Not Always Pretty But Always Effective

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

“Eric…..nice game…..that was awesome”

That’s it? No walking directly off of the field, no chocking out cameramen? All we have to look back at is a simple few words with a happy grin. For all the buildup that was “CameraGate”, “SpyGate”, “HateBowl”, whatever you can come up with, Sunday culminated in the most boring game of the season. There was no “RunningupthescoreGate” to discuss. Robert Kraft and Co. didn’t have to install a NBA scoreboard in order to hold the three-digit score, Vegas didn’t break any records, ultimately the Patriots did what they always do, win, no matter how pretty. Let’s face it, Sunday was not pretty but we’ll take it. 14-0 and getting ready to welcome in the surging Dolphins on Sunday, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Michael Felger has the Patriots Report Card. Everyone made the Honor Roll except Tom Brady and the wide receivers. Felger sites Brady’s insistence on getting Moss the ball, even in coverage as the reason for his average grade. Brady admitted that he sometimes locks in on Moss even when he’s double covered. Felger even has a strange name in the “Back of the Pack”. Over in the New York Post Mark Cannizzaro has the Jets’ Report Card. Brady and Co. should not fret about their passing grade because the Jets’ QB’s will be heading to summer school. While option-QB Brad Smith had marginal success, he was just a small part of the “man-genius” surprises the Jets cooked up for the Patriots.

Over at Patriots Daily, Christopher Price has his weekly “Inside Gillette” segment. Chris looks at the Patriots clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and Belichick’s success at home.

Christopher Gaspar has the elements, as well as, opponents playing a role in the offense going from superhuman to just superb. With Sunday’s win the Patriots clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, although based on history this does not always guarantee success. There’s good news for Patriots’ fans though.

It was just last week that Seymour told reporters that his knee was not 100% but Sunday’s game versus the Jets showed otherwise, Bill Belichick discusses the continued progress of Richard Seymour, who coming off of surgery has slowly began to make an impact. Shalise Manza Young has Randy Moss describing how it felt to lineup as a fullback for a play.

Peter King checks in with his Monday Morning Quarterback. Peter puts down his latte and goes for a walk with former Giants safety George Martin. Martin is walking from the George Washington Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge to raise awareness for the 9/11 First Responders, who are now facing severe health issues related to the tower collapses. Peter speaks with Pats RB Lawrence Maroney in the Fine Fifteen.

In Michael Silver’s Morning Rush, he has the Dolphins feeling like they just won the Super Bowl after their comeback overtime victory over the Ravens. Patriots fans came out in full force in Silver’s mailbag, or as he so eloquently puts it “Trippin on E(Mail)”, voicing their displeasure with Silver’s “Hate-riots” article from last week. In case you missed it, Silver sat down with Nancy Brady, Tom’s sister, and detailed for her “Six reasons why almost everyone hates the Patriots.”

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has his weekly 10-Pack, Florio takes a page out of Ted Sarandasis’ book on stadium construction, giving Robert Kraft some construction advice. While the statement may be tongue-in-cheek, the notion that the Patriots cannot play in cold weather is rather baffling. This assumption is based on what?

Don Banks has Bill Belichick treating the last two games of the season like all the rest.

Awful Announcing was not impressed with Joe Buck’s performance on Sunday.

Celtics

Over on Full Court Press, Kevin Henkin is placing the C’s on a microscope slide and as you’ll see, no degree of minutia escapes his lens. He’s discovering what every Patriots journalist knows: that the rules of examination must intensify when your subject approaches perfection.

Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders is impressed with the early success of the Celtics. He even wishes his former player Kevin Garnett success in the playoffs, with a small stipulation. Mark Spears looks at James Posey who coming to Boston via trade this offseason, expected this team to be a powerhouse on offense. Yet, the defense has provided the firepower for the best record in the NBA. Steve Bulpett sits down with Tommy Heinsohn to discuss the similarities between this Celtics team and the 1963-1964 team Heinsohn was a part of.

Boston Sportz has a look at what the Celtics might look like as members of the hit TV show “The Office”.

