Celtics Settle In, Take Down Suns

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The Celtics were letting the Suns have their way on offense in the second quarter last night. It needed to stop. Phoenix had scored 57 points by halftime, and Doc Rivers let his club know at the break that they needed to play a little defense. They did, holding the Suns to 40 second half points, and cruising to a 117-97 win at the Garden over Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and company.

Marc J. Spears has both Kevin Garnett (30 pts) and Paul Pierce (27pts) submitting MVP-type performances last night. Mark Murphy has Pierce making up for his worst performance of the season in the first game against the Suns with a strong outing last night on national TV. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics didn’t do anything new on defense in the second half, they just tightened down and did the same things they’ve done all season. Jim Fenton has the Celtics getting back on track for the league’s best record. Jessica Camerato kept a blog of the game for Hoopsworld.

Bob Ryan says that Garnett won’t win the NBA MVP award, but he is the Celtics Most Vital Presence, and Most Valuable Acquisition. Steve Bulpett has Rajon Rondo again holding his own against a top point guard, something he has done time and again over the last couple of weeks, and all season. Matt Langone has the Celtics getting back on track against Shaq and the Suns. Mike Fine has Kendrick Perkins taking another giant step forward with his tough play against Shaq last night.

Kevin Cullen jumps on board the idea of changing the name of Causeway Street to Red Auerbach Way.

Peter May has Shaq giving his MVP vote to Kobe Bryant, and dismissing Garnett because: “Garnett doesn’t play defense.” Yeah, read that again. As May asks, What games have you been watching this season? Garnett doesn’t play defense? Bulpett has the Suns saying that Shaq makes them better equipped to go deep in the playoffs and match up better against teams like San Antonio. Lenny Megliola says that this type of game at the Garden whets your appetite for the playoffs. Kevin McNamara has many hands making the load light for the Celtics last night.

Spears’ notebook has the Celtics offering some thoughts on the impending Sonics move to Oklahoma City. Murphy’s notebook has Pierce and Garnett propping each other up as the MVP. Doyle’s notebook has Pierce and Doc Rivers both saying that Garnett is the MVP for how he has changed the entire culture of the Celtics in one season.

Red Sox

The Red Sox ended up with a split in Japan of the two regular season games they played. Gordon Edes says that the A’s were the home time in name only during this series. Michael Silverman has the Sox moving on to LA after the game for three exhibitions with the Dodgers. Jeff Goldberg has some thoughts on yesterday’s game, as well as on the impact of the trip on the Red Sox. Bob Stern has Theo Epstein at the top of his game right now.

Gerry Callahan says Jacoby Ellsbury was everywhere yesterday. Everywhere except where he should have been, namely in the starting lineup and playing centerfield for the Red Sox. Callahan says that playing Ellsbury over Coco Crisp should be a no-brainer for Terry Francona. Dan Shaughnessy is caught up in the time travel aspect of leaving Tokyo and returning to Los Angeles. Sean McAdam says that the Red Sox enjoyed their time in Japan. Jon Couture says that the loss yesterday doesn’t mean much in the long run for the Red Sox.

Amalie Benjamin has lack of control once again coming back to haunt Jon Lester. Rob Bradford says that Lester was underwhelming right from the start yesterday. McAdam has Lester struggling right from the start yesterday, and putting himself and the team in a hole. Silverman has J.D. Drew iffy for the Dodger series this weekend because of his back. McAdam has more on Francona putting Coco Crisp in the lineup yesterday ahead of Ellsbury.

The Globe notebook has Brandon Moss getting sent down to Pawtucket following the game. The Herald notebook has Josh Beckett making progress in Florida and getting ready to rejoin his teammates. McAdam’s notebook has Bartolo Colon set to start against the Dodgers tomorrow night.

Bruins/Patriots

Fluto Shinzawa has David Krejci proving himself an able fill-in for Marc Savard in Tuesday win over the Maple Leafs. Stephen Harris says that the Bruins still have a lot of work to do in in the final six games if they hope to make the playoffs. Mike Loftus has the Bruins 4th line coming up big when needed.

Mike Reiss has Jabar Gaffney preferring to stick around Foxborough rather than shopping his wares on the open market this offseason. Karen Guregian has Matt Light saying that the offensive line shouldn’t be kicked to the curb for one poor performance.

