They said they wouldn’t look

They said they wouldn’t look past the Devil Rays yesterday, but might’ve anyway. In football, yesterday would’ve been called a “trap” game. Let the record show that even Glenn Ordway said it was “understandable” that the Sox dropped that game yesterday. David Heuschkel has Jason Varitek saying that looking ahead is something the media does, not the players. Jeff Horrigan says this was a huge downer going into the Yankees series. Kevin McNamara says that the good news is that Mendoza will not pitch in the Yankees series. I think I’d feel better if Mendoza was pitching against the Yankees instead of Burkett. Bob Hohler pretends that he is Britney Spears. Dan Shaughnessy looks at Red Sox/Yankees, a pretty easy read, though really nothing you haven’t read before from Dan. He could’ve also skipped the paragraph that mentions 1918. I think we’re all aware of that number. Tony Massarotti says that Sox/Yankees just keeps getting better, the recent sniping between the clubs just adds spice to the games. Sean McAdam says that while we know these Sox aren’t afraid of the Yankees, they still have to prove that they can win a series from them. Gordon Edes looks at Yankees/Red Sox, and includes comments from Clemens yesterday, doing what he does best, playing dumb. Lenny Megliola looks ahead to what should be a rockin’ weekend at Fenway. Mike Shalin notes that Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano are not sore at Pedro from the last series. Don Amore concurs. Michael Vega looks at yesterday’s Tampa hero, Damian Rolls. Rich Thompson has Varitek making the case that Mendoza didn’t pitch all that bad yesterday. Kevin Gray looks at a disappointing NH day at Fenway. Michael Cousineau reports on the NH festivities at the ballpark. Steve Britt says that NH day was full of bad omens for the Sox. Thompson also looks at Rolls and Antonio Perez who led the charge yesterday. Andy Nesbitt notes that Chad Fox always faces the music. Michael Gee’s pay column says that the Sox lead the league in a statistic called “squanders”. Jackie MacMullan writes the story that has been circulating online and in smaller papers for weeks, namely that of Dan Duquette starring in a rendition of the musical “Damn Yankees”. Hohler’s notebook looks at Pirate concerns over Brandon Lyon’s elbow. The Herald notebook also looks at the situation. The ProJo notebook says Fossum might be headed to Pawtucket to get “stretched out” for a start in August. Heuschkel’s notebook has more on Sox/Yankees.

Yesterday during the WEEI broadcast from Gillette, Ron Hobson was with Dale Arnold, and while the Bill Belichick press conference was still in progress, said that the stories in the papers today would include articles on the safeties, and the nose tackle position. It’s any easy call, given that whatever is the subject of the press conferences usually become your stories for the next day. Still, form held in this situation as Michael Smith writes about the safety tandem of Lawyer Milloy and Rodney Harrison, and Tom Curran writes about the nose tackle spot and who will man that spot when the games start. Alan Greenberg looks at Antowain Smith and his yearly battle with the conditioning run. Smith seems unwilling to talk about it this year, in contrast to last year. Michael Parente also writes about Smith. Shane Donaldson looks at the apparent depth at linebacker. Hector Longo focuses on Mike Cloud’s failure of the conditioning run. Michael Felger’s notebook looks at the lack of information coming from Pats brass, and if that could be construed as leaving players out to dry. Curran’s notebook also looks at the silence on certain issues from Belichick. Smith’s notebook has more on that same topic. Donaldson’s notebook looks at possible help on the way for the offensive line. Parente’s notebook looks at proud papa Joe Klecko.

Shira Springer reports that the Celtics have agreed to a two year deal with second round pick Brandon Hunter. This is good news. Hunter adds something the Celtics have lacked the last few years. Toughness under the hoop. He’s undersized, but battles. Could be similar to Malik Rose. Mark Murphy reports that Danny Ainge isn’t waiting on Travis Best and instead has made an offer to Best’s backup in Miami, Mike James. Murphy also makes an interesting point concerning the Celtic finances:

The new Celtics owners will find it more difficult today to defend their insistence that they're under tight financial constraints.

The club has said it is limited in its free agent options by luxury tax consideration (illustrated by the Best/James decision), but league sources say the team will be getting a total of $14.45 million in rebates.

