Week Log: One Flame Extinguished, Another One Lit

Today feels a little like sitting in the middle of a busy intersection. We’ve got a Super Bowl just concluded, both the B’s and C’s on the eve of a winter interlude, and the engines turning over to start a new baseball season. And, of course, the Olympics are torching up tomorrow, which is where we’ll start this morning.
Olympics

The XXI Olympic Winter Games kick off in Vancouver with torch-lighting ceremonies tomorrow night and, as Dan Wetzel reports, there are no snow sightings. Too bad Washington, D.C. didn’t bid on these Winter Games. Boston.com’s Olympics Blog thinks that if airport logistics are any indication, Vancouver will have its snow problems under control in no time.

On the slopes, Bode Miller’s Blog has him grateful for a spread-out schedule that will help him get through all five Alpine events on a bruised ankle. ESPN’s Winter Olympics Blog has Miller comfortable behind the mic working his anti-media shtick. In the rink, Boston Sports Then And Now has Tim Thomas’ play vindicating Team USA Coach Ron Wilson for naming Sabres goalie Ryan Miller his starter. Amid a flurry of team previews, Olympic Hockey Blog takes some time to check out all three Team USA goalie masks.

Enough about the men. Sports Illustrated takes an intimate look – let’s make that lots of looks – at the other half of the U.S. Olympic Team. One Sport Voice says Lindsey Vonn’s recent cover shoot is indicative of Sports Illustrated’s knack for sexualizing woman athletes. Fourth-Place Medal says Vonn is more than a pretty face, as any reader of Sports Illustrated can attest.

Super Bowl

The New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl on Sunday in what is being billed as the most-watched TV event in history, but NBC Sports’ Out of Bounds finds such a claim insulting to M*A*S*H diehards. The Super Bowl was Boston Sports‘ epiphany that the decade of feel-good stories surrounding Boston teams has officially ended.

The Rap Sheet is struck by the Saints’ embrace of victory. Former Patriots FB Heath Evans concludes his stint with It Is What It Is by regaling New Englanders of what it’s like to win a Super Bowl. Michael Hurley views the Saints’ gutsy risk-taking as a further encouragement for Bill Belichick next season. We’re Just Saying finds it poetic justice that the team that put it on the line all season took all the chances in this one, while the one that opted for imperfection during the regular season found it in the Super Bowl as well.

If any team has fallen out of the public’s favor faster than the Patriots, it is the Indianapolis Colts. The fall started with Week 16′s SubsGate, followed by SubsGate II the next week. On Sunday, the Colts were lambasted for questionable play-calling and being out game-planned. Now the great Peyton Manning is under fire for poor sportsmanship. And don’t forget Reggie Wayne, says Pro Football Talk. How Belichickian of them, you might think, but Shutdown Corner says no, Peyton’s indiscretion merely shows how badly he wanted to win. Because Belichick didn’t care about winning, right? Extra Points says Manning handled himself like a pro after the incident. Boston Blood Sox has Manning exposing himself as a fraud in both Greatest QB Ever and Classy Individual categories. Boston Dirt Dogs lays to rest all talk of Manning being better than Tom Brady. Mass Hysteria loves piling on the Colts; even ex-Colts can’t escape their wrath.

Inside Track brings us a behind-the-scenes look at last Sunday’s battle of two titans, as Oprah gets Leno and Letterman in the same room. In what might be a BSMW first, we give you Christian Science Monitor‘s five worst Super Bowl commercials and no, Tim Tebow & Mom are not among them. MediaBiz has the Tebows’ spot getting the least viewers and tells you which one got the most.

Would you throw Megan Fox out of the tub for having clubbed thumbs? Well, Daily Mail has Motorola not wanting to chance it as they bring us a tale of thumb doubles. Google’s Parisian Love ad told Sports Central a sweet story that leaves them wanting for more, while Boston Sports Blog gives them more with a couple of their own versions. Be sure to clear your search history after this one!

B’s / C’s

Have there ever been two groups in more need of a vacation than B’s and C’s fans? The respective seasons of discontent come to a putter-out after tonight’s Bruins game in Tampa, then it’s off to the shop for some tweaking as trade deadlines approach in both the NHL and NBA and the B’s and C’s sit in the waiting area for the Olympics / All-Star breaks to end.

The B’s have put together their first consecutive wins since December after beating both the Canadiens and Sabres. Something funny even happened for The Big Bad Bruins on Tuesday’s way to another shootout loss after blowing a 2-0 lead: the B’s won! The Hub Of Hockey says this is a different team with a contributing Marc Savard on the ice. As the trade deadline looms, Something’s Bruin is shopping Tim Thomas around.

Going the other way, the C’s have dropped two in a row after a modest three-game win streak. Courtside View credits Rajon Rondo for facing the music in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss to the Orlando Magic when his veteran teammates were hard to find. The only thing more eye-gougingly uglier last night than the Hornets’ uniforms to North Station Sports was the Celtics’ performance in New Orleans. I happened to flip this one on right at Tony Lee‘s turning point, as the lights went out on a 12-point lead and my TV went off shortly thereafter. Green Street has the funk now turning 23 games old with no signs of letting up.

Red Sox

By this time tomorrow morning, the 18-wheeler carrying the Sox’ equipment to Florida will be just turning onto Brookline Avenue and spring will be born again. Toeing The Rubber answers the age-old question of how stupid you’d have to be to stand in the cold and watch a truck drive away. The Mighty Quinn Media Machine sees irony in this 1,480-mile truck ride being sponsored by an airline.

Extra Bases already places 50 players at the minor league complex in Fort Myers, and all 50 are in the best shape of their lives. Can the World Series trophy be far behind? Fire Brand Of The American League takes a few pre-spring training moments to reflect on the highs and lows involved in being Red Sox fans.

Utility Lou for one is sick of the cold and finds warmth in the future at shortstop with Jose Iglesias. Until then, we have Marco Scutaro, whom The Bottom Line sees as the next . . . Julio Lugo. A Very Simple Game wonders what the Sox will get among the lot of non-roster spring training invitees this year. Red Sox Monster sees this group as the last frontier of drama, given the talent already assembling in Florida. Fearing an invite extended in Nomar Garciaparra’s direction, Fenway Pastoral says thanks but no thanks.

I, too, will be among the diehards seeing off the truck tomorrow morning so you won’t have to. Look for my fan reactions tomorrow on Boston Dirt Dogs and we’ll see you back here next week. I can almost smell the diesel!

Week Log: Sportsual Healing In Order For Boston

A a kid, I remember Jim Rice’s broken hand costing the Sox a World Series title, and Darryl Stingley’s career ending on a preseason gridiron. I watched the corpus erodus of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Bill Walton during what could have been productive years breaking in kids like Len Bias and Reggie Lewis. And how many Cups would a healthy Bobby Orr have delivered to Boston?

Sure, every fan base experiences misfortune, but on reflective days like Tuesday when I first heard David Aldridge‘s report that Celtic Paul Pierce could miss significant time due to a broken foot, it occurred to me that Boston seems to have far beyond its fair share. There are times when misfortune seems to descend like locusts to pick our championship hopes to the bone.

Well, as Celtics Green reports, the news on Pierce proved better than expected, which is good since ESPN Boston Celtics Blog says no one on the roster can replace his leadership and production. Yeah, every game lost to Pierce’s foot is a lemon, but LOSCY is using it to make lemonade.

Nevertheless, there are well-founded concerns across the Boston sportscape. On the hardwood, if it’s not Glen Davis’ right thumb, then it’s Marquis Daniels’ left thumb, or Kevin Garnett’s knee, which Lex Nihil Novi says is keeping the C’s in continuous uncertainty. Celtics Blog has Doc Rivers saying KG still needs more time.

