CSN Reports Rasheed Wallace Joins Celtics

Gary Tanguay of Comcast SportsNet reports that Wallace’s agent has told him that his client has committed to joining the Celtics.

In his short post at the CSN website, Tanguay says Wallace’s agent will be a guest tonight on Sports Sunday.

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald has more extensive story on this.

I also have the Sunday links over at the Fang’s Bites page.

Watching Peter King

Disclaimer: The point of this post is by no means to discredit what the Philadelphia Eagles did on draft weekend. They clearly made some nice moves. The motivation is to shine the light on Peter King for being something of a hypocrite for his gushing praise at the Eagles for doing the very same thing that he mocked the Patriots for doing just the week before.

If you hadn’t heard, Peter King recently moved to Boston. If you read King at all, I’m not sure how you could’ve missed this point, as he’s told us several times, and has already told Boston Magazine all about the great coffee and food he is getting here in the city.

Since he lives in Boston, I guess he’s now on my beat.

In his column following the draft, King wasn’t impressed with all the moving around that the Patriots did. I’ve put in bold the statements that stuck out to me:

New England. I was told last night the Patriots loved Eric Wood, the Louisville center who projected to center or guard in the NFL, but if that’s the case, they could have had him at 26 instead of trading out of the round for yet more picks. So I remain mystified about the continued trading rather than picking… Brandon Tate’s a poor man’s Percy Harvin, with the same off-field question marks, picked almost exactly two rounds later than Harvin … I go into the Patriots in more depth later, but I thought it was a strange draft, almost drunk with the power of moving back. The one reason you can never kill this team about drafting is it’s taken a lot of no-name guys high over the years and many have become cornerstones.

“Drunk with the power of moving back.” What does that even mean? Then, in yesterday’s column, King lauds the Eagles for putting on a “draft clinic.” It’s way too long to quote in its entirety here, but I’ll offer a few snippets:

What would you think if I told you the Philadelphia Eagles got third-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round draft choices, plus half a starting cornerback for nothing in this year’s draft?

That’s right. For free. There is no smoke, mirrors or cheating involved. Only thought and effort.

For moving down six spots in the third round — eventually taking a player they were considering for that 85th pick anyway — the Eagles got filthy rich. I am shocked more teams don’t run their draft the way the Eagles do. It’s almost irresponsible that teams don’t do it the Philadelphia way.

The Patriots do, (some feel they originated the concept) but they’re “drunk with the power of moving back,” and cause King to be “mystified” with all their trades for additional picks.

Then the Eagles GM is quoted, which might give you a clue as to why their moves are being so strongly praised:

“Actually, I’m happy more teams don’t,” said Tom Heckert, the Eagles general manager. “If more teams did, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

This may come out the wrong way, so bear with me. But if I were a football fan looking for a team to root for, I’d pick the Eagles, and what they did on draft weekend is a big reason. The Eagles think. They don’t do things the way they’ve always been done because that’s the way they’ve always been done.

In contrast, in last weeks column, King later called the Patriots draft was “uninspired” and “odd” and “greeted with shoulder shrugs around the league.” 

King then goes into details about all the moves that the Eagles made. In the end, the Eagles netted “third-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round draft choices, plus half a starting cornerback.”

King will tell us that the Eagles netting Peters, Maclin, McCoy plus the six-pick trade-down is what makes Philly’s draft preeminent. That’s not the point. We’re strictly focusing on the practice of trading up and down and turning picks into multiple picks. As I said at the start of this post, I’m not discrediting the Eagles. The point is that the Eagles and Patriots did the same type of thing, and the unfriendly Patriots get hammered while the Eagles and their quotable GM get praised. King doesn’t get it.

But, let’s look at the trades that the Patriots made during draft weekend:

  • Started with the 23rd pick, traded it to Baltimore for #26 and a fifth round pick #162
  • Traded the #26 pick and the #162 pick to Green Bay for a second round pick (#41 Darius Butler) and two third round picks (#73 & #83 Brandon Tate)
  • Traded a second round pick (#47), a fourth round pick (#124) and a sixth round pick (#199) to Oakland to move up in the second round to #40 (Ron Brace)
  • Traded a third round pick (#73) to Jacksonville for a 2010 2nd round pick and a 2009 seventh round pick (#232 Julian Edelman)
  • Traded a third round pick (#89) to Tennessee for a 2010 second round pick.
  • Traded Ellis Hobbs to the Eagles for two fifth round picks (#137 and # 141)
  • Traded those two fifth round picks for a fourth round pick (#123 Rich Ohrnberger) and a sixth round pick (#198 Jake Ingram)

If you follow that list, and track that first pick that the Patriots started out with at #23, you’ll find that they ultimately turned that one pick into the following, without trading a single other asset that they started the day with already in hand:

  • Pick #41 Darius Butler (who King’s colleague Don Banks had the Patriots taking at #23)
  • Pick #83 Brandon Tate (King himself praised his skills)
  • 2010 Second Round Pick (From Jacksonville)
  • Pick #232 Julian Edelman (who Mike Reiss seems high on)

That’s not really “uninspired” to me. They took a late first round pick, and turned it into two seconds, a third and a seventh. Not a bad haul. In his own mock draft prior to the draft, King said of the #23 pick “One smart guy swears they’re taking UConn CB Darius Butler.” Well, they did, but they got an extra second, third and seventh round pick to do it. For free!

Coming into the draft, the Patriots had two second round picks. They ended up with four in this draft, plus an extra two next year. They got those two next year for a pair of third round selections this year. They clearly moved around with a purpose, they weren’t just “drunk with the power of moving back.”

Back to the whole point of the post. Why did King dismiss the Patriots moves while praising the Eagles? I tried to clarify with him, and we’ve been having the following Twitter exchange:

@SI_PeterKing – Why are you praising the Eagles for doing the same thing you knocked the “drunk with power” Patriots for doing last week?

SI_PeterKing Hi Bruce: Hope you don’t mind, but I am going to answer your question in my Tuesday column. Thanks for writing in.

@SI_PeterKing : I look forward to it, because 4 draft choices between the 3rd & 7th rounds = wow!, Two second round picks = mystifying?

