To The Brink…

(Afternoon Links provided by Guest Blogger David Vidinha. Dave can be reached at [email protected])

After much discussion and debate about who the Red Sox should have started in yesterday’s Game Four, it ultimately didn’t matter because the Sox offense again failed to provide any help, and the starting pitching could not make it past the 5th inning. The fact of the matter is, the Red Sox now face a must win game tomorrow night. While the Red Sox will hand the ball to their ace Josh Beckett, the Indians will let their hopes ride on the big shoulders of C.C. Sabathia. Despite Sabathia’s poor showing thus far in the playoffs, he’ll be pitching with not much to lose, and in front of those towel waving masses at the Jake.

Before we get into this afternoon’s “Around the Web” links, here’s a look at some of the goods from this morning’s headlines.

Bob Ryan discusses how quickly things can turn around in baseball. Tony Massarotti asks the question “could the Red Sox get their own hitters out?” Jackie MacMullan discusses the ineptitude that is the Red Sox offense, well of course with the exception of Ortiz, Manny, and Lowell. Rob Bradford makes the case for Jacoby Ellsbury.

As I watched last night’s game I felt as if the offense was going to find itself, I mean they were facing Paul Byrd, right? Wrong. Enter Jhonny Peralta. Mr. Old Time Baseball says “bring back the Yankees”. Rockies owner Dick Monfort is rooting for the Red Sox. Within this Denver Post article, we relive the “Trade-No Trade” that caused controversy between the two organizations a few years back. Jerry Remy proves once again that when he shells all the website plugs, t-shirt giveaways, and Wally talk, the man knows his Red Sox. Remy speaking with WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan discusses his thoughts on last nights non-moves by Francona. Massarotti also has Beckett defending Francona’s decision to start Wakefield, and he looks ahead to the Sox do-or-die Game 5.

Well, the fact remains that the Sox will need to win three straight if they hope to sniff the World Series. I wonder if Kevin Millar is available for a pre-game pep talk? This years slogan will be “Score more than 6, Pitch past the 5th!!” I can see the t-shirts in my mind right now.

Around the Web

Here’s a story in today’s Washington Times about Larry Lucchino. The title is what really caught my attention. According to this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, one of the Red Sox coaches may be in line for the Pirates managerial position. Dayn Perry at Fox Sports discusses how the Indians have managed to lead the series 3-1, even though their two “aces” have given up a combined 12 runs.

Baseball Musings David Pinto discusses the Indians knack for turning two.

Nick Cafardo had the duty of performing today’s chat.

Tom Verducci has some disturbing statistics about Tim Wakefield.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports says that the Red Sox are either clueless or crazy.

Ken Rosenthal says the Red Sox rotation is in transition.

Verducci is back with his “Five Cuts”. In his cuts he gives his thoughts on the depth of the Red Sox bullpen and the TBS’ ratings for the NLCS.

Tim Brown has C.C. Sabathia discussing his next start.

SI’s John Donovan says the Red Sox have a history of comebacks, but not much else.

I think Jonathan Papelbon is dangerously morphing into Kevin Millar.

Dr. Z is back with his weekly power rankings. He also has a theory about Tom Brady. Also, the Jets have remained steadfast at 29th, well at least that’s second place in the bottom five. J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!

Geez, I guess ESPN doesn’t like it when there’s actually someone who’s funny in the booth.

Ian O’Connor takes a look at the phenomenon of NFL head coaches being called “geniuses”.

The guys over at Cold Hard Football Facts have their power rankings.

Tom Brady was fined by the league.

Micheal Silver marvels at the Patriots reaction to T.O’s “Getcha popcorn ready” comment.

Uh oh, Patrick Crayton (he’s a Dallas Cowboy receiver in case you were wondering) missed the memo on providing the Patriots with bulletin board material.

Joe Sports Fan is back with the Media Circus.

Tonight on TV

With the Sox off tonight, we have one more night for Red Sox fans to lower their collective blood pressures before tomorrow’s Game 5. In the meantime we can check out the new look Celtics as they play their first “game” at home tonight. The C’s will take on the New York Knicks tonight live from the TD BankNorth Garden. The game can be seen locally on CSNE starting at 7:30PM. For all the rest of tonight’s action check here.

Beckett-Beckett-Beckett!!!

(Afternoon Links provided by Guest Blogger David Vidinha. Dave can be reached at [email protected])

The Red Sox will look to even their series with the Indians tonight under the lights at Jacobs Field. With yesterday’s win the Indians are now 3-0 in this year’s postseason at the towel haven that is the Jake. Despite the ground swell from certain contingents of Red Sox nation, as well as the media to start Josh Beckett, manager Terry Francona will hand the ball to the veteran knuckleballer “Bill Wakefield”, err – Tim Wakefield.

Wakefield who has not pitched in this year’s postseason due to back problems, will make his first start since September 29th. Wakefield who sports an impressive 4-0 2.61 ERA in four career LCS starts will look to silence Cleveland’s bats. Also a win tonight will serve to take the momentum back in the Sox direction and guarantee a return to the friendly confines of the Fens.

Opposing Wakefield will be grizzled veteran Paul Byrd. Byrd who’s coming off of the ALDS clinching victory against the Yankees last Monday, steps to the mound with a career 4-2 record vs the Sox. Included in that 4-2 record is a victory over the Sox on May 30th in which Byrd yielded two runs over six innings.

The game will begin one hour later than last night’s start time, with Fox’s coverage scheduled to begin at 8PM. Fox sideline reporter and baseball writer Ken Rosenthal says the Sox babying of Beckett now may cost them the playoffs, saying that “pitchers are all but sealed in bubble wrap”.

Despite the statistics of pitchers pitching on three days rest, Rosenthal is not a man alone on an island. Yahoo! Sports Dan Wetzel feels the same way, making his case to Terry Francona about pitching Beckett in Game Four. Stan McNeal over at the Sporting News gives his three reasons for Beckett over Wake. Even the NY Post’s Mike “Dropi Papi” Vaccaro gives us his take. Dan Lamothe pleads his case to Tito.

Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci says that pitching coaches should look away as tonight’s two starters both “non-conformists” and employ rather awkward styles of pitching. Tom also says Dice-K has hit a wall. Howard Bryant picks up where Verducci left off saying that while Dice-K didn’t exactly melt down, a la Wang, he managed to exhaust himself and his manager. Check out this Insider Edge “Pitcher Command Report”, in it we see that our eyes weren’t fooling us watching Dice-K pitch last night. Pay attention to how many “major miss spots” he had last night.

Jackie MacMullan had a chat today, you can guess what a majority of the questions were.

Around the Web

Somehow in Peter Schrager’s Power Rankings, the Patriots demolition of Dallas does not warrant a #1 ranking.

Charley Rosen over at Fox Sports has his Atlantic Division preview.

Peter King has his MMQB Tuesday Edition. Peter actually defends the Patriots from a disgruntled Cowboy fan who alleged the Pats ran up the score. Speaking of Peter, he tried and failed to defend himself over the SpyGate/Wade Philips he said/she said drama on his weekly appearance on WEEI this past week. Not only did Peter not really defend himself but he managed to answer every question posed to him, with a question. For as talented of a football insider Peter is, he sounded horrible in that interview.

Bill Simmons gives his take on the Pats running up the score, as well as other thoughts.

Mike Reiss has his weekly mailbag.

Since his season is now over, Derek Jeter is using his clout to fix parking tickets.

The Inside Track was all over Paul Pierce’s 30th B-Day.

Vic Carucci has his rankings set.

Cold Hard Football Facts re-examines their findings regarding “establishing the run”.

Raise your hand if you took the Rockies odds at the beginning of the year……well if you did, your a happy man.

Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports has his Atlantic Division preview.

“Going from a day of Patriots on Sunday to a day of the Rockies on Monday is like stepping off of death row in a rotting Kentucky prison, and into an open grassy meadow with fresh air, dandelions, a clear blue sky, and 37 young, beautiful Brazilian females in the midst of an anything-goes orgy.” That is an actual quote from a “column” on AOL’s Fanhouse. The author is listed as none other than Gregg Easterbrook. I kid, I kid!!

Joe Sports Fan has a memo from God regarding Bill Simmons’ favorite comedian.

Sabernomics has a look at the crazy contract Joel Piñeiro just signed.

Aaron Schatz over at Football Outsiders has this week’s DVOA Rankings.

On TV Tonight

All of the Boston sports world will be focused on tonight’s ALCS Game Four. The game which will begin at 8PM is being broadcast on Fox. For the seven hockey fans left in the Boston area, there is a NHL game between Atlanta and Philadelphia at 7PM on Versus. For the rest of tonight’s action check here.

Sox Lose In Extra Innings

The Cleveland Indians scored a postseason record seven runs in the 11th inning to win game two and draw level with the Red Sox at Fenway Park in a five-hour marathon game last night.

This was one for the bullpens as neither team’s starters made it through the fifth inning before being yanked from the contest. Schilling went the furthest, going four and two thirds before Francona called time on his performance.

Carmona only managed 12 outs, himself, before Cleveland went to their bullpen last night. The Sox threatened several times but the Indians’ bullpen held up long enough for their offense to come around though, and the offensive spurt in extra innings was more than enough to give Cleveland the win.

Red Sox

Jeff Horrigan has Gagne, Lester, and Javier Lopez completely collapsing in the eleventh. Steve Buckley says the Sox need to take the hint, and but Gagne on ice. Tony Massarotti says Nixon is a veteran leader for the Indians, and has been through nights like that before in October.

Gordon Edes has the curtain calls for Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell after their back-to-backs might’ve been premature. Jackie MacMullan says the Red Sox offense just ran out of time as the bullpen let home field advantage slip through their fingers last night. Dan Shaughnessy has more on the loss last night. Nick Cafardo talks about Trot Nixon knocking in the winning run last night in extra innings. Kevin Paul Dupont has Schilling failing to step up and secure a win in game two. Bill Burt at the eagle tribune has Manny being better than he’s ever been.

Jon Couture says Francona’s postseason managerial record now has a blemish. David Brown has the Indians handing the ball to the veteran Borowski in the eleventh inning last night.


Joe McDonald
has more on the blowout eleventh inning from last night. Sean McAdam has Tony Mastny retiring the heart of the Red Sox order in the bottom of the tenth last night. Steven Krasner has Francona turning to Gagne, Lopez, and Lester after going through the mainstays early last night. Bill Reynolds talks about Gagne’s disaster of a performance last night. McAdam says it wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Horrigan’s notebook has Francona making it clear pulling Beckett after 80 pitches does not mean we’ll see the ace in game four on short rest. Edes’s notebook talks about the historic offseason Manny and Ortiz are having. Cafardo’s notebook talks about Scott Boras and the claims he’s been making regarding Alex Rodriguez’s value. Brown’s notebook has the Sox cracking pocket aces in two games. Couture’s notebook has more on the Sox offense.

Patriots

Head to Patriots Daily for all of your morning links, along with commentary

Jim Donaldson talks about the “Original 81,” Terrell Owens. Shalise Manza Young says the Pats will let their play do the talking. John Tomase says today’s game is viewed differently in Dallas and New England. PatriotsDaily has some Sunday links and a little rant on Shaughnessy.

Bob Hohler talks about the “boy wonder,” Tony Romo. Christopher Gasper talks about the differences between Moss and Owens. Eric Wilbur and boston.com has a roundup of how the pundits think the game will go. David Brown talks about the tight-end matchup in today’s game. Dan Pires says you can add Warren and Brady to the list of Patriots who have been fined: for not wearing their chinstraps. John Clayton discusses the Pats and Dallas in his “First and 10″ column.

Young’s notebook has pre-game analysis of the game today. Tomase’s notebook talks about the atmosphere in the Patriot locker room. Guregian’s notebook has Maroney still out against Dallas. Gasper’s notebook talks about safety Eugene Wilson. Reiss’s notebook talks about owner Robert Kraft.

Don’t really have time to get to the celtics and bruins links this morning so I’ll have to direct you to Celtics links and Bruins links for the day’s news.

Have a good one and enjoy the game this afternoon.

