Have The Raptors Missed Yet?

The Toronto Raptors came into the Garden last night and put up some truly eye-popping numbers. 19-19 from the free throw line, 15-21 (71%) from three-point range, 40-69 (58%) on two pointers, 32 assists as a team and four players with twenty or more points.

Still, the Celtics had the lead with under a minute to go, and had a chance to tie with 10 seconds left. Eddie House missed a long jumper, and Ray Allen was unable to convert a putback on the offensive rebound. The result was a 114-112 Celtics loss, their 7th of the season.

Marc J. Spears notes that the officials were throwing their hands up to signal a three-point field goal so often last night you’d think they were trying to start the wave. Steve Bulpett says that last night was all about the lack of defense for the Celtics, who allowed the Raptors open looks all night long. Bill Doyle notes that the points allowed was a season high for the Celtics, who took turns accepting blame after the game.

Peter May feels that Ray Allen has a pretty good shot at being named an All Star reserve, along with Paul Pierce. Mark Murphy has Allen predicting that he was going to be losing sleep over missing the final shot last night. Lenny Megliola says that the Raptors went wild on “dare” shots last night. Mike Fine has the Celtics realizing that they are targets each night now. Jeff Clark looks at the Timberwolves, who come into town tomorrow night, and should look very familiar – they the team that has played here and frustrated fans for the last few years.

Spears notebook has Kevin Garnett saying that it would be an honor to be the NBA’s top vote-getter for the All Star team, but he and his team also have much higher goals. Bulpett’s notebook has the Celtics happy to take Super Bowl Sunday off, and in fact, it is by design that they don’t have a game that day. Doyle’s notebook has Garnett as a lock for the Eastern All Stars.

Patriots

Over in the Metro, I’m pretty sure all this talk about “blueprints” and “teams of destiny” is pretty stupid.

Dan Shaughnessy talks to Bill Parcells about his two protégés coaching in this Super Bowl, head coaches Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin, and what he remembers from having them both on his coaching staff with the Giants. John Tomase has more on Belichick and Coughlin coming out of the Parcells coaching tree, getting comments from Mark Bavaro, who had Coughlin as his position coach with the Giants. Jeff Jacobs says that Patriots/Giants certainly doesn’t have the rancor of Red Sox/Yankees. Ian M. Clark offers up nine things that the Patriots will need to do to beat the Giants.

Karen Guregian has Hall of Famer John Hannah talking about the Patriots offensive line, a unit he is very impressed with. Mike Reiss has Doug Flutie and Steve Sidwell both very impressed with the Patriots ability to make in-game adjustments. Shalise Manza Young has a look at Kevin Faulk as an unsung hero for the Patriots offense. Tomase has a look at Jabar Gaffney, who had made several big contributions in his second year with the Patriots. Christopher Price notes that the Patriots are loaded with Super Bowl experience.

Tomase has Joe Theismann saying that he doesn’t expect Tom Brady’s injured right ankle to present any problems for the Patriots QB in the Super Bowl. David Heuschkel talks to the chief of foot and ankle surgery at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center about Brady’s ankle. Reiss’ notebook has Ron Jaworski trying to pinpoint exactly when Brady’s ankle injury occurred. Jim Donaldson says that you should have no worries about Brady possibly missing the Super Bowl.

Douglas Flynn observes that this is the toughest week of the year for football fans, and offers a number of Patriots musings to pass the time. Michael Vega examines the spread and how Las Vegas views the Patriots in this game. Jeff Horrigan has Benjamin Watson unveiling his One More foundation in Quincy. He is also raffling off a Super Bowl package, including two tickets to the game. David Brown has the Giants as a known entity to the Patriots as they try again to make history.

Guregian has the Giants Osi Umenyiora accusing Matt Light of playing dirty. Young has more on Umenyiora calling out Light.

Buddy Thomas tells us how he deals with Patriots fans who get up in his grill. He has one word for you: Asterisk.

Chad Finn offers up 10 Boston sports related thoughts for this week.

Steve Buckley and Bill Burt both tout Boston as superior to New York in all things sports. Speaking of which Mike Celizic of MSNBC took the opposite stance, that Boston can’t possibly compare to New York in any way, which resulted in his column being taken apart piece by piece by Fire Joe Morgan (strong language)

Keep up the Bruins news at BruinsLinks.com.

