The Patriots report card by

The Patriots report card by Kevin Mannix isn’t quite as harsh as I thought it would be. Only two “F’s”. (receivers and DB’s.) Ron Borges crows just as much as he’s entitled to. Scolding those who chided him for being negative early. My wrist still smarts from being slapped. All worship at the altar of the almighty Borges…Tom Curran looks at the fatigue factor and admits also to being wrong and thinking this team was better than it is. Alan Greenberg notes that the team is still positive, and wonders why. Lenny Megliola says the team is done. A quote from Vinatiari saying they hope to give the Dolphins a run for their money is particularly damning. Steve Buckley presumes to speak for every man, woman and child in New England. Sorry Buck, I disagree, I think the Jets have a very good chance of beating the Packers Sunday. Bill Reynolds looks at Tom Brady struggling to keep afloat while his team sinks around him. Rich Thompson looks at a still hopeful Bill Belichick. Ian Clark looks at the offensive offense. Thompson’s notebook looks at Adrian Klemm at right tackle, while Curran’s notebook starts with the dejected Tom Brady.

Gordon Edes looks at the Red Sox pursuit of Jose Contreras. Edes’s article also takes an interesting look at the intrigue involved in signing international, and in particular, Cuban players. Yesterday talk on Red Sox on-line boards and on WEEI was hot discussing a story in a Panamanian newspaper that had Ramiro Mendoza quoted as saying he had agreed to a contract with the Red Sox and was awaiting a physical. Tony Massarotti looks at the Contreras pursuit and also examines the rumors of that Mendoza signing coming soon. David Heuschkel says once again, the Yankees are the team to beat. Edes’ notebook looks at Chad Fox, Mendoza and Timlin.

Stephen Harris and Nancy Marrapese-Burrell cover last night’s 5-2 Bruins win over the Sharks. Kevin Paul Dupont is a tad concerned over the goalkeeping and wonders if now is the time to deal Kyle McLaren for netminder. Steve Conroy looks at Ivan Huml bringing his sister in for the holidays. Marrapose-Burrell’s notebook looks at a close call for Gerry Cheevers’ son Robbie, while Harris’ notebook leads with PJ Stock.

Paul Pierce tells Mark Murphy that the NBA needs to crack down on the rough fouls. Shira Springer has Jim O’Brien looking to take advantage of some needed practice time.

Jim Baker and Bill Griffith review the weekend of NFL coverage. Griffith also looks ahead to ABC coverage of the NBA tipping off tomorrow. John Molori says that NESN might be looking to Butch Stearns to head up its “Red Sox Nation” program. Molori also has some WWZN/WEEI stuff and a look at the Mike Adams show on WWZN.

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Technically I’m on vacation this

Technically I’m on vacation this week, (or should I say I’m covering a boxing assignment?) In any event I was at a friends house last night to watch the debacle, and didn’t get home in time for the postgame shows.

Quick links for today. Game stories: Tom Curran, Michael Felger, Nick Cafardo, Alan Greenberg, Del Jones and Tom King.

Columnists: Bob Ryan, Kevin Mannix, Jim Donaldson, Ron Borges, Lenny Megliola, Steve Buckley, Ron Hobson, Karen Guregian, Jackie MacMullan and Rob Bradford.

I’ll say this about Ron Borges….he can crow all he wants now. He’s been saying from the offseason that this team’s talent level wasn’t very good and have criticized the coaching as being suspect at times. Through 15 games he’s been proven correct. How he has gone about telling everyone is a different matter…Cafardo has focused more on just Brady/Bledsoe.

Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback addresses the Parcells to Dallas talk.

NESN has Bruins/Sharks at 7:00. ABC has Pittsburgh/Tampa Bay on Monday night football at 9:00.

