Move Over, There’s Plenty of Room

(Afternoon Links provided by Guest Blogger David Vidinha. Dave can be reached at DVidinha@gmail.com)

Who plays third base?

That’s a pretty straight forward question, right? Well, that’s a question that I came up with while I was bartending during the Red Sox dream season of 2004. Nothing really ground breaking about the question, but it was something I conjured up to ask the droves of people who looked up at the TV and asked “What’s the score?”.

You see, when a local sports team is doing well (See: every team in Boston), the bandwagon for these local teams can become rather full. Especially when that team enters into the World Series. Well, back in 2004 I had enough. I was tired of the band wagon jumpers who had no clue who any of the players were, with the exception of maybe “Manny” or “Papi”. Somehow these fair weather fans were now “following” my team. How can you follow a team and not know who the players are? How can you watch the final games of a season if you don’t know the story of how they got there. Would you watch the finale of Grey’s Anatomy if you haven’t watched an episode all season? Of course not, it just wouldn’t make any sense. Then why would you sit and watch a baseball game when you only know a handful of characters and no idea of the storyline?

Then I realized that this is baseball, America’s past time. A game that everyone played as a child. Whether you were the best kid in little league or the worst kid in gym class, everyone has held a bat in there hands at least once. There’s no need to know everything about the team to enjoy the World Series, the action and drama are self-explanatory. J.D. Drew’s struggles or failed trades made at the trading deadline are for the hardcore fans to discuss amongst themselves.

With the home team headed into the World Series tomorrow, every office in the area will have their own “Red Sox Day”. Children at all the local schools will go to school fully decked out in their Red Sox gear, and conversation around these parts will be mainly about our team. I’ve come to the realization that this is a phenomenal time to be a Boston sports fan. Who cares if the bandwagon hoppers can’t name more than two players on the Red Sox or they don’t know all the player’s full names, heck Tim McCarver has a tough time as well. So move over Red Sox fans there’s plenty of room on the bandwagon for all of us.

By the way, the answer is Mike Lowell.

From the “In case you missed it” files…

Michael Silver addresses the Patriots new “Pit bull Persona” in his Morning Rush. He also speaks to former Patriot Ty Law for his opinion.

In Monday Morning Quarterback, Peter King looks at the NFL’s first game in London. Also, two Patriots received props in Peter’s “Awards Section”.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has his take on the Patriots “running it up” in his weekly 10-Pack.

Around the Web

“Dishonesty, cheating, arrogance, hubris, endless complaining even in success. The Patriots have three Super Bowl rings, but that jewelry is tarnished by their cheating scandal. They run up the score to humiliate opponents”

That’s just a small sample from Boston’s favorite sports writer Gregg Easterbrook. Gregg’s back with his anti-Patriot propaganda in this week’s edition of Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Gregg uses this week to explain why the Colts are so good, using heart warming quotes such as, “sportsmanship, honesty, modesty, devotion to community, embrace of traditional small-town life, belief in higher power, even love of laughter.” I kept thinking it was some sort of satire, but its not! He’s for real.

Just one more quote from Easterbrook’s TMQ, this one will send Pete Sheppard off the deep end…

“That constant smirk on Brady’s face reminds one of Dick Cheney; people who smirk are fairly broadcasting the message, “I’m hiding something.”

Dr. Z takes on the ESPN announcing crew in his weekly mailbag.

Ken Rosenthal gives us his take on the Mitchell investigation leak, or conspiracy theory to there being a leak. Now, is it rather strange that this information was leaked prior to Game 7 of the ALCS? Yes. Does there appear to be a conflict of interest between Mitchell and the Red Sox? Yes. What this does not take into account though is the absolute collapse by the Indians. The revelation that Paul Byrd used HGH does not cause Travis Hafner to become incompetent at the plate or the two aces of their staff to completely fail. What it does call into question is just how Mitchell will handle this situation if it becomes known that a prominent Red Sox player is found to have used HGH.

Amalie Benjamin had a chat today.

Don Banks says this year’s Patriots team will not only go undefeated, but will break the NFL scoring record.

The Sporting News has their position-by-position breakdown for the World Series.

ESPN’s Rob Neyer gives us his all-time World Series All-Stars.

Cold Hard Football Facts has their weekly rankings.

Within this Yahoo! Sports piece by Tim Brown, we get the following quote from Julio Lugo, “Feelin’ bananas, dawg”. Perfect. Now if Julio can just provide some offense, I’ll be “feelin bananas”.

Dan Lamothe compares the Colorado Rockies to the Blues Brothers.

Nice feature in Sports Illustrated on Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle.

Tom Curran has some words with Peyton Manning about records.

Awful Announcing takes a look at the hilarious interview by Keyshawn Johnson of his cousin Chad Johnson that aired on ESPN on Sunday.

Tim Kurkjian has “Five Questions” to ponder heading into tomorrow’s Game 1 of the World Series.