Join us for the Sox return to the US, as they open the main part of the regular season in Oakland, including the A’s home opener (You’re almost guaranteed to see Josh Beckett pitch one of those games) on the BSMW Travel Club trip to the games.

Dana Jacobson? Who Knew?

ESPN has suspended ESPN2’s First Take host Dana Jacobson for comments she made at a celebrity roast for ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic.

Jacobson had apparently been drinking, and launched into a sting of expletives directed at Notre Dame, and Jesus.

It’s sure doesn’t fit with the image that I’ve had of Jacobson, who is one of the ESPN personalities that I don’t mind at all. (Though that feeling might not be shared at ESPN.)

In a story about the roast that appeared in The Press of Atlantic City, this was the only mention of Jacobson:

ESPN anchor Dana Jacobson made an absolute fool of herself, swilling vodka from a Belvedere bottle, mumbling along and cursing like a sailor as Mike & Mike rested their heads in their hands in embarrassment. Griffin came to the podium to defend her after she was booed by the crowd. Ross eventually had to pull her off stage, too.

This incident took place on January 11th, but is just being dealt with now?

Here’s a few links on the story:

Chicago Tribune: ESPN benches Jacobson for Notre Dame rant

Deadspin: ESPN Sends Dana Jacobson Away For A Week

Awful Announcing: ESPN And Jacobson Respond To Roast Comments

TV Crunch: Dana Jacobson Suspended, Issues Apology for Roast Comments; Video at Large

Objective Analysis

Hello Boys and Girls,

Today’s word is Objective. Ob-jec-tive.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “Objective” as “expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.”

We’re going to talk about this word today because apparently it is a big word that many grown-ups find hard to understand.

The problem here isn’t with people who aren’t objective. There’s nothing wrong with interjecting your own personal feelings or interpretations into discussions. The problem I have is with those who claim to be objective when they are anything but.

For our example here, we’ll use the Patriots and discussions of them by those in the media. Actually, it can go beyond the Patriots and apply to the Red Sox, and yes, now even the Celtics. The theory goes that if you talk about how good these clubs are, you’re not being objective. However, if you look for flaws and nitpick their performance to death, even to an unreasonable degree, you can do all this under the guise of being objective. At the same time, you can mock those who try to reason with you by pronouncing them “homers” or “fanboys” – all the while you stand impeachable as a bastion of objectivity.

The term objective is being used as a badge of honor by some who try to claim that objective = negative.

Nice stunt, if you can pull it off. At some point however, you just start to look ridiculous. We’ve seen a number of examples recently where media members have bent over backwards to find things to criticize about the Patriots –

“They can’t play in the cold!”

“Their defense is middle-of-the-pack in the NFL!”

“They don’t have a running game!”

“They’re feeling the pressure of the undefeated season!”

Those are just a few of the examples that have been thrown out there by supposedly objective Patriots observers. Who exactly, sounds more like a fool? Is it the fan lauding the greatness of an undefeated team on the verge of history? Or is it the media talking head trying to make a name for himself by nitpicking the faults of the team (some of which they just make up themselves) and try to sell it as being objective? These ones are taking unreasonable criticism and negativity and equating it to objectivity. They’re not one and the same.

The Patriots ARE 18-0. They DID set all sorts of records this season. They ARE playing for the chance to go down in history as the greatest team in NFL history. If you want to be different, and stand out from the crowd, and dispute these facts, you’re certainly welcome to do so. No one is stopping you, and your opinion can even make for some interesting debates and discussions. The Giants can win, the Patriots can lose, anything can happen, and you’re free to tell us why you think the Giants can win the Super Bowl.

Just don’t try and tell us you’re objective.

If you haven’t already, check out Dan Snapp’s post on Patriots Daily about Kevin Faulk and Ben Guest’s post on the BSMW Full Court Press about Kendrick Perkins.

