The Theo Watch, T-Minus 5 Days

The Theo Epstein watch continues. Sean McAdam seems to have perhaps the best sources in this situation, as he has another report this morning on the situation, saying that there was some progress made in the talks yesterday. (McAdam had a report in yesterday’s ProJo, but due to a publishing oversight, it did not appear on the Projo website until about 4:00 PM.) McAdam’s report today deems it “moderate” progress that was made towards getting the Red Sox GM a new deal. Meanwhile, the Globe combo of Gordon Edes & Chris Snow reports that Epstein yesterday rejected an offer of three years at 1.2 million from the Red Sox. The Herald doesn’t have a report on Epstein, but Jeff Horrigan does have the tidbit that Assistant GM Josh Brynes is a top candidate to become GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Gordon Edes, Jeff Horrigan and Dom Amore report on the White Sox taking a 3-0 World Series lead with a 7-5 win over the Astros in 13 innings last night. Bob Ryan writes that this game may have been long, hard work, but it made for great baseball. Tony Massarotti notes that the game went so late that many in New England likely did not see the conclusion. Chris Snow has a piece on Scott Podsednik, who is leading the White Sox to a World Series victory.

Horrigan reports on Major League Baseball’s decision to keep the roof in Houston open for the games played there. This was after the Astros played almost the entire season with the roof closed. Now while the decision isn’t such a big deal, I’m getting uncomfortable with how much Bud Selig and his regime need to have control over everything. If Sean McAdam’s source is correct that Selig also weighed in and urged the Red Sox not to give Theo Epstein a larger deal because he wants to keep executive salaries down, then the commissioner is not just a control freak, he is also flirting with collusion. Bob Ryan has a second piece today, this one an opinion bit urging baseball to take a second look at instant replay. Events of this postseason have shown the need for a new way to review controversial calls. Kevin Gray reports that Nashua Pride manager and former Red Sox player and manager Butch Hobson would like a shot at managing the NH Fisher Cats. Massarotti has a brief look at the pitching matchups for game four. Horrigan’s notebook reports that if the Astros make it to a game five, they’re still hoping Roger Clemens will be able to go. Edes’ notebook has more on the roof situation.

The Celtics, despite letting a 20 point lead get away in a 118-116 OT loss to New Jersey last night, still had a pretty good night. Their regulars were strong and outplayed the regulars of their division rivals. Steve Bulpett has a short report on the game, noting that the OT experience was good for the young players.

One area which is becoming more clear is the point guard spot, where it seems that Delonte West and Orien Greene will get most of the minutes. Shira Springer has a piece on West, who appears to have won the starting position with Greene being the first guard off the bench. Mark Murphy has a mini-feature on Paul Pierce, who is successfully working at repairing his image after his playoff performance and is growing into the role model that this young Celtics squad really needs. Bulpett also has an article on Brian Scalabrine, who went back to his old haunts last night, and played pretty well. The article gets Nets President Rod Thorn’s thoughts on the forward, and how he’ll do in Boston. Jackie MacMullan reports on NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik announcing his retirement effective at the end of the season after 30 years with the league. Inside Hoops has a question and answer session with rookie Gerald Green. Bulpett’s notebook has more on the point guard situation, and has Doc Rivers giving his players a lesson on Rosa Parks.

Michael Felger has Tyrone Poole responding to his article from last week in which the Herald writer suggested that football was not a priority for Poole and that he was taking his time in coming back from his injury. The Patriots cornerback strongly speaks out about that article and that claim by Felger. Nick Cafardo looks at the Patriots situation coming out of the bye week and preparing to face Buffalo this Sunday night. Overall, it’s a fairly positive article, but in both this one and in Cafardo’s notebook, Nick makes sure to point out that Bill Belichick and Nick Saban share a disdain for the media. Way to work those both in there, Nick. The notebook otherwise is a look at what Tedy Bruschi’s status and role might be for Sunday, as well as more on Poole, and a number of other items. Chris Kennedy says that the Patriots need to find a way to stop the big play. Christopher Price notes that other than Tom Brady, the AFC East is not the place where quarterbacks develop and thrive. John Altavilla reports on the death of Wellington Mara.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Stephen Harris report on the Bruins narrowly escaping tragedy yesterday as the drive of their team bus just managed to avoid a high speed accident in Toronto. Mick Colageo believes that the introduction of the shootout in hockey could just be the start down a slippery path that could ruin the sport as we now know it. Harris notes that the Bruins still have plenty of work to do on getting their defense up to par. Harris’ notebook says that Nick Boynton appears to be finding his legs and timing after coming back from his holdout.

