12.20.06 Afternoon

I’ll be attempting another Celtics live blog tonight over at the FSN Celtics Central website.

WBZ-TV is going to be the only place you can watch start-to-finish live coverage of the 2007 Boston Marathon. WBZ-TV President and GM Ed Piette says “’BZ has a long and distinguished tradition of carrying this event in its entirety. When WCVB pulled out of the race, changing the dynamics of the coverage model, we very much wanted to figure out a way that WBZ could still bring the Marathon to viewers.”

WCVB pulled out of coverage due to production costs, (Something that was traditionally split among the stations) so WBZ worked with the BAA to come up with a coverage plan that would allow them cover the entire marathon, making them the only station with wire to wire coverage. This will mark their 27th year of providing full coverage. The 2007 Marathon will begin with the first wave of runners at 10:00 AM on Monday, April 16th.

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Rocky expert Bill Simmons has his review of the new Rocky Balboa movie. He’s not too high on it.

This week’s edition of The Media Circus looks at the disturbing reality that NBC actually did air the Michael Bolton Tribute on Ice this past weekend. They also recap “Crap that actually came from somebody’s mouth” from the weekend and have a couple of other items as well.

Via Deadspin, here is a post on UmpBump.com that has a little bit about Tomoyo Matsuzaka, wife of Daisuke.

Jim Williams looks at NASCAR and DirecTV taking race viewing to a whole new level in 2007.

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Boston Radio Watch on Entercom’s plans for Red Sox baseball and specifically WEEI:

WEEI will still retain a large presence with about 30-40 game package of Wednesday games and weekday afternoon broadcasts as well as Jimmy Fund Radiothon(Aug.17) game. WEEI will still have all the Sox access programming with team’s players and management. The reason for WEEI airing its Game of The Week on Wednesdays as opposed on any another day? Wednesday happens to be the last day in Arbitron’s weekly ratings survey which runs Thursday thru Wednesday. It’s all about recalling what you heard during the week before mailing back your diary on Thursday morning. And previous night’s game on WEEI may stick out better in people’s minds, especially if Dice-K threw a gem….

That crafty Jason Wolfe…

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Monday Night Football on ESPN is averaging a 10.0 rating and 9,224,000 homes (12,402,000 P2+) for 16 games in 15 weeks. These represent increases of 41%, 43% and 42%, respectively, compared to the first 15 weeks of last year’s ESPN Sunday Night Football (7.1 rating, 6.444 million homes, 8.733 million viewers).

Meanwhile, FOX continues to garner big numbers for their NFL games, as season-to-date, FOX Sports’ National Game is averaging a 14.2/27 in Households, standing as not only the highest-rated NFL window on television, but also the highest-rated program of any kind, in any daypart. Through eight Doubleheader Sundays, FOX’s National Game even out-rates the No. 1 show in prime time, Grey’s Anatomy, by + 2% (vs. 13.9). The National Game on FOX is also up +10% over last year’s 8-game average (12.9/24) and holds sizable advantages over the season averages of both CBS’s National Game (+11% vs. 12.8), and NBC’s Sunday Night Football (+27%, vs. 11.2).

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The frosty relations between the New England Patriots and the Boston Herald continued today as Richard Seymour dismissed a Michael Felger attempt at a question without even letting Felger get more than a few words out before asking for the next question.

The hostility likely stems from the back page of this morning’s Herald which proclaims that Ty Warren was a “more deserving” candidate for the Pro Bowl than Seymour:

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While Felger didn’t write the headline on the back page of the paper, his own article on the Pro Bowl selections made it clear that agreed with the spirit of the headline. Writing about the history of headscratching Pro Bowl selections, Felger writes:

The latest miss occurred yesterday, when Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl in just his sixth year in the league.

Then a sentence or two later, Felger chimes in:

But the truth is that, for a variety of reasons, Seymour hasn’t even been the best defensive lineman on his own team this season. And again, we stress the this season part of the equation.

Now, what Felger writes may not be that much out of line. Ty Warren, by all accounts is having the best season of his life, and deserved to go to the Pro Bowl this season. I don’t think Seymour would disagree with that notion either. What likely bothers Seymour is the implication that he doesn’t deserve to go, or that the paper seems to feel the need to knock him down to lift Warren up.

