Slow News Day…

Good morning, T.J. Donegan of bostonsportz.com here. Bruce is still away so I’ll handle your morning links once again. Sorry for the delay, internet has been screwy down here in our nation’s capital today. These things happen. It’s a slow news day all around, today, but on with the show.

All in all not the biggest day yesterday with all the teams having a much-needed day off, with both the Celtics and Bruins looking pretty haggard after a rough weekend.

Celtics

Everybody’s favorite Gerry Calahan leads us off today, saying the idea the Celtics should just ease off the gas and let Cleveland win the East is foolish. Got to agree with him there. Frank Dell’apa says these “wounded Celtics” have to press on, even if it means starting inexperienced guys. Never like to see your team described as “wounded.”

ESPN’s Outside the Lines had a great story yesterday about Duke guard Nolan Smith, son of former Celtic Derek Smith, and how his father’s death has affected him. Phenomenal read, this one.

That’s about it for C’s news today. Wasn’t kidding when I said it was slow. Check Celticslinks.com to catch up if you missed anything from yesterday.

Bruins

The Bruins take on the Blue Jackets tonight. FoxSports.com has the AP’s preview of the game. Mick Colageo for the Inside Bruins blog says the Blue Jackets game presents new motivation for a team that, after a hot start, is just 15-10-5 to start the new year.

Steve Conroy of the Herald talks about the struggles of Blake Wheeler over the last few games, as the rookie has gone pointless.

Red Sox

Jon Lester is expected to put pen to paper on a $30 million extension that could lock him up until 2014 today. Despite the impending payday for the young lefty, Adam Kilgore says it’s all business from Lester right now as he gets ready for the new season. Ron Borges took the stonewalling by Lester as a personal affront to the intelligence of all baseball fans and compares him to the bumbling German guards from Hogan’s heroes. Nice, Ron. Nice.

Dan Barbarisi of the Projo looks at two of the Sox’ new relievers, Wes Littleton and Ramon Ramirez, and ruminates on their chances of making the roster. Chaz Scoggins compares the starting rotation the Sox have built to the one the Yankees have purchased this offseason and says the Sox are winning that arms race.

Brian Macpherson looks at Clay Buchholz and his attitude heading into what could be a career-defining spring for the young man. The AP talks about Jon Lester’s new contract as well, saying he’s rounding into form as the spring wears on, but isn’t signed yet, despite what Yahoo Sports is reporting, and doesn’t know what the timetable is.

Mark Tomase checks in on Kevin Youkilis to see how he’s performing at the WBC. His verdict: Youk rules the world.

Maureen Mullen for the Worcester Telegram Gazette talks about Jeff Bailey, the I-league’s MVP last seaason in Pawtucket and his attempt to break into the big club this Spring.

Adam Kilgore’s notebook says Mike Lowell will get a start as a DH in a spring training game today, a welcome break from just rehab.

New England Patriots

Scott Benson at Patriots Daily is participating in a mock draft and has his selections up.

Mark Farinella looks at New England closing in on signing cornerback Shawn Springs. Springs has a running “rivalry” with Terrell Owens, and has matched his career moves, division for division, according to Pro Football Talk. He’s also a veteran cornerback who can come into New England and shore up a unit sorely lacking in depth.

Karen Guregian has K Gostkowski looking to stay in New England this fall.

ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski says Randy Moss provides the “roadmap” for the Terrell Owens experiment in Buffalo. Except that he doesn’t have a Hall of Fame quarterback. or a Hall of Fame coach. or an established defense….and it’s Buffalo.

One 19-inch snowstorm and he’ll retire just to get warm.

The Register-Herald catches up with Troy Brown, who is enjoying his newfound freedom in retirement. Also catching up with Patriots Alums, Josh McDaniels says he brought in safety Renaldo Hill because he was just so damn tough to gameplan for while Josh was here in New England.

The league’s preparing for what could determine it’s short-term future this weekend as the NFLPA will meet to elect their new Executive Director who will replace the late Gene Upshaw. It’s been a matter of some debate as one of the candidates was eliminated and then un-eliminated when player reps complained and another, Troy Vincent, is under possible FBI (Update: just NFLPA investigation, not sure why I thought it was FBI, but my mistake) investigation.