SI_PeterKing: Hi bruce. Peter here. Peters, Maclin, McCoy PLUS the six-pick trade-down makes Philly’s draft preeminent.

@SI_PeterKing Thanks for the reply. My point isn’t really who did better, its that you knocked the Patriots for doing what the Eagles did.

I give the guy credit for responding and I do think King is one of the good guys in the media. Too often though, he allows himself to be used as a mouthpiece by his subjects. In this case, I think he’s just missing the point. It’s not that the Eagles did better or the Patriots did better, it’s that they did the same things, and the Patriots get hammered or mockingly dismissed, while the Eagles “put on a draft clinic” and are innovative and thinking outside the box, and not doing things the way they’ve always been done. He just doesn’t get it.

Why the contrast? Is it really simply because the Philly GM explained what they were doing, whereas the Patriots just went out and did it?

Update:

Here’s King’s answer in his column today.

TWITTER QUESTION OF THE WEEK: From Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch: “Why are you praising the Eagles for doing the same thing you knocked the ‘drunk with power’ Patriots for doing last week?”
Though in principle you might be right, Bruce, it wasn’t the same thing. The Patriots didn’t have the same result in trading down as the Eagles did, though they did acquire two second-round picks in 2010 in their wheeling-and-dealing. Philadelphia traded down six spots late in the third round and got one of the top guys they would have taken at 85 (Cornelius Ingram), half the value of a starting corner (Ellis Hobbs), a seventh-round pick this year and third-, fifth- and sixth-round picks next year … and still exited the draft with three potential impact players in 2009 — Jason Peters, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy.

It remains to be seen if the Patriots got the same sort of impact out of their 2009 draft and beyond, but it didn’t look like it to me. It surprised me they twice traded down out of the first round for three additional picks instead of taking a tackle of the future like Michael Oher or some higher-rated player at 23 or 26. It could be that Darius Butler, for instance, could have had a mid-first-round grade and by getting him in the low 40s it constituted great value on their board.

As I wrote last week about New England, “The one reason you can never kill this team about drafting is the Patriots have taken a lot of no-name guys high over the years and many have become cornerstones.” So let’s see how it plays out.

I guess that’s all we can do right now.

Blog Rally to Help the Boston Globe

How did that headline grab you?

An email passed into my inbox last night letting me know about a proposed movement called a “blog rally” aimed at throwing support at the Boston Globe and attempting to “save the Globe from the barbarians down in New York.”

What is a “blog rally” you say?

A blog rally is the simultaneous presentation of identical or similar material on numerous blogs, for the purpose of engaging large numbers of readers and/or persuading them to adopt a certain position or take a certain action. The simultaneous nature of a blog rally creates the ironic result of joining the efforts of otherwise independent bloggers for an agreed-upon purpose.

The position being shared among several local bloggers is this:

We have all read recently about the threat of possible closure faced by the Boston Globe. A number of Boston-based bloggers who care about the continued existence of the Globe have banded together in conducting a blog rally. We are simultaneously posting this paragraph to solicit your ideas of steps the Globe could take to improve its financial picture.

We view the Globe as an important community resource, and we think that lots of people in the region agree and might have creative ideas that might help in this situation. So, here’s your chance. Please don’t write with nasty comments and sarcasm: Use this forum for thoughtful and interesting steps you would recommend to the management that would improve readership, enhance the Globe’s community presence, and make money. Who knows, someone here might come up with an idea that will work, or at least help. Thank you.

The irony of this is not lost on me. The idea of a group of bloggers expressing their support for the Boston Globe is a notion some might find hard to grasp. After all, the Globe has mocked bloggers and tried to discredit them at almost every turn in the past. Many bloggers believe that the time has come for old school media institutions like the Globe to shut their doors. Yet, here we have a community of bloggers rushing to support the Globe in its biggest time of need.

As noted above, some view the Globe  as a community resource, while others recognize the hardship that the closing of the Globe would put on thousands of families who rely on it for their means of living. The closing of the Globe would not be a victory for anyone.

If you regularly visit several Boston-based blogs, you’re likely to see a similar post to the above at some of them today.

So, as mentioned above, without getting nasty or sarcastic, what do you think the Globe can do to remain in business?

Also check out this article in the Boston Business Journal exploring possible buyers and solutions for the Globe.

Patriots to Open Season on Monday Night

Ken from Fang’s Bites with some late afternoon news for you.

The NFL announced this afternoon its opening season primetime games as well as its Thanksgiving Day games.

On the docket includes your New England Patriots which will open the season on Monday night, September 14 as part of an “AFL 50th” doubleheader. Here’s the press release from ESPN:

ESPN’s Monday Night Football Season-Opening Doubleheader – Bills-Patriots and Chargers-Raiders on Sept. 14

Tom Brady’s Return, Terrell Owens’ Bills Debut to Highlight Kickoff of MNF’s 40th Season

Monday Night Football will kick off its 40th season with two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady expected to make his highly-anticipated return to the field when the New England Patriots host wide receiver Terrell Owens and the Buffalo Bills in the first game of a nationally televised ESPN doubleheader on Monday, September 14. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET, followed by the San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders in a matchup of AFC West rivals at 10:15 p.m.

The Patriots finished with an 11-5 record in 2008 despite losing Brady to a season-ending knee injury in their opening game. In 2007, Brady was named the NFL MVP after leading the Patriots to a perfect 16-0 regular season record and a Super Bowl appearance. The AFC East rival Bills will make their season debut with a revamped offense featuring Owens, the dynamic All Pro wide receiver who signed as a free agent earlier this month. ESPN’s MNF commentator team of Mike Tirico (play-by-play) and analysts Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser will call the game.

Quarterback Phillip Rivers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson will lead the Chargers against the Raiders in Oakland in the second game. San Diego won the AFC West a year ago and advanced to the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs. The Chargers and Raiders also played in ESPN’s inaugural season-opening MNF doubleheader in 2006. The ESPN commentators who will call the game will be announced later this offseason.

The MNF doubleheader will be part of the NFL’s celebration of the 50th anniversary season of the AFL. All four teams in the opening weekend ESPN games originally began playing in the inaugural 1960 American Football League season.

The rest of the season schedule will be announced in April.

Steroids Latest Media Bore

OK. I’ll admit it.

