A busy, busy morning today. We’ve got the stories on Richard Seymour’s no-show, all the articles about the Red Sox and the Cubs, a look at the lack of hoops knowledge on the local airwaves, and the usual Friday media columns.

The New England Patriots opened their only mandatory minicamp of the offseason with a conspicuous absence. Richard Seymour did not show up, and coach Bill Belichick would only say that Seymour’s absence was “unexcused”. As you would imagine, this is the top story this morning in the papers. Reports on the situation are filed by Michael Felger who notes that Seymour has been at all other team events this offseason, and Jerome Solomon, who says Seymour is likely to be fined. Alan Greenberg says that Seymour “isn’t indispensable”. A startling statement comes from Jonathan Comey, who says:

Sources close to Seymour told The Standard-Times the Pro Bowl lineman is prepared to sit out the entire season unless his contract is restructured.

Sitting out the season really does Seymour no good, because it would just mean he is under the Patriots control for another season. There is a “drop dead” week in the NFL where he would have to report by in order for that not to happen. Elsewhere, Tom E Curran notes that Seymour’s new agent has a history of holding players out. (Walter Jones of the Seahawks being the most notable example.) While not speculating too much, Ian M Clark says that this could just be a way of Seymour making a statement without missing anything significant. Chris Kennedy also reports on Seymour’s situation.

Felger also has a look how the quarterbacks threw the ball, specifically the candidates to be Tom Brady’s backup, Rohan Davey and Doug Flutie. Mike Reiss passes along some general observations from the sessions. Solomon’s notebook says that camp was a bit quieter without Charlie Weis’ booming voice. Felger’s notebook looks at the work done at the inside linebacker position yesterday. Curran’s notebook has more on the offense without Weis.

Did Ryen Russillo really say on Fox Sports last night something to the effect that Seymour was at least in part doing this for all his veteran teammates who are getting a raw deal and that they appreciate what he is doing?

The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs will face each other in a meaningful game for the first time since 1918 this afternoon out at Wrigley field. Gordon Edes has an extensive article on the frustrations of Cubs fans over the years. He touches all the bases on this one. Dan Shaughnessy looks at the matchup between the Red Sox and Cubs, and also takes a general look at the two franchises and connections between the cities. David Borges says that this matchup lost a little of its luster with the events of last October. Garry Brown also has look at this long awaited meeting. The Herald plays a little back and forth this morning as to which ballpark is better, Fenway or Wrigley. Tony Massarotti says Fenway, while Steve Buckley (subscription only) says Wrigley. John Connolly takes a look back at the 1918 World Series between the Red Sox and Cubs.

Sean McAdam says that rather than focusing on trades to improve his starting staff, Theo Epstein is hoping to get a fully healthy Curt Schilling back into the rotation. David Heuschkel says that Manny Ramirez just hasn’t been himself this season, but that this weekend in Wrigley might be a place to turn things around. Jeff Horrigan looks at today’s starter for the Red Sox, Bronson Arroyo. Stephen Harris looks at Milton native Rich Hill, working in the minor leagues for the Cubs. Horrigan has a brief note on Nomar getting his ring this weekend. Snow’s notebook has Terry Francona admitting his team is a little tired. He also has a minor league notebook which leads off with a look at first baseman Roberto Petagine. Horrigan’s notebook has Johnny Damon saying that the team needs to get more consistent.

Quite a bit of talk on sports radio yesterday revolved around the Celtics and the rumors of a potential deal with Portland. Mark Murphy has Danny Ainge shooting down the deal, while Tim Weisberg doesn’t think it is a possibility, noting that it originated on the two most unreliable sources on the internet…a message board and Chad Ford.

From just about all accounts, the deal has not even been discussed between the teams, so it’s not even a rumor, more of an “idea”. I don’t see it happening. The way it goes would be something like this: The Celtics would ship Pierce to the Blazers, who would send Nick Van Exel and the Number three pick in the draft to Boston. The Celtics would then cut Van Exel and use his money to pursue a high level free agent such as Ray Allen, Michael Redd, or perhaps a longer player like Stromile Swift or Tyson Chandler.

The panel on the Big Show had no clue about the players involved, or how it would work financially. Glenn Ordway said he spoke to two NBA people one of whom told him the Celtics would be able to spend the money, the other who told him they would not. It was painful listening to the exchange as it was clear no one on the program had a clue. It’s not that hard to get information these days, and yet quite a bit of time went by without any corrections, or clarifications being made. I guess it’s not really a big deal, since it’s only an “idea” and because WEEI is sports “entertainment”, not real sports talk. It’s more entertaining to float the idea out there with only half the information right and generate calls than it is to do a little work and get it right.

In any event, here’s how it would work. Van Exel’s contract has a club option for the 2005-06 season. The Blazers would trade him in the deal to the Celtics, the Celtics would then own that contract…they would then decline said option, making Van Exel a free agent, and taking the money off the Celtics books, because the contract would have ended. It’s not like cutting a player with a year left on his deal, or doing a buyout of any sort. Ordway, who purports to be the NBA expert on the program, was clearly out of the loop on this one, as he blustered about how if a team could just cut a player and get cap space, why wasn’t everyone doing it…that would be a totally different situation. Now whether this is realistic or not, shouldn’t the host and expert be familiar with it before speaking on it? How did that conference go that morning?

Another tactic which was maddening was Ordway’s harping on how the Celtics would be “blowing it up” again if they made this deal, and how that hasn’t worked for the last 15 years or so that the Celtics have struggled. He would then say that fans wouldn’t go through this again. It might be true that the Celtics are doing another youth movement, but I think we’d agree that this one seems different as there is stability at the top and a commitment to building a winner from the top down. Steve Buckley was saying that a team needs to bottom out at the right time and get that once in a decade player and that’s how you build an NBA team. Heard of that team in Detroit…the Pistons? Who is their franchise player that they had to bottom out to get?

Peter May looks at the Spurs defeating the Pistons in game one of the NBA Finals. Gabe Kahn says that injuries have helped the Spurs cause. May’s notebook looks at some old veterans getting their first shot at an NBA Finals.

After only two days, I revamped the NY Sports Headlines page to be a little more friendly to the eye. It might take a second to initially load, as it needs to fetch the current headlines, but it should be useful for those wanting to keep an eye on things down there.

John Howell talks to Al Michaels about his thoughts on the NBA Finals. Bill Griffith also looks at Michaels, but also at his brother David, who will be working the Belmont Stakes tomorrow. David Scott weighs in on anything and everything in the world of sports media in today’s edition of Scott’s Shots.

NESN has Red Sox/Cubs at 2:00. TBS has Braves/A’s at 7:30.

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