If the NFLPA doesn’t hire a strong leader that can unite them, Sports Business Journal says, they could get steamrolled by the owners when the new CBA talks begin soon which might lead to a work stoppage in two years.

And not a Patriots story here, but a goodie nonetheless, from the Athens Banner-Herald talking about Falcons fullback Jason Snelling and his fight against Epilepsy. Definitely worth a look.

That’ll do it for me today. Hopefully some big news will break or we’ll all spend the day refreshing the same pages at work watching the clock tick by slower and slower. Clemens may be in trouble, as they reportedly found PEDs on the stuff Brian McNamee gave them,  so that’s a start.

Good Morning, T.J. Donegan of bostonsportz.com here. Bruce is taking a well deserved break and I’ll be taking over guest duties for the day.

Pretty quiet day yesterday as the Patriots signed a new TE, the Bruins got beat at home by the Flyers, and word dropped that Scalabrine will be out until at least April with his various head traumas. Let’s do what spring training time is for and head to the links.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa has your recap of yesterday’s rough loss for the Globe, and also had a Q&A online Tuesday with fans that talks a great deal about what the Bruins might have to do both before the trade deadline and in the offseason to better the club. Stephen Harris is worried about how flat the Bs looked last night, especially with less than 20 games left in the season. Metro has some quick unsigned thoughts from the game.

Other outlets mostly picked up Jimmy Golen’s AP version, which you can read here or any of the other local papers.

Kevin Paul Dupont talks about the lack of trade action around the league as the deadline looms.

Kevin Loftus talks about Michael Ryder, the Bs number two scorer, and how big a shift the last year has been for him. Kevin also discusses the Bruins’ need for something, anything (or anyone) to shakeup this club before this afternoon’s deadline. My bet: don’t count on it.

Carmine Frongillo of the Lowell Sun also talks about the Bruins and the impending trade deadline.

Patriots

The Pats signed TE Chris Baker yesterday for a reported 5 years and $14 million (with less than 2 guaranteed, so in the NFL, that’s all that really matters). Chris Gasper has the 29-year-old getting a big boost in playing for an old rival. John Tomase recaps the new Patriot’s career in New York and also notes that Heath Evans might get the old heave-ho with Fred Taylor in town.

Jim Donaldson says that, despite what people may think, the price the Patriots got for Cassel was actually just about right. I agree, but then Belichick also basically threw in Mike Vrabel for free. Since when does Bill devalue lower round picks or veteran linebackers?

Shalise Manza Young brings it back round to Baker and talks about why the former Jet would want to put on the Patriots uniform. She says winning — but I say that money couldn’t hurt, either.

Mark Farinella says that Baker isn’t promising to be the new Ben Coates, but that he’s at least promising to block and catch, something the Patriots never seem to be able to get in the same tight end.

Wanted to share this as well: The goodbye column Gene Frenette of jacksonville.com wrote for “Freddy T.” If he brings that attitude to this ballclub, he’s more than welcome.

Matt Cassel made a bit of a booboo in his first press conference, saying he’d have to go find Bernard Pollard and “thank him for the opportunity.” Classy, Matt. The USA Today Game On blog says he might regret that one. I’m sure he was just kidding.

Red Sox

Spring training is in full swing now, which means that all the best column ideas have already been used. (Or in some writers’ case, re-used.)

I’ll send you over to redsoxlinks.com for coverage of the day to day events — Drew had his back injection and felt better and Brad Penny was scratched from a spring training start. Other than that, not much has happened so, if you’ll permit me, I figured I’d share some of the better spring columns I’ve read so far.

First up, Joe Posnaski’s awesome piece on Royals Scout Art Stewart taking another chance at love through baseball. Sappy, I know, but Joe’s one of the best — if not the best — baseball writers in the country and even he was proud of this one.

Lance Niekro is bringing out the knuckleball, which his father Joe (Phil’s brother) employed to such great effect in his 22 years in the league.

Ramona Shelburne took a ride with Tommy Lasorda to the Dodger’s new spring training site and wrote about the experience. You’ll have to forgive the formatting of this one as the Daily News doesn’t keep their stories up very long before they’re archived. You can read it here, but the formatting is awkward.