I didn’t watch or listen to a second of the A-Rod press conference today. Further, I didn’t watch the A-Rod sit-down with Peter Gammons last week, either.

“Wait,” you say, “you run a sports media website, shouldn’t you be all over these events?”

Probably. But truth be told, I lost interest in the whole steroid thing a long time ago. It reached “Spygate” proportions for me before Spygate even existed.

Sure, I read “Game of Shadows” and I also read Howard Bryant’s underrated book “Juicing the game.” I understand that steroids are a problem in professional sports. They can provide an unfair advantage, not to mention they can come with great health risks later in life. Just ask the 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Well, those of them still alive, that is.

There’s no way that baseball or any other sport is going to be able to handle this scandal in any way that is going to satisfy all. You can’t place asterisks on some records, or say that Hank Aaron is still the official All Time Home Run King even though he has less home runs than Barry Bonds.

We’re just going to have to accept that there was a steroid era in baseball.

Aside from the actual steroid useage, the biggest beef I have with this whole episode is the fact that so many in the media buried their heads in the sand on this story for years and years. In fact, many of them insisted that there was no steroid problem in baseball. Now, these same ones are leading the charge of exposing the problem, or conducting sit-down interviews with the players who have admitted to steroid use, and who have lied to them personally thoughout the years. Others surely knew that there was a problem, but never upset the apple cart.

The bottom line is that I’m so disgusted by all the principals involved in this matter that I’ve lost any interest in reading, listening or watching anything about it. What more can really be said about it? I fear that more names from the 104 positive steroid results will be released and we’ll have more and more A-Rod-like moments of tearful confessions, followed by heartfelt sitdowns with trusted media types.

I just know I won’t be watching.

Google Trends Tracks Boston Sports Searches in ’08

Got this information in an email from a BSMW reader at Google:

Last week we released our 2008 Google Zeitgeist, a microsite detailing the
most popular searches and topics from the past year in the U.S. and
worldwide: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist/index.html

But what does that mean for Boston sports?

As I and a bunch of other Googlers with Massachusetts origins were looking at the zeitgeist, we began talking about Boston sports trends over the course of ’08.  Thought you might like to see what we found.

All the information can be derived using the free Google Insights for Search tool — which was released earlier this year for advertisers, marketers, and all internet users. 

But on to the nitty-gritty…

What team is at the searching heart of Boston?

Well, nationwide:
– [Sox] win overall with a healthy amount of searches year-round
– [Pats] spike in Jan/Feb
– [Celtics] skyrocketed in June
– is the future looking up for the Bruins?

Within Massachusetts, [Red Sox] still have a steady lead, but the
[Patriots] and [Celtics] are neck-in-neck.

If you play with the “regional interest” tab, you’ll see:
[Patriots] are tops in Foxboro, but Brookline leads proportionally for
[Red Sox] and [Celtics] and Beverly and Waltham dig the [Bruins]

[Beat LA] was the chant to search for — with [Yankees Suck] staying
steady but low in ’08

Compare that to the ’04 to ’08

In the [Red Sox] v. [Yankees] searches of ’08, [Red Sox] just eeked them out — with a huge spike in October, as you watch the Yankees die out.

But in terms of U.S.-wide [Red Sox] searches, the top states are:
1. Massachusetts
2. New Hampshire
3. Maine
4. Rhode Island
5. Vermont
6. Connecticut

and, how’s this:

7. North Dakota
8. New York
9. New Jersey
10. D.C.

Compare, though, to the Red Sox / Yankees rivalry over the last four years.

[Scott Boras] made a nice jump in February the same week Gary Sheffield called him a “bad person” and Manny signed him as his agent. He was most popular in terms of searches in Massachusetts than anywhere else.

But look at the dive Manny took after his trade (at least amongst Boston searchers).

Who was [Matt Cassel] until September?

[Tom Brady] still is up on Cassel– in Massachusetts

and nationwide.

On the subject of Brady, notice the spike in in searches for “anterior
cruciate ligament

With the Celtics — Boston loves [Pierce], but [KG] commands the nationwide search lead:
Kevin Garnett v. Paul Pierce v. Ray Allen
– in the U.S.:
in Massachusetts

[Celtics] v. [Lakers]

In the great comparison of Boston coaches: Terry Francona v. Bill
Belichick v. Doc Rivers v. Claude Julien

Pedroia, Pedroia, Pedroia

Look at August and September: – moves out of cleanup & MVP chants roar through Fenway

– correlate with this timeline:
August 28: Pedroia grand-slam at Yankee Stadium
August 31: Pedroia moved to cleanup spot
September 3: Pedroia gets 5 RBIs.  Hear the chants: “MVP, MVP, MVP”

Who cares most to find [TBS] — New England during the baseball playoffs

a Tampa Bay Rays bandwagon? — look at the search jump in the playoffs?  How about before?

Finally, the first things last — top sports searches and fastest-rising sports searches in Massachusetts

TOP 10 sports searches for ’08 in Massachusetts:
1. red sox
2. football
3. sports
4. golf
5. soccer
6. baseball
7. nfl
8. basketball
9. patriots
10. celtics

Fastest-rising sports searches of ’08 in Masachusetts
1. nbc olympics, growth greater than 5000% from ’07 to ’08
2. beijing 2008 — same; more than 5000% increase
3. 2008 olympics — 1250% increase from ’07 to ’08
4. olympics — 600% increase
5. euro 2008 — 550% increase
6. lakers — 250% increase
7. celtics — 110% increase
8. giants — 60% increase
9. boston celtics — 60% increase
10. mma — 50% increase
also

Lest We Forget

ESPN Expert Picks

How sweet is THAT?

A few random, rambling thoughts:

The Kevin Garnett/Bill Russell exchange following the game had me tearing up even while chills were running down my spine. Quite a weird sensation, but it’s one I wouldn’t mind having a few more times in my lifetime.

Garnett’s hanging in the air, one handed line drive shot while getting knocked to the ground is a play that will live on in highlights for years to come. In my mind, it was like the play in the 1991 Finals were Michael Jordan switched hands on a drive down the throat of the Lakers defense. “A Spectacular Move” is how Marv Albert described Jordan, Garnett’s might’ve been even more impressive.