Red Sox

“I’m not talking to y’all about it”

If you were waiting for Roger Clemens to come out and give a pre-meditated statement to the press, ripe with apologies and gut wrenching stories of tough decisions, don’t hold your breath. The brief statement above is all the “Rocket” could muster yesterday outside his palatial mansion as he continues to refuse to speak about the Mitchell Report. The fact that McNamee signed a proffer agreement with federal prosecutors last summer only serves to add credibility to McNamee’s testimony. The New York Times explains the punishment McNamee would face if he lied to investigators.

Gerry Callahan has the world crumbling around the fraud that is Roger Clemens. With Andy Pettitte coming out and confirming Brian McNamee’s claims, Clemens is now cornered like a “sewer rat”. Callahan now has Clemens and Bonds together as “the bookend bums of baseball.” Clemens teammate Mariano Rivera says he “admires Pettitte for coming out and saying he did it.” Is that a direct shot at Clemens? Who knows, but Roger is already losing out on speaking engagements. Jayson Stark somehow tries to make the case that Clemens and Bonds are different. Curt Schilling has some advice for Clemens on how he should handle this.

On the non-steroid front, Gordon Edes reminds us that the Red Sox have done some of their best work after the holidays. Explaining that the Sox are still in the running to acquire the services of Johan Santana, adding that the Red Sox are in a position of strength, not desperation.

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Fun Never Sets On The Boston Empire

(Keeping you current on all the sports news this busy Monday is guest blogger Bob Ekstrom, finishing what he started earlier this morning.)

Wow! When you’ve got home teams like ours, there is no limit to the quality of writers or writing that one can come across simply by sitting at a computer monitor. It is nearly impossible to catch every good piece, and that’s why BSMW is here with some more for you to peruse over a sandwich and a bag of chips.

Patriots

Dave Goldberg says yesterday’s conditions offered the perfect dress rehearsal for the post-season. Chris Price has neither rain nor snow nor any other slop doled by Mother Nature standing in the way of a 14-0 start. Tom King says that even though Mangini and the Jets left with their dignity intact, it was still a successful day in New England. Ian Clark is thanking the defense for this one. Russ Charpentier has Belichick setting aside his test tube of high-octane offense to win one in the trenches. And what would a NYJ loss be without the perspectives of Mr. Jet himself, Mark Cannizaro, who is as entertaining a voice as any emanating from the Empire.

In his weekly 10 Things We Learned Yesterday, Chris Price alleviates any fears over the Patriots’ non-existent running game and red zone defense, to name just two. Dan Shaughnessy relates the some tribulations of the do-it-yourself fan attending yesterday’s game. The Globe also has a nice gallery of the many records still in New England’s grasp over the next two weeks.

Odds & Sods

In case you spent the night catching up on household chores that didn’t get done during the game, you probably missed CBS’s 60 Minutes and may not know that the honeymoon is over between A-Rod and Scott Boras.

No matter. As Mike Lupica tells it, Dr. Boras is spending too much time on Mitchell Report damage control to be mailing Christmas cards to the Rodriguez residence.

Bob can be reached at bob02878@yahoo.com.

The Handshake Seals The Contract

(This morning’s links are brought to you by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom.)

In addition to grounding Bruce from his return trip home, yesterday’s weather paired with an energized Jets secondary to foil Tom Brady’s own flight plans. No. 12 posted his worst stats this season, but the Patriots still became only the second team in NFL history to reach 14-0 with their 20-10 rain-swept victory yesterday at Gillette Stadium. Of greater importance to all of America was the handshake between coaches that followed, and Steve Buckley tells us not to deny it: we cared just as much! Lenny Megliola is bored and says it’s time to seal this case shut.

Anyway, there’s a lot of reaction to this one, so we better get started. And what better place than over on Patriots Daily where Scott Benson takes a Dylanesque rear view of yesterday’s twists, from a Jets team looking for respect to the enamel of Bill Belichick’s teeth looking for the light of day.

