Turnabout Is Fair Play

One night after defeating the Indians 1-0, the Red Sox fell in Cleveland last night by that same 1-0 score. Josh Beckett pitched very well last night, but a third inning solo home run by Franklin Gutierrez made him a loser on a night that the Red Sox made several key mistakes on the basepaths. The Red Sox lead in the A.L. East is now down to 6 1/2 games.

Jeff Horrigan notes that Beckett might’ve pitched his best game in a Red Sox uniform last night, but was still stuck with the loss. Amalie Benjamin says that the pitching duel didn’t go the Sox way on this night. Joe McDonald says that it was simply a night of missed opportunities for the Red Sox. Jeff Goldberg notes that this was clearly not the same Fausto Carmona that the Red Sox knocked around as a closer last summer. Bill Ballou says it is hard to decide whether the Red Sox glass is half full or half empty these days.

Rob Bradford looks at the Red Sox running themselves out of the few chances that they had last night. Nick Cafardo dialed up Jose Canseco to get reaction to Curt Schilling’s comments on HBO’s “Costas Now” about steroid use. Zach Rocha catches up with former Cape League star David Murphy, who is looking forward to getting another chance with the Red Sox sometime this season.

Bradford also has a good look at Dustin Pedroia and the fire he brings to the Red Sox clubhouse as a 23-year-old rookie. Cafardo also has a column on Wily Mo Peña, who many still feel is going to be power hitting start in baseball, but is now desperately in need of a fresh start. It’s a good look at the 25-year-old, who continues to work hard at all facets of his game, but who will probably be better off somewhere else. That Bruce Allen guy in the Metro notes that Coco isn’t Soso anymore these days.

Horrigan’s notebook has Joel Pineiro accepting an assignment to Pawtucket, where he will be stretched out as a starter. The Globe notebook has the Sox interested in Tampa Bay outfielder Ty Wigginton, and has Doug Mirabelli saying that purely from a stuff angle, Manny Delcarmen is above Jonathan Papelbon. McDonald’s notebook has Kevin Youkilis more concerned with winning rather than money right now. Eligible for arbitration after the season, Youkilis says he’ll worry about financial matters at that time. Goldberg’s notebook has more on Schilling’s comments about Canseco on HBO. Ballou’s notebook observes that the PawSox have a very veteran starting rotation these days with both Schilling and Pineiro currently with the team.

Patriots
The Patriots start training camp tomorrow, and Mike Reiss has Bill Belichick focused on the job of getting his team ready for the season, and not caught up in the hype that surrounds the open practice sessions these days. John Tomase looks over four positions on the Patriots roster that could be up for grabs in this training camp. Mark Farinella has a look at the Patriots offense, and says that it remains to be seen if the team will be able to run the ball at all this year.

Christopher L. Gasper has Reche Caldwell fully aware that he has got plenty to prove (and plenty of competition) entering this training camp. Eric McHugh offers up 10 questions on the AFC. Jim Donaldson likes the Patriots much better as underdogs. Tomase gives us a few players to keep an eye on during camp.

Karen Guregian and Reiss’ notebook each have the agent for Asante Samuel saying that they are working to get the cornerback into camp as close to on-time as they can.

NBA
Peter May has a short note in the Globe reporting that Al Jefferson will be among a group of younger NBA players that will scrimmage next month in Las Vegas against the United States national team.

Lenny Megliola says that Tim Donaghy’s impact on the NBA will be a long-term thing. Ron Chimelis says that this situation is a Stern lesson for the NBA and its commissioner.

Bill Doyle talks to one of the contestants on “Sox Appeal.”

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Wednesday Wrap – 7.25.07

Just a few afternoon links on a very busy Wednesday in a very busy week…

John Tomase made the case this morning that the actions of the Patriots this offseason actually indicate that Bill Belichick is planning on sticking around beyond this season. If you think about it, it all makes sense. If Belichick is planning on bolting after this season, playing hardball with Asante Samuel doesn’t make much sense. If Belichick is only going to be here this season, he’d probably do anything to get Samuel into camp to play, and not care about anything beyond this season. That’s just one small example. Tomase’s article was a nice respite from the constant talk this offseason, (some from the pages of the Herald) that Belichick was gearing up for a “final run” with the Patriots.