Nick Cafardo gets reaction from

Nick Cafardo gets reaction from the Patriots five Pro Bowl selections, as well as several Buffalo selections, including of course, Drew Bledsoe. I need to clarify something I said yesterday about Cafardo, I used the word “lazy” when describing the article he wrote on the crowd noise at Gillette. It wasn’t meant to say that Nick is a lazy reporter, but that sometimes I find the whole idea of taking a topic that you’ve spent your afternoon talking about on sports radio and making it the subject of your column the next day in the newspaper lazy. Steve Buckley is the master of this practice. Gerry Callahan is outraged that Tom Brady didn’t make the Pro Bowl. He’s had a better year than Bledsoe, and really has nothing to work with, as Callahan breaks it down. Michael Felger has a touching story of Joe Andruzzi’s friendship with a cancer patient. Alan Greenberg notes that David Patten, like his teammates, isn’t making the plays he made last year. Ian Clark though, notes that Patten is having a career year, from a statistical standpoint. Frank Dell’Apa looks at the importance of the Jets game Sunday. Paul Kenyon looks ahead to the first matchup of Tom Brady and Chad Pennington. Felger looks at the release of Steve Martin. Loose lips sink ships, he says. Greenberg also takes a look at the Patriot Pro Bowl selections. Cafardo’s notebook looks at the injury to Otis Smith and the release of Martin. Felger’s notebook looks at Smith’s injury and the Pro Bowl selections. Kenyon’s notebook also looks at the departures of Smith and Martin from the active roster. Leigh Montville makes his weekly picks.

So Cliffy isn’t coming back. So be it. Bob Hohler examines the impact Floyd’s declining arbitration will have on the Red Sox. Michael Silverman reports that the Sox are actually very relieved that Floyd decided to decline. He looks ahead to what moves the Sox will now make. David Heuschkel also looks at Floyd and what is next. Using parts of Theo Epstein’s interview with Dale & Neumy yesterday, Art Martone looks ahead to the non-tender free agents. Steve Buckley looks at whats ahead for John Henry Williams and his baseball career. Lenny Megliola looks at former Patriot Ron Burton’s life these days as the Red Sox go into partnership with Burton’s training village. Bob Ryan looks at the Pete Rose mess. Paul Doyle remembers Dr. Strangeglove, Dick Stuart.

Stephen Harris looks at another Bruins loss, the good news is, they at least showed signs of life in the third period of this one. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell reports that the Bruins dressing room was upbeat after the loss. If the Patriots were upbeat after a loss, I think that would be reported as a negative… James Murphy looks at Joe Thornton hitting a crossroads of his career, can he handle the pressure that comes with team struggles while he is the captain? Harris’ notebook looks at Brian Rolston trying to change his luck, and Marrapese-Burrell’s notebook says surgery is in the cards for Samsonov.

Stan Grossfeld recounts the fascinating tale of Bevo Francis. I don’t know about you, but I always get Bevo Francis mixed up with Hank Luisetti. Hmmm, I’m turning into the Steve Buckley of basketball here, bringing up names from the past and tossing them around. Yesterday it was Maurice Stokes, today it’s Hank Luisetti and Bevo Francis. Can anyone tell what part of the library I used to spend my study hall periods in? Francis once scored 113 points in a college game, had there been a three point shot, his total would’ve been 164. Wow. I was pretty surprised to find out that Francis is still alive and that he’s only 70 years old. I guess that’s where the Hank Luisetti stuff comes in, because he played in the 30’s, while Francis was in the 50’s. Actually, as far as I know, Luisetti is still alive too…Not to sound too Simmons-esque, but yes, I’m rambling here. Mark Murphy says the Celtics are the anti-Patriots…beat the good teams and lose to the bad. Shira Springer looks at the reasons for the Celtics struggles. Fatigue, illness, lack of practice time are all factors. Murphy’s notebook has the Celtics, and specifically Tony Delk getting some much needed rest.

John Howell isn’t too impressed with Sean McDonough’s negotiations through the media and his radio show, and implies that McDonough never had any intentions of joining the Mets broadcast team. Jim Baker looks at Paul McGuire, and has a couple other notes. In the spirit of shameless self promotion, here’s my weekly Metro column.

FSNE has Celtics/Timberwolves at 7:30. ESPN has Lakers/Sixers at 8:00 and Suns/Clippers at 10:30.

