More Patriots-Ravens reaction

As was to be expected sports radio was all about the Patriots and their second straight loss Sunday night. There were a bunch of different story lines that dominated the airwaves. Obviously the referees and how poorly the game was called was the lead story, but then there was also the Bill Belichick pushing an official following the game side of things, which got a lot more attention than I personally thought it would. Tony Massarotti was very adamant in saying Belichick should be suspended and brought it up any chance he could. Most everyone else said to expect a heavy fine. Other topics on the airwaves and online included the defense taking a few steps back, and even whether or not the game-winning field goal was good or not.

Taking a step back and looking at the big picture the Patriots went toe-to-toe with one of the top 5 teams in the AFC on the road, without one of their most productive and important offense players in Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots proved they are still one of the elite teams in the league and will be there in the end. Some are saying the Patriots schedule is now tougher than first thought, but until the Texans game Dec. 10 the only “tough” games I see are vs. Denver Oct. 7 and @ Seattle Oct. 14. The Patriots could still hypothetically go 12-4.

One trend that is becoming an issue is the Patriots failure to closeout and win close games. Since 2009 (including postseason) the Patriots are 8-9 in games decided by five points or less. Tom Brady spoke indirectly about it following the game saying the team needs to play better when it counts. This is something to monitor as the season goes on.

The ending of the Monday Night Football game will surely be the topic of discussion all day and for the coming days as well. If this doesn’t end the officials lockout, I honestly don’t know what will. The NFL needs to get this settled and it needs to happen before the Browns and Ravens kickoff Thursday night.

Here are a few of the notable links, but you can get all the coverage over at

Patriots issues go beyond officials– Tony Massarotti says the Patriots have problems on both offense and defense.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges gives his grades for Week 3. There aren’t that bad, but definitely room for improvement.

Patriots lost in the chaos– Gerry Callahan says the Patriots cannot blame the refs, they need to just play.

Patriots’ offense caught in between– Mike Reiss looks at how Josh McDaniels has handled the offense and how he is trying to find out what works best to start making things click.

Against Ravens, Patriots were lacking finishing move– Christopher Price says the Patriots could not close out the Ravens, which was the main reason why they lost.

Wedge issue: Replacement refs could leave scars– Tom E. Curran notes coaches, execs and players have the right to be upset with their owners for not reaching a deal with the refs.

Red Sox pitchers struggle in loss to Rays, Branch returns to New England

After winning the first two games of the series against the Rays, the Red Sox couldn’t win a third in a row as they were beat up by the Rays 13-3 Wednesday night in Tampa. Pitching was a huge issue as six pitchers combined to allow 13 hits and 10 walks. Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up five runs on nine hits over three plus innings, including two home runs in the fourth. Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard followed, but were not much better. Aceves, who hadn’t pitched in six games, gave up four runs in two innings of work. Bard allowed three runs in just 1/3 of an inning. He walked three batters and threw just four strikes in 16 pitches. There really are no words for his season.

You really have to wonder just how different the Red Sox pitching staff will be next season. There is no way Matsuzaka is re-signed, and it is very hard to imagine the team will bring back Aceves after all that he has done the past few months. One of the big things to look for next spring training is how Bard bounces back from an abysmal season. He will certainly be pitching out of the bullpen, so fans and the organization can hope he is back to his normal 2011 self.

Daniel Bard blows up again– Scott Lauber in his notebook has Bard having yet another horrible outing.

Red Sox must decide on manager quickly– Nick Cafardo says the Red Sox need to decide on their 2013 manager almost as soon as the 2012 season ends. He mentions Tim Bogar and even Jason Varitek.

John Lackey could be answer– John Tomase writes John Lackey could play a major role for the Red Sox in 2013 coming off of Tommy John surgery.

Bobby Valentine with the Big Show– (audio) Bobby Valentine hung up after being questioned once again about being late for a game in Oakland. Luckily for Valentine, who is contractually obligated to appear on the station once a week, only has two more appearances left.

