Was that Brady or Bledsoe back there?

OK…that was ugly. In a very un-Patriot like performance, New England choked up an 11 point lead with under four minutes to play. Rodney Harrison and Tom Brady each made inexcusable errors, and the Miami defense picked Brady off four times. Well, now maybe this is the chance to see if the Michael Gee theory has any validity. We’ll keep this brief, game stories: Nick CafardoMichael FelgerTom E CurranAlan GreenbergChris Kennedy and Michael Parente. Things were so bad that Ron Borges doesn’t even need to push his agenda, he’s got plenty of material with the lack of pass protection and lack of bodies in the secondary. Borges even calls one of Brady’s INT’s “Bledsoe-esque”, an uncharacteristic slam at his binky QB. Scott A Benson is so disgusted he mails one in this morning, 37 cent stamp attached. Bob Ryan says that the Patriots got what they deserved in this one, and at least it’s settled where the AFC Championship game is going to be held. Whether the Patriots are there is a whole different story entirely. Steve Buckley (subscription only) says this was a very different Tom Brady we saw last night, he tried too hard to be the hero, and ended up throwing the pick that allowed the Dolphins to take the lead.

Ed Gray (Is he back, or is this a correspondent piece?) looks at a rough night in the secondary for Troy Brown, who yielded the game winning touchdown. Fluto Shinzawa looks at the late interception by Brady that gave the Dolphins life, an interception cause by the pass rush of Jason Taylor. Mark Murphy has Rodney Harrison saying that the Patriots need to get better. George Kimball (subscription only) has the reaction of a shell-shocked Bill Belichick following the game, as the coach lamented the team’s execution, not their intensity. Kevin Mannix has nothing about last night’s game, but instead looks ahead to Sunday, where he feels Chad Pennington might be distracted by negative media coverage in NY. Bob Ryan weighs in on Ricky Williams. Jamey Eisenberg looks at the elated Dolphins, after they knocked off the Super Bowl Champs. Shinzawa says that one win doesn’t make up for the lost season for Dolphins fans, however. Ron Borges looks at how the Patriots would hold the edge over the Steelers if difficulty of schedule were a factor in playoff seeding.

Parente’s notebook looks at how last night brought the playoff picture into clearer focus for the AFC. Cafardo’s notebook has Belichick’s reactions following the game. Felger’s notebook points out how sorely the Patriots need Ty Law to return and restore order to the secondary. Curran’s notebook looks at the poor game by Tom Brady, while Kennedy’s notebook has recaps the rough night on defense for Troy Brown.

While the Patriots had the attention of sports fans, the Red Sox went out and made a trade last night, sending Dave Roberts to the Padres for Jay Payton, Ramon Vazquez, minor league pitcher David Pauley and $2.65 million in cash. Tony Massarotti has the details of the trade and what it means for the makeup of the Red Sox heading into ’05. David Heuschkel also looks at the deal. Jon Baker looks at the new additions to the Pawtucket Red Sox roster in this offseason. Bob Halloran looks at the difference in the Red Sox and Yankees Christmas shopping. Jon Couture notes that being a fan is more and more about rooting for the uniforms. He looks at the derision being directed towards Pedro for wanting money and Ricky Williams for giving up money. Kevin Gray talks with new Fisher Cats hitting coach John Valentin about his plans for his team.

Afternoon drive time yesterday saw some of sports radio at its worst. Glenn Ordway was pressing all the buzzword buttons to stir Red Sox fans up into a frenzy while at the same time attempting to temper his words and cover himself so later he can say “That’s not what I said”. The buzzwords he was throwing out there was that Theo Epstein’s offseason is a failure thus far. Edgar Renteria is not an upgrade over Orlando Cabrera. (who signed with the Angels last night.) He used that one several times. He hears from “people in the National league” that Cabrera is actually better. He repeated several times that Theo has failed in all his attempted moves. Even though he had earlier applauded the Red Sox for not giving into Pedro’s demands, he called not signing him one of the failures. If you couldn’t tell already, “failure” and “failed” were used over and over. At one point though, a caller stepped up and challenged Ordway, asking “What would you have done, Glenn?” The answer was pathetic. “I’m not the GM”.

