Is it Sunday yet?

(Morning Links provided by Guest Blogger, Brian Beaupre. Brian can be reached here)

Well, it’s Wednesday and already the Spygate, handshake, student/teacher talk is at it’s most nauseating. Need proof? Listen to WEEI today for hours of riveting semantics about whether the Pats actually cheated or just “misinterpreted” the rules. I thought that 5-6 weeks of discussing Camera-gate was enough to draw some conclusions, and it would be nice to discuss the actual game this weekend, given we have higher goals than just beating Mangini. Does the impending bad weather serve as the great equalizer in a game that would be dominated by the Pats on a clean track? Does the Jet’s successful defensive game plan from last year come into play this year? Would be nice to talk about these things…but I’ve been around here long enough to know that’s not how it works. I digress…

Patriots

Mike Reiss discusses the transformation the Pats’ offense has undergone since the days of playing against the Rams in the Super Bowl back in 2001, where the Pats were a grind-it-out team, especially when the weather got worse, and now Brady operates almost exclusively out of the shotgun. John Tomase statistically breaks down Brady’s soon-to-be record setting season. Shalize Manza Young reflects back on the camera circumstances from September, and the ramifications Mangini’s actions have had on both past and future Patriots performances. Jeff Goldberg takes things a bit further into the past, and gives us a brief history lesson about the Jets/Patriots rivalry. Speaking of blasts from the past, Tony Massarotti has a great piece on Drew Bledsoe, and his appreciation for what the Pats and Tom Brady have accomplished thus far. Say what you will about old Drew, but he is a class act and won’t be forgotten by this Pats fan. Although it sounds like Tony didn’t even want to touch his relationship with Belichick. Maybe Ron Borges could chime in with some off-the-record nuggets for us? Dan Shaughnessy also takes a look at the bitter past between Belichick and Mangini, and tells us not to believe the downplaying of the past by BB and Co.

Mike Reiss’ notebook discusses Richard Seymour’s health (remember him?), another Patriots record of turnover differential in sight, Pro Bowl voting, and what seems to be going overlooked in this game on Sunday; that the Pats can clinch the #1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win this weekend. I remember last season when guys like Reiss and Mike Felger made great points about how important home field and a bye were in the playoffs for the Pats during their Super Bowl runs. Funny how they have achieved this goal again, only to be overshadowed by the pursuit of a perfect season…which I’m clearly ok with, but let’s give credit where credit is due for preventing a travel schedule like the one they had last year.

Over at Patriots Daily, Dan Snapp takes a look at the Patriots inclination to pass more, and whether this pass happy approach can remain effective.

Celtics

Peter May has an interesting look at Doc Rivers sharing the same passion for a championship as his players, never having won one as a player or coach. Mark Murphy has players and coaches reflecting that this season’s crowd at the Garden reminds some people of the old days. Peter May has a look at the Celtics one game away from tying the 1984-1985 franchise record for consecutive home victories to open the season, 12-0. Jeff Horrigan discusses assistant coach Clifford Ray’s influence on the young big men, Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins.

Speaking of Kendrick Perkins, Murphy’s notebook details how he injured his foot assembling his bed at home. May’s notebook has more on the bizarre injury.

Bruins

Fluto Sinzawa has a piece on backup goalie Alex Auld and his strong performance against the Sabres on Monday. Stephen Harris has the Bruins talking about their confidence in each other to start the season, and they expected to be as good as their second-best record in the Eastern Conference suggests. That was not a misprint; your Boston Bruins have the second best record in the Eastern Conference. Shinzawa’s notebook discusses the improvement of young Milan Lucic. Harris’ notebook details the struggles of Manny Fernandez, as well as the potential absences and returns for tonight’s game against the Thrashers.

Red Sox

Well when was the last time you saw the Sox this far down on the sports radar in Boston? The Johan Santana talks continue, and amidst reports that the Twins and Sox revived their conversations this weekend, Michael Silverman reiterates, well, that not much has happened since the end of the winter meetings. Gotta love this hot stove stuff, eh? As much as the Twins want to posture about the deals for Santana as insufficient, you would have to believe they will move him somewhere, as I’d like to think the delay is more a product of a brand new GM, who got a lot of difficult decisions put on his plate early in his tenure. I am glad, however, to hear the Sox holding the line with their offer, as much as it hurts to hear the Twins have now shifted their focus to Ellsbury. By the way, $125 for an autograph from Ellsbury? The same week he signs with Scott Boras? Na, can’t be any correlation between the two.

