Red Sox Continue Dismal Season, Third Preseason Game For Patriots

Is the Red Sox season over yet?

It’s really hard to believe what has happened at Fenway Park this season, perhaps even more difficult to believe what happened last season at Fenway Park.

What went wrong with Xander Bogaerts & Jackie Bradley? – Peter Abraham has an excellent look at one of the biggest issues this season – the struggles of two rookies who were expected to play big roles this season.

Their current hope at keeping interest up is the pursuit of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, which could be resolved today.

The Patriots play the third preseason game tonight against the Carolina Panthers. It will again be on the Patriots Preseason Network.

Replay times on NFL Network are as follows:

Saturday August 23rd – 1:00 AM and 1:00 PM

Monday August 25th – 4:00 PM

Intangibles have helped Patriots’ Malcolm Butler write his rags-to-riches story – Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal has a nice mini-feature on the undrafted rookie who is making a strong bid to make this team.

After losing Nick Underhill to the Saints beat earlier this summer, MassLive.com has hired Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy)  to take over the Patriots beat.

Is Little League World Series coverage too much? – Chad Finn looks at the coverage from ESPN this week, which got big ratings, thanks in large part to Mo’ne Davis.

Boston media has great taste in main courses – John Molori talks to several Boston sports media personalities about their favorite golf courses.

Random Monday In August

August isn’t a whole lot of fun in the sports landscape, especially when the Red Sox are already out of contention. Hockey and Basketball are still weeks away. The seemingly endless grind of training camp and preseason football drones on.

It’s also the time when most sports radio hosts take some time off before the NFL season gets fully underway. Thus we’ve had an overload of Steve Buckley, Greg Dickerson, Jerry Thornton, Adam Jones (filling on on the AM) Jon Meterparel and the other B-list fill in hosts.

Some of whom are quite OK in small doses, but when you’re sitting there thinking “I can’t wait for John Dennis to come back,” you know there’s an issue.

Rich Shertenlieb has been out for another reason – he’s been by his wife’s side as she continues her battle against cancer. Certainly no one can take issue with that.

When the morning topics are the Little League World Series and talking about a 12 year-old girl and making statements like she’s really a 15-year-boy or that she’ll be a drug addict in a couple years, you know things are bit slow.

But if you thought I was overreacting to Felger and Mazz and Minihane accusing Pedro Martinez of steroid use, or just couldn’t handle their sarcasm and snark, at least I’m not alone in the view.

Sunday Mail: Speculating on Whether Pedro’s Performances Were Enhanced is a New Low – Chad Finn’s Sunday Column is, if anything, tougher on them than I was.

I’m still trying to figure out the angle on Dan Shaughnessy’s column yesterday. We should go easier on celebrities because their lives are hard? And there’s a picture of Roger Clemens with the column? What is the message? And why would Shaughnessy advocate going easy on anyone? Has he ever? Besides John Henry Williams, that is?

From the “Ben Volin is Awesome” department:

Volin had the fingerwag going at Mike Mayock for his comments about Ryan Mallett, basically saying that Mayock is not around Mallett everyday and is thus unqualified to make such a statement.

Then Volin wrote this in his Sunday notes yesterday:

Manziel showed enough in his first game (63 yards passing, 27 rushing) that he looks like he can handle himself at the NFL level.

So Volin can watch half of the first preseason game and declare that a QB is ready to play in the NFL. That’s not a “snap judgment?” Who is more qualified to make a snap judgment on a player anyway? A guy who played in the league and evaluates talent for the draft and works games on a weekly basis, or a reporter who pretty much covers one club, and once lead the charge to give Richie Incognito a “good guy” award?

Breaking News – Over the weekend, I actually heard some pretty good sports talk radio. First Chris Villani and then Danny Picard on WEEI were both reasoned, informative and intelligent in running their afternoon shows on Saturday. I’ve heard both before, many times, but it really struck me how different their shows, at least that day were compared to what I’ve been hearing elsewhere for a while now.

I’m convinced though, that Picard’s accent is a put-on.