BC wide receivers are in focus today as Steve Conroy has a piece on Kevin Challenger, while Michael Vega profiles Tony Gonzalez. Both notebooks look at the status of Mathias Kiwanuka. Conroy’s notebook reports mixed signals, while Vega’s notebook says that the team is being cautious bringing the defensive end back to play.

NESN has Bruins/Hurricanes at 7:00. FSN has Celtics/Cavs at 7:30. FOX has White Sox/Astros at 8:40.


Things that have ruined sports coverage in Boston for me

There are times in which I go into a sports funk. Well, I guess it really isn’t a sports funk, because I always enjoy watching the games. I’m just as excited about each game that my favorite teams play as I have ever been. However, I’m not enjoying what surrounds those games. Programming and reporting that should enhance my knowledge and enjoyment of the games are instead taking away from them. After thinking things over, I’ve come up with a list of media related developments and trends which are actually taking away from my enjoyment of sports coverage here in Boston. I repeat myself a few times in this list, I’m sure, and some of the items are perhaps connected with other items in the list, but I think each point deserved its own listing. Without further ado, here is my list of…

Things that have ruined sports coverage in Boston for me:

1) Contrarians simply out to make a name for themselves.

Otherwise known as the Let me say something so incredibly stupid that people can’t help but take notice and have me on their shows so I can defend my position, and get more attention and make money and then be a regular guest on those shows while I continue to say dumb things just for the sake of standing out and being different. This is probably the biggest problem in the sports media right now. You get rewarded for being a contrarian, no matter how stupid what you say really is. It allows people with no talent to keep in the spotlight and get their names talked about.

2) Arguing and controversy over everything.

I blame ESPN for a lot of this, though it can likely be traced back to the news world of FOX News and other roundtable discussions where a lot of shouting and back and forth is going on.

It seems every conversation this day on radio and television must have two strongly divided sides. Each side has to vigorously defend their stance, under no circumstance admitting defeat or even the merits of the other side. While the outlets will strongly deny that they choose up sides prior to a show, what are they supposed to say? That it is all contrived? The fact is, this “choosing up sides” does happen. I was talking to a media type recently who had appeared on an ESPN program. He told me that he was told the subject matter they would be discussing, and then that “It would be great if you could just shoot down everything this other guy says.”

Is this supposed to be entertaining? The shows then become nothing more than two egos battling it out and trying to get the upper hand, no matter how ridiculous and weak their stand might be. It’s not informative, in fact, if you have a convincing person arguing for the “wrong” side, the shows can even be misleading. There?s a misguided thought among the media that the public wants and craves “opinions?. Not so. We have our own. We don’t need to hear ALL of yours.

3) Talk Radio

It started out with such promise. Sports fans could have a station dedicated to talking about their local sports teams. They would hear analysis and discussions of last night’s game or listen to interviews by players, executives and reporters. This didn’t last long, because this “reading the boxscores” over the air approach was deemed to be too boring. What the station needed was a “hook”- as if sports fans weren’t loyal enough to come back and listen each day – the station decided that creating a daily “soap opera” would be the way to go. They would create cartoonish characters for themselves, invent plots and subplots, all filled with controversy and negative talk, to keep the listener coming back each day. Actual sports talk is replaced with endless debates filled with fake passion about the same subjects over and over again. Apparently it works for them, but I’ve got to wonder – are the ratings really that much higher as a result of these changes? With the incredible success of the local teams as of late, wouldn’t there be just as many people tuning in?

On the recent edition of WCVB’s Chronicle which featured WEEI, Glenn Ordway said that the station gets criticized because the hosts often are talking and yelling over each other during the course of a show. He said this is actually something they try to do, because, Ordway claimed, the average fan when he gets together with his friends be it at a bar or in their living room, is going to shout and yell over their friends to get their point heard.

