Bodden Is Back With The Patriots – Or Is He?

Last night there was quite a ruckus on Twitter as two very respected football reporters Michael Lombardi and Adam Schefter both reported that Leigh Bodden would be re-signing with the Patriots. Both guys are right far more than they’re wrong, especially Schefter, whose word I pretty much take as gospel these days. Meanwhile, Bodden’s agent, Alvin Keels was posting that nothing was done, or even agreed to.

We’ll see what happens today. If I had to bet, I’m siding with Schefter/Lombardi.

Speaking of the NFL free agency period, while Mike Reiss, Tom Curran, Christopher Price, Shalise Manza Young and Albert Breer have all done their usual solid jobs, I think the star of the first few days has been the Herald’s Ian Rapoport. He’s consistently brought good information, and angles and insight that some of the others have missed at times. The Rap Sheet has become a must-follow destination for Patriots fans, and he has been tearing it up on Twitter as well.

Otherwise, it’s a fairly slow day today with both the Celtics and Bruins off last night.

Selection of Tom Brady Makes 2000 Draft One to Remember – Jeff Howe concludes his series of reviewing the Patriots drafts under Bill Belichick with the coach’s first draft, one that is memorable for a certain sixth-round selection.

Patriots air of infallibility is waning – A good article from Tom E Curran, but headlines like that one really turn me off, and many times make me not want to even look at the article underneath the headline. Who ever said the Patriots were infallible? Who? C’mon. The article itself is candid, frank, without pushing silly agendas, but the headline is just dumb. (I know, Curran probably didn’t create it.)

Fielding more than his share of bad hops – Gordon Edes looks at how Dustin Pedroia used baseball as his focus when off-field things weren’t going so well for him last season. I also enjoyed this blog entry from Edes on Jose Iglesias in which Edes is giddy as a schoolboy over the potential of the phenom shortstop, and wonders if the Red Sox should put him right in the majors to start the season.

Why some Red Sox pitchers like throwing to some Red Sox catchers – The title of Rob Bradfords article this morning explains it all.

Big performances: Young trio impresses – Michael Silverman has a trio of young, gifted and intriguing outfielders making an impression on the Red Sox yesterday.

Beckett, Martinez on learning curve – Sean McAdam with another strong notebook from the action of yesterday.

La Russa still mover, shaker – Bob Ryan talks to Tony La Russa about his 33 years as a big league manager.

Hits like this don’t belong in hockey – Mike Loftus weighs in on the hit that Penguins forward Matt Cooke laid on Marc Savard Sunday.

Marc Savard fuzzy on details – Stephen Harris gets props for catching up with Savard at the Pittsburgh airport yesterday to talk to him about the hit and how he’s feeling.

Lockdown defense steadies KG – Chris Forsberg says that Kevin Garnett’s defensive performance down the stretch on Sunday night should be encouraging to Celtics fans.

Relentless defense critical to Celtics – Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics performance on defense in the last six minutes Sunday night showed that they are still capable of locking down an opponent, and that gives them no excuses going forward.

Also check out Greg Doyle’s Q&A With UNH TE Scott Sicko, who has gathered some interest from pro scouts.

Elsewhere, I was also disappointed with the news that Alice Cook was tossed at Ch. 4 after 25 years of service to the station. With the decreased amount of time that newscasts are giving to the sports segments, it makes sense to keep the rosters small, but I always enjoyed the job that Cook did, both with the sports reports, and on the Patriots pre and post game shows.

Scott Lauber To Join Boston Herald

Haven’t gotten official confirmation on this, It’s official. Scott Glauber will be joining the Boston Herald to cover the Red Sox sometime in the middle of March.

Ian Rapoport of the Herald posted this on Twitter earlier this afternoon:

Congratulations to @ScottLauber, who has joined the Boston Herald’s Red Sox reporting crew. Welcome to the party…

Scott Lauber currently covers the Philadelphia Phillies for The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware.

