Patriots say good bye to O-T-I-S. Thanks for the memories. 13 years (so far) in the NFL, not bad for a guy who wasn’t even drafted. Tom Curran looks at Smith’s career and what led to the tough decision yesterday. Nick Cafardo obtains some quotes from Smith’s agent and gets a sprinkling of reaction among players who would comment. Alan Greenberg contributes a piece on Smith, says a couple of his teammates were “burned” by the move and claims that management told the rookie cornerbacks not to comment on the situation. I thought rookies just weren’t supposed to talk to the media period during training camp…Michael Parente calls this move the most difficult of Bill Belichick’s three year tenure with the club. Christopher Price says the move was tough for Belichick because Smith was one of “his guys”. Michael Gee wraps up the coverage of the hard decision to let Smith go. Jon Wallach will miss Otis. Hector Longo does another Ron Borges impression. The Herald notebook reports that the team has agreed to a contract with guard Corbin Lacina, and are now looking at James “Big Cat” Williams as a possibility. Parente’s notebook also looks for O-Line help. Cafardo’s notebook looks at Bethel Johnson, while Curran’s notebook has more on Johnson.
The biggest laugh I got last night was while browsing through SOSH and one poster noted that he would trade Todd Walker for the second baseman on the Saugus Little League in a heartbeat….maybe Steven Krasner would as well, as he says Walker just doesn’t have it. Gordon Edes looks at the importance of this homestand. Gerry Callahan has a pay column in which he says many of the same things. Dan Shaughnessy looks at Derek Lowe. Steve Buckley has a pay column that looks at some of the new changes at Fenway that are in place for this homestand. You can get pretty much the same information by reading Jimmy Golen’spiece for the AP. Tony Massarotti looks at how dramatically better the Sox are at home, and how they’ll need to be during this stretch. David Heuschkel says a .500 homestand will not cut it. In an article that no doubt has John Meterparel beaming, Jeff Horrigan notes that Gabe Kapler is a good Jewish role model. John Tomase looks at the playoff chase as the teams come down the stretch. Horrigan’s notebook looks at how Grady Little’s contract status is still up in the air.
A couple new Football Outsiders articles up. One is an AFC West preview and the other is a look at how different receivers fared with starting QBs vs. backup QBs last year…helpful in light of the Michael Vick injury.
NESN has Red Sox/A’s at 7:00.
A few people have inquired, both with me and in other forums about Peter King’s comments at the end of his MMQB column today in which he mentions Chris Mortensen:
Hey, Chris Mortensen! Wow, what happened? Get well! All the best to you, Mort. You've got to stick around to see a redshirt college season, and then four more good ones from your pride and joy. Really, be well.
The answer is that Mortensen nearly died a couple weeks ago from a tick bite. Rudy Martzke had the story last week.
Sox come back from the coast only slightly worse in the standings from when they left. Steven Krasner says they’ll try to make up that lost ground on this huge homestand. David Heuschkel says that while the trip wasn’t a disaster, you can’t call winning three of seven a success, either. Gordon Edes wraps up yesterday’s getaway day loss. I had a feeling there was no way they could win yesterday. This team seems to have a thing about either looking ahead or whatever it is, feeling good about salvaging the trip, that they seem to lose focus at times. Seems struggling pitchers can have some huge days against this vaunted offense. Freddy Garcia retiring 17 in a row, with how badly he’s been struggling? Some of the talk on the pregame shows was how the Sox can feel good about coming back on the trip after having lost the first two, regardless of what happened yesterday. Red Flags went up all over the place for me when I heard that. Jeff Horrigan looks at yesterday as the disappointing conclusion to a rough trip. Tony Massarotti says things occurred just about as they should have on this trip, any hopes of the Sox going out and storming the west coast with those team’s starters and home records would be irrational. Dan Shaughnessy says the bats have to come around, and quick. At the same time, he reminds us of the failure of past Red Sox “offensive juggernauts.” John Tomase looks at Byung-Hyun Kim unique delivery and the exceptional results it produces. Massarotti looks at another rough inning for Burkett that did him in. Heuschkel’s notebook looks at how this trip did in the Red Sox hitters. Horrigan’s notebook looks at a big performance from Freddy Garcio, who was on the trading block not long ago, with the Sox an interested party. Edes’ notebook looks at Nomar’s struggles and the younger Pesky brother.
Ron Borges looks at the positives from Saturday night’s Patriots preseason victory. A good, fair article from Borges, good analysis, acknowledgment of the shortcomings, but not going over the top with them. Michael Felger looks at the new and improved pass rush, something Belichick teams haven’t really known for. Tom Curran says that while the Patriots have shown flashes of brilliance in the preseason, it certainly isn’t enough to be able to draw any solid conclusions on. Alan Greenberg looks at the run defense, and does draw the conclusion that the Patriots are in for a rough time the next time they play the Redskins in the regular season and also against all the AFC East teams. They should just shut it down right now. Michael Parente also looks at the discouraging signs from Saturday night. Hector Longo has a look at each key member of the offensive line. A pretty good read. Kevin Mannix says the Patriots should go after Orlando Pace to stabilize the offensive line. Nick Cafardo looks at the running back competition and a number of other items in his notebook. Felger’s notebook looks at the Pats likely signing of Corbin Lacina to shore up the offensive line and has Belichick dishing out some praise for rookie center Dan Koppen. My own early feelings are that this draft has the potential to be a grand slam for the Patriots. Yes, there have only been two preseason games, but the names have been featured prominently, and that’s not something you always heard in the past. Ty Warren, Eugene Wilson, Asante Samuel, Dan Klecko, Bethel Johnson, Dan Koppen. It appears that’s six guys that can immediately bring something to the team and make a contribution. Then you have someone like Kliff Kingsbury who could possibly be a project that could bring future rewards. Yes, it’s incredibly early and some of these guys may not be playing when the real games start, but overall that seems to be a nice young group with potential. The team has stockpiled picks for next year as well.
