into good habits, and if you believe even a couple of them are a big part of your future, you want to have them get as much competitive experience with the system you’re trying to put into place here, as they will soon be the veterans that the younger influx of players over the next few years are going to look to.

Baxter Holmes talked to former NBA coaches turned TV analysts George Karl and P.J. Carlesimo about the Celtics under Brad Stevens thus far. Both are impressed: Ex-NBA coaches impressed by Celtics’ fight

Get all Celtics coverage at CelticsLinks.com

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The Patriots take on the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium on Sunday at 1:00pm. CBS will send Bill Macatee (play-by-play) and Steve Tasker (analysis) – the network’s 6th team on the depth chart to cover the game.

It might’ve been brought up and I missed it, but Cleveland’s defensive coordinator is Ray Horton, who coached the Cardinals defense to a win in Gillette Stadium last season, and said afterward that he saw a “tell” in Pats’ offense which helped his club defend them.

Get all the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

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The baseball winter meetings kick off on Monday, and WEEI is sending two shows down to Florida to broadcast live during the meetings. Mut and Merloni will be there Tuesday through Thursday, while Salk and Holley will be on the air Monday through Wednesday.

We’ll end things for now with the Globe media column:

Analyst: Hard to see Auburn jumping Ohio State – Chad Finn has Brad Edwards feeling like OSU will get get a bump in the BCS, has a look at Nomar Garciaparra leaving ESPN, and a few other notes.

Ellsbury Signs With Yankees, Media Strikes Out At Fans

Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to a deal with the New York Yankees last night, a move that, ten years ago, or even eight years ago would’ve caused much weeping and gnashing of teeth among the locals.

While there was some of that going around last night (@KeithOlberman tracked a bunch of the mouthbreathers) the reaction was definitely more muted, at least among the fans I was watching and interacting with.

We all knew he was gone, right? And that the Yankees, given their spending habits, were a likely destination, right? Did anyone think that a Boras client like Ellsbury was not going to go to wherever gave him the most money?

The fans and media probably would not have been kind to Ben Cherington had he re-signed Ellsbury to the seven-year $153 million deal that he reportedly got from the Yankees.

Three World Series titles have made Red Sox fans a little more secure and less anxious over whatever the Yankees do. Even after they had won in 2004, when Johnny Damon left for the Yankees the following year, there was still considerable outcry, now, I think we see the cycle the Yankees are in, and it’s not as worrisome to us. The media will still try to make the Yankees scary to the fans, but I think most of the true fans have moved past that feeling. We can still hate the Yankees, but we’re not intimidated or scared of them.

Good for Ellsbury. He’s got two World Series titles under his belt, having played a big role in both of them, and now has the big payday. I don’t begrudge him one bit, and while I’m not sure the spotlight and circus of New York is a great fit for him, I wish him well.

The worst part of this, in the short term anyway, is going to be forced to listen to Johnny Damon as he makes his inevitable media rounds to talk about his experience in leaving the Red Sox for the Yankees. He’ll be on with Mut and Merloni this morning, and I’m sure many other outlets in the next few days.

It should be fun though, watching media people who criticized Ellsbury harshly for the last few years try and change tact and tell us how he’s going to come back and haunt the Red Sox in the future.

It was interesting watching media people last night as they insulted the fans when the news broke:

Nick Cafardo this morning:

Ellsbury was a beloved player in Boston and now the fans who once lashed out at media for being critical of his injury situation likely will boo him unmercifully every time he steps to the plate in Yankee pinstripes. He has gone the way of Johnny Damon, Wade Boggs, and Roger Clemens, and Ellsbury never will live it down. He will be called a traitor and other unsavory names when he steps up the plate.

Beloved player?

Shaughnessy:

There will be some local effort to paint Ellsbury as the Fourth Horseman of the Pinstripe Apocalypse. Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon all chose the Yankees (Clemens got himself traded to New York after two years in Toronto) after long careers with the Red Sox. All three won championships and Boggs and Clemens actually rode horses in Yankee Stadium.

Now Ellsbury. Are you going to boo him the way you booed Damon, Ray Allen and Adam Vinatieri?

Probably.

Steve Buckley:

Oh, it won’t be fair, Ellsbury being treated that way after all he did for the Red Sox, but that’s the way it is. Tickets to a Sox game are among the highest-priced in the big leagues; you put up that kind of money for a baseball ticket and you can boo anybody you damn well please. No, you don’t get to throw stuff. And if you have any civility at all, you don’t cuss in front of the kids.

But boo? Boo Ellsbury? Again, take a look at your ticket. Better yet, take a look at your credit card receipt. If it has your name on it, you go right ahead and boo Ellsbury if you feel compelled to do so. And don’t you let some sports pundit or gasbag talk-show host legislate your emotions.

A whole lot of finger-wagging going on out there.

Belicheat and Cheating Cheatriots Back At It

According to Texans defensive end Antonio Smith, anyway.

The Patriots had to make another second half comeback yesterday, as they trailed Houston 17-7 at halftime, but rallied in the second half for a 34-31 road victory.

Following the game, Smith said:

“You can tell they changed their scheme in the second half. It just seems miraculous to me how they changed some things on offense that keyed on what we put in this week to stop what they were doing. They did things they never did all year before. It was a specific thing that was important to what we were going to do today, as to how we were going to call the defense. We’d not ever did it before, and they never changed like that before. It just let me know that something wasn’t right.

“Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are among the best at their craft because they put so much into their craft. But you have to be a descendent of ‘Tones-tradamus’ (as Smith calls himself on occasion) to know what we put in this week and to be able to then go change that fast. I got the only crystal ball in existence. I don’t know what it is. Either teams are spying on us or something’s going on.”