So, what does the truth & rumors section of Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation site do? They ignore the main thrust of Tomase’s article, and instead use a small bit from it to put forth the notion that the signs point towards Belichick leaving. They don’t make any reference to the actual premise that Tomase was trying to make.

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The debunked rumor from yesterday still is getting a lot of on-line play, with several outlets picking up on it. A report on Network World shows how something like this get started, and spread quickly.

Dan Kennedy says that the media has acted correctly by not touching this one.

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Former Red Sox (and current Nashua Pride) reliever Rich Garces had a chat on Boston.com.

The Media Circus has more Steve Philips nonsense.

Andy Hart has another edition of the Ask PFW mailbag.

Don Banks has 10 burning questions entering training camp. The fifth one is about Randy Moss and the Patriots.

Peter Schrager also has 10 questions, #4 is about the Patriots cornerbacks.

Dan Wetzel says that July hasn’t been a good time for his vacation.

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From a Turner Sports release:

TBS.com steps up to the plate to offer Major League Baseball fans an inside look at San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds as he chases one of the most illustrious records in sports- the home run record- last broken in 1974 by Hank Aaron who finished his career with 755 home runs. Bonds, currently two home runs away from tying the record and three away from breaking it, will be prominently featured on TBS.com through free, live streaming of his at-bats in every game leading up to the record breaker from a simulcast made available through MLB.com. Additional MLB.com streaming footage is also available on TBS.com, including highlights, game footage, press conferences and more, and will be available throughout Bonds’ homerun record chase. CNN.com will also link to the TBS.com baseball footage from its Web site.

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Tonight

7:00pm, NESN – Red Sox @ Indians
8:00pm, ESPN2 – Cubs @ Cardinals
10:00pm, TBS – Braves @ Giants

Daisuke Outduels C.C.

The Red Sox managed a single run last night against C.C. Sabathia, but Daisuke Matsuzaka made it stand up in Boston’s 1-0 win in Cleveland at Jacobs field.

Jeff Goldberg has Matsuzaka serving notice last night that he is “equipped to deliver in big games.” Amalie Benjamin has different sort of performance from Matsuzaka than we have seen recently. Jeff Horrigan notes that “in nine of Matsuzaka’s last 11 starts the Sox have scored two runs or less.” Joe McDonald has a look at the pitching duel in Cleveland last night. Bill Ballou tabs this outing as “one of his best, perhaps his very best, effort in a Boston uniform” for Matsuzaka.

Rob Bradford has the Red Sox calm and confident these days, despite knowing that the front office is likely to make some moves in the next week or so. Nick Cafardo has a look at what Theo Epstein has to consider about his team with the trading deadline approaching. Sean McAdam offers a number of observations and opinions as we get set to enter the final third of the season. Trade rumors have an impact on minor leaguers as well, Brendan McGair has the PawSox playing attempting to tune out the upcoming deadline. Jon Couture says that Theo Epstein will likely use the trading deadline to bolster his bench, a unit that has won some games for the Red Sox, but could use a little more punch.

Cafardo talks to Indians bullpen coach Luis Isaac about the monster season Manny Ramírez had in 1999 (.333, 44HR, 165 RBI) Bradford also has Jonathan Papelbon talking about his dislike for radar gun readings being displayed in ballparks. Alex Speier looks at who could stay and who could go at the trading deadline. Bradford has Coco Crisp returning to the form that people in Cleveland are familiar with from 2004 and 2005…but better. Joe Haggerty has Julio Lugo finally enjoying himself at the plate with the Red Sox. Bradford reports on Jon Lester revealing that Lance Armstrong had sent him a note of support while he was undergoing his cancer treatments.

Mark Shanahan in the Globe profiles LMontro, the unofficial barber of the Red Sox.

Horrigan’s notebook has David Ortiz hoping to get back into the lineup tonight after hurting his shoulder last Friday night. Benjamin’s notebook has Crisp getting a spot in the 5-hole last night. McDonald’s notebook has Manny Delcarmen giving credit to PawSox manager Ron Johnson for his turnaround this season. Goldberg’s notebook has several defensive play proving key for the Red Sox last night. Ballou’s notebook says that the five wins in a row has made it easier for David Ortiz to sit out and rest his shoulder.

NBA
Shira Springer has NBA commissioner David Stern working his first round of damage control in a marathon news conference yesterday. Steve Bulpett says that Stern had better be right that Tim Donaghy was alone in betting on the game, otherwise the league’s very existence could be threatened. Peter May has more on Stern hoping that it was just one guy involved in this scandal.