Peter King is back with MMQB Tuesday Edition. In it Peter looks at the Pats-Indy matchup and if it’s cowardly to cut block.

If Jacoby Ellsbury steals a base tomorrow night, he’ll get you a free lunch.

Joe Sports Fan looks at some of the Red Sox headlines from around the web.

Keith Law of Scouts, Inc. says the Rockies have their work cut out against the Sox. He also provides us with the keys for both teams.

Tom Brady has the edge on Peyton Manning in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and the anomaly that is quarterback rating. Now, Tom has claim to one more edge in this statistic.

Detroit Tigers reliever Todd Jones is writing for Sporting News. Today Todd gives his take on the Rockies ability to perform after a long layoff.

ESPN has their weekly Power Rankings.

Tonight on TV

It will be a slow night in the sports world as everyone gets ready for the beginning of the World Series tomorrow. In the meantime you can stay occupied with tonight’s exhibition between the Celtics and the Nets. The game will begin at 7:30PM on CNSE. There’s also an NHL hockey game tonight as the NY Rangers head to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins. That game will be on Versus beginning at 7PM.

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Could It Get Any Better?

There is no doubt that it is a great time to be a Boston sports fan.

Dan Shaughnessy looks at how much things have changed for Boston sports in seven years. Josh Egerman agrees that Boston sports are on top of the world right now.

Jeff Horrigan has the Red Sox believing that their shorter layoff prior to the World Series will keep momentum on their side. Joe McDonald wonders which team will keep the momentum going in the series. Jeff Goldberg notes that J.D. Drew will be out to beat the team that eliminated his brother from the postseason. Bill Ballou examines whether the Red Sox can cool off the red hot Rockies.

Tony Massarotti notes that after 162 regular season games and 10 playoff games, the Red Sox have finally found their identity. Bill Burt says that we need to give Theo Epstein a little credit. Steven Krasner says that game seven was no walk in the park for the Sox, no matter the final score.

Bob Ryan is enjoying the Jacoby Ellsbury era. Steve Buckley has more on Ellsbury, who had quite the baseball journey this season, from the AA Portland Sea Dogs, to Pawtucket, to the Red Sox and now the World Series. Alex Speier has Dustin Pedroia coming up huge for the Red Sox in the last few games of the ALCS. Lenny Megliola looks at how Pedroia took over the final two games of the series.

Rob Bradford notes that David Ortiz will again be playing first base in the road games for the series, and how that might impact his aching knee. Mike Fine has Daisuke Matsuzaka looking to get better in the World Series. Garry Brown says that the Sox have shown time and again that there is no place like home. Bob Halloran says that the games will be decided by the bullpens.

Michael Silverman has Kevin Youkilis’ wrist feeling fine coming off of a tremendous ALCS. David Brown has more on Youkilis, who hit .500 in the series with three home runs. Goldberg says that Beckett will start Game 1, but that is about all we know at this point.

Bob Hohler remembers 2004 as if it were 50 years ago. Nick Cafardo talks to alumni from that team, as if they’re all old and gray at this point. Dave Roberts, Doug Mientkiewicz, Orlando Cabrera, Trot Nixon, Derek Lowe, Bill Mueller and Johnny Damon all speak about that season. The only mention of Pedro Martinez is that he “left for the Mets after a snippy contract dispute with the Sox.”

Joe Haggerty says that this club is no band of idiots. Amalie Benjamin looks at some of the younger players who weren’t around for 2004, such as Manny Delcarmen, Dustin Pedroia and Ellsbury. Jon Couture notes that Jonathan Papelbon is a throwback to the “Idiots” of 2004. McDonald asserts that the pressure builds once you’ve won it all.

Dan Duggan examines the Red Sox/Rockies series from June. Couture gives us a lesson in Rockies 101.

John Molori has Don Orsillo, who called the Philles/Rockies series for TBS, talking about the challenges that the Rockies will present for the Red Sox.

Kevin Paul Dupont‘s Globe notebook says that Terry Francona will have some decisions to make when the series shifts to Colorado this weekend. Horrigan’s notebook says that is Beckett in game one, and then sort of up in the air after that. Sean McAdam’s notebook has John Farrell feeling for the team that employed him for the last five seasons. Ballou’s notebookhas the top four in the Boston lineup as the four that carried the Sox in the ALCS.

Patriots

Christopher Price has Joe Theismann talking about Tom Brady over on Patriots Daily.

Michael Felger has his Patrots report card, and hands out a “D+” to the defensive line. Ian M. Clark also grades the Patriots performance in Miami, and has a low grade for the D-Line. Rich Garven says that even though they have been perfect thus far, there is still “room for improvement, and cause for concern.” Christopher L. Gasper says that defensive lapses are one area that Bill Belichick will be addressing this week.