I can’t think of a Boston athlete I could be happier for than Paul Pierce. This guy has seen rock bottom in Celtics history and now has his own legacy of greatness. The legends of the Celtics have always accepted Pierce, but now he is truly a member of their club.

It would’ve been great to see Larry Bird in the house. I know he’s happy for the fans of Boston this morning…

Brian Scalabrine (Video in the right sidebar) talking trash to the media after the game was amusing to watch. I was surprised he wasn’t joined by Scot Pollard up there…

Ray Allen. Wow. Revealing after the game that his son was diagnosed with diabetes over the weekend, he really hasn’t slept at all the last five days or so, and he was just lights out…especially in the second half. The guy was amazing, and hopefully the talk that he is done is done.

Kendrick Perkins – stat line doesn’t jump out at you, but the guy couldn’t even lift one of his hands over his head, yet the put a body on Pau Gasol and that was all he had to do. It’s hard to believe that he’s been around since the last year of the Jim O’Brien era, but he’s put in the work and is a invaluable piece to the Celtics defense.

Has Rajon Rondo stopped running yet? He was a blur, yet in contrast to some nights, he was a controlled blur. Everytime you turned around it seemed he was disrupting something. His two handed strip on Lamar Odom reminded me of Tedy Bruschi stripping Dominic Rhodes in the 2005 playoffs.

Can we get James Posey a new three year contract right now? Please?

I’m tempted to bring back P.J. Brown for another run as well. He doesn’t need to play much – 10 to 15 minutes tops – but he certainly was the piece that the Celtics needed to add late in the season. He added the veteran guile that was needed in the Celtics front court.

Doc Rivers

Yeah, I know he’s been here for four seasons now, but I’m still having a hard time believing that the same Doc Rivers who drove me crazy as Dominique Wilkins’ sidekick in the 80’s is the guy who was on the Celtics sideline when they clinched banner 17.

He did a tremendous job this season, and even more so in the postseason, and the finals, where he was a step ahead of the “Zen master” at every turn.

In the “Wired” segments that ABC showed at the start of the games and halftime, it seemed Doc was always saying the right thing. In contrast, Phil Jackson was so laid back most of the time, you could almost translate that out to the performance of his players in long stretched of time.

My faith in humanity was restored last night following the game when Stuart Scott and David Stern were heartily booed on the championship stand. Stern, you recall seemed to do everything he could to keep the Celtics down, even giving the team no cap relief after Reggie Lewis died. A few years later when Alonzo Mourning was thought to be lost for the season for the Heat, he granted the Heat space enough to sign an impact player, and then Mourning returned before the end of the season. I’ve never forgotten that. It seems that the fans haven’t either.

Sorry Bob. I couldn’t resist.

I’ll fully acknowledge that Ryan’s column was written before James Posey and PJ Brown were added to the mix and without those guys, I’m not sure we’ve got Banner 17 today.  But this paragraph from Ryan sure stands out now:

So tell me what’s so enticing about this roster. If Danny had kept Ryan Gomes, I’d be far more optimistic. And why did Danny have to relinquish two No. 1 draft picks? Am I the only one who thinks this stuff matters? There is nothing to suggest the Celtics won’t once again be a horrible defensive team. There is no guarantee Rondo can run a team and keep order among the star trio. There is no guarantee, for that matter, that Ray Allen will play 70 games, or even 60.

It’s also worth noting that the Celtics hadn’t yet hired Tom Thibodeau either, but it sure is fun to look back and see the pining for Ryan Gomes in August.

After hearing for two weeks that Kobe Bryant was the best player on the planet, I just don’t see it. LeBron was a much stiffer challenge to the Celtics, even as he struggled with his shooting. It seems we can also put to rest the “Kobe is better than Jordan” talk. Kobe has now lost two NBA Finals, something Jordan never did, and a Jordan team would never have gone out like the Lakers did last night.

I was thrilled for Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn last night as well. Watching CSN after the game, I was almost as emotional for them as for the players. These guys have truly seen all the bad times this franchise has been through over the last 22 years. To have their loyalty final rewarded with another title is most satisfying indeed.

Enjoy this one, folks. Boston in the 21st century continues to be the place to be for sports fans…

Why Spygate Is The Most Disgraceful Episode In Recent Sports Media History

Lets get this out of the way first -Bill Belichick and the Patriots broke the rules. There is no disputing that. They were punished for it.

Yes, I’m trying to put this all behind me, but I think it’s important to review just how disgraceful the behaviour of national media was during this whole episode, and attempt to put as much of it on the record as I can here.

Yes, disgraceful.

I suppose it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given the news/sports climate in which we live, one that is dominated by sensationalism, exaggeration, rush to judgement and opinion. But things really got out of hand with this one. Let’s review a few of the ways:

The myopic media have chosen to focus solely on the sensationalistic aspects of this case, right from the beginning.

Whether or not this was really a major rules violation that garnered a significant advantage is not the point. THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS CHEATED AND ALL THEIR CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE NOW TAINTED. That’s the message that has been sent out, and that which has been pounded repeatedly into the conscious of the American public.

The implication has been that the taping of signals is the golden lamp which when rubbed, automatically ensures victory. They insist that the advantage gained by these tapes is the single most important factor (even if some faint voices say otherwise) in the Patriots success this decade.

Never mind that the stealing of signals has been going on in all sports almost from the beginning. Never mind that other teams have been caught doing the same or worse. Ignore all of that.

Ignore this statement:

Taping from the sidelines during games, although forbidden, is regarded as a minor violation of the rules.

You know who wrote that?

The one and only Gregg Easterbrook. (On February 3, 2008)

Yeah, the same guy now advocating a lifetime ban of Belichick.

For a “minor violation of the rules.”

Nothing has changed since that day, in fact, the Patriots position has improved, as the notion of the walkthrough video has been dismissed. The Boston Heraldand John Tomase have apologized for putting out this false information. Yet now Easterbrook wants the lifetime ban?

They’ve also shown that just because something has already been reported, it doesn’t mean you can’t write it again and shout from the rooftops that there is a new angle.