If you get a chance, check out the Improper Bostonian and their Patriots coverage. They’ve got a cool Q&A/Feature on Devin McCourty, a team season preview and a Patriots’ 2004 Coaching Staff flow chart looking at the travels of that group since that last Super Bowl title.

Boston Radio Hosts Accuse Pedro Martinez of Steroid Use

It is hardly surprising in this day and age of sports shock talk that hosts attempting to bring attention to themselves would attack the most revered Red Sox player of the last 30 years.

Yesterday and this morning, both 98.5 FM (Felger and Mazz) and WEEI (Kirk Minihane) made, at the very least, strong suggestions that former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez used steroids during his playing career.

The reason for the discussion is because Martinez (along with Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra and Joe Castiglione) were inducted into the Red Sox team Hall of Fame. It’s supposed to be a fun event, one for the fans, and celebrating the achievements of those who brought so many great moments for sports fans. Instead, it becomes a bash-fest.

“Everyone else” did it is the main point of “evidence” that they cite, that and Pedro’s incredible numbers and success against a league that was steroid-riddled at the time. Mike Felger is tired of everyone giving Pedro Martinez a free pass and saying that he did it clean during the steroid era.

Felger additionally cites as his incontrovertible piece of evidence, the 2002 season. The previous year Pedro had injured his rotator cuff, that offseason he worked in a gym where an accused steroid supplier/trainer also work. In the spring of 2002, Martinez reported to spring training more muscular around the shoulders as a result of having worked to strengthen the muscles around the cuff. This is Felger’s evidence.

Their reasons for these accusations are not based in any sort of crusade to find out the truth about matters. It is simply to outrage fans and and encourage cynics to call in and get emotional and bring attention and ratings.

Like I said, it is hardly surprising.

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The Patriots play their second preseason game tonight, (7:30 ET) this time at Gillette Stadium. Check here for the outlets that will carry the game throughout New England and Hawaii: Patriots Preseason TV Broadcast Information

The game will also be carried live on NFL Network, meaning Patriots fans across the country will be able to see what will likely be Tom Brady’s first appearance of the summer. The NFL Network broadcast will be the WBZ-TV version so Dan Roche, Christian Fauria and Matt Chatham get a national audience this week.

The game will be rebroadcast on the NFL Network at the following times:

(All times Eastern)

Saturday August 16th – 9:00am

Tuesday August 19th – 8:00pm

Thursday August 21st – 4:00pm

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Former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins had become a fixture on 98.5, especially on the Felger and Mazz program. Wiggins said good-bye to the station on Wednesday, as he has a new opportunity in the works.

An industry source suggested we check out HOT 96.9  FM next Tuesday morning for Wiggins’ latest gig.

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Molly McGrath enjoying transition to Fox – Chad Finn has a look at the former Celtics in-arena and Celtics.com host, whose star in on the rise at FOX Sports 1.

Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon worth the effort – Bill Doyle looks ahead to the annual NESN/WEEI event next week, and at the debut of the SEC Network.

Congratulations to former WLNE (Providence) sports reporter Courtney Fallon, who has been at NBC6 South Florida for the last two years. She will join CBS Sports Network on Sept 1st as a college football sideline reporter, primarily working Army games, but with other assignments as well.

Painful Night In Landover for Patriots, Viewers

The Patriots looked bad last night against the Redskins, and none worse than Ryan Mallett who struggled his way to a 5-12, 55 yard performance.

I think that only in New England does the media use the backup quarterback as a way to make snide remarks about the coach. The last few days have been filled with snark about Mallett, ever since Belichick pal Mike Mayock made the remark that he was impressed with Mallett and sees an NFL starting QB right now in him, a comment that has provoked endless chuckles around the Patriots beat.

The remark also led to plenty of snark around the Patriots beat where writers started making comments that Mayock was essentially paid off to make the comment, doing so only in exchange for access to Belichick. Utter nonsense. Belichick coached Mayock with the Giants, and likes and respects him. Perhaps Mayock did make the comments as a favor to Belichick, though I find that fairly unlikely as well.