And a sad day, today, as the pioneer of T-Ball has died at the age of 93. Also, everyone’s favorite, Manny Ramirez, has apparently finally signed his contract with the Dodgers — the same terms, essentially, they offered him maybe a month ago. It’s like watching your crazy ex girlfriend running around with some new guy at a bar and then watching her get into a screaming match and storm out, drunk and crying. You laugh, but you’re just glad it isn’t you anymore.

My esteemed colleague Jake DiGregorio over at bostonsportz.com has a piece up on the whole Manny fiasco.

Celtics

The Celtics take on the Nets tonight I’ll send you over to CelticsLinks.com to get your pre-game news and updates today.

The big news last night was that sorely-missed Brian Scalabrine will be out until April because of multiple concussions in the last few months. Concussions are absolutely no joke — especially successive ones — and I hope he gets healed up and back to playing as soon as possible.

I’ll leave you on a higher note though with this phenomenal dance caught in the stands at the TD BN Garden. Not sure when it’s from, but it’ll brighten your day.

That’ll do it for me, have a good one.

http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com/2009/03/4570

You just can’t keep a good Ray down

(Guest blogging today is T.J. Donegan, for comments/criticisms shoot him an email at [email protected])

Good morning, it’s me again, picking up the tab for the day while Bruce handles the real world. Not the busiest of times in the Boston sports world but considering the previous nine months have been the most insane roller coaster for us as sports fans with abject joy, abject horror, and more abject (abjecter?) joy with three consecutive runs to championship finals in that span, I’ll take the breather when it comes.

So kick back, enjoy the warm weather and read some sports news.

Red Sox

The Sox were downed 7-6 last night by the Tampa Bay Rays, swept for the second time this season by the plucky Floridian club that looks more and more legit with each passing week. The Rays extended their division lead to 3.5 games with the win, storming back with six runs in the bottom of the seventh to ultimately win, 7-6.

Gordon Edes
says while there’s no trophy for being four games up by July 4th (referencing the 2006 Red Sox for good measure), Tampa Bay is not to be taken lightly. Amalie Benjamin discusses the bullpen woes for Boston last night and the role they played in the loss. Jeff Horrigan talks about the loss last night and the interesting season so far between the Rays and Red Sox.

Sean McAdam says the Sox “weren’t just swept… [but] were outplayed and outclassed” in this series with the Rays. He’s definitely on the money there. Jeff Goldberg says watching the game last night, it’s clear who is the division leader and who was being swept under the rug. Goldberg also files a piece on the struggles of Manny Delcarmen, who played a role in last night’s seventh-inning collapse. Dan Lamothe on his Red Sox Monster Blog invokes Adam Sandler and says this was one of the most frustrating losses of the season to watch. Bill Ballou at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette says that, amazement at the Rays’ success aside, the panic light needs to be on for a Red Sox team that’s lost five straight. Fred Goodall of the AP has their version of event that you can find at just about every paper’s website’s sports section, all linked to on the right side of this page.

Amalie Benjamin also looks ahead to this weekend’s series with the New York Yankees, saying there’s still a lot of tension surrounding it, even without the division (necessarily) on the line. Rob Bradford has a similar story for the Herald, also using Ortiz’ quote that the Sox and Yankees are still the two best teams in baseball. Bradford also stokes the fires for this weekend’s series, using Hank Steinbrenner’s recent comments as a reason to compare ownership groups. McAdam also looks into this weekend’s series, saying this is the first time since 2000 that neither club will have a share of the division lead when the two teams meet. Sarah Green at Metro Boston News wonders if a Cubs/Rays World Series would really be all that bad.

Jeff Horrigan looks into the decision for Red Sox top draft pick Casey Kelley about whether to sign with the team or go to Tennessee, where he has a football scholarship. Pedroia had a statistically phenomenal night against the Rays, Benjamin and Edes file a good roundup of the evening for the Red Sox Notebook. Benjamin also gives a quick update on the Extra Bases blog saying Timlin will be activated for the series with the Yankees, sending Chris Smith back to the minors. Horrigan’s notebook talks about Jason Varitek’s struggles at the plate in his past few games. McAdam talks to the Rays’ Rocco Baldelli about his comeback attempt. Joe McDonald looks into Clay Bucholz and his progress down in Pawtucket.

