Michael Holley and Jackie MacMullan play point…counterpoint on the effects of the Sox not landing A-Rod in the offseason. Holley says not getting A-Rod was the best thing that could’ve happened to the Sox this offseason, while MacMullan says that A-Rod was the perfect fit for what the Red Sox needed. Jeff Horrigan says that despite injuries this spring, the Sox are optimistic heading into the season opener Sunday night. David Heuschkel says that for the first time in his career, Curt Schilling is listening to and deferring to his catcher. It speaks to the influence of Jason Varitek. David Borges also looks at Schilling allowing Varitek to call the game. The Projo has its Red Sox 2004 Preview up today. It’s supposed to be a preview anyway. In my opinion there is way too much looking back at game 7. Sean McAdam says the loss made the Sox resolve to win this year stronger. Art Martone says the numbers seem to add up for the Sox this year. There are also articles on Terry Francona, pro and con, the front office, Ellis Burks and a comparison with the Yankees. Bob Hohler looks at the history between Schilling and Kevin Brown. Gerry Callahan has a pay column this morning saying that we’ll find out what the Sox stars are made of this year. Dan Shaughnessy writes that Keith Foulke, who has struggled this spring, will be judged almost solely on what he is able to do against the Yankees. Gordon Edes says the Red Sox and Yankees are joined forever, for bitter or for worse. Shaughnessy also has a column on the Red Sox/Yankees and their influence on pop culture. Horrigan’s notebook looks at the ongoing spring struggles of Keith Foulke. Hohler’s notebook also focuses on Foulke.

A few people have made comment about the remarks made by Peter Gammons on WEEI yesterday afternoon. I didn’t hear them personally, but when I did listen to the Big Show, it was obvious that they were generating a lot of reaction. Apparently the view was that Gammons downplayed the steroid issue and the effect that steroids have had on the power numbers in the game.

The Bruins managed a 3-3 tie with the Capitals last night, but the big story is the health of Joe Thornton. Steve Conroy, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Joe McDonald have the game details. Douglas Flynn says the tie is costly in the Bruins playoff standings race. The Herald goes after the Thornton injury angle much harder than the Globe does. Karen Guregian looks at the fear around the injury to Thornton, which is being described as a “rib injury”. Stephen Harris says details are hard to come by in this injury. Ron Indrisano looks at Glen Murray, who despite his 31st goal of the season, isn’t pleased with the outcome last night. Harris also has a look at Sergei Samsonov, who has a little more time to get ready for the playoffs than he did last year. Marrapese-Burrell’s notebook looks at Andrew Raycroft winning the seventh player award. Conroy’s notebook also looks at the honor to the rookie goalie. McDonald’s notebook looks more at the injury to Thornton.

Michael Felger and Michael Smith have the details of Bill Belichick denying the report by Ron Borges in yesterday’s Globe claiming that the Patriots have a conditional deal in place with the Lions to move up the sixth pick in the draft. Michael Parente also has a piece on the denial and a couple other Patriot notes. Kevin Mannix has Dennis Erickson (who recruited him) heaping praise on Oregon State running back Steven Jackson. Speaking of the draft, if you haven’t had a chance yet, check out the work done on the BSMW Draft Central page. I really had nothing to do with it, but the people who worked on it have produced a top-notch site, which could hold claim to being one of the best out there. Jackie MacMullan looks at how Tom Brady has virtually disappeared this offseason, in contrast to the offseason following the Patriots first championship.

Celtics links are over at Fox Sports Net.

Bill Griffith looks at all the options available for following the Sox this year. Dave Scott is headed to the Final Four and filed his Friday Edition of Scott’s Shots before he headed out. Lenny Megliola remembers former Daily News sports editor Richard B. Dew III, who passed away on March 29th.

Bob Ryan approves of the Final Four teams. A good mixture of basketball history, tradition and “semiupstart stuff” among the four schools.

FSN has Celtics/Warriors at 7:30. NESN has Red Sox/Braves at 7:00. ESPN has Cavs/Bucks at 8:30.