One of the prominent figures of this whole saga has been ESPN “investigative reporter” Mike Fish. For someone billed as an investigative reporter, I haven’t seen this guy yet bring something of value to the table. You’d think an investigative reporter would…you know…investigate. He would look into all aspects of a story, uncover new facts, perhaps expand the scope of the story to include other teams and their practices, to see if what the Patriots did was really out of line with what other teams were doing to get an edge.

Nope. He’s been solely focused on the Patriots. He hands in pieces like this, which have absolutely no new information whatsoever.

I’m tempted to dub him Mike Fishwrap, but that would be an insult to paper that is actually used to wrap dead fish.

Ready, Fire, Aim.

This will somehow get blamed on the internet, I’m sure, but this whole episode has consisted of events where reporters and media have shot first and asked questions later. The rush to be first get the news out there and garner attention has overidden everything else, including journalistic standards. Tomasegate is the prime example, but there are others.

Remember in the last few weeks when there was a big rush of OFFENSIVE SIGNALS headlines(That Fish guy again) after Walsh turned over his tapes? Some speculated that this was a new facet of the cheating that could open up the case even more and end up in that eagerly anticipated suspension for Belichick.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick could be hit with more sanctions in connection with the team’s past videotaping activities.

This was despite the official comment from the league:

“This is consistent with what the Patriots had admitted they had been doing, consistent with what we already knew,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press.

That statement didn’t stop the media from running with the OFFENSIVE SIGNALS storyline. That went on for a few days before dying out when people finally realized that the offensive signals weren’t really of any use.

From Trent Dilfer in Peter King’s MMQB column this week on the news that the league will be instituting coach-to-defensive-captain communication via radio:

videotaping “will be irrelevant. Now the offense will have no way of stealing signals anymore, because they’ll be done the same way the offense sends in signals — from the coach to a player on the field [through a microphone and speaker].

What that quote is saying is that taping offensive signals in the past was irrelevant – because there are no hand signals to steal.

So besides the fact that the tape were consistent with what the NFL already knew, it’s also come out that the taping of offensive signals was pretty much of no value.

We’ve had columnists and talking heads insinuate that there really was a tape of the Rams walkthrough, but that the Patriots “made it go away.” Or, as this guy asserts, they simply paid off Walsh:

For all we know, Walsh may have had more information and more damning evidence of the Patriots and their use of the infamous practice and signal tapes, but money has a way of making everything better. Again, no one, but Walsh and a few people with the New England franchise, will ever know the truth.

If the Patriots paid Walsh to destroy the tape, couldn’t they just have slipped him a few more bucks just to shut up all together? These types of unsubstantiated claims and assertions have been just far too common during this whole time.

Here’s one more example, from just last night.

DID PATS TAPE RAMS’ SIGNALS DURING 2001 SEASON?
Posted by Mike Florio on May 19, 2008, 9:45 p.m. EDT

One issue that has been overlooked by many/most/all of the media, and of which a reader has reminded us recently, is the question of whether the Patriots used their videotaping system on the St. Louis Rams when the two teams met in the 2001 regular season, only a couple of months before Super Bowl XXXVI.

Even though we now know that the Pats didn’t videotape the Rams’ walk-through prior to the game, it doesn’t mean that there was no cheating on the biggest stage in sports.

It’s unclear whether the question has been asked, but it sure doesn’t appear to us that the question has been answered. And it’s a simple question — did the videotaping of defensive coaching signals include the November 18 prime-time game between the two teams, which the Rams won, 24-17?

Another prime example of “Let’s throw something out there without making any effort to check into it at all.”

From Walsh’s New York Times sitdown:

Q. The regular-season game against the Rams in 2001, what were your duties?

A. I remember before the game, our video room was located right next to the visitor’s locker room. Even though the locker room doors were closed, myself and Pepper Johnson were outside the video room right before the game. And we were able to hear, through the doors, Mike Martz giving his pre-game speech to the team. Trying to incite them about, you know, it was Sunday night football. How good they were. And how we were just another A.F.C. team.

They won by a touchdown, so I guess it worked.

Q. And what did you do during the game?

A. Filmed, to the best of my recollection. I can’t specifically say I remember the details of what I filmed.

Conveniently, Walsh doesn’t “remember the details.” He seems to remember everything else about that season, including meaningless preseason games, but he doesn’t remember this game and what he was doing. (Though he remembers the pregame incident from that same game.) If he DID film that game, don’t you think he would’ve said so directly, rather than vaguely dodging the question by saying he must’ve filmed, but doesn’t remember the details?

That tells me he didn’t film it. In fact, if he did, don’t you think that would’ve been one of the tapes he would’ve taken before he left the organization, given the significance of that game later on down the line?

This tells me two things…one, Florio truly was just “throwing it out there” – shooting before aiming, a problem throughout this entire episode – and two, the more you look into it, how much of anything Walsh says can you really believe?

That hasn’t stopped the media from breathlessly taking his words and running with them.

They’ve behaved with the subtlty of a pack of screaming jackals.

You can’t turn around these days without someone howling about the integrity of the game, about tainted championships, about lifetime suspensions.

They’ll howl at whatever camera, microphone or keyboard is in front of them. Attempts to reason with them go about as well as a carcass trying to talk its way out of getting torn to shreds by the pack.

These are the same ones who were (and are) screaming about “running up the score” and “sportsmanship” and even Belichick’s postgame handshakes.

They haven’t even bothered to hide their agendas

Everyone with an axe to grind against the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick has taken full advantage of the opportunity to kick them while they’re down. They don’t even try to hide why they’re doing it. Here’s a few of the key players:

Matt Walsh – Disgruntled ex-Patriots employee who was fired from his job for recording conversations with his superiors. ‘Nuff said

Arlen Specter- Disgruntled Eagles fan, who is also trying to strongarm the NFL into granting more favorable terms to Comcast, one of his key campaign contributors. He apparently believes everything he hears from Mark Schlereth on ESPN and what he reads in the New York Times, which may not be such a great idea. (See below.)

Greg Bishop, New York Times – You can detect a clear pattern in his stories. Let’s see, a puff piece on Charley Casserly in April leads to a piece in May with a “longtime N.F.L. team executive.” Think they’re not one and the same?

Another puff piece on Michael Levy in March leads to the Times getting the 8 Tapes from Walsh before the NFL did and also an exclusive interview with Matt Walsh.