I’m sorry, but is this true? When you get together with your friends, are you constantly talking over them, yelling at them, making fun of their weight, and saying outrageous things to bait them? It may happen occasionally that you have a heated discussion over a topic, but it’s certainly the exception to the rule, and not really something that is enjoyable. But for some reason, this is now the standard for talking sports on radio and TV in Boston.

4) Baseball games treated like football games

I think this is purely a Boston thing. Every Red Sox game is analyzed and dissected on talk radio and in the papers as if it were 1/16th of the season as NFL games are, instead of the 1/160th of the season that baseball games really are. This results in each and every game, and each and every decision by the manager being second guessed and placed in a vacuum apart from the “big picture” that is the 162 game season. There’s no perspective there. As the games, weeks and months go by, the intensity builds, it reaches a boiling point so that every single game, every single hit and error is LIFE OR DEATH. No enjoyment of the games here when a bunt single in he first week of June is debated to death on the airwaves for three whole weeks.

5) The Haters

Being “objective” or not “in the pocket” of the local team apparently means for some media types around Boston that you must display maniacal hatred for those teams. You must work hard to find every fault and point out every possible bad angle and negative spin you can put on a situation. Otherwise, you are nothing but a “homer.” God forbid.

6) Media relationships and rivalries (Globe vs WEEI)

The listeners and viewers suffer because of these petty “rivalries.” Wouldn’t you like to hear Bob Ryan or Jackie MacMullan on the Big Show? While I mentioned above that I dislike contrived controversies it would be interesting to see a guy like Ron Borges, who truly despises the Patriots go at it on the Big Show against Ordway, Sheppard, Smerlas and DeOssie. While neither side would make many coherent points, currently Borges only appears on outlets where his outlandish claims and venom go largely unchecked. This isn’t fake or contrived controversy. If Borges really has issues with the way the Patriots and Bill Belichick do things, I’d like to see him have to explain and defend his views against someone who is going to challenge him, not give him a pulpit to spout his “Bill Belichick was the 2nd gunman” theories.

The same thing applies to television. You’re not going to see any of the Globe writers on FSN, or any of the WEEI or Herald guys on NESN. You thus get an incomplete view of the Boston sports scene.

7) The Internet

What? Isn’t this an Internet site? In many ways, the internet has been a boon for the sports world. Fans can look up information, statistics and get together with fellow fans on message boards dedicated to their favorite team. Sounds great, huh? Unfortunately, whenever you get people together on-line, you get trolls. Whether they be people who delight in baiting others and causing chaos on message boards (even ones operated by media outlets), or people who create their own inflammatory “fan” websites for the sole purpose of posting negative, sometimes hateful opinion and stirring up trouble with “rumors” that they create themselves, these ones can take the joy out of following sports for many.

8) Panicmongers

I heard Michael Felger use this term on FSN one night to describe another person on the show. It fits perfectly. With some media types, the sky is always falling, even after the first preseason game for any sport. What could go wrong? What if (superstar) gets injured? Is (draft choice, free agent, trade) a total bust? Is (superstar) done? Could (coach, executive) be in danger of losing his job should (unlikely catastrophic event) happen?

9) “Throwing it out there”

I don’t have any basis for this, but I’m going to bring it up anyway. – That’s the essence of the I’m just going to throw this out there for discussion style. It may include accusing a player of using performance enhancing substances, or whether a coach or executive is in danger of losing his job should a certain (usually far-fetched) situation arise. Perhaps it’s even done on a positive accomplishment: “Let’s say David Ortiz breaks the franchise record for home runs, will he then demand another contract extension this offseason?”

10) Rooting “for the story”

When did this start? Has it always been this way? Instead of enjoying an outcome that will result in happiness for their audience, media types now root for whatever is likely to result in “the best story.” Usually “the best story” is whatever is going to cause the most heartache for the local fans and be the most negative outcome possible. A devastating loss is somehow easier to write about then an exhilarating win.

11) The need to be “edgy”

WBCN had a perfectly good Patriots pregame show in years past. However, they started tweaking it with the express purpose of making it more “edgy” and “combative.” A new host was brought in last year, one who was good at creating “problems” and “issues” that had to be addressed and fought over. This year, competent analysts Pete Brock and Tim Fox were dismissed in favor of guys who are going to yell at each other and be combative. The producer encourages this format, saying that it was their goal to bring this “edge” to the program. NECN has changed their Sports Late Night program, both during the week and on the weekends to be more “edgy” and more opinionated.