Christopher L. Gaspar says that, while the means were somewhat unexpected, the end was another ho-hum victory. Douglas Flynn notes that this victory came without its requisite pound of flesh. Over at the Herald, John Tomase offers all the slips and slides of an anemic offensive attack and wonders about the running game’s ability to pick it up should Mother Nature stay grumpy throughout the playoffs. His more-appreciative officemate Jeff Horrigan celebrates Lawrence Maroney’s effort in bad weather.

Armed with the best 12th man in football, Bob Ryan says the Jets really blew their opportunity. Dan Ventura has Jets players saying yesterday’s loss was no different than the rest of their miserable season.

Despite wrapping up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, Bill Reynolds says these Patriots won’t be letting up. Killjoy Tony Massarotti focuses on the cons of playing starters the next two games. Mike Reiss looks at his ups and downs yesterday, while Massarotti offers his best and worst. Not to spoil things, but seldom-mentioned punter Chris Hanson made both writers’ lists.

On the missing persons front, Robert Lee has the forgotten Kelley Washington coming up with his best game as a Patriot. Gaspar also applauds Washington’s contribution, which was good enough to earn him Ventura’s Play of the Game. Turning to defense, Michael Felger is glad to have Richard Seymour showing signs of his pre-contract extension hunger. Jennifer Toland welcomes Eugene Wilson back into the line-up in place of the injured James Sanders. Lee also has Wilson re-emerging with two big plays.

Shalise Manza Young has another NFL record tied when Wilson became the 21st Patriot to find the end zone this season. Rich Garvin leads off with Wilson’s feat in his weekly update on key milestones.

Celtics

Only in Boston does a 20-2 team have to settle for second billing, but that’s where the Celtics find themselves this morning after beating the Raptors, 90-77, in Toronto yesterday afternoon. Boston came out strong, grabbing a 10-point first quarter lead and never looking back. Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers’ game plan executed to perfection with yesterday’s quick start. Marc J. Spears cites Boston’s top-ranked defense as the real key to victory.

While the C’s played their second game without the Big Three intact, Mike Fine talks about the other Allen filling in admirably. Bulpett’s Celtics Notebook updates us on Pollard’s rib, the Toronto nightlife, a leaky roof, and Ray Allen’s ankle. Spears’ Celtics Notebook has Allen projected to return to the line-up Wednesday night. Isn’t Boston big enough to find two original names for our beat writers’ features?

MLB / Red Sox

Anyone thinking that Andy Pettitte’s confession to George Mitchell’s charges would force Roger Clemens to cross over should probably think again, especially after reading Nick Cafardo’s caution that honor is not necessarily contagious, even among these joined-at-the-hip friends.

Another indictee taking the Clemens path over the weekend is old friend Brendan Donnelly. Rob Bradford has the former Sox pitcher denying steroids usage and that his non-tender by the Red Sox was linked to his inclusion in the Mitchell Report. At least Donnelly didn’t spend last winter preaching steroids abstinence to college kids.

Odds & Sods

It wasn’t all good on the football front this weekend. As the Pats climbed to 14-0, their draft position next April plummeted when Ocho Stinco dropped this game-tying touchdown on a fourth-down play with just over two minutes remaining Saturday night, preserving the now 4-10 San Francisco 49ers’ win. True to form, the three other 3-win teams proceeded to lose, along with all three 4-9 teams. Depending on tie-breakers, the Pats’ selection slot dropped faster than the pigskin through Ocho’s fingers.

Eric McHugh talks to a man caught in the crossfire of the modern-day Hatfields and McCoys feud between Foxborough and Hempstead.

Karen Guregian scolds us for throwing snowballs, conduct that led officials to the rare action of delaying yesterday’s game during the fourth quarter.

As always, I thank you for dropping in to start your week off on BSMW. Send thoughts, comments, insults – really, anything but snowballs – to me at bob02878@yahoo.com. Have a great day.