Now, I am not saying that you can’t knock Theo for what he’s done in the offseason. Many fans have been frustrated with some of how the offseason has gone. Probably with good reason. However, to hammer over and over that it’s a “failure” and then when asked what should he have done, to just say “I’m not the GM” shows zero credibility on the part of Ordway. He looks like a blowhard buffoon, and no better than the fans he mocks who don’t have an answer when he asks them something similar when they call in to question say, the Patriots. How many times has a caller questioned something, and the hosts say, “Well what would you have done?” and then as the caller is stammering, they ridicule him? Happens ALL the time on that station.

Peter May looks at the increase in scoring in the NBA and notes how the Celtics are one of the teams leading the charge in this new and improved NBA. Mark Murphy looks at the new and improved Ricky Davis, who in many ways has become the Celtics defensive stopper. Murphy’s notebook looks at the play of rookie Tony Allen, who continues to open eyes, both with his own coaches and around the league. Peter Vecsey reports that Danny Ainge and the Celtics are trying to work out a deal to bring Antoine Walker back to the green.

Bill Griffith looks at the impact of Sirius satellite radio on sports coverage.

FSN has Celtics/Heat at 7:30. ESPN has the Champs Sports Bowl with Syracuse taking on Georgia Tech at 7:45. ESPN2 has college hoops with Texas Tech/Iowa at 7:00 and UCLA/Michigan State at 9:00.


Patriots on MNF

The Patriots get back to work tonight taking on the Dolphins in Miami on Monday Night Football. Nick Cafardo has a look at the game tonight, and highlights six bulleted points surrounding the contest. Kevin Mannix in his game preview says that Corey Dillon must have a big game, because the results aren’t pretty when the Patriots are forced to pass the ball. That’s a little bit of a stretch. Jim McBride has the scouting report for the Globe. Tom E Curran says that the Patriots fully expect the Dolphins to put up a mighty challenge tonight. Alan Greenberg says that the Dolphins began their annual late season collapse in July this year. Hector Longo says the Dolphins will look to exploit the patchwork secondary for the Patriots with big plays down the field. Michael Parente agrees that Miami will try more long plays tonight, but says they really only have pride to play for. George Kimball looks at the bad hand dealt to Miami interim coach Jim Bates.

Bob Ryan looks at the short term focus of the Patriots players and coaches, which stands in sharp contrast to the tendency of media and fans who want to look all the way ahead to playing the Steelers January 23 in the AFC Championship game. Chris Kennedy looks at Troy Brown’s role on defense, a role that looks to continue, and perhaps even increase. It’s pretty amazing that the coaching staff had Brown working out in preseason for this situation, isn’t it? They were mocked by certain members of the local media for it, some even hinting that Brown was being forced to do it against his will, yet in the end, it turned out to be something vitally important to the football team. Some more human members of the media acknowledge this, while others choose to ignore that they ever weighed in on the topic. Dan Pires looks at the Patriots success in finding undrafted players, looks at the Pro Bowl voting, and also has a bit on the play of Keith Traylor. Kevin Mannix says the Patriots are in the unusual position of going into Miami without much pressure. George Kimball talks to Jason Taylor about the season, rival quarterbacks, and his envy at the Patriots players who get to play both sides of the ball. Jim Donaldson looks at the San Diego Chargers, who have to be feeling a little smug towards Eli Manning, who snubbed them in favor of the woeful Giants.

In Miami, Greg A Bedard looks at Tom Brady continuing to add to his legend and contrasts him with Miami QB A.J. Feeley. David J Neal says that Brady’s humility makes him great. Greg Stoda says that even Nick Saban would need time to rebuild this Dolphins organization.