Over in the Metro I’ve got a short piece entitled On Bill Belichick’s secret service.

David Scott has an update on the ESPN.com Cory Lidle transaction gaffe from yesterday.

Buddy Thomas isn’t pleased with the coverage of March Madness.

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03.26.08 Afternoon Wrap

Just a few afternoon links today:

Michael Silverman and Gordon Edes report on today’s 5-1 loss to the A’s in Japan for the Red Sox.

Dan Shaughnessy writes about the rise and fall of Brandon Moss, who was the hero yesterday and sent down to Pawtucket after the game today.

Chad Finn has a few thoughts after the opener in Japan. He also looks at the Tom Verducci piece in this week’s Sports Illustrated, which is about 2005 baseball draft, which has already proven to be one of the most talented in a long time. The Red Sox grabbed both Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury in that draft.

Mike Sando has Randy Moss listed as the second greatest wide receiver in NFL history.

Jonah Keri tells us not to count on a Red Sox dynasty.

Scott Miller says that the Red Sox and Yankees using the draft to develop young talent is bad news for the rest of the league.

Mike Reiss has his latest Patriots Mailbag.

Peter King applauds Roger Goodell’s “tough guy” stance.

BSM Approval Ratings – Gary Tanguay

Gary Tanguay of CSN and WBCNToday’s subject for your approval (or disapproval) is CSN’s Gary Tanguay.

The well-coiffed Tanguay is a busy guy, co-hosting Mohegan Sun’s Sports Tonight for CSN alongside Mike Felger as well as the pregame and postgame shows for the Celtics broadcasts on the network. He has been with CSN since 2000.

In addition, Tanguay is the host of the pregame and postgame shows on the WBCN Patriots radio broadcasts.

Prior to joining CSN, Tanguay worked at WBZ-TV, and also did radio work with WEEI, WVEI and WTKK, where he hosted “Calling All Sports.”

Tanguay has also been posting on Wicked Good Sports, a blog affiliated with CSN.

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{democracy:5}

Sox In Japan, Game 2

David Scott has ESPN.com needing to explain a weird online gaffe involving the late Cory Lidle.

The Red Sox got the regular season off to a bang with their 6-5 extra innings victory over the Oakland A’s in Japan yesterday. This morning the two clubs are at it again with the A’s currently holding a 4-1 lead in the 6th.

Gordon Edes has Manny Ramirez and Brandon Moss leading the Red Sox to victory yesterday. Michael Silverman has the offense coming to the rescue of Daisuke Matsuzaka and the pitching. Jeff Goldberg has a number of observations from opening day. Sean McAdam has Ramirez and the Red Sox getting off to a quick start yesterday.

Rob Bradford says that the “new” Manny Ramirez was a hit on opening day. Amalie Benjamin has more on Moss making the most of his opportunity to get into the lineup on opening day. Bradford has more on Moss replacing J.D. Drew and saving the day for the Sox. Lenny Megliola kept a running thoughts diary as he got up and watched the game yesterday. Kevin Gray also had a number of thoughts.

Bradford looks at today’s starter, Jon Lester as he gets ready for his 2008 debut. McAdam has Bud Selig taking in the season opener yesterday. Bradford has the Red Sox and A’s visiting the United States Embassy yesterday as well. Jon Couture says that opening in Japan is just part of the price they have to pay for their success. Joe Haggerty thinks that Mike Lowell could be even better this season. Bob Stern has Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima as question marks for the Sox heading into their second season with the team.

Bill Burt and Peter Schworm check in with some early rising Sox fans who went out for the season opener. Michael Medeiros also has a story on this topic.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell recaps the DirecTV outage yesterday.

Edes’ notebook has a look at a shaky outing from Jonathan Papelbon yesterday. Silverman’s notebook has Dice-K apologizing to fans for his poor performance yesterday.

Bruins

The offense broke out last night, scoring 6 times on the Maple Leafs in a 6-2 Boston victory. Kevin Paul Dupont says that while the standings didn’t change that much, the Bruins could hold their head a little higher after last night’s performance. Stephen Harris has the Bruins getting a badly needed lift and victory last night in Toronto.