However, this is just the latest in a series of little incidents between the Herald and the Patriots. There seems to be at least a couple of reasons for the tension, and Dale & Holley on WEEI today discussed this a little bit. There is of course the endless, over-the-top gossip column coverage, mostly of the head coach, but there has also been a more negative, aggressive, “edgy” approach being taken by the writers covering the team. This approach has resulted in confrontations with Corey Dillon and now Seymour, and as claimed by Dale & Holley, in Belichick seemingly becoming even more tight-lipped with the Herald reporters.

It used to be the Globe with Ron Borges and Nick Cafardo that was the bane of the Patriots existence. Now with Mike Reiss on the beat, and Borges contributing maybe one or two columns a week on the team, the roles seem to have been clearly reversed between the two papers.

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Here is the top 15 from Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal 50 Most Influential People of 2006

  1. George Bodenheimer; President, ESPN/ABC Sports
  2. David Stern; Commissioner, NBA
  3. Bud Selig; Commissioner, MLB
  4. Dick Ebersol; Chairman, NBC Universal Sports and Olympics
  5. Roger Goodell; Commissioner, NFL
  6. David Hill; President, DirecTV Entertainment Group / Chairman, Fox Sports
  7. Tony Ponturo; VP of Global Media & Sports Marketing, Anheuser-Busch
  8. Brian France; President, NASCAR
  9. Phil Knight; Chairman, Nike
  10. Sean McManus; President, CBS Sports & CBS News
  11. Gary Bettman; Commissioner, NHL
  12. Tim Finchem; Commissioner, PGA Tour
  13. Gene Upshaw; Executive director, NFL Players Association
  14. Robert Kraft; Chairman and owner, New England Patriots
  15. Steve Bornstein; Exec VP of media, NFL / President and CEO, NFL Network

Robert Kraft was #12 last year.

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More Hits For Pats

Mike Reiss has a look at the Jaguars, who notes that they have played some of their best football against top teams and their worst football against lower teams. Michael Parente has a look at the Jaguars, noting that they are practically unbeatable at home. Eric McHugh says that based on the two teams most recent game, these are clubs heading in opposite directions.

Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider has a look at why Vinny Testaverde is here and what role he has with the Patriots and the quarterbacks specifically.

Shalise Manza Young reports on Richard Seymour being the only Patriot selected to the Pro Bowl. Albert Breer has a look at the Patriots who were snubbed in the voting. Felger says that Ty Warren, not Seymour, should’ve been selected to the Pro Bowl yesterday. Alan Greenberg reports on punter Ken Walter being placed on Injured Reserve yesterday with a foot injury. Reiss also reports on Walter going to IR, ending his season.

Check coverage of the Jaguars on Jacksonville.com.

Reiss’ notebook has more on the Pro Bowl voting. Felger’s notebook has Ted Johnson saying he would’ve come back this year if asked, but no one called. Young’s notebook has more on Walter being placed on IR.

Bruins

It was Zdeno Chara’s homecoming to Ottawa last night, and the big defenseman’s new teammates responded with a 7-2 win over the Senators. Marco Sturm had a hat trick and Patrice Bergeron tallied five assists for the Bruins. Steve Conroy and Fluto Shinzawa have coverage of the rout. Dan Hickling also has a game story for the ProJo.

Conroy’s notebook has Wayne Primeau taking offense to a high hit from Ottawa’s Brian McGrattan. Shinzawa’s notebook looks at the Bruins shutting out the Senators on the power play. Hickling’s notebook looks at the reception for Chara last night.

Celtics

Jackie MacMullan talks to Red Auerbach’s doctor and friend, Murray Lieberman about his relationship and memories of the Celtics legend, and how much he misses his friend.

Mark Murphy looks at the Celtics playing through pain and learning to win at the same time. Mike on the BSMW Full Court Press has a look a the five key figures during the recent winning streak.

Peter May looks at Allen Iverson’s trade to the Nuggets, where he will (eventually) team with Carmelo Anthony. Murphy has Danny Ainge’s reaction to the trade, who says it was a longshot at best that the Sixers would’ve traded him here.

Murphy’s notebook has Paul Pierce and Daniel Graham matching up at practice yesterday in a variety of contests. May’s notebook looks at the keys to Al Jefferson’s improved play, which includes just being healthy.