Why in the world would the New York Times write a piece on Drew Bledsoe? (March 10) Well, on February 22nd, Bishop got a “a former Patriots player” to talk about the Patriots taping signals as far back as 2000. Is it too much of a stretch to consider that Bishop wrote the article on Bledsoe’s wine and coffee business ventures as payola for the info in the Feb 22nd article?

Mark Schlereth, ESPN – Prior to the Patriots, his Denver Broncos were considered a mini dynasty of their own. Now, relegated to a footnote Schlereth has tried to discredit the Patriots at every turn. He insists that the team used the filmed signals during the same games, something that not only defies logic, (How could the team edit all that raw footage into a usable video AND decipher the signals within the same game?) but that even Walsh has denied.

Schlereth has convienently not addressed the fact that the Broncos circumvented the salary cap so they could pay John Elway and Terrell Davis $29 million in deferred payments. This allowed them to stock their team and win those two Super Bowls. I kind of think this is worse than the taping of signals…

There’s plenty more out there. Just look at any of the key figures and think about what their ties to the stories are or what their history with the Patriots is…

Tomasegate gave new life to the story that should have been put to bed.

The same media types who are shaking their heads at John Tomase for his handling of the Rams walkthrough video story were the first ones to gleefully run with his story when it came out. The walkthrough video story dominated ESPN’s Bottom Line and NFL Network’s ticker as well. Columnists and reporters around the country lined up for a second shot at the team and coach, and this has continued for three and a half months.

Had Tomase not published his story, perhaps this thing would be a dead issue by now. Instead, the witch-hunt has intensified, and even though the Tomase story has been retracted and an apology issued, the Spygate hysterics are back in full swing.

Tomase’s story is the single most egregious part of this entire matter, and he has skated, scot-free. As Patriots Daily pointed out today, Tomase may be accountable for his actions, but he hasn’t yet been held to account.

Rather than doing their jobs the way they’ve been trained, the media have taken as gospel the words of someone whose only true value was fueling the fire. To the media, everything is all about “advancing the story” – Walsh and Tomase were supposedly doing this, yet we see after the fact that they didn’t have anything new to offer.

A Real Reason for the Hate is Lack of Access

Even though they’ll dismiss this notion out of hand, this whole episode boils down to access. Can you sit there and realistically say that had it been Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden or Herman Edwards that did this that the stories and commentary would be as nasty and personal? If Bill Belichick sat down with the likes of Peter King on a weekly basis and invited them to watch him mow his lawn like Brett Favre, how do you think this would’ve gone?

You can almost hear the excuses that would’ve been made had these ones offered the same explanations that Belichick has offered.

“Dungy’s got a such a strong moral fiber, he wouldn’t have done this unless he was firmly convinced his interpretation of the rules was correct.”

“Herm just wants to win so badly, ‘You play to win the game’ – that’s what he always says. This is just a reflection of that.” 

“Jon gets up at 3:30am every day to pour his soul into the preparation of his team, the taping and analysis of the signals just shows how obsessed he is with getting every detail just right.”

With Belichick, it’s because he is a cheater. All because he doesn’t “play the game” of keeping the media happy and well supplied with snappy quotes.

The actual accomplishments of the players and team are now dismissed. 

Regardless of perceived advantage that the filmed signals would’ve provided, the players on the field had to make plays in order for the Patriots to win their championships. They had to make key stops, they had to catch the ball, run through the hole, or knock the offensive lineman aside to get to the quarterback. Nothing gained through film work could possibly help the players on the field do these things.

Knowing the defensive signals didn’t help Ty Law pick off Peyton Manning in the playoffs. It didn’t help Rodney Harrison seal the Super Bowl against Specter’s Eagles with a pick.

This is perhaps the saddest aspect of the whole affair. The accomplishments of such talented players have been muddied because of how the scandal has been blown out of proportion. Sure, Belichick and the Patriots do deserve a share of the blame because they broke the rules and started this whole mess, but the media has taken this event and taken it entirely too far.

Soon they will move on like nothing happened

At some point, another big scandal will erupt in the world of sports. The sports media’s attention will shift to that, leaving this episode in the past, to be revisited whenever convenient. (Especially if the Patriots roar out of the gate next season, or perhaps even more so, if they struggle.) To be sure, this isn’t going away completely, but it will fade into the background somewhat, but the damage will be permanently done in its wake.

It all added up to the The Most Miserable 18-1 Season in History but it clearly hasn’t stopped there.

The amount of coverage given this scandal has been nothing short of overwhelming. The average fan trying to follow this story could find himself hopelessly lost in the shouting, conjecture and speculation. Unfortuately, responsible reporting has not prevailed at all in this case, and reason is a rare commodity among this crowd.

Keep in mind that most of these same reporters and outlets were silent during the whole steroid era in baseball – even though most of them had a pretty good idea of what was going on. Is the outcry over this story merely these same ones overcompensating for their silence on steroids? Or is it part of our society’s macabre habit of turning on and tearing down our heroes after we’ve built them up?

Whatever the reason, the stench from all of this mess is going to take a long time to wear off.

Herald, Massarotti Continue Alienation of Readers

There will be no approval ratings today. Instead, we’re going with this analysis of the Boston Herald’s ongoing apology.

Has the Boston Herald been carefully orchestrating this whole walkthrough apology in order to generate the most attention (and revenue)?

It would appear so.

Yes, I certainly wanted more from the paper than simply the statement that was issued retracting the story and apologizing to the Patriots, but in addition to the apology, I would also expect some humility, contriteness, and sincerity to be a part of that package.

Dan Kennedy wonders how anyone could doubt the Herald’s sincerity, but he also admits that he believes Curt Schilling’s shoulder is a bigger story than the Super Bowl…

Herald editor Kevin R. Convey issued the following statement in regards to the episode.

A newspaper’s bond with its readers rests on credibility and accountability. When a mistake is made in reporting a story, that bond can remain intact, but only if the mistake is acknowledged, and acknowledged boldly, clearly and unequivocally.

The Herald did just that yesterday with its unprecedented front-page apology to the New England Patriots. We thought our story was solid. It wasn’t. And we owned up to it.