The quick bio on The News Journal website reads as follows:

Scott Lauber is starting his fifth season on the Phillies beat for The News Journal. A native of New Jersey and a graduate of Boston University, he previously wrote for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor and the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y., where he covered Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and David Wright when they were minor leaguers in the New York Mets’ farm system. He also co-authored a book, “Phillies Confidential: The Untold Inside Story of the 2008 Championship Season,” with former Phillies outfielder Gary Matthews.

As a Boston University senior in 1997-98, Lauber covered high school and college sports for the Herald.

Update: Michael Silverman has also welcomed Lauber:

Big welcome/follow to @ScottLauber, who will be joining Herald’s baseball staff soon. Smart guy, already changed his Twitter avatar

At Last, Some Reason…

Tom E. Curran shows a little sanity when talking Patriots and putting the “team of the decade” comparisons with the Colts in perspective. He notes that some of his colleagues are letting their facts get a little fuzzy when it comes to this topic.

You may recall the other day when Ron Borges, twisting the numbers to suit his agenda, stated the following:

The Colts have won more regular-season games this decade than the Patriots, won more consecutive games this decade than the Patriots, made the playoffs more often this decade than the Patriots (9-8), reached the playoffs more consecutive years than the Patriots (eight straight) and if they win Sunday will trail them by only one Super Bowl victory this decade.

Borges, was of course spouting the Polian company line, which doesn’t include playoffs in win totals or winning streaks.

Curran acknowledges that Borges is his friend, but does correct him nonetheless.

From 2000 through 2009, the New England Patriots went 126-52. They won three Super Bowls, four conference titles and made it to the AFC Championship five times.

They became the first team in history to go unbeaten over a 16-game regular season and became the first to win 18 in a row in a single season. Only once since 2000 did they finish under .500. And that was 2000.

They won three Super Bowls, four conference titles and made it to the AFC Championship five times. They didn’t go one-and-done in the playoffs until 2009. They finished tied for first place in the AFC East every season from 2001 through 2009. They had one winning streak of 21 games that went from 2003 through those playoffs and into 2004. They had another winning streak of 18 games (2007). They set the record for most consecutive postseason games won (10).

He then compared that to the Colts:

From 2000 through 2009, the Indianapolis Colts went 124-52 (with one game remaining). They won one Super Bowl, two conference titles and made it to the AFC Championship three times.

They set the record for consecutive regular-season games won with 22 in the 2008 and 2009 seasons (a playoff loss in the first-round of the 2008 playoffs prevented them from being able to break New England’s overall record). In their nine postseason appearances, they were one-and-done five times.

He also looks at the money spent by the two teams – another frequent accusation by Borges. It is very close between the two clubs.

——————

Check the coverage of last night’s Celtics win over the Nets at CelticsLinks.com.

What? Randy Moss DIDN’T lay down? Heretic!

Ian R. Rapoport on the Boston Herald Patriots blog The Rap Sheet, talks with Edge NFL Matchup executive producer Greg Cosell about how Randy Moss supposedly “shut it down” against the Panthers last Sunday.

Cosell in fact, seems a little indignant that those making that claim have obviously not seen the game film and studied what Moss actually did, and what the context of each play actually was.

In the blog post, Cosell and Rapoport look at three specific plays in which Moss was accused of not giving it a full effort. Rapoport promises more in a full article in tomorrow’s Herald.

And here I just thought it was my ignorance about the game of football when I re-watched the game, and couldn’t find the obvious “quit” plays. Instead I saw a guy still routinely drawing the double-team (and in the case of the Ben Watson sideline catch a triple team) and being the first one over to congratulate Watson on his TD and help him up.

Moss still had a bad game, and his frustration was evident, however, it’s refreshing to see a media person take the initiative to go and examine whether the noise from the national media mob was actually warranted or not.

Also see:

Hoge: Moss ‘played his tail off’ on Mike Reiss’ blog on ESPN Boston.

Piling on Moss too easy … and wrong – Mark Farinella.

By the way, this week has also see a resurgance of the old “I play when I want to play” Moss quote. Do you know the real origins of that quote?

Purcell: Herald To Charge For Online Content

Back in August, I had a post about the Boston Globe planning to charge for online content sometime in the near future.

