Welcome Back, Curt

A busy, busy Friday in the world of Boston sports. Lots of “drama” from Fenway last night. There is also a few more articles on the Celtics, more on the Bruins as they prepare to build a team for next season Be sure to check out David Scott’s Shots is a must-read today for a sobering look at a former Herald Columnist losing another job almost as quickly as he got it.

Well, it wasn’t what he and the Red Sox had in mind for his first appearance, as Curt Schilling entered a tie game last night in the ninth inning to a heroes welcome, and then proceeded to surrender a two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez and be tagged with the loss in an 8-6 defeat at the hands of the New York Yankees. Chris Snow says a couple of splitters left hanging pitches was what led to defeat for Schilling and the Sox. Jeff Horrigan notes that the one pitch that Schilling didn’t think he had to worry about – the split fingered fastball – was the one that failed him. Steven Krasner looks at ARod getting some revenge on Schilling, who has said a lot of things about the Yankees third baseman in the last couple years. David Heuschkel says there was no bloody sock for Schilling this time, just a bruised ego. Jeff Goldberg reports that Rodriguez did not want to get into a war of words following the game. David Borges notes that Bronson Arroyo may have been the starter for the Red Sox last night, but he was just a warmup act for Schilling.

Jackie MacMullan looks at Schilling getting off to a rough start in his tenure as a reliever, but still leaving the park with a confident swagger which bodes well for his next appearance. Sean McAdam says that Schilling is already set to turn the page on last night. Lenny Megliola writes that the fans got to see what they wanted last night…Schilling into the game in the ninth, but instead of a save, they witnessed a train wreck. In an article written prior to the game last night, Alex Speier looks at Schilling in his new role for the Red Sox. Karen Guregian writes that the Yankees knocked Schilling off his white horse and stole his cape last night. David Borges says that it was an awkward debut for Schilling out of the bullpen. Joe Haggerty reports on Schilling staggering in his first appearance out of the ‘pen. Jon Couture says that the Sox need Schilling to perform in order to win the division. Steve Buckley (subscription only) says that if ARod’s homer last night proves to be jolt that propels the Yankees to winning the division, we’ll remember Curt’s debut for some time.

Dan Shaughnessy thoroughly enjoyed last night’s game, and why not? The Yankees won, Schilling gave up the winning home run, so Dan can compare his performance to a Ben Affleck movie review, and praise the Yankees for their full squad workout prior to the game. Jim Donaldson says the time is past for Kevin Millar to Cowboy Up. Donaldson writes that the struggling first baseman should just Shut Up. Or perhaps Pack Up. Does Ron Indrisano take a shot at his colleague Shaughnessy when he mentions “Those haughty predictions that the Red Sox were going to run away with the American League East”? Indrisano also reports on Chad Bradford making his debut with the Red Sox last night, and as Guregian writes one of his first acts was to talk hunting with David Wells. Steve Buckley writes about John Olerud seeing the other side of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. Art Martone observes that history says that the Red Sox will be fine in the second half.

The Yankee articles…first of all, you can get all the coverage from New York on the New York Sports Headlines page. Locally, Amalie Benjamin and Donaldson look at Alex Rodriguez letting his bat do all the talking against Schilling and the Red Sox fans. Michael Silverman looks at Mariano Rivera, who was in top form last night, striking out the side in the ninth. McAdam looks at Gary Sheffield’s comments on next spring’s World Baseball Classic. The Yankees outfielder has stated that he won’t play because he doesn’t get paid for that. Silverman looks at tonight’s original Yankees starter, Chien-Ming Wang being scratched due to an inflamed shoulder. Benjamin writes about his replacement, recent pickup Tim Redding.