Boot Not So Big a Deal

Mike Reiss talks with Dan Reeves, Mark Whipple and Otis Smith about the Patriots/Giants Super Bowl matchup. Tony Massarotti say that upon closer inspection, it appears that the Patriots had this running game all along. He also takes a quick look by the numbers at the Patriots running backs. Michael David Smith on Football Outsiders analyzes the Patriots running game a little deeper. Robert Lee examines how the Patriots have focused on playing the full 60 minutes this season, all season, and how that isn’t likely to change for the final game. An unattributed story in the Eagle Tribune looks at Laurence Maroney as seen by his college coaches at Minnesota.

The injury that required Tom Brady to wear a protective boot and cause such a stir yesterday is apparently not a huge deal, according to Reiss, who reports that the Patriots quarterback has a high ankle sprain, though it is minor in nature. Karen Guregian also proclaims the injury as minor after consulting with a source. David Heuschkel also runs down all that we know about the Brady ankle. John Tomase says that Patriots fans can breathe again, Brady is going to be fine. In the Herald, Jessica Fargen explains a high ankle sprain and what the prognosis is for Brady.

Lenny Megliola writes that the Patriots rely on young and old to make them as good as they are. Chris Kennedy has the Patriots understanding that the Giants are going to be a huge challenge. Eric McHugh submits his Patriots report card for the AFC Championship game. Christopher Price looks at Kevin Faulk once again playing a key role in the Patriots success.

Nick Cafardo writes that the 1985 Patriots see a lot of themselves in this 2007 New York Giants club. Somehow, Nick involves one of his favorite sources, Pete Kendall very heavily into the story. I’m shocked that the Hendricks brothers weren’t somehow quoted. Lie Dan Shaughnessy, Bill Reynolds recalls the days when the Giants ruled New England. Mark Farinella also recalls those days, but says that the G-men likely have few fans left in the region.

Laurel J. Sweet has some Patriots season ticket holders grumbling about the Super Bowl ticket lottery and wondering if it is rigged towards the “high rollers” somehow.

Reiss’ notebook has Super Bowl preparation becoming old hat for the Patriots, who know exactly how they want to do things over the next two weeks. Lee’s notebook takes a look at the ankle situation for Brady.

Bruins

Brutal. That’s one way to describe the Bruins play against Montreal last night, as they dropped their ninth straight game to the Canadiens, 8-2. Fluto Shinzawa and Steve Conroy report on the futility for the Bruins.

Kevin Paul Dupont has Patrice Bergeron returning from a week long vacation in Aruba, and getting ready to attempt a light workout once again. Shinzawa’s notebook and Conroy’s notebook have Tim Thomas being named to the Eastern conference All Star squad.

Celtics/Sox

Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers stressing the importance of his club keeping their poise and composure, especially as team after team challenges them. Scott Souza has more from Rivers on wishing to put a muzzle on the trash talk. Marc J. Spears has Paul Pierce saying that the referee in the Knicks game who ejected him overreacted. Bulpett’s notebook has Pierce hoping that he and Ray Allen can join Kevin Garnett on the All Star team.

Michael Silverman has veteran right-handed relief pitchers Dan Miceli and Dan Kolb signing minor league deals with the Red Sox. Scott Van Voorhis reports that the Red Sox will be wearing EMC patches during the season-opening games in Japan.

Join us for the Sox return to the US, as they open the main part of the regular season in Oakland, including the A’s home opener (You’re almost guaranteed to see Josh Beckett pitch one of those games) on the BSMW Travel Club trip to the games.

Pats TV Numbers In

The ratings numbers for WBZ-TV’s coverage of Sunday’s AFC Championship are in.

44.2 HouseHold Rating / 71 HouseHold Share… for 1,875,400 total viewers.

For CBS Nationally, the game earned a fast national average household rating/share of 25.7/46, up 2% from a 25.1/45 in the comparable early-game window last year for Chicago-New Orleans. CBS’s coverage was down only 3% compared to its late-game broadcast of last year’s AFC Championship Game which saw Indianapolis beat New England (26.4/38). The game was seen by an average of 44.8 million viewers nationwide.

The Fifth Quarter on WBZ and WSBK, going up against the NFC Championship game on FOX scored the following numbers: 9.6 HH rating / 14 HH share…327,600 total viewers.

I’m sensing a theme here…

A few PM links to pass the time:

Dr Z predicts that Giants’ grit will overcome Pats’ talent in Super Bowl. He predicts this because he thought the Jets would upset the Colts 40 years ago but didn’t have the guts to make the call in his paper. (He was the Jets beat writer for the New York Post at the time.)