Kevin Cullen of the Globe files the oddest column I’ve seen yet on the Manny crisis where eight (count them!) paragraphs in I’ve learned nothing except that sweet little Louise Sullivan would shoot him if he pushed her for not getting a $2000 suite on the company dime. Why was this column written? Especially when Bob Ryan filed a great column that I thought said everything that could be said just yesterday.

New England Patriots

There’s not much to report in Patriots land. Christopher Gasper reports that the Patriots will open camp July 24th in Tampa, FL with rookies reporting by the 21st.

Karen Guregian reports on the Patriots releasing allegedly insane Willie Andrews. David Heuschkel of the Hartford Courant also reports on the team’s decision to part ways with the third-year player. Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle has a reminder that the voting for the Patriots Hall of Fame this year ends midnight friday on their website and discusses some of the players up for election.

That’ll just about do it for me this morning. Those of you who are sick of baseball already, aren’t ready for football yet, or just can’t wait for your Celtics or Bruins fix, I’ll send you on over to celticslinks.com and bruinslinks.com for what scraps you can find. Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

In Case You Haven’t Heard, It’s Opening Day

(Your guest blogger today is T.J. Donegan. For comments, criticisms, irrational hatred/love, he can be reached at [email protected])

Good morning, sports fans. Sorry for the delay this morning, Vista decided it hated the internet. Always great when you go to the most expensive school in the country and their only response to “your wireless network doesn’t work with any laptop made in the last year” is “wow. That must really stink, huh?” Shoot me.

First of all I’d me remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic end to Early April March Madness last night, with Kansas (upsetting? can you upset as a the “lower” one seed?) jetting past Memphis 75-68 in overtime after a great final three pointer to tie it in regulation. Memphis missed three free throws in the waning moments of the game and the sorry refrain that their shooting from the line would be their downfall actually came true in the end, even if it was uncharacteristically great FT shooting that actually got them to the final.

Congratulations, Jayhawks.

In the Boston sports scene, Daisuke Matsuzaka will take the mound as the Red Sox have their home opener after their ridiculously long opening road trip has now come to a close, seven (official) games and thousands of miles later.

Dan Shaughnessy
has the players happy to finally get home and move in, with some updates on the changes to the park since last year. Gordon Edes talks about the World Series rings that will be handed out this afternoon before the game. Amalie Benjamin talks about the early struggles for both teams, both in last place, with the Tigers sputtering to an 0-6 start. Call me an optimist, but somehow I think the game might still draw a crowd.

Sarah M. Gantz went and talked with some of the more intrepid of you folks who camped out for those opening day tickets. David Abel looks at the tradition of having an F-16 flyover during the national anthem at the beginning of the season.

Tony Massarotti looks at the group of young players that makes up a large portion of this club and talks about their role on the team. Michael Silverman talks about the Red Sox bridging the generation gap that many big league clubs deal with as young players transition in and older players pass on their knowledge of the game. Massarotti also talks about Francona and his ability to relate and deal with both younger and older players alike. Everyone’s favorite radio host, Gerry Calahan, tosses blame around for this whole foolish 19-day roadtrip business and the poor start to the season. I agree with Calahan, but why he insists on blaming the players, too, for agreeing to go to Tokyo is beyond me. Yes, they agreed to go to Tokyo, but not when they knew they’d have to endure the gauntlet that’s been the last three weeks (not to mention the next three weeks).

Jeff Horrigan has Tito saying the roadtrip can’t be used as an excuse for a poor start to the season, that you have to deal with what you deal with. Awesome, Francona. Steve Buckley looks deeper at the Red Sox Youth Movement and its architect, Theo Epstein. Massarotti says this will be a banner day at Fenway, quite literally, and urges all of us to soak in the moment.


Joe McDonald
has Francona urging his players soak up the atmosphere and enjoy themselves today, knowing they earned a celebration. Paul Kenyon talks about Timlin’s rehab start for the PawSox. Jeff Goldberg got some of the reaction from the players coming into the clubhouse (and seeing some of the changes) after the long trip. Paul Doyle has a great piece on a little boy from Uncasville embracing the Sox to get a little respite from the challenges of living with a genetic disorder that is robbing him of his eyesight at just seven years old.