Lots of good stuff in the notebooks today…The Globe notebook reports that Gabe Kapler could clear waivers and rejoin the Red Sox organization as soon as today. He would likely go to Fort Myers for a time to begin workouts. Horrigan’s notebook has Jay Payton admitting that he staged the showdown with Terry Francona in Texas to “accelerate the process and make something happen” toward getting him out of town. He insists he has no ill will towards Francona or Theo Epstein. Jay Payton, you just dropped even lower in the eyes of many. The ProJo notebook wonders if the Red Sox would have interest in Al Leiter, who was designated for assignment by the Marlins yesterday. Leiter has had a good relationship with pitching coach Dave Wallace from their time with the Mets. It also reports on progress made in negotiations with first round pick Craig Hansen. Borges’ notebook looks at the debut of Bradford. Heuschkel’s notebook has Mike Timlin biting his tongue after the game and Millar speaking more on his friendship with Manny. Snow also produces a minor league notebook with updates on Cla Meredith, Roberto Petagine and ends with Hanley Ramirez electrifying the crowd at the Eastern League All Star Game.

Steve Bulpett looks at rookie Gerald Green adjusting to basketball at a higher level. Marty Burns on CNNSI has an article looking at Green, who has been the talk of the Las Vegas summer league for his athleticism and potential. Bulpett also reports on last night’s win for the Celtics and the fact the Danny Ainge and Paul Pierce never got together during the time in Las Vegas. Kevin McNamara reports on Ryan Gomes getting a multi-year contract from the Celtics, a rarity for a second round pick.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at how the new NHL salary cap should be an ideal fit for the Bruins. Stephen Harris compiles a to-do list for the Bruins which features what should be the top 10 things on their schedule to be done immediately. Nick Tavares says that it still make take time for the fans to come back. Steve Conroy looks at Glen Murray, eager to get back to work, but trying to stay patient.

David Scott has an jarring column today looking at former Herald sports columnist Michael Gee losing his teaching position over at Boston University due to some unfortunate comments made on the SportsJournalists.com message board. A tough story, and despite Gee’s kindness and support of BSMW, it is one that could not be ignored. Scott also touches on a number of other topics, including rumors that Greg Dickerson could be tapped for the new ESPN Radio Boston, and NECN’s revamped SportsLatenight. John Howell has Jerry Remy discussing comments from Gary Sheffield saying that the Yankees would have ARod’s “back” this this weekend at Fenway. Bill Griffith looks at TNT’s coverage of NASCAR this weekend in New Hampshire, as well as other media notes.

In other sports, Fluto Shinzawa looks at cheating in NASCAR. Jim McCabe looks at Tiger Woods taking an early lead at the British Open.

UPN38 has Red Sox/Yankees at 7:00.

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No Longer On Ice

A fairly busy day as the sports world gets back to work. There will be an NHL season this fall, as a tentative agreement was reached between the two sides to end the work stoppage. The Red Sox begin the second half of the season tonight against the Yankees, and there are Celtics, British Open and Tour De France updates as well.

Pretty much right from the time he went on the air at 10:00 am yesterday, Dale Arnold was talking about the impending end to the NHL work stoppage. He referenced an article by Russ Conway which outlined many of the points that the new agreement would be built on, and had Conway on the air once the tentative deal became public. He and co-host for the day Rob Bradford kept up with the news throughout the show, referencing sources such as Eklund’s Hockey Rumors and TSN in Canada. Dale also announced that he will be doing a column for Eklund’s Hockey Rumors in the fall when the site is re-designed.

The newspapers today are of course filled with articles on the new agreement, and really the new league that will be created as a result. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Steven Harris have details on the tentative deal, which will run for six years. Bruce Berlet says that this can only be good news for hockey fans. Kevin Paul Dupont says that it will take time for the fans to come back and for the sport to fully recover from having lost an entire season. Karen Guregian writes on a topic that has become a common theory in this area – that the Boston Bruins should be one of the teams to benefit the most from this new system. James Murphy says the news of the deal was being met with cautious optimism by the Bruins. Joe McDonald says that the Bruins players are just happy to know that they will be on the ice this fall. Douglas Flynn also talks to some local players about the return of the NHL. Steve Conroy says that even though the owners got the better of the deal, no one can say that they were “winners” in this affair.