Rich Thompson has Belichick standing in admiration of Joe Gibbs. Douglas Flynn looks at Tom Brady as the engine that drives the Patriots. David Heuschkel has Belichick looking to improve the defense. Karen Guregian suggests that the Patriots are running up the score on opponents to strike back at their critics after spygate. Shalise Manza Young however, has Belichick giving a different take on that situation.

Gasper’s notebook has Belichick standing behind Matt Cassel. Robert Lee’s notebook has Belichick demanding perfection from his charges.

Celtics/Bruins

The Celtics and Bruins both lost last night, the Celtics dropped a 94-87 preseason contest to the Knicks, while the Bruins were thumped 6-1 in Montreal. Check Celticslinks.com and Bruinslinks.com for the rest of your morning sports stories.

Pedroia, Sox Take It To Another Level

The Boston Red Sox are headed to their second World Series in four years after a rousing 11-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians in game seven of the American League Championship Series last night at Fenway Park. Dustin Pedroia picked up five RBI in the last three innings of the game to break open what had been a close game. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched five decent innings, while Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a pair of scoreless innings in relief.

David Scott has a look at the local post-game coverage, including more antics from Butch Stearns.

Dan Shaughnessy has the cover story for the Globe, as the Sox won their seventh consecutive elimination game. Jeff Horrigan has the Sox returning to the World Series with a vengeance, having “humiliated the Indians in every sense” in coming back from a 3-1 series deficit. Gordon Edes observes that there were a lot of different paths which led to this result for the Red Sox. Joe McDonald says that this is a team that was built for the postseason and World Series, and now it is headed there. Jeff Goldberg says that last night all the bubbly belonged to the Red Sox, while only the bitter taste of heartbreak returned to Cleveland. Art Davidson has the Sox series-bound once more. Jon Couture says that the Sox earned this trip to the Series. Joe Haggerty has the Sox getting past a pesky Indians squad to earn another World Series berth.

Tony Massarotti examines how the Red Sox are creating a new tradition, one that has nothing to do with past failure. Sean McAdam says that there is really nothing to be afraid of with these Red Sox anymore. Jeff Jacobs says that these are certainly not our father’s Red Sox. Bob Ryan calls this “about the most tension-filled rout I’ve ever seen.” (and what’s with the “Omigawd” in there…twice?) Rob Bradford has a look at the seventh inning, a frame he calls “the most memorable inning of the Sox’ season.” Bill Burt notes that this is what it was like to be a Yankees fan all those years. Steve Solloway has the Sox right back where they belong.

Nick Cafardo has GM Theo Epstein enjoying his success and taking pride in the accomplishments of the Red Sox over the last five years. Buckley notes that some of Epstein’s controversial moves from last offseason paid off big in this ALCS. Michael Silverman has Terry Francona managing his bullpen perfectly last night, not needing to use Josh Beckett or any other starters in relief. Bill Reynolds says that it is not easy to make it to the World Series, and for the Red Sox to be going twice in four years is an incredible accomplishment. Alex Speier looks at an amazing five year ride for Red Sox fans.

Amalie Benjamin has rookie Dustin Pedroia coming up huge for the Red Sox in the clutch last night. Steve Buckley has more on the undersized Pedroia standing tall in the clincher for the Sox. McDonald also has a look at Pedroia, noting that the rookie had a bit of a sinister laugh while talking about his home run last night. Rom Chimelis has Pedroia having a blast in game seven. Brown has more on the Red Sox Rookie of the Year candidate coming through in a big way the last two games. Alan Greenwood has Pedroia getting a chance to break out his seldom-seen home run trot last night.

Steven Krasner says that while Dice-K still struggled last night, he did end up with better results. Massarotti says that Daisuke Matsuzaka did just enough to help the Sox to victory last night. McAdam says that last night was Matsuzaka’s best outing of October, which isn’t saying a whole lot, really. David Brown, however, says that Dice-K came through when it counted for the Sox. Reynolds says that it was karma and inevitability which led to Dice-K being on the mound to start game seven.

Kevin Paul Dupont has Kevin Youkilis continuing to swing a hot bat in the postseason. McAdam says that the mood was low-key in the clubhouse prior to last night’s game, especially in comparison to the 2004 edition. Speier notes however, that on the field, these Sox never go quietly into the night. Jeff Howe says that the Red Sox were just the better team for the last three games. Kevin Thomas has the Sox accomplishing their mission last night. Greenwood says that last night was another one for the ages.

Shaughnessy has Kevin Millar coming back to inject a little 2004 feeling into the night, as well to provide some comic relief for his ex-teammates. Bradford notes that as far as it can be determined, the Red Sox are the first team in baseball history to trot out an active player from another team to throw out the first pitch of a postseason game. McDonald has more on Millar coming in, and asks who’s next? Doug Mientkiewicz?