Joe Gordon looks at Shaun Micheel breaking through at the PGA Championship. Jim McCabe has another look. Karen Guregian looks at the continued struggles of Tiger Woods. Bob Halloran says that Tiger is overrated.
ESPN has Angels/White Sox at 8:00. Little League fans can catch the Saugus squad at 7:00 on ESPN2, taking on Boynton Beach, FL. NESN has the Pawsox taking on the Rochester Red Wings at 7:00.
Here’s your Sunday night sports shows.
Well, it is preseason for the broadcasters and producers of Patriots games as well, and that was evident by the expected few glitches, misinformation and gaffes. The most glaring of the latter came when WCVB totally missed the single most electrifying play of the game, the 98 yard kickoff return by Bethel Johnson for a touchdown. A Volkswagen Bug commercial was shown instead of the play. Then they showed one quick replay of the return and rushed off to another set of commercials. There seemed to be an effort to squeeze as many commercials in as possible, even more than usual. They put in commercials during the replay review and generally got them in whenever they could. That Ford commercial with the jingle from Journey is tired already…On a positive note, Randy Cross was not nearly as annoying as I feared he would be. I did not find myself pining away for the days of Jerry Glanville to return…
Afternoon links? Yes. A mini-edition, anyway. Just a reward for all those who had to sit through four hours of Bill Burt on with Dale. (Ok, he wasn’t that bad, I’m just being a wiseguy.) I’m working on a feature I hope to have up sometime early next week.
Eric McHugh looks at Troy Brown, who still wants to return punts. Tom King looks for a big sophomore season from Daniel Graham. Dave D’Onofrio looks for clues at a recent Patriots practice.
Bill Simmons answers his mailbag.
What can I say about Manny? The last two games have featured two huge clutch home runs. Steven Krasner says this one “zooms right to the top of the list of the numerous emotional, improbable and important wins the Boston Red Sox have racked up this season.” David Heuschkel looks at Manny’s home run, as well as a bunch of other key moments that led to the win yesterday. Jeff Horrigan says the blackout on the east coast coincided with a sudden power surge on the west coast. Bob Hohler says yesterday may have been a memorable crossroads for this team in its push towards the playoffs. Tony Massarotti looks at the Red Sox winning formula: “Mannyball”. Gordon Edes looks at Alan Embree, who cleaned up his own mess quite nicely yesterday. Edes also hints that he and the rest of the media never had a moment’s doubt about the Sox after they dropped the first two games:
"Everybody after two games had us counted out of the wild card," said Embree, who fortunately was not asked to produce evidence of these supposed write-offs.
Massarotti also looks at the escape by Embree from the eighth inning yesterday. Michael Silverman thinks that Bronson Arroyo could be a great candidate for a callup based on his performance this season in Pawtucket which includes a perfect game. Heuschkel’s notebook looks at Grady tinkering with his rotation to get Pedro in twice against the Yankees. Krasner’s notebook has more on Embree. Horrigan’s notebook has a look at Gabe Kapler’s contributions yesterday as well a number of other items. Hohler’s notebook looks at another steady performance by Tim Wakefield.
Nick Cafardo looks at the Patriots coordinators, neither of whom are signed (that we know of…remember Belichick got an extension a year ago and we never heard a peep about it.) beyond this season. Cafardo makes the case that media hype and fan attention are what get assistants promoted to head coaching positions. He uses this premise to subtly criticize the Patriots practice to not allow assistant coaches to speak to the media. This, he concludes, is why Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis are not head coaches by now. Of course Bill Parcells had and has the exact same policy, and it’s ok for the Tuna, but not for Belichick. Whatever. Belichick got a head coaching gig while under those same conditions. Alan Greenberg looks at Ty Law, who remains as confident and entertaining as ever. But will be he be around here much longer? Michael Felger looks at few position battles that will be looked at Saturday night. Ian M. Clark looks at the wideout position, which is one of the competitive areas. Tom Curran looks at the battle among the two punters in camp. Michael Parente looks at the serious work beginning with the training camp portion of the preseason officially over. Felger’s notebook looks at the linebacker position, which is another area of depth for the Pats. Curran’s notebook looks at wide receiver DeVeren Johnson picked up Wednesday after having been released by Parcells and the Cowboys. Parente’s notebook says the offense has some work to do to catch up to the offense. Cafardo’s notebook also looks at the punter competition.
Lenny Megliola reports on the Old Time Baseball Game. Luke Meredith keeps it on the down Lowe in the Unsilent Majority.
UPN38 has Red Sox/Mariners at 10:00. (ESPN nationally) CBS has Packers/Browns preseason football at 8:00.