Joe Haggerty over at the Metro caught up with former Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler.

Thanks for checking us out this morning, check out the Celtics tonight at home hosting the Sacramento Kings at 7:30 pm, and the Bruins take on the Thrashers in Atlanta at 7pm. Feel free to shoot me any comments at bopes21102@yahoo.com.

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Jacoby Speaks

Patriots Daily contributor Bill Barnwell recently caught up with the Red Sox (currently anyway) centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Speaking of Patriots Daily, Christopher Price checks in with his “Inside Gillette” segment, as well as, “Five things to look for this week”.

Gregg Easterbrook takes a look at the NFL’s plan to allow ticket brokers to re-sell NFL tickets. Gregg argues that this practice will only lead to astronomical ticket prices. He also gives his two cents on the Patriots victory over the Steelers. It even seems as if his son hates the Patriots. That plus all the usual nonsense in this week’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has some NFL fans angry at the Patriots for not wearing the #21 decal on their helmets this weekend.

Old Boston scribe, Howard Bryant has a mammoth piece about the upcoming Mitchell Investigation, scheduled to be released sometime this week.

Peter King has a warning for Wayne Huizenga in this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback. He also has a suggestion for the Patriots on what they should do with their first round draft pick.

Michael Silver was at Foxboro this weekend, he offers up his observations and a look at the Steelers first year head coach Mike Tomlin.

Sports Illustrated has a great piece on the rehabilitation that injured Buffalo Bill, Kevin Everett is undergoing.

Michael Wilbon says that Michael Vick’s sentence reflects the judge’s dissatisfaction with Vick’s lying.

While you may have thought that a personal masseuse, as well as, a housing allowance were great perks added to Dice-K’s contract, that’s not the only thing he or some of these other players managed to get out of their respective ball clubs. Here’s a look at some of the offbeat clauses in baseball contracts.

ESPN Ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber gives her critique of the World Wide Leader’s coverage of the Sean Taylor tragedy, also, their endless hours of Michael Vick.

Revenge is in the air

(Morning Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be contacted here.)

Before looking forward to the “epic match up” this week between the Patriots and Jets lets look back at the Patriots domination of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Michael Felger has the Patriots getting their swagger back in his weekly Report Card. The Patriots made the “Honor Roll” with their performance on Sunday. Meanwhile, over in Pittsburgh, the Steelers might be hiding their report card, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hands out some ugly grades to the Steelers. ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli has a tip for future opponents of the Patriots. Karen Guerigian has the Pats all charged up, and Belichick keeping some names out of his mouth.

Now that the Patriots have disposed of the last “real” threat on their quest for perfection, they can look forward to a week full of CameraGate and “Revenge”. The storylines that will be played out over the next couple of days will reach an all-time level in these parts, as well as, in New York. You can expect the New York papers to play this up as much as possible, considering the New York Post is responsible for placing an asterisk on the side of the Patriots record in their NFL Standings. As you look down the asterisk leads to the comment :”Caught Cheating”. Talk about pandering to the fanbase.

Gerry Callahan says that this Sunday’s matchup is all about hate. Gerry also points out all the offensive records that the Patriots will be vying for this season, and wonders if they can all be captured by halftime. Christopher Gasper has Eric Mangini telling reporters that his feelings for Belichick have not changed, too bad for Eric the feeling is not mutual. With the Patriots well on their way to breaking all sorts of offensive records, why not own a few Vegas’ records in the process. Jets safety Kerry Rhodes makes a guarantee about Sunday’s game, although this one might come to fruition. Mr. Old Time Baseball, Steve Buckley has Coach Belichick describing his team’s approach to Sunday’s game versus the Jets. Even though the most famous guarantee in football history was made by a Jets player, don’t expect to hear another one this week.

Gene Wojciechowski professes his love for Tom Brady, and looks for new ways to describe him.