Daniel Malloy looks at the method behind the madness of the clubhouse celebrations. Reynolds says that home-field advantage certainly does matter in the baseball postseason. Dan Lamothe says shame on us for ever doubting the Red Sox. Dupont has celebrated artist Thomas Kinkade doing some work at Fenway yesterday during the day. John C. Drake looks at the celebration after the game in the streets of Boston.

Peter May has the National League Champion Colorado Rockies waiting in the wings for the Red Sox. Brown says that the Rockies will bring a little bit of everything to Fenway Park this week.

Edes’ notebook has Josh Beckett being named ALCS MVP for his dominant outings in the series. Horrigan’s notebook has Beckett focused on the bigger prize of the next round. The Projo notebook has Francona keeping Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup for the second straight night. Chimelis’ notebook has more on Beckett collecting the MVP. Couture’s notebook has more on Millar coming back to Fenway.

Indians

Jim McCabe has an Indians rally getting snuffed up after Kenny Lofton was held at third on a ball on which he could’ve scored easily. Dom Amore has more on the Indians chances getting stopped at third base. Daniel Malloy has Jake Westbrook settling in and finding his groove last night.

Cafardo has Indians pitcher Paul Byrd defending his use of HGH, while Silverman has Byrd disappointed with the timing of the news about his HGH purchases, with some whispers going around about possible conflicts with George Mitchell, Major League Baseball’s independent investigator on performance enhancing drugs being a member of the Red Sox front office. Kevin McNamara also has Byrd upset with the timing of this. Amore has Byrd insisting that the HGH was prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition.

Get more angst from Cleveland from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

McCabe’s notebook has Indians manager Eric Wedge sticking his guns as far as his quotes about it not mattering where the games were played.

Patriots

The Patriots continued their march through the NFL schedule with a 49-28 dismantling of the Miami Dolphins. Tom Brady threw six touchdown passes in the win, which put the Patriots at 7-0.

Karen Guregian says that the Patriots showed little mercy on the winless fish yesterday afternoon. Christopher L. Gasper says that even 35 years later, the ’72 Dolphins might’ve been better competition for the Patriots yesterday. Mark Farinella says that the Patriots brought their own afternoon thunderstorm to south Florida yesterday. Ian M. Clark notes that the Patriots defense lost a little intensity in the blowout, but that is about the only negative you can come away from yesterday with. David Heuschkel has more on Brady’s record-setting 6 TD performance. Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots pulling off a bit in the second half.

Mike Reiss looks at the amazing performance of Randy Moss, who just went up and grabbed two long touchdown passes despite being doubled teamed both times. Christopher Price has his 10 Things We Learned Yesterday. Jim Donaldson acknowledges that these are tough times on the Patriots beat.

Michael Felger asserts that there was “no excuse for the display of football the Dolphins put forth” yesterday afternoon against the Patriots. Jackie MacMullan pulls a phrase from her childhood to describe yesterday’s Patriots performance: they smucked them. John Tomase has Brady picking up more ground on Peyton Manning’s TD record.

Rich Garven and Dave Brousseau have Wes Welker burning his old team yesterday with another pair of touchdown catches. Guregian has Laurence Maroney getting back out on the field. Felger compiles the best and worst from yesterday’s game. Andy Kent says that the Dolphins defense just had no answers for the Patriots yesterday. Young weighs in with the game analysis from each side of the ball. Young notes that one Patriot did have a bad day – Matt Cassel.

Reid Laymance and Brousseau examine Willie Andrews bring back a 77-yard kickoff return after Miami had scored to make it a 14-7 Patriots lead. Farinella notes that Andrews got his moment in the sun with the return. Heuschkel notes that Andrews made the most of the rare opportunity with the return. Donaldson says that it was an impressive run for a guy better known for making tackles than breaking them.

Guregian’s notebook has Kyle Brady getting in on the scoring act over the last two weeks. Gasper’s notebook finds the Patriots fourth quarter QB shuffle interesting. Farinella’s notebook has Maroney seeing light duty in his return to action. Young’s notebook has more records falling yesterday afternoon in Miami.

Check Celticslinks.com and Bruinslinks.com for the rest of your morning sports stories.

Last thrill from Schill?

Morning notes by guest blogger RJ. E-mail him at foreverfenway87@yahoo.com.

When Red Sox Nation needed him most, Curt Schilling came through yet again.

Facing elimination for the sixth time in his postseason career, Boston’s (former) ace delivered a Hall-of-Fame performance, stymieing the Cleveland Indians with a 12-2 victory in Game 6 of the ALCS.

But was Schilling’s tip of the cap to the fans as he left the seventh inning his last? That will be up to rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka as he attempts to make the Red Sox the sixth team in LCS history to rally from a 3-1 deficit. The good news? Boston has done it twice (against the Angles in ’86 and the Yankees in ’04).

How about a hearty welcome to J.D. Drew, who decided to finally make a worth contribution last night with a first-inning grand slam, which squashed any hopes the Indians may have had of celebrating on Fenway’s soil.