The Red Sox begin the second half of the season tonight facing the same opponent they opened the first half with…the New York Yankees. David Heuschkel looks at how the Red Sox have thrived despite so much controversy over the last few years, a lot of it can be attributed to bringing in players who can handle it here, as well as an ownership that is willing to listen. Dan Shaughnessy looks ahead to the ancient rivals once again locking horns this weekend and says anything could happen. Just a few weeks after saying the Red Sox were going to win the division in a landslide, (a fact he does admit to), he fits all his usual stuff in this column…Babe Ruth, He Who Must Not Be Named, and pops in this paragraph:

This year the Sox come into the weekend with a small lead, but events of the last two weeks have reduced the Nation to a legion of doomsayers. If the Red Sox don't stop the onrushing Yankee tide this weekend, it's going to start to feel a little like 1978 around here, and that is never a good thing.

A legion of doomsayers? I’m guessing Dan is listening to WEEI too much again. Michael Silverman looks at the Sox getting back to work tonight at Fenway. Sean McAdam has six questions he’d like answered as the Red Sox go into the second half of the season. Chris Snow says that the second half will be decided by pitching, he turns in an extensive article looking at all facets of the Boston pitching staff. Alex Speier looks at some of the “brushfires” the team has had flare up in their clubhouse in recent weeks and notes that this will be an interesting two weeks for the team. Steve Buckley (subscription only) says that the Red Sox need to get their house in order and get some momentum. He mentions their problems, the grousing about Schilling, the fact the David Wells is an “idiot” and not the good type in the Damon mode, and says the Yankees could be in first place come Sunday night thanks to their “spirited comeback”. They were never really all that far out…

James Whitters looks at the memorial service for Ruth Pesky. Michael Muldoon has an article on NH’s own Chris Carpenter, who started the All Star game for the National League. Jon Couture writes that we should be prepared to hold on for a wild ride in the second half of the season. Silverman looks at Curt Schilling heading to the bullpen. David Borges examines the bullpen getting boost with the addition of Schilling and Chad Bradford. Adam Kilgore looks at the Yankees, who are in good position despite having so many things happen in the first half of the season. Heuschkel’s notebook has more on the Red Sox bullpen getting a boost. Silverman’s notebook observes that the Sox will be playing more home games in the second half of the season.

There are plenty of Red Sox/Yankees articles in the New York papers this morning as well. Check them out over at the New York Sports Headlines page.
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Steven Morse has another review of Bronson Arroyo, this time for a show he did at Avalon last night. We’ll see if Arroyo does as well on the mound tonight against the Yankees. Rick Massimo reports on Peter Gammons’ Hot Stove, Cool Music hitting Fenway Park on Saturday night following the Red Sox/Yankees game.

Steve Bulpett says that Delonte West’s rant against his teammates following their first summer league loss the other day may have been a start of something the team really needs…leadership. FSN had a very good segment last night with Greg Dickerson sitting down with Celtics rookies Gerald Green and Ryan Gomes. The latter was especially impressive in the interview, showing a humility and willingness to do whatever it takes to make the team and contribute. He was extremely well spoken and appeared mature. Green was enthusiastic and also talked a lot about working hard. It was interesting to view the contrast between the two in terms of just age…Green looked fresh out of high school, while Gomes has the demeanor and poise of someone who’s been through four years of college. But again, FSN and the Herald deserve credit for sending people out there to cover the events of this week. Good job. Bulpett’s notebook looks at the Hornets showing some interest in former BC guard Troy Bell.

Bob Ryan has a column on Colin Montgomerie returning to the British Open, and event in which he has never contended. Jim McCabe makes his picks for the Open. I checked with Bill Griffith at the Globe, (so he deserves credit for this) and TNT will be showing its portion of the Open in “widescreen digital” (16:9) on the HD tier. It’s not true HD, but this is a step up from a conventional broadcast.

Bonnie DeSimone has the Tour De France update, with Alexandre Vinokourov winning yesterday’s stage, but still trailing Lance Armstrong overall. Dennis and Callahan had some good talk about Armstrong in their 8:00 hour yesterday, noting the toughness and determination of Armstrong, which is really unlike any other athlete in a singular sport than we’ve seen in this generation. He’s also taken this French event, and made it relevant here in the United States.

John Molori’s Media Blitz looks at Ed Berliner getting a new deal from Comcast, All Star game coverage, Jon Meterparel doing BC football and rising and falling stars. I wonder if Molori would’ve been so quick in his praise for Joe Buck and Tim McCarver had he known that they were likely involved in the “advertising” of the HHRYA banner during the game – which turned out to be an ad for Chevy. The Register examines this controversy.