In the Globe’s Notebook the Patriots discuss their improvements in the “red area”, and we also learn that there might be some real short press conferences this week. The Herald’s Notebook has Pittsburgh Pinhead Anthony Smith talking trash to Brady during pre-game warmups. How’d that work out for you? Young’s notebook in the ProJo has Richard Seymour still feeling the after effects of his knee surgery.

Bruins

The Bruins skated to a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres last night. Fluto Shinzawa has Bruins newcomer Alex Auld making the difference chalking up 44 saves on 45 shots. Glen Metropolit returned to the Canadian housing project where he was raised.

A Full Week For Smith

(Afternoon links are again brought to you by today’s guest blogger, Bob Ekstrom)

Turns out that Steelers’ safety Anthony Smith didn’t get his fill of making a fool of himself during the week. Earlier this morning, Tom Brady told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan that Smith was jawing at him throughout yesterday’s pre-game warm-ups.

Getting to some new business, Scott Benson shares some thoughts on the Patriots’ convincing win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who didn’t measure up to all their yapping. Ron Hobson has more on the Patriots’ defense rising to the occasion. Ian Clark seems to enjoy the fact that Smith was the game’s big goat, while Tom King hopes Smith is out of the prophecy business.

Michael Felger has Randy Moss bouncing back after getting muscled around for the last two games. Rich Garven shares his take on Moss playing instead of talking. In her notebook, Karen Guregian has Wes Welker reacting to his ball-hogging five consecutive catches to ice this one. She also has Logan Mankins getting to know Steelers’ LB James Harrison during some down time, while Felger awards Mankins’ wrestling match his best scrap of the day. John Tomase recounts the Gaffney TD, which he awards as his best play of the day. Glen Farley leads off his Patriots Notebook with another angle on the double-lateral pass to Gaffney.

One of my favorite stats each week is Mike Reiss’s rundown on offensive participation. Conspicuous by his absence yesterday is – you guessed it – Lawrence Maroney, who was on the field for a mere 18 snaps. I’ve said this before, but that 49ers pick looks bigger by the week.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett’s notebook takes note of the C’s success in back-to-back games this season.

Odds & Sods

It’s nice to have you back from lunch but tell me, was it as good as Will McDonough’s?

Michael Vick won’t be enjoying lunch anytime in the next 23 months. His sentence was handed down a little while ago, and consider the book duly thrown.

Again, thank you for tuning in. Drop me a line sometime at bob02878@yahoo.com.

Hey Mercury, Spare A Cup Of Sugar?

(Morning Links provided by Guest Blogger, Bob Ekstrom. Send Bob feedback here)

We took that turnpike exit ramp miles back. We’ve driven up and down the streets of town and, with yesterday’s impressive 34-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the top defense in football, we bought the place next door, even if we don’t like the neighbors much. We’re just waiting for closing day so we were wondering: can we can come knocking now?

As the Patriots’ passing attack and bend-but-don’t-break defense pushed Mercury Morris and Don Shula one step closer to forgotten, Tom Brady’s 399-yard, 4 TD performance did the same to the statistical legacy of Dan Marino and Peyton Manning. Brady is now 989 yards and five TDs short of single-season passing yardage and TD pass records, respectively. In a day where negatives are hard to find, Randy Moss let his chance to eradicate Jerry Rice’s single-season TD reception record slide through his hands with a fourth quarter end zone drop, his second in two games.

Let’s open with some nice game accounts by Christopher L. Gaspar and Karen Guregian, who have the Patriots putting their money where the Steelers’ mouths are. Did Karen just call me a worrywort? Jennifer Toland says Bill Belichick’s 100th win in New England was a significant one. David Heuschkel has the Patriots less than intimidated by Pittsburgh’s shredded curtain defense. Christopher Price says it’s good to have the old Pats back. He also offers us ten things we learned in the blow-out win. Mike Reiss gives us an accounting of the game’s ups and downs. From the other sideline, the Steel City says Tom Brady is as good as gold. Perhaps they’re learning that a little silence can be as well.

The never superstitious Lenny Megliola puts the Pats’ regular season at 16-0 now that they’ve gotten by No. 13. Dan Shaughnessy also fast-forwards to 16-0 and warns of a heavy dose of Morris to come. Jeff Horrigan notes the continued improvement of Jabar Gaffney. Robert Lee was impressed with the Patriots’ red zone defense, while Horrigan says Rodney Harrison was in the red all day. Toland has more on Harrison’s big play.