The Artful Roger

(This morning’s links brought to you by our guest blogger, Bob Ekstrom)

Yes, it’s Saturday morning, that sliver of a window in which our sports media take respite from Hub-centric matters to engage in some Yankee talk. You won’t need to tune into WEEI’s Mustard & Johnson show today because we’ve got all there is to know about The Empire right here on BSMW. Like 22 former and current Yankees among the 86 players listed in this week’s Mitchell Report. However, at least one of them is trying to dodge Mitchell’s finger of justice. That would be Roger Clemens. As Don Amore points out, the Rocket has the most to lose with his entry into the Hall of Fame a potential toll. Beyond that, there’s his place in every discussion about the most dominant right-handed pitcher of all time, to say nothing of the purity of his only World Series ring received as a member of the 2000 Yankees team that has placed nine players onto Mitchell’s report, making them the Miami Hurricanes of this new era in Major League Baseball. While Clemens’ lawyer is on the same page, it looks like agent Randy Hendricks is already doing some damage control, pulling Rocket’s ‘don’t do drugs’ speech off the air. Hmmmm.

In the report’s aftermath, we have Jose Canseco saying the biggest name of all was omitted. Whether the beneficiary of a clean bill or oversight, Amore has A-Rod glad to be an unmentionable. As Stan Grossfeld tells us, George Mitchell admits to incomplete data. What do you want for $20 million, anyway? Nor are the Red Sox above reproach. Rob Bradford has Sox GM Theo Epstein lowering his bar with the signings of Donnelly and Gagne.

Elsewhere along the Mitchell front, Tony Massarotti reports on some collateral damage to Jason Varitek, while Steve Buckley has Mo Vaughn’s family caught in the crossfire.

Celtics

Over on the BSMW Full Court Press, Kevin Henkin has a “Celtics Christmas Carol”.

The Celtics improved to 19-2 with a 104-82 win over the Milwaukee Bucks last night at the TD Banknorth Garden. Once again, as Mark Murphy notes, a strong third quarter put this one away. Mark J. Spears recounts the action as this edition becomes only the fourth in franchise history to win 19 of its first 21 games.

Steve Bulpett has Tony Allen turning in a great performance starting in place of the injured Ray Allen. Scott Souza had things a little touch-and-go for awhile last night in the C’s first game without the Big Three intact. Bill Doyle has more on Allen’s injury in his Celtics Notes column. Murphy’s Celtics Notebook takes a look at The Green’s record-tying homecourt success this year, among other things. Lenny Megliola is sounding a little superstitious in looking ahead to Wednesday’s bid for No. 13 and the history books.

Patriots

Over at Patriots Daily the gang checks in with their weekly “Patriots Roundtable”. In Bill Barnwell’s Outside Foxborough he looks at the curious Ravens trade for Willis McGahee.

Don’t slam the gavel on Spygate II quite yet. The New York Daily News has Bill Belichick calling former protege and all-around scoundrel Eric Mangini a liar.

As for on-the-field action, the New Haven Register offers a collaboration contrasting tomorrow’s starting QBs. Robert Lee suggests the Pats are well-advised to stay grounded, given the forecast of nasty weather. David Heuschkel has fullback Heath Evans saying the weather won’t affect New England’s uncanny ability to hold onto the ball.

Odds & Sods

Curt Schilling gives NECN’s Mont Fennel a glimpse of how he’ll be spending his golden years. I don’t know about you, but Schilling in a Roethlisberger jersey seems more obscene to me than seeing LeBron James wearing his Yankees cap to an Indians playoff game.

Judging by Kevin Gray’s On Baseball poll of Granite Staters, George Mitchell could well take next month’s New Hampshire primary if he threw his name in.

At last check, 25% of New York respondents think the Jets will beat the Patriots tomorrow. One has to wonder about the composition of that white stuff covering their front yards.

Thanks for having me back again this weekend. Be sure to wish Bruce a happy return on Monday morning, when he brings you all the latest on Sunday’s Patriots game. Until then, drop me a line at bob02878@yahoo.com.

A Look Back and Ahead

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

The big news from yesterday is obviously the long-anticipated Mitchell Report, which named names (had to slip that one in there). Personally, the report itself doesn’t reveal anything to me that I couldn’t already figure out with my own eyes. Take my favorite victim of the report yesterday, Roger Clemens, for example; what athlete over the course of time gets stronger, throws the ball harder, and has the energy/recovery time to pitch well into your 40’s? You can throw Barry Bonds in the mix here, but you get my point. I was convinced Clemens and Bonds were doing something, not just because their necks were the size of a basketball, but because they achieved success at a time in their careers when that just doesn’t happen; nobody gets physically stronger and develops a quicker recovery time as they get older, let alone as they inch toward their 40’s and 50’s. I hate to throw blanket assumptions or “I told you so’s” out there, but did these guys showing up in this report really surprise you as someone who has watched baseball for years?