Aces Wild: Sox Take Game One

(Guest blogging by T.J Donegan; contact him at [email protected])

The Red Sox took a giant step toward claiming their second world series title in the last oh-so-many years last night, knocking Cleveland ace, and likely Cy Young winner, C.C. Sabathia all over town en route to a 10-3 victory.

On the first really chilly night-game of the year, the Boston bats stayed hot, delivering up 12 hits and 10 runs to land a pretty telling blow on the chin of the Indians’ World Series dreams. They were driven by the stellar work of Ortiz and Ramirez, who both reached base every time up. When your two best hitters do that to the other club’s ace, you’re not doing half bad.

Josh Beckett came into the game with a rather mind-blowing streak under his belt. Two playoff games. 63 batters up, 63 back to the dugout, none crossing home plate in the process. He’d add two more before Travis Hafner took him yard as Cleveland drew first blood in the opening frame.

Forget the streaks, the records, the shutouts, the burgeoning legend, all of it. You want to know what a young pitcher’s made of? You won’t figure it out when he’s got his fastball nipping the heels of triple-digits, when his curve looks like something out of Dante’s inferno, or when he racks up strikeouts like they’re going out of style. You’ll see it immediately after he gives up a homerun after having his you-know-what kissed for a week by the national media; when numero 66 puts one in the bullpen and the strikezone keeps shrinking, when things go wrong. Last night, things went wrong, and Beckett got even better.

Beckett was good. Damn good. He had all his pitches working and his curve was a living nightmare for Cleveland, letting him use it anywhere in the count. But what was really impressive about this outing was that everything didn’t fall his way, as it did against the Angels, and he didn’t let it get to him at all. On his last two post-season appearances–you may have heard something about them–he made almost no mistakes. Out of the 22 batters faced last night, he led 10 with first-pitch balls. Ready for the impressive part? Walks? Zero. Zilch. Goose-Egg.

He spotted 10 batters a free one and only Ryan Garko got a pass to first when Beckett pegged him.

Make no mistake, this is not the same Josh Beckett that walked into Yankee Stadium and broke 60 thousand hearts—he’s better. More mature, more refined, more controlled. Just better. Most importantly for us, though, is that on a night when Beckett was a B+ by his standards, he out-aced the Indians, the biggest obstacle left in the Red Sox’s path to another ring.

Curt Schilling takes the mound tonight to really try and put the Indians in a hole against Fausto Carmona, Fox has the game.

Still a ton of ball to be played this weekend, though, so let’s get right to it.

Here’s your coverage maps for the weekend:

College Football
CBS Early game
CBS Late game (Good news for you expat Pats fans, Dallas/New England have practically the entire country except the San Diego/Oakland markets.)
Fox Single
NBC’s night game will be New Orleans at Seattle.

Red Sox

Jimmy Golen of the AP has the game story from last night for Boston.com. Tony Massarotti has Beckett telling the Indians one thing with his pitching: not tonight. Dan Shaughnessy says the Red Sox have assumed their place as America’s team.

Jeff Horrigan is thankful at least one pitcher remembered there was a duel last night. Michael Silverman talks about the combined OBP of Manny and Ortiz this postseason, a mind-boggling .806. Steve Buckley says the Indians were simply outclassed on both sides of the ball. Gorden Edes talks about the Sox’s onslaught last night. Nick Cafardo also talks about the Sox’s approach to hitting Sabathia last night. Kevin Paul Dupont adds that Ramirez and Ortiz were great, but Lowell and Youkilis finished the job. Paul Jarvey has more on last night’s game.

Joe McDonald says it was complete and utter domination. Sean McAdam has Beckett giving the Red Sox more of the same: fantastic pitching. Jim Donaldson has more on Manny and David’s big night. Amalie Benjamin has Curt Schilling preparing to face Fausto Carmona tonight.

Bradford’s Blog has some quick statistical notes from the win last night. Bob Ryan’s Blog has his ALCS prediction (prior to last night’s game), in which he says Indians in 6…sort of.

Friday’s podcast of ESPN’s Baseball Today has Peter Gammons talking baseball and the ALCS (from about 5:00 onward) with Peter saying the Sox are at “the best level that they’ve been all year.” (Most of it concerns more than just Beckett/Sabathia, which we already know ended pretty well for us, but gives good insight on the whole series.)

Patriots

Jim Trotter over at Sports Illustrated says the Cowboys might be the team with the best chance to trip up the Patriot offense. Karen Guregian has Belichick being coy about whether Maroney will play against Dallas.

Judy Battista
at the New York Times seems to just be figuring out that Tom Brady’s having a good year. All the news that’s fit to print! (two weeks late) Christopher Gasper talks about the role the scout teams have on the Patriots’ preparation.

Guregian’s notebook has an update on Vrabel’s fine and some comments Wade Phillips made about Cameragate. Mike Reiss had a chat on Boston.com yesterday. Gasper’s Notebook has updates on the progress of Brandon Meriweather, Junior Seau reinventing his ancient self as a coverage linebacker, as well as the Patriots injury report.


ESPN Football Today
’s podcast from Friday has a preview of this weekend’s NFL matchups, with a good in-depth look at the Pats game. (Dallas/Pats preview is from around 9:30, if you want to just cut to that)

Celtics

Paul Pierce turns 30 today as the Celtics continue preparing to chase a 17th title, they’re 2-0 in preseason with an off day today. Their next game is this Wednesday against the Knicks.

Marc Spears has Kendrick Perkins eschewing stats to try and help the Celtics win a ring. Julian Benbow talks about Pierce injuring his leg in the Celtics’ first real practice at HealthPoint.

Murphy’s Notebook has some quick tidbits about injuries to Pierce, Perkins, and Pollard. Steve Bulpett’s Celtics Insider Blog has a wrap up of what he’s seen during his trip overseas with the team.

Boston College

The Eagles (6-0) will take on a woeful 1-5 Notre Dame squad this afternoon. This has all the makings of a trap game for the BC and their Heisman-hopeful quarterback, who head into the game ranked fourth in the nation and are expected to pile on an Irish program that has played pariah for much of the season. It’s always amazing to me how much pundits will trash a college team for not living up to the ranking that those same pundits handed out before even a single down was played. They really don’t like to be wrong, do they?