The Tool, Gregg Easterbrook, says that “Once again, not only did the weather (stiff winds died down just before kickoff) seem to be under Belichick’s control, but so did the officials.”

Jeffri Chadiha says that the Patriots “definitely look more like a team that is feeling the weight of the history they’re chasing.”

Old friend Charley Casserly says that the Giants could make the Patriots sweat.

Terry Bradshaw says that he may end up picking the Giants, though his heart says New England.

Mark Kriegel says that Spygate was the best thing to happen to the Patriots.

Dan Wetzel says that the Giants can tilt the Boston/New York rivalry back into New York’s favor.

Adam Schein has a look at Bill Belichick’s “true partner in crime,” Scott Pioli.

Brady Foot A Concern

Last night, the buzz on the internet involved a picture and video from the celebrity gossip site TMZ which showed Tom Brady heading into his New York apartment with a walking cast on his right foot.

Naturally, this stirs panic in many corners of the Patriots fandom, but no more so than the media. The normally steady Karen Guregian is all aflutter over this development, exclaiming that the Patriots “hopes for a fourth Super Bowl title in seven years and an unprecedented 19-0 season certainly hit a major speed bump” with this development – even though she had Brady’s quotes from WEEI earlier in the day where he admitted to being “nicked up” but said he’d be ready for the Super Bowl, and wasn’t worried about it. Christopher L. Gasper keeps his wits about him a little better when reporting the story for the Globe. David Brown in the Standard Times notes that the NY Post (which runs the pagesix.com gossip site) has been attempting to “curse” the quarterbacks that the Giants face in their playoff run.

On Patriots Daily, Christopher Price points out something that will be different than the last time the Patriots and Giants met on the field.

Michael Felger dishes out his weekly Patriots report card. Ian M. Clark also has grades for the Patriots AFC championship game performance. Rich Garven says that the Patriots on Sunday were a throwback to the Pats of “old.” Like 2004 old. David Brown has a look at the “drive to nowhere” which closed out the game for the Patriots.

John Tomase says that the Giants will certainly present the Patriots with some problems in their quest for 19-0. Mark Farinella has the Patriots preparing for their next “business trip,” this time out West in Arizona. Jim Donaldson has Tom Brady and the Patriots looking forward to the warm weather of Arizona, which should be ideal for their passing game. David Heuschkel says that the Patriots know what they’re facing in the Giants. Chris Kennedy says that the Giants will still be a huge challenge for New England.

Mike Reiss has Richard Seymour responding to harsh comments from San Diego center Nick Hardwick. Guregian has Tedy Bruschi getting back to the Super Bowl for the first time since his stroke, something that he felt was impossible at one time. Tomase chats with Kyle Brady as another veteran Patriot seeking his first Super Bowl title. Douglas Flynn has the Patriots just one step away from perfection. He also notes that preparation is already under way for facing the Giants. Josh Egerman looks at the red zone defense tightening up for the Patriots on Sunday.

Donna Goodison looks at the ticket situation for the Super Bowl XLII.

Bill Burt tags along with ESPN’s Ron Jaworski as he goes through his day’s work.

The Globe notebook revisits the nine-minute drive which sealed the game for the Patriots on Sunday. Guregian’s notebook has more on the Seymour/Hardwick feud. Young’s notebook also covers the verbal sniping between the pair.

Giants

Hey – did you know that before the Patriots were founded, and even into the 1960’s, that much of New England considered themselves New York Giants fans? The Giants were on TV every weekend? Isn’t that amazing? Wow. We can thank Dan Shaughnessy for explaining it all to us this morning. It’s a fascinating tidbit that no one had ever mentioned before. Shaughnessy tells us he was rooting for the Giants on Sunday night, just so this could all be brought out. Gerry Callahan writes that Giants coach Tom Coughlin has proven that his way works, even if the ex-Boston College coach’s methods aren’t the most popular among some.

Gaspar looks back at the Week 17 matchup between these clubs, which turned out to be a Super Bowl preview. Tomase notes that that game proved to be a launching pad for the Giants on their road to the Super Bowl. Shalise Manza Young also examines how that game jump-started the New York title run.