No Boston team has had bigger losses recently than the Patriots. Jeff Howe sees Super Bowl starting QBs Peyton Manning and Drew Brees as a good prognosis for Tom Brady, who looked out of sorts after returning from a missed 2008 season. Extra Points is taking news of Wes Welker’s successful surgery with a grain of salt, recalling how the early returns on Brady’s knee soured quickly. The Rap Sheet reports that WR Brandon Tate’s injured knee is “good.” Mike Reiss says Randy Moss’ toughness is underestimated as he reportedly played with a separated shoulder for much of the 2009 season. Mass Hysteria is miffed that some would confuse Randy’s injury with laziness. Jets DB Darelle Revis, a.k.a. The Mouth That Never Stops, is among the confused, as It Is What It Is has him still maintaining that Moss takes plays off. This guy’s lips seem to spend less time together lately than Tiger and Elan. Pats Pulpit calls Revis a punk, plain and simple.

Then, there are the B’s, a revolving door to the infirmary. ESPN Boston Bruins Blog has defenseman Zdeno Chara playing with a broken pinkie since November. It’s a finger for Mark Stuart too, as Hub Hockey has his Ironman status in jeopardy after a second major injury this season. On a good note, the Boston Bruins website reports that defenseman Andrew Ference will be able to take matters into his own hands again sooner than expected, as it’s been tough for him to watch the B’s. Andrew, you are not alone.

Bruins

Well, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow on Tuesday, meaning only nine more weeks of hockey for the B’s, who dropped their eighth straight later that night. It was the same old tired story for Stanley Cup Of Chowder: no goals and key mistakes. Among a wealth of one-liners on scoring ineptitude, Joe Haggerty suggests the B’s are in need of a serious set of 9-volt batteries to charge the offense. If that doesn’t work, someone could always use them to light the goal lamp anyway.

Big Bad Blog has the B’s saying their longest losing streak in 54 seasons will soon be a thing of the past. If it isn’t, the Black & Gold may be able to draft Taylor Hall with their own pick. However, Kathryn Tappen says sinking into the bottom-feeders is not an option on Causeway Street.

And forget about mortgaging the future on Ilya Kovalchuk, as Black & Gold says the slumping B’s are more than one player away from climbing out of their Eastern Conference hole. View From 311 implores GM Peter Chiarelli not to panic by renting Kovalchuk. Hey, would you pay $4 million for a guy who can’t light the lamp? Neither would 29 other NHL teams, but James Murphy has Chiarelli declaring Michael Ryder’s availability via trade.

Beanpot

It will be a grudge match of college hockey’s past two national champions, as BC and BU once again play for Beanpot honors this Monday. BC Interruption has the Eagles invalidating claims that this year’s field was wide open after blanking Harvard, 6-0, in the opening round. The Heights had tensions rising between the Eagles and Crimson in the typically high-octane atmosphere of Beanpot hockey. The Hockey Journal calls BU’s 2-1 win over Northeastern a show for the ages. The Boston Hockey Blog has the Beanpot producing yet another unexpected hero in freshman forward Alex Chiasson, who netted the game-winner for the Terriers.

We’re Just Saying laments the Beanpot’s erosion from a must-see event to one reserved for hard-cores only.

Celtics

Sunday’s loss to the Lakers may well be looked back upon as Rock Bottom. The C’s made it two straight wins last night by downing the Miami Heat, 107-102, at TD Garden. Red’s Army has Tony Allen replacing the injured Pierce in the lineup and coming up with the play of the game.

Sunday’s loss may also have been a glimpse of the window shutting, but SportsCenter 5 Overtime is not ready to concede the C’s are too old yet. Celtics Stuff Live tries to enlighten Glenn Ordway on salary issues and restore order to discussions over Ray Allen’s expiring contract. CelticsBlog takes Gary Tanguay to task for his CBA ignorance. Evans Clinchy shows why the math doesn’t work in a potential deal for Golden State’s Monta Ellis. Green Street has Allen at peace with the reality of his situation.

Rich Levine has Rajon Rondo taking another step towards becoming the unrivaled leader of the veteran-laden Green.

Red Sox

Everyone’s still in good health and good spirits on Yawkey Way. Utility Lou defends this winter’s emphasis on pitching and defense by demonstrating that nobody hits good pitching anyway. Full Count contends that the Sox’ problems last season were less about their inability to hit elite pitching and more about their inability against modest opponents. Nuggetpalooza has Jason Varitek no match against the AL’s elite pitching, which is one reason Boston Red Sox Examiner argues that a Joe Mauer extension in Minnesota is far more damaging to the Sox than the Yankees.

One If By Land has newly acquired reliever Joe Nelson filling a niche in the Sox bullpen that’s already filled. Clearing The Bases has Nelson a role model of persistency to inspire some struggling farm hands. NESN’s Boston Red Sox blog thinks the best path for Tim Wakefield to stay healthy and a contributor is as a swingman.

Looking back on the past Hot Stove, Sox Therapy would have traded the Sox’ new kingdom for a Holliday. And Another Thing . . . has Johnny Damon’s divorce from the Bronx a tremendously welcome development in the Sox-Yankees rivalry.

Bloggers, take note as Boston Sports Then And Now is trying to organize the first-ever Boston Sports Blogapalooza. This could be a chance to show the likes of Pete Sheppard and Michael Felger that we can be prodded out of mom’s basement if there’s enough beer and sports talk involved. Stay tuned for more details, and see you back here next Thursday.

Week Log: Where The Games Went On

We’re going to open the doors and let in a few more national bloggers than usual this afternoon as we take a brief look at the aftermath of last Sunday’s AFC and NFC conference championships, then it will be back to Boston where no such game was held.

NFL

Neither championship game disappointed National Football Post, which marveled at Peyton Manning’s ability to see Austin Collie in the one, and Jim Nantz’s ability to see through Brett Favre in the other. Sunday did disappoint some bold prognosticators, as The Trenches has the Vikings pronouncing themselves NFC champs, while The Huddle has the Jets doing the same in the AFC. Brings back shades of a cold night in Shea Stadium many Octobers ago, doesn’t it?

Sports Central says it’s all about Manning, who no longer panics when he needs points. John Chandler says Manning has surpassed Tom Brady, much as the Colts have surpassed the Patriots as the AFC’s signature team. Hell, even Indy’s cops are tough – especially if you’re wearing Jets green – as Deadspin will tell you. Speaking of violence, Shutdown Corner has Rex Ryan telling his team to wear their hideous greens with pride and punch out anyone who laughs. Ryan may have penciled himself in as this year’s Super Bowl favorite, but The Rap Sheet has him not so sure about being the next AFC East Division champ.

We’re Just Saying has the NFC Championship with all the elements of a well-written story – one that lived up to expectations. Hot Clicks is thankful for Favre’s season-killing interception because now we won’t have to endure the Brett lovefest for two more weeks, while Boston Sports Blog finds it a most comfortable ending to an intolerable story line. Surviving Grady says the Saints’ plan to brutalize Favre worked. Joe Posnanski reflects on some comical instances where Favre has refused to run in the past, and it makes him ask, Why? The Sporting Blog wonders if all the Favre vitriol is in reaction to the media’s over-the-top fawning over Number 4.

Last, but not least, some good Patriots introspection as Tom E. Curran looks at the D-Line for CSNNE’s Patriots Offseason Game Plan, and Chris Price’s Patriots By Position feature examines the linebacking corps on It Is What It Is. Both are appointment reading.

Bruins

We’re not in a good place here. Eight losses in nine games has The Old Bruins Fan talking about Armageddon. Wicked Bruins Fan laments a frustrating season where the quit is coming too often and way too early in games. I’m Just Sayin’ thinks that if the B’s don’t start playing with more emotion, a change may be needed behind the bench.

The one silver lining to this dreadful stretch for Bruins 2010 Draft Watch is the continued slide of the Toronto Maple Leafs. ESPN Boston has GM Peter Chairelli vowing not to toss in the Toronto first-rounder even as the B’s stay very much involved in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes. And forget Tuukka Rask, as Joe Haggerty has him also off limits in any trade deadline talks. With so much off the table, Hockey Independent is looking a level lower than Kovalchuk, where they find Hurricanes forward Ray Whitney an attraction. Kathryn Tappen says that, when it comes to trade rumors, there’s no telling what the B’s brass has up their sleeve so forget about it. And for those who believe in the existing corps of B’s, some good news as Tea Party Throwdown sees a change in attitude at Ristuccia of late. Let’s hope it transports itself to TD Garden soon.