12) “Celebrity” Callers

You know the names. “Frank from Gloucester,” “Alison from Cambridge,” “Mike from Canton,” “John from Medford,” “Angry Bill,” “Al from Everett” “Dakota from Braintree”. The list goes on. Sometimes I’m hard pressed to figure out if they’re calling the station, or if the station is calling them. They make regular appearances, seemingly on cue, and usually take the discussion on the air into a totally different direction. Always for the worse. They’re usually some sort of “Superfan” – the worst type of fan. These so-called “fans” usually call up to rip the local teams or question the decisions of the coaches and managers. In the case of “Frank” and “Mike” they’re Yankees fans who appear on the air to do nothing more than taunt Red Sox fans and stir up reaction. Sometimes they’re just on the air to do nothing more than say incredibly stupid things and be the butt of jokes from hosts. (“John”) Incredibly, some of these callers have even either been offered time on local radio stations, or have gone out and tried to get their own show. We had “Danny from Quincy” and another guy whose name I forget (Jack?) get segments hosting with Eddie Andelman on 1510. We had “Dakota” doing a short-lived morning show on the same station. Whenever a piece is done on Red Sox fans or WEEI callers, “Angry Bill” is trotted out before the cameras. What is the appeal?

13) I was right all along!

A proclamation is made. Usually there is very little evidence to prove this proclamation, the basis for the proclamation may even be disputed or proven to be out-and-out wrong. Weeks, months go by, and then by coincidence, the scenario described in the original proclamation actually comes about. That original statement is still dead wrong, but now the leap is made that the speaker was correct all along and now has been proven as such. He seeks vindication from any and all that will listen to him. One to look to for the future, and perhaps it is even happening now, is Borges proclaiming the Patriots championship run as a house of cards, ready to fall apart at any time. At some point, the Patriots are not going to win the Super Bowl, and Ron will be right there, telling us he was right all along. Even if that date turns out to be 2008. Glenn Ordway is another one who has perfected this tactic.

14) Politics

While Dennis and Callahan make no bones about the fact that their show is not strictly sports talk?a good deal of it is news, politics and entertainment, other shows which claim to be sports often work in their political views and get them out there to a huge audience. If a World event is happening, or even a local scandal, you can be sure that the sports experts are also going to bless us with their keen political insights and opinions. I use sports to get away from the news and politics of the world. I don?t need to hear the opinions of these guys on things that actually matter.

So what’s the solution? Is there any? I have friends on the West coast, who are transplanted from here, and they’ve told me it has actually improved their enjoyment of rooting for their teams. They watch the games on the dish, or at a local bar that is full of fellow transplants. They might see some pre or post game shows, and go check out a newspaper or two online. Perhaps the forced cutback has increased their enjoyment of what they can get.

There is no doubt that Boston sports fans have an insatiable demand for information and talk about their teams. The local media has attempted to fill that demand with shows of all types and formats. Unfortunately, they’re shows that for the most part, I don’t enjoy. I listen and watch regardless, but it just could be so much better. I wish I could sit in these meetings where these plans are thought up and implemented. Who thinks that these elements are a good idea and add to the sports experience here in Boston?

It’s not all bad. Perhaps next I’ll come up with a list of the good things in the Boston sports media.

Bruins Fall Again

The Bruins continued their early season division struggles, dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs by way of a shootout. Eric Lindros beat Andrew Raycroft in the shootout to give the Maple Leafs the win. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell reports on the power outage continuing for the Bruins. Stephen Harris writes that the Bruins once again showed that they have difficulty with team defense and protecting leads. Dan Hickling reports on another back and forth game for the Bruins. Over on the Boston Bruins Blog, it’s noted that the Bruins have yet to be outclassed from start to finish in any game this season save the Ottawa one, which could be looked at as a positive, if they can ever learn to close teams out. Even before last night’s game, Mike Loftus was saying that the Bruins could use a tighter defense. Harris looks at a few Bruins who have Olympic hopes for their home countries.

Burrell’s notebook reports that despite an injury to his eye, Captain Joe Thornton doesn’t want to wear a visor or face shield on his helmet. Harris’ notebook looks at the Bruins first experience with the new overtime shootout format. Hickling’s notebook looks at the many connections between the Bruins and Maple Leafs rosters.