Deion Branch rejoined the Patriots Wednesday, but it was like he never even left as his locker was still kept in tact, which is something you very rarely see and him returning was one of the least surprising things the Patriots have done of late. Kellen Winslow also joined the team, but it is very hard to see a scenario where both players play major roles in Sunday’s game at the Ravens. Winslow will only have a few days to get acclimated to the new offense, and Branch comes in as the No. 4 receiver for a team that hasn’t ran a 4 WR set all season. Both players should be active, see limited action, but really shouldn’t be major factors.

Welker situation unfathomable– Christopher Gasper is very confused with the whole Wes Welker situation.

Josh McDaniels under fire– Karen Guregian looks at Josh McDaniels and his play calling Sunday, calling it “un-Patrot-like”.

McDaniels, Patriots need time to get in groove– Tom E. Curran says to be patient with McDaniels and the offense.

Patriots trying to keep options open– Mike Reiss looks at how the Patriots might run their offense without Aaron Hernandez.

Red Sox play spoiler in Tampa, more Patriots reaction

The Red Sox played spoiler in Tampa last night as they defeated the Rays 5-2, knocking the Rays even further back in the AL Wild Card race. Aaron Cook pitched very well to earn the win as he went six innings, allowing just one run on five hits. The Red Sox were actually getting no-hit in the sixth inning, but Jacoby Ellsbury’s tw0-run home run put an end to that. The team will look to continue to play spoiler as they have three more games against the same Rays.

Daniel Bard not up to speed– Scott Lauber looks at Daniel Bard and says the key to his success is him regaining his velocity.

The Maddon way works– John Tomase says although the way Rays manager Joe Maddon manages isn’t normal by other major league standards, the Red Sox should still take note because it works.

Bobby V grasping at straws– Gordon Edes looks at Bobby Valentines comments over the past week and how his moves on the field haven’t been much better.

Cook, Ellsbury enjoy rare night of production– Sean McAdam looks at the two players who contributed the most Monday night.

Even a day after the Patriots’ unexpected loss to the Cardinals in their home-opener there was still plenty of criticism and second guessing from the game, and the continued debate as to why Julian Edelman has taken over as the teams’ No. 2 receiver over Wes Welker (in terms of number of snaps). The radio airwaves were filled with conspiracy theories for the situation, most of them being totally ridiculous. Unfortunately, this will be a topic for the foreseeable future because everyone knows how the Patriots are in terms of revealing these types of things.

Prepared statements– Shalise Manza Young notes the Patriots players said they did not have a good week of practice leading up to the game.

Aaron Hernandez’s loss in crucial– Christopher Gasper looks at what the Patriots will be faced with without Hernandez for some time.

Sour day of play-calling by Patriots’ McDaniels– Tom E. Curran says Josh McDaniels’ play-calling was a bit suspect on Sunday.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges hands out his Week 2 grades — they are not good.

Wes Welker’s limited use remains a mystery– Gerry Callahan explores the different possibilities as to why Welker’s playing time has been limited thus far this season.

Wes Welker no conspiracy victim– Mike Reiss says the reason for Welker’s limited playing time is because of a new evolving Patriots offense.

Why Julien Edelman has played so much this season– Christopher Price looks at Edelman’s changed role this season.

Patriots much achieve consistency– Matt Chatham, the former Patriots player now writing for the Herald says being consistent is the key to the teams’ success.

Red Sox fight to the end, but fall to Yankees

After a walk-off win Tuesday night the Red Sox were looking for another one on Wednesday, but they could only get one run in ninth inning and fell to the Yankees 5-4. The Red Sox trailed 5-1 and fought back scoring two runs in the seventh and then one in the ninth, but that was as close as they could get. Cody Ross, Bobby Valentine and Jerry Royster were all ejected in the eighth inning following a tough third strike call on Ross.

The Red Sox have have shown more fight the past two nights than the past two months. Maybe playing spoiler against their rivals has something to do with it, maybe it doesn’t, but there will be plenty of opportunities coming up for the team to play spoiler and with the way the past two nights have gone it actually makes the games worth watching.