Red Sox/Misc

Gordon Edes looks at one of the biggest challenges that Daisuke Matsuzaka will face here in America, the increased schedule and pitching in a five-man rotation. Jeff Horrigan has an update on the J.D. Drew contract snag. Joe Haggerty looks at what Wily Mo Pena’s role might be with the Sox next year.

Michael Vega and Lenny Megliola look at new BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski drawing a favorable response among those with ties to the program. Megliola and Rich Thompson garner some fan and alumni reaction to the move.

Mark Farinella offers a peek at his holiday gift list.

FSN has Celtics/Warrior at 7:30. ESPN has Cavs/Nets at 8:00 and Mavs/Sonics at 10:30.

Misc Media Notes

Greg Doyle has a Second Look at Sunday’s Patriots/Texans game on the Patriots Game Day page.

David Laurila on RedSoxNation.net has an interview with Boston Sports Review editor Jerry Spar. In the session, Spar talks about the background and future of BSR, and offers some thoughts on the sports media in town as well.

David Barron, sports media writer for the Houston Chronicle, checks in with former Red Sox announcer Jerry Trupiano who says Entercom gave him no reason for not renewing his contract, and that it seemed to him to be change just for the sake of change.

Also in that piece there is more on the ESPN edict involving ESPN personalities on non-ESPN Radio stations. Barron writes:

The Worldwide Leader strikes again: According to a memo from executive vice president Norby Williamson, ESPN announcers will no longer be allowed to make unauthorized appearances on non-ESPN stations in eight markets — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston and Houston.

On the surface, unless there is some side deal in place, it would appear that this does signal the end of the Peter Gammons’ weekly appearances on WEEI during the baseball season. It does say “unauthorized appearances”, so perhaps Gammons has the pull at ESPN to keep the gig at WEEI. I would guess that lesser personalities would be prohibited from appearing on 850 AM.

This obviously gives ESPN Boston 890 AM a leg up on many recognizable guests, such as Buster Olney, Jason Stark or Ron Jaworski.

Richard Sandomir has the news that Time Warner in the NY/NJ area has agreed to telecast the free preview of NFL Network so that viewers can see the Rutgers and Kansas State play in the Texas Bowl on December 28th. It is uncertain whether Cablevision will take similar action.

Neil Best praises announcer MSG Mike Breen for not holding back during the Knicks/Nuggets brawl on Saturday night.

On an ESPN/ABC conference call today for the Christmas Day games on ABC, Breen, who will call the Lakers/Heat game had the following to say about his call of the incident on Saturday night:

“Like anything, I guess, if you see it enough you get better at doing it. I’ve just tried to take the road of while it’s happening, you just report it you describe it. Obviously, you’re emotional about it because it’s a potentially dangerous and an emotional situation, but at the same time, you wait until it settles down before you then go and give it perspective and try to hand out blame or responsibility. The other part of it is working with producers and directors who know exactly how to handle it as well and have the right camera shots and support everything you are saying. It’s certainly not just me, it’s the analyst who is with you every step of the way and it’s the people in the truck. And, especially the camera people who put themselves in harms way to get the appropriate shot.”

ESPN also announced today that they have acquired a minority equity stake in the Arena Football League, which includes broadcast rights. ESPN2 will now broadcast AFL Monday night games starting in March and running through June – allowing ESPN to develop a theme of year-round Monday night football on their network. Opening day and the Arena Bowl (From New Orleans) will be broadcast on ABC, and ESPN will pick up several games, including a number of playoff games. The Monday night broadcasts on ESPN2 however, seem to be the flagship around which ESPN and the league will build.

Could Lightning Strike Twice?

Ron Borges has a pretty reasonable look at the Patriots playoff chances, (Although he does say that they have a better chance of having their plane struck by lightning for the second time this season than they do of winning a Super Bowl.) he says we should especially hope that the Patriots do not face the Bengals, Jets or Broncos in the first round. Michael Felger has his Patriots report card, which has solid grades across for the board, the “C-” handed to the receivers is the low mark of the bunch. Ian Clark also grades the receivers a “C”, but the rest of the marks are strong across the board in his report card. Rich Garven says that the Patriots much build on this win with tough tests against the Jags and Titans on tap next.

Alan Greenberg says that the health of playmakers Kevin Faulk, Benjamin Watson and Laurence Maroney is vitally important to the Patriots chances of success. Tony Massarotti can’t figure out the NFL. Michael Parente says that the Patriots accomplished their goal of winning a cleanly played game.