I think if this report had more current major league players involved, it would strike a stronger chord with some, including myself, as ~80% of the players referenced are retired, or approaching retirement, and can step away from the shadows of these details. One other thing that stands out to me is the recurring time frame for usage we see in the report, where, as we suspected, 2000-2003 is where the heavy activity falls. Not only is this the time frame, but you’re able to see the network of how these things happen, as it truly is just a bunch of buddies on the same team, who travel the same circles, passing on the information of a guy, who knows a guy, etc. Moving forward, I can only hope the present day major leaguers involved in this report don’t refute these claims and just admit to their usage, apologize, and move on. Any lame vitamin/supplement/I don’t understand how to read ingredients on a bottle excuses will just magnify the already tarnished image of players who will take the field in April with this hanging over them.

I really wanted to hype Sunday’s Pats game too, but as I open the links, this seems to be the top story. For me, the Pats pursuit of perfection and home field throughout the playoffs is more exciting than a 409 page snoozer, but as is becoming customary, I digress…

Mitchell Report

Bob Hohler recaps a crazy day for baseball, and highlights the past and no longer present Red Sox that appear in the report. Jeff Goldberg recaps the damning evidence that these players left behind, like checks, personalized post-its, etc. I guess I never understood why any of these guys would be so dumb as to leave a paper trail, let alone personal thank-you notes. Steve Buckley has an excellent piece on the perception of Roger Clemens moving forward, and the whether yesterday’s events will tarnish his legacy the way it has with Barry Bonds. I, for one, hope he gets the same backlash that Bonds has received, and hope that the same writers, media members, etc. who claim Bonds doesn’t deserve the Hall of Fame, asterisk, whatever, come to the same conclusions for Clemens. Sean McAdam also details the now permanent link between Clemens and Bonds, as both were driven to be the best and want more than they already had. Steven Krasner focuses on Clemens’ inclusion in the report, highlighting the evidence against him. Michael Silverman has more on Clemens being the most notable name in the report. Gordon Edes has Clemens’ lawyer somehow issuing a statement refuting the facts of the Mitchell Report, claiming Clemens now has “no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations.” Sure.

Dan Shaughnessy doesn’t see yesterday as a particularly good day for baseball, and wonders what good, if any, will come from this report when we look back on December 13, 2007. David Sandora has a brief recap of yesterday’s events and public comments. Tony Massarotti wonders what we really got out of this report, and digs deeper into the question of whether the general public (outside of the “keepers of the game”) actually cares about performance enhancing drugs, in any sport. Don Amore has another recap of the report and what Bud plans to do with it. Paul Doyle wonders what effect the report will have on teenagers’ decision to use performance enhancing drugs.

Now on to the Old Towne Team’s involvement in the report yesterday, which was minimal. Given the obvious conflict of interest questions raised about George Mitchell, one wondered whether no Red Sox would appear at all, or if they would be referenced as frequently as any other team to avoid speculation that there was bias involved. Yesterday’s findings sure didn’t do anything to subdue the criticism. Amalie Benjamin has the details on all of the former Red Sox mentioned in the report, including the email correspondence between Epstein and his scouts during the offseason last year, when they were looking into Gagne and Donnelly. Makes you wonder why they still signed both of them, right? Jim Donaldson asks that very same question in light of the email communication revealed in the report. Jeff Goldberg has more on the communication between the Sox baseball ops department mentioned in the report, and has the Sox denying they were leaked Donnelly’s details before hearing about the report. Joe McDonald runs down the complete list of players with Red Sox ties mentioned in the report. Rob Bradford details the emails and focuses on the presence of Gagne and Donnelly in the report.

Jose Canseco, the man who was on the soap box for years about steroids, was denied entry into Sen. Mitchell’s press conference. Duke Castiglione caught up with Jose for a little Q & A.