It looks like the Boston Herald has similar plans.

Purcell: Herald, other papers will soon charge for online content

Earlier this decade, the Herald had a policy where access to columnists and feature writers was the only content that you had to pay for. It didn’t work. As Herald owner and publisher Pat Purcell acknowledges in that article, the paper received many complaints about that policy.   If they put all their content (including sports coverage) under paid subscriptions, I think that sports fans are simply going to go elsewhere for their sports information.

Sites like ESPNBoston.com, WEEI.com and CSNNE.com will see their numbers jump up should the Globe and Herald go the pay route.

Purcell disagrees: “There are people who really love the Herald and will pay for it, the way they pay for cable and satellite radio.”

Would you pay to read the Herald online?

BSMW Interview With New Boston Herald Patriots Reporter Ian Rapoport

The Boston Herald officially announced today the hiring of Ian Rapoport to handle the Patriots beat. He was kind enough to sit down this morning and answer a few questions from BSMW.

Bruce Allen: Could you give us a little of your background both personal, and career related?

Ian Rapoport: Let’s see… I’m a 29-year-old graduate of Columbia University, where I spent four years on the varsity lightweight crew team and where I also walked by the then-newly built Kraft Center every day on the way to class. (How’s that for coming full circle?) After leaving my paper in New York to cover Mississippi State for The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger in 2004, I moved into MSU’s college town and met a lovely Southern Belle who is, in another coincidence, a huge Papelbon fan. Readers of my blog in Alabama knew her as The Banktress (she’s in banking), and you might hear a reference or two to her on my new blog here. We have two dogs: A beagle named Molly and a rescued lab mix named Biscuit. I come to the Herald after three years of covering Alabama for The Birmingham News, a round-the-clock beat that focused on football but also includes coverage of recruiting, basketball and baseball. Obviously, if there is one place to experience college football mania, it’s Alabama. For a reporter, the intensity and scrutiny from readers does not stop. That’s a positive. I could write a 50-word note in the paper about a reserve kicker in May and everyone would read it. I feel like New Englanders are pretty similar. I couldn’t imagine covering a team fans were not seriously devoted to. What’s the fun in that?

BA: What can we expect from you in terms of reporting and writing style?

IR: Fair, accurate, all-encompassing reporting for the newspapers and an endless stream of blog posts for our Web site. The fair and accurate parts don’t need much of an explanation, except to note that because I’m the beat reporter, I won’t write about my own opinion. I’ll analyze and synthesis and do a ton of reporting, but astute columnists like Ron Borges will tell you what they think. I’ll stick to reporting on all things Patriots, and by that, I do mean all things. By the end of a week during the season, you’ll have a full understanding of the context of a game – on and off the field – with an eye on long-term issues and storylines. By the end of a game story, you’ll know who won, why, and what it means. But I’m also out to tell good stories and bring you behind the curtain with me. You can never learn too much about the players and the coaches on your team, and it’s my job to not only discuss their jobs as it relates to football, but also to help you get to know them as people. If a player collects model cars in his spare time or has set up an interesting charity, you’ll know about it. Part of my goal is to take off their masks for you. The blog will come in handy for a lot of that. Speaking of which…

BA: I know you used them extensively in your last job, do you anticipate making social media tools such as blogging and Twitter a big part of your Patriots reporting?

IR: I do anticipate heavy use of the blog, twitter, video, audio clips, and any else that helps readers learn the news about their team and get to know the players and coaches. Blogging is one of my absolute favorite things about my job. It’s a lot of work, and in-season, I’ll often update the page several times a day, as will fellow beat reporter Karen Guregian. If there is news going on, that’s where you’ll read it. It’s also a tremendous tool for telling readers, well, everything else. Wondering what’s going on in the locker room? Wondering what player just said what funny line? If Bill Belichick dropped some serious Xs-and-Os knowledge on us during a news conference, the entire soliloquy may not make it into the paper. But it’s perfect for a blog. If I write a lengthy feature on a player but had to cut it because of space, you’ll read everything else there. Or, if you’re someone who enjoys knowing small tidbits about how reporters do their jobs, some of that’ll be on there. You might even get to know me a little bit. I do have a Twitter account now (Twitter.com/rapsheet) and I anticipate keeping it at The Herald. Readers who utilize the free tool will have some fun. I’ll send a quick text via Twitter to let them know what’s going on at practice, what news just broke, what announcement was just made, or what player said what. It’ll be serious and lighthearted, a good mix for readers who want to hear it all. And now that I’ve learned to send pictures via Twitter, the possibilities are endless. Or something.