Gordon Edes looks at all of the Red Sox arbitration eligible players declining arbitration last night, including Jason Varitek. Tony Massarotti says this means that the clock is ticking for talks with Varitek, as the Red Sox have to get him signed before January 8th, or risk losing him. John Tomase hopes that we remember Pedro more for his brilliance on the field instead of for his selfishness off of it. Jose Martinez of the NY Daily News tells us that Pedro’s former buddy Nelson feels betrayed by the former Sox ace and vows to stick with the Red Sox. Jamie Pote of the Herald has Dave Roberts hoping for a starting role. In a split column, Terry Nau looks at the challenges facing both the Red Sox and Patriots in their quest to defend their championships. Pote also talks to Tim Wakefield, who denies any rumors of a strained relationship during the season between Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez, and wishes Pedro well going forward. He can’t wait to meet his new teammates and looks forward to defending their title.

Shira Springer looks at the Celtics developing mental toughness during this brutal December schedule. Mark Murphy looks at the Celtics improved play in the clutch, and the amazing stat that they’ve been either tied or ahead in the fourth quarter in 21 of their 23 games. Christopher Price says he was wrong about Gary Payton. He thought he was going to be a negative on this team, but instead has been one of the best parts of it. Murphy’s notebook has a couple Celtics expressing dismay that old teammate Eric Williams was traded away from his New Jersey home in the Vince Carter deal.

Congrats to Mike Giardi of NECN for getting a new deal from the station.

ABC has Patriots/Dolphins at 9:00.

Celts Overthrow King James

Sunday links by Ben (ben@bostonsportsmedia.com)

Big overtime win for the Boston Celtics last night in the second game of a back to backer, on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald and Shira Springer of the Boston Globe have the game stories from this 114-107 victory over LeBron and friends, the Celts

12.17.04 Afternoon

A small movement seems to have begun that asserts that Butch Stearns is being vindicated by Pedro’s comments about Curt Schilling the last couple days. You recall that back in September, Stearns claimed on WEEI that Pedro and Schilling didn’t like each other based on the fact that he didn’t see them hugging after games. Schilling called into the program and blasted him for the statements. After claiming he didn’t want to be the story, Stearns went on his Fox25 Sportscast and devoted the whole segment to the incident. Now, with Pedro’s comments, a few people have put forth the idea that Stearns deserves an apology for the ridicule he took for the statements he made. That’s preposterous. I’ll leave it to a couple of BSMW readers to put things in perspective:

Butch Stearns used as his "evidence" quotes from players that turned out not to say what Butch was saying at all. In fact, ample footage came out later showing that Butch was 100% percent wrong when he said the 2 pitchers don't talk or look at each other on the bench or after games.

That’s exactly right. Stearns had no evidence to support his claims. Just because he may have turned out in the end to be correct in his conclusion, it doesn’t justify his “throwing it out there” and trying to be “edgy” and bring attention to himself without a shred of evidence. Nor should he be getting any sort of praise or apologies. Speaking of bringing attention to himself, another reader says:

Is it a guarantee that Butch is on the Big Show today? Probably a call in guest where he'll feign humility "I only wanted the truth out there and I hold no animosity toward Schilling for browbeating me on live radio. In this business our job is to report the facts. I never wanted to be the story"

I could see that happening very easily. It seems the media is very quick to apologize or make amends to one of their own, but in this instance, the idea of an apology is unwarranted. Throw enough stuff against the wall, some of it is bound to stick. Or as one of my favorite sayings goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day…

Jim Baker looks at two big media stories this week that have been drowned out by the Hot Stove talk: Bob Lobel and Sean McDonough. About Lobel, Baker says:

