Young Celtics Can’t Hang On Against Warriors

The Celtics ran out to a 26 point lead against the team many believe is the best in the NBA right now, the Golden State Warriors.

The Celtics didn’t so much lose that lead and eventually the game, as they did return to the mean.  What they did in the first half wasn’t really sustainable, but they remained competitive right to the end, and still had a chance to pull out the game in the end.  (Check CelticsLinks.com for all coverage.)

While the Celtics are a long ways from being a contender again, I’ll take their situation over just about any other “rebuilding” franchise in the NBA. They’ve got a bold GM, a very good coach who is getting better, some decent young talent under control, and tons of upcoming cap space and draft picks, not to mention trade exceptions.

If you think teams like the Knicks, Sixers or Lakers are going to become contenders before the Celtics, I’ll politely mock you and move on.

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The Bruins will look to make a final splash to determine the future of their season today with the NHL trade deadline coming down at 3pm this afternoon.

GM Peter Chiarelli made a move for the future overnight, trading picks for Tampa right wing Brett Connolly.

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The Patriots are are facing a deadline today with the 4pm deadline for designating Franchise players. While many think that S Devin McCourty is the prime candidate for this tag, Mike Reiss tweeted this morning that his intelligence suggests that K Stephen Gostkowski is more likely to be tagged.

I’m not sure what that means. Do they think they can work something out with McCourty before free agency starts next week? Does it mean they’re close with Revis and can’t make both moves right now? Could they lose both McCourty and Revis next week? I don’t think so, but I shudder at the possibility.

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Former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling is in the news this morning after his post on 38 Pitches last night (yes, it still exists!) about a situation that arose after he tweeted congratulations to his daughter for being accepted to college.

The world we live in…Man has it changed. ADDENDUM!

Wow. Sadly though, the types of Tweets Schilling is talking about, are all over the place. It’s the downside of social media, for sure.

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Speaking of idiots on social media, we have Peter King. The MMQB leader seemingly can’t go more than a couple of weeks without putting something absolutely tasteless or irresponsible out for public consumption.

The 21-year-old son of ESPN’s Ivan Maisel has been missing for a week now, and media types all over the country have been raising awareness of the case and expressing their concern and hopes.

King naturally, tries an awkward attempt at injecting himself into the topic and relating to the situation:

Ugh.

Does King even for a second consider how he comes off here? People I respect a ton have said that we shouldn’t get on King for this, as he no doubt is concerned about the Maisel family.

I don’t know that. To me this is King injecting himself into a topic that in no way involves him. If he wants to express sympathy for the family, there were a million better ways to do it. How about reaching out privately?

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A couple other links:

Why do media need to talk to athletes? – In like of the previously affable Kevin Durant going off on the media over All Star weekend, Bob Ryan examines why talking to the media is a part of the job for pro athletes.

A call to give Dick Vitale one more Duke-North Carolina game – Richard Deitsch’s SI Now media column looks at the big stories of the week.

Dale and Holley Sticking Around A Bit Longer

A bit of positive news, in my opinion, from Chad Finn this morning, (Dale Arnold-Michael Holley reunion has worked for WEEI) as he reports that Michael Holley is about to sign a new deal with WEEI and that he and Dale Arnold will be remaining together in the afternoons on the station – along with Jerry Thornton.

Holley has his flaws, but in my limited dealings with him, he’s always been one of the more thoughtful and self-aware guys out there. The show is a nice contrast to the daily bombast of negativity that is the Felger and Mazz show, and their ratings are reflecting that. While still trailing F&M by over 5 ratings points, Dale and Holley posted a strong 8.0 rating in the fall book.

There are plenty of vocal haters out there of both Dale and Holley, but I find myself appreciative of their style and I’m glad WEEI management is recognizing their success and keeping the show going.

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It’s early, but I think the Marc Bertrand/Scott Zolak pairing on 98.5 mid-days is going to be fine, and perhaps even an upgrade on the year-round basis. The football stuff might take a small step back, but Bertrand has a better all-around sports knowledge base and ability to talk about other sports than Andy Gresh did.

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But we can trust these guys to be objective when talking about the team? Klemko himself said the Patriots should lose all of their 2015 draft picks and railed about them cheating and getting away with it.

He should probably stick to beating up cab drivers and stealing cabs.

