09.15.04 Afternoon Links

Some news and notes from the afternoon papers. Mike Fine looks at the rookie pitchers that have done in the Red Sox this season. The list isn’t pretty.

Roberto Novoa of Detroit, Kevin Gregg of Anaheim, Jimmy Gobble of Kansas City, Erik Bedard of Baltimore, Bobby Madritsch of Seattle and now Scott Kazmir of the D-Rays have stuck it to a team that one wouldn't expect to be a stickee.

Likewise, Chaz Scoggins jokes that perhaps the Yankees should bring up their AAA starters for this weekend series. Bob Stern says that the Devil Rays were supposed to be easy pickin’s for the Sox. Guess not. Yeah…the Rays laid down nicely for the Yankees last week…Alan Greenwood also has a look at the frustrating loss at Fenway last night. Eric Wilbur insists “this is not a Pedro-Roger (Clemens) comparison”, yet that’s exactly what he does, spending 700 words on the subject. Scott Kerman has a look at Nomar in Chicago. Fine’s notebook looks at the rotation for the upcoming Yankees series. Greenwood’s notebook also looks at the rotation.

In the Patriots links department…Mark Farinella has a look at the NFL Network and the future of NFL broadcasting. A pretty good and informative article if you can get past the digs at Bill Belichick.

Let's face it, the people in the NFL Network's front office must wince every time they run one of Bill Belichick's monotone monologues. The league has the likes of Andy Reid, Jon Gruden, Dick Vermeil and Bill Parcells in its coaching ranks, all of whom are more entertaining on their worst days than Belichick on his best, but none of them have won two Super Bowls in the past three years.

Was that necessary? Later he makes reference to Belichick “droning on”. His inclusion of Andy Reid in that group is curious as well, as Dave from Philly Sports Media Watch has told me that reporters down there hate dealing with Reid. He gives them nothing and is totally boring. (As evidence, check out yesterday’s post mortem of Reid’s press conference.) So what’s Farinella basing things on? From that link it appears he’s pulling names out of the air. I would disagree that Belichick is boring in his press conferences, most of the time its idiot questions that bring down the level of of the sessions. Give Belichick a good question and the answer can be fascinating. Here’s an example from yesterday’s press conference:

Q: Can you talk about the maturation of Eugene Wilson?

BB: Well, I think Eugene was able to spend a lot of time this year during training camp at the safety position, something he didn't do last year. He spent really all of his time at corner. This year we kind of split it between safety and corner. He still has some corner responsibilities even when he plays safety, and we know that if we have to play him at corner that he's trained to do that and has the skill and confidence to do it. I think his versatility back there has been a really big plus for us defensively. I thought he played well against the Colts. But that's one of those positions where, you talk about situational players, that's really what a safety is. He gets four, five, six plays a game, usually, that he can be a factor on. How he does on those handful of plays determines whether he plays well or not. The other 50 can be great, but if he's not really threatened or challenged on those plays, it doesn't really make any difference. I could be back there. If the ball never gets there, it doesn't matter. Those handful of plays when he has to make the play or is involved in the play, then those are big plays. If he missed them we give up a lot of yards or a lot of points. If he makes them, we don't. I'm not saying just Wilson, any safety. That's the nature of the position, so it's very situational. Sometimes the best thing a safety can do is not be involved in any plays. That means he's in position. That means that the quarterback isn't trying to challenge him in that part of the field because it looks like it's pretty securely defended, and [it means] in the running game that the people up front are doing a good enough job at keeping the ball from getting back to him. It's hard to evaluate a safety just on production alone. You get into that a lot in college when you're evaluating guys. A guy has a lot of production, well, sometimes that's good thing, and sometimes that isn't a good thing. It just depends on the circumstances that that production is coming in. But it can be frustrating. I think that's why those guys have to play with a lot of discipline. I think Eugene does that. For a young guy he's pretty smart, and he's pretty disciplined and pretty mature that you try to run around and make plays that you shouldn't be making and pretty soon you end up giving up plays that you really shouldn't be giving up. There's an element of playing the defense, playing within the system, being there to make the plays that you need to make without taking yourself and exposing the position to try to do something that isn't really your primary responsibility. So, that level of maturity and understanding and discipline is a key for that spot.

