I realize that my updates have been appearing later and later in the morning. I’m attempting to put more into them in the way of commentary and thoughts in addition to all of the links I can find. It’s a balance that I’m still striving to perfect here, so I appreciate your patience. I’m trying to make it worth your while.

Spring Training is upon us in full force, and one way to tell is the articles on the one or two players who have media sessions that day. Today the targets are David Ortiz and Johnny Damon. For Ortiz, (Who was also a guest of Dennis & Callahan this morning) arrival in camp after a winter of being lauded as the new Mr October is no doubt a relief. Dan Shaughnessy has a look at the new “Senor Octubre”. Jeff Horrigan also has a look at the slugger, who now finds himself having to handle sobbing teenage girls, thrilled at the chance to meet “Big Papi”. Steven Krasner looks at how postseason hero Ortiz has proclaimed that Curt Schilling is his own personal hero for his work in the postseason while “bleeding to death”. David Heuschkel examines the glow which surrounds Ortiz and the warmth he brings to the clubhouse and fans. David Borges writes that Ortiz hopes to even surpass the outstanding numbers he’s posted the last two seasons for the Red Sox. Most of these articles all contain the same quotes, it’s difficult to come up with original material when the players are meeting the media as a group. Each one does attempt to take a little different approach in the quotes they focus on and use, but for the most part, the pieces are all very similar.

The other player getting his day in the spotlight was Johnny Damon. Chris Snow has the most detailed look at the lead “idiot” in the Red Sox run to the championship. Snow has had a pretty good early run as the new Red Sox beat writer for the Globe. He had some controversy at his last job in Minnesota, but looks to be a solid addition to Joe Sullivan’s sports department, which is in the middle of a minor makeover. Karen Guregian also looks at the arrival of Damon, who said that he hopes to remain in Boston for the rest of his career. He is currently entering the last year of his contract. Steven Krasner says that Damon is still the same “idiot” we all have come to know and love. Heuschkel’s notebook has Damon stepping up to take his swings at A-Rod. Borges’ notebook also covers the arrival of Damon, who proclaimed that the offseason had fewer “drunken nights” as there were following the 2003 season.

Gordon Edes has an interesting article on Randy Johnson, where he has the Big Unit speaking about his relationship with Curt Schilling, the expectations upon him in New York, and also that he is happy for Boston that the Red Sox won the World Series. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that Pedro Martinez wouldn’t have been a good fit with these new Red Sox, and that camp is much quieter, pleasant and serene without he and Nomar. Karen Guregian has Trot Nixon tempering his “clown” comments about A-Rod ever so slightly. Steven Krasner catches up with some Red Sox fans enjoying the 80 degree weather in Florida while the rest of us were in the snowstorm. Krasner’s notebook has more on Nixon somewhat backing down on his A-Rod comments. Horrigan’s notebook has Tom Werner hoping that the World Series rings will be distributed at the home opener. Snow’s notebook has Werner talking briefly about the possibility of a new contract for Theo Epstein, whose deal runs through this season.

Howard Bryant (subscription only) has a look at Jason Giambi trying to play the “good guy” role now, to win back the support of the fans. By telling the truth about his use of steroids, Giambi may “possess an odd kind of honor” according to Bryant. What I find amusing is the contrast in the NY media’s treatment of Giambi and Gary Sheffield. Giambi took massive amounts of well deserved heat for his admission of using steroids. However he did not produce on the field last season. Gary Sheffield has also admitted the use of illegal substances, but had a great season at the plate last year. Giambi gets killed in the media, Sheffield escapes almost all criticism.

Murray Chass in the NY Times (free registration required – or use bugmenot) takes a look at the perception that the Red Sox players are taking shots at A-Rod and the Yankees on a daily basis. He says

Athletes have long accused reporters of creating stories, and, sadly, this is one of those instances. It has become one of the most distasteful instances I have witnessed in 45 years of covering baseball.

He out lines numerous cases where what the players themselves said was fairly innocuous, but was taken and promoted as a rip. A must-read.

Celtics hit the coast

Steve Bulpett outlines seven requirements for the Celtics to be successful in the second half of the season and even make some noise in the Eastern conference playoffs. Mike Fine looks at the Celtics mini-trip west this week. Shira Springer has Gary Payton taking things day-by-day this week as the trade deadline approaches on Thursday. Bulpett also has a piece on the waiting game for Payton.

Franchise tag for Adam?

Michael Felger reports that the Patriots could slap the franchise tag on Adam Vinatieri by today’s 4:00 PM deadline. Eric McHugh looks at some of the difficult decisions facing the Patriots in the approaching free agent period. Lenny Megliola talks with Doug Flutie, who is still under contract to the Chargers, but perhaps hoping for a better situation in the NFL somewhere.

NASCAR fans are out there

It’s easy to say that no one in New England is interested in NASCAR, the TV numbers say otherwise. Bill Griffith looks at the numbers for the Daytona 500, which drew an 8.6 in the Boston market. He looks at the highs and lows of the broadcast. I think it would be more accurate to say that Red Sox and Patriots fans (who make up most of WEEI’s listeners) are not in addition NASCAR fans. Many people who watch NASCAR do not listen to sports radio thus making their voice silent in the mainstream sports media. There are plenty of people in this region who are big fans of the sport. I’m not one of them, but my Dad and sister are. They watch the races each weekend, know all the drivers, watch the recap shows on SPEED network during the week, yet they don’t watch a single Red Sox or Patriots game. They’re not alone. Continuing the theme, Michael Vega looks at Jeff Gordon’s win on Sunday and Shawn Courchesne has a look at Gordon making an appearance at the ESPN studios in Bristol.

Miracle on ice, 25 years later

Steve Conroy and Jim Fennell relive the miracle on ice of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team, which is having its 25th anniversary this week. Joe Sullivan of the Union Leader reviews Wayne Coffey’s book “The boys of winter” which is about that gold medal winning squad. Jon Couture says that hockey is alive without the NHL.

Media & Tonight

The Boston Radio Watch website had a number of interesting items in its column from Friday. They mention the sale of Sporting News Radio getting held up, and have more on the rumors of a possible FM challenger to WEEI in the Boston market.

FSN has Celtics/Lakers at 10:30. (I think this will also be shown on NBA TV in HD) ESPN has Purdue/Indiana at 7:00 and Alabama/LSU at 9:00. ESPN2 has Texas/Texas Tech at 9:00.