(This morning’s links are from guest blogger Brian Beaupre. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Well, if you’re a Boston sports fan, this is about as good as it gets, with the Sox kicking off the ALCS against the Indians tonight in what should be an excellent, evenly matched series. The Patriots head to Big D on Sunday to face the Cowboys in a matchup of undefeated teams, and Boston College, fresh off their highest national ranking in over 20 years, squares off against Notre Dame on Saturday.
Tonight’s matchup between Josh Beckett and CC Sabathia has all the makings for a classic playoff pitching duel, writes Howard Ulman. Jeff Horrigan has more on the matchup between the top two AL Cy Young candidates tonight at Fenway, one of the best pitching duels in Fenway since Pedro vs. Roger in 2003 (aka Zimmer toss). Kevin McNamara takes a look at a different Josh Beckett in 2007 than the one we saw in 2006. Jeff Goldberg brings us back to July, when the Sox faced Sabathia and Carmona on consecutive days, where the Sox split 1-0 pitchers’ duels. Jon Couture has the Sox and Indians talking strategy about their approaches to facing the opposing aces. Bill Ballou hopes the middle of the Sox lineup hoping to come through in a game where runs will be at a premium. Kevin Paul Dupont also has the 3-4 punch of Ramirez and Ortiz being the key in October against good pitching. Tony Massarotti has former manager Mike Hargrove and (gulp) Dan Duquette touching on the effect Ramirez has on the rest of the lineup, especially when he is hitting on all cylinders. Jeff Goldberg has Manny turning things up a notch at the perfect time for the Red Sox.
Steve Buckley , who got his wish with Schilling in game 2, hopes the Sox sign Mike Lowell beyond this year, with Lowell wanting to stay, yet keeping an eye on the A-Rod sweepstakes. Krasner has Sabathia trying to calm himself down and locate his pitches better than in his first start against the Yankees, and touches on Trot Nixon’s return to playoff baseball at Fenway, albeit in a different role. Jeff Goldberg and Paul Doyle also touch on Nixon’s return to Boston, as well as the decision to start Bobby Kielty in right field against Sabathia. David Brown has more on the decision to start Kielty over Drew on Friday. Rob Bradford has Trot Nixon embracing his role as a bench player with Cleveland, and using his playoff experiences with Boston to motivate his current club. Nixon also evaluates the differences between his current and former catchers in this series.
Gordon Edes takes a look John Farrell’s childhood as the son of a commercial fisherman and brick layer, and how the lessons he learned from his father helped shape his success in baseball. Jon Couture discusses Farrell’s imprint on both the Sox and Indians’ pitching staff, and the transition he made from front office to field level. Mark Murphy discusses Eric Wedge, as the perfect fit for the manager of a young, talented player base for the Indians in 2003. Steve Krasner has more on Wedge’s evolution as a manager, and the adjustments he had to make along the way. Rob Bradford has Indians GM Mark Shapiro seeking playoff advice from close friend Scott Pioli.
Jackie MacMullan has an excellent, and long overdue piece about David Ortiz fighting through injuries and criticism to become the unquestioned leader of the team. Dan Shaughnessy has Jacoby Ellsbury, a native American of Navajo descent, downplaying any insensitivity regarding the “Chief Wahoo” mascot of the Indians.
The gang at Patriots Daily weighs in on this weekend’s battle of the unbeatens in the weekly roundtable.
Karen Guregian has Wade Phillips foolishly issuing his game plan to try and neutralize Randy Moss, much like Crennel and the Browns last week, with Pats players embracing the challenge to step up. Let’s hope the results are the same. Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots prepared to face an aggressive, pressure-focused defense in the Cowboys. Felger’s Patriots Insider takes a look at the genesis of a friendship between the Kraft and Jones family, but how their management styles could not be on further ends of the spectrum. Felger also has interesting nuggets from Mark Schlereth on Tony Romo. While he prefaces his comments by saying he thinks Romo will emerge into a big-time QB in the NFL, Schlereth says prior to the Buffalo game, Romo was not focused;
“Too many opportunities to do a commercial. Too many opportunities to do a ‘SportsCenter’ bump. Too many opportunities to be ‘The Sunday Conversation.’ A few too many distractions pulling your attention and focus away from the task at hand. Peyton Manning does a lot of commercials during the offseason, but you don’t see him doing squat during the season, because that guy is completely focused on breaking down 15 games a week. There were a couple of real easy looks from a coverage standpoint, from a read standpoint, that Tony Romo just either ignored, wasn’t prepared for or whatever the case may be. He did not look as though he put in the proper amount of time to get ready for that game.” Strong stuff. You’re not going to get away with that this weekend.
Guregian has Wade Phillips digging his own grave taking swipes at Belichick, during the WEEK BEFORE THE GAME, both with comments to the media during his session, and to newly-appointed spygate detective Peter King. Shalise Manza Young has Gostkowski unfazed by the recent trend of timeouts called to “ice” kickers at the end of the game. David Heuschkel has both the Patriots and Cowboys gushing over Tom Brady’s work ethic as he starts his 100th game in the NFL on Sunday.