Harris’ notebook reports that the Bruins leading scorer, Marc Savard, has a broken bone in his back, though possibly in “the best place to break your back.” Dupont’s notebook has Chuck Kobasew being felled by a Zdeno Chara slapshot to the ankle, and has Dupont showing a little frustration with the Bruins Patriots-like stance on injury information. (Might be the only time we compare the Bruins to the Patriots…)

Celtics

We’ve got a couple of new pieces on on the BSMW Full Court Press, there are Random Thoughts and Further Reflections and a A Second Open Letter to the Readers.

Peter May has Sam Cassell drinking Tom Thibodeau’s Kool-Aid, which means working hard on the defensive end. Jessica Camerato has Cassell possibly looking at his last chance to get back to the NBA finals, where he hasn’t been since the first two seasons of his long career.

Mark Murphy has the Celtics getting ready for the Suns tonight, and hoping to avenge one of their worst games of the season. Jackie MacMullan has Shaquille O’Neal finding his place with the Suns, and with the help of Bill Russell, accepting his reduced production and role. He also takes a nice swipe at Ricky Davis, praises James Posey, and looks forward to playing the Celtics now that they’re back to being “Boston Boston.” Shaq is always entertaining, and this is a good read from MacMullan.

NCAA

Down by 22 points with less than 15 minutes left in the second half to Syracuse, things didn’t look good for the UMass Minutemen. Then it happened. They staged a stunning comeback to win the game and earn a spot in the NIT Final Four with a 81-77 victory in the Carrier Dome. Erik Gallant wonders if this was the greatest comeback in NCAA history.

Jackie Friedman and Kerri Fleming have reports on the UMass victory. Eli Rosenswaike has the story in the Herald.

Marty Dobrow has Bentley trying to keep their unbeaten season (33-0) perfect as they head into the NCAA Division 2 Elite Eight. Mark Murphy has more on Bentley’s quest for the perfect season. Sean Jacquet has the Falcons looking to finish the job this year after falling in the elite eight last year.

Patriots/Misc

Karen Guregian and Mike Reiss each have Richard Seymour among those starting off fresh in the Patriots offseason conditioning program which started this week at Gillette Stadium.

Amy Derjue on the Boston Daily blog follows up on the Brian McNamee appearance at a local nutritional store this week as noted in yesterday’s afternoon post here on BSMW.

Tuesday Thoughts and Links

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What? No ceremonies marking today’s 37th Anniversary of the Patriots changing their name from the Boston Patriots to the New England Patriots? (Edit – that’s according to NFL.com. I’m not sure where the whole Bay State Patriots name fits in here.)

Ummm, Butch? If you’re trying to be clever with the signatures to your posts from Japan, it should be Butchie-San, not Butchie-son

Succinct analysis from Glenn Ordway on the Red Sox win: “Dice-K sucked, Snyder sucked, Papelbon sucked.” OK then. I guess that’s all we need to know.

Reid Laymance has the official word from DirecTV on this morning’s outage.

Gordon Edes has the game story of today’s (last night’s?) Red Sox opening day win over the A’s out in Japan. Michael Silverman has the story for the Herald.

Dan Shaughnessy wonders what General Douglas MacArthur would have thought about the scene in Japan. You know, I was wondering the exact same thing…

Chad Finn has his 2008 Red Sox season preview.

Jeff Passan has Manny Ramirez enjoying the million yen he won with his MVP performance today.

Sean Deveney says that Dice-K’s wild start doesn’t really mean anything.

Dayn Perry says that today wasn’t really opening day.

Bill Simmons has some thoughts on the NCAA tournament.

Tom Curran says that Roger Goodell cherry-picked the 49ers tampering case to punish.

Scouts Inc. has Randy Moss back on top as the best receiver in the NFL.

I’ll credit a BSMW message board poster for pointing out the ad on the bottom of the Boston Herald sports page today:

Boston Herald back cover

That “sports nutrition” place in Everett is promoting an appearance by Brian McNamee in the store this Thursday? Why? Then again, the man might be a hero in these parts for taking on Roger Clemens…

BSM Approval Ratings – Amalie Benjamin

Amalie BenjaminToday’s subject is Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe.

The SoSH Wiki has a quick profile of Benjamin, who has been on the Red Sox beat for the Globe for the last couple of seasons. She was also an intern with the paper duing her college years.