Regardless, Mark Blaudschun has a spotlight piece on starting quarterback Matt Ryan heading into this weekend’s game. Blaudschun also has an article this morning from South Bend about the Eagles and Notre Dame reversing roles heading into their game this afternoon.

ESPN has Scouts, Inc. giving their opinion on the matchup, which leans heavily in BC’s favor. (Insider Only)

That should do it for this morning, another big sports night on tap and the big game on Sunday still to come. It’s a good weekend to be a sports fan.

What a Weekend

(This morning’s links are from guest blogger Brian Beaupre. You can email him at [email protected])

Well, if you’re a Boston sports fan, this is about as good as it gets, with the Sox kicking off the ALCS against the Indians tonight in what should be an excellent, evenly matched series. The Patriots head to Big D on Sunday to face the Cowboys in a matchup of undefeated teams, and Boston College, fresh off their highest national ranking in over 20 years, squares off against Notre Dame on Saturday.

Red Sox

Tonight’s matchup between Josh Beckett and CC Sabathia has all the makings for a classic playoff pitching duel, writes Howard Ulman. Jeff Horrigan has more on the matchup between the top two AL Cy Young candidates tonight at Fenway, one of the best pitching duels in Fenway since Pedro vs. Roger in 2003 (aka Zimmer toss). Kevin McNamara takes a look at a different Josh Beckett in 2007 than the one we saw in 2006. Jeff Goldberg brings us back to July, when the Sox faced Sabathia and Carmona on consecutive days, where the Sox split 1-0 pitchers’ duels. Jon Couture has the Sox and Indians talking strategy about their approaches to facing the opposing aces. Bill Ballou hopes the middle of the Sox lineup hoping to come through in a game where runs will be at a premium. Kevin Paul Dupont also has the 3-4 punch of Ramirez and Ortiz being the key in October against good pitching. Tony Massarotti has former manager Mike Hargrove and (gulp) Dan Duquette touching on the effect Ramirez has on the rest of the lineup, especially when he is hitting on all cylinders. Jeff Goldberg has Manny turning things up a notch at the perfect time for the Red Sox.

Steve Buckley , who got his wish with Schilling in game 2, hopes the Sox sign Mike Lowell beyond this year, with Lowell wanting to stay, yet keeping an eye on the A-Rod sweepstakes. Krasner has Sabathia trying to calm himself down and locate his pitches better than in his first start against the Yankees, and touches on Trot Nixon’s return to playoff baseball at Fenway, albeit in a different role. Jeff Goldberg and Paul Doyle also touch on Nixon’s return to Boston, as well as the decision to start Bobby Kielty in right field against Sabathia. David Brown has more on the decision to start Kielty over Drew on Friday. Rob Bradford has Trot Nixon embracing his role as a bench player with Cleveland, and using his playoff experiences with Boston to motivate his current club. Nixon also evaluates the differences between his current and former catchers in this series.

Gordon Edes takes a look John Farrell’s childhood as the son of a commercial fisherman and brick layer, and how the lessons he learned from his father helped shape his success in baseball. Jon Couture discusses Farrell’s imprint on both the Sox and Indians’ pitching staff, and the transition he made from front office to field level. Mark Murphy discusses Eric Wedge, as the perfect fit for the manager of a young, talented player base for the Indians in 2003. Steve Krasner has more on Wedge’s evolution as a manager, and the adjustments he had to make along the way. Rob Bradford has Indians GM Mark Shapiro seeking playoff advice from close friend Scott Pioli.

Jackie MacMullan has an excellent, and long overdue piece about David Ortiz fighting through injuries and criticism to become the unquestioned leader of the team. Dan Shaughnessy has Jacoby Ellsbury, a native American of Navajo descent, downplaying any insensitivity regarding the “Chief Wahoo” mascot of the Indians.

Patriots

The gang at Patriots Daily weighs in on this weekend’s battle of the unbeatens in the weekly roundtable.

Karen Guregian has Wade Phillips foolishly issuing his game plan to try and neutralize Randy Moss, much like Crennel and the Browns last week, with Pats players embracing the challenge to step up. Let’s hope the results are the same. Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots prepared to face an aggressive, pressure-focused defense in the Cowboys. Felger’s Patriots Insider takes a look at the genesis of a friendship between the Kraft and Jones family, but how their management styles could not be on further ends of the spectrum. Felger also has interesting nuggets from Mark Schlereth on Tony Romo. While he prefaces his comments by saying he thinks Romo will emerge into a big-time QB in the NFL, Schlereth says prior to the Buffalo game, Romo was not focused;

“Too many opportunities to do a commercial. Too many opportunities to do a ‘SportsCenter’ bump. Too many opportunities to be ‘The Sunday Conversation.’ A few too many distractions pulling your attention and focus away from the task at hand. Peyton Manning does a lot of commercials during the offseason, but you don’t see him doing squat during the season, because that guy is completely focused on breaking down 15 games a week. There were a couple of real easy looks from a coverage standpoint, from a read standpoint, that Tony Romo just either ignored, wasn’t prepared for or whatever the case may be. He did not look as though he put in the proper amount of time to get ready for that game.” Strong stuff. You’re not going to get away with that this weekend.

Guregian has Wade Phillips digging his own grave taking swipes at Belichick, during the WEEK BEFORE THE GAME, both with comments to the media during his session, and to newly-appointed spygate detective Peter King. Shalise Manza Young has Gostkowski unfazed by the recent trend of timeouts called to “ice” kickers at the end of the game. David Heuschkel has both the Patriots and Cowboys gushing over Tom Brady’s work ethic as he starts his 100th game in the NFL on Sunday.

Sorry I didn’t have a chance to get to the Celtics and Bruins articles again, please visit celticslinks.com and bruinslinks.com for all of today’s links. Enjoy what should be a great sports weekend.

