Pondering on Michael Felger’s interesting Patriots Insider column this morning, I wondered about the last item, where he talks about why Bill Parcells and the Cowboys didn’t pursue Adam Vinatieri this past offseason. He cites John Czarnecki of Fox television and Foxsports.com as having reported that

Parcells had a nod-and-wink agreement with Belichick and Pats personnel director Scott Pioli not to make the first offer for Vinatieri in free agency.

The problem with this statement is that this story originated in Czarnecki’s blog on Foxsports.com, and is not sourced at all. It’s more of a musing rather than a “report.” The actual bit from Czarnecki: reads:

You have to wonder why Adam Vinatieri, the best clutch playoff kicker in the past five seasons, ended up in Indianapolis and not in Dallas?

The best story is that Colts GM Bill Polian gave Vinatieri a contract offer and told him if he left the building and visited the Cowboys the offer was off the table. Vinatieri took the deal and the Cowboys had to settle for Vanderjagt, the kicker the Colts discarded.

Another version is that Parcells told Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli, New England’s brain trust, that he wouldn’t pursue Vinatieri as a free-agent unless another team spoke to him first. Believe me, the Patriots probably wish they didn’t make any verbal deal with Parcells.

So are these “stories” considered actual “reports” or what? Czarnecki doesn’t mention any sourcing or how these anecdotes came to him. (My own inquiries into this matter say that this “story” is entirely false.) Despite his use of the phrase “If this is true” a couple times regarding these claims, Felger sure treats them like they are real.

I’m not really trying to be overly critical here, but this is incredibly misleading. He’s treating them as fact and then building on them with further speculation. He makes it seem like Pioli called Parcells up and told that if the Cowboys made the first offer to Vinatieri that he’d never see his grandchildren again…

Felger mentioned that these were more examples of the Patriots “hardball tactics” that they employ during contract negotiations. I think (and Czarnecki seems to as well) that the Polian story, if true seems to be more “hardball.”

In any event, I’m not saying that Felger should not have included these in his column today. I do wish he had been a little less misleading and bit more forthcoming about the veracity of the stories.

* Chad Finn weighs on on the possible (probable?) departure of Manny Ramirez. My favorite part:

It seems most of the Trade Manny advocates blame him solely for the gruesome demise of the 2006 Sox, ignoring the indisputable fact that virtually everyone else on the roster either got hurt or, pardon my French, royally sucked down the stretch. Oh, the anti-Manny brigade will yelp and yowl and wait on hold for 45 minutes just to agree with that third-rate lounge act Mike Adams that they deserve someone reliable, a DIRT DAWGGG, A GAME-AH, not a QUITTAH like Manny.

Gerry Callahan was at his outraged, indignant, miserable best (worst?) this morning when talking about Manny and how his contract has been an “Albatross” and shouting at callers (Why the need to shout?) that “Manny has not lived up to his contract!!” It seems Finn would like a word with the Callahans of the world:

Well, guess what, ya basement-dwelling dope? He's one of the most reliable players in the history of the sport. During his six seasons with the Red Sox, he's batted .316, with an average of 39 homers and 116 RBIs. He has been the Gehrig to Papi's Babe, or vice versa, and you can check the numbers, adjust them for their era, and you'll realize that's not at all hyperbolic. Even with the headaches and midsummer vacations, he's been worth every goddamn Benjamin of his $160 million contract. You want reliable? Despite missing 42 games with a busted finger in 2001, he's averaged 142 games per season with Sox, a number his supposed successor in the cleanup spot, the infamously indifferent Drew, has surpassed twice in his nine-year career.

* Bill Simmons says that the NBA Eastern Conference is the worst in sports.

* Can you imagine the reaction among the Boston media if Bill Belichick and the Patriots did this? (Indy Star)

And we wonder why the organization is so careful about what is said? Does it make more sense that they’re intentionally trying to be difficult with the press, or that they understand the nature of the beast that is the media and try to avoid these types of situations? And where is our Dallas Clark injury update? The fans deserve to know!

Or how about this? (Denver Post)

The writers in town who seem to have the league offices on their cell phone speed dial would be on the phone in about two minutes to lodge a complaint.

I’m off to the Garden to witness the first place battle between the Celtics and Nets…