Real information, some humor, yet largely ignored. Reading some of the transcripts of the conferences is very educational for a football fan, yet very little of it gets into the papers. Why? Because the writers job is to get news and sensational items into their stories. Belichick won’t give that to them. But he will share deep thoughts on the technical aspects of the game and what happens on the field. Yet you rarely see those thoughts in the paper. Editors must’ve concluded that that the average Patriots fan is too dumb or disinterested in that part of the game and wouldn’t read it. So the writers like Farinella complain that Belichick is monotone and makes their job harder. Crybabies. You get paid to write about sports for a living. You’re covering a championship team, and you have to harp on the fact that you don’t think the coach is fun to listen to.

Eric McHugh looks ahead to what should be the keys to Patriots/Cardinals on Sunday. Sports Illustrated looks at Ty Law’s offseason training. McHugh’s notebook looks at the rotation of the offensive lineman last Thursday night. In other news, Belichick and Carolina coach John Fox will be featured and interviewed on “60 Minutes” this Sunday night.

Win Bates looks at the NHL as it readies to put itself out of business.

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Beginner’s Luck?

In the finest Red Sox tradition their bats were once again shut down by a pitching prospect recently up from the minors. How many times has this happened over the years? Does it happen to all teams? Actually….Sean McAdam has the answers for us. He tells us that after last night, the Red Sox are now 0-6 against rookie starters they’ve never faced before. Gordon Edes says that Scott Kazmir and the Devils Rays took the fun out of Fenway last night. Michael Silverman looks at Pedro getting outdueled by Kazmir. Steven Krasner says the Red Sox offense has suddenly dried up in the last two games. Paul Doyle also has the 0-6 stat and wonders if the Sox are looking ahead to the weekend already. David Borges and Garry Brown have the remaining game stories from Fenway Park.

Lenny Megliola says last night was a downer for Sox fans, yet he says they’re all inexplicably pulled in anyway.

There is thinking like that now because once more Sox fans have been suckered in, swayed, brainwashed, hypnotized into believing that This Is The Year. You would have thought that the fans would be more guarded than ever after last October's colossal nervous breakdown.

Thanks, Lenny, I like being labeled a mindless imbecile. Matt Kalman and Paul Harber have a look at the dazzling performance by the 20 year old Kazmir. Ron Indrisano says that Pedro was just off a little bit last night and it cost him the game against the hot Kazmir. Steve Buckley says Pedro was the victim of zero run support, but he’s also tips his cap to Kazmir. Kalman and Harber must’ve kept running into each other last night as they both also submit articles on Lou Piniella. Kalman talks to him about the AL Race, while Harber talks to Lou about managing the lowly Rays with the Sox and Yankees in the same division.

Steve Buckley (subscription only) has an article on Theo Epstein, who is not ready to look ahead and say that his team is in the playoffs, but acknowledges that there is a different atmosphere around the ballpark and in the front offices. But Buckley says the postseason preparations…scouting reports, rosters, etc is indeed earnestly underway. Howard Bryant (subscription only) says that the Yankees and Red Sox are having a hard time concentrating on their present opponents because they can’t wait to get it on this weekend.

Edes notebook looks at Doug Mientkiewicz who has had a season of frustration, capped off by his recent sickness. Silverman’s notebook looks at Bill Mueller’s knee hurting again. Krasner’s notebook has more on the same subject. Doyle’s notebook says that the Sox will not be flipping their rotation for the upcoming Yankees series. Brown’s notebook says that Sox will not go with a four man rotation through the final weeks of the season as some other teams might do. Borges’ notebook looks at Adam Hyzdu being named PawSox player of the year.

A few player updates on the Patriots this morning. Tom Curran has a look at Joe Andruzzi, who is a steady presence and leader on the offensive line. Alan Greenberg has the weekly status update on Rosevelt Colvin, who recently passed the one year mark on his injury. Michael Felger has an update and look at Ty Law and his injury and quest to be ready and on the field for Sunday. The other subject this week is of course the heat of Arizona. Michael Parente says it seems to be an annual question…the Patriots playing somewhere (usually Miami) in the heat and how it will effect them. Glen Farley looks at the Patriots preparations for the desert heat. Christopher Price says the Pats are the kings of cold weather football, we’ll see what they can do in the desert now. Shira Springer addresses the heat and the early travel day for the Patriots.

Chris Kennedy says the Patriots will be facing a lot of unknowns in this trip West. Eric McHugh looks at the Patriot Offense and its search to find an identity for itself. Jonathan Comey loves satellite TV, and has observations and power rankings from around the NFL in his weekly Wednesday morning QB column. Felger’s notebook says that the status of Kevin Faulk for Sunday is still unknown at this point. Curran’s notebook has Bill Belichick a little displeased with the state of his kicking game.