And speaking of “7”, the undefeated Patriots hope to go 7-0 today as they take on the winless, yet always pesky at home, Dolphins.

And finally, in case you missed it, the Bruins jumped to 5-2 with the help of another shootout goal by Phil Kessel. Are the B’s really trying to become important in this town again? Hmmmm.

So, we have the Patriots at 1 p.m., and the Sox in Game 7 at 8:20. What a weekend to be a Boston sports fan!

Now, onto the stories.

Red Sox

From the Boston Globe:
Gordon Edes gives a solid gamer, with Jonathan Papelbon saying he didn’t think Drew would swing at the pitch he hit for the four-bagger. Columnist Dan Shaughnessy says to load up on the caffeine and energy drinks because another Game 7 in Boston is upon us. Columnist Bob Ryan wonders how after such an awful regular season, how is J.D. Drew turning it around now when his teammates need him most. Nick Cafardo says Dice-K can redeem himself after two sloppy postseason appearances with a victory tonight. Kevin Paul Dupont notes the real Curt Schilling showed up for Game 6 after a mini version of Schill took the mound in Game 2. Shaughnessy also says that Manager Terry Francona’s decision to sit center fielder Coco Crisp for rookie Jacoby Ellsbury was strictly a baseball decision, and not him caving to public pressure. Amalie Benjamin also has a story on Ellsbury’s first postseason start. Benjamin also notes how Kevin Youkilis has had Cleveland’s number this LCS. Michael Vega writes how Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia show their appreciation to the fans who waited outside Fenway in hopes of purchasing tickets. Jim McCabe writes how the Indians had no chance of winning Game 6 right from the first inning. Vega looks at how Travis Hafner has slumped during the LCS. McCabe also writes how the Red Sox have Faustino Carmona’s number at home.

From the Boston Herald:

Jeff Horrigan chimes in on Ellsbury getting a chance to start and making an impact. Horrigan also writes the Sox victory happened the way they “Drew” it up. Tony Massarotti says the real value of Drew is finally showing. Rob Bradford writes of Schilling turned back the clock to give the Sox another vintage performance. Alex Speier says Cleveland is counting itself out just yet. Michael Silverman says the entire Sox order had an impact in last night’s victory. Columnist Steve Buckley writes Dice-K gets one more chance at postseason glory. Maureen Mullen talks about the umpiring in the LCS and how umpires are chosen. Bradford also takes a look at Dice-K’s history in big games. Silverman also writes how Matsuzaka gets another chance to redeem himself.

From The ProJo:

Columnist Sean McAdam asks if anyone really thought Drew would produce the way he has. Kevin McNamara discusses how Indians manager, and former Red Sox catcher, Eric Wedge is staying even-keeled throughout the playoffs. Steven Krasner and Joe McDonald say Tito had no choice but to play Ellsbury. Bill Reynolds writes how home field does matter in baseball. McNamara also discusses how Trot Nixon’s leadership was exactly what Cleveland needed this year.

From the Worcester Telegram and Gazette:

Bill Ballou writes the Sox had a sixth sense about how to win last night. Bill Doyle says Ellsbury finally got a chance to provide a postseason spark. Paul Jarvey says Drew’s performance was just “grand.”

Patriots

Get all of your Patriots Links and coverage this morning over on The Sunday Links feature on PatriotsDaily.

Bruins and Celtics

For all your B’s and C’s coverage, check out bruinslinks.com and celticslinks.com.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Another Week In the Books

Just a couple of items before we hand it off to the weekend crew.

First of all, I’ve got give some thanks to the guest bloggers that have been helping out around here for the last few weeks. They’ve all been terrific, and have really saved my sanity here. Just a whole lot going on behind the scenes here, and I’ve needed the help. Thanks again to all. If you’re interested in helping out in the future, please feel free to send me an email. There is always something to do.

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For the second time in two weeks, an NFL figure is claiming that he never said what Peter King went on HBO and said that he said.

Last week it was Wade Phillips, who said that “black mark” isn’t even part of his vernacular.

This week, Jason Taylor says he never told King it would be best if he is traded to a contender this offseason.

King on WEEI this afternoon said that he understands why Taylor would want to back away from the statements. It doesn’t do him any good to be saying those things while he’s still playing for the Dolphins.

While Taylor might really think that it’s best he’s out of Miami at the end of the year, it’s doubtful that he would tell King that, for exactly the reason that King said on WEEI. It seems more likely that Taylor never said what King said he said on HBO, but rather that King was projecting what he thinks Taylor feels about the situation.

Yet King goes on HBO and presents these things as ironclad statements. Last week, when challenged on them, he reacted in a short, irritated manner, “You’ll have to decide who you trust.”

Increasingly, we’re not trusting King. I would imagine that NFL coaches and front office people are asking themselves why this keeps happening. Why do people keep talking to him?

