A plethora of links and information today as we move into just a great weekend for sports viewers. We’ve got links to the Red Sox as they prepare to open defense of their crown Sunday night against the Yankees, Celtics links as they look to get back on their road to the playoffs, and links from the NCAA, MLS and Boxing. A number of media columns wrap up the links for the day.

We’re on the last weekday before the season opener, and there are plenty of baseball articles out there. We’ll get to all the Red Sox/Yankees articles in a moment, but first some regular baseball pieces… Chris Snow has a very good piece on new Red Sox shortstop Edgar Renteria, including some very amusing byplay with Manny Ramirez. Michael Silverman and Gordon Edes each have a piece on David Ortiz, who will do whatever it takes to help his team. Dan Shaughnessy has a feature style piece on Curt Schilling, who had a 2004 like no other Red Sox player has enjoyed. David Heuschkel and John Tomase have final looks back at the Byung-Hyun Kim era in Boston, where the Korean pitcher never fit in with his teammates. David Borges looks at Red Sox advisor Jeremy Kapstein, who has had just about every role you can think of in baseball. Karen Guregian says that for the most part small market teams continue to struggle in Major League baseball. Howard Bryant (subscription only) looks at the NFL joining MLB as a subject of congressional inquiry on the subject of steroids. Speaking of Bryant, I caught a replay of “Basic Black” on WGBH last night from when Bryant’s book “Shut Out” came out. It reminded me how significant a work that book was, and also how much has changed in Boston baseball-wise, since it was published. It would be interesting to examine if the Red Sox victory had any effect socially in Boston and on the reputation of the city.

Gordon Edes looks at the challenges the Red Sox will face in their quest to win consecutive World Series Championships. Dan Shaughnessy says that though the Yankees might look better on paper, the Red Sox are the better team. He says:

The Red Sox are better than the Yankees because the Sox players think they are better than the Yankees. They are better because they put a hurt on the Bronx Bombers that will never go away. No matter how many millions George Steinbrenner spends, no matter how much they talk about those 26 World Series titles or seven straight first-place finishes . . . the 2005 Yankees start the season knowing they choked like no team in the history of baseball.

He also warns several times though about not taunting certain Yankees and making them mad. Jackie MacMullan writes the other side, saying that that she still has pinstripe envy, specifically at the Yankees starting pitching. Shaughnessy while on with Eddie Andelman yesterday afternoon stated that he wished he could’ve written the Yankees piece. John Powers gives further reasons for pessimism, listing out the results for teams who finally broke through and won a title after a long drought. Nick Cafardo says that the Red Sox will try to emulate much of what the Patriots do, the biggest of which is the attitude of never being satisfied. As pointed out by a reader, I think we have some April Fool’s pranks being pulled on us by Joe Sullivan. First Shaughnessy says the Red Sox are better than the Yankees and have the psychological edge, and then Nick Cafardo describes the Patriots thusly:

They are a National Football League success story, on and off the field -- from their ability to build a stadium and generate revenue, to their lucrative media, marketing, and advertising deals; to their methods of player acquisition and development; to their coaching and team-first approach.

What a bunch of kidders over there on Morrissey Blvd. Lenny Megliola says that the fifth and sixth graders are still trying to get the Red Sox and Yankees to shake hands before the game. Kevin Paul Dupont says that Red Sox fans are no longer miserable, but remain as passionate as ever. Gordon Edes wonders if this is the year the Cubs break through. The Globe writers also make their Staff Picks. (But did they really make them, or did the interns?)

Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that Johnny Damon is truly proving himself to be an Idiot. He needs to produce this year, or he’s going to be out of a job. Dennis & Callahan, (actually it was Callahan & Dennis this morning) read an excerpt from John Harper and Tony Massarotti’s A Tale of Two Cities this morning that had an encounter between Damon’s then fiancee, now wife and Shonda Schilling after game three of the ALCS last fall, and spent quite a bit of time on it. Michael Gee (subscription only) says that we shouldn’t be surprised by Damon, as ballplayers through the ages have always been “known to drink, play juvenile practical jokes, chase women and get into embarrassing jams.” Shaughnessy’s notebook looks at last night’s Sox exhibition in Arizona. Silverman’s notebook looks at a rough outing for Bronson Arroyo last night, and the Diamondbacks being a little upset at who the Red Sox brought…and didn’t bring to the game.

Shira Springer looks at the Celtics attempting to end their four game losing streak down in Atlanta tonight. Mark Murphy looks at what a healthy Raef LaFrentz has meant for the Celtics this season. Tim Weisberg wants to know who the real Celtics are, the group that has looked bad losing four in a row, or the team that won 11 out of 12. Mike Fine looks at what Antoine Walker and the Celtics need to do to get back on track. He says that Antoine isn’t the only one at fault for the recent struggles. Michael Muldoon looks at the Larry Bird vs. Dirk Nowitzki arguement brought up by Cedric Maxwell the other day on WWZN. (Transcript available below) Jim Fenton looks at the legacy of the sixth man with the Celtics. Murphy’s notebook looks at the Celtics needing to tighten up their defense if they want to be able to get out and run the floor.

Glen Farley has a look at Tedy Bruschi and how the uncertainty around his situation will affect the Patriots draft plans.

Bob Ryan looks at an Illinois team on a mission. Everyone has been raving about the NCAA games last weekend, well, all except Jim Donaldson (how predictable) who says it was brutal basketball. Mark Blaudschun looks at the only thing that has eluded Roy Williams in his career…an NCAA title.

Nick Tavares wants you to get all excited about that season opener this weekend. No, not the Red Sox, the Revolution. Frank Dell’Apa says that MLS is on pretty solid footing after 10 years of existence. Gus Martins says that the Revs have some catching up to do.

Ron Borges looks at this weekend’s fight between Jose Antonio Rivera and Luis Collazo. George Kimball also has a look at the fight.

It’s a HUGE weekend for sports viewing. Jim Baker takes a look at all the options available to the sports fan. Bill Griffith focuses on the Red Sox with their opener this weekend, and looks at all the “broadcast changes” Red Sox fans can expect when following the World Series Champs this year. Andrew Neff talks to Jim Rice about his role as a studio analyst on NESN. David Scott of Scott’s Shots will be blogging about the events of the weekend during the next few days, so be sure to check in. Dennis Whitton says that April is the best month for sports fans.

FSN has Celtics/Hawks at 7:30. ESPN has Kings/Cavs at 8:00 and Spurs/Nuggets at 10:30.

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