Nick Cafardo couldn’t write about Tom Brady’s new contract without a subtle dig at Michael Felger. Cafardo wrote of “media reports (that) had begun to swirl, especially a recent erroneous one indicating the negotiations had reached an impasse.” This is a clear reference to an August 14th article in the Herald by Felger. This is just plain petty. Cafardo can’t admit when he is wrong about things, as he was last season about the Patriots, but takes opportunities like these to gloat when someone else may be incorrect. Or perhaps it’s just a bit of gamesmanship between the boys…Felger’s article today contains quotes from a couple sources close to the talks and to Brady. (Cafardo only had a unnamed “NFC Salary cap man”) Tom Curran also reports on the new contract. I love this exchange in Curran’s second column today about tonight’s preseason finale “Asked if there are some “unwritten rules” teams follow in the preseason (read: backing off at the end of games), Belichick said, “No, (the rules) are actually written down.” Jim Donaldson writes about Steve Spurrier. Felger’s Notebook today tells us the Jamal Anderson possibility is still alive. Cafardo’s notebook implies that the Pats Offense is under the spotlight still.

The one time we all really want Shaughnessy to unleash his venom and let the players association have it, he soft-shoes the topic and resorts to only taking a shot at Manny for leaving quickly after the game. The article is decent, but I really wish Dan went over the top on this one. Steve Buckley is a little more biting in his column today, insulted that we’ve all been strung along and played for suckers. Bill Reynolds says that strike or no strike, this season has been corrupted. Gordon Edes speculates on how much a strike would cost the new owners in terms of lost revenue. Tony Massarotti and Jackie MacMullan look at the players preparations for a strike. Does anyone on the Red Sox come off from all this looking worse than John Burkett? In MacMullan’s other article, about Pedro, the Sox ace “waved his hand dismissively” when Burkett’s name was brought up. More than any other player on the Red Sox, and perhaps more than any other superstar in the game, Pedro “gets it”. One of the priorities of the Red Sox owners needs to be to sign this guy up for life. He would great to have around for the next 50 years. Put him in a Johnny Pesky role with the club. Sean McAdam has a generic article on the strike. Michael Silverman and Bob Hohler report on the progress being made in the talks. Silverman also has an interesting account of an in-game battle between Pedro and Bernie Williams last night.

Larry Lucchino on WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan this morning was clearly disturbed over both his team’s play and the labor situation. He talked about taking his dog out for the longest walk after the game last night. He was tempted to release him in the clubhouse. John Dennis interjected that then there would be 26 of them in there. Callahan added that it is clear that the team is preoccupied with Labor issue, and Lucchino agreed, for a few players probably. The team is not hitting, and you can’t steal bases when you’re not on base, it changes everything to a different style of baseball. Very few clutch hits, the Yankees score runs with two outs. The owners are also having the distraction of labor influences. Long conference calls.

Benny Agbayani has great numbers against left handed pitches, they’re still trying to improve the club. They’re not going to add him until after September 1, so he won’t be eligible for the post season. But he’s a good guy and will fit right in. Dennis pointed out that the team has not performed when they’ve had to, like last year. Lucchino says things were different them, tension, turmoil and disharmony, but this team is different, and Lucchino thinks it’s premature to make conclusions. He said if they perform in September the way last year’s team did, he’ll buy D&C dinner anywhere in New England. The team will not finish lifeless and listless. Callahan pointed out that if last night was the end, then they did end listlessly. The manager and coaches have extra ear to kick some butt and rally if it’s passion or commitment not lack of hitting… let’s just say they’ll be some strong commitment, our fans deserve better. It’s still as they say ‘momentum lasts until the next night’s starting pitcher.’ “We got an old-fashioned ass-kicking, is he allowed to say that? He’s sure it’s fine, especially on their show. The Yankees play the game the way it’s supposed to be played , they stole bases, running, very good team, let’s not take that away from them.

Callahn noted that Mussina threw four pitches in the sixth inning. Lucchino answered that they’ve got to get on base, offense, drawing walks, offensive walks are big part of team’s success. Fenway is the only place in America when you see the On Base Percentage of a guy when he steps to the plate, (Grady Little has an incentive clause in his contract tied to this.) but it’s a learning process, needing to change approach. They gave every player drafted the Ted William’s book on hitting. You don’t transfer a culture overnight. Some do believe that being aggressive at the plate more important than being patient at the plate.

Lucchino noted he used to have a bad temper, but now doesn’t talk to anyone on the day of the game, it’s a good way to calm down, simmer down. Frustration is the common phrase or emotion among the organization. When Callahan brought up Tony Clark talking about his cell phone never being turned off, and always looking at it, that his energy and attention are clearly fully dedicated to the labor issues, Lucchino says that it is a sorry state of affairs that the central activity of baseball is secondary to that of these other affairs. As for the latest, everyone should just zipping their lips and let the folks at the table do their jobs.

At the end, it was noted that some players had moving boxes in the clubhouse. Wakefield among others was packing, but didn’t want it to look like they were packing up. Grady had the boxes thrown out that the players had brought in. They talked again about Clark devoting his energies to this fight, to the detriment of his play on the field, fighting all the principles that Lucchino is into. But this is different from ’94. They’re weren’t even talking them, now there is an active dialogue. After Lucchino left Callahan asked “Could you imagine Dan Duquette coming on with his team going down the tubes and the labor crisis coming to a head? Dennis answered not even with bamboo shoots under his nails.

Away from all of this, Bob Ryan reports on the US team in the basketball World Championships.

WCVB Channel 5 has Patriots/Redskins preseason NFL at 8:00 tonight. ESPN has Mariners/Twins at 1:00. TNT has the basketball World Championships – Algeria vs. U.S. National Team at 9:00. ESPN2 has San Diego State/Fresno State college football at 10:00.