King is a genial figure, who is friendly with a lot of people, and likely a decent sort of fellow. He composes an epic column each week that is filled in interesting items from the around league, and intersperses it with Starbucks and travel anecdotes from the week.

My issue and fear with King is that he has become too big for his own good. He’s spread so thin that he’s not able to be the real football reporter that he started out as. There’s no doubt that he is incredibly well connected around the NFL, but more and more people seem to have watch what they say around him for fear he is going to go on HBO and blab about what he thinks they’re really thinking…

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Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf get the call of this Sunday’s Patriots/Dolphins game in Miami. (1:00pm, CBS) Here are some thoughts from Dierdorf on the game.

(On New England): What we are witnessing with the Patriots is one of the great beginnings to an NFL season in the history of the game. If you have any sense of history and willingness to engage in conversation with friends about the great teams of all-time, it might be a little premature after only six games of the season to start ranking the 2007 Patriots in that category, but if they finish this season the way they’ve started it, then they will deserve to be measured against the ’85 Bears, maybe the ’78 Steelers and the undefeated Dolphins team. We’re looking at a team that may be ready to take its place in history. It’s too early to anoint them yet, but the pieces are in place. A team always has something that they’re trying to camouflage. There is always a wart that you are trying to put make-up on to cover up. This is a team that when you break down the units, not just the offense and defense as a whole, but the defense into the defensive backs, the linebackers and the defensive line, and you do the same thing for the offense, with the offensive line, the receivers, the tight ends, the running backs – this is a team that doesn’t have a weakness. There is no flaw. There are no blemishes. There are no warts. The only thing you could say is that as long as Laurence Maroney is banged up and unable to play every week, you could say that this is a team that does not have a great running back. But obviously that is not necessary…

(On New England’s offensive line): Just look at Tom Brady in the pocket. He’s able to set his feet. He’s able to step into his throws. He’s able to look around and check down and work his way through his progressions – a lot of that is because of the remarkable pass protection that he’s getting…

(On Brady having Randy Moss to throw to): Randy Moss changes the entire dynamic. I’ve had coaches tell me that Randy Moss is worth 50 yards a game in the running game. When Randy Moss is on the field you can’t bring that safety up into the box. That safety has to stay over the top to double Randy Moss. Because of that, you’re only running against seven guys, not eight. The “Moss Effect” is helping their running game. The “Moss Effect” is helping Donte Stallworth and Wes Welker because Randy is getting the double-coverage and these two guys are running wild all over the field…

(On Miami): I played on a team one year that opened up 0-8. We ended up finishing strong at 6-2, but opening up 0-8 is hard to put into words how devastating it is to be on that football team. You don’t go out to dinner. You don’t go to a movie. You just stay home because you’re embarrassed. These guys sweat and work just as hard as the Patriots did in the off-season and during training camp. It’s hard to put into words how devastating it is to be a member of that team. They all have a lot of pride. Their failures and disappointments are only magnified now when you play a team like New England…

(On New England-Miami): Traditionally over the years, the Dolphins have played the Patriots really hard. They beat them once last year. If every game was against Miami, Tom Brady wouldn’t be nearly the successful quarterback that he is now. Can Miami muster something up and at least slow this guy down this week? I don’t know…

(On history): Historically, if you are a fan of the game you should not pass up the opportunity to look at this New England team and really be analytical in trying to see how they rate against some of the great teams we’ve seen in the past. They are worthy of being in that discussion.

On the CBS pregame former Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach and NFL TODAY analyst Bill Cowher will offer up his analysis and game plan on how to best defense the potent offense of the undefeated Patriots.

Stayin’ Alive

Josh Beckett was HUGE last night for the Red Sox as he shut down the Indians, allowing just one run on five hits while going eight innings and striking out 11 in the 7-1 Boston win. The Red Sox now trail the series 3-2, but the series now shifts back to Fenway Park on Saturday night.

What can you say about Beckett? He was awesome, and has certainly proved that his 2003 postseason success was no fluke.

Dan Shaughnessy has the front page story for the Globe on Beckett saving the season for the Red Sox. Michael Silverman has more on Beckett’s masterpiece. Gordon Edes has the sports section game story of the Sox stayin’ alive for another night. Joe McDonald has Beckett and the Sox forcing a game six in Boston. Jeff Goldberg says that last night was just like old times for Beckett. Mike Fine has Beckett and the Red Sox bringing the series home for game six. Joe Haggerty has the Sox riding Beckett back home to Boston.

Sean McAdam has David Ortiz calling Beckett the best pitcher he’s ever seen in the playoffs – ever. Jackie MacMullan has Beckett adding to his postseason reputation with another ace performance. Alex Speier has Beckett letting loose on the Indians. Jeff Jacobs has Beckett not getting distracted by the Indians bringing his ex-girlfriend in to sing the National Athem or by Kenny Lofton’s antics. Steve Buckley has Beckett letting his pitching do the talking for him last night.