Both stories are tough, but Lobel

Pedro Pedro Pedro

Here’s hoping today is the last day of the 24/7 Pedro Martinez hand wringing and vilification. I’ve moved on already, have felt that way since Tuesday, but since it’s an easy topic to beat to death, people don’t want to let it go. I really have no desire to go through all these Pedro articles today. But…there is one must-read article on Pedro today. Michael Silverman, one of the writers in Boston who Pedro trusts and has had a great relationship with, sat down with the new Mets ace for a lengthy 1-1 interview. Some fascinating tidbits in this piece. Among other things, Pedro claims that Theo Epstein was “arrogant” with his agent in the negotiations. Dan Shaughnessy tries to let Pedro’s words from his press conference yesterday speak for themselves, including another shot at Theo to end the piece. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) compares Pedro’s NY press debut to “Leon” in the Budweiser ads. He asserts that if Pedro thinks he left Boston to escape the negativity, he has no idea what he’s in for in Queens. Jonathan Comey wonders how the Sox could let Pedro get away. John Altavilla, Karen Guregian and Amy K Nelson have coverage and thoughts on Pedro’s move to the Mets. Dom Amore has more on the jabs Pedro took at the Red Sox yesterday. Silverman has another article just covering the press conference and Pedro’s move to the Mets. Jim Donaldson is laughing at everyone who is knocking Pedro for taking the money from the Mets and at the same time embracing Edgar Renteria for taking the Red Sox money and leaving the Cardinals.

Stan Grossfeld has a feature article on Sox prospect Hanley Ramirez. While some feel that the signing of Renteria means Ramirez is now trade bait, it needs to be said again that the kid is only 20 years old. Even if Renteria plays his entire four years with the Sox at shortstop, Ramirez will only be 24 years old at that time. Jeff Horrigan says that Matt Clement is expected to make a decision soon on his future team. Last night, news broke that the Yankees are “close” (my favorite expression) to acquiring Randy Johnson in a three way deal with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. Gordon Edes and Dom Amore report on the details of the proposed blockbuster. Jim Fennell talks to NH’s Chris Carpenter about his former teammate with the Cardinals, Edgar Renteria. Horrigan’s notebook says the Sox are expected to introduce Renteria at a press conference today. Nick Cafardo’s Red Sox notebook has Kevin Millar issuing a “him or me” statement regarding his claim on firstbase for next year.

Michael Felger says that the Patriots know that they need to get better before the playoffs. Michael Vega has Bill Belichick commenting on the Dolphin defense, a unit that he says “never struggles”. Chris Kennedy writes that the Pats a certainly taking the 2-11 Dolphins seriously. Michael Parente looks at the changes that interim coach Jim Bates has brought to the Miami defense. Michael O’Connor says that playing in Miami is never easy, regardless of the Dolphins record.

Tom E Curran says that after being fooled on a fake field goal last week, the Patriots are going to be on full alert going forward. Alan Greenberg says that because of his playmaking ability, we may see even more of Troy Brown on defense. He makes reference to those who “snickered’ at Brown working with the DB’s in training camp and that you don’t hear from those guys these days. Garry Brown looks at Tom Brady’s success in playing “beat the clock”. Christopher Price wonders if the sack is an overrated statistic in football. Ian M Clark has an interesting look on the life of the practice squad players in the NFL. He talks to members of the Patriots practice squad and what their days and lives are like. Michael O’Connor looks at Christian Furia stepping up in place of the injured Daniel Graham.

Vega’s notebook says that Adam Vinatieri is not dwelling on his only missed field goal of the season, which came against the Dolphins. Felger’s notebook looks at the importance of Daniel Graham in the Patriots running attack. He was out against the Bengals, and Corey Dillon failed to get 100 yards for only the second time in eight games. Curran’s notebook has Jason Taylor calling Tom Brady the best QB in the NFL. Parente’s notebook looks at the progress of Ty Law, who is now listed as “doubtful” for Monday night…actually a step up in status from previous weeks.

Mark Murphy looks at the Celtics trying to stop being their own worst enemies. Six of their losses are by three points or less. He mentions the frustration with the botched coverage on the Nuggets final possession Wednesday night. I haven’t seen in mentioned in print anywhere, but I’m told that Butch Sterns reported that Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis had to be separated from each other in the runway following the game, they were yelling at each other and became entangled. Marvin Pave also looks at the Celtics efforts to improve in close games. Murphy’s notebook examines Doc Rivers’ use of smaller lineups.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell says that the owners are willing to sacrifice the NHL season. Nick Tavares says that the fans are the ones that lose out in the work stoppage.