Chris Gasper this morning writes

There are lobbyists in Washington who wish they could spin as favorably as the Patriots and their national media supplicants are on Mallett’s ability.

and

But if Mallett were so good, don’t you think that Bill Belichick would be fighting to keep him as Brady’s successor, and not pumping Mallett’s trade value the way it was getting pumped up around May’s NFL Draft?

How about naming some names, Gasper? Beyond Mayock, who are the supplicants of whom your refer to? How exactly is Belichick “pumping Mallett’s trade value.”

Specifics, please.

I don’t doubt that the Patriots are putting Mallett out there for people to see, including themselves. Does he have a giant FOR SALE sign around his neck?

Maybe that’s why he struggled so much last night. Tough to throw and elude pressure with a giant sign around your neck.

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Meanwhile, after telling us over and over how bad rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo has looked in practice, the first year signal caller came out and impressed in the second half last night, showing poise, accuracy – even on the deep ball – and ability to move around.

The swing towards Jimmy G should be fun to watch this weeek.

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The game broadcast last night on WBZ-TV was, well, uneven. Chad Finn enjoyed it:

Patriots TV broadcast had familiar feel

The broadcast location in the stadium was less than ideal for Dan Roche and Christian Fauria, and it definitely showed at times. Roche had difficulty identifying players, determining whether a field goal was good, and what call the officials were making.

During one particularly painful call, a Patriots backup made a tackle, Roche clearly wasn’t sure who it was, and said “making the tackle for the Patriots….(pause) by the Patriots…” then nothing. They went to commercial break and came back, at which point Roche finally identified the player who had made that tackle.

This isn’t as much a criticism of Roche as it is to highlight the poor location they had, and the difficulties in broadcasting from there. Fauria, as he is prone to do, ran off at the mouth on a number of occasions, including a comment on Roy Finch which referenced his struggles to hang onto the ball, but added “you can also see the explosithness in that guys feets…

Sheesh.

Down on the field, Matt Chatham had a better view, and provided better analysis. His explanation of how linebackers read the route combinations at the goal line was informative and interesting.

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Finally:

Why you should stop watching football

At least the Globe is being honest about their bias now.

Patriots Preseason TV Broadcast Information

The Patriots begin the 2014 preseason tonight as they take on the Redskins in Washington. The broadcast begins at 7:30pm ET.

Here are the outlets on which the game will be shown:

Massachusetts

Boston – WBZ-TV Ch. 4
Springfield – WWLP-TV Ch. 22

New Hampshire

Manchester – WMUR-TV Ch.9

Maine

Portland – WMTW-TV Ch. 8
Bangor – WVII-TV Ch. 7

Rhode Island

Providence – WPRI-TV Ch. 12

Connecticut

Hartford – WTNH-TV Ch. 8

Vermont

Burlington – WCAX-TV Ch. 3

Hawaii

Honolulu – KFVE-TV Ch. 5

If you are not in range of one of these stations, the game will be rebroadcast on the NFL Network four times in the coming week:

Friday, August 8th – 4:00pm
Sunday, August 10th – 3:00pm
Monday, August 11th – 8:00pm
Thursday, August 14th – 10:00am

The game will also be on the radio on the Patriots Radio Network.

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As Chad Finn reported yesterday, DISH Network has dropped CSNNE from its offerings.

Dish Network drops Comcast SportsNet New England

I wish I could say it was because they were disgusted with the likes of Gary Tanguay, Tony Massarotti and company, but that’s the not the case. As you would expect, it’s about money.

Celtics fans on DISH probably shouldn’t panic just yet, these things usually work themselves out once the negotiations go public.

If you missed it earlier this week (how could you?) Brian Scalabrine announced his return to the network in a post parodying  LeBron James return to Cleveland.

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In the July ratings book (June 19 – July 16th) Dennis and Callahan and Minihane overtook Toucher and Rich, finishing 2nd in their time slot, which T&R finished 3rd. It’s only a month, but it is still a significant milestone.