Murphy goes on to says that the club will also receive an additional 10 million from the increased ticket prices, as well as additional money from the league for the price of the Charlotte expansion team. Interesting.

Bill Griffith looks at WEEI’s continued dominance in the ratings numbers.

UPN38 has Red Sox/Yankees at 7:00. TBS has Braves/Expos at 7:00

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Here’s a nice shot of

Here’s a nice shot of the practice fields down at Gillette Stadium. The picture is pretty big and will probably kill my bandwidth, so it may only be up for a limited time. Thanks to Dan for the shot.

In another meaningless note, I’ve also purchased the domain name bostonsportsmediawatch.com, so anyone going to that address will be directed to this site. Not that anyone would, but it prevents someone else from buying that name.

Bob Hohler reports on Trot

Bob Hohler reports on Trot Nixon stealing the spotlight on Nomar’s birthday. Kevin McNamara notes that Tim Wakefield finally got some run support. Jeff Horrigan says the Sox didn’t let the Rays steal this one from them. David Heuschkel says last night’s game was brought to you by the number seven. Christopher Price gives us the thumbnail account of the game. Kevin Paul Dupont has a look at Trot Nixon, quietly having the best season of his career. Tony Massarotti has a similar piece, noting how Nixon is tough enough to withstand the pressures of playing in Boston. Shira Springer looks at how Tim Wakefield finally got some run support out there. Michael Silverman says Wakefield was due for a lift. Dupont also has a look at Scott Sauerbeck, who made his Red Sox debut last night. Seems KPD is trying establish his own baseball catch phrase, as he uses the term “Hub of Hardball Heartache” for the second time in three days. He does get a decent line in about the Yankees’ “late-night raid of the Pine Valley Senior Home” to get Jesse Orosco. Silverman also has a piece on Sauerbeck, who seems to be saying all the right things in regard to Boston and the Yankees. Dave Wedge reports on the controversy around the QuesTec system. Springer also has a short report on the system, and how Derek Lowe will face a doubly tight strike zone on Sunday night in front of an ESPN audience. Steven Krasner says Rocco Baldelli enjoyed his time off during the All Star Break. David Borges also has a look at Baldelli’s first season. In his third and final segment of the interview with the Red Sox owners, Matt Eagan records their answers on spending money, bringing a World Series title to Boston and small market designations. Mike Giardi says this is the year for the Red Sox. Hohler’s notebook looks at possible rotation shuffling if the game gets rained out today. Horrigan’s notebook has Grady Little noting that Bill Mueller made his first mistake of the entire season the other day. McNamara’s notebook looks at Sauerbeck being caught off guard at coming to Boston. Heuschkel’s notebook also looks at Sauerbeck.

Today is New Hampshire day at Fenway Park. Kevin Gray provides a few stories as to why New Hampshire loves the Red Sox. Vin Sylvia looks at how Carlton Fisk carried the hopes of NH baseball fans on his shoulders during the 1970’s. Eric Emmerling and Sylvia provide a lengthly report on the many ties between NH and the Red Sox over the years.

Dan Shaughnessy puts together a thoroughly enjoyable article about the start of Patriots training camp. Thanks Dan. Even enjoyed the Ron Borges reference. Michael Felger reports that Belichick’s extension was actually done a year ago. He also takes a quick look at the tenure of the coach and his staff and the moves they’ve made in the draft and free agency. Nick Cafardo tries to figure out the mystery of who actually failed the conditioning test. Kevin Mannix says that players not showing up to camp in shape reflects that they do not respect their coach, and says that is of concern. Mike Reiss looks at why the contract extension to Belichick was the right move and what it signals about the organization. Cafardo also reports on the extension, as does Christopher Price. Tom Curran looks at Tom Brady, who seems poised to take the next step in an already impressive young career. Lenny Megliola is just glad football is starting again. Jim Donaldson can’t figure out who the real Patriots are, and doesn’t use his column to solve that problem, either. Curran also reports on Antowain Smith and the conditioning run, notes that Smith might’ve failed it last year on purpose out of superstition, and if the club might be making preparations for his release after failing it for the third year in a row. Michael Parente also weighs in on the run, and tries to read the Belichick tea leaves for answers. Jonathan Comey says that on paper, this is be best team of the Belichick era. Shane Donaldson’s notebook looks at Smith’s failure and has a number of observations from the first day of camp. Parente’s notebook looks at Belichick extension and has notes from the first day of camp. Cafardo’s notebook says that Larry Centers might be brought in for a look during camp. Felger’s notebook has Rodney Harrison introducing himself to Troy Brown and also says future rainy day sessions will not be closed to the public, but instead fans will be able to watch practice from within the stadium on the big screen. Curran’s notebook has more on Belichick’s extension.