Jeff Jacobs notes that yesterday was an apocalyptic day in sports on many levels.

Patriots
John Tomase notes that contrary to many breathless media reports this year, the evidence actually points to Bill Belichick sticking around for a while longer in New England. Mike Reiss has Richard Seymour, Troy Brown and six others set to start training camp on the PUP list. Tomase also has a few notes on who will be ready (Tedy Bruschi) and who won’t (Seymour).

Mark Farinella looks at the Michael Vick case, and also urges David Stern to “blow up” the NBA.

Mike Felger Shoots Down ‘Net Rumor

Michael Felger put a crazy internet rumor to rest on his 890 ESPN Boston show shortly before 6:00pm today:

Felger: Alright, I’m not going to name names, because, I just don’t want to do it, but we’ve gotten a few calls today , and a few emails, saying “Did you know that so-and-so collapsed on…collapsed today and …could be dead?” And it’s a very well known local player on one of the pro sports teams…

Winter: Ok good, because I got a phone message from a buddy I thought they were sniffing drugs…

Felger: I got, and we’re not going to name names here Kevin, this started last night, there is some lunatic out there, there is some maniac, who has started a rumor that one very high profile pro athlete here in Boston has collapsed, perhaps died. This rumor first came to light last night, I talked to the agent and the agent said, “I just got off the phone with him.” OK that was last night. Um, also, and I’m going to try not to name names, a reporter called some teammates of this player, and asked “Did you hear about so-and-so potentially collapsing or dying?” The next thing you know, the public relations guy for this team, called this reporter back, and said “I just spoke to the player in question, and he asked me to ask you to stop calling his teammates and asking if he’s dead.”

Winter: That’s one way to put an end to that one, right?

Felger: This started last night…can you imagine getting that call from a PR guy…

Winter: Don’t call me I’m alive!!

Felger: “I just got a call from so-and-so and first of all, he’s alive, and second of all stop calling his teammates and asking if he’s dead.” Alright, so this happened last night, so the guy’s alive, we have gotten about three or four phone calls off the air, we’ve gotten three or four emails that we haven’t responded to, that’s the story. It started last night; this individual is very much alive as of last night. Unless there is a massive conspiracy theory that even I couldn’t come up with. So stop. Enough. It’s a vicious, vile rumor out there, I don’t know who or who started this or why they would start it, it is definitely not what we’re looking for, and if someone decides to, if this person wants to talk about it at some point, we’ll give you the name, and you’ll all remember this little talk we’ve had. But not true, when you hear it, maybe this thing is just going to grow, but it’s not true.

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Finding out who the rumor is about isn’t that hard. It has been well circulated by this point. I’ve even gotten a few emails about the situation. It’s just another idiot on the internet starting rumors for fun. Felger showed good judgment by not repeating the name of the player and giving further attention to whoever started this.

I’m more interested at this point in finding out who the reporter was that was making the calls to the teammates. That is ridiculous. I do wish Felger had given that name out.

You’d like to think a guy could lose his job for acting so irresponsibly, but the media wagons are already circled in this matter. It doesn’t seem like anything will happen.

Stern Answers From Commissioner

David Stern held court today on the situation involving former ref Tim Donaghy. WEEI carried the beginning of the press conference, but just as Stern got beyond his opening remarks and started actually talking about the situation, the station broke away from the press conference, with Jon Wallach remarking that he was about to fall asleep, so they cut away.

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The press conference was in fact anything but boring. Glenn Ordway said as much, as he noted not only Stern’s comments and answers on the situation, but also the preparedness of the reporters there, who several times brought up points that required Stern to think for a few seconds before coming up with answer.

One question I recall was a reporter noting that Donaghy has not actually been charged yet, so how does the league know he is actually guilty – Stern thought for a moment before answering that Donaghy’s attorneys have told the league that he is considering a plea agreement.

Bill Simmons says that this scandal could be the end of the NBA if not handled correctly.

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A couple of items as noted by readers. From Nick Cafardo this morning:

We don't totally know the team's motivation for bringing him up for this game. We know some of the obvious reasons -- Tavarez was struggling; the Indians don't like to face lefties, and Lester had beaten them last Aug. 2.