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It was somewhat odd to hear Danny Ainge trash the conditioning of Jared Sullinger yesterday morning on the Toucher and Rich show on 98.5. While it is no great surprise to anyone who looks at Sullinger that he would have issues with conditioning, it is rare to hear a team executive in any sport so publicly criticize his own player in this manner.

Ainge is no fool though. For the last few years he managed to keep Rajon Rondo’s trade value at least somewhat level by defending the player at every turn. If he’s saying these things about Sullinger, there must be a reason for it as well. The trade deadline is past, no further moves are going to be made until after the season. Sullinger isn’t going to play again this season, so the comments by Ainge likely were meant to attempt to light a fire under the talented yet seemingly unmotivated young forward.

Midweek Media Notes

A few items of interest across the Boston Sports Media world…

With Yoan Moncada and Other Elite Red Sox Prospects, It’s OK to Believe the Hype – I’m glad Chad Finn addressed the absolutely ridiculous memes on sports radio following word that the Red Sox had agreed to terms with the Cuban phenom.

Not that this is anything new, but I just don’t understand this mindset. The ability to find a negative – even a perceived one – in anything, is just astounding, and frankly, disturbing. That train of thought then spreads from show-to-show, from radio to TV like an insidious disease.

Putting on the old bastard hat for a moment, I remember when following sports used to be fun, and it was actually OK to be excited for your teams, and when they made a big move.

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It was interesting to see John Henry directly refute what his own employee, Dan Shaughnessy wrote about Larry Lucchino losing power in the Red Sox front office. Henry said “I read that ridiculous story…

Shaughnessy insists today that he’s not retracting what he wrote. So is this 1) Shaughnessy attempting to save face, 2) Henry trying to minimize embarrassment for Lucchino, or 3) A way to drum up interest in the Globe by creating a false conflict between owner and employee?

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Keep Revis and McCourty, that’s all I ask.

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Emily Austen named new on-air reporter for Tampa Bay Rays television broadcasts – The Celtics digital and arena reporter is moving on to a new position with FOX’s Sun Sports.

This position has been a stepping stone in recent years. Kristine Leahy is now anchor at CBSLA, Molly McGrath is now host of America’s Pregame on FoxSports1, and now Austen is leaving for a more prominent role elsewhere.

Jason Mastrodonato is the latest MassLive.com reporter to be plucked for a larger role. He’s done great work over there, and bringing him on essentially to replace John Tomase is a really good move for the Herald.

Adam Kaufman slides into the seat that was held for decades by legendary Patriots radio man Gil Santos.

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The Boston Sports Media in the Information Age and Taming the Beast Within – Take some time to read this by Larry Russell. Some mind-blowing quotes in here from the likes of Gary Tanguay, Dan Shaughnessy, Bob Ryan and Mike Felger, all of whom, not surprisingly, are either harsh or condescending towards Patriots fans.

New Brookline sports show by the fans, for the fans – A look at a new show by Scott Kerman.

NFL Integrity Takes Another Hit

Before ESPN’s Outside The Lines ran their program this afternoon, they sent an afternoon email promising new developments.They quoted a former NFL head linesman as calling the activities of Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally “unusual.” They even created a cute little hashtag for Twitter people: #PatriotsIssues

After Kelly Naqi repeated her reports that McNally had attempted to introduce an unapproved game ball to the AFC Championship Game, Adam Schefter called into the program. The show turned.

Let all that sink in, will you?

So the NFL, investigating the Patriots, is revealed to have had an employee stealing charity-bound game balls.

Great work, Roger.

Also:

Report: NFL official fired in deflate-gate case for selling football

Another Kick at the Balls from ESPN

At this point we can just admit that ESPN has giving up any hope of doing actual reporting, right?

They’ve just turned into ProFootballTalk when it comes to the Patriots.

Seriously, what is this junk?

Patriots locker room attendant tried to put unapproved ball into AFC final

There is nothing there. Absolutely nothing. All it is is red meat to dangle in front of the CHEATERS crowd. (and Kirk Minihane and Tim Benz.)

In fact, all this “report” does is muddy the waters even further, and directly contradict early ESPN reporting. What’s more, they cite within the story reports from Chris Mortensen, Jay Glazer and even ProFootballTalk, but completely leave out the report made by Ian Rapoport.