Michael Felger looks at Bills safety Lawyer Milloy who patrolled the secondary so well for the Patriots for many years, and is now with Buffalo. Felger writes that Milloy isn’t the player he once was, and the Patriots don’t need him on the field, but they sure could use his mouth and some of his attitude. With the help of a player agent, Mike Reiss assesses the value of several members of the Patriots relative to their contracts. He breaks them out into Value Plus, Value and Value Minus categories. Alan Greenberg says that the Patriots biggest goal coming out of the bye week is to improve the defense. Jonathan Comey asserts that the AFC East (and a playoff berth) is there for the taking for the Patriots. Michael Parente agrees that the AFC East is the Patriots to lose, and that there is no panic or reason for panic in the hallways of Foxboro. Karen Guregian looks at Richard Seymour, who is bugged by the Patriots 3-3 record, has vowed to be back out on the field for the Buffalo game, and is ready to get started. Bob Halloran says that Tedy Bruschi’s return is a matter of faith for all involved, critics, supporters and Bruschi himself.

Michael Silverman writes this morning that should things not work out between he and the Red Sox, Theo Epstein might not have to just go out and take another GM job in baseball. The Yale graduate has plenty of opportunities, connections and interests to make a successful career outside of the game. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that the deal has to get done, and eventually win get done. Tony Massarotti has a brief report that the Red Sox have dismissed assistant trainer Chris Correnti.

Stan Grossfeld goes down to Greenville,South Carolina for his feature on native son Shoeless Joe Jackson. He talks to the locals and looks into whether Jackson really was guilty of being part of the plan to throw the 1919 World Series. Dan Shaughnessy looks at the World Series coming to Texas for the first time ever. Tony Massarotti looks at the White Sox having their share of good luck during this series. Chris Snow and Dom Amore look at tonight’s starter for the Astros, Roy Oswalt, who has the ability to be the stopper Houston needs right now. Massarotti also has a short piece on the stopper for the Astros. Jeff Jacobs examines the manic motormouth known as Ozzie Guillen. Jeff Horrigan looks at the Astros being upset that MLB is insisting that they leave their dome open for the next few nights as long as the weather is fair. Edes’ notebook and Horrigan’s notebook each have Brad Lidge hoping for a better performance his next time out.

Steve Bulpett reports that the Celtics will probably not pick up the fourth year option on Marcus Banks, which would make the UNLV product a free agent after this season. Shalize Manza Young has a look at rookie Gerald Green, who has a lot of work and maturing to do before his time comes on the court. The youngster has worlds of potential and talent, but has a ways to go still. The older guards are working him hard in practice, teaching him lessons for the future. Mike Fine, meanwhile has a piece on Orien Greene, as the second round draft pick continues to make a name for himself in the preseason. Shira Springer looks at Brian Scalabrine, as the forward continues to attempt to carve out a role for himself on this club. Bulpett documents some allegations made against center Mark Blount in a NY court room yesterday. The person involved was a former coach of Blount, who testified that someone else took Blount’s SAT and later injected him with steroids to bulk him up. This same person had sued Blount back in 2001.

Bill Reynolds has a piece on former Providence College and Boston Celtics player Marty Conlon. Young’s notebook has coach Doc Rivers standing in support of Tony Allen and hoping that the second year forward will finally learn from his mistakes off the court. Bulpett’s notebook has more on the ups and downs of Gerald Green during camp.

John Molori’s Media Blitz has Mike Gorman talking about the upcoming Celtics season, and also talks to Jon Wallach, who is strongly pushing to become the permanent host for the WEEI evenings. John Howell looks at Donny Marshall joining the FSNE Celtics broadcasts. Bill Griffith looks at the BC Eagles getting showcased this Thursday night with a national TV game on ESPN against Virginia Tech.

FSN has Celtics/Nets at 7:30. FOX has White Sox/Astros at 8:40. OLN has Penguins/Panthers at 7:30.