If by “don’t like to face lefties” Nick means “have greater success against lefties” then he is absolutely correct. The Indians have a .274 average and .810 OPS in 1050 at bats against lefties as opposed to a .273 average and .738 OPS in 2385 at bats against righties.

And uh, Lester didn’t beat the Indians in that game, either. Papelbon got the win.

The start of Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column yesterday:

WHAT I KNOW

The league has told Atlanta owner Arthur Blank the disciplinary ball is in his court, and Blank intends to act by disciplining Vick in some way by the end of Tuesday.

Then of course later in the day on Monday, Vick was ordered by commissioner Roger Goodell to stay away from the Atlanta Falcons’ training camp.

And what was with King’s comment about David Ortiz’s “plant foot?” And what is he trying to insinuate?

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Alan Siegel was at Wrigley Field last week and saw Barry Bonds hit 752 and 753 and gives his impressions of the park and scene.

Bill Burt on BradfordonBaseball.com says that Terry Francona has a problem.

Mike Loftus looks at the Bruins once again trading away one of their young players.

Eric McHugh has 10 hot questions in the NFC.

Glen Farley says that great expectations surround the Patriots this season.

Teddy Panos says that the Donaghy case opens up a whole can of worms.

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Tonight

7:00pm, NESN – Red Sox @ Indians

Tonight’s Lineup (via WEEI)

Lugo
Pedroia
Youkilis
Ramirez
Crisp
Lowell
Varitek
Drew
Pena

Lester’s Triumphant Return

Jon Lester made a triumphant return to the major leagues last night, picking up a win after going six innings, giving up two runs and striking out six in the Red Sox 6-2 victory over the Indians in Cleveland last night.

Jeff Horrigan says that Lester’s return “brought hope and reassurance to so many people in vastly different ways.” Amalie Benjamin looks at the Red Sox offense staying hot and giving Lester a four run cushion before he ever stepped on the mound. Joe McDonald says that Lester’s return is not about the past, it is all about what lies ahead. Jeff Goldberg has Lester just happy to pitch again and get the “W.” Bill Ballou says that last night “completed an authentic feel-good story in a sports panorama that these days is too often cluttered with unhappy news.”

Nick Cafardo says that the sight of Lester on the major league mound after all he has been through in the last year “had to tug at the heartstrings.” Rob Bradford says that last night was the completion of a “338-day, life-altering, fortitude-testing, tear-jerking, deconstruction, and subsequent reconstruction, of a major league pitcher.” Dan Lamothe says that Lester’s heroic return deserves our undivided attention.

Horrigan has Manny Delcarmen picking up his first major league save last night, after coming in with two out in the eighth and then pitching the ninth as well. Joe Haggerty has Julio Lugo surging after struggling so much for the first half of the season. Bradford has Kyle Snyder and others reflecting on the death of Snyder’s former teammate Mike Coolbaugh, who was struck in the head and killed by a line drive while coaching first base in the minors on Sunday night. Ron Chimelis has NESN reacting to calls they got about Josh Beckett dropping an F-bomb on live television during a recent post-game segment. Alex Speier has Bill Ballou saying that he will not vote for either Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Okajima for rookie of the year, stating that the rule that allows them to be considered for the award is “patently absurd.”

Bradford also has Trot Nixon calling a players-only meeting in the Cleveland clubhouse Saturday night to work out some issues between players. Brendan McGair talks to 2004 postseason hero Mark Bellhorn, who was in Pawtucket over the weekend with Louisville, where he has been this season after not being able to stick with the Yankees or Padres since leaving Boston. Mike McMahon has Ozzie Guillen breaking down barriers and speaking highly of the Red Sox chances this season. Mike Bogen says it is time for the Cardinals to bring Rick Ankiel back to the majors. Chad Finn plays nine innings of Red Sox thoughts.

Horrigan’s notebook has David Ortiz reporting that his shoulder was improved enough that he could take a few swings, and still hopes to get back into the lineup tomorrow night. Benjamin’s notebook has Ortiz saying that he’s learned the lesson that he should never run on Jermaine Dye. McDonald’s notebook has former teammates Kelly Shoppach and Nixon also thrilled to see Lester come all the way back from his cancer. Goldberg’s notebook has more on Ortiz learning his lesson about Dye. Ballou’s notebook has Coco Crisp continuing his hot hitting to the point where he is now above his career average at the plate.