Dale Arnold reported leading off his WEEI show this morning from Gillette that Antowain Smith was among those practicing today, indicating that he’s passed the conditioning test.

Mark Murphy reports on Jim O’Brien checking in with Vin Baker.

John Molori looks at coverage of the FleetBoston Classic, and also at Patriots Fifth Quarter, which will air after every game on WBZ4 or UPN38, even after games not carried by WBZ. Molori notes that the shows will be hosted by Bob Lobel, Steve DeOssie and Scott Zolak. I’ll add to that and mention to watch for Bob Nuemeier to be a part of the mix as well, likely both on the pregame shows and the Fifth Quarter shows.

While some of us might already be sick of the Kobe Bryant talk on the airwaves, the on-line community can’t get enough of it. The Lycos 50 notes that searches about Kobe and his accuser are off the charts.

Enough links for ya?

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 1:00.

So did the Yankees really

So did the Yankees really cancel their game quickly so they could avoid facing Roy Halladay last night and also reshuffle their rotation for the Sox this weekend? That was the half-kidding speculation on NESN last night, and on the WEEI broadcast, Jerry and Joe said the Yankees game canceled “awfully quick”. Who knows. The Sox took care of business again, beating the Tigers in between the raindrops. Sean McAdam says good teams beat the teams that they should beat. Jeff Horrigan says the Sox wanted to get last night’s game in and keep their momentum going. Bob Hohler notes that another Grady Little shuffled lineup was able to get the job done. David Heuschkel says it was a familiar tale against the Tigers. Dan Shaughnessy looks at Nomar on his 30th birthday. A generally positive piece, Shaughnessy essentially notes at one point that the media can spin player quotes whichever way it suits them. Sox pick up a lefty specialist, Michael Silverman reports on the acquisition of Scott Sauerbeck. McAdam notes that this trade adds a missing ingredient that the bullpen had lacked. Hohler looks at the trade in all its parts, which had the Sox giving up Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez and picking up Sauerbeck and hard throwing AAA prospect Mike Gonzalez. Heuschkel says the Sauerbeck is already looking forward to playing in Fenway and facing the Yankees. Down in NY, George King reports that Sauerbeck was the first choice of the Yankees, but the Pirates told them the Yankees they didn’t have what it took to acquire him. The Yankees instead picked up 46 year old Jesse Orosco. Kevin Gray feels we should thank Brandon Lyon for all he did for this team this season. Tony Massarotti looks at Derek Lowe, who still made some mistakes last night, and continues to have trouble with left handed batters. Shira Springer says that Lowe has figured out his mechanical problem. Silverman says the Sox will not look past the Devil Rays the next two nights in preparing for the Yankees. John Tomase looks at Carlos Pena, who is on the right path in his big league career. Springer also writes about Gabe Kapler, who is happy with his role here in Boston. Matt Eagan continues his Q&A with Red Sox ownership, talking about the future of Fenway. McAdam’s notebook looks at a cancer-free Tony Cloninger, and has the Sox interested in purchasing some prospects. Horrigan’s notebook says the news on Cloninger was certainly a relief. Hohler’s notebook has Epstein feeling pretty good about the Sox chances. Thank goodness he didn’t say he was feeling a little dangerous right now…