Lenny Megliola has a nice column about today’s opening ceremonies. His basic message: let’s get on with business and remember how spoiled we really are to follow this team compared to, say, 86 years ago. Tom Caron has his column about opening day as well, saying the ring ceremony should give this team a little swagger, if not a reliable set-up reliever. The Patriot Ledger is live blogging opening day, today, check in here to keep up with the action throughout the afternoon. Mike Fine also throws in his $0.02 about the road trip from hell.

Howard Ulman from the AP also visited the clubhouse to get the player’s take on returning home, saying after some sleep in their own beds, they should be just fine. Red Sox Monster has a nice interview with Mike Lowell. Garry Brown also talks about the Sox Opener and how nice it feels for baseball to be back in Fenway. Dan Lamothe’s Red Sox Monster blog says he’s ready for baseball normalcy to return to Boston.


Joe Haggerty
says today is all about turning the page and moving on to focus on this season, putting a nice end to the great run of last fall. Haggerty also talks about Dice-K coming up big, with three starts in the first eight games, to keep the Sox together while Beckett’s back healed. Jon Couture says he can barely remember the last time the Red Sox were home between spring training, the Japan trip, the return to spring training, and Toronto. Jennifer Toland has Ellsbury, the kid, rolling out of bed around noon, still not sure what time it is while the Red Sox prepare to open up the home park.

Amalie Benjamin’s notebook has Colon missing at least his next start with a strained right oblique. Horrigan’s notebook also has some details on the 2005 AL Cy Young winner’s strained side. The Boston.com Extra Bases blog has some helpful information for those of you going to the game today. Boston.com also ran an AP roundup of the games from yesterday and where the teams stand. The Herald’s Clubhouse Insider has the line from Timlin’s first of two Pawtucket appearances last night. Art Matone at the Projo Soxblog says baseball doesn’t really start in Boston until it, well, starts in Boston.

That’ll have to do for your opening day links. I’ll try and get back this afternoon with more updates from around the country but for your Celtics and Bruins links I’ll shoot you on over to Celtics Links and Bruins Links for your morning dose. There’s a lot of good stuff today, especially with Bergeron being cleared for contact (not ready to play yet, though) so be sure to check it out.

Enjoy the festivities and have a good one.

The Pond Is Shrinking. The Fish Are Nervous.

(Your Guest Blogger du jour is T.J. Donegan. He can be reached at [email protected] for comments/criticisms.)

Those were the words uttered near the end of the final episode of HBO’s The Wire about the current state of affairs of modern media. Without giving anything away, for those who’ve never seen the show, the sentiment was basically summing up an immutable fact about media today: there’s not enough money to go around.

Hence we get the surprising-and-yet-not-so-surprising buyout yesterday of Boston Sports media veterans Jackie MacMullen and Bob Lobel. Also on the cutting block were several WBZ employees and Ken Fratus. David Scott has more on the cost-cutting at The Globe and Lobel’s departure.

As a journalism student I can tell you everyone entering this field right now is acutely aware of the fact that this is not a small problem and these high profile departures and layoffs are not the exceptions but the rule. Until media companies develop a sustainable business model in a world where almost all their content is available for free online, they’re going to keep shrinking until the numbers fit.

Anyway, onto the morning links.

Red Sox:

The Red Sox dispatched Oakland 2-1 yesterday with Daisuke Matsuzaka having his best outing of the young season, striking out nine, walking none, and only giving up two hits en route to the win. We know Matsuzaka can be dominant like this, but can he pitch out of jams and avoid the fatigue that plagued him last year?

Gordon Edes calls the performance “masterful” and has Dice-K reflecting on his poor outing in Japan. Jeff Goldberg has Matsuzaka determined to improve over his first performance in Tokyo. Goldberg also adds that the future remains unclear for the inconsistent pitcher.