Ok, enough.

Patriots

Karen Guregian has Rodney Harrison stepping up his game at the perfect time for the Patriots. Jennifer Toland also has Harrison bringing his game to another level as of late. David Heuschkel has the Patriots practicing outside in preparation for this weekend’s weather, and addresses what makes me most nervous about this game, in that poor weather becomes the great equalizer in a football game. Remember the Steelers/Dolphins game a few weeks ago? Christopher Price has more on the Pats preparing to play in some rough conditions this weekend. Guregian checks back in with a piece on what I think was the biggest injury we have suffered this year, Sammy Morris. Although Kevin Faulk has done a fantastic job in getting tough yards, and more importantly, blitz pickup, Morris was not only able to spell Maroney (as humorous as that sounds), but he exceeded our expectations as a downfield runner.

Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider discusses the good health the Pats have been blessed with this season, generally speaking, and highlights the importance of the defensive line with an aging linebacker group. Right on cue, Shalize Manza Young has the Pats placing backup NT Mike Wright on IR. Guregian’s notebook has more on Wright’s injury and what it means for the team moving forward.

Check out Patriots Daily, where Scott Benson takes a look at the rich getting richer with Pats holding on to the 49er’s pick in the draft.

Bruins

Yes, they actually played last night, I even got offered $19 loge box tickets. Not enough to drag me out to the Garden in that weather. Kevin Paul Dupont has a weary Bruins team falling to the Devils last night, as they played their third game in four nights. Steve Conroy has more on the Bruins unable to continue their hot streak with a win at home. Conroy’s notebook has Auld losing his home debut as did Tuukka Rask last week. Dupont’s notebook has the Bruins engaged in trade talks to improve their depth on the forward and defensive lines. Barbara Matson has a piece on Mike Mottau, a BC alum and Quincy resident, returning home with the enemy last night.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett’s notebook has KG leading the NBA in All-Star votes. Jeff Howe has a piece on Ray Allen discussing his stint with the Bucks, as they come to the Garden for tonight’s game. Marc Spears checks in with KC Jones, who believes the C’s and the Garden are back, claiming Wednesday night he was watching “beautiful basketball. I remember the good old days with the Larry [Bird] and Bill Russell teams and it’s back.”

Thanks for checking in with us today, this weekend’s action includes, but not limited to; Bucks at Celtics tonight, 7:30pm, Blue Jackets at Bruins tomorrow night @ 7pm, and Sunday the Pats take on the Jets at Gillette @ 1pm (finally), and the Celtics visit the Raptors at 1pm as well. Can’t imagine the ratings for that one will be through the roof. Feel free to shoot me any comments at bopes21102@yahoo.com, and have a great weekend.

Mitchell Report Names Released

Dave here…

Earlier today Deadspin had printed a list of names that were to appear in today’s Mitchell Report. The names on the list were pretty shocking, with a number of former Red Sox players and two current players. Some of the names were out right jaw dropping.

As the day went on, the names turned out to be incorrect.

The Official Mitchell Report has been released, it’s contents are not as shocking as we thought earlier in the day. The good news for Red Sox fans is that there were only two current players, Eric Gagne (HGH, pg. 217) and Brenden Donnelly (pg. 224), mentioned in the report.

Extra Bases has some interesting excerpts from the report about the Red Sox having some reservations about Gagne and steroid use. Plus, the Red Sox are denying the release of Donnelly had anything to do with the Mitchell Report.

The report itself is over 400 pages in length, and is written in more of a narrative style, rather than a list. One of the most prominent names on the list is of course, Roger Clemens. Clemens use of performance enhancing drugs is described in detail, beginning on page 167.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle says the Astros should be embarrassed.

Baseball Reference has a complete list of the names in the Mitchell Report as well as a link to their statistics.

Former Red Sox MVP Mo Vaughn is listed in Mitchell’s Report, with a copy of a check in the amount of $3,200 written out to Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski (page 186)

David Scott checks in with his Scott’s Shots. He looks at the Mitchell Investigation, as well as, some chages over at CN8.