Baseball talk continues to lead

Baseball talk continues to lead sports radio. Dale & Neumy were talking Cliff Floyd, Bartolo Colon, etc. Theo Epstein joined the program around 1:00 and talked extensively about Floyd, about procedures, Contreras, bullpen help, and addresses whether Nomar’s name came up over the weekend in Nashville. A transcript of the conversation is available on the Boston Dirt Dogs site. On with Eddie and Jags, there was a little more Patriots talk, a few New York area writers appeared on the program, but more and more, at reader Matt pointed out yesterday, the program is simply a forum for Eddie to talk to his pals on the Chrysler-Jeep- Giant Glass-KowLoon-Mohegan Sun of Belmont celebrity hotline, while Dave Jageler sits back and listens, usually silent. The one thing Jageler has been vocal about is the Bird/Belkin group not getting the NBA franchise for his former hometown of Charlotte. Jags says that the city was basically sold a bill of goods by having Larry Bird go down there, get the city excited and then the NBA goes with the Johnson group instead. Without Larry Bird’s name there would be no arena deal or NBA expansion team there. Glen Ordway returned to the Big Show today, joined by Steve DeOssie and Larry Johnson. Football was a big topic there, as was former co-host Lyndon Byers spending time in the big house. As you might imagine a lot of jokes were made at that situation. Sean McDonough was joined by Michael Smith and Kevin Paul Dupont.

Otis Smith has been placed on the IR by the Patriots, ending his season. Richard Seymour, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Adam Vinatieri and special teamer Larry Izzo were named as Pro Bowlers today. Eric McHugh looks at Curtis Martin, likely licking his chops coming in, and we also hear from Patriot types who claim the run defense actually wasn’t that bad Monday Night. David Pevear also looks at the run defense. Hey, have you heard? The season comes down to the last two games for the Patriots. Tom King says so. Mike Lowe agrees with that assessment. Chris Kennedy looks at the challenges facing Tom Brady.

An interesting view on the Charlotte expansion franchise is submitted by Stephen A. Smith. Some interesting quotes in there, such as: “Thing is, Bird partnered himself with a group that didn’t have the funds, according to sources very close to the negotiations. From day one, Bird’s group appeared too eager to engage in a public relations, smoke-and-mirrors campaign.” Mike Fine submits a mini-feature on Pat Riley, his place in the NBA and his battles with the officials. Jeff Thomas looks at Travis Best coming into the Fleet on Springfield night. Fine’s notebook looks at Riley’s comments on Pierce and Walker.

Bill Simmons answers his mailbag. Addressed are questions on feeling old, wearing a suit and jinxing players by wearing their jerseys.

The Red Sox used to

The Red Sox used to have an annual tradition in which they would get slaughtered on Patriots Day. The Celtics are establishing their own tradition…once a year they lose badly an extremely ugly game to the Miami Heat at home. Peter May and Steve Bulpett report on the ten point loss to the Heat. Paul Pierce had another tough night and as Tommy Heinsohn observed, just looks really tired. Jim Greenidge and Gus Martins look at Pierce’s struggles. As predicted, by not getting the Charlotte franchise, Larry Bird’s name became a hot topic locally here. The new owners did their best to throw a wet blanket on any potential return to the hub by Bird. Frank Dell’Apa and Mark Murphy report on Wyc Grousbeck and crew being very happy with how things are being run at the moment. Lenny Megliola takes in the atmosphere of the game last night. Before the game last night, Pat Riley called Antoine Walker the best point forward in the history of the NBA. Gus Martins doesn’t concur with that assessment, but doesn’t offer any names to counter the claim, either. Tommy Heinsohn brought up the name of Maurice Stokes as someone who was better at that role than Antoine. If you’re not familiar with that name, it’d do you some good to do a little research, it’s one of the tragic stories in all of sports history. The history of the NBA might’ve been totally different had Stokes been able to play with Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas, etc. Bulpett’s notebook looks at a local son who got away this summer, Heat guard Travis Best.