Moreover, this is from Outside The Lines, which is purported to be the last bastion of actual investigative, stick-to-journalistic integrity at the network.

CBS Boston’s Michael Hurley, who has done great work in hitting back at this entire under-inflated football scandal, has a good takedown of the report today:

New ESPN DeflateGate Report Paints Problematic Picture Of Entire Situation

It’s been encouraging to listen to Lou Merloni this morning, as well as the new Bertrand and Zolak pairing taking apart the report and exposing it for what it really is – sensationalistic clickbait.

More worrisome is the continued one-sided leaks that come from this “thorough and objective” independent investigation led by men with “impeccable” credentials, who “will not compromise the investigation by engaging in speculation.”

How’s that Revis tampering case coming along, anyhow?

Cabin Fever Setting In

After finally finding my way out of the snowdrifts and to the keyboard, I’m back to offer a few frostbite-influenced thoughts on the latest happenings:

It’s amazing how much has changed in ten years. When the Patriots won the Super Bowl in February of 2005, there was no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram. There was no FOX Sports 1 or NBC Sports Network. We had ESPN and a young NFL Network to get the recaps, and reviews from. Locally we had WEEI and whatever minor league competitor was on the air at the time.

The growth of social networks as well as increased competition on the television and radio side, both locally and nationally has led to a constant saturation of highlights, views, reviews and punditry.

The difference between 2005 and 2015 is amazing, and for me, its another reason I’m glad the Patriots were able to get that Super Bowl win in this new era – in many ways we got to experience it in a whole new way.

But, it’s already onto next season, as we talk combine and franchise tags.

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Can the Red Sox do another worst-to-first turnaround? Amazingly so, it seems that it’s not only possible, but many of the analysts out there are picking them to come out of somewhat weakened AL East. They’re also popular in Vegas and even in the UK where it looks like a tightly-contested season ahead with the Nationals and the Dodgers leading the MLB baseball betting markets at a price 13/2 respectively, with the Tigers next in-line at 7/1 from UK bookies Betbright.

Ben Cherington, after seemingly not  doing too much in the aftermath of the surprise 2013 World Series win got back on the horse this offseason and signing free agent bats and trading for starting pitching, while missing out on bringing back Jon Lester.

While there are still many questions around the team – young players, lack of an “ace”, the closing situation – the Red Sox figure to be much more competitive this season. Spring Training coverage should be announced shortly for NESN and CSNNE, and for once perhaps, the green fields and reporters having faux debates poolside at a Florida resort might actually be a welcome sight for the rest of us.

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The NBA trade deadline is this week. Coach Brad Stevens has said he’d like to keep the group he has now somewhat intact so that they can develop some cohesion. That is completely understandable from a coaches perspective, but I suspect if Danny Ainge can get more assets for his rebuild, he’s going to make deals. It still doesn’t look like it’s time to begin adding the “keeper” pieces, but we’ve been surprised before.

This team has been pretty fun to watch in recent games, especially their west coast swing, and that game against the East leading Hawks. While wins might not be the best thing for draft pick positioning at this point, they’re nice to be able to enjoy.

Congratulations to CSNNE’s Tom Heinsohn who will be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame for his coaching career with the Celtics. Already in the Hall for this playing career, Tommy should be also considered for the broadcasting wing as well.

Younger viewers might scoff at that notion, but Heinsohn pioneered much of how basketball is produced for television. He’s a lot more worthy than many of the names that have been honored by that wing of the Hall.

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Are these the 2015 Bruins or the 2009 Patriots? Is Claude Julien standing next to Zdeno Chara saying “I just can’t get this team to play the way it needs to play.”

A 4-3 OT loss to the Flames last night was the Bruins latest poor performance, and it sure looks like some major changes need to be made to this roster.

The Ultimate Answer

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? It’s been awfully quiet on the national scene since about 10pm Sunday night.

It really is hard to believe just how many media-created storylines have to be scrapped following Sunday night’s Super Bowl win by the New England Patriots.

You will never again hear that the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since Spygate. (On the other hand, you can continue to point out that the Denver Broncos haven’t won a Super Bowl since they cheated the salary cap.)

You’ll never again hear that Bill Belichick could only win with Bill Parcells’ players. (A ridiculous notion to begin with. Bill Parcells couldn’t win with Bill Parcells’ players.)