There was an awkward moment when Valentine went to remove reliever Alfredo Aceves from the game. Aceves never got within three feet of Valentine, never handed him the ball and walked off the back of the mound, looping around the players to walk to the dugout. While the NESN telecast never showed or made mention of it, Sox beat writers were sure to mention it on Twitter and asked the players about it afterwards. Valentine offered a pretty good quote on his relief pitcher.

“I’ll have to look at it,” he said before pausing. “And who cares if he showed me up? If I have to explain Aceves’s actions, I’ll wind up going across the river and work for Harvard.”

Five questions with Nomar Garciaparra– Chad Finn asks Nomar Garciaparra, who was in town to broadcast the game for ESPN, five questions about the Red Sox, including how to rebuild their roster.

It was spoiled long before this for Red Sox– Dan Shaughnessy has a number of Red Sox thoughts including saying they need to trade Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason and Valentine is more relaxed than ever this season.

Finding cash value in Sox situation– Michael Silverman looks at the payroll situations for both the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Red Sox are $26 million less than the Yankees for next year right now, which gives them plenty of flexibility this off season.

Red Sox still showing some fight– Gordon Edes says the Red Sox are still fighting hard to the end, including Cody Ross and Alfredo Aceves, except Ross for the good and Aceves for the bad.

Red Sox tempers flare in loss to Yankees– Sean McAdam looks at some of the frustrations the Red Sox displayed Wednesday night.

You can get all your Patriots links leading up to Sunday’s game with the Cardinals at

After Wednesday’s aftermath of Rich from Toucher & Rich’s visit to Fenway for Bobby V’s pregame press conference on Tuesday, Gordon Edes had a tweet that I found pretty amusing. Edes tweeted Dustin Pedroia left the game to go be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Then, a fan asked Edes what he was getting the new born…

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More Patriots reaction, Red Sox welcome Yankees to town

All Boston teams were off on Monday, but there was still plenty to talk about following the Patriots’ season opening win on Sunday. The two main story lines were the play of the rookies on defense, and the emergence of running back Stevan Ridley. Despite the convincing win, with the Boston media and fans there will always be something negative coming out of the game.

This time it was the lack of playing time from Wes Welker. He played only 43 of the 67 snaps (64 percent) compared to just under 90 percent last season, while finishing with three catches for 14 yards. Some threw around the idea Bill Belichick and the Patriots are upset with him after his contract negotiations this past off season and are punishing him now. To me it is a non-story, and just one game. The Patriots seem to be stressing balance this season, so give it a few more games. It will work itself out.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges gives his grades for each position from Sunday’s win. They all passed with flying colors.

Ridley’s super Sunday was no surprise to high school coach– Kevin McNamara speaks with Ridley’s high school coach following his 125-yard performance in the season opening win.

Jones up to tall task– Jeff Howe takes a second-look at rookie Chandler Jones’ performance in his first NFL start.

In the line of Duty– Gerry Callahan looks at Logan Mankins’ toughness after it was revealed he tore his ACL in the first game last season, but did not tell anyone until after the season.

Has Welker’s role changed?– Felger & Mazz debate whether or not Welker’s role has changed this season.

News of Welker’s targets is product of media– Tom E. Curran blames the media for creating the Welker story.

Welker, Brown in same mold– Shalise Manza Young compares Welker to former Patriots star Troy Brown.

NFL Week 1: A few thoughts– Tony Massarotti has some thoughts not only on the Patriots, but the league in general.

In what would normally be a very meaningful September series between the Red Sox and Yankees, this time it means almost nothing, at least for the Red Sox. The Yankees now find themselves fighting to stay atop the AL East standings and the Red Sox will look to play spoiler.

Spoiler alert: Yanks in peril– Michael Silverman says the Yankees September has a chance to end just like the Red Sox’ did last year.

Good place to start– Scott Lauber looks ahead to next season and says the team needs to focus on rebuilding their starting rotation first before doing anything else.

Slumping Sox may find pick-me-up in pinstripes– Peter Abraham wonders if with the Yankees coming to town it might inspire the team to play better ball, and spoil their playoff hopes.

Lester: Beckett wasn’t the problem– Joe McDonald has Jon Lester’s reaction to Josh Beckett being traded, and how it could benefit the left-hander even though Lester says Beckett wasn’t an issue.