Summer’s over. The Patriots start training camp today. Tom Curran tells us ramblings-style what will and won’t happen during training camp. Michael Smith notes that Pats training camp will have all the comforts of home. Michael Parente looks at how the offseason moves and work have all been preparations for what starts today. Michael Felger looks at the Patriots preparing to bounce back into contention this season. Alan Greenberg looks at some questions and concerns heading into camp. Jon Wallach asks if you’re ready for all of this to begin and lists some things to look for. Dan Pires has 10 questions facing the Patriots as they begin camp. Shane Donaldson has an interesting look at technology in football, how the use of it has changed in the game over the years and what we might see in the future. Ron Borges on MSNBC picks the Pats to finish third in the division. Mike Reiss says this is truly Bill Belichick’s team now. Mark Farinella says this will not be a simple or easy camp for the team. Curran looks at Stephen Neal’s injury and how that impacts the offensive line. Nick Cafardo has part of a 1-1 interview with Matt Light that will appear on the Globe SportsPlus on NESN. Felger completes his camp preview with a look at Special Teams. Cafardo’s notebook has his first controversy and slant against Belichick as he reports on a feud between the coach and team’s field superintendent, leading to the latter’s resignation last week.

Reports last night had the Celtics agreeing to terms with Travis Best, but apparently that is not the case yet. Mark Murphy and Shira Springer report on the courting of the free agent point guard. Christopher Price talks to Marcus Banks about his week in the Reebok Summer league.

Lenny Megliola writes about Phil Burton, making a name for himself in the TV world here in Boston. Jim Donaldson wonders if “Seabiscuit” could mean a boost to local racetracks.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00. ESPN has Cubs/Phillies at 7:00. ESPN2 has Royals/Twins at 7:00. FSNE has Revolution/Crew at 7:30.

I’ve added a few more

I’ve added a few more comments from people regarding yesterday’s letters posted on the web site. I’ve marshaled all of the responses onto another page, where the discussion continues.

To wrap things up, I’ll turn to Howard Bryant once again, as he responds to many of the points brought out on the above page:

It strikes me that one of the central disconnects in this whole discussion is in how it is framed, that the very phrase "CBC" infuriates because it is not wholly accurate, and thus has become part of the media schtick. Using that abbreviation gets the discussion off on the wrong foot, usually irreparably.

As I've said in the past, I AGREE with the James argument that the closer should be used best when the game is on the line. What has always perplexed me is that everyone knows that the save statistic is essentially meaningless, yet executives have allowed it to raise the salaries of relief pitchers for the past 15 years. But the Red Sox first attempted this new strategy without a proven closer at all. The theory is solid. The execution was not.

Should people apologize for being wrong on the bullpen? Of course, not. They *weren't* wrong, because the current 'pen is very different in personnel and in use than when the season began. The club remained flexible in trying to solve the problem, and it appears that they have.

That's what good organizations are supposed to do.

As for the rest of the discussion about our business, I've found it very interesting being back in Boston how much time is spent on the personalities of the writers, a phenomenon very different than in other cities I've worked.

Someone asked how I feel about a writer calling someone a "piece of junk." I don't advocate that, and I wouldn't do it.

Another person suggested that sports reporters aren't "serious" journalists, for those folks are covering the "real world." I don't think that is particularly fair.

When I worked in Oakland, I stopped covering murders b/c it hurt being in a woman's house minutes after her eight-year old was killed in crossfire, asking for quotes.

I covered technology for the San Jose Mercury News, responsible for networking and explaining the ramifications of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was daunting and I think made me a better reporter.

I switched to sports not because I couldn't handle it, or wanted to watch Jason Giambi stand around in his underwear, but because I wanted to write a book on the history between black players and the Red Sox, and being in the game was the only way to reach those sources. Are there people in the biz who cover sports 'cause they like being around this lifestyle? Absolutely yes. Are there writers who don't have the chops to cover complex subjects, so they cover sports? Yes, to that. But people cover different subjects for different reasons. Bob Hohler at the Globe covered the Clinton White House. My favorite assignment was covering the video game industry, because of the wonderfully creative people, and because playing games for a living was *fun!* And when someone died, you could hit the reset button and start again.

Sorry for the long post!

HB

I want to thank Howard for taking the time to respond both to the original piece and to the reactions that it spawned. He brought up a couple things that I was going to mention, namely that he himself had covered news other than sports, and that Bob Hohler came over from the news side of the business. Hohler certainly didn’t make the change because he couldn’t handle what he was doing.

I think this exchange has been productive. I wish other media people would take the time to attempt to explain some of their viewpoints, and help the readers to understand where they’re coming from on different issues. A couple writers in the past had agreed to answer a few questions for this site, in which I hoped to let them do just that. They never answered the questions I sent to them. Others have offered to do a chat type discussion here, and I may take them up on their offers.