Jackie MacMullan questions the Patriots sense of urgency. If they’re the defending champs, she reasons, then they should know what it takes to win the big ones. Of course the two guys she goes to for answers on the team’s performance, Steve Martin and Christian Fauria weren’t even here last year, and have never really played for a real winner. Of all the big-paper guys that are covering the Patriots, I think Michael Felger might be the most balanced. Today, instead of falling in with the popular negativity around the team, he looks at Tom Brady’s confidence and how that puts the team in good stead. It’s not an incredibly insightful article or anything, but it stands out as different because it’s not negative. In contrast to other guys in town who are all doom and gloom, Felger, who can be as nasty as any of them, is consistently more levelheaded. When they’re bad, he says so, and doesn’t hold back. But he also doesn’t always try to spin everything into the worst possible light and take cheap shots at the coaching staff. Last night on the Celtics postgame on FSNE, Felger came on, and was had to fend off Greg “82 dollar haircut” Dickerson, who accused him of making excuses for the Patriots and basically being an apologist for the team. Felger just replied that last year set the expectations for this team impossibly high, so anything they do this year is probably going to be a disappointment, and that we shouldn’t be comparing the two. Felger might not be the most popular guy among his colleagues, and when he talks baseball on WEEI, he never fails to drive me nuts, but on football he’s the best of the Globe/Herald guys. I’m not sure, but that might be termed damning with faint praise. Nick Cafardo hopes no one was listening last week on WWZN when the crowd at Gillette was discussed and if the stadium is a home field advantage. He uses that for his article today. He even quotes callers for it. How lazy is that? Tom Curran writes that both the Jets and Patriots are suffering a bit of an identity crisis. The lightbulb goes on over Karen Guregian‘s head, and she realizes the Patriots need to be able to stop the run in the final two games. Oh yeah, Alan Greenberg says they might want to run the ball themselves, too. George Kimball compares Chad Pennington and Tom Brady. Jim Donaldson sounds like Herm Edwards and tells us the J-E-T-S are not going to quit. Steve DeOssie questions the Patriots mental health. To use the current sports radio buzzword, are they “psychologically damaged”? Cafardo’s notebook looks at Pennington, J.R. Redmond and the injuries. Felger’s notebook has Herm Edwards flashing “44-7” to his players whenever possible, and has Belichick getting a nice dig in at some of the media members. Curran’s notebook also looks at Redmond and some leftover stuff from the Titans game.

A couple weeks ago, leading up to the second Buffalo game, “while listening to Phil Simms drone on about how good Buffalo was” Geoffrey Crawshaw snapped … and created this website. The purpose is to rate local and national media members on their bias for and against the Patriots. No surprise that Ron Borges leads the “against” crowd and Pete Sheppard is the leader of the “for” group. You can add your vote. Makes you wish the Globe hadn’t pulled it’s writers from the Big Show. Imagine seeing Pete Sheppard and Ron Borges go head to head on the Patriots? This needs to happen.

The Bruins also continue to struggle. How soon before some wiseguy media guy says we’ve returned to “loserville”? Steve Conroy and Kevin Paul Dupont provide game stories. In the notebooks, both the Globe and Herald look at Samsonov facing surgery on his wrist and what possible moves that could trigger.

Gordon Edes reports on the Red Sox losing out on Jeff Kent, but now getting word that they’ll likely be free to start negotiating with Cuban ace Jose Contreras very soon. Michael Silverman has a similar article, but leads with Cliff Floyd having until tonight to accept arbitration from the Red Sox. Edes also reports on the signing of Damian Jackson yesterday.

NESN has Bruins/Capitals at 8:00. (ESPN Regionally) TNT has Lakers/Nets at 7:30 and Kings/Spurs at 10:00.FSNE has NE Tailgate at 7:00 and ESPN has the Pro Bowl selection show at 7:00.

A pretty slow day on

A pretty slow day on the sports radio airwaves thus far. Eddie and Jags have submitted an utterly forgetable show thus far…literally. I’ve had it on almost all afternoon and can’t remember anything they’ve talked about. I do recall they had ML Carr and Jan Volk on as guests, both to talk about the Bird/Belkin group, with which they were both associated with, not getting the Charlotte NBA franchise. Volk recalled being told just a day or two ago by someone on the committee after his groups presentation that there “wasn’t much of a choice to make”. He took it as a good sign. Apparently it wasn’t. Pete Sheppard once again filled in for Glen Ordway on the Big Show and was joined by Steve Buckley and Sean McAdam for a lot of baseball talk. Talking about Roger Clemens, Buckley talked about his huge house in Texas with the gym and all, and added at the end, “He hasn’t done too badly for himself since he left here.” Well, Buck, seeing as how the Red Sox twice made him the highest paid player in baseball, he didn’t do too badly while he was here, either. Ron Borges and Steve Burton joined Sean on The McDonough Group. After a slow start, Borges came on strong in the second hour to tell us all the things he told us early in the year about the faults of this Patriots team. Nobody does “I told you so” quite like Ronnie.

Eric McHugh looks at the playoff picture. Jonathan Comey says stick a fork in ’em. Mark Farinella makes the case again for Gino Cappelletti for the Pro Football Hall of fame, and also takes a shot at Gerry Callahan.

Tim Weisberg says Pierce and Walker can’t do it by themselves forever. Del Jones says that these losses to lesser opponents could prove costly.

Bob Halloran has a theory on short names and greatness.