David Scott submits a Friday edition of Scott’s Shots, where he fires away at Kobe, The Globie and even Rick Robey. Okay, not Robey. Bill Griffith looks at the effect of the NHL lockout on announcers. Andy Neff has a review of “Faith Rewarded”. The New Hampshire has an article on UNH alum Jackie MacMullan.

FSN has Celtics/Jazz at 7:30. ESPN has Nuggets/Heat at 8:00 and SuperSonics/Suns at 10:30.

Another Day, Another Free Agent

The Red Sox filled the hole in the middle infield yesterday agreeing to a four year deal with Edgar Renteria. The shortstop replaces Orlando Cabrera, and by extension Nomar Garciaparra. If you’re looking for value, the dollar amount reported of 4 years, 40 million is certainly below the 4 year 60 million offered to Nomar in 2003 and even the 4 year 48 million offered this past spring. Renteria is not the offensive force Nomar was in his prime, but he’s no slouch with the bat, and has two Gold Gloves to his credit. Indira A.R. Lakshmanan of the Globe was in Columbia and spoke with the newest member of the Red Sox. Jeff Horrigan also reports on the signing, which has not been officially confirmed by the club, pending a physical, but Larry Lucchino on D&C this morning did acknowledge the signing, because Renteria had done so publicly himself. Sean McAdam is enthusiastic about the player, making reference to him as a “spectacular defensive anchor” and a “significant offensive weapon”. David Heuschkel also reports on the signing, noting it’s only the second four year deal the Sox have handed out in the Theo Epstein era. Garry Brown says the signing of Renteria is a start, but Theo still has work to do. Art Martone says the difference in clubhouse presence between Pedro and Renteria is going to be very noticeable.

The Red Sox made another signing official yesterday, introducing Pete Sheppard’s buddy John Halama. Jeff Horrigan reports on that signing as well. Gordon Edes reports that with Renteria now in the fold, the Sox are turning their attention to pitching, and he goes through some of the possibilities. Michael Silverman reports that Pedro has passed his physical and will officially be joining the Mets today. Silverman already compares Pedro to Roger Clemens as a free agent who got away. Buddy Thomas still can’t figure out why Pedro went to the Mets. Michael Gee (subscription only) writes that with the recent negotiations for Pedro and Renteria, the Sox got played and used in both instances. Not an uncommon occurrence with free agency. The notebooks all look at Matt Clement. Edes’ notebook, Horrigan’s notebook and the Projo notebook all look at the Red Sox pursuit of the former Cubs pitcher, who despite having a career record under .500 is one of most sought after pitchers remaining with eight teams having submitted offers.

The media coverage of the Hot Stove season has certainly left something to be desired. I’m not targeting the Boston folks here, but more of an overall observation. I cannot recall an offseason in which more things were “thrown out there” then this one. (Though last year’s ARod stuff comes close.) It seems every day there is a new rumor of something being “close”. Pedro is close to re-signing with Boston. The Red Sox are close to a deal with the Mets to send Manny there for Cliff Floyd, the Dodgers are close to acquiring Tim Hudson, the Yankees are close to getting Randy Johnson. Edgar Renteria is close to signing with Boston…oh, the two sides didn’t even talk until hours AFTER that report came down last weekend…Renteria is close to re-signing with the Cardinals… It seems people are in a rush to get things out there so that they can be the ones credited with “breaking” the story, but when the event doesn’t happen, they’re not to blame, because they just said it was “close”…something beyond their control caused it to not happen. No big deal, right? Well, for the fans of baseball it’s annoying. Give us the facts…let us know when things actually happen, not when they’re “close” to happening. If your sources are good, chances are that if they’re telling you when things are close, they’re going to tell you when they happen too. You can still “break” the news. The major culprit in this is of course ESPN. With it’s webpage ESPN Insider, and with the 24/7 ESPN News channel both always looking for new information, they’re putting things out there constantly. Another factor is the internet. Someone finds a throwaway line or comment about something and it’s instantly spread to 10,000 other pages, and blown up and treated as fact. I don’t know what the answer to all this is, but I can tell you I’m annoyed with how many things are “close” to happening and don’t…