Big Week Ahead for Patriots

The Patriots enjoyed the weekend off knowing that they have the toughest part of their schedule now behind them. At 3-3, they’re in first place in the AFC East, thanks to the weakness of the division. Michael Felger writes this morning that if the Patriots want to have a chance of returning to the postseason, they’ve got to take advantage of this weak division, starting this Sunday against Buffalo. Jerome Solomon takes a peek at the upcoming schedule, noting that it is now time to turn it for the Patriots should they wish to regain their place of prominence in the league. In many ways, the season begins now for the Patriots.

A few articles from yesterday worth looking at: John Tomase had a feature on Patriots QB coach Josh McDaniels, who many believe is the offensive coordinator in training for the Super Bowl champs. Amalie Benjamin had a look at linebacker/safety Don Davis, who battled back from a low point in 1998 when he nearly ended his own life, to his current position on the Patriots, where he is just as important in the lockerroom as he is on the field. Tom E Curran caught up with former Patriot cornerback Ty Law, now with the Jets, and got his thoughts on many topics, including of course, his departure from the Patriots. Joan Vennochi wrote that Tedy Bruschi might be rolling the dice with his comeback, and giving up the change to end his career on top. Someone should inform Ms. Vennochi that it wasn’t really the talk show callers that were calling Bruschi selfish, it was the highly paid, supposedly informed talk show hosts.

Gordon Edes and Jeff Horrigan report on the White Sox winning game two of the World Series on a walk off home run from Scott Podsednik. Dan Shaughnessy and Steve Buckley (subscription only) both anoint the White Sox as this year’s team of destiny. Chris Snow looks at Brad Lidge again playing the fall guy for the Astros in giving up the game winning homer last night. Horrigan looks at the White Sox continuing to get the breaks. Snow also has a look at Bobby Jenks as the 24 year old rookie is right in the middle of things here in the World Series. Horrigan says that the Astros still hold out hope that Roger Clemens could go in a possible game five. Edes’ notebook has more on Clemens, while Horrigan’s notebook looks at Andy Pettitte making history with his 34th postseason start.

Bob Hohler continues his series on Charity and Sports in Boston, today looking at the Celtics and Bruins efforts to match up with the standards set by the Red Sox and Patriots when it comes to supporting charities. Hohler also looks at how the 2002 sale of the Red Sox was a boon for local charities. Yesterday’s piece by Hohler entitled “Not Giving Their All” suggested that some athletes do not give as much to charity as they either say they will or suggest that they do. He singled out Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez as two guilty of this. Hohler noted that Martinez has been “fabulously generous with his personal wealth in his Dominican homeland,” but didn’t hand out as much to the children of Boston as he had promised. Another piece looked at several Boston athletes who have stepped up, including Doug Flutie, Curt Schilling, Mo Vaughn, Cam Neely and Tim Wakefield.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Roger Clemens should end his career where he began it. That’s Lenny Megliola’s theme this morning, and to me it makes zero sense. Clemens is playing near his home, his son is in the Astros organization, there is no way or reason he would come back North. I guess it’s just fun to dream about.

Shira Springer and Steve Bulpett each look at rookie point guard Orien Green, who has been turning heads in camp and the preseason with his heady play, strong defense and crisp passing. If you missed his second quarter fast break bounce pass to Al Jefferson Saturday night against the Nets, you missed something special. Bulpett also looks at Brian Scalabrine as the new Celtics forward continues to find a role for himself with the team Bulpett’s notebook looks at Justin Reed losing playing time on Saturday night because of a wardrobe malfunction. More to the point, he didn’t have his complete wardrobe on, lacking a game jersey. Zach Rocha is looking ahead to the Beijing Olympics, and already his team put together.

From yesterday, Shira Springer has Tony Allen talking about his arrest and situation for the first time. Bulpett also looked at Allen rejoining the team after his arrest. Peter May had his NBA notes, with a look at Allan Houston’s retirement, and suggesting that if Danny Ainge wants to take another run at Robert Swift, now might be a good time. Bill Reynolds weighed in on the NBA dress code.

Stephen Harris looks at the Bruins’ plans to exit the Northeast division cellar. Hohler looks at the Bruins plans to refurbish a rink in Roxbury, a plan that has yet to received state approval for the Bruins charitable foundation to begin the work. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has Brad Boyes hoping to make some noise against his home town Maple Leafs tonight. Harris’ notebook reports that Mike Sullivan and Ray Bourque have been unable to catch up to be able to talk about Bourque’s possible new role with the organization.