Hometown boy, Dan Wetzel, says that Roger Clemens is now the white Barry Bonds.

“Arizona Diamondbacks righthander Curt Schilling thinks twice before giving a teammate the traditional slap on the butt for a job well-done. “I’ll pat guys on the ass, and they’ll look at me and go, ‘Don’t hit me there, man. It hurts,'” Schilling says. “That’s because that’s where they shoot the steroid needles.”

The above quote is the lead on an article from June 2002 by SI’s Tom Verducci. If you have forgotten how the whispers sounded pre-“Game of Shadows” and BALCO, look no further than this piece.

“I thought Tom Brady was totally classless with Anthony Smith. Smith shouldn’t have made a guarantee, he’s an idiot, but you won the game, you proved your point. Why are you in his face now? That’s ridiculous. Tom Brady, every week, he’s going down in my estimation as a classy guy… totally classless.”

Bill Plaschke is the blowhard who said the above statement. He also writes in the LA Times that baseball will survive.

Mitchell Madness; Big Baby Lends a Hand

(Morning links provided by guest blogger T.J. Donegan. Comments/Criticisms/Loving Admiration can be sent here.)

MLB is going to dump blood in the collective water when Senator George Mitchell’s report on the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball is finally released this afternoon.

Speculation has run amok in the last few days about what will and won’t be in the report, but you can see for yourself (if you want to crank through the 400 pages) at MLB.com this afternoon, where it should be made available shortly after the start of Sen. Mitchell’s 2 PM EST news conference, with Selig and MLB responding with a news conference themselves later in the afternoon.

More and more, this report is looking like it has been a stop-gap measure by MLB, paying lip service to Congress. The fact is that this does not have a positive spin for baseball, with the general feel that this was an investigation done by the league, by a person who has deep ties to more than one club’s ownership, deep ties to Commissioner Bud Selig, and will not have the far-reaching effects some hoped it would 20 months ago. Without the windfall of Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski being forced as part of a plea agreement to talk to Mitchell, this report could just be 400 pictures of a brick wall.

One aspect that will certainly continue to get play in the coming days will be Mitchell’s ties to the Red Sox. Mitchell was a paid director for the Red Sox for years prior to the investigation and should resume that position in the coming months. This is clearly a conflict of interest, with many baseball executives expressing exactly that concern, and should have precluded him from being appointed for this job.

But quite simply, who in baseball circles doesn’t have long-standing ties to the league or the union? In a world where the World Wide Leader is owned by the same company that owns the Angels, where the same company owns the Boston Globe and part of the Red Sox, conflicts of interests are everywhere. Congress is the only group that can step in with the least prejudice and, with the full power of the law behind them, get at the whole truth. Yes, that’s a worst-case-scenario, but that’s exactly what’s at baseball’s doorstep.

Obviously it’s almost all speculation this morning but here’s a quick roundup of the opinion on what the report will contain:

Lester Munson has a Q&A (with himself, I guess?) about the investigation and its legal consequences. T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada have sources that state the blame will be “shared” by both the players’ union and the league office. For ESPN Insider, Buster Olney’s blog talks about the lack of closure of the Mitchell investigation.

Phil Rodgers of the Chicago Tribune adds that the union is likely to appeal any suspensions that come as a result of the report. Michael Petraglia sought out Curt Schilling of all people to get his opinion on what might be in the report. Gerry Fraley at the Sporting News thinks the report’s consequences will be minimal.

Jon Heyman files his opinion on the Mitchell Report for SI.com, saying he believes it could be a bombshell, although I don’t think he knows what the word “painstaking” means. Steve Silva’s Extra Bases for boston.com talks about Schilling’s belief that more than one big name will be revealed in the report, and wouldn’t be surprised if Red Sox players were named. Michael Silverman goes deeper into that possibility. Amalie Benjamin files her own report on the Mitchell investigation. The Big Lead wonders if we’ll see some extra names from the “1994 Amazin’ Squad” that Radomski worked as a clubhouse attendant for.

