Celtics Head Home – Cassell to Follow?

The Celtics ended their five game Western road trip on a high note, as they routed a totally uninspired Clippers team, 104-76 in Los Angeles. The win made the Celtics 2-3 on the trip and now they head home to take on the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow night at the Garden.

Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics were more than good enough against a total disinterested Clippers club. Peter May notes that this one had a “distinct air of inevitability” right from the outset. Out in Los Angeles, Jonathan Abrams has a club looking like the “Celtics of yesteryear, in all their mystique,” handing the Clippers their worst loss of the season. Joe Stevens says that this one seemed to be over before it even began. Art Thompson III has the Clippers with no answers for the Celtics.

Bulpett has the Celtics still looking to add to their backcourt, but Brent Barry doesn’t appear to be walking through that door, and Sam Cassell’s buyout is progressing slowly. Abrams has Cassell confirming that buyout talks with Clippers are taking place. Stevens notes that Cassell will need to be waived before midnight Eastern time tomorrow in order to play in the postseason for another team, as he has to be off the Clippers roster by midnight Friday and NBA waivers take 48 hours to clear.

May’s notebook though, reports that sources say that the Clippers will announce today that they are buying out Cassell’s contract, and that the Celtics, Nuggets and Mavericks are all prepared to make him an offer once he clears waivers. Bulpett’s notebook has the Celtics feeling pretty good about their position in the East.

Red Sox

There’s quite a difference in the lead baseball columns between the papers this morning after a fairly slow day at Red Sox camp yesterday: Gordon Edes tells the story of Kevin Davis, a Navy fighter pilot and huge Red Sox fan, who got to see his biggest dream get fulfilled up close. Jeff Goldberg has the Red Sox set to visit the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington as part of their trip to the White House tomorrow. Meanwhile, Gerry Callahan grouses that the Red Sox are World Champions, and appear that they might be even better now, but asserts that they’re boring, and he wants more storylines and controversy in camp.

Rob Bradford has the Red Sox believing that Bartolo Colon is worth taking a gamble on. Sean McAdam has Theo Epstein characterizing the signing as low-risk, potentially high reward.

Bradford has Bruce Hurst happy to rejoin the Red Sox as a special instructor, 20 years after he last pitched for the club. Bradford also has Hurst revealing that his regrets started immediately once he signed with the San Diego Padres and left Boston and the Red Sox. Rob Duca has more on Hurst, and his rejoining Red Sox nation after 20 years away.

Michael Silverman says that there is virtually no trade market for Coco Crisp right now. Joe Haggerty has Manny Delcarmen looking to get down to business after a winter of heavy workouts. Silverman also has the Red Sox’ Hall of Fame Class of 2008, which was announced yesterday.

Amalie Benjamin‘s notebook has more on Colon, as well as Hurst. Silverman’s notebook has Jed Lowrie having a mishap in a rundown drill yesterday. McAdam’s notebook has more on the Hall of Fame class and on Hurst. Duca’s notebook has more on the low risk signing of Colon. Goldberg’s notebook also has a look at the signing of Colon, and the return of Hurst.

Bruins

Kevin Paul Dupont has Patrice Bergeron talking about his second skate in two days yesterday. Steve Conroy also has the Bruins star feeling his way through his efforts to return to the team. Bergeron was a guest of the Dale & Holley program on WEEI yesterday…

Dupont’s notebook has Peter Chiarelli expecting to stand pat at today’s NHL trading deadline. Conroy’s notebook also has a look at what figures to be a quiet day for the Bruins.

Misc

Mike Reiss has Eugene Wilson and the Patriots set to part ways after five seasons. Bob Halloran tells us that the Patriots won’t be as good next season, and that their window of opportunity could be closing.

Bob Ryan gushes over how fortunate we are to be watching Tiger Woods right now. He says even Cole Porter might be at a loss for words to describe him.

David Scott reports that 890 ESPN Boston might not be long for this market, as signs point to its imminent demise.