Jim Donaldson has a Monday morning thoughts column, leading off by noting that the day off yesterday certainly came at a good time for the Patriots.

Mike Shalin and Michael Vega each have an early look at the BC basketball team, which begins its first ACC season projected by many to finish second in the conference behind Duke. A big key for the Eagles will be whether Sophomore center Sean Williams is able to return from school suspension in time for play.

Check out the New York Sports News and Bay Area Sports pages for NFL results, World Series coverage and many other topics from the world of sports.

From the weekend, David Scott reported on the depature of long time staffer Marvin Pave from the Globe sports pages.

NESN has Bruins/Maple Leafs at 7:00. ABC has Jets/Falcons at 9:00. OLN has Red Wings/Blue Jackets at 7:00

Simmons on Boston Media Reaction to Bruschi

Bill Simmons has his NFL picks for the week, but also weighs in on how certain members of the Boston sports media are handling the Tedy Bruschi comeback:

Finally, when the Patriots announced that Tedy Bruschi was returning this week, we reached a new low in the "I don't make sports fun for fans to follow, so I'm going to play the contrarian role and just tick them off" game that has haunted the Boston sports scene for the last few years: Some media members tried to claim that Bruschi was being selfish for coming back, causing such a "major" distraction and even jeopardizing his family's future. Selfish? For being cleared medically by every doctor he had, then deciding to resume his football career? That's selfish? Also, who are they to decide what's best for Bruschi and his family?

On FSN's local TV show in Boston, I watched one of these contrarians smugly making the selfish argument with the incredulous hosts for a few minutes, followed by the guy shrugging his shoulders and saying, "Hey, you pay for me my opinion." I have this on TiVo -- even saved it. And you wonder why the sports fans in New England are crazy -- if Boston fans are like passengers on an airplane who are afraid to fly, some of these media members are like stewardesses who just walk up and down the cabin screaming, "We're all gonna die! We're all gonna die!" Then they return to their little flight attendant area, high-five each other and wait for the checks to clear. What a travesty.

Pats Break for Bye

(updated 9:50 am)

Bob Ryan is again the voice of reason on the local scene, this time in assessing the Patriots. Perhaps you might be disappointed, or frustrated at the 3-3 start. Don’t be. Ryan assures us that this is not a disaster, and that there is time for Bill Belichick and the team to turn this around. John Tomase notes that the Patriots defense isn’t a scary physically as it has been the last couple seasons, and could use a little more punch. Alan Greenberg says that Tyrone Poole isn’t walking through that door anytime soon, fans. The Patriots cornerback said that he had a “setback” in his recovery from an ankle injury. However, when asked about it yesterday on ESPN Radio Boston 890, Coach Bill Belichick didn’t really want to label it that way, as reported by Mike Reiss. The interview by the way, was quite good overall. Michael Felger has a look at Poole, who insists that he’s not frustrated at how long its taking him to come back, simply because football is not his life. As Felger notes, that might be the problem right there…

Jerome Solomon looks at the Patriots offense, which despite being the same system as in years past, has been inconsistent at times this year, leading him to wonder if there is an adjustment period going on with the loss of Charlie Weis. Kevin McNamara reports that it could be a rough bye weekend for Jarvis Green, who is going home to New Orleans to examine the damage on a first hand basis for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. Chris Kennedy looks at how Duane Starks is holding up during this rough time in his career. Ian M Clark has a look at how the Patriots rookie class is faring thus far this season. Michael Parente has Bill Belichick reminding all that everyone, all the coaches, and players are responsible for the 3-3 start to the season, and if they’re going to turn it around, it will be together as well. Eric McHugh says that a healthy Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour would certainly go a long way towards shoring up the defense. Christopher Price looks at how various members of the team stand as we hit the bye week, and what some of them will be doing this weekend.

Cold Hard Football Facts hits the nail on the head with the media coverage this week and last regarding Tedy Bruschi’s return to the Patriots. Many of these so-called “experts” are in no position to comment on the situation and tell Bruschi that he should not resume his football career. Especially worthy of the disgust of fans are people like Joh Dennis, Jon Meterparel and Brian Baldinger, who insist that Bruschi is simply returning out of selfish ego. As one media figure/observer told me this week after seeing Meterparel on FSN Monday night; “That was the single dumbest argument I have ever heard on a radio or TV show – we are turning into a media culture where it’s almost good for your career to go out and say the dumbest thing possible because it keeps you in the limelight for a couple of days.”