Finally, it will be soldier before Bruin for Zach McKelvie, as Kirk’s Call has the frustrated defenseman spending the past four years learning how not to quit and not about to start doing so now.

Celtics

A tough stretch awaits the C’s – four games in five nights, three against title contenders. A. Sherrod Blakely says the C’s are fortunate to be relatively healthy for these games and able to make inroads against both the Cavs and Lakers over the remainder of the season. Rich Levine has the C’s faring well against the cream of the NBA . . . the few times they’ve faced it.

Of all the potential additions the C’s could make at the NBA trade deadline, ESPN Boston Celtics Blog thinks none will be more helpful than the return of Marquis Daniels. CelticsBlog says Daniels’ return might spell the end of Tony Allen’s considerable contributions and make his expiring contract a bigger asset as we approach the deadline. Despite his leading role in trade rumors, Celtic Dynasty wants to see Ray Allen finish his career in Boston.

Evans Clinchy has KG likening himself to a 1976 Ford Pinto upon his return to the lineup. Now hold on. What kind of wheels does KG have, anyway? The last time I checked, Pintos weren’t fit enough to make it to the corner store and tended to explode upon contact, so he may need to rethink that analogy. Celtics Green has KG’s return not worthy of a glowing endorsement on its face, but there’s plenty to encourage them about the modest two-game winning streak.

Green Street has Doc Rivers equating Rajon Rondo’s defense to Brett Favre throwing a football across his body. Mass Hysteria rails against the lack of nickname originality by suggesting a few for Glen – f/k/a Big Baby – Davis. Celtics Stuff Live doesn’t have any ideas for a new nickname and thinks his old one has never been more appropriate, which, by the way, is exactly why he now wants to change it.

Red Sox

It’s all about the ones that were signed and the ones that weren’t. Clearing The Bases says there’s not much difference between recently re-signed Jeremy Hermida and Dustin Pedroia . . . in salary, that is. Better Red Than Dead tells us how the additions of Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre, and Marco Scutaro will save the Sox 56 runs in 2010 – on paper, that is.

Utility Lou scolds the Sox for using surgery as a bargaining chip with Jason Bay and wonders why they had a change of heart in November. Yet, Full Count has Peter Gammons denying that surgery was a requirment for Bay’s further employment and insisting the Sox had genuine health concerns. Boston Dirt Dogs checks in on the Sox medical staff that let Bay get away

Fenway Nation sees trouble a-brewing with Tim Wakefield wanting in on the starting rotation. Ian Browne says Terry Francona is not about to put the cart before the horse in prematurely setting his rotation. If Circling The Bases had their way, Wakefield would get 54 starts with the rest of the rotation serving as mop-up. When it comes to Wake, Red Sox Monster says Sox fans have taken for granted the one we love.

One If By Land regards a contract extension for Josh Beckett as borderline insane, even for the deep-pocketed Sox. The Bottom Line smooths over some of the ups and downs in Daniel Bard’s 2009 season.

If winter’s here, can Truck Day be far behind? Not for Toeing The Rubber, who is getting worked up about the 2010 season. Closing on a public service note, Extra Bases has the skinny on tickets, which will go on sale starting Saturday.

Thanks to those who have reached out with new material. We said hello to another five Boston-based blogs this week. Keep them coming. I’m at [email protected], or on Twitter @BobEks.

Week Log: From Road Runner To Coyote Across Boston Sports

Moving from season to season is becoming a bit like an episode of The Road Runner and we the fans got stuck with the part of Wile E. Coyote. First, anemic bats and a Jonathan Papelbon collapse fell on our heads like a giant boulder, causing the thin overhang of a Patriots season to dislodge and drop us onto the roadbed of football mediocrity, where the B’s and C’s are the 18-wheeler bearing down on us on their way to a spring disaster. It sure didn’t seem that long ago when we were the Road Runner, but Jerry Thornton says we’ve been stumbling around of late like Martha Coakley supporters wondering how it all went so bad so fast.

Celtics

Right now, the C’s look like the bigger wreck, going 4-8 over the last twelve after turning an 8-point halftime lead into a 6-point defeat at the hands of the Pistons last night. Celtics Green remembers a not-too-distant past when things used to be the other way around in the second half. Even before a 21-13 meltdown in Motown, Rich Levine had the tables fully turned on the C’s third quarter performances this year. ESPN Boston’s Celtics Blog has the C’s getting flustered by the Pistons’ second-half zone defense.

Celtics Town says Rajon Rondo lacked some much-needed aggression in Monday’s home loss to the Mavericks. Evans Clinchy has the C’s once again in crisis mode looking for backup for Rondo. Speaking of which, this stretch has made Red’s Army rethink their position that Nate Robinson would be a detriment to team chemistry.

LOSCY takes a pictoral look back on the underachieving 1-3 week (does that Nets win really count?) that was. Lex Nihil Novi isn’t concerned about anything that happens in the first 65 games. North Station Sports doesn’t want Kevin Garnett rushed back since there will be no banners to hang without him healthy, but Banner 18? is looking for some electricity produced by his quick return to the lineup tomorrow night. Celtics Life acknowledges KG will never be fully healed, but 85% should be good enough for a banner.

Gino’s Jungle is now choking on the words they used to describe how good Perk’s defense is . . . errrr, was. 4 Sport Boston is frustrated with Rasheed Wallace at the moment but anticipates a turnaround in their attitude by season’s end. Big Baby Davis may only be part of the problem, but CelticsBlog recounts an impressive arsenal of episodes – including last night’s heckler-bashing – that have earned him an appropriate nickname. Green Street tracks the evolution of sharpshooter Eddie House.

Bee-beep.

Bruins

Homecoming after an unopportunistic 1-1-1 California swing was less than stellar this MLK Day, as the B’s went down hard to an Ottawa Senators team they’ve owned. Hockey Independent thinks it’s shameful how the B’s and fans left Tim Thomas hanging on Monday, and advises caution to those jumping on the Tuukka Rask bandwagon. The Hub Of Hockey plays the ‘E’ card in excusing the B’s 5-1 loss to the Senators. However, ESPN Boston’s Bruins Blog is allowing for no excuses with the B’s play coming off the West Coast. Big Bad Blog says not all of this swoon can be blamed on injuries and schedule quirks. Despite flatlining on Monday, Kathryn Tappen says the Black & Gold have more positives than negatives ahead, starting with a two-week Olympics break.

There was one noteworthy accomplishment over the week, as we’ve now been able to attach a face to the B’s problems this season: it belongs to Dennis Wideman. Following his coach’s call-out yesterday, James Murphy says it’s now or never for the beleaguered defenseman to step up. Joe Haggerty calls Wideman a poster child for the B’s paralyzing inconsistency this year. Bruins Blog thinks Wideman needs to stay on the ice for some extra work.

Rink Rap debates whether Peter Chiarelli can pull the ultimate trigger and trade Wideman, who was once a centerpiece acquisition in the GM’s rebuilding program. A day after knocking Ilya Kovalchuk as a trade deadline target, Something’s Bruin says Martin St. Louis is more needed and a better bargain.

Finally, Stanley Cup Of Chowder examines the intricacies of Rask’s Winter Classic mask with its designer – right down to the shredded pinstriped jersey.

Red Sox

Despite the lack of a duck boat parade for two years now, Eric Ortiz thinks the Sox couldn’t have a better leader than Terry Francona.

We’ll start with a few early looks up and down the system. Fenway West examines the Achilles’ heels of the Sox rotation. Full Count has the Mariners’ lock-up of ace Felix Hernandez making Theo’s signing of John Lackey look even better. Boston Blood Sox has the media machine at Yawkey Way making the Jason Bay departure look even better.