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Comcast SportsNet HD Growing Pains

If you watched the Celtics broadcasts from Phoenix on Friday night and last night from Portland on Comcast SportsNet HD, you likely noticed that the game wasn’t actually in HD. In talking with a CSN representative today, the explanation was given that apparently while the network is able to broadcast each game in High Definition, they were not able to find a production truck in those cities that had the necessary equipment to get the HD signals out. As the person noted, it’s part of the price to pay for switching to full HD coverage in the middle of a season. This type of equipment, especially on the road, usually needs to be arranged for well in advance.

Tonight’s game in Los Angeles against the Clippers will be in full HD.

Celts Blaze Their Way Back

After trailing by 17 points at one point in the first half, the Celtics finally got their act together last night, and stormed back for a 112-102 win over the Portland Trailblazers last night. Paul Pierce had 30 points to lead the way for the Celtics.

On Oscar night, Steve Bulpett has the Celtics starring in their own version of “Atonement” up in Portland. Peter May says that the Celtics big guys and their defense finally showed up for a game on this West coast road trip. Check the coverage and reaction from Portland on the game in the OregonLive Blazers Blog.

Michael Wilbon in the Washington Post this morning says that despite their recent struggles, the Celtics are still ahead of the curve in the East. in Portland, Geoffrey C. Arnold has a look at how native son (From Eugene, OR) Danny Ainge finally got the Celtics turned around. Bill Doyle looks at the second round proving successful for the Celtics. Tim Weisberg says that the recent losses are reason for concern, but not worry.

May’s notebook has a look at some names that the Celtics might be considering this week as they attempt to bulk up their bench for the stretch run. Bulpett’s notebook has Pierce and Ray Allen shooting a combined 19-22 last night, bouncing back nicely after their 5-25 showing in Phoenix.

Red Sox

Theo Epstein got his manager locked up for at least the next three years yesterday, as Terry Francona and the Red Sox agreed on a contract extension that will keep the manager here through the 2011 season, with a couple of option years after that. Amalie Benjamin and Gordon Edes report on the new deal for the skipper, which places him in the upper echelon of the managerial salary scale. Rob Bradford says that in these negotiations, Francona had the leverage, and it paid off handsomely for him. Sean McAdam says that Francona and the Red Sox are a perfect fit for each other, and has reaction from several players on the new deal for their boss. Joe Haggerty says that Francona can now put his focus back on baseball. Jeff Goldberg has Epstein offering high praise for his skipper with the extension now done. Rob Duca says that it was only a matter of time before this extension got done.

Michael Silverman examines the different routes that top prospects Clay Buchholz and Joba Chamberlain have taken in their development by the organizations to which they belong. Michael Levenson examines the difficulty of obtaining Red Sox spring training tickets, which are the highest priced in the majors. Silverman has several of the Red Sox pitchers, including Josh Beckett, getting their first batting practice of spring training yesterday and looking pretty impressive. Bradford has a brief report on the Red Sox agreeing to terms on a minor league make-good deal with Bartolo Colon.

Bradford’s notebook has a look at Jon Lester, who is projected as the Red Sox #3 starter, with no limitations placed on his workload this spring. Edes’ notebook has the Red Sox not making the announcement on Colon until he can pass a physical. McAdam’s notebook has more on the contingent deal for Colon, who would give the Red Sox some insurance if Curt Schilling can’t come back. Goldberg’s notebook also reports on the minor deal for Colon. Duca’s notebook has player reaction to Francona’s extension.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins might do well to take a chemistry lesson from the Anaheim Ducks of last season. Stephen Harris has Peter Chiarelli working the phones furiously prior to tomorrow’s NHL trading deadline. Mick Colageo says that the Bruins need to determine whether Phil Kessel is a trading chip or a building block. Shinzawa has Patrice Bergeron taking a 10-minute skate yesterday, while Harris also reports on Bergeron’s return to the ice.