The only hard news about the report so far is the APs report that it will include the names of MVPs and All-Stars. All-Stars? MVPs?! Those couldn’t be Ken Caminiti, Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, could they? The AP has gotten so sensationalist with their leads lately. I hope it’s someone nobody expects though, like Rollie Fingers. Him and his crazy ‘stache. Mitchell needs to bring him down a peg or two.

In other news, Theo Epstein’s wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy last night. Congratulations to the Epsteins on their first child, let’s hope he’s a five-tool shortstop, we could really use one of those.

Also, the Sox declined to tender reliever Brendan Donnelly, making the 36-year old a free agent. Amalie Benjamin files a short report.

Not much about the team itself today, with little grist for the rumor mill and most of the local talent focused on this afternoon’s festivities.

Patriots

Well what do you know? Spygate has life after all. Or as the immortal John Clayton said last night “[this issue] won’t go away because we won’t let it go away…it’s too good of a drama.” Nothing but the facts from the WWL, as always. It turns out that last season the Jets were caught videotaping at Gillette as far back as 2006. The Pats expelled the cameraman and didn’t report the offense to the league (which would certainly explain why Belichick has gone Ahab on the league this year).

Different circumstances, and it doesn’t mitigate what the Patriots were doing this year, but the team could still have reported the incident to the league and didn’t. I think the line in Vegas jumped 10 points when Belichick was told about that one.

The AP copy out of New York has been the only one run on the most sites, it sums things up pretty well.
John Tomase offers a little extra insight, however. Mike Reiss has the Jets not being punished by the league. So we just had to film from the stands, then? It should be noted that this rule is included in the NFL Game Operations Manual. That’d be the same Manual that also has rules regarding how much coffee and sliced oranges the home team must provide to the visitors.

Head on over to Patriots Daily where Dan Snapp looks at the Patriot passing game so far this season.

John Tomase stirs the controversy by examining Mangini’s comments about offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Tomase then gives us five things to keep an eye on for the game on Sunday. Karen Guregian has teams actively avoiding throwing at Asante Samuel, when possible.

Jeff Jacobs at the Courant questions whether the Patriots should be all-day or all class against the hapless Jets. David Heuschkel tracks Brady as the reigns in several single-season passing records.
Karen Guregian says the Patriots shouldn’t concern themselves with the weather report for Sunday’s game.
The Herald also offers a quick rundown of how Tom Terrific has performed in snow games so far in his career.
Ian M. Clark has the Patriots ignoring the media circus. Jim Donaldson says it’s almost time for the Patriots to get their revenge on the Jets. Robert Lee has Belichick wary of the Jets and their firepower going into Sunday’s game, even though the scores shouldn’t be close.

Guregian’s notebook has the Patriots players mum on the revenge talk.

Celtics

The Celtics cruised to a 90-78 win over the Kings last night on the back of Glen Davis, who picked up 16 points and nine rebounds to take their overall record to 18-2. Three Boston Celtics teams have started 18-2 previously, with all three making the NBA Finals.

Davis got some extra press this week as well, as John Hollinger over at ESPN has him as tops in his Player Efficiency rankings of rookies. David Thorpe at Scouts, Inc has Davis as the #5 rookie so far this season, including the relatively ancient minor-league veteran Jamario Moon. For a guy who fell as far as Davis did, it’s been great to see him get even that high, although you have to wonder if he’d get higher if he was getting 30 minutes a game like some guys on that list.

Rajon Rondo also got some national media love with Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen dedicating his Inside the NBA piece to the second-year point guard and how his game has developed so far.

Gary Dzen’s blog at the Globe has some good stuff on Big Baby’s impact last night in his first career start. Mark Murphy also talks about Davis’ reaction to his first NBA start. Jeff Howe talks about the win last night, as well. Steve Bulpett also adds a roundup of last night’s game.


Lenny Magliola
has more on the win and the reversal of the Celtics’ fortunes as of late.
The fourth installment of A Celtics Blogger Christmas Carol is also up at BSMW full-court press.

Bruins

The Bruins pulled out a 5-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers last night. Head on over to Bruins Links to get your roundup of the day’s media reaction.

That’ll wrap it up for me today. Expect a lot of afternoon activity on your favorite blogs from around the web as the report drops later today. Have a good one.