Bee-friggin’-beep.

The Bottom Line considers the optimal holding period for Jonathan Papelbon. Although the fans still have a muted love for Paps, Red Sox Monster sees Daniel Bard as the shiny new car in the garage. Fire Brand Of The American League puts a price on the heads of the Sox’ top two prospects – Ryan Westmoreland and Casey Kelly. ESPN Boston’s Red Sox Blog is deep in pitching depth down on the farm.

Better Red Than Dead charts a legacy of Sox Hall-of-Famers that makes the Yankees look like pikers. That legacy now includes Andre Dawson (okay, just barely!), although Sports Central doesn’t know what took them so long.

And never mind healthcare reform, as Boston Sports Blog seems to suggest Massachusetts voters went too far in bouncing Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley for her gaff over Curt Schiling’s Yankee allegiance. Boston Dirt Dogs sees a parallel between the Coakley campaign and the Yankees . . . the 2004 Yankees. The Faster Times says Coakley has learned that messing with a Boston sports legend is much worse than messing up his name. WSJ’s The Count calls it the Curse of the Red Sox Gaffe.

The Meat

Schilling may not be aligned with the Yankees, but he apparently is to former WEEI flash guy Pete Sheppard. Surviving Grady has Curt boycotting the station until Sheppard is rehired and also taking back his 38 Pitches blog. Mass Hysteria hopes Sheppard lands on his feet somewhere . . . far from Boston. The Crowe’s Nest says yesterday’s Whiner Line was a classic send-off for Sheppard.

It’s good to bring in some fresh faces. This week, ten blogs got their inaugural linkage here on Week Log, and there’ll be more in the weeks to come as we start up a new MLB season. I could use your help in discovering new blood. E-mail me at [email protected], tweet me @BobEks, or befriend me on Facebook.

Week Log: Eulogy For The Common Team

After watching victories by both the greasy Cowboys and greasier Jets the day before, I couldn’t wait for a Sunday morning shower. Somewhere between the soap and shampoo my wife broke in with good news: a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to sit in the third row on the 50-yard line for the Ravens game at Gillette.

Yeah, it was the third row alright, but of the third tier; and the 50 ended up being the goal line – the same one the Ravens would cross three times in the first 11 minutes of the game. That Musket Fire‘s three biggest plays all came in the first quarter tells you how early this one was over, but there’s nevertheless an extra boost of resilience that comes with being at the stadium, especially when your car is boxed into its $60 space for the afternoon. Like Boston Homer, everyone in Section 306 was dreaming up scenarios whereby the Pats could climb back in this one. Mine required getting the ball back for another score before halftime, but National Football Post says the Pats’ loss of power was never more evident than on the final Ravens final drive of the first half.

Even still, one fourth quarter TD at 33-14 might have made the finish compelling, but who knew this would be the day Belichick decided to stop going for it on fourth down? Blaug was still hopeful even as the FG unit came out but, alas, Stephen Gostkowski let him down. Really, Blaug? Would it have been less painful to lose by 16 points rather than 19? Patriots Daily drops more F-bombs on this effort than a Josh Beckett interview on a night the ace gets lit up.

As I’m just Sayin’ tells it, the problem on Sunday was Tom Brady.The Trenches says the pass rush on Brady was reminiscent of Super Bowl XLII. No Tom, the crowd wasn’t saying mooove!, points out The Boston Score; we really were saying boooo!.

As bad as he was on the field, Sportress of Blogitude has Number 12 worse in the postgame presser. Inside Track points their finger at Gisele for Sunday’s debacle, but Shutdown Corner thinks that’s ridiculous since it is obviously Brady’s do-it-yourself real estate flipping hobby at fault. Maybe TB should start listing properties with Brian Scalabrine to take a little load off his shoulders. Word is that Brady will invest in the Chesapeake region next; seems Baltimoreans have a proclivity for snapping up his every offering.

The Sporting Blog says New England can’t explain away its loss of momentum by the loss of Wes Welker. Sunday reminded Tedy Bruschi of the Week 2 Jets loss, where the absence of Welker resulted in receivers taking longer to get open and Brady holding the ball longer. Pats Fans says Welker’s absence cost the Pats one TD . . . at best.

Hey, is our old buddy Dan Shaughnessy selling us out to hold the national spotlight? Well, in Inside The NFL, he says we have a sense of arrogance and entitlement as he pronounces the Pats’ run (temporarily) over. Peter King, in Monday Morning QB, thinks there’s too much smarts in Foxborough for this to be the end of an era. Bleacher Report says the dynasty isn’t over because it never existed in the first place. Eric Ortiz believes the Pats are one good offseason away from once again becoming feared.

There’s a line of thought that losing this game was the best thing that could have happened to the Pats, since they’re not among the top eight teams who will be restricted in signing free agents in an uncapped 2010 season. Nonsense says ESPN Boston’s New England Patriots Blog, who would prefer the additional playoff experience for the younger players. Patriots Blog argues that 2009 was a rebuilding year and that, going into 2010, they are the top team not restricted by an ability to sign free agents. But the front office will have to do to better than last year, which Jeff Howe calls a total whiff.

In classic Casey Kasem style, It Is What It Is works through the entire 53-man roster to Number 1 and finds five of his top 18 may not be back next year. Patriots Gab renounces the anger of fans who would blow the team up, instead favoring a re-tooling.

So we’ll close with our first look to next year with First And Ten From Foxborough having an underperforming Ben Watson less than enthusiatic about returning. Pats Pulpit puts Stephen Neal and Logan Mankins in the ‘expendable’ category. The Rap Sheet considers the ton of options available if Neal retires. Junior Seau is already gone and Tom E. Curran has him ending a brilliant career with his explosive play on Sunday. On the other end of the LB spectrum, Touching All The Bases sees an unholy union between Adalius Thomas and the NY Jets next year.

Celtics

Good news! Last night’s routing of the Nets in New Jersey keeps alive Rasheed Wallace’s prophesy of a 72-win season. Green Street has the opening tap as the turning point in this one. The real fun began for Red’s Army once the C’s opened up a 36-point lead just before the half. And there’s a distinct inferiority complex woven through Celtics Green’s (formerly Loy’s Place) Comments From The Other Side.

Looks like another 10-14 days for Kevin Garnett. Funny, the pages of my calendar keep turning but KG’s hard-coded prognosis never seems to move. CelticsBlog downgrades his condition to Rusty for the upcoming Lakers showdown. ESPN Boston’s Boston Celtics Blog has the C’s taking pride in their ability to compete without all their horses. Evans Clinchy says the C’s, when healthy, may be a complete team on paper, but they’re not healthy. LOSCY thinks Brian Scalabrine’s expiring big-bucks contract is more of an asset than anything he can bring to the court.

Celtics Stuff Live takes NBA Commissioner David Stern to task for not cleaning up the referee problem that contributed to another C’s loss to the Hawks on Monday. Celtics Central says the only thing flagrantly foul about the call on Glen Davis was the officiating. Perk Is A Beast has die-hard Hawk fans – and, oh yeah, NBA refs – Bennett Salvatore and Marc Davis stepping in to help Atlanta’s cause.

Bruins

Last night’s 4-3 loss in Anaheim started a three-game make-or-break tour of California for the B’s. Big Bad Blog has Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller making the turnaround play in this one. Jessica Isner says the B’s can’t be giving up four goals – two in the third period no less – given the banged-up condition of their offense. Speaking of which, Ghosts Of The Garden has found good cause to give Michael Ryder and his mere ten goals this season a free pass. Rink Rap has last night another case of chemistry problems and goalie puck-handling woes.

New England Hockey Journal wonders whether the post-California season will be a 35-game recovery period or a swagger restored.

Like their Saved By The Bell predecessors, 4 Sport Boston says the B’s have spin-off problems that have thinned the cast even as the show must go on. Caveman Strong blames an inexperienced defensive corps for all three goals in last weekend’s loss to the Rangers.

