Not much happening on the local scene yesterday, yet still a wealth of day-to-day articles and stories in the papers this morning.
Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider this week looks at rookie Nick Kaczur, who is filling in for Matt Light, and has the support of the injured left tackle. He also reports that Kevin Faulk’s injury could be potentially career threatening, and notes the line of former Broncos who have come in and out of Foxboro this week, as well as the fact that the Patriots defense is in trouble these days. Mike Reiss has the Patriots midweek report for the Globe, and he examines the team’s quest to force more turnovers. Right now they’ve only gotten one this season, an interception from Mike Vrabel in week two. Eric McHugh writes that as stunning as it might sound, a weak defense could mean the end of the Patriots Super Bowl reign. Chris Kennedy says that there are plenty of positives to take from Sunday’s win. Christopher Price says that the Patriots have been a roller coaster of inconsistency thus far.
With the Patriots heading the Denver to take on the Broncos this Sunday, there are stories on the Champs in the local papers out there. The Denver Post has a look at the Patriots one step at a time approach, while the Rocky Mountain News has a look at Tom Brady carrying a bigger load for the Pats this year. Reiss filed his weekly mailbag yesterday, which is again filled with interesting items and tidbits. Reiss’ notebook, which is quite extensive today, has John Lynch talking about almost becoming a Patriot, as well as injury updates on Light, and Tyrone Poole, how rookie Mike Wright has been adopted by the veterans and a list of defensive backs worked out by the Patriots, which includes Hank Poteat and Terrell Buckley. McHugh’s notebook has Bill Belichick showing a little humor during a press conference earlier this week.
The Celtics had their first exhibition game last night in Pittsburgh, coming up short against the Cavs, who were without LeBron James. Steve Bulpett has a short recap of the game, while Shira Springer looks at Delonte West getting the start at point guard for the Celtics in the opener. Mike Fine reports that with so many youngsters out there, Coach Doc Rivers only worry is the leadership gap. The game was played in Pittsburgh, so Phil Axelrod of the Post-Gazette has a game story, and out in Cleveland, Branson Wright looks at the Cavs getting along fine without LeBron. Speaking of LeBron, Bulpett reports on Paul Pierce making peace with the Cavs star after a preseason scuffle last year. Springer’s notebook looks at James sitting out last night with a strained chest muscle, while Bulpett’s notebook has James speaking on how much easier Celtics rookie Gerald Green has it coming into the league without the spotlight on him.
Michael Silverman has an interesting report which has someone close to Manny Ramirez, and authorized to speak for him, saying that the Red Sox slugger is happy here, would like to remain here, but would like to sit down and meet with Red Sox officials next month to see what the future of the club is, where he fits in, and perhaps even give his input on a few things. Howard Bryant, (subscription only) has two columns this morning, the first is his Boston Uncommon byline which looks at Keith Foulke, and whether he “checked out” on his teammates late in the season, not even watching their game and going to the Bruins game instead. He goes on to look at players that are booed and criticized around here, and how Curt Schilling gets a free pass because he gave everything he had last fall. Bryant points out that lesser talented players give their all to the team too, but don’t escape the wrath, while some players get by on cosmetic personas. He points to Trot Nixon.
The problem is that so much of a player's persona is cosmetic. Trot Nixon quietly produced nothing in the crucial month of September, and he earns twice as much as Millar, is a platoon player, hit .223 with five homers and 30 RBI at Fenway, and .233 with a home run in September. Yet he is perceived as the consummate competitor and has never faced the anger of the nation. But does Nixon play the game any harder than Millar, Renteria or Bellhorn? When Nixon hits a two-hop, automatic out to second base, he jogs to first in the exact same manner as Ramirez and 99 percent of baseball players at the major league level.
And nobody says a word.
Bryant’s second article of the day looks at the ALCS going on with no trace of the Superpowers. John Tomase looks at the Red Sox and Yankees stepping aside for now. Jon Couture says that he is still going to root for the Sox…the White Sox now that is. Paul Doyle says that the Red Sox/Yankees absence leaves a void for fans in the Northeast. Dan Shaughnessy says that the Red Sox and Yankees might be missing from this ALCS, but for writers and fans around the country, they aren’t missed. They’re glad for some new blood.
Gordon Edes and Jeff Horrigan have the game stories of the Angels shaking off their jet lag and defeating the White Sox 3-2 in Chicago last night. Shaughnessy looks at Angels starter Paul Byrd coming up big last night on three days rest. Horrigan looks at Jarrod Washburn getting the start tonight for the Angels, recovering from his bout with strep throat. Edes’ notebook looks at Bartolo Colon being left off the ALCS roster by the Angels. Horrigan’s notebook also looks at this topic.
Nick Cafardo catches up with Roger Clemens, who engages in a little Boston talk, looking forward to day in the future when he can come up to Fenway and catch a few games. He also talks about some of his former teammates on the Red Sox. Clemens is enjoying his team’s run this year, coming off the longest postseason game in history Sunday, having played a key part in that win. This is the type of story that Cafardo does best. I enjoyed it. Cafardo’s notebook looks a couple of pitchers getting a second chance in the NLCS.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell reports that Joe Thornton could be heading back to Boston for some treatment on his ailing back. Steve Conroy looks at the continued injuries to the Bruins top three centermen. Joe McDonald looks at young center Brad Boyes, who many feel is way ahead of his time at the age of 23. Burrell’s notebook has more on the center injuries, while Conroy’s notebook reports on Thornton.
David Scott spent a day doing nothing but listening to Sports Talk Radio. He chronicles the day on a special Wednesday edition of Scott’s Shots’ (With a new page design as well.)
FOX has Angels/White Sox at 8:00. FX will carry Cardinals/Astros at 8:00.