The Celtics lost a close one at home to the Nuggets last night, 100-99, in a game that never really found a rhythm. Peter May looks at yet another Celtics game coming down to the final possession. Steve Bulpett notes that the game came down to Paul Pierce being unable to match Carmelo Anthony in the closing seconds of the contest. Shalise Manza Young says that fatigue was a factor for the Celtics in the final minute of the game. Lenny Megliola has Doc Rivers placing the blame for the loss on the defense. Bob Ryan is enthusiastic about what is going on with this Celtics team…they’re committed to running, they have some exciting young players and quite possibly a future. Gus Martins looks at Ricky Davis once again coming up big in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 in the frame. With all these games coming down to the final possession, is it written in stone that Paul Pierce MUST have the final shot? If it were up to me, I’d have Ricky take some, he gets higher percentage shots than Pierce, who often resorts to fallaway 22 footers for his game ending shots. Even Larry Bird didn’t take every single final possession shot. (How about DJ winning game 4 of the 1985 NBA Finals?) Martins also has a look at Carmelo Anthony, who hit the game winning shot for the Nuggets. May’s notebook looks at Yogi Stewart, a forgotten man on the roster, who likely will not play a game for the Celtics this season. Bulpett’s notebook has Danny Ainge proclaiming that he feels no pressure to trade Gary Payton even after the guard said this will be his only season with the Celtics.

Michael Felger wonders if the Patriots defense has been exposed and now good teams will be able to figure it out and take advantage of it. Nick Cafardo looks at the battle for home field advantage between the Patriots and Steelers and who would come out on top in a rematch. Alan Greenberg says the Patriots have been less dramatic and more dominating this season as compared to last. Michael Parente looks at the Patriots preparation for Monday night’s game with the Dolphins. Tom E Curran has a look at Jason Taylor, enduring a frustrating season with the Dolphins. Chris Kennedy also looks at Taylor. Christopher Price has Bill Belichick saying that the Dolphins have not quit on the season and are playing better under interim coach Jim Bates. Mike Reiss has a Q&A session with rookie Vince Wilfork. Felger’s notebook looks at the progress of Ty Law. Cafardo’s notebook also looks at Law, and gives us a Notre Dame update. Expect a lot of that in the coming weeks, we may as well rename this feature the Patriots/Notre Dame notebook. There’s no truth to the rumor that Nick has requested to be transferred to the Notre Dame beat for next season so that he can be near Charlie…

Douglas Flynn speaks to some members of the Bruins alumni squad about the NHL work stoppage. Stephen Harris says that things may be close to the point of declaring the 2004-2005 season dead.

TNT has Cavs/Pistons at 8:00 and Lakers/Kings at 10:30. ESPN has Ohio State/Texas Tech at 9:00.

You say Goodbye, I say Hello…

Still many articles and much talk out there regarding Pedro Martinez, but also many saying hello to new Sox pitcher David Wells. Jeff Horrigan looks at the lefty, who just may be in line to start opening day for the Sox. In Yankee Stadium. Peter May covered the Fenway press conference for Wells yesterday and has how the former Yankee ended up with the Red Sox. Art Martone says that Wells is confident he can make Fenway into a comfortable home for himself. Lenny Megliola looks at Wells as a guy who has been many places in the Major Leagues, and might’ve just made his final stop here in Boston. Garry Brown, David Borges and Alex Speier all assert that challenges are what appeal to Wells, and coming here to perform at Fenway for the Red Sox is about as big a challenge as there is for Wells. Michael Gee (subscription only) also has a look at Wells, who he describes as a mercenary, and still good at what he does.