View From 311 is giddy about the Maple Leafs’ chances of securing Boston the first pick in June’s draft, especially given Phil Kessel’s production of late. There’s not much production on Kessel’s scalp, where According to Cameron Frye says time and karma have been harsh mistresses. Tea Party Throwdown digs up some old clips of Marc Savard’s 90′s do and is happy he can now afford a hair stylist. Onto facial hair, where Something’s Bruin hasn’t seen a stache like Duck George Parros’ since the days of the Super Mario Bros.

Now that we’ve paid last respects to Belichick & Co., I’ll come out of the crossover with much more on the Sox next week. In the meantime, if you’re aspiring to blog on the Pats or know of someone who does, let me know about it. Theirs is the thinnest voice among Boston’s four major pro sports teams. I’m only an e-mail or a tweet away at [email protected] / @BobEks.

Week Log: Happy Birthday, Bloggers

Today is a birthday of sorts as Week Log is now one year old. Not to go all Thanks For Playing on you, but we published 41 editions over the past year, bringing you 1,761 links. We’re now following about 160 New England-based blogs each week.

When Bruce and I first discussed the concept of giving bloggers their fifteen minutes of fame each week, we weren’t sure how it would be received in a region where the mainstream media is both so omnipresent and so talented. But reader support over the past year is testament to the inroads the off-Broadway blogging community continues to make. So, happy birthday already and let’s start off on a different note this week.

NCAAF

Tonight’s BCS national championship game offers a rare chance to lead with college football in our overwhelmingly pro-centric market. The Sporting Blog saw enough in December’s conference championship games to know Alabama will dominate this one. Dr. Saturday has the Crimson Tide D’s ability to get off the field a key in stopping Texas. The Bruce Feldman Blog says Colt McCoy has to be as spectacular in Pasadena as former Longhorn Vince Young was four years ago.

No BCS bowl contenders from New England this year, but a good autumn nonetheless. Boston College fell short in its bowl game against USC, but The BC Blog looks back at ten significant events that shaped the Eagles’ 2009 season. Eagle In Atlanta raves about freshman Luke Kuechly’s play. BC Interruption is less worried about whether David Shinskie will keep his job over new recruit Chase Rettig in 2010 and more worried about who will be catching either QB’s passes.

The season ended better for the UConn Huskies, who beat South Carolina in the Papajohns.com Bowl, 20-7, on Saturday. UConn Sports has the maligned Huskies defense feeling dissed by Gamecocks’ coach Steve Spurrier and rising to the top of their game. Thoughts From A Fat White Guy lived an Amish existence in Birmingham watching his old teammates take home their third bowl victory. JSilver’s UConn Blog thinks the Huskies’ bowl win will be the start of something good in 2010. Sox & Dawgs couldn’t be prouder of this year’s Huskies squad and looks forward to next season when 18 starters return. UConn Football hopes the returning starters can continue the determination they demonstrated over the final four games of 2009 for the full 2010 season.

Patriots

The postseason begins this weekend with the Pats taking on the Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, 1 PM) in Foxborough but, hey, it’s just a formality. Boston Sports Blog has Vegas saying the Indianapolis Colts will win the Super Bowl, while Jessica Isner has Rex Ryan saying the Jets will win.

Patriots Daily looks at some key matchups against the Ravens. First And Ten From Foxborough runs down practice squad moves in light of Wes Welker’s IR’ing. Patriots Gab wonders why The Football Gods hate us. Blaug expects good things from Julian Edelman in Welker’s absence.

The play of Shawn Springs and Darius Butler were two of Musket Fire‘s likes from the Texans game. Pats Pulpit makes a case for why AP Comeback Player Of The Year Tom Brady should also be discussed in MVP circles.

Bruins

Maybe it’s the lingering magic of the Winter Classic that finds me more bullish on the B’s than any other team in Boston at the moment. Yes, it was a win-lose-win week, but the victories that sandwiched a frustrating loss at MSG were fun. Well, the Winter Classic euphoria has worn off for Wicked Bruins Fan, who was more entertained with drink recipes than a loss to the Rangers Monday night. Kathryn Tappen has the B’s avoiding a double disaster Monday, as the news on Patrice Bergeron’s injured thumb was better than expected.

Something’s Bruin lists Bergeron’s thumb as the only ugly after the B’s earned a split of back-to-back games with a win over Ottawa Tuesday night. Stanley Cup of Chowder has the B’s with their foot on the gas until the fourth goal against the Senators, then hitting the cruise control for an easy 4-1 win. The victory did cost the B’s Andrew Ference, whom Hub Hockey dubs Mr. Glass after he injured his groin. He’ll be out six weeks.

View From 311 suggests the addition of Miroslav Satan has had a positive effect on Blake Wheeler, who scored twice against the Senators. Rink Rap wonders if Satan can keep motivated by what could be a last-chance opportunity.

Hard to believe another ten-game set is in the books, but it’s time for The Hockey Blog Adventure‘s last ten look-back, and they see good things emerging on the power play front. Olympic Hockey Blog defends Team Canada’s selection of Bergeron, whose spot appears safe despite his thumb injury.

Celtics

Celtics Blog runs down what they call a solid win last night in Miami, as the C’s see-sawed and alley-ooped their way to an overtime win. Rajon Rondo’s buzzer-beater kind of kills the buzz on LOSCY‘s ways things can get crappier for the C’s.

The news is good regarding Big Baby’s production too, but Red’s Army wonders if his numbers will project out with more minutes. Celtics Stuff Live takes Doc Rivers to the woodshed on roster management that has stunted the development of younger players. Green Street marvels at the way Doc brings out the best in the second unit when he adds a pinch of Ray Allen.

Red Sox

Fire Brand Of The American League says Theo Epstein has backed himself into a corner by signing Adrian Beltre while still holding Mike Lowell in limbo. Now that his contract came in at only a year and an option, Beltre suddenly has intriguing upside in Utility Lou‘s eyes, while Adam Hirshfield says Beltre’s addition gives the Sox more bang for the buck around the diamond. If Nuggetpalooza‘s numbers hold, it figures to be a long, cold April for Beltre. Boston Dirt Dogs has Theo’s bridge complete with the addition of Beltre and Bill Hall.

Speaking of Hall, should the New Year be full of surprises, this is among the first: someone else is paying Theo to take a player off their hands! It appears that Seattle will be sending some cash along with Hall in exchange for Casey Kotchman. Red Sox Monster says Kotchman never got a fair shake in Boston. Full Count gives a full accounting of recent Yawkey Way personnel moves that will shape the Sox for years to come.

38 Pitches, that captain of superlatives, calls Randy Johnson the best pitcher ever upon his recently-announced retirement. Somewhere out there is a gull family whose deceased love one would beg to differ. Finally, And Another Thing . . . weighs in on the perennial most-heated debate in all of sports. Surprisingly, it’s neither steriods nor Tiger’s marriage.

That’s a wrap for now, but help us get our second year off on the right foot by coming back here next Thursday afternoon. If anything comes up in the week ahead, I’ll be a tweet away at @BobEks.

Week Log: Dreaming of a Partisan Christmas

This week is not the misery Michael Felger makes it out to be, but between bumper-to-bumper traffic, long lines at the register, and various ill-wills we hurl at each other in a Christmas panic exacerbated by last weekend’s snowout, one thing is alarming. Folks, when did Boston become a five-team sports town?

Parking lots with rear windows covered in ‘NY’ decals. Kids walking the mall with unbuttoned pinstriped jerseys hanging down below their too-low pantlines. Worst yet, my treasured sports retailers allowing Yankee merchandise to spill over from once-tolerable end caps to entire sections of store now. Yesterday, I looked on the wall of one prominent retailer to see five banners hanging – Pats, B’s, C’s, Sox, and – yes – Yankees.