Tony Massarotti, not wanting us to enjoy last night too much, reminds us that there is still plenty of work to do, and they won’t have Beckett to bail them out anymore. Jon Couture notes that things are just never easy in October.

Rob Bradford tells us that Manny Ramirez belongs in the Boston sports pantheon alongside Larry Bird, Bobby Orr and Tom Brady. He also knocks Tim McCarver, which is always a good thing. Nick Cafardo has Manny continuing his hot hitting and helping keep the Red Sox season alive. McDonald looks at Manny’s home run turned single in the third inning last night.

Massarotti has Curt Schilling getting another chance to come up big for the Red Sox in the postseason. Bob Ryan says that if Schilling can get the job done tomorrow night, it won’t be in the same fashion that Beckett did it. Steve Buckley says that the Sox need to re-sign Schilling.

McAdam looks at another time that Beckett and Kenny Lofton had words in a game. Speier has Beckett and Kevin Youkilis as two guys who don’t buckle when their emotions intensify in a big spot.

Amalie Benjamin has Kevin Youkilis getting comfortable at the plate again. McDonald has Youkilis and Pedroia finding their groove at the plate last night. Goldberg has the pair providing a needed 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup.

Bradford has Bobby Kielty feeling more relaxed for last night’s start. Benjamin has more on Kielty, who once again found himself in the lineup against Sabathia last night. MacMullan says that Mike Lowell deserves a new contract from the Red Sox.

Art Martone has Kevin Millar appearing on FOX last night to give Red Sox fans a pep talk. McAdam has Manny speaking again after last night’s win. Haggerty says that part of the Red Sox struggles in games 2-4 in this series is because they’re walked away from their hallmark patient approach at the plate.

Ryan says that baseball players and baseball fans will never understand each other. He points to the Manny quotes from this week as an example.

A quick national look: Jerry Crasnick has Beckett breathing new life into the Red Sox. Albert Chen looks at Beckett’s unflappability in the postseason. Tim Brown says that maybe there’s a little idiot in these Red Sox after all. Tom Verducci takes some shots at Manny in his five cuts from last night.

Silverman’s notebook has Kevin Youkilis finally feeling healthy again, and it’s showing at the plate. Edes’ notebook has the top four in the Boston lineup coming up big last night. Goldberg’s notebook has more on the Beckett/Lofton incident.

David Scott has a look at the coverage from last night, and a scare for Eric Frede.

Indians

Jim McCabe has Grady Sizemore upset at himself for misplaying a drive off the bat of Youkilis in the seventh inning. Speier says that an Indians/Expos trade Made in Boston in 2002 really started the building of the current Cleveland team. Michael Vega has C.C. Sabathia improved, but not good enough for the Indians last night. Vega has Jhonny Peralta taking some kidding from the Red Sox at batting practice yesterday. Speier also says that the Indians are doing it right. Howard Bryant looks at the struggles of Sabathia last night.

McCabe’s notebook has the Indians crediting some veteran influence with helping them improve so much this season.

You can also check coverage from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Bruins

The Bruins had their home opener last night, and it was a 4-1 victory for Boston. Douglas Flynn has the Bruins packing some punch in the opener. Fluto Shinzawa and Steve Conroy also have the game stories from the Garden.

Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Bruins actually looked relevant and engaged last night. Stephen Harris says that these guys just might surprise you.

Shinzawa’s notebook has the Bruins setting high standards for their defensemen. Conroy’s notebook has 19 year old rookie Milan Lucic making a favorable first impression with the Bruins crowd.

Get more Bruins stories at Bruinslinks.com.

Patriots

We’ve got our weekly roundtable discussion over at Patriots Daily this morning.

Christopher L. Gasper looks at Donte’ Stallworth’s love of music and his adjustment to the Patriots offense. Dan Pires has Randy Moss emerging as a leader with the Patriots. Karen Guregian has Moss empathizing with Manny Ramirez having his Wednesday comments being blown out of proportion. Michael Felger has his Patriots Insider, with a look at how Wes Welker has become a playmaker for the Patriots. Robert Lee looks at whether Laurence Maroney will get the call for the Patriots this weekend.

Guregian has Chad Jackson feeling like he can still help this team. Mark Farinella has more on Jackson, who wants the chance to contribute. Christopher Price says that the Dolphins offense will be similar to the Chargers, so it should be somewhat familiar to the Patriots. Chris Kennedy has the Patriots running backs getting overlooked. Jeff Howe says that it is a long road each week to Sunday for NFL teams.

The Globe notebook has Maroney wondering if he’s going to play on Sunday or not. Guregian’s notebook has Maroney wanting no part of the “injury-prone” label. Farinella’s notebook has more on Maroney’s outlook for Sunday. Lee’s notebook has more on Jackson.

Catch up with the Celtics headlines on CelticsLinks.com.

Back to the Fens?