Bob Hohler says at least

Bob Hohler says at least the Tigers can take their whippings like men. Michael Silverman says the Sox offense is alive and well. In the same article, John Burkett notes his stellar record when the Sox score 10 or more runs for him…Paul Kenyon says Grady Little is among those surprised at how well his team can hit. David Heuschkel notes that this one was put away early. Kevin Paul Dupont provides some musings over Fenway and baseball. Yes, he does tell us again that Pedro and Manny don’t speak to the media. Some of the others are fairly interesting, in a 1960’s sort of way. Rich Thompson says John Burkett is making it difficult for the Sox to replace him. Sean McAdam expands on that, noting the Sox might be best off just sticking with the Mike O’Connell lookalike. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell also chimes in on Burkett. Matt Eagan has the script from an hour long discussion that John Henry and Tom Werner had with Courant reporters and editors yesterday. Issues discussed include NESN and minor league baseball in CT. Mike Shalin looks at trying times for Alan Trammell. Kelvin Ma looks at Todd Walker finally breaking out of his slump. Michael Gee’s pay column tells us that Grady Little did all he could not to run up the score and have to apologize to another opposing manager. Thompson also has a piece on Damian Jackson, who accepts his role and will play and do whatever he is asked. John Tomase looks at the transformation of the bullpen, and debunks at least one myth that Bill James critics like to espouse. Ma also has a bit on former Sox farmhand Mike Maroth, who is eager to face the Sox at Fenway tonight. The Herald notebook reports that Tony Cloninger is cancer free. They also have the Sox looking at a couple of Reds relievers. Hohler’s notebook has Jeremy Giambi looking to break out of a season long funk. Kenyon’s notebook says that Giambi was able to get off to a good start with last night’s performance. Heuschkel’s notebook also looks at Giambi.

Gerry Callahan says Kobe has finally been exposed for the phony that he is. His pay column looks at Kobe’s carefully crafted image and the press conference with his wife, which Callahan describes as a “bad school play”. He says:

It was all up to Kobe, who sure was glad he didn't throw out last year's Christmas cards. Where else could he have found this kind of prose? I mean, Kobe, come on. You are the air that I breathe? Was that your idea? A piece of my heart? My backbone? A blessing? Where did you get that, from one of Air Supply's greatest hits?

"You're the strongest person I know,'' Kobe said, directly addressing his wife.

That probably means she could go to Colorado for three days without jumping on the front desk clerk. In Kobe's world, that's real strength.

Jim Donaldson goes after Lawyer Milloy, saying he is all talk, and that his numbers don’t indicate that he is worth anywhere near what he is getting paid. Basing performance on statistics? The horror. Michael Felger looks at the secondary for the Patriots with Milloy and Ty Law both perhaps entering their final season with the Pats, are replacements being lined up? Tom Curran looks at the release of Derek Watson, and the signing of all the draft picks. Shane Donaldson provides a Patriots Checklist heading into training camp. He looks at players with something to prove, sleepers and competitive positions. Nick Cafardo looks at the deal signed by top pick Ty Warren, which contains protection for both the team and player. Felger’s notebook looks at an injury to Guard Stephen Neal, who may miss up to three months of the season. He also looks at other injuries on the O-line.

Mark Murphy looks at the mutual interest between Travis Best and the Celtics. Lenny Megliola wonders if the Vin Baker story can have a happy ending.

Frank Dell’Apa looks at a US tour of the elite soccer clubs of Europe.

Bill Griffith looks at coverage of the Tour De France.

NESN has Red Sox/Tigers at 7:00. TBS has Cubs/Braves at 7:30.

A few items for people

A few items for people trying to escape the Kobe talk…

After the letter this morning, here are a couple rebuttals, First as presented by Matthew Martinelli:

The letter published today on your website by Kevin Gilligan is not only an insult to those who have entered the journalism field, but also an insult to those who drop a few quarters down each day to read those journalists. His shoddy stereotyping of all writers as not very bright and his claim that no sports writer ever got a job awarded on merit is one of the most outrageous claims I have ever heard. To let you know how the process usually works it is basically, a few years covering high school sports at a minor paper, then covering major league sports at a minor paper and then a jump to a major metro.