Hopefully, a wave of partisan cleansing can wash over New England with the New Year and some new championship runs, but it’s not just the Sox. For starters, there are entirely too many Patriot haters in our midst, so let’s check in with their championship run first.

Patriots

Okay, baby steps en route to the Super Bowl, but a win is a . . . Well, let’s just say Pats Chowder isn’t exactly worried about how Coach Belichick will spend the 32nd pick of this year’s draft yet. Sunday was triply great for Patriots Gab – a road win, the re-emergence of Randy Moss, and a D that befuddled the Bills. The Trenches says the Pats’ serious pass rush against Buffalo was as effective as anything they’ve done this season. But Felger (he gets another shot since he’s going on vacation next week) says the secondary was inconsistent and, BTW, where is the second half offense? Tom E. Curren says the offense’s inability to close out an opponent makes for a confounding and maddening subplot to 2009. PatsFans says it’s a miracle the Pats have beaten the Bills 13 straight times.

Pats Pulpit offers one picture and a thousand words of praise for Laurence Maroney’s turnaround. The Rap Sheet has OL Dan Connolly, whose contract was extended yesterday, coming a long way. It Is What It Is says Connolly has given the Pats a lot of good snaps this season.

First And Ten From Foxborough thinks it a tall order to ask Tom Brady to repeat his performance the last time the Pats played Jacksonville during the 2007 playoffs. Extra Points now has Fred Taylor trying to back his way off Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio’s bulletin board.

NCAAF

BC Interruption spends Five Good Minutes with a left coaster as they preview this Saturday’s Emerald Bowl matchup between the Eagles and USC Trojans. Soaring To Glory thinks USC’s talent surplus will carry it past a non-BCS bowl letdown and the Eagles, although they’ve been wrong before. Eagle Insider has USC coach Pete Carroll guaranteeing his Trojans will play like it’s the national championship game. NE Patriots Draft runs down the top NFL prospects playing in this year’s Emerald Bowl.

Mark Herzlich’s winning battle against cancer is tops among BC Draft‘s ten best things to happen to the Eagles this year. It also tops Eagle In Atlanta‘s ten distinctly-BC events of the decade.

The UConn Huskies have a little more time before their next game as their PapaJohns.com Bowl date with South Carolina isn’t until the new year. Ramblings From The Runway has Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier impressed with the Huskies. JSilver’s UConn Blog has the Huskies winning the FWAA Courage Award for perseverance in the aftermath of Jasper Howard’s killing. And even though the 2009 season is more than a week away from concluding, UConn Football is looking ahead to 2010 and forecasting the biggest QB battle in school history.

B’s / C’s

Caveman Strong is see-sawing after a 1-1-1 road trip that leaves them realizing the B’s are not a Stanley Cup champion right now. The Black & Gold might be back on track after downing the Atlanta Thrashers last night at TD Garden for their second straight victory, but Joe Haggerty will tell you there were plenty of uncomfortable moments in this one. Bruins 2010 Draft Watch feels the yuletide spirit as the B’s gave their fans a Christmas win against the Thrashers while Phil Kessel gave Toronto fans bupkus.

Marc Savard’s first assist in nine games during the B’s win in Ottawa on Monday reminds I’m Just Sayin’ of the glory days of the Savard line that included Kessel. Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk would make Boston forget about Kessel, but James Murphy says it’s a little too early to put him in black and gold. Something’s Bruin asks Santa Chiarelli for a goal-scorer this Christmas. Naoko Funayama marvels at the clarity of Milan Lucic’s complexion this late into the hockey season.

After a bad loss to Philly on Friday the C’s got it back together on Tuesday night, downing the Pacers at TD Garden before heading out on a four-game road trip. Green Street says it was a half-hearted effort against Indiana and that won’t cut it in Orlando on Christmas Day. A. Sherrod Blakely says Tuesday’s win was the first in a line of games the C’s plan to play without KG, but Red’s Army is suspicious over Danny Ainge’s use of the word “structural” when referring to a bruise on KG’s thigh. In his new exclusive arrangement with Celtics Blog, Paul Pierce traces his roots with KG back to their AAU days.

Red Sox

We’re going to close with an abbreviated check on the Sox. Forget the Mike Lowell thumb injury says The Crowe’s Nest, who think Lowell is a better one-year fit at third than Adrian Beltre anyway. Utility Lou says that when it comes to Lowell, the damage has been done, but it’s not to his thumb.

And if Lowell can come boomeranging back to Boston, Surviving Grady wonders if Jason Bay is far behind. Extra Bases thinks that bringing back Bay can only be the precursor to another move. And Better Red Than Dead bemoans John Kruk offering John Henry a luxury tax-free bond in 2010.

That’s going to do it this Christmas Eve as a final shopping run awaits me. You can be sure there’ll be nothing with pinstripes under my tree tomorrow morning. From the gang here at BSMW, may your holidays be full regardless of whether or not your tree is, and we’ll see you back here one more time before the New Year. Follow me on Twitter for any last minute rescheduling.

Week Log: The Ink Is Flowing At The Fens

It had been a slow first month of the free agent season for the Sox – including a non-event at the winter meetings in Indy – but the stove is heating up now with one trade in the works, another on everybody’s minds, and two big free agent signings formalized yesterday. The Sox make a nice warm place to start off this week.

Hot Stove / Red Sox

With all the chatter and controversy surrounding the week’s moves, Fire Brand Of The American League figures no one in New England likes Theo Epstein right about now even though there’s still much work to be done. I’m Just Sayin’, however, has the 2010 roster looking nearly complete with the signings of John Lackey and Mike Cameron. Red Sox Monster calls the signings Theo’s biggest shocker since his gorilla suit days. Nuggetpalooza serves up nuggets that put Lackey on the same platter as Johann Santana and tell you why Cameron should be taking on 3-0 counts.

Toeing The Rubber loves the way Theo signed Lackey right under the noses of the Boston media, who never had a whiff of this deal. The Crowe’s Nest says it’s no coincidence the Lackey signing went down on the same day as the three-way involving Roy Halladay. Sox Space News says Theo has awoken this winter to what could be his best signing ever. Tom Caron calls this the best starting rotation in baseball with Lackey. Joe Haggerty says that, with one stroke, Theo built the best rotation of his administration and obliterated last year’s bargain-basement missteps. However, Surviving Grady doesn’t like extending five years to Lackey, whom they call the J.D. of pitchers. Boston Dirt Dogs has Krista Lackey the Leigh Teixeira of baseball wives – and then some! Utility Lou thinks Lackey makes Josh Beckett disposable by next season’s trade deadline.

38 Pitches says that, even after the Lackey signing, Boston has the money to put either Jason Bay or Matt Holliday in left. The Mighty Quinn Media Machine assumes the Cameron signing means a farewell to Bay and an end to Holliday speculation, but The Bottom Line suggests Cameron might have been brought in to replace Jacoby Ellsbury, who is presumably a chip in dealing for Adrian Gonzalez.

Sporting News MLB says Padres GM Jed Hoyer better get on the phone with Theo, because waiting longer to trade Gonzalez isn’t going to help him. ESPN Boston’s Boston Red Sox Blog says the Sox aren’t going to package Clay Buchholz and Ellsbury for Gonzalez, and Hoyer doesn’t want them anyway. Fenway West thinks it’s more likely that Nick Johnson will push Kevin Youkilis to third than Adrain Beltre keeping him at first.

Question: can the purchase of a single World Series title now characterize these as days of Yankee dominance? Subway Squawkers thinks so and calls out Theo as a penny-pincher in the process. However, Hit And Run With Dan Roche has no doubt the Sox put their money into the baseball product – when it’s justified. Eric Ortiz considers whether the Sox have enough on the field to now dethrone the Yankees. And after this week’s spend, John Chandler says the ball is in the Yankees’ court. Hey, do we really want to challenge the Empire to a shop-off?

Celtics

Simply the hottest product in the Boston market this Holiday Season, the C’s made it eight straight away from TD after concluding a 3-0 road trip in Memphis on Monday night. Celtics Central calls Monday an ensemble win with the C’s mixing multi-part harmonies and solos in all the right places. Green Street has the C’s noticeably better than the Grizzlies at point guard.