BA: Coming in from the outside, what are your perceptions of Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization from a media standpoint? Do you expect it to be a challenge?

IR: I’ve watched enough NFL Network and done enough research about Bill Belichick to know that he doesn’t like to give out much information during his news conference. I understand him to be someone who is wary of providing opponents with too much usable knowledge. So I do expect it to be a challenge. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’ll have to work hard to tell stories and provide information, which is cool. But I also look forward to getting to know him as a person and learning from up-close how he operates and coaches the team. It’s also nice that the Herald has such a tremendous group of reporters covering the Patriots. I’ll join a coverage team that includes Karen Guregian, the ultimate professional, and veteran, plugged-in columnist Ron Borges. I can’t wait to learn from them both. There are still plenty of stories to tell and news to report that don’t involve the head coach specifically discussing an injury. I’ve also been told how much Belichick loves to discuss nitty gritty, football-specific questions, and I look forward to random tutorials about things like the history of the use of the fullback. 

BA: Do you think dealing with Nick Saban for the last few years gives you some idea of what to expect here?

IR: I know that Bill Belichick and Nick Saban are friends, not clones, so I’ll spare you the non-stop comparisons between the two coaches. But Saban is my frame of reference because I’ve spent most of the past three seasons writing about him. Therefore, I really do think covering Saban and Alabama is terrific training for covering Belichick and the Pats. Both organizations speak with one voice, and both coaches run every possible aspect of their teams. Understanding Saban will help me understand Belichick, I hope. Saban’s intensity level during news conference, coupled with his propensity for pointing out a question he doesn’t like, has forced me to prepare for news conferences and articles like never before. Of course, I still ask every relevant question, anyway. Belichick may not be as vociferous (Saban can get, um, loud), but many of the messages are the same: While answering every question, it seems both coaches are calculating in their heads how it’ll be received by their own team and how it will help them win. Both hate depth charts and reporting on the internal movement during practice. You learn to work within those guidelines. I can’t wait for the challenge.

BA: Thanks, Ian!

Rapoport will be on hand for the start of Patriots training camp next week.

PFT: John Tomase Off Patriots Beat

ProFootballTalk.com reports the following:

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, John Tomase of the Boston Herald is off the Patriots’ beat.

So there you go.

It took the Herald a year to make this hire, and while several local candidates were interviewed for the job, the paper ultimately decided to hire Ian R. Rapoport from The Birmingham News to fill the Patriots beat writer position.

If this is true, now perhaps we can put the whole ugly Tomase incident behind us, and maybe the Herald will even finally open up the comment section on Patriots articles now.

Herald Hires Rapoport For Patriots Beat

According to his blog on AL.com, The Rap Sheet , Ian R. Rapoport, who has covered the University of Alabama athletic program (including Nick Saban’s football squad) for The Birmingham News for the last three years, is leaving the paper for become the lead Patriots beat reporter for the Boston Herald.

Recently, I accepted the job of lead Patriots beat reporter for The Boston Herald.
Ian R Rapoport
I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love this place — the paper, the people, the job, the South. And obviously, I’ll miss all you guys who come here day after day in the tens (and sometimes hundreds) of thousands and say what you think.

But moving to Boston, with such a large media market, in the city where I was born, to cover an NFL team… it’s an opportunity I could not pass up.

I would have hated to leave this intensely loyal fan base and readership for one that pales by comparison. Thankfully, New Englanders clearly hang with Alabama fans in terms of devotion.