Solomon’s notebook says that Tedy Bruschi is playing catch-up with the rest of his teammates as he continues to get ready for his return to game action. Karen Guregian’s notebook says that the Pats aren’t rushing Bruschi into contact situations just yet. McNamara’s notebook has a look at Arturo Freeman hoping to make an impact in the Patriots secondary. Parente’s notebook has more on Poole, whose status appears will remain in limbo for some time to come. McHugh’s notebook has another look at Starks, who vows to overcome his rough start with the Patriots.

Jim Lazar and Jim McCabe make their weekly picks for the Herald and Globe respectively. I.M. Bettor and Double D also weigh in on the pro action this weekend. On the fantasy football end, Patrick Hanrahan has some advice this week, and Michael Salfino also weighs in with some counsel. The Globe tells us Who’s Hot and who’s not.

The Bruins finally got to play a game at the Garden last night, but the home ice didn’t give them an edge, as they fell to the Sabres 4-3. Jim McCabe has Bruins coach Mike Sullivan saying that his team is giving up too many chances to the opposition. Douglas Flynn says that the extra games against division opponents isn’t working out so well for the Bruins thus far. Mick Colageo confirms this, noting that the loss was the Bruins fifth in five division games thus far. Joe McDonald notes that the effort was there for the Bruins, they just failed in the details. Mick Colageo confirms this, noting that the loss was the Bruins fifth in five division games thus far. Steve Conroy says that Nick Boynton is still adjusting to the new NHL rules. Flynn reports that Ray Bourque’s deal with the Bruins to become a part-time assistant coach is all but finalized at this point. Conroy looks at P.J. Axelsson, one of the Bruins who appears to have benefited from the new rules. Flynn also looks at Holliston native Mike Grier playing in front of his home crowd last night.

McCabe’s notebook looks at Joe Thornton’s return to the lineup last night. The Captain tallied six shots in his return from back problems. Flynn’s notebook also reports on the return of Jumbo Joe, while McDonald’s notebook has more on Ray Bourque re-joining the Bruins.

Michael Silverman reports that tales of possible Manny trades this offseason may have life yet. Meanwhile, it appears that one season in Boston was enough for David Wells, according to Gordon Edes’s notebook, the lefty has requested a trade to the West coast. The team is expected to try and accommodate his wishes. The notebook also reports on the Theo Epstein contract talks and Manny trade talk. Gordon Edes gives us just the facts in looking at this World Series matchup. Dom Amore notes that both clubs have rather forgettable pasts. Chris Snow looks at the Astros pitching, which is a big reason why they find themselves in the Series. Silverman goes down through the Series Matchups for the clubs. Brendan McGair looks at the Houston trainer, a New England native with a history in the game.

Steve Bulpett reports that Tony Allen will be facing charges for his role in a Chicago nightclub incident in August. Roman Modrowski in the Chicago Sun Times has more, noting that Allen will be charged with a felony. In better news, Scott Souza reports on Al Jefferson getting back out on the court at practice yesterday. Mike Fine has more on the NBA dress code. Bulpett’s notebook has more on Jefferson, while Fine’s notebook looks at Doc Rivers trying to find consistency out of his young bench.

David Scott has more on Howard Bryant’s seemingly imminent departure from the Herald. He also checks out Bill Belichick’s appearance on 890 AM with Mike Felger and has a number of other items. Bill Griffith looks at how Hurricane Wilma is impacting sports coverage this weekend, breaks down some of the latest WEEI ratings numbers, and notes that the reason the Celtics preaseason games haven’t been on the radio is because officials made the assumption that the Red Sox would still be playing at least into this week. John Howell looks at UConn football broadcasts, and looks ahead to 60 Minutes on Sunday which will feature Michael Jordan and his gambling. Michael Cox in the MetroWest Daily News has a feature on Craig Mustard, who plays the dual roles of High School Teacher and Sports Talk Radio Host.

Still not enough sports? Check out the New York Sports News and Bay Area Sports pages for more reports and commentary.

FSN has Celtics/Raptors at 7:00. ESPN has Southern Miss/UAB at 8:00.