You’ll never hear that Belichick didn’t win without Romeo Crennel or Charlie Weis.

You’ll never again hear that Tom Brady doesn’t have as many Super Bowl wins as Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw.

You won’t hear about what a colossal mistake it was to let Wes Welker go and have Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola instead.

You won’t hear that the team made a fatal mistake trading Logan Mankins. (By the way, weird coincidence – Mankins was drafted three months after the Patriots won the Super Bowl in February 2005, and was traded away five months before the Patriots won the Super Bowl in February 2015. His Patriots career exactly spanned the gap between titles.)

No more “Gisele jinx” if that was such a thing. (From the above, it would seem more like Mankins was the jinx.)

That’s not even counting the endless stupid storylines that were generated just this season by no-nothing columnists and sports radio hosts. Brady’s finished! Rift between Brady/Belichick! Revis is disinterested! LaFell is a bust! Gronk can’t stay healthy for a full year! Browner is below average! Jimmy G! Broncos are ALL IN! WEAPONZ! Etc etc etc.

This was the Super Bowl that handled all family business. From the very start of the season this team was under siege. In intensified tenfold during the two weeks leading up to the game, thanks to whiny Ryan Grigson of the Colts.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Grigson was a scout with the Rams when they lost to the Patriots in 2001, and with the Eagles when they lost to the Patriots in 2004.

All Grigson has accomplished is making his team a target for the foreseeable future.

It’s hard to imagine a more satisfying win. Even the manner in which victory was sealed – snatching victory from what appeared to be heartbreaking defeat – was perfect. The rest of the country looking on, rooting hard against the Patriots, thinking they’re done, especially after the third unbelievable last-minute catch by the opponent in three Super Bowls, and an undrafted rookie intercepts the ball, crushing millions. The videos circulating of various Super Bowl parties are hilarious.

Coming into the game, I was glad it was going to be Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth doing the game. I’ve had issues with Collinsworth in the past, but I thought the duo was more than fair in the Patriots games they did this season, including the Cincinnati game when they spend a good chunk of the broadcast mocking those in the media who were calling Tom Brady finished.

It was disappointing then, for me to hear them throughout the night placing such a focus on the underinflated footballs, even as the Patriots took the lead late in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the day, Ian Rapoport of the NFL had provided the most details yet on the case, which pointed even more towards this whole thing being a witchhunt, yet it wasn’t mentioned at all.

It still wasn’t enough to put any sort of true damper on the night.

It was truly a game for the ages, in which a new generation of NFL fans got to see Belichick and Brady ascend to the top of the game once again.

I’m still trying to process it all.

Video: What Just Happened?

My one caveat on this video, is that the one “fact” isn’t even fully confirmed. The original Chris Mortensen report looks shakier every day.

Hugh Millen Drops A Bomb. No One Reacts.

On the Dennis and Callahan show this morning they had former Patriots quarterback Hugh Millen on as a guest to talk about the Super Bowl matchup, as Millen is working in the Seattle as an analyst of the Seahawks and Washington Huskies.

While they were discussing the inflation of the footballs, Millen dropped that he played for a coach with two Super Bowl wins who put together a huge scheme to install speakers inside the helmets of the offensive linemen so they could be given instructions remotely. He said they had it in place and working.

I played for a team, the coach has two Super Bowl wins, and there was an elaborate scheme to put speakers into the offensive lineman’s ears, and they had these custom made speakers, it was a covert operation, they would install it in a back room in the locker room on the road and what have you, and they did that week after week and presumably in the Super Bowl.

He also said the same team had offensive linemen who were caught with a substance on their jerseys and that the coach just shrugged when they were caught.

Millen declined to actually name the coach, but he played for Mike Shanahan in Denver in 1995. Three of Shanahan’s linemen were caught with Vaseline on their jerseys during a 1998 playoff game against the Chiefs.

Millen did also have a brief stint with the Jimmy Johnson-coached Cowboys, (the Patriots traded him there following the 1993 season) so it’s possible, he was referring to Johnson, but Gerry Callahan made a “beedy eyes” reference to Shanahan and it seemed like Millen went along with it.

We know that the Broncos were also caught cheating the salary cap those Super Bowl seasons. So here are two confirmed and one alleged (very serious) cheating incidents that the media and public will never pay attention to.