Patriots

Karen Guregian has former Patriot Ted Johnson insisting that his quote about getting a sheet of the opponent’s audibles an hour before each game was taken out of context and that to attach it to the spygate scandal would be irresponsible. He says he never saw evidence of illegal videotaping during his time here. Mike Reiss and Christopher L. Gasper report that the Jets Jonathan Vilma has permission from the Jets to seek a trade to any team in the NFL…except of course, the Patriots.

John Tomase examines Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan and the possibility that he could be the first pick in the NFL draft this season. He looks over what scouts like about him, and what reservations they have.

Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots looking to bolster their defense this offseason. Rich Garven has number of Patriots notes, leading off with the fact that even Bill Polian wants spygate to go away. Douglas Flynn says that the Patriots offensive backfield is one area where the team shouldn’t have to do much shopping this offseason.

Guregian’s notebook has BC safety Jamie Silva as a big fan of the Patriots Rodney Harrison.

Globe Magazine Takes Its Shots At Belichick

In the Boston Globe Magazine this morning, Doug Most has the latest rip job on Bill Belichick.

What an original subject. And timely, too. Let’s kick the guy further while we can.

He states as fact:

The only reason Boston sports fans have put up with Belichick’s act is because he’s won, not because they like him.

Let’s put aside the fact of whether Patriots fans actually like Belichick or not. How exactly does whether or not he wins make Bill Belichick different from every other coach that has come through here? Don’t we ultimately judge every coach/manager on whether or not they win? The “likable” Pete Carroll years sure worked out well here. Dick Mcpherson too. We loved Mac, but he didn’t win. Belichick has won like no other coach.

I’ve heard a handful of sanctimonious Patriots do some moralizing on Belichick for the events of the past year, but it was truly just a few, not this swelling undercurrent sweeping through the region as Most apparently wants to believe.

The real problem, as is always the case in these type of stories, is Belichick’s cooperation with the media. Most slams Belichick for his reaction to the truly gut-wrenching Super Bowl loss. He says how in the post-game, Belichick never mentioned “the Giants’ tremendous play.”

Belichick’s first comments in the post game press conference:

“Congratulations to the Giants. They made some plays there at the end and we didn’t. It’s disappointing.”

Most then makes a spectacular leap, bringing up the name Grady Little. Yes, he wants Belichick to be more like Grady Little. He talks about how Grady stood before the assembled masses after the crushing game 7 loss in the 2003 and how in a “folksy, grandfatherly way, he explained why he did what he did with sincerity and in detail.” What he did of course, was leave Pedro Martinez in the game too long.

The funny thing is, if you read Little’s comments, as quoted in the piece, they sound very much like something that Bill Belichick would say.

Most says that dealing with the media is part of the job that any coach or manager in Boston has to embrace. Why?

Think about Bill Belichick’s job for a moment. Think about all the things he does. It’s goes well beyond standing on the sideline in the hoodie, which of course is the image most choose to have of him. There’s scouting to be do. Game planning. Interviewing draftees and free agents. Running the organization. Planning, running, and analyzing practices every day. Off season analysis of every game from the past season, and planning for every game of the coming season.

What percentage of his job would you says involves dealing with the media? 5%? Surely not a whole lot more than that. Is he supposed to let other aspects of his job suffer so he can kowtow to the ink-stained wretches?

There are things that you can criticize Belichick for. He’s not perfect, and he’ll be the first to admit that. How many times has he said that he needed to do a better job coaching the team? His relationship with the media (which is what this article is about…not spygate, or running-up-the-score-gate or not-winning-by-enough-gate) and whether or not the fans “like” him is certainly not something that the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine needs to devote space to.

Manny Has Arrived

Manny Ramirez showing up on time to camp is the top story in the papers this morning, and him speaking to the media on his arrival is an even bigger one.

Steve Buckley has Ramirez happy, upbeat and wanting to stay in Boston for the rest of his career. Jeff Goldberg has Manny stating that he wants to be here for the next two years, but that he’ll leave that decision to the Red Sox. Amalie Benjamin says Manny didn’t stick around for long yesterday, but it was enough just that he was there at all. Buckley add that the Red Sox are in an ideal position to be able to deal with Manny and dictate whether he remains here and stays productive for the next two seasons. Rob Bradford says that Manny’s arrival made Theo Epstein a happy GM.