Nevertheless, I continue to stand behind the work of the Herald sports department and John Tomase, a talented journalist who has dealt with this difficult matter professionally while continuing to do his job under intense pressure.

In the end, as editor in chief of the Herald, I take full responsibility for the publication of this story, and I offer my own apology to our readers and our staff.

In tomorrow’s Herald, you’ll hear from John Tomase directly. And I hope that you’ll see, as our coverage of this story and others goes forward, that our dedication to accuracy remains unchanged, and that our first priority will always be maintaining that bond of trust with our readers.

I might be a bit too sensitive here, but his line about the “unprecedented front-page apology” strikes me as just a tad self-congratulatory. Look at us! We shouted it from the rooftops! Why couldn’t he have called it their “sincere” front page apology? Or just said “our apology?” Now is not the time to bask in your deeds.

He praises John Tomase for dealing with this “difficult matter professionally.” I’m just glad he didn’t laud John for his courage under “intense pressure.” Tomase brought this “difficult matter” and “intense pressure” upon himself by his lack of professionalism. We can’t forget that.

How about that last line: “our first priority will always be maintaining that bond of trust with our readers.” A little late for that, I’m afraid. Rather than maintaining, you’re going to have to build it first.

One sure way not to build a bond and trust with your readers is to publish pure garbage and hate like that spewed by Tony Massarotti this morning.

Not in New England, now the official home of yahoos, hero worshipers and gutless suck-ups. To this entire group, it was all about whether there was a tape; anything else doesn’t matter so much.

I don’t know about you, but reading that in the Herald gives me the warm fuzzies. I’m feeling a warm bond of trust building between the Boston Herald and all Patriots fans. Not that Tony is very specific. He says “this entire group” can’t see that the Patriots broke the rules. That means YOU.

Now let’s get to the stories behind the story, the stuff nobody wants to talk about for fear of being exposed. The media is a sordid business. Professional and personal relationships frequently collide. Patriots coach Bill Belichick gives Christmas gifts and holiday cards to some members of the media, cyanide-tipped glares to others. You’re either a Belichicklet or you are not, and there is no base-level membership.

If you’re going to buy in, you have to sell out.

Thanks but no thanks.

Right. Tony’s not going to sell out. I said Tony’s not going to sell out. Really. He’s above all of that material bullsh*t. He would never allow his personal and professional relationships to collide or get involved with a subject he covers. Never.

Whoops. I guess it really is a material world and Tony is a material girl.

As you are a member of the public, we strongly urge you to review all media stories (particularly this continuously developing one) with a cynical and skeptical eye. Try to discern which members of the media show up to work wearing Patriots Super Bowl jackets, and which of your pathetic, repressed middle-aged neighbors wear their Tedy Bruschi jerseys on Sundays.

I think he’s writing about my friend Matt here, but I can’t be sure. Oh wait, Matt has a Vrabel jersey. Can’t be him. Again though, the Herald is just cuddling me in a warm blanket of trust. A pathetic, repressed blanket of truth.

Oh, I see, he’s talking about Glenn Ordway, Pete Sheppard and Fred Smerlas. Do they also qualify as “pathetic, repressed” and “middle-aged?” Check. (according to Tony.)

Meanwhile, take time to wonder if those same neighbors are blogging and posting on message boards while spending hours on hold so they might hear their voices on the radio.

Listen, mom!

Just like karaoke!

Ah…now we’re into it. It’s the bloggers fault!

By the way, Tony would sell his firstborn child for a permanent co-host position on WEEI. When Eddie Andelman left the station, Tony badly wanted the job which eventually went to Bob Neumeier. He was so disgruntled, that he abandoned WEEI and jumped over to 1510 because they would give him more hours. Eventually when 1510 started to go South, he came back to the WEEI fold. I guess Tony likes to hear his voice on the radio too.

If WEEI calls and wants him on the Big Show this afternoon to capitalize on this story, he’ll gladly take the $75/hour (or whatever they’re paying Big Show co-hosts these days) and sit right next to those media members “wearing Patriots Super Bowl jackets.”

Also, isn’t it just amazing how much these bloggers and message board posters get under skin of these media types?

These are the people who preserve the sports fantasy world that justifies their own sorry existence.

Tony goes to the games, watches the athletes play sports, eats well, gets quotes from the athletes, writes snide columns, and gets paid. Who’s living in the sports fantasy world here? For most people sports is a fun subset of their life. They work in the real world. Sports are an escape. For Tony, it is his life. Does Tony feel he leads a sorry existence? Is that what this is about?

Somewhere along the line during this Golden Era of Boston sports, maybe we all went soft. In the past year or so, the Pats have been fined and stripped of a first-round draft pick, had two players arrested for drug possession and another suspended for the use of human growth hormone. Then the Pats went out and lost one of the biggest games in the history of professional sports against a team they were favored to beat by two touchdowns.

How dare anyone criticize them?

Let’s move the goalposts on what the subject is this week. Who said the Patriots couldn’t be criticized? That’s not remotely what this is all about. This outcry is about the fact that Tony’s paper ran a story that wasn’t true…and one they didn’t check their facts on. This isn’t about criticizing the Patriots, it’s about shoddy journalism.

Speaking of which, Convey emphasized the “dedication to accuracy” at the Herald. So much for that. The Patriots didn’t have two players arrested for drug possession this offseason. Kevin Faulk was not arrested. Small point, yes, as Faulk did get in trouble, but this “dedication to accuracy” should dictate that Massarotti and the Herald get their facts straight.

What was the point of this column?

My instinct tells me it’s the Herald capitalizing on the publicity that this whole incident has generated. Tony writes angry column. Fans can’t help but read it. They respond by commenting and talking about it with others. More papers are purchased. More ads are shown online as more pageviews are generated. The comments fly in on the page. People return again and again to read them, creating even more page views and thus ad views. The column gets analyzed on blogs and on sports radio.

Get ready for groundhog day, as the same thing is going to happen tomorrow. Tomase’s explanation of what happened and where the story went wrong is on tap. The paper is teasing it, getting people talking about it, building anticipation.