Christopher L Gasper has Jabar Gaffney not letting his first quarter drop on Sunday get to him, as he bounced back to catch a touchdown against his former team later in the game. John Tomase has Ellis Hobbs bouncing back to be a big contributor whatever he’s asked to do. Shalise Manza Young has a similar piece on Hobbs. Eric McHugh says that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady should be in better moods this week after the team’s performance on Sunday.

Gasper’s notebook has high praise from Bill Belichick to Mike Wright, who stepped in for Vince Wilfork on Sunday. Tomase’s notebook has Belichick dismissing claims made by Charley Casserly on CBS Sunday. I don’t know about you, but I find Casserly to be incredibly annoying on that show. Young’s notebook looks at the Patriots struggling a bit in the red zone on Sunday. Parente’s notebook says that the Patriots could be without Kevin Faulk this weekend in Jacksonville. McHugh’s notebook has Mike Wright and the defense passing their test of playing without Vince Wilfork.

Red Sox

Gerry Callahan effuses praise for the Red Sox in today’s column about the team’s pursuit and signing of Daisuke Matsuzaka. He has Tom Verducci calling Matsuzaka “the best pitcher in the world this year,” and manages a shot a Pedro Martinez in the process. Michael Silverman and Gordon Edes each look at Matsuzaka’s return to Japan, where he talks about his experience in Boston.

Gordon Edes has a look at the hangup in the J.D. Drew signing, which appears to be the condition of his right shoulder, as apparently doctors found something in the shoulder they weren’t expecting as a result of a previous surgery. Silverman’s notebook has the Red Sox and the Drew camp working towards resolving the situation.

Celtics

Peter May reports on the stiff suspensions handed out to Knicks and Nuggets players following the ugly brawl at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Jeff Jacobs wonders how Isiah Thomas escaped punishment in all of this, while the Nuggets may have ruined their season. You can get more coverage on the New York Sports Pages.

Mark Murphy has Sebastian Telfair playing unselfishly during the Celtics winning streak, being more concerned with taking care of the ball and setting up his teammates than he is with scoring. Mike Petraglia has a look at the emergence of Al Jefferson as a key to the Celtics winning streak. May’s notebook reports that Michael Olowokandi might be ready to go tomorrow night against the Warriors, while Wally Szczerbiak is likely to miss the entire upcoming west coast trip for the Celtics. Murphy’s notebook has more on the fines from the brawl and the Celtics injuries.

Bruins

Steve Conroy has Zdeno Chara all business on his return to Ottawa for the first time since leaving the Senators and signing with the Bruins. His current and former teammates talk about the reception he is likely to receive from the fans there. Fluto Shinzawa has more on Chara treating the trip as just “business as usual.” Conroy’s notebook looks at how the Bruins have had little margin for error this season.

College/Misc

Michael Vega reports on Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator (and former BC offensive coordinator) Jeff Jagodzinski being set to be named as the next head football coach at Boston College, as soon as tomorrow. Steve Conroy says this move was surprising, not shocking, as Jagodzinski will probably keep at least a few members of the current staff on board, which was appealing to A.D. Gene DeFilippo. Lenny Megliola looks at Jagodzinski moving from Brett Favre to Matt Ryan.

Mark Blaudschun says that BC didn’t want too much change, so Jagodzinski was a safe choice as a replacement for Tom O’Brien. He notes that the new coach is something of an unknown, “Which is why there will be as many question marks as exclamation points this morning.”

Joe Sullivan of the Union Leader offers up his version of the “thoughts” column.

NESN has Bruins/Senators at 7:30. Versus has Blues/Penguins at 7:00. ESPN has Kent St/Duke at 7:00 and Missouri/Illinois at 9:00.

Wrapping the Weekend

A few items and thoughts leftover from this weekend and this morning…

I thought that the CBS team of Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon wasn’t horrible yesterday. I was prepared for Gannon to be annoying, but he actually was better than I thought he’d be. In any event, the pair was certainly better than the Dick Enberg/Randy Cross and Matt Vasgersian/JC Pearson teams that we’ve had the last couple of weeks. I guess I’ve become spoiled on HDTV, because watching the Patriots on a regular broadcast just wasn’t the same.