Cheers to the gang over at Sons of Sam Horn, who moved the hugely popular board over to a new server and domain this week. While there were a few hiccups in service yesterday on their first day, anytime you move a board and date of that size, you’ve got to expect some snags. The new board looks great and they’ve got some nice things planned for the future.

NESN has Red Sox/Yankees at 7:00 (ESPN2 Nationally) TBS has Braves/Mets at 7:00.

Let’s Get This Break Over With

A mixed bag today as we’ve got coverage of the All Star game from Detroit, a couple Red Sox stories, more Celtics coverage from Vegas, a possible repeat of Flutie mania at the Heights, British Open coverage and of course a look to the headlines in New York.

The American League extended their All Star unbeaten streak to nine games with a 7-5 win last night in the Midseason Classic. Gordon Edes and Michael Silverman have the game stories. Red Sox hitters combined to go 4-6, and Matt Clement pitched a scoreless inning for the winners. Tony Massarotti looks at the continued dominance of the American League, and comes to a simple conclusion” The National League is a joke. Adam Kilgore has a look at MVP Miguel Tejada. Massarotti also checks in quickly with Roger Clemens, Kilgore has piece on David Eckstein, who had a little bit of a stressful call home on Sunday night. Edes’s notebook is pretty extensive, and looks at Bud Selig insisting he never knew there was a steroid problem in baseball and there are also a number of Red Sox related notes in there. Silverman’s notebook leads with a look at Kenny Rogers, who is glad he went to the game.

Alex Speier has an article on Johnny Damon, who just keeps right on running into walls in the outfield, without regard to his own health. The Red Sox center fielder is earning praise for his toughness and ability to play through injuries. Jonathan Comey has five…well make that four…questions surrounding whether the Red Sox will be able to repeat as World Series Champs. In yesterday’s Globe, Steven Morse had a review of Bronson Arroyo’s debut CD.

Gabe Kahn looks at the Celtics suffering their first summer league loss. The Green fell to the Cavaliers, 71-65 out in Las Vegas. Steve Bulpett has a look at Kendrick Perkins, of whom a lot is expected in this, his third NBA season. Bulpett also has Delonte West upset and speaking out to his teammates after the loss to the Cavs yesterday. Bulpett’s notebook looks at second round pick Orien Greene, who is recovering from foot surgery.

Lenny Megliola looks at Billy Flutie Jr., nephew of Doug, who has an scholarship offer to Boston College lined up for next year. Though projected as a kicker in college, Flutie wants to take a shot at playing quarterback as well. Albert Breer also looks at Flutie’s verbal commitment to BC.

Stephen Harris says that the time is right for the NHL to come out and announce at least a tentative labor agreement.

Bob Ryan looks at the mentality needed to play St. Andrews. Jim McCabe examines Tiger’s quest to once again conquer the legendary course. McCabe’s notebook opens with Phil Mickelson hoping for a good showing this weekend.

Bonnie DeSimone reports on Lance Armstrong reclaiming the yellow jersey, this time he hopes for keeps.

Ron Borges waxes at the cyclical nature of boxing with fighters coming and going in his Wednesday Boxing Notes.

The New York Sports Headlines has perspectives from that city on the All Star game, the British Open, (Nice article in Newsday on Jack Nicklaus) and the continuing Larry Brown watch.

NESN has the Eastern League All Star game from Portland at 7:00.

Midseason Classic

Perhaps a bit light on the links today, but it is the All Star Break, after all. A few articles on the Red Sox contingent the All Star game, some midseason media awards and some Celtics coverage make up our update today.