 

The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane, Take 2.

Kirk Minihane returned to the WEEI airwaves this morning off of his one-week suspension. His return was considerably more low-key than his previous return. Probably a prudent move.

With Gerry Callahan out this morning, Minihane was sitting in the number two seat, and John Dennis joked that when he is out, Minihane will likely sit in his, number one seat, which prompted Minihane to quip – “my stock is rising here at the station.”

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Monday means MMQB from Peter King, who manages to set new standards in self-importance on a weekly basis.

Today leads off with Cam Newton, who apparently is now “mature” after having pulled King aside and contritely spoken to him, probably after getting sick of being regularly villainized by King ever since the Carolina QB stopped talking to him following an incident in which Newton felt King quoted him out of context.

King’s vendetta against Newton has been noticed by others. But now, after Newton talked to King, all is forgiven and forgotten.

But in the end, I feel bad that he was branded with those comments because his three years as a player has proven him to be, after some missteps at post-game podiums following losses, a good person and leader.

Amazing.

I’ve given up trying to figure out the appeal of Peter King. He doesn’t report, he doesn’t cover games. He is essentially the gossip columnist of the NFL. People give him information to get into his column. The 900 calorie Starbucks drinks and fruity beers combined with the accounts of the disgusting person sitting next to him on his plane/train from Manhattan (did you know he lives in Manhattan????) and uninformed Red Sox hottakes are bad enough, the moral high ground fingerwags coupled with the humblebrags really push things over the top.

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I’m still shaking my head over this Tweet:

Yes, by all means, let’s shut these players up who have been elected to this Hall of Fame. We don’t want to hear about their influences or stories from their playing career. We’d much rather hear introductions from unbiased journalists like Jay Glazer or Mike Florio!

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Last night’s Red Sox game was about as frustrating and annoying as a television experience could be. Clay Buchholz has definitely reached Dice-K levels of infuriation with both his performance and the time he takes to work. Add John Kruk to that mix, and you’ve got a formula that could be used to break hardened criminals.

I don’t remember Kruk being this bad, but man. Did you know that Red Sox fans boo players who used to play for Boston, but who now play for the Yankees?

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Misc.

Did the Globe really send Dan Shaughnessy to Oakland for Jon Lester’s first start? Why, on God’s earth?

Did John Henry give Jon Lester a break on the price of the full page ad the former Sox pitcher took out in yesterday’s Globe?

I managed to make it to the third quarter of last night’s Hall of Fame game before Cris Collinsworth made me change the channel for good. Yeah, Mario Manningham “gave us all quite a thrill” with that Super Bowl catch a few years ago.

Speaking of preseason football, can’t wait for the first mention of the Patriots polo shirts on the broadcast crew for the preseason games.

Nice of D&C and Jon Meterparel to suggest last week that Don Orsillo had anything to do with NESN deciding to drop the simulcast of their show when the contract ends next month. Even worse to pretend like it had something to do with Orsillo feeling insecure about a perceived threat to his job from rising star Meterparel.

Gresh and Zo is the best football show on the local airwaves. It’s not even close.

Red Sox Keep Media Busy on Trade Deadline Day

For the second time in three seasons Ben Cherington gutted his Red Sox squad in the middle of the season. The Sox GM made four trades yesterday, sending out Jon Lester, Johnny Gomes, John Lackey, Andrew Miller and Stephen Drew off of the major league roster.

The trades started fairly early with the Lester deal going down around 9:50am -Alex Speier was the first with the particulars on that deal – and ending just before the 4:00pm deadline with the trade of Drew to the Yankees.

The trades kept the Boston media busy all day, as they hustled to keep up and to provide analysis of what the Red Sox were doing and to what end. All in all, I have to say they did pretty well with it.

What the heck just happened? Red Sox trade deadline day first thoughts – Speier has a look at the events of the day and what they mean.

Cherington begins second roster overhaul – Sean McAdam looks at the process which began yesterday.

Pain of losing Lester cuts deep – Gordon Edes says that Lester is a huge loss, one that can’t be overcome with the extra hitting the Sox acquired.