The Patriots offense was by no means great yesterday, they didn’t look as smooth as you would like at this time of the year, but to judge them solely on how many total yards the offense had (Hi Peter King!) isn’t totally fair. When you’re starting out at midfield most of the day, you’re not going to have many 75 yard drives on the afternoon.

Peter King has his Monday Morning Quarterback column, but if you want less pop culture and more actual football notes from yesterday, then ESPN.com’s The Last Call might be more your speed. Jim Williams has a look at the best lines on the NFL pregame shows from yesterday.

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Peter Gammons was on ESPN Radio (MP3 file) with Dan Patrick last week during the Daisuke Matsuzaka talks and had these interesting comments:

Peter Gammons: …Boston is such a mean-spirited city, that you get…the media is praying for him to be hit hard – or a lot of it, and I think that there are fans, that just, they want to prove that boy it’s tough to play …we’re really tough – it’s tough to play in Boston.

Dan Patrick: You think the Boston media wants him to get roughed up?

Gammons: Oh, I think a lot of it does, yeah.

Patrick: It’s just a better story?

Gammons: Yeah, it’s a better story, I just think there’s a Les Misérables cult in Boston, moreso than any city in the United States. Moreso than Philadelphia moreso than any other city…

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A few noteworthy links from the weekend:

  • Gordon Edes had a terrific behind-the-scenes look at the wooing and signing of Daisuke Matsuzaka.
  • Rob Bradford has his own look at how the Red Sox bluffed Scott Boras.
  • Mike Fine had a look at Tommy Heinsohn’s 50 year association with the Celtics, and notes that the 72 year old Hall of Famer is “having a blast living and dying with his Celtics.”
  • Doug Most thinks that Tom Brady and David Ortiz’s teammates should be furious with them for helping out the enemy during the season. Is he serious? He compares it to Bill Gates helping out Steve Jobs. This piece struck me as being written by someone who has no idea about the relationships between pro athletes.
  • Chad Finn weighs in on the Nuggets/Knicks brawl on Saturday night and a number of other items.
  • Richard Sandomir analyzes the Knicks announcing team’s performance during the fight.
  • Seth Mnookin has an interesting post title today: “Murray Chass and the shaky ethics of the sports section.”

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I liked this letter to the editor in Saturday’s Globe:

Advice to a young pitcher

December 16, 2006

IF DAN Shaughnessy were really interested in giving Daisuke Matsuzaka useful advice (Sports, Dec. 14), his first pointer would have been to avoid talking to or thinking about Dan Shaughnessy.

DEVIN COLE
Charlestown

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The way the Patriots handle the injury report has been a source of criticism from frustrated media types and opponents such as Bill Polian. For this reason, Gary Kubiak’s comments on the Patriots use of the list are worth noting here:

Kubiak said Friday that the Patriots’ methods make them one of the tougher teams to prepare for in the National Football League.

“I’ll tell you one thing about them. You’re not going to know a lot heading into the game,” Kubiak said. “They don’t tell you much. It makes them difficult to prepare for. They have some guys banged up, but you don’t when they’re coming back.

“You don’t know when Rodney is coming back, or the nose (tackle Vince Wilfork), or the running back (Laurence Maroney). None of them could be back or all of them could be back. There have been a few times I’ve played them when you didn’t what they were going to do. I think that’s one reason why they’ve been so successful.”

Some have called the Patriots’ ways tricky, others go as far as cheating, but few in the NFL have a problem with how Belichick and Co. handles their business.

No, I think they do it exactly the way it should be done,” Kubiak said when asked if the Patriots stretch the rules with their injury report. “They do it fine, very smart on their part. It makes it difficult on your part, but that’s the way the game is.”

Patriots Mess With Texans

After several lackluster performances in recent weeks, the Patriots showed signs of improvement yesterday as they beat up on the lackluster Houston Texans, 40-7 in the regular season home finale at Gillette Stadium.