The Globe’s Ron Borges made his weekly appearance on the Eddie Andelman show on 1510 yesterday and had his usual objective thoughts on the Patriots. Among his comments:

1) The Patriots could swap in Jeff Fisher as head coach instead of Bill Belichick and not lose much. (No doubt Fisher is a very good coach, but he hasn’t won it all, even with All World Steve McNair)

2) Eddie asked him if Belichick takes the Patriots to the next three Super Bowls, will Borges think he’s a better coach than Bill Parcells. Borges’ answer: No.

He thinks Super Bowl victories don’t necessary mean a great coach. He asked who was a better coach, George Seifert with two Super Bowl Rings or Don Shula with none. Borges had to be reminded that Shula won two Super Bowls. This is similar to Borges’ Sunday notes column this week when he was comparing Mike Martz to Mike Sherman, and said that the only difference was that Martz had led the Rams to a Super Bowl title. Really? When? Or does Borges really think that the Rams won Super Bowl 36?

Interestingly, SI recently polled 354 current and former players on who was the best coach in the NFL. (Players were NOT allowed to vote for their own head coach.) Leading the pack was Belichick at 45%. The next highest was Parcells at 9%. (Fisher didn’t make the list.) In a list of who would you most like to play for, Belichick tied for second at 10%. Tony Dungy was first at 19%.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Kevin Paul Dupont look at the impending NHL lockout, set to happen tonight at midnight. The actual announcement of the lockout will probably be this afternoon.

A hearty “Welcome back” to the Boston Radio Watch website. The site had been knocked out in July due to a server fire, but now has a new home and new URL.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00. (ESPN2 Nationally) Media columnist John Molori will be among the guests on CN8’s SportsPulse at 10:00. ESPN has Cardinals/Astros at 8:00. At 11:00 on NESN Dan Shaughnessy and John Valentin join host Bob Lobel on Wednesday’s edition of Sportsplus to preview the Red Sox-Yankees series as well as the Ryder Cup.

Calm before the storm

The Red Sox enjoyed their (second to) last night off during the regular season (Thanks Ryan.) while getting ready for tonight’s series opener against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Yesterday was a chance for everyone to take a breather while getting ready for the final push to the postseason. Tony Massarotti looks at the Red Sox advantage they possess at Fenway, and ponders whether the Sox should want to face the A’s or the Twins, or win the division or go in as wild card. In the end, he can’t decide himself, and just says they should keep winning and play as many games in October at Fenway as they can. Bob Hohler writes today that the Red Sox will not be content with slipping into the playoffs as the wild card, they will fight for the division title right down to the last game of the season if needed, not resting anyone. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says the Red Sox best postseason scenario is to overtake the Yankees and have the Twins overtake the A’s. He says winning the division this year would be bigger than other years, and sending the Yankees to Minnesota while the Sox face the A’s would be the best of all worlds for Boston fans. David Borges says that like Vijay stalking Tiger, the Red Sox will be hunting down the Yankees for the top spot in the East.

Art Martone says that the Yankees have had a much easier schedule than the Red Sox have faced this season. The Red Sox have been better against the better teams than the Yankees have been, but haven’t been as good against the bottom feeders, which the Yankees have really beefed up on. David Heuschkel has a nice look at Orlando Cabrera, who has stepped right into the Red Sox world, and produced in all areas. He also has fit in nicely with his new teammates. Jeff Horrigan looks at Trot Nixon and Pokey Reese as they try to adjust to playing part time as they return from injuries. Garry Brown says that the Sox need to keep their attention focused on the Devil Rays before looking ahead to the Yankees. Bob Halloran says no matter what his numbers look like, Tim Wakefield has to be on the postseason roster for the Sox. Bill Reynolds tries an experiment in writing…the Boston sports shrink. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but I HATE this stuff. More tired garbage about how Boston fans want misery and how they’d be lost without it and how we all wouldn’t know what to do if the Red Sox won it all, and that the sports shrink would be out of business. Did I mention I hate that stuff? The miserable, fatalistic attitude? Just get rid of it already, people. Jeff Sullivan looks at the firing of PawSox Manager Buddy Bailey. Hohler’s notebook looks at Bill Mueller’s rising batting average. Horrigan’s notebook looks ahead to the Yankees.