Sean McAdam also has Dice-K reflecting on what could have been in his first start. Bill Burt reflects on Matsuzaka’s ups and downs and calls his performance Cy Young-like, although is reserved in his praise. McAdam also talks about Kevin Youkilis tying Steve Garvey’s 193 errorless streak at first base. Tony Massarotti has more on Youkilis’ amazing run at first. Jeff Horrigan has things returning to normal for the Red Sox. Cafardo has the best news not the win but that Beckett looks healthy enough to make his first start against Toronto.

Joe Haggerty has some thoughts about the possibility of life after Jason Varitek. The Union Leader’s Alex Speier has the fourth installment of their profile of the Red Sox farm system, this time focusing on the system’s scouts and what they look for.

The AP has coverage (linked through The Herald here but it’s just about everywhere) of the Red Sox checking in with the fourth highest payroll in MLB, even with Curt Schilling’s dead weight contract. Edes brings us more on the issue.

Cafardo has more on Papelbon getting his second save on the Extra Bases blog.
Goldberg’s notebook has Beckett on pace to return to the Sox rotation Sunday and on the errorless streak of Youkilis. McAdam’s notebook has Matsuzaka matching Luis Tiant with two starts in the first three games. Horrigan’s notebook also has Beckett targeting Sunday for his comeback.

Boston Celtics:

The Celtics marched onward toward a first seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a decisive win over the hapless Chicago Bulls last night, 106-92.

Marc J. Spears has more on the game. Spears also has a good piece from yesterday about the Celtics looking for more out of Tony Allen than the brief flashes he’s shown since his injury. The AP’s Andrew Seligman says the playoff picture for the Bulls and Celtics, now nearly polar opposites, is a little more clear. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune-via-Projo says Ben Gordon is looking for a Celtics-esque turnaround for the Bulls next season.

Mark Murphy has the Celtics shrugging off a slow start and some iffy performances (read: Rondo’s seven turnovers) to jet past the Bulls. Murphy also has some great stuff from Leon Powe on how much is really riding on his success with this team. If you didn’t like Leon already, you will after reading that.

Greg Lee has Doc being named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month, an award none of us thought he’d ever deserve. Spears’ Notebook talks about an incident between Bennie the Bull and Garnett last night involving a gallop-by (do bulls gallop? saunter? trot? or just charge? I feel like having two speeds–charge and walk–is a pretty inefficient way to get around. I don’t know, my entire knowledge of bulls comes from old cartoons and the 4 seconds I accidentally catch of rodeos when channel surfing.) T-shirt shooting. Murphy’s notebook has more on T-shirtGate. It really was April Fool’s Day, wasn’t it?

Men’s NCAA Basketball:

UMass made the once-upon-a-time-relevant NIT Final last night, beating the Florida Gators 78-66 to set up a matchup with Ohio State.

Michael Vega has more on the story and the New York City contingent of UMass’s seniors. Marty Dobrow had a great feature on UMass Senior Dante Milligan who has a special relationship with Madison Square Garden. Michael Gagnenit has A-10 Player of the Year Gary Forbes getting some redemption with the win last night.

Rich Thompson has a quick note about BC releasing two scholarship underclassmen.

The Patriots continued their off-season preparations and they made some mainstream media splashes yesterday with Belichick apologizing and Robert Kraft’s heartfelt address to the owners. It was more an occasion for talking head types to milk a little more airtime out of a dead issue (barring any Walsh-related revelations), really. Most of this is really non-news so I’ll send you on over to Patriots Links to dig your teeth into the incredible world of off-season rule changes and ownership meetings.

The Bruins are also in action tonight with a chance to keep their head above the playoff water if they can take down the New Jersey Devils. Head on over to Bruins Links to keep up with the action.

On a sadder note, Ed Collins of the Standard Times has a short profile of the life of Al Palmieri, which came to a close Monday morning after 85 years spent weaving through the local sports scene, most notably as a high school sports administrator in the Taunton area. He will be sorely missed.

Finally, I know Bruce linked to this about a week ago when the vault first opened but here’s a flashback from 1987 (admittedly before I was born, but whatever) from Sports Illustrated’s vault: The Mystique Goes On, by Jack McCallum, about the Celtics dispatching Detroit in Game 7 at The Garden with The Steal. If you love sportswriting, at all, you can’t help but spend a few hours combing through that site.

Enjoy.