Tonight’s All Star Game in Detroit features an American League squad with a decidedly Red Sox feel to it. It starts with the Manager, Terry Francona, who met the press yesterday as part of his duties and to announce his starting lineup. (Note to WEEI: Do we really need to hear both the AL and NL starting lineups 1-9 every 20 minutes during the flash? How about just at the top of each hour maybe?) For the most part, articles are light this morning, but Gordon Edes turns in a terrific article on Francona. It looks at how the Red Sox skipper uses humor to defuse much of the stress that comes with his job as well as the very serious concerns regarding his health. Respect for the game is another important thing to Francona, and though he may use humor, he also is serious in his approach of the game. There was a reason, after all, that he once batted Doug Mirabelli in the third spot in the lineup. Michael Silverman has a much shorter article on Francona handling his All Star duties. Tony Massarotti looks at the Red Sox deservedly enjoying the spoils of their World Series victory with all the All Star honors and recognition. On the other hand, Gerry Callahan (subscription only) writes this morning that Johnny Damon is indeed a dumb-ass for his comments regarding Curt Schilling coming out of the bullpen. That’s the point and gist of the entire column.

Adam Kilgore reports on last night’s Home Run Derby, won by the Phillies’ Bobby Abreu. Massarotti also has a report on the contest, in which David Ortiz finished fourth. Ken Davis looks at the rebirth of Frank Robinson as manager of the Washington Nationals. He also declares the former Montreal Expos a big winner because of their move to the nation’s Capital. Silverman reports that Manny Ramirez is facing a fine for not appearing at the media session yesterday. Kilgore’s notebook is an extensive collection of items ranging from Kenny Rogers making his appearance, to the Yankees lamenting the absence of Derek Jeter, to the global representation of the lineups. Silverman’s notebook has John Smoltz commenting on Curt Schilling’s move to the bullpen, a Scott Boras update (Craig Hansen, Johnny Damon) and next spring’s World Baseball Classic.

With the midseason classic upon us, it’s fitting to take note of some great performances by local media members. I’m often accused of being a “hater” when it comes to the local scribes, and though that is not the case, I thought it good to stress the positive here, and present the best from the first half of the season.

Best Performance by a Beat Writer: David Heuschkel, Hartford Currant.

Last week

All Star Break

The Red Sox hit the midpoint of the season on a down note, while waiting for Curt Schilling to come riding out of the bullpen later this week. The Celtics continue to generate interest with their summer league team and offseason moves. There are a couple other items of interest as we hit the three slowest days in sports.

The Red Sox limped into the All Star break losing the Baltimore Orioles yesterday afternoon 4-1 after again being dominated by Rodrigo Lopez. The loss meant that the Sox dropped three out of four games in Baltimore over the weekend, and instead of inflicting a deathblow to the division hopes of the Orioles, Baltimore now sits a mere two games behind the Red Sox in the standings. Gordon Edes and Jeff Horrigan go the positive route to open their game stories, pointing out that had you known that Curt Schilling would have only one win thus far this season, would you have though the club would be in first place at the All Star break. Sean McAdam looks at the Red Sox offense coming to a grinding halt this weekend against the Orioles, who were struggling coming into this series. David Heuschkel points out that the Red Sox are 6-7 since Kevin Millar’s proclamation of “We’re going to the Series, boys” back in Philadelphia two weeks ago. David Borges looks at Lopez once again inexplicably dominating the Red Sox after struggling against most everyone else in the league.

Curt Schilling made back-to-back performances out of the bullpen for the Pawtucket Red Sox over the weekend, and said that he hopes to be ready to go for the second half of the season. Chris Snow has a report on who only needed 7 pitches to complete an inning Saturday and 16 pitches in his inning of work on Sunday. He also learned more about how long he needs to warm up. Jeff Horrigan says that pitching on consecutive days was the final test for Schilling. Bob Snow says that Schilling will be ready to pitch when that bullpen phone rings next week.

Tony Massarotti files a first half report card, giving manager Terry Francona an “A” for how he has handled all that he has had to deal with in the first half of the season. Alex Speier looks at the Red Sox offense going AWOL over the weekend in Baltimore. Jon Couture revisits his preseason predictions. Bill Reynolds predicts that that Red Sox will win the division, not because they’re so good, but because he doesn’t think Baltimore or New York is capable of doing it. Howard Bryant has a tiny bit on Tim Wakefield’s outing yesterday. Amalie Benjamin looks at the Orioles getting back on track, thanks to the Red Sox this weekend.