Jim Donaldson says the Patriots and their fans have absolutely noting to worry about this Sunday in facing the Arizona Cardinals. Nick Cafardo though says the hiring of Dennis Green has brought optimism to the perennially downtrodden franchise. Michael Parente has a good look at the Cardinals, and says they could give the Patriots a run for their money this Sunday. A much better and balanced look than the dismissive article by Donaldson above. Mike Reiss says that the Patriots will be heading out to Arizona earlier than they usually do for away games in an effort to get adjusted to the hot, dry climate. Rich Thompson says the Patriots have been focusing on Red Zone defense and it’s an area in which they will continue to work at. Alan Greenberg has a look at undrafted rookie cornerback Randall Gay, who not only made the team roster, but got in some action on Thursday night. Cafardo’s brief notebook also looks at the early travel schedule and at newly signed running back Rabih Abdullah, who has a little bit of a troubled history.

Kevin Paul Dupont looks at Joe Thornton dramatically adjusting his game while playing for team Canada. Steve Conroy also has a look at Thornton’s new role. Conroy also urges hockey fans to watch tonight’s World Cup championship game because it’s likely the last high level hockey game you’re going to see in some time with the lockout looming.

Stan Grossfeld has a Globe feature on…Manute Bol? The seven foot seven inch Bol was severely injured in an auto accident June 30th and is in the process of learning to walk again.

John Molori’s Media Blitz has a look at NESN and Sam Adams teaming for another Broadcaster for an Inning contest, a look at NESN’s new version of SportsDesk and a review of the HBO Documentary “Nine Innings from Ground Zero”. Bill Griffith also looks at the new SportsDesk and has some NFL viewing notes from the weekend. The NFL Network has been a rousing success thus far. Ed Waldman of the Baltimore Sun (free registration required) reports that:

Yesterday, barely 10 months after its launch, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the network has been so successful that televising regular-season games is an option that is being seriously considered. The NFL might even think about making less money from television over the short term to get its own distribution system up and running, he said.

That obviously would be a HUGE development in the future of sports and television. It was also briefly mentioned by Griffith in his above article.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00. ESPN2 has the World Cup of Hockey Championship game, Canada vs. Finland at 7:00. CN8 will have Shira Springer among the guests on the 10:00 SportsPulse. ESPN Classic with have a Carl Yastrzemski SportsCentury at 11:00.

(Caught) Sleeping in Seattle

The Red Sox finished their West Coast road trip with a 5-2 record after a 2-0 loss to the Mariners in Seattle. There will be lots of talk about Manny after this one. Bob Hohler devotes most of his game story to the Ramirez gaffe on the basepaths that cost the Sox a run. David Heuschkel looks at the two mistakes the Sox made yesterday, which did cost them the game. Sean McAdam is down after this one, lamenting the fact that the Red Sox lost ground on the Yankees during this trip. Jeff Horrigan recaps the more important numbers from the West coast swing.

Dan Shaughnessy of course focuses on the Manny episode and seems to urge forgiveness towards the end, but takes a nasty shot at Terry Francona in the process:

Start with manager Terry "I love these guys" Francona, who would have had an excuse for the 1919 White Sox ("A man's got to feed his family, you know").

I don’t know if that’s supposed to be funny, but it doesn’t come off that way. Tony Massarotti also writes about Manny and says you’ve got to expect this stuff to happen from Manny from time to time. Maybe this is a good example of the Michael Gee theory, Manny got his mental blunder out of the way before the postseason…Ron Chimelis says that Francona could be the AL Manager of the year. John Levesque of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the ’97 trade with the Mariners for Lowe and Varitek is still paying dividends for the Red Sox. John Tomase breaks down what the postseason roster for the Red Sox might look like. Massarotti looks at the job the Red Sox did on Ichiro this weekend. He also looks at the solid starting effort from Derek Lowe, who only made one mistake yesterday. Hohler’s notebook looks at David Ortiz’s sore shoulder, which kept him out of the lineup yesterday. Heuschkel’s notebook also looks at Ortiz getting a rest yesterday. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Trot Nixon getting the start in right field yesterday. McAdam’s notebook has more fallout from Manny.

Michael Parente looks at Ty Law’s hamstring injury and has an update on Kevin Faulk and a number of other Patriot items. Easily the most informative Patriots article of the day. Nick Cafardo reviews the weekend action around the AFC East. Nick loves Dewayne Robertson and the Jets defense. Of course, the Bills looked pretty good after week one last year too. Rich Thompson talks with center Dan Koppen about Tom Brady. Christopher Price looks at the Patriot rookies getting their first real NFL action. Thompson also talks to Jim Harbaugh about Brady. If you missed it Friday, BSMW had the Patriots Rear View by Scott Benson.

Russ Conway’s NHL notes looks at the impending lockout, slated to start on Thursday. Kevin Paul Dupont also looks at the labor situation.

ABC has Packers/Panthers at 9:00.