Bob Ryan weighs in on the departure of Pedro, noting that baseball players have always been concerned about the money. He goes over the years that Pedro had here, noting that as time went on, the pitcher seemed to change, both in skills and personality…downhill in both. Sean McAdam puts forth the theory that Pedro felt insecure with Curt Schilling around and didn’t like that he wasn’t the big man on campus anymore. In short, Pedro was jealous of Schilling and wanted to leave so he could be number one somewhere else, even if that was a hellhole like Shea Stadium. Peter Gammons comes down pretty hard on Pedro’s chase of the money. John Tomase writes that the end of the Pedro era in Boston is just fine with the Red Sox, who had grown weary of Pedro’s act. Bob Halloran says that going to the National League was a good move for Pedro the pitcher, but that he chose to go there for the wrong reasons. Steve Buckley (subscription only) writes that Red Sox fans trust Theo and his braintrust more than they trust Pedro’s shoulder.

David Heuschkel reports that concerns over Pedro’s shoulder held the Red Sox back from offering him more than a three year deal. In fact, some within the organization felt that three years was too much. Michael Silverman reports that Pedro feels that the Red Sox dragged their feet with the negotiations and that if they had made the offer that turned out to be their final one back during the exclusive two-week period following the World Series, he would’ve signed it. Jeff Horrigan has reaction from David Well and Trot Nixon about Pedro’s decision. Silverman also puts to bed the “false rumor” that Pedro was refusing to submit to an MRI exam on his shoulder. May’s notebook has Larry Lucchino saying that he feels Pedro made a bad decision leaving the Red Sox. Jim Donaldson tries to write about both Pedro and Charlie Weis leaving in one column.

Bob Hohler reports that Edgar Renteria is expected to make his decision today on whether to join the Red Sox or return to the Cardinals. I honestly will be very surprised if he comes here. Tony Massarotti and David Heuschkel look at the news that Curt Schilling will likely be unable to start the regular season with the Red Sox due to his ankle. The Projo also has a brief report on this. Dan Shaughnessy looks at former Red Sox and Celtics player Gene Conley, who has a book out on his life and career: “One of a Kind”. Horrigan’s notebook says the Sox are optimistic on signing Jason Varitek, though it isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. He also has word that Jose Rijo advised Pedro not to sign with the Mets and to return to Boston.

Scott A Benson gives us this week’s look at the playoff picture. Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider looks at Rodney Harrison’s chances at making the Pro Bowl, has some on how the Patriots will deal with Charlie Weis’ splitting time, and some injury updates. Mike Reiss has more on the new deal for Rodney Bailey. Michael Vega looks at the two way play of Troy Brown. Chris Kennedy looks at pitfalls the Patriots need to avoid. Christopher Price says that the play of the Patriots defense on Sunday raised some red flags. Hector Longo writes that the Patriots will manage just fine without Charlie Weis. Michael Parente agrees that it will be no distraction. John Altavilla has an extensive piece on former UMass football coach Mark Whipple, who is now the QB coach for Ben Roethlisberger. Jonathan Comey has his NFL Power Rankings.

Just a quick note of clarification…I mentioned yesterday afternoon that no one had covered the seeming discrepancy in Charlie Weis’ comments about the motivation for his surgery…Tom Curran had given them a brief mention in his notebook yesterday. He didn’t go into much depth, or make a big deal about it, but he did make mention of it.

Steve Bulpett examines whether the Celtics turned a corner on their West coast road trip. Shira Springer looks at the “special” ending to the road trip. Bulpett’s notebook has random thoughts and notes from out West.

Check out the BSMW Reader page for a review of Phil Jackson’s book, “The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul.”

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell, Stephen Harris and Kevin Paul Dupont all file articles on the progress, or lack there of, in the NHL labor negotiations.

WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan got mentioned by Alicia Mundy (registration required) in the Washington Post for comments made about Superior Judge Ernest B. Murphy, who is suing the Herald and four of its writers.

Meanwhile, on WEEI-AM, Herald sports columnist Gerry Callahan, co-host of "Dennis & Callahan," began referring to Murphy as "Easy Ernie" on the popular morning radio show, Murphy's lawyers said. Callahan has not returned phone calls seeking comment.

FSN has Celtics/Nuggets at 7:00. ESPN has Pistons/Knicks at 8:00 and Kings/Jazz at 10:30. ESPN2 has Depaul/Northwestern college hoops at 9:00