(Afternoon Links provided by Guest Blogger: David Vidinha. Dave can be reached at DVidinha@gmail.com)

Nine innings, two hits, one walk, eleven strikeouts, and zero runs. That was the line Josh Beckett posted on October 11th 2003, which just happened to be Game 5 of the NLCS. The Marlins who were facing a 3-1 deficit to the Cubs, handed the ball to Beckett and he delivered. As far as the rest of the series goes, well you can ask Steve Bartman how it turned out. The Red Sox are hoping that their ace can do the same again. With the Sox in the hole 3-1 to these crafty Indians, Beckett will look to send the series back to Boston.

In Beckett’s last start, this past Friday in Game 1 of the series, he allowed only two runs on four hits while striking out seven. Beckett had no problem commanding any of his pitches, which ultimately spelled disaster for Indians hitters. Tonight, he will be facing an Indians lineup in which six of the nine starters are sporting averages above .294. Most importantly for the Sox will be Beckett’s ability to pitch late into tonight’s game. With the past three starters’ inability to pitch beyond the 5th, the vulnerability of the Sox pen has showed. The Sox bullpen has not been overly effective surrendering 11 runs in 15.2 innings of work.

Looking to keep the rally pies flying for the Indians will be their Cy Young hopeful C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia who looked dreadful in his Game 1 start will look to improve on his 4.1 inning, 8 run, 5 walk stinker. According to some of the Red Sox hitters Sabathia was “wild” in his Game 1 start and he’ll look to control his emotions in tonight’s start. Indians manager Eric Wedge says that “all he (C.C.) needs to do is go out there and be himself”. On the positive side for the Indians is the fact that they are not facing a “must win” game, so the pressure will rest solely on the shoulders of the Red Sox. Supporting Sabathia will be an Indians bullpen who since surrendering back-to-back homers in Game 3, have surrendered a measly 3 runs in 16.2 innings pitched, a 1.62 ERA.

Around the Web

Shookman_Guest: Why do you feel that the Boston Media is making what Manny said yesterday a big deal? I feel as though if you listen to the WHOLE interview that what Manny said about waiting until next year isn’t what the Media is making of it.

Dan_Shaughnessy: i agree. i think it looks worse in print than it sounds on audio. and i think this might be a care where a guy working in his second language isn’t represented clearly. his Cadillac moment offends me far more than those words yesterday

That’s just one of the questions Shaughnessy answered in his chat today.

Joe Haggerty asks Manny Being Manny…or misunderstood genius?

Ken Rosenthal says that the old C.C. will need to show up tonight if the Indians are to be successful.

Tonight’s lineup will remain pretty much the same.

Stan McNeal of The Sporting News gives us a few reasons why we shouldn’t worry about tonight’s game. Specifically, Josh Beckett.

The guys over at The Big Lead give the nation a few reasons to root for the Red Sox tonight.

Josh Beckett is pretty familiar with the special guest the Indians will trot out to sing tonight’s National Anthem.

Within Tom Verducci’s “Five Cuts” we learn the origin of Red Sox menace Astrubal Cabrera’s name, and who Tom believes will win the ALCS MVP.

Darren Rovell has a conversation with baseball super agent Scott Boras.

SI’s John Donovan takes a look at the business behind the baseball playoffs’ pesky 8:21PM start times.

NFL

Jason Whitlock takes on the hip-hop culture in the NFL.

The Pats even dominated the Red Sox this past weekend.

Jimmy Kimmel had some things to say about him being banned from MNF. He also has a few suggestions of who may be possibilities to replace him.

Laurence Maroney addresses the perception that he’s “injury prone”.

Football Outsiders is back with its Week in Quotes.

The NFL Czar tells us that the Colts deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the “darling” Patriots.

In his weekly Inside the NFL piece for Sports Illustrated, Dr. Z looks at the current running back situation in the NFL, as well as, a major shift in FOX TV’s football game coverage. Well, its not that major, I’ll let you be the judge.

Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders has his Week 7 NFL rundown.

ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli looks at pass coverage and where that fits in with today’s NFL linebackers. A New England Patriot is one of the few who Len says excels at pass coverage.

I would have to agree with Peter King this week with his picks. There really isn’t anything that surprised me, other than the score of the Bengals-Jets game.

Dan Patrick has found himself a new home.

Here’s a look at some of the story lines heading into Week #7.

Tonight on TV

While a majority of the area’s sports lovers will be focused on tonight’s Game 5 of the ALCS, the Bruins will host their home opener tonight at TD BankNorth Garden. Contrary to what I told you yesterday, tonight’s game will be played here in Boston. The game can be seen on NESN beginning at 7PM. BC Eagles fans will have a rooting interest in tonight’s college football matchup, when #2 ranked South Florida travels to New Jersey to take on 4-2 Rutgers. The game will be televised beginning at 7:30PM on ESPN. For the rest of tonight’s listings check here.