Neil Keefe has Rasheed Wallace and Eddie House having impactful Decembers. A. Sherrod Blakely says Danny Ainge is feeling no buyer’s remorse after signing Sheed this summer. ESPN Boston Celtics Blog considers Sheed for Sixth Man and Kendrick Perkins for Most Improved Player awards, respectively, but doesn’t see an MVP candidate coming out of this balanced attack.

Celtics Stuff Live equates the C’s lack of rebounding to a pimple on Natalie Portman’s face. Red’s Army has the C’s getting butchered on the boards.

And the fate of a young boy’s allegiance to his dad and the home town hang on every word as Lex Nihil Novi reads to his son. What’s it gonna be, boy: Bird or Magic? Green or yellow?

Patriots

And now for the not-so-hot. Despite their win against Carolina in Foxborough on Sunday, Patriots Gab says the Pats have forgotten how to play like a team. First And Ten From Foxborough says it still didn’t look like the old Pats. PatsFans calls the team that took the field in the first half of the Panthers game the most lifeless we’ve seen all season. The Boston Score was happy to see the Pats scrap complicated offensive schemes and get it together in the second half to pull out a two-cylinder win against Carolina.

Thanks For Playing says you can’t bench Randy Moss and you can’t give him tough love, so throw him a bone on the opening series and just hope for the best. Michael Felger will not be nominated president of the Randy Moss Fan Club anytime soon, but Pats Pulpit won’t even consider joining Felger’s fan club as they come to Moss’s defense, calling him classy and a leader.

It Is What It Is is trying to find a defensive lineman that can play this Sunday – or, for that matter, one who can even say whether he’ll play. Jeff Howe has Bill Belichick relating to the position Bills interim coach Perry Fewell finds himself in this Sunday. Extra Points is weirded out by the similarities between the 2009 Bills and the 1976 Detroit Lions, whose coaching staff included Belichick.

Bruins

We’ve hit another ebb in the ebb-and-flow of the 2009 Bruins, as they’ve dropped two straight winnable contests and head out on a three-game road trip this Friday. The second of those losses came in the third period against Philadelphia Monday night. Something’s Bruin tries to figure out what went down during that second Flyers intermission. The Bear Cave has it a frustrating loss for goalie Tim Thomas, his sixth this season after giving up two goals or less.

The Hockey Blog Adventure looks at some numbers at the 30-game milestone. Caveman Strong isn’t handing out much hardware to the B’s based on the first quarter of this season.

Without much wing support, Bruins Blog has Marc Savard’s dishes going to waste. Hey, the Savard line is due for a shakeup says ESPN Boston Bruins Blog, which notes that Byron Bitz is lethal at finding mesh – but only in vacant goals. Hub Hockey considers Dennis Wideman’s rightful defensive pairing on the ice.

Finally, Kathryn Tappen‘s worlds have collided this week as an outdoor hockey rink is being constructed and Norm Abrams comes to Fenway.

The Holidays are coming, and the next two Thursdays are Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. I’ll be juggling things around to get in blog links over the next couple of weeks so look for advance notice on Twitter at @BobEks.

Week Log: Patriots Are Just Another Team

Unless you’re the President of the United States or the engineer who figured out how to fit all that cheese into a Cheez-It, you’ve probably awoken to days when you feel like Just Another Guy or Just Another Gal, as Felger might say. On Tuesday morning, I woke to the realization the Pats are Just Another Team. One that may well run the table to 12-4, and one that might even steal a first-round game if they host it, but one that has failed almost every test of mettle this season and, as Mike Reiss points out, the opportunity to answer tough questions is now over.

Let’s look at the recent carnage that was once our budding expectations. We’ll start on a simple note, where Get Out Of My Ballpark wishes Stephen Gostkowski could have kicked a few more extra points on Monday. Dominant and atrocious are PatriotsBlog‘s descriptions of the O-lines of the Saints and Pats, respectively. Blaug feels as though they brought a potato gun to an air raid. PatsPulpit says that anytime Randy Moss and Wes Welker are shut down, trouble will be a brewin’. It Is What It Is has Welker saying the Pats have a big-time lack of attitude.

Patriots Gab doesn’t believe the Pats gave this game up; rather, it just got taken from them. Watching Coach Belichick stick around too long to congratulate the winners put a real bummer on Thanks For Playing‘s night. The Patriot Act calls Monday’s embarrassment a watershed game for Drew Brees and the Saints.

After being picked apart by Breez, Pats Chowder sees nothing in this secondary that should give Patriots Nation any cause for confidence. However, I’m Just Sayin’ has Belichick believing he can fix his secondary problems.

On a positive note, Jeff Howe has special teams captain Sam Aiken forcing the coach’s hand for more plays from scrimmage.

NCAAF

The BC Blog has the Eagles pulling out all the themes in preserving their 19-17 victory in Maryland last Saturday. BC Interruption calls the game dull and uninspiring. With eight wins in the bag and a bowl game coming, BC Draft enjoys ripping Andre Ware a new one over a prognostication gone bad. The bowl outlook is nice, but Eagle In Atlanta is excited over The Heights’ switch of uniform sponsor to Under Armour. The View From Section X has four Eagles getting All-ACC honors. Congrats!

The Connecticut Post’s UConn Sports blog has the Huskies attracting interest from the PapaJohns.com Bowl, while Ramblings From The Runway has Coach Randy Edsall changing his tune on the St. Petersburg Bowl.

And did Edsall win more than just a football game two weeks ago in South Bend? Responding to rumors the UConn coach has been contacted by the Irish, JSilver’s UConn Blog thinks Edsall would make a good fit at Notre Dame, but try selling that to their fan base. The Courant’s UConn Football blog says Edsall has not been contacted by the Fighting Irish. Sox & Dawgs figures Edsall will play the Focused-On-South-Florida card in sidestepping the question this week.

Bruins

Don’t look now, but guess who’s in first place? Yes, your Boston Bruins, courtesy of last night’s 4-1 win against the Lightning at TD Garden. Kathryn Tappen says Tampa Bay was the first of three sure wins that should continue this B’s surge in what figures to be a wild post-Thanksgiving ride.

Brilliant! says Stanley Cup Of Chowder on the Marc Savard contract extension that may cut $1 million off next year’s salary cap. Something’s Bruin analyzes the extension for Savard, who proves to be no liar. The Hockey Blog Adventure has Savard pulling off a .007. Bruins 2010 Draft Watch didn’t like the first Savard signing, but now loves having him in Boston for the rest of his career.

It was payday for the assistant coaches too, as Big Bad Blog reports on their contract extensions.

Celtics

What’s this, another winter team thriving under the radar of the Patriots’ woes? The C’s have won five straight, including the first two of their four-game road trip, after downing Charlotte on Tuesday night. CelticsBlog, which predicts this the start of an 11-3 run leading up to Christmas Day, says this team is too good to be held down.

Red’s Army finds a little basketball porn in a single play in Charlotte, which was part of an 11-1 run that Green Street calls the turning point of the game. After his season-high 21 points against the Bobcats, ESPN’s Boston Celtics Blog has Kendrick Perkins blossoming into a hunter on offense, and Perk Is A Beast says their namesake isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

Celtics Stuff Live tries to read between the lines in understanding Rajon Rondo. Dime’s Pass The Mic says Rondo’s J keeps him out of consideration among the top point guards.

Sox / Hot Stove

Nuggetpalooza helps us figure out if Roy Halladay will be worth it over the next four years.

Fire Brand Of The American League looks at the implications of offering arbitration to Billy Wagner and Jason Bay. Fenway West says Wagner’s departure to Atlanta makes re-signing Takashi Saito a top priority. Red Sox Monster hates the ambiguity of the Hot Stove league as he wonders whether Bay or Matt Holliday will be in left field next summer. And if both fall through, NESN’s Boston Red Sox says there’s always Jermaine Dye.