Red Sox lose again, who will replace Bobby V?

While everyone was watching the Giants-Cowboys NFL regular season opener and then sleeping, the Red Sox lost 2-1 to the Mariners out in Seattle. The team finished their nine-game road trip by losing eight of nine games. The team is off today before hosting the Blue Jays for a weekend series at Fenway Park, which is sure to be interesting as as the Blue Jays manager is John Farrell and he is the man who was connected to the managerial opening last winter. The Red Sox might be interested in going after again this offseason.

The biggest story of the day came off the field, with Bobby Valentine losing his cool on WEEI’s Big Show, which was well documented by Bruce yesterday afternoon.

Strain shows in Valentine’s words– Peter Abraham says the stress of the season is starting to takes its toll on Valentine.

Bobby Valentine in misery– Michael Silverman also looks at Valentine and his comments on WEEI.

Bobby Valentine down for count– Gordon Edes says Valentine’s comments show he is on his way out of town after the season.

Will Red Sox get their man in Farrell this time?– Nick Cafardo wonders if the Red Sox can get Farrell to come back to Boston. He says he will be the teams’ number one choice to replace Valentine.

Why the Red Sox should take another run at John Farrell– From yesterday, Rob Bradford also thinks the Red Sox will push very hard to get Farrell to come back to Boston.

Red Sox need more Bill James?– Dan Shaughnessey touches on a number of subjects in his column today, including Bill James, and yes, the Patriots’ new media work room.

One more lost year for Ryan Kalish– Silverman also looks at Ryan Kalish’s season, one which has been limited due to injuries and once again hurting his development.

The Patriots open their regular season this Sunday at Tennessee, and for Boston sports fans it can not come soon enough, especially with everything going on with the Red Sox.

Double coverage on tap– Michael Whitmer looks at the McCourty twins facing one another this Sunday.

Brady prepares for unknown in Tennessee– Tom E. Curran says the offense could break out Sunday like they did in last year’s season opener in Miami when Brady threw for 517 in the Patriots’ 38-24 win.

In defense of needing a strong Patriots defense– Ron Borges says having a strong defense is still important in the league today, it isn’t all about the offense.

Young, talented defense critical to getting Patriots over the hump– Jeff Howe looks at the young defense and how it has changed over the years under Belichick.

Patriots wrap up preseason, Red Sox stumble again

The Patriots finished up their preseason schedule with a 6-3 loss to the Giants Wednesday night. No Patriot starters on offense or defense played with the exception of Sebastian Vollmer who made his preseason debut and only played 2.5 series. There was very little offense as the two teams combined for 18 punts. Now all that is left to do is finalize the 53-man roster, which needs to be done by Friday, and then all attention turns toward the season opener Sept. 9 at Tennessee.

On Mallett, the jury is still out– Greg A. Bedard looks at the preseason and where things stand for Ryan Mallett.

Sebastian Vollmer boots O-Line– Jeff Howe looks at Vollmer’s return to game action and a few other key players who made impacts Wednesday night.

Could Koppen get axed in final cuts?– Mike Reiss looks at the center position competition and wonders whether longtime Patriot Dan Koppen could be cut.

What we learned Wednesday: Ready for the real thing– Christopher Price has ten things that were learned following the preseason finale.

Pats players prepare for news on future– Tom E. Curran looks at a few players who are on the bubble for the cuts to get down to the 53-man roster.

Wednesday night wasn’t the debut Zach Stewart was looking for with the Red Sox. The right-hander allowed nine runs on ten hits in just three inning of work in the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Angels. Stewart was part of the trade that sent Kevin Youkilis to Chicago. The Red Sox are now seven games under .500 at 62-69.

Dustin Pedroia clears the air while declaring the best is yet to come– Rob Bradford sits down with Dustin Pedroia touching on a number of subjects including the meeting in New York, Johnny Peskey’s funeral, his comments about Valentine early in the year and the infamous picture message. Good for Pedroia to take some accountability unlike most of his teammates and Felger can finally shut up about no one asking Pedroia about the picture. I bet he never imagined Bradford would be the first one to ask about it.