Baseball Finally Returns

(Afternoon Links provided by Guest Blogger David Vidinha. Send him feedback at [email protected])

After being forced to watch NHL hockey the past few nights baseball makes its return tonight. Unfortunately its the National League that gets to lead off. The Rockies and Diamondbacks will begin the NLCS tonight live from Arizona’s Chase Field. The game will be televised at 8:00 on TBS. Tim Kurkjian has his breakdown of the series. Ken Rosenthal explains why he’s not hopping on the Rockies bandwagon.”> Over at SI, John Donovan provides us with a position by position breakdown of the series. David Pinto from Baseball Musings says luck has nothing to do with his pick. For TBS’ full playoff schedule check here. Although the ratings were good, the 3 sweeps in addition to the teams that ended up on top may hurt TBS.

Calling the NLCS for TBS will be the 3-man booth of Chip Caray, Tony Gwynn, and former D-Backs manager Bob Brenly. The studio tandem of Cal Ripken Jr. and the lifeless Frank Thomas will provide, well I’m not sure what they will provide but they’ll be your in-studio analysts.

Roaming the crowd will be Ron Burgundy impersonator Craig Sager and everyone’s favorite Jose Mota.

Around the Web

MLB

Richard Sandomir chimes in with his opinion on Suzyn Waldman’s crying, and also what he thinks of the TBS broadcast.

Bill Simmons discusses the controversy surrounding LeBron wearing a Yankees hat in his article for ESPN the Magazine.

Ken Rosenthal is back with his pick for the ALDS.

Apparently Manny is a real big fan of the TV show Alias, or at least one of its actresses.

Scott Boras convinces CNBC’s Darren Rovell that A-Rod really is worth $500 million.

Suzyn Waldman defends her crying.

Jonathan Papelbon has been named the recipient of the “DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award”, it was announced today. The Delivery Man of the Year Award is officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball and recognizes the most outstanding relief pitcher of the season as voted on by the fans.

NFL

The Point After has Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth and Peter King playing the role of Greg Easterbrook on HBO’s Inside the NFL tonight.

Also, Wade Phillips might just want to shut up at this point.

Jason Whitlock has his 10 Truths. We also learn the real reason for T.O’s silence this week.

The guys over at Cold Hard Football Facts do a comparison of the last two NFL Dynasties.

Football Outsider’s Mike Tanier has his Week 6 NFL Rundown.

Dr. Z has his power rankings up. Surprisingly, well not really for old crusty Dr. Z, the Patriots are no longer #1. He also manages to assert that Buffalo’s Trent Edwards reminds him of Tom Brady. On a positive note the Jets remain steadfast at #29. J-E-T-S…Jets, Jets, Jets!!!

Mike Sando spoke to 11 NFL insiders about the NFL’s most under and overrated players. The Patriots have some players in each category.

Much like Ron Borges, Randy Moss has his own website. In a chat conducted this week, Randy answers questions about his time thus far in New England.

Albert Breer writing in today’s Dallas Morning News says it business as usual for the Pats this week.

Football Outsiders have their Week in Quotes.

Within this mailbag Inside the NFL’s Cris Carter gives his pick to win the Super Bowl.

Despite the absence of Richard Seymour the Patriots still lead CHFF’s Defensive Hog Index.

Misc. Debris

Dan Wetzel over at Yahoo Sports commends Boston College for something other than their 6-0 start.

Jody Reed and Alyssa Milano were two of my favorite people as a child, for two totally different reasons of course. After this interview, I like them both that much more.

I wonder if this was what ESPN Ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber was talking about when she suggested ESPN “hit the issues hard with reporting”.

Frank Deford is not a fan of the 3-Man booth.

Tonight on TV

In addition to tonights NLCS game there is also some college football. As #21 Florida State (4-1) takes on (3-2) Wake Forest. The game is being televised on ESPN at 7:30PM. For a look at the rest of the night’s action check here.

Easterbrook Dissected

(Afternoon Links provided by Guest Blogger David Vidinha. Send him feedback at [email protected])

For a few weeks now since the overblown SpyGate drama, I’ve repeatedly wanted to slam my head against the wall after reading the garbage that’s been spewed by the newest Belichick hater on the block, Gregg Easterbrook. While I don’t possess the skill nor the time to take one of Gregg’s 9,785 page columns and dissect it Fire Joe Morgan style I’ve been clamoring for someone to do just that. Well my wish has been granted. ESPN Ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber is just the person to do the job. Le Anne’s job description on the ESPN website is “the public’s representative to ESPN, offering independent examination and analysis of ESPN’s media outlets”. The former New York Times sports editor and author takes on Mr. Easterbrook’s two blatantly slanted TMQ columns in her piece today. While its a long column you can skip directly to her opinion on the Easterbrook piece.

Around the Web

NFL

Dennis Dillon over at the Sporting News sits down with Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey to discuss Randy Moss and T.O.

Dr. Z explains how Buffalo gave the game away to the Cowboys on Monday night. Quick observation, if Buffalo was able to confuse Tony Romo with zone blitzes and having their D-Lineman work out of the 2-Point stance, can you imagine what Belichick will be able to whip up for the Cowboys on Sunday.

Gene Wojciechowski writes a letter to Bill Belichick, in it he tells Bill that Tony Romo displays similar traits to his franchise QB Tom Brady.

PTI’s Michael Wilbon says that Sunday’s game between the Pats and Cowboys is the first “Big Game” of this young football season.

A must read for me is the weekly column “From the 50″ by Dallas Morning News writer Rich Gosselin. In this week’s installment, Rich tells us that today’s quarterback’s play an entirely different game then the QB’s of years past.

Old friend Albert Breer did a Patriots/Cowboys chat for his new employer, the Dallas Morning News.

Dallas Morning News did a quick “In Focus” piece on Asante Samuel.

I heard the new Stetson Man throws a mean deep ball.

Michael Silver over at Yahoo Sports has his 32 Questions.

The guys over at Cold Hard Football Facts tell us despite what the “regular” stats tell us, the Patriots and Cowboys have the most potent aerial attacks.


The Media Circus
is back, in it we see that D-Lineman Travis Johnson doesn’t know his Wizard of Oz characters.

Tom Curran ranks some of the league’s backup QB’s.

Mike Vrabel responds to the criticisms he received from Browns guard Eric Steinbach after Sunday’s game.

The ageless wonder and former Pats QB Vinny Testaverde has signed with an NFL team.

Deion Sanders loved Junior’s ball handling skills on Sunday.