Smith wouldn’t give specifics, because the Texans might use these super-secret plays going forward:

“I can’t tell you an example because it’s G-15 classified,” he said. “It’s a defensive thing that we might continue to use. … The way, I’m trying to say it without giving it away. When you watch film of the team do something a certain way all the time no matter what team they play — it’s been 12 games played and they always did it — and then all of a sudden it’s changed? It was pretty clever and pretty suspicious. …

Thankfully most people do not appear to be taking Smith’s remarks too seriously, though I’m sure we’ll be lectured this afternoon from 2-6 about how the Patriots brought this upon themselves.

Wonder if Smith considered that both Wade Phillips and Bill Belichick have been in the NFL a whole lot longer than he has, and that their tendencies are probably pretty well known to both. There’s a good chance that just because Smith never used these plays before it doesn’t mean that they’ve never been used by a Phillips defense before.

Get all the reaction to yesterday’s game at PatriotsLinks.com.

A few notes/observations/reactions:

  • Happened to be in the car shortly after the game, and the very first words I heard were Gary Tanguay – Are you concerned about this team?
  • Then flipped to WEEI to hear Butch Stearns say about the same thing with the addition of how bad playcalling has been all year. It was comforting to hear Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie bury him immediately.
  • Ty Law on the CSNNE postgame says we don’t know anything about this team until they beat a real team. Denver doesn’t count, apparently. Neither does New Orleans.
  • What was with Felger jumping on Belichick’s description of the distance of a Gostkowski field goal attempt? Weird.
  • Speaking of Gostkowski, are we closer to completely burying the He can’t make a tough/clutch kick storyline?
  • Tom Brady was asked following the game whether winning was masking the team’s deficiencies. Does any other team get asked questions like that? Tom, we know you’re 9-3, but doesn’t your team actually suck?
  • What would be the reaction if Bill Belichick did what Mike Tomlin did Thanksgiving night? We know that some quickly brought up a play from 2004 involving Belichick and Marvin Harrison, showing that, as always, when something happens, there are people who will always rush to associate it with Belichick and the Patriots. Even when there is a better, more recent example. (Jets)

Non-Patriots items:

The excerpts in the Globe from the new Ted Williams bio from Ben Bradlee have been terrific. Today’s – Feud with writers helped Ted Williams hit harder – is especially interesting from the perspective of media coverage then and now.

The Lowell Sun had Ted’s back, however. From a 1956 editorial:

“The tide has begun to turn in this case of the Boston sports writers versus Ted Williams, and the verdict is becoming increasingly favorable to Ted as public opinion starts to make itself felt . . . ” wrote the suburban Lowell Sun in an editorial. “If there has been a case of injustice done by a group of sportswriters to a great sports figure, this is it. Time after time they picked Williams apart, they have tormented him, they have knifed him, roasted him, flayed him, tortured him, and have obviously taken what can only be called a sadistic glee in doing so. It is sports journalism at its lowest.”

Wonder what that writer would think of today’s media?

Kevin Paul Dupont’s Second Thoughts column hasn’t always been a must-read for me, but yesterday’s brought up a fairly interesting topic. It’s an idea that may have been discussed before, but it was new to me. With the financial struggles of newspapers, Dupont suggested as a means to improve the outlook, selling “naming rights” to the paper, and even individual sections. The Boston Globe presented by Home Depot for instance. Sounds silly at first, but when you think about it, I think it could work.

For shame, Peter King. For shame.

peterking

The Boston Sports Media You Probably Aren’t Reading, But Should Be

Changing things up a bit here, I’m going to list out some folks out there who do a great job (they really do) but aren’t necessarily at the big outlets, or the top billed at their place of employment.

Nick Underhill, MassLive.com @Nick_Underhill

Underhill covers the Patriots, and does it very well. He delivers extensive analysis each week, such as this week’s film study and report card which is clearly not written just “off the cuff.” He’s rewatched the game several times with keen observations and takeaways.

Jay King, MassLive.com @ByJayKing

We’re sticking with MassLive here to mention King, who covers the Celtics. Again, King is prolific in his coverage, and looks at both advanced statistics as well as traditional means of analysis in his writing and tweeting.

Christopher Smith, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune @SmittyOnMLB

Smith has been covering the Red Sox for a few seasons now over in the valley, and he’s been consistently good. His Sunday baseball column this week On Pro Baseball looked at Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan as a possible solution for the Red Sox at the position.

Erik Frenz, Boston.com @ErikFrenz

He writes the Going Deep blog for Boston.com, which is mostly about the Patriots, but he also provides updates from across the entire AFC East. He brings good film and play analysis and agenda-free coverage of the team. It’s worth checking regularly.

Mick Colageo, SouthCoastToday.com @MickColageo

Colageo is a veteran writer whom I’ve linked to many times in the past. Though he’s covered the Bruins for over 20 years,  his work these days is often locked behind the paywall at the New Bedford Standard Times, but he also provides Rink Rap blog at SouthCoastToday.com, which is definitely worth checking out. (Mike Loftus @MLoftus_Ledger at the Patriot Ledger is another veteran Bruins writer worth paying attention to, if you can navigate the myriad of pop-ups and pop-unders at the paper’s website.)

Dave D’Onofrio, Boston.com @davedonofrio

D’Onofrio covers the Red Sox for the NH Union Leader, but also writes the Red Sox Extra Innings blog at Boston.com, as well as the Off the Field blog. Busy guy. His stuff is good though, and worth checking out. While you’re on Boston.com, the On Deck blog by Craig Forde, (@OnDeckBDC ) which  looks at Red Sox prospects and minor league baseball throughout New England, is also very well done.

Who are some other lesser-known media types that should get more attention than they do?