Celtics

The Celtics dispatched the Knicks in Madison Square Garden yesterday, 109-93, behind a career high 24 points from Kendrick Perkins.

Doc Rivers wasn’t pleased with the amount of talking that his team did yesterday, Marc J. Spears has the Celtics coach expressing his disappointment in his team’s behavior. Mark Murphy also has Rivers upset as his team’s lack of composure.

Murphy has Celtics rookie Glen Davis coming forward as a big fan of Kevin Faulk, having met him when Davis was in middle school. On the BSMW Full Court Press, Shirley Coshatt reminds us that the recent two-game losing streak wasn’t the end of the world for the Celtics.

Spears’ notebook and Murphy’s notebook have Doc Rivers earning the coaching slot for the Eastern Conference All Star squad with the win yesterday.

Check in with the Bruins on BruinsLinks.com and the Red Sox on RedSoxLinks.com.

Want to get an early start to spring, and see the Sox for their first regular season game on US soil? Come check out the BSMW TravelClub trip to Oakland for the first few days in April.

Another New England/New York Battle On Deck

…And I don’t mean Celtics/Knicks this afternoon (1:00pm) at Madison Square Garden…

The Patriots punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLII with their 21-12 win over the San Diego Chargers at Foxboro yesterday afternoon. Later in the evening, the New York Giants upset the Green Bay Packers at a frigid Lambeau Field after Brett Favre threw an INT in overtime, which allowed the Giants to kick a winning field goal.

Over at Patriots Daily, Scott has his thoughts on the Patriots win and their continuing quest for the perfect season.

Check out the links from around New England on www.PatriotsLinks.com.

A few national links to fill some time this Martin Luther King Jr day….

Favre broke Peter King’s heart and it shows in Monday Morning Quarterback.

Michael Silver has his Morning Rush on Yahoo! Sports.

Gene Wojciechowski says that the Patriots do whatever it takes to win.

Gary Mihoces of USA Today explores the Boston/New York Rivalry angle.

CBS SportsLine isn’t too impressive this morning. Mike Freeman informs readers that “New England is the most vulnerable it has ever been, both all season, and maybe during the Bill Belichick era.” While Clark Judge says that San Diego provided another “blueprint” for defeating the Patriots.

There’s plenty more out there, that’s just a few that I ran across thus far this morning….

Back in the Driver’s Seat

(This morning’s links brought your way by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom. Contact him at [email protected])

After a four-game stretch in which they doubled their loss total on the season, the Celtics won their second straight last night at TD Banknorth Garden, 116-89 over Philadelphia. The Green, again led by Ray Allen with 23 points, outscored the 76ers 62-32 in the second half, turning a once 12-point deficit into a runaway.

Mark Murphy starts off the coverage with some inspirational words from Allen, along with a big contribution from the newest dad on the roster. Scott Souza has Leon Powe’s entrance doing wonders to neutralize the boards, where Philly had been dominating the C’s once again. Bill Doyle says Doc Rivers made the right move when he looked way down his bench and called Powe’s number last night. Jeff Howe credits Rivers for letting his squad self-administer the halftime adjustments that got things turned around. Oddly, the Globe’s coverage of last night’s action consists only of this Marc J. Spears entry in their Celtics Blog, but while you’re there, catch up on plans for Rajon Rondo’s return.

In his Celtics Beat, Steve Bulpett says it was only a matter of time before seldom-used Leon Powe made his contribution felt. Murphy’s Celtics Notebook has more on the purification of Ray Allen’s game.

Patriots

Anyone who tuned into yesterday’s love-in on WEEI’s The Big Show or checks out Johnny Diaz’s account of the local television blitz is witness to the 24-7 attention paid to the Patriots’ side of this Sunday’s AFC Championship equation. In a slight course change, this morning’s press has focused a bit on the other side. Jim Donaldson recaps the two underdogs’ chances for victory this Sunday. Jim McCabe says that the Chargers’ strong finish has given head coach Norv Turner a little job security. Jeff Horrigan says LT is now fully healed – maybe not his hyperextended knee, but his psyche after the beating it took a year ago when Pats players danced on his sacred lightning bolt. Karen Guregian has Tomlinson in tomorrow, but refers to a San Diego Union-tribune report of more extensive damage to Philip Rivers’ knee that lists him as doubtful. Either way, Tom King says the Patriots will be prepared for whoever is under center. We even have a Chargers Notebook in the Globe, where McCabe and Amalie Benjamin collaborate to bring you the latest on Rivers’ knee. Smerlas and Sheppard must be rolling in their beds right about now.