Colts GM Bill Polian is complaining about the rules again.

MLB

Randy Hill over at Fox Sports tells us why the Red Sox might not win the World Series.

Dan Lamothe says Suzyn Waldman’s cry of parity in baseball is off-base.

Tim Kurkjian tells us what the most underrated aspect of the Red Sox is.

Jason Whitlock’s favorite New York writer Mike Lupica has some harsh words for the Yankees.

The NY Post steps up with another classic headline.

When I head to my next contract negotiation, I have to have Scott Boras come along and really increase my value to the company. Everyone in the A-Rod sweepstakes get ready to open your wallets real wide.

Ken Rosenthal has a nice feature on Cleveland starter Paul Byrd.

Joe Haggerty looks at the 1-2 of Sabathia and Carmona.

Within this piece we learn that even though TBS’ broadcasts of the LDS were available in less homes than Fox’s previous coverage, TBS was still able to increase ratings by 18%

Check Please! Darren Rovell has the final tab the Yankees will be picking up for the services of The Rocket.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports says that this years baseball playoffs prove once again that having the highest salary is no guarantee of playoff success.

Jessica Camerato looks at this afternoon’s matchup of Kendrick Perkins vs. Al Jefferson in London.

Sports on TV

If your able to leave work early you can catch Kevin Garnett and the Celtics take on Garnett’s former team the Timberwolves in London. The game is being broadcast on ESPN2 at 2:30PM. For the college football fans, Navy will take on Pittsburgh tonight at 8PM on ESPN. The Bruins might have attracted their largest audience of the season if it weren’t for their west coast start time, but unfortunately for them they will be in action at 10PM on NESN as they take on Anaheim. For a look at everything else, check here.

Prozac Nation

(Afternoon Links provided by Guest Blogger David Vidinha. Send him feedback at [email protected])

Playing or living in a great sports town can be beneficial for both players and fans. The greater exposure of a great sports town leads to more opportunities financially for the players, and us as fans can have endless conversation and discussion about our teams. Inside the sports hotbeds such as Boston, New York, Philly, and Detroit, expectations of success are so great each year its almost palatable. Look around here, we have a great fascination with our sports teams, whether it’s newspapers, websites, blogs, talk radio, you name it, in this town the analyzing and second guessing are endless.

When things are going great like they are now, we get the opportunity to complain and scrutinize minute details. Things like, broadcast crews, margins of victory below 21 points, how will the Big Three divide up all the points, or whether we should watch the Bruins Friday night or the Sox, well I made that last one up, but honestly it’s a great feeling these times were in. It wasn’t so long ago we were screaming about bullpen by committee, a defense that couldn’t stop the run, or our basketball team finishing last to get a lottery pick. Those days are currently residing in life’s proverbial rear view mirror. These horrific times have now been passed on to our favorite rival city New York.

The Yankees have just been eliminated from the ALDS by the younger, hungrier Indians. The Jets are looking as pathetic as ever giving up 28 points in the 2nd half, losing again on Sunday to their natural rivals the Giants. The Jets, a team that plays with an offensive line that can’t open a hole large enough for Nicole Richie to squeeze through, a QB that can throw a deep ball as effectively as a tailgater outside of Gillette are some examples of how things are looking pretty weak over in NY, throw in the Knicks and the Mets and you might have the largest collection of depressed fans in one general area anywhere.

Take this morning’s sports coverage for example. In and around the New York and Tri-State area, the morning papers are filled with breakdowns of the “End of the Yankee Dynasty”, Joe Torre’s obituary, the absolute drudgery that is the Jets, this stuff goes on and on. As you flipped through this morning’s Boston papers we see the Pats getting ready to defend their undefeated record Sunday, the Sox preparing to begin the ALCS on Friday, and the Celtics beginning their preseason with the best team they’ve assembled on the court in a long time. We’re really feeling good over here. So, hold your head high Boston fans for we’re living in some good times here in Boston. If you see a New York fan in your travels, don’t taunt them, because their suffering enough misery, about the only thing that they can look forward to is maybe the resigning of Posada or the return of Tiki………nah that’s terrible too, just taunt them. Now only if we can get our 4th major sports team to get back into the Championship game…..Go Revs!

Around the Web

MLB

Much like the coverage of the over hyped “Camera Gate”, every columnist in the country has their own rendition of the Yankee Dynasty’s final day. The news of the Yankee crumble is endless today, so I’ll filter out only the good ones to help keep you smiling throughout lunch. John Heyman over at SI tells us that not only does he think Torre will be fired, but he also lets us in on the front runner in the A-Rod sweepstakes.

Ken Rosenthal in keeping with the tradition of the Yankee Stadium “Bleacher Creatures” provides us with a Yankee roll call.

Over at the Sporting News, they have Torre already sounding like an ex-manager.

The creative editors of all the NY papers love them bold headlines, here’s what the front of all the newspaper boxes looked like this morning in Times Square. NY Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, and finally the NY Times.

D & C’s favorite writer Howard Bryant declares the Yankee Dynasty officially dead. Joel Sherman in the NY Post has Yankee GM Brian Cashman saying that the Yankees cannot “find the magic”.

Buster Olney says the Yankees should show class in their handling of the Torre situation.

Also, Yankee broadcaster Suzyn Waldman whose embarrassing screeching at the sight of Roger Clemens this summer has become heavy audio drop material for WEEI, Suzyn does it again with her reaction to the Yankees defeat last night, and we thought Castiglione was a homer.

Reading through all of this made me think about just how bad the coverage will be when the Patriots actually, gulp, fail and Belichick no longer has his special touch, oh my.

Looking forward to the end of the week Tom Verducci says that the Indians at least have a shot to stop Ortiz, something the Angels did not.

Josh Peter over at Yahoo Sports throws a wet blanket on the Red Sox defeat of the Angels, and has a few words about their celebration afterwards as well.

Amalie Benjamin checks in with a Red Sox chat.

Peter Gammons has some observations on Manny.

NFL

From the “In Case you Missed it” files…

Peter King is still concerned about SpyGate in this week’s MMQB, and within Michael Silver’s Morning Rush we are provided with anecdotal evidence that under no circumstances do you approach a 250-plus pound NFL linebacker eating to ask him about a busted play from the previous game.