Bob Hohler has a mini-feature on Johnny Damon and how he embraces and thrives under the spotlight of Boston. Hohler talks to former GM Dan Duquette, who signed Damon in 2001, as well as to Damon’s brother and wife. Howard Bryant (Subscription only) has a shorter article on Damon, who extended his hitting streak to 25 games yesterday. Bryant says that the plate isn’t the area where Damon is hot.

He's upset at being swallowed whole by the Boston media machine when his commentary about Curt Schilling moving into a relief role created a firestorm. He did not think he said anything controversial. Who wouldn't be surprised that the ace pitcher of a championship team is moving to the bullpen? He is particularly angry at the unchecked nature of talk radio, but is savvy enough to know it is a battle he cannot win.

Bryant finishes off the column by re-visiting Damon’s contract situation and whether he is going to stay in a place that has made him a celebrity, or simply take the most money somewhere else. Amalie Benjamin writes about David Ortiz, who does not hide, on or off the field. He talks about losing his mother in a car crash in 2002 and how that affecting his life from that point on. Joe Haggerty looks at praise for Jason Varitek, and his ability to block the plate.

Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times magazine ran a feature by J.R. Moehringer on former Red Sox team Physician Doctor Bill Morgan and how he was relieved of his duties during last off season, and he claims to still not fully understand the reasons for it. The article is one-sided, but an interesting read nonetheless.

Edes’ notebook looks at Johnny Damon taking note of the extension that Mark Kotsay received from the A’s over the weekend. McAdam’s notebook looks at Damon extending his hitting streak with a bunt single in the ninth inning yesterday. Heuschkel’s notebook has David Wells making more unfortunate comments supporting Kenny Rogers. Borges’ notebook looks at Bronson Arroyo’s busy schedule for the All Star Break. Horrigan’s notebook says that Arroyo will lead off the second half of the season for the Red Sox, taking the hill against the Yankees on Thursday night.

Steve Bulpett looks at Taylor Coppenrath making an impressive showing for the Celtics summer league squad, increasing his chances of landing a job in the NBA rather than Europe. Still, the 6-9 forward from Vermont is realistic about the possibility that he may have to go overseas to get his chance. Tim Weisberg has a column on the Celtics that puts any Sunday notes from Peter May to shame. He looks at the performance of the summer league squad, possible destinations for Antoine Walker, the logic behind the signing of Brian Scalabrine, as well as point guard options for the Celtics. Emma Stickgold has the obituary in the Globe for Edward G. Gillooly Jr, who covered the Celtics for the Herald for nearly 30 years. Bulpett’s notebook looks at a member of the C’s summer league entry leaving for an overseas deal.

It may be Groundhog Day on sports radio this week. As the WEEI regulars filter back in from their vacations last week, be prepared, as is the regular custom on that station, for each host to “revisit” any controversies that happened in their absence, and weigh in on these subjects. This allows them to be able to drop their personal pearls of wisdom upon us, which we might’ve missed in their absence.

Don Aucoin has a feature in the Globe on a 12 year old who runs a popular sports blog and has made a name for himself as a caller to the “Sports Bloggers Live” internet radio program. The kid has his opinions, and obviously quite a lot of sports knowledge. A neat story, though I’m curious as to how this all came to the attention of the Globe. The kid’s “popular” blog has had under 6700 hits since it was started in February, and I’m willing to bet many of these came since this article was published. As for Sports Bloggers Live, I’ll have to check them out a little more, as I had not heard of the site.

Pedro Martinez notched his 10th win of the season for the Mets, and the Yankees won as well to pull to within 2.5 games of the Red Sox. Check those and the other stories from New York at the New York Sports Headlines page.

Bonnie DeSimone looks at Lance Armstrong giving up the Tour De France lead, partly by design.

ESPN has the Century 21 Home Run Derby at 8:00.

Theo speaks on the “Brush Fires”

Theo Epstein (TE) was on WEEI with Mike Adams(MA) and Michael Felger (MF) this morning and had some interesting comments.

First, he was asked by Mike Adams about the lineup last night, and how it seemed curious to have so many impact players out of the lineup.

TE: Who do you think can make out a better lineup, Terry Francona, with all the information, managing to win as many games as possible over the course of 162 games, or you, with partial information to win last night