Jon Lester deserved better from Red Sox – Steve Buckley isn’t happy.

How the Red Sox’ trade frenzy came about – Peter Abraham has a good look at how the day unfolded.

With the Red Sox making a trade with the Yankees, I expected a 1970’s baseball reference from Dan Shaughnessy today, but I was expecting Sparky Lyle, not Charles Finley and the A’s fire sale in 1976.

ESPN to broadcast Sunday game from Green Monster – Chad Finn’s media column has Sunday night’s game against Stephen Drew’s Yankees being broadcast from a unique perspective.

There’s plenty happening at Patriots camp, as the defense has been the story early on. Check all the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

It’s Wall to Wall Jon Lester as Trade Deadline Approaches

As tomorrow’s MLB trade deadline approaches, most people seem convinced that the Red Sox will trade lefty Jon Lester, rather than sign him to an extension.

It’s hard to believe that it has come to this, but here we are.

Tim Britton of the Providence Journal has a post with all the coverage his paper has done on the Lester situation since January, showing us the winding road this drama has taken.

How did we get here? The path that’s led the Red Sox to the verge of a Jon Lester trade

The always excellent Alex Speier also looks at the Lester situation, and how 2014 has been about coming of age for the pitcher.

Eye of the storm: Amidst chaos, Jon Lester comes of age

In many ways, the focus on where Lester ends up obscures a more significant story. How did Lester arrive at this point? How did he, over the course of 12 years, transform himself many times over into a pitcher who now is at the absolute zenith of his career, who looks like someone at the height of his powers and knows it?

The 2014 season marks a coming of age. It has been a year littered with potentially uncomfortable questions — about his contract talks with the Sox, about the possibility of being traded. Yet Lester has seemed more secure than ever in fielding those inquiries about what is happening around him off the field, and it is precisely because of his newfound comfort in who he is on the mound.

As always, it amazes me how Speier is just at another level with things like this and his analysis.

Lester has been in the consciousness of Red Sox fans since the Winter of 2003-04 when he, as a then a  prospect, was being mentioned as part of a possible trade to Texas for Alex Rodriguez. In that case, it shows that sometimes it’s better not to give up the prospects for a player you think is the missing piece to your team.

Now, he’s on the A-Rod side of things, possibly being traded himself for younger, tantalizing prospects. But Lester is more than just another guy, we’ve seen him grow, we’ve seen him beat cancer, and come back to be the best pitcher on a World Series winning team.

It’s hard to know what is going on behind the scenes at Fenway. Who is calling this? Larry Lucchino? John Henry? Probably not Ben Cherington or John Farrell. I’d love to know what Cherington’s thoughts on this really are. Has Lucchino gone back to how he was when Theo Epstein finally had enough and walked out?

This really is more about the Red Sox and where they are than it is about Lester. Jon Lester is going to be fine, wherever he goes. But what about the Red Sox? If Lester is gone, the Red Sox are still here, and we have to deal with that. Are they in turmoil again?

Will the Globe smear Lester if the team trades him? While it doesn’t always happen, (it just seems that way) you have to believe they’d have a hard time coming up with material on him.

Let’s put away the notion that the Red Sox could trade him, get talent back and then sign him back here as a free agent come fall. If they can’t sign him now without any competition, how in the world are they going to sign him when teams like the Dodgers, Angels, Yankees or Mets are out there with open checkbooks?

Of course, they might not trade him at all, and end up signing him before he hits free agency which would render all the hand-wringing and anger completely moot.

I don’t know that I would bet on that outcome though.

Friday Notes – Is Minihane Too Good For His Comments?

With another week almost in the books, many Boston sports fans look forward to getting the Patriots on the practice field next week.

It seems that all that radio hosts want to talk about it whether he will be here beyond this season, but has it really hit Patriots fans that Darrelle Revis will be playing for the Patriots this season? Darrelle Revis.

Kirk Minihane is not being punished for his remarks about Erin Andrews earlier this week.  Nothing has come of the comments of Lou Merloni and Tim Benz on Andrews, which some would say are even worse.