Sean McAdam notes that as is the case with players, only certain managers can thrive in Boston. Terry Francona has certainly proved that he can not only survive, but be wildly successful. Rob Bradford examines how keeping a journal has made a huge difference for Josh Beckett. Garry Brown says that the future is now for Jacoby Ellsbury. Joe Haggerty has a Q&A session with new Sox reliever Danny Kolb, who recalls his first trip to Fenway Park.

McAdam’s notebook has more on Manny’s acceptance of his situation with the option years. Bradford’s notebook revisits a winter of discontent for Alex Cora. Gordon Edes’ notebook has more on Kolb trying a win a job with the Red Sox. Goldberg’s notebook has Epstein addressing the Coco Crisp situation.

Patriots

The Patriots did not tag Randy Moss with the franchise designation yesterday, leaving some to speculate that the team is close to an extension with the record setting receiver. Karen Guregian says that no tag means that the two sides likely have a verbal agreement. (The Patriots can’t officially sign him until the new league year starts at the end of next week.) Mike Reiss also has a look at the situation for the two sides. David Heuschkel and Shalise Manza Young each also speculate that the absence of the tag could mean a long term deal between the sides in in the works.

John Tomase has quotes from around the league at the NFL combine on camera-gate. Young also has quotes from that event, including comments from the infamous NFL Competition Committee on the matter. Tomase also reports on the Patriots adding Dom Capers to their coaching staff. Over on Patriots Daily, Scott Benson also speculates as to the significance of the addition of a veteran NFL defensive mind to the coaching staff.

Capers, as you might recall, was a candidate for the head coaching job with the Patriots before Bill Belichick was hired. There was talk of a Tom Donahoe/Capers GM/Head Coach combination, a situation that then-Patriots beat man Nick Cafardo was strongly in favor of.

Reiss’s notebook has more on Capers, noting that the addition could free of Belichick to work more elsewhere with his club. The Herald notebook has the Patriots declining the option on Donte Stallworth’s contract, making him free to sign elsewhere.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa and Stephen Harris have the Bruins rallying for a 5-4 shootout win over the Florida Panthers last night. The win puts the Bruins at 3-0-1 on their five game trip.

Shinzawa has Richard Zednik speaking for the first time since his gruesome injury. Harris’ notebook has GM Peter Chiarelli mum on any possible deal for Atlanta’s Marian Hossa. Shinzawa’s notebook has more on Chiarelli’s options at the trade deadline.

Celtics

The Celtics are in Phoenix tonight to take on the Suns and their new acquisition, Shaquille O’Neal, who made his debut with the club earlier this week. After giving up 243 points over the last two games, Marc J. Spears and Steve Bulpett have the Celtics looking to get back to what got them the league’s best record – defense. On the BSMW Full Court Press, Shirley Coshatt says that defensive guru Tom Thibodeau needs to stick around beyond this season for what he has brought to the Celtics.

Spears’ notebook has the Celtics believing that the addition of O’Neal makes the Suns more imposing. Bulpett’s notebook looks at a quite trade deadline day for Danny Ainge. Jeff Howe has more on the deadline passing with no deals for the Celtics.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell chats with new channel 7 sports reporter/anchor Julie Donaldson.

Disagreeing on Dwight

On Monday, Bob Ryan posted in his blog that he wasn’t all that impressed with Dwight Howard’s performance in the NBA Slam Dunk contest on Saturday night.

This morning in the Metro, I have a rebuttal to Ryan’s premise that we shouldn’t be impressed with Howard because he happens to be 7 feet tall and athletic.

Speaking of Ryan, he is down at Red Sox spring training, and after Manny Ramirez had his arrival press conference today, the Globe’s Extra Bases blog notes:

After standing up, out of the huge group of reporters and cameras, Ramirez went over to Bob Ryan, shook his hand, and stood talking to him for a few moments.