No Hot Stove discussion would be complete without an obligatory visit to shortstop. Forget Alex Gonzalez, as Utility Lou says Marco Scutaro has among the best gloves in baseball and that Theo should have been focused on him all along. Sox Tea Party isn’t crazy about an in-house transfer as they remember when Pedroia was too fat to play short. Don’t be concerned about messing with second base perfection says Peter’s Red Sox Forever, who thinks Pedroia will give Jeter a run for his money at short.

Surviving Grady can relate first-hand to the off-field turmoil J. D. Drew has undergone in recent years. Kyle Snyder has left Toeing The Rubber hanging for the winter. And if Tom Caron gets his way, winter won’t be shorter any time too soon.

Remember, Week Log gives you only a taste of these bloggers’ wares; be sure to check out their full week’s content whenever you visit. No blog links next week as I’ll be filling in for Bruce on Thursday’s Morning Links. Follow me on Twitter for other posting updates.

Week Log: Big Guys Don’t Cry

The only thing better than watching the NYJ take a beating on an autumn Sunday afternoon is watching the Patriots give it to them. After nine weeks out of alignment, the football world has righted itself again as the Pats redeemed their Week 2 loss to the Jets with a 31-14 win in Foxborough on Sunday. Patriots Gab has nine weeks making a huge difference as the tables have turned again in the Border War. The Patriot Act stops just short of saying Wes Welker made all the difference in this one. First And Ten From Foxborough has CB Leigh Bodden and the Pats’ D knowing Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez was good for a few turnovers.

Hey, what yaps more than a Jets team after winning a Week 2 Super Bowl? The answer, of course, is a Jets team that got their arses handed to them on Week 11. CB Donald Strickland might want to get himself a publicist, as Jessica Isner thinks he would do better to sweep the hit he took from LT Mark LeVoir under the rug rather than crying out about it. Rex Ryan did his share of crying after Tom Brady and Randy Moss took that deep shot on him inside of a minute to go, but The Crowe’s Nest liked the call because he needed the fantasy points.

There’s a freshness in Pats Chowder‘s air on days following a Pats win-Steelers loss combo. But even three rows removed from the parking lot, Pats Pulpit can see the Pats don’t have the look of a team that will go far in January.

Forget January, because Boston Sports Blog is looking to February when the New Orleans Saints and Pats next meet after this Monday night’s showdown in the Superdome. Rich Levine has Bill Belichick seeing similarities between these Saints and the Rams team he beat on his last trip to the Superdome back in 2002. The Rap Sheet has New Orleans dear in Robert Kraft’s heart.

Blaug and his cat Charlie are happy the Pats don’t have to play tomorrow. PatsFans have plenty to be thankful for this Turkey Day, not the least of which is a cream puff December.

Bruins

Last week, one blogger foresaw a resurrection on this road trip and now that their prophecy has been fulfilled, View From 311 earns opening honors and the chance to gloat about the B’s newfound winning ways. The Hockey Blog Adventure isn’t sure whether it’s the play of Patrice Bergeron or their own lack of publishing, but something has set the B’s right again. CSNNE’s Bruins Blog has the once-hibernating B’s back at full strength with the return of Marc Savard. Eric Ortiz has the Black & Gold re-establishing their identity, but if he sees two aces between the pipes I’d sure like to play him in a hand of poker.

Something’s Bruin has a couple of 60 year-olds putting the puck in the net in St. Louis Monday night. I guess hockey years must be kind of like dog years. Milan Lucic’s five hits against the Blues earned him a Hub Hockey game recap bullet.

Stanley Cup of Chowder thinks hockey coverage is being denied its freedom of the press, while According To Cameron Frye celebrates her right to bear arms.

Celtics

Rooting for the C’s of late is a lot like buying a penny stock: you don’t know if you’ll be up or down by the end of the day, but you know the ride will kill you. LOSCY starts us off with 34 questions about this team and thinks he can handle The Truth. This season started out for Celtics Stuff Live with the same level of anticipation they had for Lethal Weapon 2, and has so far been equally as disappointing.

Evans Clinchy has Paul Pierce filling the void created by slacking teammates. Lex Nihil Novi is unofficially on the KG retirement watch. Loy’s Place has Kendrick Perkins as one of the few bright spots in Sunday’s win over the Knicks, and one of the most consistent C’s this season. Green Street goes inside the mind of Perk for their portrait of a serial blocker.

Red’s Army debunks the myth that the C’s are shooting too many threes. Nuggetpalooza has the C’s ending their worst eight-game stretch from beyond the arc in the Ray Allen era with a breakout game at MSG on Sunday. It’s sure easier to settle for the outside shot than to work inside.

CSNNE’s Celtics Blog has the old guys taking on Philly’s youth tonight at the TD Garden.

NCAAF

UConn Sports Blog has Huskies’ coach Randy Edsall schooling his backfield duo of Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon on proper celebration etiquette after what he calls the program’s biggest win ever over Notre Dame last Saturday. Ex-Huskie Rob Lunn learned that UConn doesn’t have a lot of quit in them. UConnFootball is still feeling LB Greg “The Finisher” Lloyd’s goalline hit that kept the Irish’s Armando Allen out of the end zone. Sox & Dawgs suggests Irish QB Jimmy Clausen should know better than to get into a post-game bar brawl given the Jasper Howard tragedy.

That you can’t turn the ball over six times and win tops five things learned by The BC Blog, who have the Eagles wilting under another top-tier defense last Saturday. Despite the six turnovers, Eagle in Atlanta gives the offense a C-. The View From Section X gives a thumbs-down to QB David Shinskie, but a big thumbs-up to RB Montel Harris, who racked up 132 rushing yards against North Carolina’s 7th-ranked run defense. Soaring To Glory has the Eagles playing for nothing this weekend at Maryland. Eagle Insider wraps up their ten observations by concluding the Eagles are headed to SF and the Emerald Bowl.

BC Interruption has the demise of Northeastern’s program opening up a home date for the Eagles in 2013, but don’t look for USC to be coming to The Heights. College Sports Blog has Northeastern AD Peter Roby blindsiding coaches and players with last weekend’s decision to pull the plug on Huskies football. New Hampshire Football Report has the UNH Wildcats drawing McNeese State in the first round of the FCS playoff after beating Maine on Saturday.

And finally, the last weekend of Ivy League football is always a somber time for me. When this most pristine of all football associations in America clears its gridirons for the last time, winter has made its most lethal advance on the New England autumn to date. But Portal 31 is going out with guns a-blazing, ripping Yale Bulldogs’ coach Tom Williams for his Bellichickian decision to go for it on fourth-and-long late in their Saturday loss to Harvard. Dr. Saturday doesn’t think Williams’ call will inspire the same stimulating discussion that Belichick’s did. The Harvard Crimson says the game was just an excuse for keg-laced tailgate parties anyway.

Hot Stove

We’re not going to do the Sox or MLB much justice today, but the Hot Stove is beginning to simmer and demands some attention.

Surviving Grady says a Roy Halladay addition would stick it to Canada and make the Sox rotation better than a forest full of porn-bearing trees. Boston Dirt Dogs says the Halladay pursuit is Theo being Theo around Thanksgiving.

The Bottom Line looks for a suitable home for Mike Lowell. Fire Brand Of The American League says replacing Lowell with free agent Adrian Beltre is an interesting avenue, but one that will block Adrian Gonzalez from coming to Fenway. One If By Land likes Beltre for his glove and his bat on the road. Anybody at third but Miguel Cabrera, says Extra Bases.

And with Thanksgiving a day away, Red Sox Monster finds five things Sox fans have to be thankful for.

I’m going to leave you with my best wishes for a good feast and these tips on surviving the day, courtesy of Thanks For Playing. A shout to Bruce for letting me out a day early, but I’ll be back in my appointed slot again next Thursday. Until then, follow me on my new Twitter account at @BobEks for posting schedules.