With the Patriots now one of only five NFL teams to see 13-0, it seems almost sacrilegious to elevate a fool like Steelers’ safety Anthony Smith from sideshow to main act but it’s the sidebar de jour, especially when he tells Jackie MacMullan that yes, he’d do it again! John Tomase sure isn’t feeling too sorry for him this morning. Douglas Flynn says Smith’s shoddy play took over where his guarantee fell short. Jim Donaldson captures some less than remorseful post-game damage control, while Shalise Manza Young has Smith a little short in the sausage department.

Flynn has Brady admitting that his third quarter gadget play TD pass to Jabar Gaffney doesn’t work against the scout team, but then again, Moss never sold it with a drop. Heuschkel says that one was put in to send the Steelers’ mouthy defense a message.

Celtics / Bruins

A quiet day on the winter front, as both teams enjoyed off-days following Saturday night victories.

Jim Fenton reminds us that, despite The Green’s 17-2 start, it’s too early to think about spring before most of us have begun Christmas shopping.

Marc J. Spears catches up with Paul Pierce’s boyhood idol, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who thinks the C’s have what it takes this year.

Red Sox

You’d have to go back to 1626 when the Dutch picked up Manhattan for $24 to find a better deal than the weekend signing of Eric Gagne by the Brewers for one year and $10 million. After all, as Michael Silverman points out, the Sox actually got a draft pick out of it.

Gordon Edes offers an interview out of Japan in which Hideki Okajima found his transition a time of anxiety and discomfort. I can hardly wait for 2008 when he’s more comfortable.

Odds & Sods

In case you missed it, have a listen for yourself as Mercury spends 19 excruciating minutes on Boston airwaves Friday with WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show. If you listen to nothing else, you have to hear Morris’s distinction between “unbeaten” and “undefeated”, which starts at the 2:30 mark.

Bill Reynolds checks in on the kid next door, BC’s Jamie Silva.

Thanks for letting me get your busy week started here on BSMW. I’m Eks and, as always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts with me here. See you this afternoon.

Heading Out

I’m going to be gone all next week, but have already lined up a guest blogger for each day. Please tip them accordingly.

I’ll likely not have access to email next week, so if you send me a message, I’ll have to get back to you when I return.

There’s a huge football game this weekend at Gillette Stadium (one I’ll be scrambling to watch) between the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Be sure to check in at Patriots Daily on Sunday morning for the Sunday Links to all the Patriots stories in the morning papers.

The game is going to be the main focus of the pregame shows on Sunday. CBS’ The NFL Today will have former Steelers coach Bill Cowher game planning on offense and defense on how the Steelers can beat the Patriots.

Here are some thoughts from CBS Analyst Phil Simms on the Patriots/Steelers matchup:

(On Undefeated New England Patriots): Now the NFL is not about all the games, it’s about which game of the year is it this week. I guess there are certain parts of it that are good, but we tend to lose focus on too many teams that are doing some good stuff and they are going to be part of the playoff picture. We can’t get past the Patriots, the Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, and this week the Steelers squeak in there because they are playing the Patriots…Every time the Patriots play a game that is close now, of course since they are undefeated, it becomes huge news. I fell into the trap, thinking, my gosh, maybe what they are doing is so extraordinary that they may not play close games this year. Now I realize that it’s just too hard to separate yourself dramatically from the rest of the field, especially if you are talking about the elite five, six, or eight teams…

(On Pittsburgh Steelers): So what do the Pittsburgh Steelers have going for them this week against the New England Patriots? New England played on Monday night, so it is a short work week. The Patriots are looked upon as the champions because they are undefeated. Everyone wants a shot at the champ. I don’t think teams say, ‘Oh my gosh we are playing the Patriots.’ They look at it as a great opportunity. It was the Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. It won’t be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl because they have bigger aspirations than just winning one game. The Steelers are a good team. They are a tough team. They are always one of the top athletic football teams in the league. They have speed on defense. They are solid on offense, and they have Ben Roethlisberger, who four-or-five times a year is going to win a game almost by himself on the plays he is capable of making…Everybody says you have to attack the Patriots offense. I have never done a Steelers game in my life where they didn’t have somewhat of a pretty good array of blitzes. So I can’t imagine that all of a sudden this week they decide, well its Tom Brady, the New England Patriots, and Randy Moss, let’s not blitz. Dick LeBeau has been in pro football too long. I can’t imagine he is all of a sudden going to change in one week…Any time I do a Steelers game, I’m always very interested in seeing their blitzes and how other teams react to them, and see if they are effective…