Can you imagine the uproar if any of these incidents happened with the Patriots? We’re on week two of the world going insane over allegations that the footballs the Patriots used were a tick under regulation inflation.

WEEI Audio – Former Patriot Hugh Millen on deflating footballs and the Seahawks 1-29-15

Sports Media Musings: The NFL Is Insane; 3 Best Deflategate Pieces To Date

I woke up to a flat tire this morning, which was just great! So, I walked over to the local Dunkin’ Donuts (because I can’t afford to drop four dollars on Starbucks), and thought about a few things as I combed through my daily reads on my phone. Chief among these thoughts was whether or not Roger Goodell enacted the some form of the Patriot Act without anyone noticing? Was there a press release? Or, in reality, is the inconsistent way in which he operates just omnipotence masked by hilarious levels of incompetence?

If you’re on the fence about the idea, just see below:

The league was monitoring Marshawn Lynch’s responsibility to play nice with the media, I guess, because #MediaDay is an important event for the NFL (and its integrity, of course, because integrity is like the bloodline of professional American sports and stuff!). And Marshawn Lynch is not bigger than #MediaDay; despite the fact that, in actuality, he kind of is, because #MediaDay is horrible and mostly stupid.

I mean, the whole point of #MediaDay is so the wacky, fish-out-of-the-water media can interact with players. These idiots serve as tiny vessels that, through slap-stick comedy akin to “Dumb and Dumber To” (not a compliment), display the human side of robots like Kam Chancelor and Bill Belichick.

The end game works out well for nearly every party involved. The league gets stupid Buzzfeed articles (THE 27 CRAZIEST QUESTIONS ASKED AT #MEDIADAY!!!) that purportedly help build up excitement for the average non-football fan who watches the Super Bowl; the players get to field questions that don’t start with “Talk about” (e.g. instead of “Talk about that play where” … the wonky media outlets ask Jonas Gray about his favorite Power Ranger growing up or something); and the media gets what it covets most – content!! – all while the Jimmy Olsens out there still maintain their PROFESSIONALISM while cackling at the idea of Rob Gronkowski singing Katy Perry songs, like the rest of us.

All very serious stuff.

So, yeah, MONITORING. Totally necessary here. Fucking insane.

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In other (non) news, Deflategate – finally, almost mercifully — took a day off yesterday. Like most, I’ve consumed way too much coverage of this ongoing topic. And despite the overblown hysteria that has surrounded each and every development, without question, it has been an interesting story from several vantage points.

So, with no clear advances in the story on the horizon, I picked out what I felt have been the three best pieces from this entire fiasco thus far. These columns don’t necessarily outline any resolution, but in a vacuum, they offer commentary about the story and the current state of sports (and the media who covers it):

“The Worst Question in Sports: What We Talk About When We Say ‘Talk About’” by Bryan Curtis

Ever wonder why reporters ask the same benign questions? Yeah, me too. And Curtis, who is excellent, writes a phenomenal piece about an oldie but a goodie: the “Talk About” question (that’s not really a question).

Pull Quote:

“This is perhaps the only defensible Talk About: The one that puts the athlete or coach at ease by showing him you’re interested in what he has to say.”

 “Bill Belichick doubles down on Patriots’ innocence in deflate-gate, dares NFL to prove him wrong” by Dan Wetzel

For my money, Wetzel paints a setting better than anyone else in sports journalism. This piece, published hours after Bill Belichick’s defiant press conference last Saturday, does exactly that:

Pull Quote:

“Whether or not that’s enough to explain deflate-gate away for you, at least try to appreciate the situation:

This was straight Original Gangster stuff by Belichick, a full-on punch to the face of the league office he has long despised and believes turns nearly every molehill into a mountain either because of general football incompetence or to drive television ratings.”

“Deflategate: Some Perspective, Please?” by Don Banks

Every time this story jumps the shark – and I’ve counted at least four separate occasions that this has happened – go back and read this piece on SI from Banks. It was published just hours before Bill Belichick went AP Physics on us.

Pull Quote:

“I find it deflating that the NFL rule book has grown so complex and obtuse that it makes the U.S. tax code look like light summer reading.

Remember when the league’s biggest problem was mainly that the Super Bowl was overhyped and always sucked? Ah, the good old days.”

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That’s that. As always, thanks for reading. More to come. @Hadfield__.