In a few weeks, I’ll be trading Nick Saban for his buddy Bill Belichick, and it should be an experience In the meantime, I’ll continue to work extremely hard to bring you the Crimson Tide-related news you crave.

From his bio at the site, Rapoport appears to be an up-and-coming young writer:

Previously, Ian spent two years as The Jackson Clarion-Ledger’s Mississippi State beat reporter. He has also worked for The (Westchester, N.Y) Journal News and served as an intern for ESPN Classic. As an undergrad at Columbia University, he divvied up his time between rowing and toiling at the Columbia Daily Spectator.

When he’s not writing, Ian hones his mediocre golf game, refines his proficiency at grilling, and collects Pez dispensers.

Recently, he earned first place for best game story in the Football Writers Association of America writing contest, along with several other local awards.

I’m assuming (dangerous word) that this spells the end of John Tomase covering the Patriots, that is of course, unless Karen Guregian’s days covering the team are over. Maybe they’re both done. They’ll probably both continue to do at least some work on the beat, along with columnist Ron Borges. I’ll try to nail down the details of what the Herald has planned here.

Rapoport apparently already has quite a following on Twitter: @RapSheet

In the meantime, welcome to Boston, Ian. Enjoy the ride.

Ron Borges Knocks Out Competition at Boxing Writing Awards

Ron Borges of the Boston Herald (still seems weird to write that) will receive recognition for some of his work writing about the sport of boxing this Friday night from the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).

The Eye on Sports Media has more on the awards, which will be broadcast live on the internet starting at 6:00 PM et at the GoFight Live! website.

The awards are known as The Barneys and Borges will receive recognition in the following categories:

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

First Place
RON BORGES, “The Dying Art of Matchmaking,” Boxing Monthly, June 2008

BOXING EVENT COVERAGE

Third Place (tie)
RON BORGES, “Not A Rock, He’s Limestone,” Thesweetscience.com, July 18, 2008 

BOXING FEATURE (Under 2,500 words)

Third Place
RON BORGES, “Do You Know Who I Am?,” Boxing Monthly, April 2008 

BOXING FEATURE (Over 2,500 words)

Honorable Mention: Ron Borges, Boxing Monthly

Former Herald columnist George Kimball is also receiving some recognition:

BOXING NEWS STORY

Third Place
GEORGE KIMBALL, “Luis Resto – Billy Collins Redux,” Boxingtalk.com, 2008 

BOXING COLUMN – Honorable Mention.  (Boxingtalk.com)

Herald Off Base on Pioli Talks

The Boston Herald continues to struggle in its coverage of the New England Patriots.

The Herald reported that the Browns had given Scott Pioli a January 1st deadline. That story is already in the archives, but this Point After blog entry confirms that the Herald had reported about the deadline:

The Herald had reported in its sports pages Pioli had to provide an answer today. It could be the two sides are still working toward a deal, and needed more time to hammer out something workable for both parties.

The Herald reported on negotiations between Pioli and the Browns, which apparently never took place. In today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mary Kay Cabot further debunks many of the reports we’ve been reading in the Herald, saying that the talks between the Browns and Pioli were only ever “exploratory.”

In today’s paper, the Herald reported:

As the Herald reported last week, Pioli’s demands during his sit-down with Lerner may have been considered outlandish. According to a source, Pioli asked for a salary of roughly $5 million per season, along with complete autonomy.

Adam Schefter denies that Pioli made any demands on the Browns. No $5 million per season, no demands at all…because they never even got past the “exploratory” nature of talking. No figures were exchanged, no demands made.

In general, this whole Browns thing is just weird. They fire Romeo Crennel, and then replace him with the guy who replaced him as defensive coordinator in New England, someone who has less experience, and then talk about bringing Crennel back to run the defense? They hire Mangini, who had his team fold down the stretch and finish out of the playoffs after starting 8-3 and being touted as the top team in the AFC  – does this make sense? It doesn’t to me.

Meanwhile, now the Kansas City rumor mill is starting up.

Be sure to check back later for Bob Ekstrom’s Blog review…