Bruins
Fluto Shinzawa reports on the Bruins trading goaltender Hannu Toivonen to the St. Louis Blues for center Carl Soderberg. Douglas Flynn says that the deal came down to an underachiever for a malcontent. McDonald has former Bruin Brad Boyes thrilled that he’ll be reunited with Toivonen in St. Louis. Mick Colageo also has a look at the deal.

Patriots
Dan Pires says that the Patriots are loaded this season, but still comes up with 10 questions facing the team as we approach Friday’s start of training camp. Albert Breer reports that second year receiver Chad Jackson will start camp on the PUP list as he continues to rehab the torn ACL he suffered in the AFC Championship game last winter. Michael Parente has Rosevelt Colvin making an appearance at McCoy stadium in Pawtucket on Monday night, talking about the Patriots linebackers and also their newest acquisitions on offense. Mike Reiss has more from Colvin in Pawtucket.

Desmond Conner has former Florida State star Andre Wadsworth attempting a comeback with the Jets after six years away from the game.

Celtics/Other
Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers feeling that the NBA is strong right now, despite the current scandal involving referee Tim Donaghy. Bob Ryan strongly disagrees, stating that “Outright dishonesty shatters the trust that must exist between the participants and the sporting public.” Over on the BSMW Full Court Press, Mike Brilliant wonders if Gerald Green has some Kedrick Brown in him.

Jim Donaldson announces that he is here is “here to “dis” Barry Bonds. And Michael Vick and Tim Donaghy, too.” Bob Halloran says that Falcons fans must take a stand against Vick.

Steve Conroy has Jeff Jagodzinski showing how different he is from his predecessor at the ACC Kickoff. Mark Blaudschun has a look at the embattled Bobby Bowden. Conroy’s notebook has Tom O’Brien looking to bring some discipline to N.C. State.

Lester’s Back

The Red Sox wrapped up their homestand with an 8-5 win over the White Sox at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon. Tim Wakefield improved to 11-9 on the season, and Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell each hit their 15th home run of the season.

Gordon Edes has a look at a day of “harmonic convergence on Yawkey Way.” Michael Silverman has the Red Sox wrapping up a 6-5 homestand, which he says was a “swirl of mixed messages.” David Heuschkel notes that this one came right down to the end, where a rusty Jonathan Papelbon had to reach deep to record his 22nd save. Paul Jarvey has the Red Sox surviving a rare late meltdown by their bullpen.

Dan Shaughnessy and Steve Buckley each have a look at Jon Lester finishing his long road back from cancer by getting the call to start for the Red Sox tonight in Cleveland, replacing Julian Tavarez in the rotation. Steve Krasner also has a look at Lester getting the call to rejoin the big club. Lenny Megliola says that Lester’s return is an inspiration. Ron Chimelis has more on the surprise announcement of Lester’s promotion. Alex Speier says that the return of Lester to the big leagues is a big deal. Jarvey has more on Lester, including Papelbon saying that it will be a surreal moment to see Lester back out on the mound. Brendan McGair says that Lester had an extra spring in his step Sunday afternoon after getting the news. Jon Couture has Lester coming a long way since his first “B” game appearance in spring training.

Sean McAdam has the offense stepping recently up for the Red Sox, especially Manny Ramirez, who hit .385 on the homestand with 4 homers and 13 RBI. Rich Thompson has more on the Red Sox offense getting back on track the last few games, and also looks at Mike Lowell ending a mini-slump with two hits, including a three run homer yesterday. Krasner also has a look at the performance of Hideki Okajima, who saved the day after Manny Delcarmen faltered a bit in the seventh. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has Tim Wakefield being able to talk about the performance of another knuckleball pitcher in yesterday’s game. Buckley notes that this was a rare event, as each team used a knuckleballer, the first time that has happened in five years. Speier looks at the rookie treatment in baseball, from which Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima are not immune.

Silverman’s notebook has Joel Pineiro being designated for assignment following the game to make room for Lester, and Tavarez moving to the bullpen. Edes’ notebook has more on Lester’s promotion. The Projo notebook has more on Pineiro being designated to make room for Lester. Heuschkel’s notebook has Lester getting ready for “the most significant start of his young career.” Jarvey’s notebook has David Ortiz hoping to return to the lineup on Wednesday. Couture’s notebook has more on Ortiz.