Scott Benson notes on the BSMW Game Day page that the Patriots “showed some incremental gain” in their effort to right their ship as the season winds down. Ian Clark looks at the Patriots getting some redemption after the debacle in Miami last week. Mike Reiss notes the mood in the locker room was happy, though not “over-the-top” elation, as the team feels they have much still to prove and accomplish. Shalise Manza Young notes “what a difference seven days can make.” Albert Breer says this was the first complete game that the Patriots have played all season. Alan Greenberg says that the 40 points on the scoreboard for the Patriots is misleading as the offense struggled all day. John Tomase says that the Patriots can awake this morning feeling much better about themselves than they did last Monday. Michael Parente has the playoff express steaming through Gillette yesterday with the Texans left standing on the tracks. Rich Garven says that regardless of the score, there are still plenty of questions about the Patriots’ offense. Mike Lowe writes that despite the dominance, “the road to the playoffs is still lined with yellow “Caution” signs.” Tom King says yesterday was equal to having a second bye week for the Patriots.

Christopher Price lists out his 10 Things We Learned Yesterday. Ron Borges says that yesterday’s win was not as important for what the Patriots did during the game, as much as it was for what they did NOT do. Michael Felger says that this was not merely a worthless win over a hapless opponent, this performance was needed and encouraging in some key aspects. On the other hand, Tony Massarotti continues his season-long quest to find the worst in any situation involving the Patriots. Jackie MacMullan says that the Patriots came into this one hell bent on winning and winning big, and the Texans were the perfect opponent for that outcome. Jim Donaldson says that sure, the Patriots looked good today, but we have no idea how they’ll look next week. Karen Guregian observes that for this game anyway, the Patriots listened to their quarterback and coach, and everyone was on the same page. Lenny Megliola notes that only one team really showed up yesterday, as the Patriots absolutely dominated the mistake prone Texans. Dan Pires notes that this was a dominating effort on defense and special teams, but the margin of victory should’ve been much bigger.

Amalie Benjamin has Tully Banta-Cain growing nicely into his role as a starting linebacker for the Patriots, as evidenced by his two sacks yesterday. While the fourth year pro still needs to work on consistency, he has made strides towards becoming a playmaker for the defense. Paul Kenyon has Kevin Faulk being unable to enjoy his two touchdown game because of an injury to his right leg that had him limping heavily and required medical treatment right after the game. Christopher L Gasper has more on Faulk, whom he says began the game with a bang, and ended it as a limper. Dan Ventura has more on Faulk, who seems to have paid a heavy price for his big day. Breer has the offensive line giving Brady plenty of time, and keeping to their vow not to talk afterwards.

Bob Duffy looks at a big day for Ellis Hobbs yesterday, giving him a day to enjoy in what has been a long season. Kenyon also has Hobbs turning things around for himself with a couple of huge plays yesterday – an interception and a kickoff return for a touchdown. Jennifer Toland writes about Hobbs having a big day a week after losing his starting cornerback job to Chad Scott in the Miami game. Tim Weisberg looks at Hobbs killing whatever momentum Houston had gained after their first score with his kickoff return for a TD. Ventura had more on Hobbs, who had plenty of reasons to talk yesterday. Greenberg looks at the Patriots youngsters stepping in and having quite a day for themselves. Steve Solloway looks at Patriots going down all season, and others stepping up to fill their place. Chris Ryan says that the Patriots got the big plays they were looking for, but the division title still has to wait at least another week.

Joe McDonald offers up his game analysis, taking a look at the action on all sides of the football. Greenberg has his Patriots sidelines report, which looks at the same areas. McDonald also has a look the first quarter interceptions, which he labels as the key plays of the game in the victory. The Herald puts the screen pass to Faulk that resulted in a TD as their play of the game. Massarotti lists the best and worst from the afternoon. McDonald tabs Tully Banta-Cain as the player of the game yesterday. Following up on his things to watch from Sunday, Felger notes that the Patriots didn’t need to worry about the Carr bootlegs yesterday afternoon after all.

Check the Texans side of the ledger in the Houston Chronicle.

Tomase’s notebook reports on a few injuries for the Patriots, with Faulk, Mike Vrabel and Ken Walter among the nicked up veterans in the locker room. Reiss’ notebook has Brady pleased with his club’s effort and response to his strong statements earlier in the week. Parente’s notebook has Ellis Hobbs making plays for the Patriots, just as he had vowed to do. Garven’s notebook chronicles a special day for the Patriots special teams. Weisberg’s notebook says that the injury to Faulk will result in an even heavier load for Corey Dillon next week against Jacksonville. Lowe’s notebook says that the huge margin of victory yesterday was due to the little things. King’s notebook has Ellis Hobbs fighting back from a reduced role.