It is utterly ridiculous how much flak sportswriters in this town get. Have Boston sports fans ever read other papers? The quality of the coverage in the Boston Globe and the Herald far surpasses just about any other papers in the country. The constant criticism of hall-of-fame caliber writers such as Shaughnessy and Ryan may sometimes be merited, but it is often not. The criticism comes from an interior feeling in some sports fans around here that they know more about the local teams than anyone else. They're simply jealous of many sportswriters for having a pretty nice job.

Note: Mr. Gilligan, who wrote the letter from this morning, has a doctorate in molecular biology. While that may not qualify him to judge sports writing, I feel fairly certain that he is happy with what he’s accomplished in life, and isn’t too jealous of the sports writers. I would also concede that the Boston writers for the most part, are far above the quality found in many other cities. That’s not the issue here. At issue is the personal attacks and negative reporting style that flourishes among them.

Next, Howard Bryant, who has been critical of Bill James in the past, has a response to the letter of this morning. With his permission, here it is:

I wanted to respond to your item today about Bill James. I know you or the letter you quoted doesn't refer to me by name, but I thought for clarity's sake, writing might do some good.

First, I am not a Bill James hater, or a basher, or a person who has any real philosophy about his value. I wrote critically last week of him not because of his theories, or his intellect, but of his lack of tact. There is a big difference there.

James, this season, has been on a real and noticeable campaign to draw attention to himself and by doing so is fair game to be scrutinized. Just like everyone else. His joint-book tour with Michael Lewis, I thought, was inappropriate, as is the Red Sox decision to let Lewis throw out the first pitch this Friday against the Yankees.

What I don't understand about him is why he _ and the writer of the letter in today's article _ needs to attack the intelligence level of people who disagree with him. Why is his word unassailable? Why can he call Don Zimmer a "Neanderthal" but cannot be questioned himself? This, I don't understand.

The comment that people who cover sports "aren't very bright" offers the kind of "axe-grinding" James-bashers are supposed to be guilty of. I never said I was smart, or played baseball at a high-level, but neither has Bill James.

Why is a person who is skillful at analyzing data untouchable in evaluating the full scope of a baseball player, the heart, the preparation, the desire, the mentality? Like virtually everything else, James offers a valuable perspective that should be respected. but he can be disagreed with, can't he? To say that clutch hitting, as James and Billy Beane do, is merely luck, is nonsense. Does that make me an idiotic James basher who simply is too unevolved to know better?

No matter how you choose to interpret it, the CBC, as applied by the Red Sox this season, was a failure. Does this mean James is a failure? No. Does it mean we can all gloat about it? No. Does it mean that with better pitchers, it will still fail? No. But it does mean that during the winter and at the beginning of spring training, he and Theo Epstein not only promulgated an idea, but did so with an intellectual smarminess that offended many people in the game. That's a fact.

We all have our axes to grind, no question about that. James does, too, especially (and sometimes rightfully) at the Lords of Baseball for how they treated him over the years. But I think it is quite simplistic to take issue with James critics as knuckle-dragging morons. That sounds more like how James himself would consider any one who differs from he in opinion.

Fair enough. I suggested to Mr. Bryant that perhaps the average fan or reader might not be aware of the things that he describes here. They just read James’ book, and then read unflattering things about him in their local newspaper. They’re not sure of the reasons why, and thus conclude that the writers must be threatened and scared by James’ intellect. (Which still might be a factor in the whole equation.) Bryant then told me to feel free to put his thoughts on-the-record.

Couple other things. Remember the big stink Gordon Edes made about the Red Sox lack of African-American players? The Toronto Blue Jays have been fighting similar accusations. Boston media pal J.P. Ricciardi has been under a small spotlight in this area. Bob Elliot reports on the story. One paragraph:

This spring a scout cracked "so how are things covering the Boston Celtics?" The implication was that new Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, highly unpopular in the scouting fraternity after firing so many scouts in 2002, was making the Jays like the Celtics, who concentrated on white players.

The issue, similar to the Red Sox this spring, appears to have no real legs, though I wonder if the recent Stewart for Kielty trade raised any eyebrows. (Thanks to Ryan Baker for the article.)

Jeff Merron of ESPN Page2 grades Fenway Park.