(On New England’s Game Plan): If I was a fan sitting back watching the game, I would want to see how the New England Patriots’ offense is going to react to what the Steelers have done the past couple of weeks. Will they continue to always spread the field and put Tom Brady in a shot gun? Will it be more of a mixture?…I hear constantly on TV, and I want to make sure I address it this week, ‘You have got to run the football,’ and all this you got to, got to, got to. Yes, you want to be well-versed. The more things you can do increase your chances of winning games. But I’m not going to sit there and say the Patriots have to line up and have great days running the football to win. I don’t think they have to. They play at New England. They have proven they can throw it in bad weather. It’s cold but it’s not like it was 30 years ago with 40 mile-an-hour winds, playing on dirt fields and it’s raining and everything else. It’s artificial fields. The footing is better. The weather is not as bad as it used to be….

On ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown they will have the following Patriots-related features:

Bill Belichick’s Press Conferences
A Bill Belichick press conference is like most head coaches’ press conferences around the NFL where answers are usually short, repetitive, and reveal little or nothing at all. In a unique feature, reporter Greg Garber travels to Foxborough to reveal the experience of trying to penetrate the impenetrable Belichick, what questions are more likely to get answered, and the rare occurrences of levity.

Soundtracks – 2007 Patriots
Soundtracks will feature the in-game audio of the Patriots – Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Randy Moss and others – chasing a perfect season.

A few more links for this afternoon:

Jesse Noyes in the Boston Business Journal has a look at the business side of the Celtics and how Comcast bought FSN New England at exactly the right time.

Bill Simmons explores how to get Jason Kidd out of New Jersey.

Tom Curran examines the remaining roadblocks for the Patriots.

Greg Garber says that we’re just witnessing a market correction with the Patriots.

Tom Pedulla offers a blueprint for beating the Patriots.

I think Michael Silver caught a love of Brett Favre from his former colleague Peter King.

John Madden breaks down the week 14 matchups, including Patriots/Steelers.

Steve Silverman says that the Steelers are the league’s best option to knock off the Patriots.

Jason Whitlock talks Sean Taylor, and also says that talk of a league-endorsed conspiracy to keep the Patriots undefeated is the whine of losers.

Finally, on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan this morning, you might have heard this man:

madden.jpg

Say the following:

“Belichick’s obviously just a clown, he’s the greatest football coach ever, but he’s just a pair of clown shoes, what a miserable, terrible looking, just sad-sack of a human being”

Irony, thy name is Mark Madden.

TGIF

Just trying to bring you the top stories in the papers today…

David Scott checks in with a few things he actually doesn’t mind about the Boston sports media in this week’s edition of Scott’s Shots.

The staff of Patriots Daily checks in with a quick Patriots Roundtable discussion of this week’s game with the Pittsburgh Steelers. There is also a new edition of the Patriots Buffet Table.

Michael Felger says that the Patriots should go all-out in their quest for a perfect season. Eric McHugh has the Patriots hoping for a memorable game on Sunday. Mike Reiss has the Patriots trying to plug the gaps in their run defense.

Tony Massarotti says that the Red Sox and Yankees might’ve turned their attention to another lefthander, the Orioles’ Erik Bedard, who could make more sense for both teams. Rob Bradford has Coco Crisp with no desire to compete with Jacoby Ellsbury for a starting job.

Ryan Lambert looks at Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, who turns out to be quite the environmentalist. Douglas Flynn has Tuukka Rask not getting the Garden party he planned for in his home debut last night, a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

Marc J. Spears says that we shouldn’t expect Kevin Garnett to go into coaching when his playing days are done.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has a look at NESN’s Red Sox 2007 DVD, which will be released next week.