Theo Epstein’s clean getaway irks Red Sox owners– Dan Shaughnessy says Theo Epstein deserves more of the blame for the mess the Red Sox had this season. He tried to get responses from ownership and got responses like, “I can’t believe you are asking that seriously, Dan. Anything we would comment to you would be distorted.’’ Do you think he is liked among Red Sox owners?

This Top 10 not worth any replays– John Tomase looks at the top 10 losses for the Red Sox this season.

Dice-K, Red Sox beat Royals

Daisuke Matsuzaka, returning from the DL and pitching his first game in well over a month, led the Red Sox to a 5-1 win over the Royals in the finale of their four-game series. Matsuzaka was outstanding in his seven innings of work where he allowed one run over five inning. It was his first major league win in over 16 months. Jacoby Ellsbury and Cody Ross led the offensive with Ellsbury homering in the first inning while Ross finished with 3 RBIs.

Fresh start– Michael Vega looks at Matsuzaka’s outing yesterday.

Daisuke Matsuzaka eyes a strong future, but isn’t contemplating free agency– Alex Speier looks at yesterday’s start as well as the future for Matuszaka.

Careful on signing Papi– Steve Buckley says the Red Sox need to be careful this off season when deciding on whether or not to sign David Ortiz.

School of hard Sox– Michael Silverman looks back at the blockbuster trade and says he cannot grade it until he sees what the team does with the freed up cash.

[UPDATED at 5:30 p.m. with a few notable stories I missed this morning.]

Twenty-four hours that turned the Red Sox inside out– Rob Bradford has an in-depth look at what took place Friday and Saturday for Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto including quotes from Gonzalez and Punto.

After losing to Rockies, Josh Beckett takes on L.A. Times columnist T.J. Simers– Bradford also has the exchange between Beckett and an L.A. columnist following last night’s game.

Where do the Red Sox go from here?– Gary Dzen has a number of questions/and answers about the future of the Red Sox in a photo slideshow format.

The Patriots cut their roster down to 75 players yesterday. Among the cuts were wide receivers Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth, both of which were surprising to many.  The roster will once again be shrunk down Friday, when it will go down to 53 players, the mandated number for the regular season. Aaron Hernandez was also reportedly signed to a five-year contract extension worth $40 million.

Hernandez $41.1 million extension shows Patriots evolving– Greg A. Bedard says the future is bright with Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski locked up long-term.

Branch backs pro’s attitude– Ron Borges looks at Deion Branch and gets his thoughts on Gaffney and Stallworth being released.

Hernandez and Welker are world’s apart– Tom E. Curran looks at Hernandez’s extension and he and Welker are two different situations, with Hernandez being a much younger guy where the Patriots are looking to the long-term future.

For more on this Patriots visit

Did anyone else catch this picture over the weekend on Joe Haggerty’s Facebook page? I thought beer wasn’t allowed in the clubhouse, yet alone the dugout. Maybe LeLacheur Park is considered a road game. I guess he knew the rule on that one, unlike a few weeks ago in Cleveland with the Red Sox.

Red Sox fall to six games under .500

The Red Sox fell to the Angels 7-3 and now have 14 losses in the month of August. The last time the Red Sox lost 14 games in August was all the way back in 2003 with Grady Little as manager. Clay Buchholz allowed a season-high and tied a career-high by allowing 12 hits in just 5 1/3 innings. The seven runs also matched a season-high for Buchholz, who allowed seven runs in his first start of the year against Detroit. Buchholz had allowed three runs or less in his last six starts going into last night.

Even Clay Buchholz at a loss– Joe McDonald looks at Buchholz’s night, who going into the game was the teams’ most consistent pitcher, but just didn’t have it Wednesday night.

Buchholz: ‘I’m not really disappointed’– Maureen Mullen also looks at Buchholz’s start Wednesday night.

It was bound to happen eventually, even to Red Sox– Peter Abraham looks at some of the most respected and successful franchises in the league who have had losing records since the last time the Red Sox did.