I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to say. It should be interesting, seeing as how he’s still been playing the antagonist with his reporting this week, even having a post removed from the Point After blog -(the one with the lede about Walsh admitting to spying on the Rams) either by himself or by the higher-ups at the paper. We’re supposed to believe he’s suddenly contrite and humble about the whole thing? I’d like to see Tomase address the issues laid out by Scott Benson. We also should see the source named. We will be waiting to see what he has to say.

Which is exactly what the Herald wants.

Yes, the Herald is orchestrating this whole event so as to capitalize on the publicity. I guess you can’t blame them. If they’re going to get all this attention they might as well make some money off it, right?

Boston Herald Apologizes To Patriots – Is It Enough?

After yesterday’s testimony by Matt Walsh to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Boston Herald has issued an apology for their erroneous story the day before the Super Bowl which said that the Patriots taped the St Louis Rams walkthrough the day before Super Bowl XXXVI. The story caused a nation-wide furor which has continued since that day. Here is the apology:

On Feb. 2, 2008, the Boston Herald reported that a member of the New England Patriots [team stats]’ video staff taped the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI. While the Boston Herald based its Feb. 2, 2008, report on sources that it believed to be credible, we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed.

Prior to the publication of its Feb. 2, 2008, article, the Boston Herald neither possessed nor viewed a tape of the Rams’ walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI, nor did we speak to anyone who had. We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification.

The Boston Herald regrets the damage done to the team by publication of the allegation, and sincerely apologizes to its readers and to the New England Patriots’ owners, players, employees and fans for our error.

As you can see at the top of this post, the apology is prominently mentioned on both the front and back cover of the Herald.

Is it enough? David Scott has some pretty thorough analysis of the situation over at Scott’s Shots.

Here’s my beef: You certainly remember how, when the whole spygate thing originally went down, and Belichick remained silent on the matter outside of just a single statement? That he steadfastly refused to answer questions about it, no matter how many times they were put to him.

Remember the heat he took for it? He was virtually crucified by the media for not even reading the statement, or addressing it “live” or taking questions about it. Consider some of the comments from that week:

I’m no sports expert.

But I know a coward when I see one. And a coward is what I saw scowling behind the podium Friday at the New England Patriots’ press conference.

Bill Belichick, the legendary coach who demands fearlessness from young men bashed and smashed all over a football field, was too afraid to get the words out of his mouth: “wrong” or “sorry” or “mistake.” Or even “mistakes were made,” the preferred term of 21st century politicians also too afraid to tell the truth.

With the world watching, Belichick hid behind his “statement,” the one he actually deigned to admit he wrote only after two questions in a row about it. But the leader of the gridiron behemoths lacked the courage to read it aloud.

Yeah, that one was from Margery Eagan – of the Boston Herald.

How about this one, which begins:

On behalf of the sports enthusiasts of New England, the Boston Herald today issues the following statement:

While we find formal releases like this to be cold, impersonal and lacking humanity and humility, we felt compelled to address the recent actions of the New England Patriots, one of the most celebrated and supported teams in sports.

So the Herald here is firmly and deliberately placing themselves on the moral high ground to pronounce judgment. Yes, they felt compelled to address the Patriots behavior. Later on in the article, the writer, one Tony Massarotti, says:

In the days immediately following disclosure of the Patriots’ unethical behavior, both Belichick and Kraft issued statements apologizing for the incident and the shame it has brought on our region. We found those admissions to be hollow and completely meaningless. Whatever words the Patriots printed on a sheet of paper and distributed to media outlets throughout the nation, not a single team official has stepped up and said the most important words – “I’m sorry.” Consequently, there has been absolutely no attempt on the part of team officials to explain themselves and show any remorse whatsoever.

Regret, after all, is an emotion. It cannot be replicated or replaced, even by a color laser printer. In any apology or admission, the words are not as important as the feeling behind them, and the written word can frequently come off as corporate, sterile and devoid of all human feeling. (On this matter, the Herald, among other print media outlets, has particular expertise.) In short, we have questions that we had hoped would be answered. Communication is important in any relationship, even one between the followers of a football team and the team itself.

At a time like this, forgive us if we cease being mindless lemmings who have filled football stadiums in Foxboro from September through January since Mr. Kraft took over the franchise.

While we understand that no person or organization is perfect, we have found the events of the last week to be quite troubling because they violate the first rules of human decency. In the end, the only thing that connects us all is our vulnerability. We all make mistakes and we all look to move on at the appropriate time, but not until we all acknowledge that we ultimately share one responsibility.

It’s called accountability.

Unlike the Patriots, we hope to discuss this matter further.

So the Herald was right there in front leading the cries of accountability in the days following spygate, demanding an explanation, wanting more than just a simple, issued statement.

In this current incident, all we’ve gotten is a simple, three paragraph statement, which doesn’t even name John Tomase or the editor responsible for letting the walkthrough story get through.

If a football team is being castigated for not being accountable to society for their actions, how much more should a newspaper, which is held and bound by the ethics of journalism?

The Herald will have to forgive us if we cease being mindless lemmings, who read the paper daily, trusting that due diligence is being done in bringing us the news each day.

The Herald’s apology is also weird on a number of fronts. Yesterday, material was flying on and off the Herald’s website at a dizzying rate. A post from Tomase was removed from the Point After blog, a story was given a number of headlines, the first one focused on Walsh admitting to “spying” on the Rams at the walkthrough, with little emphasis placed on the fact that the event had not been recorded. Headlines were reworked, and the “spying” material taken out.

If they were still sticking to their story and angle, why the sudden changes and then the apology? Did the Patriots statement from yesterday give them a bit of a jolt? Who was the original source, and what does it say about the Herald that they trusted that source enough to run with the original story? It appears we won’t know, since the Herald isn’t talking.

There’s plenty more coverage of this out there, but I’ve already used most of my time here. Check in at PatriotsLinks.com for all the headlines on this subject. Also, over at Patriots Daily, Scott Benson weighs in on the events of the day as well.

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The Red Sox dropped another one last night, this time in Baltimore. Get the news at RedSoxLinks.com.

The Celtics play a crucial game five with the Cavaliers tonight at the Garden. On the BSMW Full Court Press, Matt Richardson and Kevin Henkin team up for some observations on the series. Get your Celtics news and headlines at CelticsLinks.com.