The gloves are off. Vin Baker is suspended, and it is open season on he and Chris Wallace. Gerry Callahan puts the blame for all of this firmly on Chris Wallace’s shoulders. Callahan on WEEI this morning described Baker’s problem with alcohol as a “lack of willpower” and repeatedly called him a “fat lazy slob”. He talked about people making up illnesses. I thought everyone said how Baker was “trying hard” this season? I did laugh though when Callahan said this morning that “it’s only a matter of time before they spank the horse and string him (Wallace) up in this town.” Steve Bulpett smells trouble from the players association on the horizon for this one. One agent can’t fathom how Baker would agree to this “suspension” when alcohol isn’t covered under the CBA. Peter May says that if the Celtics had simply called around they would’ve likely been talked out of trading for Baker. Shira Springer deserves credit for being the first one with this story, yesterday, today she again weighs in with details of the meeting. (Baker’s agent wasn’t at these meetings?) Lenny Megliola wonders if we’ll ever see Baker on the Celtics bench again. He also wonders why Baker hadn’t spoken with O’Brien yet. He gets a couple lines from Baker’s college coach, who says Vin wasn’t a problem. Jeff Jacobs and Alan Greenberg report on the matter for Baker’s home state newspaper. Jacobs says Baker needs to take as long as he needs to get himself recovered and ready to play again. Tim Weisberg looks at the Baker saga and a few other Celtic items. Carolyn Thornton has the story in the Projo, with quotes from Antoine. Walker’s quotes appear in other articles, most notably in Bulpett’s article, where Bulpett indicates that Walker has been critical of O’Brien for his handling of Baker. Michael Gee is critical of the Celtics for leaking the story that he would be suspended for alcohol before actually having the meeting with Baker. He also adds perhaps the most simple, succinct wrapup of the situation:
Baker didn't have his first beer when he got off the plane at Logan. If he had such a serious problem, and GM Chris Wallace didn't find out about it before acquiring Baker from Seattle, that's a fireable offense. Period.
Jeff Horrigan covers Pedro’s first batting practice session of the spring which left minor leaguers in awe. It certainly appears that Martinez has the old swagger back, something he didn’t have this time last year. David Heuschkel also covered the session, among other things in his story today. Howard Bryant reports on the shellacking that Jose Contreras took yesterday, but in the end, the Yankees are still happy to have him, as evidenced by Brian Cashman: “And maybe they’re smiling up in Boston, too, because he did. But I’ll say this: We’re still happy we’ve got him.” Gordon Edes looks at Rule 5 draftee Matt White, and his New England roots. Bob Hohler looks at team-first guy Bill Mueller, who, if he doesn’t beat out Hillenbrand at third base will also backup Todd Walker at second. Sean McAdam says that Tim Wakefield is very happy to know exactly what his role is – a starter and nothing else. Tony Massarotti wonders if Robert Person could be the next Flash Gordon in the bullpen. They’re very similar type pitchers, strong arm, great curveball. Karen Guregian weighs in on the Ephedra issue. Hohler’s notebook looks at the preseason opener last night. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Millar’s apology to the Japanese team. McAdam’s notebook has more on Pedro’s batting practice session.
Kevin Mannix says the heat is on Pioli and Belichick to rebuild the Patriots. Wake me when you come across something new in there. Tom Curran floats a few names that the Patriots might be interested in. Alan Greenberg takes a look at the Patriots positions of need and who might be able to fill them. Nick Cafardo provides the cap numbers for the deals restructured by the Patriots yesterday. Curran’s notebook also deals with Johnson, McGinest and Pleasant. Mannix also has a notebook in which he looks at the new deals.
Kevin Paul Dupont and Steve Conroy report on the latest depressing Bruins loss. James Murphy doesn’t know if it is right that Ftorek’s head is on the chopping block here. Dupont’s notebook looks at the return of Hal Gill, as does Conroy’s notebook.
Ron Borges, writing about something he actually enjoys, submits an extensive look at the animosity that has been festering and finally exploded yesterday between the camps of John Ruiz and Roy Jones Jr. George Kimball has a shorter look at the melee, but describes Ruiz’s wardrobe for us:
Ruiz, brandishing an oversized cigar, wore a satin jacket with a matching satin cap, tuxedo pants and black high-heeled shoes to the weigh-in. It was hard to tell whether he was trying to dress like a pimp or had just raided Don King's wardrobe.
Is the “Quiet man” trying to shake his image? Jim Baker says HBO isn’t too impressed with Ruiz as a fighter, labeling him “boring”.
The Week That Was wraps up the battles of the week in the media circus.
FSNE has Celtics/Raptors at 8:00. ESPN has Magic/Knicks at 8:00 and Clippers/Blazers at 10:30. ESPN Classic reviews game five of the 1976 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Suns at 7:00.