Revolving coaches might be real Sox issue– Scott Lauber says having three pitching coaches in the past four seasons could be playing a role in the pitching staff’s struggles.

Daisuke Matsuzaka era may not end yet– Nick Cafardo says the Red Sox have not “closed the door” on the idea of bringing Matsuzaka back for another season.

It’s all over for the Red Sox– Christopher Gasper (subscription required) says with 38 games remaining the season is all but over, with players just looking to get it over with.

Will anyone frame the 2012 Sox photo?– With the team photo being taken today, Gordon Edes looks at the disappointing season and even ahead to next season.

According to the Inside Track, only four players attended Johnny Pesky’s funeral on Monday. This after the front office had ordered busses for the front office and the team. The report says the front office was “extremely disappointed.” As they should be, Pesky was a Red Sox icon, who no one could ever say anything negative about. Making matters worse was the entire team made it to Josh Beckett’s charity bowling event later that night.

The two-day NESN/WEEI Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon wrapped up at midnight last night and over the two days $3.2 million was raised to help strike out cancer. All of the local sports teams chipped in to help this great cause. The Red Sox players took time to all go out to center field prior to the game Wednesday and pose for a photo with the tote board showing how much money was raised at that time. This is an absolutely great event and continues to grow year after year. This was the 11th year of the event.

The Patriots are in Tampa for their second practice with the Buccaneers before their preseason game Friday night. Get all your Patriots links at

Patriots fall to Eagles as many starters sit, Red Sox still in news on off day

Playing the first of three games in an 11-day span Bill Belichick decided to rest many of the Patriots starters, including Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and many more. The end result was a 27-17 loss to the Eagles on Monday Night Football in an ugly, sloppy game. The Eagles played their starters into the third quarter where at that point they were going against the second and third string Patriots defense.

The big story coming out of the game was Michael Vick being injured on his sixth play of the game. The quarterback injured his ribs after taking a hit from Jermaine Cunningham. X-rays were negative, but he did not return. Patriots safety Patrick Chung was also injured, reportedly injuring his shoulder, but it isn’t very serious.

Patriots defense answers few questions against Eagles– Chris Gasper (subscription required) says with a lot of the starters being held out it is difficult to see how well the defense really is after they have stood out in practice.

Given a second chance, Vereen carries himself well– Greg A. Bedard says with last night’s performance Shane Vereen is now challenging Stevan Ridley for the lead running back position.

Mallett makes impact– Karen Guregian looks at quarterback Ryan Mallett’s night.

Bill Belichick has it all under control– Mike Reiss says not to worry about not seeing many Patriot starters, Belichick has a plan with the demanding schedule the next week to ten days.

Cannon, Solder struggle again– Tom E. Curran looks at two players, Marcus Cannon and Nate Solder who struggled once again on Monday. The offensive line still remains a cause for concern.

Patriots’ Hightower learns through play-calling– Mary Paoletti has rookie Dont’a Hightower calling the defense plays Monday night, which allowed him to learn even more about the Patriots defense.

Ten things we learned from Monday: Protection remains a problem for Patriots– Christopher Price has ten things that we learned coming out of Monday night’s game.

Although the Red Sox were off on Monday they were still in the news as it became official that Carl Crawford will have Tommy John Surgery on Thursday and the team fired pitching coach Bob McClure, naming Randy Niemann the pitching coach for the remainder of the season. Niemann has been with the time the entire season, he just has not been in the dugout per MLB rules.

The firing of McClure this late in the season is a bit odd to me. In a way it is almost like the Red Sox are backing Valentine, going with “his guy” in Niemann. Could the team still be considering bringing Valentine back for next season? This would be the first move that would suggest that.

Red Sox GM knows bigger fixes needed– Scott Lauber says Ben Cherington knows more decisions like the firing of McClure will need to be made for the Red Sox to get back to where they need to be.

Red Sox fire pitching coach Bob McClure– Sean McAdam looks at the Red Sox’ decision to fire their pitching coach.

Bob McClure just couldn’t last– Gordon Edes says there have been hints all season long of the disconnect between Valentine and McClure so it was only a matter of time before he was let go.