Elsewhere

Nick Cafardo has a quick Red Sox notebook, looking at the club getting a second opinion on the J.D. Drew physical. More noteworthy is the fact that Nick gets through the piece without typing the words “Roger Clemens.” Michael Silverman also has a quick update on the Drew deal.

Steve Bulpett examines the Celtics transformation from the Greg Oden sweepstakes to possible playoff team. Shira Springer notes that defense and chemistry have been responsible for the Celtics turnaround. Over on the FSN Nothing But Net blog, we have a look at possible reasons why the Celtics youngsters seem to have suddenly “got it.” Tim Weisberg says that Saturday night’s fight at Madison Square Garden is another black eye for the NBA.

Stephen Harris talks to Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli about the many empty seats at the club’s home games and what it is going to take to get the fans back. Fluto Shinzawa notes that the Bruins still need work on killing penalties. Mick Colageo has a roundup of Bruins and Hockey-related books which might make good gifts for fans.

David Scott wasn’t impressed with the NFL Network’s broadcast of the Cowboys/Falcons game on Saturday night, calling it the “all-time worst, American, professional TV broadcast.”

ESPN has Colts/Bengals at 8:30. Versus has Red Wings/Blue Jackets at 7:00.

Weekend Watch – Resting Up From a Crazy Week

One of the busiest, most insane weeks in recent Boston sports media history wraps up as we head into the weekend. I have a hard time remembering week in which so many different things were happening and being speculated about all at once.

From the Matsuzaka talks and signing, the Allen Iverson trade rumors, Tom Brady speaking out about his teammates, and smaller stories like the Lugo press conference, Phil Kessel undergoing surgery for cancer, Mirabelli re-signing, Patrick Pass going to IR, OJ Santiago being signed, OJ Santiago being released, the Red Sox acquiring Brendan Donnelly on Friday, or the Red Sox naming their radio broadcast team, this week had it all.

  • The Patriots take on the Texans on Sunday afternoon. The Patriots Game Day page has our weekly roundtable discussion on the team and our fearless predictions. Check in this weekend for links on the Game Day page and you can also get your news on the Patriots News Mashup.
  • The Celtics have a pair of games this weekend, Friday night against the Nuggets and Saturday in Charlotte against the Bobcats. The Iverson talk seems to have cooled, but you can keep up with the news on the team on the Celtics News Mashup page.
  • Theo Epstein was on WEEI’s Dale & Holley on Friday, and he seemed to indicate that the club has signed two relief pitchers, but were not ready to announce them yet. The club did trade for Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly on Friday. Keep up with the Red Sox coverage on the Red Sox News Mashup page.
  • Rob Bradford has a look at little-known Red Sox scout Jon Deeble, who played a big role in getting Daisuke Matsuzaka to Boston.
  • Bill Simmons checks in with a mailbag and his weekly NFL picks.
  • A quick look at the radio ratings for the second half of the fall period shows WEEI down a bit (this week should give them a boost though) and WAMG (ESPN Boston) registering on the ratings chart. I’m told that the Mike Felger Show picked up a 1.1 rating in that period.
  • The Red Sox Radio team was announced today as ESPN’s Dave O’Brien and former Sox PR guy Glenn Geffner were named to work alongside Joe Castiglione in the booth next season. David Scott has the details, as WRKO plans to have Geffner and O’Brien rotate alongside Uncle Joe during the course of the season.
  • Good job by Boston.com in getting an actual translation of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s press conference from yesterday. Compare it with the version provided by the Red Sox and you walk away just shaking your head at how different they are.
  • The Patriots game on Sunday will be the first one in a long time that will not be available in HD. The Patriots/Texans game was not deemed one of the top two games for the time slot, and thus will not be shown in the high definition format. For the record, the HD games at 1:00 will be the Jets/Vikings and Steelers/Panthers.