Back to the home team. Among the random thoughts Bill Reynolds proffers in his FWIW column is one concerning Randy Moss’s concentration factor on Sunday. Amalie Benjamin has the Patriots fending off a multitude of distractions in preparation for Sunday’s game. Bob Ryan says that, with all their experience, there’s nothing that could faze this squad going into a Big Game. Guregian believes Tom Brady’s focus on the field sets him apart and even has trash-talking Shawne Merriman agreeing Brady is something special. Rich Garven has Ben Watson rediscovered after a season in the lost-and-found. Michael Vega says Lawrence Maroney has summoned up the authority at an opportune time, with forecasts of 30 mph winds threatening to keep things grounded tomorrow. And from behind enemy lines, the Union-Tribune has Rodney Harrison dispensing advice to Rivers on remaining level-headed.

Red Sox

Only 26 days until pitchers and catchers report, and you’re thinking the Sox are a little thin at catcher, right? Well, if the Mirabelli re-signing didn’t do anything for you, try Joe McDonald, who will tell you about a veritable traffic jam of catchers down in Pawtucket. Gordon Edes’ Extra Bases blog offers the latest on Kevin Youkilis and Kyle Snyder filing for free agency, as well as Javier Lopez coming to one-year terms. In his Baseball column, Rob Bradford reminds us how long it’s been since any Red Sox player has gone through arbitration hearings.

Odds & Sods

Talk of pitchers and catchers can only mean one thing: Major League Soccer is only two and a-half months away. Mike Biglin has a nice feature on Michael Videira, the former Milford star who was drafted by the Revolution with the 18th overall pick in yesterday’s SuperDraft. But this doesn’t mean you’ll be seeing him at Gillette Stadium next year.

In case you missed it, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story that picked up steam yesterday says that former Georgia Bulldog great Herschel Walker will reveal he has multiple personality disorder in an upcoming book due out this August.

The Herald’s ever-vigilant Inside Track has the latest on Gisele Bundchen’s lunch.

Here’s hoping your lunch is a bit more filling. Enjoy the game tomorrow and start your post-game coverage right back here on BSMW.

PM Links For Championship Weekend

Here’s the weekend lineup here on the BSMW network:

Tomorrow AM, I believe we’ll have Saturday links here with a guest blogger. Patriots Daily should have an AFC Championship Roundtable.

On Sunday, Patriots Daily is your headquarters for the Sunday Links and pregame thoughts.

Monday is a secular Holiday, but we’ll likely have something for you here on both sites.

Be sure to check out the BSMW baseball trip to Oakland with the BSMW Travel Club. Start spring early with some great California weather during the first week of April.

Some late week links:

Aaron Schatz has an AFC Championship preview posted on Football Outsiders.

Bill Simmons has his mailbag and weekend picks.

Kerry J. Byrne has a “baby blueprint” of how San Diego can beat the Patriots on Sunday afternoon. Don Banks has five ways that the Chargers can beat the Patriots. Tom Curran has five more.

Mike Freeman says that the Patriots aging linebackers could be the hole that San Diego exploits on Sunday.

Peter King has his AFC and NFC Championship picks.

Michael Silver looks at whether the Chargers and Giants can reverse the outcome of their week two losses to these same opponents.

USA Today has posted their Chargers vs. Patriots preview

John Clayton notes that Patriots/Chargers has turned into quite the nasty rivalry.

Dan Wetzel has Bill Belichick serving up more humble pie to his team.

Boston Daily collects the thoughts of Will Leitch, AJ Daulerio and the Mighty MJD in previewing Sunday’s game.

Chad Finn has 10 free minutes and thoughts for you.

Apparently, the New York Post doesn’t know the difference between Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth. (Edit – they had a graphic with the story that had a picture of Stallworth instead of Moss. It has since been removed.)