Benjamin has become a regular on Red Sox coverage with NESN, becoming a television presence as well as a newspaper writer. She handles much of the blogging duties on the Globe Extra Bases Red Sox blog as well.

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{democracy:4}

Sox and the Rising Sun

Morning links while watching the Red Sox season opener…

Apparently, DirecTV had a very untimely (for Red Sox fans) outage this morning. An explanation has not been issued as of yet…
(Update: Eric Wilbur has a post on the DirecTV topic.)

J.D. Drew has been scratched from the lineup due stiffness in his lower back.

Michael Silverman has the Sox beginning their title defense with a game against the A’s this morning in Japan. Dan Shaughnessy has this morning as an odd way to begin a title defense. Sean McAdam says that with his illness fully behind him now, Jon Lester’s time has come. Joe Haggerty has the Sox hoping that the same crew can deliver a second title for the Red Sox.

Gordon Edes has Daisuke Matsuzaka’s old club struggling despite the $51.1 million windfall they received as the posting fee for Matsuzaka. Amalie Benjamin has the whole nation of Japan watching Matsuzaka today as the leads off the regular season at the top of the Red Sox rotation. Rob Bradford has Manny Ramirez starting this season in a much better place (in many ways) than he started last season in. Joe McDonald has veteran Joe Thurston hoping to earn a callup with the Sox sometime this season.

The Herald notebook has Coco Crisp with his injuries behind him, and ready to go. Amalie Benjamin’s notebook has the Red Sox with a juggling act on their hands as they set the active roster for these games.

Celtics

After sweeping through Texas, the Celtics suddenly find themselves unable to close out games, blowing their second straight seemingly comfortable second half lead in as many games. Last night, the Philadelphia 76ers stormed back on the Celtics, winning 95-90 at the Garden.

Marc J. Spears says perhaps it was just one of those nights coming off a long road trip for the Celtics. Mark Murphy has Philadelphia wearing down the Celtics with their endless supply of energy. Jessica Camerato had a live blog of the game. Scott Souza has things crashing down on the Celtics in the fourth quarter last night. Bill Doyle has the Celtics suddenly losing their ability to close things out in the fourth.

Jeff Horrigan has Kevin Garnett and the Celtics learning a big lesson from last night. Lenny Megliola says that the Celtics need to get used to getting the best effort from the opposition each and every night. Mike Fine has poor shooting by the Celtics in the fourth letting the Sixers back in. Horrigan also looks at the turnaround of the Sixers both last night and this season in general. Jim Fenton has Doc Rivers experimenting with his rotation in order to try and get his bench more experience together. Bob Halloran says that we should all be very disappointed if the Celtics don’t win the NBA title.

Spears’ notebook has the Atlanta Hawks eager to get a shot at the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Murphy’s notebook has Doc Rivers pleased with the “Seats for Soldiers” promotion put on by the Celtics last night. Doyle’s notebook has Garnett scoring Eastern Conference player of the week for last week.

Bruins

Kevin Paul Dupont says that times are desperate for the Bruins, and its not just the offense that is ailing them. Steve Conroy has the Bruins shorthanded at practice yesterday. Matt Porter looks at some of the things that the Bruins do to get ready for games, including a soccer game in the hallway. Mike Loftus says that the Bruins need some of their youngsters to step up right now with all the injuries.

Dupont’s notebook has Marc Savard and Andrew Ference the latest Bruins touched by injury. Loftus’ notebook says that the Bruins will be shorthanded for their home-and-home series with the Maple Leafs this week.

Patriots/Other

Mike Reiss and Christopher L. Gasper has Sammy Morris joining his teammates for offseason workouts, which began yesterday. They also report that the Patriots are not interested in Pacman Jones. Karen Guregian has a look at Jarvis Green, who will be on today’s episode of “Montel” with Montel Williams, shedding tears because of the joy he provided a Hurricane Katrina victim.

Frank Dell’Apa has the Revs’ Shalrie Joseph performing double duty this week, playing for both New England and his national team of Grenada. Dell’Apa’s notebook has the Revs starting the season a bit shorthanded.

Mark Blaudschun has the Boston College football team starting over with spring practice and beginning life without Matt Ryan.

Rich Thompson has UMass hitting the road for Syracuse in the NIT Quarterfinals.