NFL Coverage Maps for the Weekend:

CBS Single Game

FOX Game One

FOX Game Two

This Weekend’s TV Highlights

Friday
7:00pm FSN – Nuggets @ Celtics (HD)
8:00pm ESPN2 – UMass vs. Appalachian St (HD) (NCAA 1-AA Championship)
8:00pm ESPN – Sixers @ Mavericks (HD)
10:30m ESPN – Rockets @ Lakers (HD)

Saturday
1:30pm CBS – Kentucky @ Louisville
7:00pm FSN – Celtics @ Bobcats
7:00pm NESN – Panthers @ Bruins (HD)
8:00pm NFN – Cowboys @ Falcons (HD)

Sunday
1:00pm CBS – Texans @ Patriots
4:15pm FOX – Eagles @ Giants (HD)
8:15pm NBC – Chiefs @ Chargers

Sports Media Columns From Around the Country

New England

Bill Doyle looks at WLVI sports anchor Mike Ratte, who is losing his job next Monday, (along with most of the other station staff) but remains professional, upbeat and positive. Susan Bickelhaupt has FOX defending their sixth listed (out of six) broadcast team of Matt Vasgersian and J.C. Pearson, who called the Patriots/Lions game two weeks ago. John Molori had a good interview with Boston Globe columnist Jackie MacMullan. David Scott has a recap of a crazy week of Matsuzaka coverage by the Boston sports media. He also looks at the Red Sox naming ESPN’s Dave O’Brien to join Joe Castiglione in the Red Sox radio booth this season.

Andrew Marchand reports on a directive handed down by ESPN management forbidding any of its talent from appearing on non-ESPN radio stations. On the surface, this would appear to mean that the days of Peter Gammons, Buster Olney and Ron Jaworski appearing on WEEI would seem to be over. (Reader BK sends the following note: I think that rule that guys can’t appear on non stations doesn’t apply in Boston. I think it’s only for Owned and Operated ESPN Radio stations. 890 is owned independent of ESPN.) Richard Sandomir has a look at the controversial new book 7: The Mickey Mantle Novel, which already has some fans upset over the premise. Neil Best has a look at the new TBS sitcom “My Boys” which is supposed to be about a female beat writer covering the Cubs for the Chicago Sun-Times, and still actually has a life! Phil Mushnick takes on Mike and the Mad Dog for giving Knicks owner James Dolan nothing but softballs in a recent interview on WFAN. Marchand’s Memo of the Week is towards TV Viewers regarding MSG censorship. Sandomir has Cablevision and Time Warner refusing to carry the NFL Network even on a free preview that would’ve allowed NY fans to watch Rutgers’ Bowl game. Bob Raissman wonders if there is such a thing as too much publicity when it comes to Tiki Barber. Marchand wraps things up with Five Questions for Cris Collinsworth.

More East Coast

Laura Nachman says that Comcast SportsNet has had the best coverage of the Allen Iverson trade saga this week. Michael Hiestand says that the NFL TV shuffle that took place prior to this season has pretty much worked out for everyone involved. Aaron Bracy has a look at the year in review of sports media, and gives NBC and NFL Network high marks for the year. Bracy’s blog has more on the NFL Network’s free preview. Chris Zelkovich looks at a number of sports events and leagues changing stations. Jim Williams looks at the yearly college football playoff debate.

South

Jim Sarni says that WQAM’s decision to cancel Ed Kaplan’s show after two decades on the air is “outrageous and ridiculous.” Dave Darling offers up a sample of the “useless drivel that flows from the mouths of announcers, reporters and the athletes and coaches they cover.” Barry Jackson has a look at the best and worst of 2006 sports media. Barry Horn looks at how NBC has benefited from the flex schedule so far. David Barron has Merril Hoge saying that Vince Young made the wrong move when he ran for the game winning touchdown in OT against the Texans last week.

Midwest

Jeffrey Flanagan has Kansas State fans also wondering if they’ll get to see the Bowl game against Rutgers on NFL Network. Bob Wolfley reports that next season all Milwaukee Bucks games will be carried on cable television for the first time in franchise history. Ed Sherman says that poor competition has kept the Bears off the national TV schedule.

West Coast

Larry Stewart has Keith Jackson talking the need for an NCAA football playoff system. He also looks at a big weekend in the NFL. Jay Posner has the NFL on NBC crew coming back to San Diego for another prime time Chargers game. John Maffei has more on Al Michaels and John Madden bringing their unique style to Southern California once more. Jim Carlisle looks at FSN Prime Ticket and FSN Bay Area carrying California high school football championships this weekend. Tom Hoffarth talks to FOX’s Frank Caliendo about how much longer he can keep coming up with the two minute comedy bits for the network’s NFL pregame show. Joe Davidson looks at the rush to be the first to post trade rumors and has Jim Gray getting embarrassed again.