(Thanks to Ken Fang for listening and transcribing that exchange.)

Believe it or not, the exchange sounds even worse than it reads.

Minihane did apologize this week with a statement on the WEEI website, but I hope that when he returns from vacation that he apologizes on the air as well. He said the remarks on the radio, he probably should apologize on the radio as well.

Kirk Minihane too good for low-brow antics – Chad Finn leads off his media column today with more on the Minihane comments, and whether Kirk is too good to resort to this type of stuff. I don’t know that he is. I thought he was a decent guy, but his total ingratiation with the hate that John Dennis and Gerry Callahan spew has been disturbing.

Paul Azinger thinks Tiger Woods fixed what wasn’t broken – The Open Championship is this weekend, and Bill Doyle has the ESPN analyst saying the Woods changed his swing too much and it has pretty much ruined him.

Jim Bouton still as opinionated as ever – If you read Ball Four growing up, you might be interested to hear what the former Seattle Pilot is up to these days. Stan Grossfeld checked in with Bouton, who resides in Massachusetts.

Derek Jeter Memorial Being Broadcast Live on FOX Tonight

The annual MLB All Star Game, originally scheduled for tonight on FOX has been cancelled and replaced with a three-hour tribute to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter who, in case you hadn’t heard yet, is retiring at the end of the season.

FOX is even bringing Tim McCarver out of retirement to gaze upon Jeter’s calm eyes one last time.

Sadly, I think the Jeter tributes are just getting started.

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Former NESN sideline reporter Jenny Dell and rehabbing Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks got engaged yesterday.

Dell and Middlebrooks are not the first reporter and athlete to have a relationship, but theirs has come under unusual scrutiny, I’ve even commented on it in the past. This news should spark a new round of fingerwags from the usual suspects, though since Dell is no longer with NESN, it shouldn’t be an issue now.

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Another former NESN star, Kathryn Tappen continues her rise in the media world. She will continue her work with NHL Network, but is also now joining NBC Sports, where she will have a variety of roles, including work on NHL Live, Football Night in America, Notre Dame Football, Super Bowl XLIX and future Olympic coverage.

Tappen is married to former NHL player Jay Leach, who had a brief stint with the Bruins. From their own wedding announcement in the New York Times:

The couple met in February 2005, during the National Hockey League lockout. Mr. Leach, who was with the Bruins then, went to Providence, R.I., to play for the Bruins’ minor league team. Ms. Tappen was covering sports for WJAR, the NBC affiliate in Providence.

I only point that that out to contrast it with the reaction given to Dell’s relationship with Middlebrooks, which is admittedly more high-profile, but I don’t recall people questioning Tappen’s professionalism when she was on NESN.

There are other reporter/athlete relationships, Samantha Steele and Christian Ponder are married, Erin Andrews dates LA Kings defenseman Jarret Stoll. It is actually surprising it doesn’t happen more.

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If we’re talking about sideline reporters, it is worthy of mention that FOX “elevated” Pam Oliver from her position as lead NFL sideline reporter into “Senior Correspondent.” She will remain a sideline reporter, but with the announcing team of Kevin Burkhardt and analyst John Lynch rather than the top team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.

Replacing Oliver on the top team will be the aforementioned Erin Andrews.

If it seems like a step back, it is, and a it’s a bad move by FOX. Oliver is one of the best in the business, and if you saw Andrews do the Patriots/Buccaneers game last season, you know this is a step back in quality for FOX.

I like Andews better than most seem to, but Pam Oliver is a pro. Along with Michele Tafoya, Doris Burke and Suzy Kolber, Oliver is among in the top group of people in the position of sideline reporter. Burke and Kolber do a whole lot more than just work on the sidelines, and Burke is actually miscast in the role of foil to Gregg Popovich – she’s better as a game analyst.

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With not much more going on in the local scene other than Dan Shaughnessy trolling Red Sox fans over Jon Lester, it seemed a good time to look at the above topics.