ESPN has their power rankings up, nothing surprising. Just note that there’s two teams from the AFC East that are placed in the bottom five. Didn’t that division used to be one of the toughest in the NFL?

Mike Reiss answers your questions in his weekly mailbag.

Don Banks has some observations in his latest Banks’ Shots.

The Carolina Panthers might be interested in a former Patriot QB.

Adam Schefter of the NFL Network has a nice piece on the volatile QB situations around the league.

Ron Borges Gregg Easterbrook checks in with his weekly marathon column, Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

Speaking of Borgie, in case you forgot he does have his own website now. In it he’s providing analysis and predictions, so if your a betting man be sure to stop by before placing any bets this weekend.

Peter King checks back in with his Tuesday Edition of MMQB. In it we get Peter’s minute by minute breakdown of the Monday night game, as well as some of his renowned baseball analysis. In case your keeping score, Peter’s Manager of the Year is……..wait for it……oh yeah, Tampa Bay’s Joe Maddon.

(From Bruce Allen)

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown had a few exchanges worthy of interest from Patriots fans:

How do the 2007 Patriots compare to the Patriots’ Super Bowl Teams?
Emmitt Smith: “Overall, they have upgraded this team, offense and defense, and they are playing better ball.”

Mike Ditka: “The final test is – Do they win the Super Bowl. This is the best prepared team in football. That goes down to the coaching staff. Bill Belichick right now, whether you like him or hate him or you want to anoint him, he’s the best in the business in what he’s doing right now. These guys know everything that is going to go on and they are prepared for everything. There is no trick against these guys.”

Tom Jackson: “When you look at them talent-wise, I don’t think there’s any doubt that they are better, especially on the offensive side of the ball. So, this team? Yes, better. When I start looking back now at those three Super Bowls my question will remain the same. To what extent did the video-taping go and how long did it go on? I see they played the Rams, as they led up to Super Bowl XXXVI, in week 11 in Foxboro and lose by seven. They come back two months later and they dismantle that football team at a neutral site. It may be nothing, I don’t know, neither do you (pointing to Keyshawn Johnson).”

Keyshawn Johnson: “When you play a team twice in the league, you play them once you lose. The second time around, it will never be the same.”

Patriots or Colts: Which team has a better chance to go 16-0?

Smith: “It is very difficult to go undefeated.

Jackson: “The offense of the Patriots verges on being great. You are playing a division, if you’re the Patriots, where you have a pretty easy walk. That makes it a little easier to go 16-0.”

Johnson: “I’d say New England. But I’ve got to think for a minute why? For me, I’d probably say they have a great coach, they’ve got a great team and obviously they’ve got an excellent zoom lens.”

From NFL Network on Sunday:

“If you want to compare these teams… At quarterback it’s a wash. At receiver it’s a wash. But the balance for the New England Patriots defensively…that’s where they take the lead on the Colts. The Colts have a huge drop off defensively.”

Deion Sanders on New England and Indianapolis – the AFC’s two unbeaten teams.

“He’s not as quick, not as physical, and not as aggressive. But he’s able to make plays because of his knowledge.”

Deion Sanders on Patriots LB Junior Seau, who had six tackles and two interceptions vs. Browns

Sports on TV

Its a rather dreadful night in sports with nothing to get excited about other than an NHL game on Versus. I personally would rather read Gregg Easterbrook’s entire column than find an NHL game between Carolina and Toronto on Versus, but hey that’s just me. For a listing of tonight’s action check here.

Doesn’t Get Much Better

(Submitted by guest blogger Brian Beaupre. You can email him at [email protected])

October in New England can usually be associated with changing leaves, dropping temperature, and lately for us, one of the best sports months of the calendar year. This weekend proved to be just that, with the Red Sox advancing to the ALCS in a balanced, dominating three-game sweep, and the Patriots proving even when they don’t play their best, they still remain in the elite of the NFL. Boston College even got in on the party, crushing Bowling Green to reach #4 in the latest AP Poll, the highest ranking since 1984.

Red Sox

Dan Shaughnessy highlights how the Red Sox beat the Angels in every possible way this weekend, wishing they never have to leave Southern California, even tossing a few bouquets at his buddy Curt Schilling. Rob Bradford has these Sox getting pretty good at these locker room celebrations in recent weeks. Sean McAdam further details the Red Sox dominance in this series, emphasizing how the Sox approach the last week of the season paid dividends for them in this series. Gordon Edes has the Sox brass and players enjoying the moment, but staying focused on the next series, whoever the opponent may be. Jackie MacMullan has the Sox drenching yet another locker room with yesterday’s win, but claiming their work is not done. Lenn Megliola also has the Sox drenching each other and the team’s brass, and looking forward to the week off after this celebration.

I must still be sleeping, as Dan Shaughnessy refers to Schilling as “Mr. October of Moundsmen.” Sean McAdam has Schilling truly savoring this one, as he stands atop the mound a completely re-invented pitcher than the one we last saw in 2004. Rob Bradford has Curt Schilling praising Jason Varitek for his game plan and scouting approach to the Angels on Sunday. Jeff Goldberg also touches on the role John Farrell and Jason Varitek played in the win. Steve Buckley joins the talk radio the masses in criticizing the Sox brass for not starting Schilling in Game 2 of the division series, claiming yesterday was a day for the Sox to “toss out the reports, the charts, and the certificates. It’s time for the Red Sox to go with their collective guts,” and start Schill in Game 2 of the ALCS. Bill Ballou offers a quick recap of the game and box score from yesterday’s clinching victory.

Tony Massarotti has the 1-2 punch of Ortiz and Ramirez really clicking for the first time this season, at the perfect time, with Manny’s confidence soaring. Reid Laymance has Ortiz and Ramirez putting this game on their shoulders, as it didn’t start well with runners in scoring position. Jeff Goldberg discusses the Angels lineup was the polar opposite of the Sox, both health-wise and production once the series started, but Mike Scioscia refusing to make excuses. Alex Speier has Ortiz and Ramirez clicking at the right time, with Ortiz getting a partner in crime this October. Megliola has even the West Coast fans not paying much attention to this series, with the Sox dominating from the start. Jeff Goldberg highlights the perfect game for the Sox, with both Ortiz and Schilling assuming their familiar roles’ in October.