It would be interesting to know what Manny said to him.

Celtics Fall Again Out West

First, a quick site update, the link collections that many of you have been wondering about, have finally been added back into the site, they’re in the sidebar to the right here. We’re finally just about done with putting everything back together.

The Celtics fell to 0-2 on their West coast road trip, beaten last night on a Baron Davis 20 foot jumper with three-tenths of a second remaining on the clock, which broke a 117-117 tie and gave the Golden State Warriors a 119-117 win over the Celtics in front of the largest crowd ever to watch a basketball game in the state of California.

Steve Bulpett notes that over the last two games, the Celtics have given up their title of having the stingiest scoring defense in the NBA, having surrendered 242 points in the two losses. Marc J. Spears has the Celtics pointing to their 14 missed free throws as a big part of the loss as well. Check out the game stories from out West on the Bay Area Sports Pages.

Bulpett has Leon Powe talking about his return trip home to the Bay Area last night. On the BSMW Full Court Press, Tom Lambert goes after the NBA refs after their performances recently.

Spears’ notebook has Ray Allen talking about playing for the Celtics during Black History Month. Bulpett’s notebook says that there don’t appear to be any big trades on the horizon for the Celtics before today’s 3:00pm trade deadline.

Red Sox

Yesterday’s media focus was on Jacoby Ellsbury, today’s is on the man he is competing with for a starting job. Sean McAdam has Coco Crisp preferring to be traded if he doesn’t win the starting centerfield job over Ellsbury. Amalie Benjamin has Crisp emphasizing that he won’t be happy sitting on the bench. Joe Haggerty has Crisp not giving up without a fight for his job. Rob Bradford has more on Coco’s desire to play full time – if not here, then somewhere else. Jeff Goldberg also has Crisp ready to fight for his job.

Even though Manny Ramirez made an appearance at camp yesterday – a day before he had promised to show up – Gordon Edes apparently couldn’t waste the filler material that he had compiled which chronicles each of Manny’s tardy appearances in past spring trainings. Steve Buckley has David Ortiz feeling good as camp begins, with his knee repaired and reporting in great shape to start the season. Bob Ryan has a look at shortstop prospect Jed Lowrie, who seems headed for the Red Sox lineup at some point in the very near future. Maureen Mullen has Clay Buchholz ready to go the distance for the Sox.

Buckley has Mike Lowell explaining that his comfort level with the situation here was the biggest reason for his return to the Red Sox. Bradford has Larry Lucchino not wishing to engage the Steinbrenner boys in their recent bravado.

McAdam’s notebook has David Ortiz’s surgically repaired knee making him feel 25 again. The Globe notebook has the White Sox denying that they’ve ever performed the type of surgery that Curt Schilling and his doctor believe he needs in order to pitch this season. Bradford’s notebook has more on Manny’s brief appearance in camp yesterday. Goldberg’s notebook also reports on Manny’s arrival.

Patriots

Christopher L. Gasper and Mike Reiss pass along an AP report that the NFL and Matt Walsh are getting closer to a deal that would allow the former Patriots employee to testify about what he knows about the organization. The AP Report, which came out last night, contained one glaring error, which the Herald’s Point After blog corrected quickly. The AP claims that Walsh told the Herald that he had taped the Rams walkthrough prior to the first Super Bowl title, which wasn’t what the paper had actually stated. The Globe piece also has a number of Patriots notes, including a look at whether the team will franchise Randy Moss today.

John Tomase has the Patriots on the lookout for talent at the combine in Indy. Shalise Manza Young has former Patriot Lawyer Milloy believing that Thomas Dimitroff could be the guy to turn around the Falcons. Bill Doyle has Mel Kiper Jr believing that Matt Ryan could be the top pick in the NFL Draft.

Bruins

Stephen Harris has Shawn Thornton picking up his game with the Bruins after a talk with coach Claude Julien a few weeks back. Fluto Shinzawa has Andrew Ference shaking off a numb leg in the win over Carolina on Tuesday.