Edes’ notebook has the Sox looking forward to lining up their pitching for the next series, again highlighting the question of who starts in game 2. Amalie Benjamin has Dustin Pedroia raising his game in the playoffs, despite apparently injuring himself in game 2. Michael Vega has Jered Weaver getting beaten by the exact 1-2 punch teams try to avoid, especially Ortiz, for whom he had strong words after watching his grand slam off Weaver earlier in the season.

Patriots

The Patriots improved to 5-0 yesterday, although it wasn’t all pretty. (Have we lost our minds, or has Bill Belichick’s constant emphasis on perfection hit the fan base as well?) Christopher Gasper touches on the victory, albeit with the Pats not performing at their best. Karen Guregian gets a locker room perspective on the win, which was predictably, not enthusiastic.

David Heuschkel has the defense bailing out the offense (as strange as that sounds in a 34-17 win). Michael Felger highlights the dominant play of the defense yesterday, coming up with timely turnovers, and bizarre celebrations. Jennifer Toland again has the Pats winning despite not playing their best, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Bob Ryan has the coach giving the riot act after the game, and discusses a day of good, bad, and ugly (Junior Seau). Mark Murphy touches on the bizarre interception celebration from Seau. Heuschkel takes a lighter approach to the Seau play.

Toland has Benjamin Watson stepping up in a big way on Sunday, with a Moss-esque stat line. Murphy has Watson proving to be yet another offensive weapon opponents need to game-plan for.

Gasper and Mike Reiss discuss Rodney Harrison’s return to the field after his four-game suspension. Guerigan’s notebook also discusses Harrison’s return, and details the Patriots injury situation from yesterday’s game, which had players laying on the turf all day. Rich Garven’s notebook touches on the return of Willie McGinest, with a classic quote of “Coming back was nice, but who wants to come back to a whooping?” Jim McCabe has Donte Stallworth finally getting in on the offensive fun this season. Guerigan has Asante Samuel on pace to “Get Paid” per his tattoo and holdout.

Other

Sorry I didn’t get a chance to get to all of the Celtics and Bruins links today, check out celticslinks.com and bruinslinks.com for the latest news and updates.

Sox Look to Have Fun in the Sun

(Sunday Morning Links by guest blogger David Vidinha. Send him feedback at [email protected])

In the county that boasts DisneyLand, movie stars and Bill Simmons’ favorite TV show, the Sox will take the field this afternoon with aspirations of making it a clean three game sweep and punching a ticket into their 3rd ALCS in five years. The Sox took the first two from Anaheim at home behind a stellar pitching performance by Josh Beckett and a game winning walk off homerun by Manny Ramirez. As Gordon Edes writes Manny’s blast had Curt acting like a 2 year old. When Curt takes the hill for the Sox he’ll bring with him his 8-2 record and a 2.06 ERA in 15 postseason starts. Schilling who has not pitched since September 25th went 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts this season versus Anaheim. Sean McAdam has Schilling describing the adrenaline rush of pitching in the postseason. Amalie Benjamin has Schilling set to prove that the new “finesse” Schilling can be just as successful when it matters as the old one. Standing in the Sox way will be 13-7 Jered Weaver who will be making his first postseason appearance. Weaver has never defeated the Red Sox going 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four career starts. Weaver described his first postseason start being about one, and only one thing.

As Steve Buckley writes manager Mike Scioscia is not one to panic. Dan Shaughnessy has Friday night’s style of win, loud and late, feeling similar to postseason wins of ’04. Jackie MacMullan goes one further proclaiming rather confidently that the series is over. Out in LA, Bill Plaschke of the LA Times says the Angels style of baseball cannot win championships, and the Angels are all but powerless against the Sox. Joe McDonald in the ProJo has the Angels looking to use some of the Red Sox never-say-die attitude heading into Game 3.

Within the Herald’s notebook we have Jered Weaver downplaying an incident he had earlier this year with Ortiz. In the ProJo’s notebook we learn Dustin Pedroia’s shoulder is fine, and he’ll be good to go in Game 3. In the LA Times notebook, Mike DiGiovanna has x-rays coming back negative on Vladimir Guerrero’s shoulder. Guerrero who was drilled by a Manny Delcarmen fastball on Friday night is expected to play in right field in Game 3. The Angels who desperately need an offensive spark will look to Guerrero to provide that today versus Schilling. As Alex Spier writes, Manny and Vlad’s styles of hitting may produce the same results, but their approaches are much different.

Patriots

Old friends Romeo Crennel and Willie McGinest head down Route 1 for the first time in a new uniform to take on the 4-0 Patriots. The Browns will look to improve their 2-2 record versus the Pats today at Gillette. For extensive Patriots coverage and a look at all the morning’s Patriots headlines, head over to the Patriots Daily page.

Celtics

After all the hype and anticipation the Celtics finally took the floor for the first time last night. As Steve Bulpett writes, the Celtics impressed in their opening act. Shira Springer has much of the same as the Celtics visited Rome. Charles Pierce has a nice column in the Boston Globe Magazine about Kevin Garnett in it Pierce has commissioner Stern saying Garnett’s move to the Celtics is not just a boost for the franchise but a boon for the league. Jessica Camerato also has a look at the first preseason game for the Celtics.

You can also check CelticsLinks.com for more stories.

Bruins

The Bruins grabbed their first win of this young season yesterday with a 3-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, Stephen Harris has your game story.

Get more links at BruinsLinks.com

Sports on Tap

Its a busy day for Boston sports fans, or any sports fan for that matter. With two playoff baseball games, three football games, and even a Celtics exhibition to keep you busy. The Celtics kick things off with a 12:30PM exhibition game vs. Lottomatica Roma which can be seen on ESPN2. The Patriots will follow with kick off on CBS at 1:00PM. The Red Sox will look to punch their ticket to the ALCS starting at 3PM on TBS, followed by the Yankees scratching to save their lives at 6:30PM. For all rest of of today’s jam packed schedule, check here.