Schilling Weighs in on Pedroia, Watney Extended

A couple of late morning notes today:

I’ve sworn off his blog, but apparently Curt Schilling is finding new outlets to express himself. He’s a Guest Columnist on WEEI.com this morning, weighing on on Pedroia being named the MVP and also about Evan Grant leaving Pedroia off of his ballot.

The very busy Jessica Heslam reports that NESN has signed Heidi Watney to a contract extension.

Also, the Red Sox have traded center fielder Coco Crisp to the Royals.

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Celtics Hold Off Knicks Without KG

Playing without the suspended Kevin Garnett last night, the Celtics had to hang on in the fourth quarter, but thanks in part to a late Brian Scalabrine three-pointer, they were able to come out of last night with a 110-101 win over the New York Knicks.

Frank Dell’Apa says that the Celtics, especially the reserves, made a loud statement with their play last night. Robert Lee has the Celtics proving they can win a big game without Garnett. Steve Bulpett has KG’s teammates stepping up big in his absence. Scott Souza has Scalabrine stepping into Garnett’s spot in the starting lineup for the win. Bill Doyle has the Celtics grabbing a season high 110 points in the win. Jim Fenton has Leon Powe and Kendrick Perkins making their presence felt last night.

Ron Borges has a look at Brian Scalabrine, who has attained the title of “cult hero in residence.” Barbara Matson has new folk hero Scalabrine just happy the Celtics got the win. Paul Flannery has Scalabrine offering reminders of why he is so valuable to the Celtics. Lee has the Celtics unhappy with the Garnett suspension. Borges has more from the Celtics on the suspension.

Alan Siegel has the Knicks hoping to run their way out of the NBA cellar. Jessica Camerato has Quentin Richardson with plenty of bad things to say about the Celtics after the game last night.

Dell’Apa’s notebook has Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge irked by the Garnett suspension. Bulpett’s notebook has the Knicks with plenty to say after this one. Doyle’s notebook has some strong words from Doc Rivers on the suspension of his star. Fenton’s notebook has more on Rivers.

Pedroia is AL MVP

Amalie Benjamin has Dustin Pedroia adding the AL MVP to his already impressive trophy collection. Sean McAdam says that success won’t ruin Pedroia. Joe Haggerty has Kevin Youkilis coming in third in the voting with Pedroia the winner. Jon Couture says that Pedroia has made proving people wrong a way of life. Dan Barbarisi has Pedroia proving that big things can come to the little guy. Jeff Goldberg notes that Pedroia didn’t even have a bonus in his contract for winning the MVP. Paul Jarvey has Pedroia capping off one of the best seasons ever by a second baseman. Alex Speier has Pedroia saying So long, skeptics.

Rob Bradford says that Pedroia is history in the making with the start that his career has gotten off to. Dan Shaughnessy says that this “is simply one of the amazing sports stories of our time.” He also calls him the “most unlikely man to win this award in the history of major league baseball.” (Zoilo Versalles anyone?) Joe McDonald says that the Red Sox feel that the best is still yet to come from Pedroia. Lenny Megliola recalls the spring of 2007 when all the fans wanted Alex Cora playing second base instead of Pedroia. Brian MacPherson has Pedroia always finding a way to get an edge. Mike Fine has Pedroia needing that edge to drive him further and further.

Tell me this wasn’t the single most predictable column this morning. If you had to guess yesterday about one column being written today – wouldn’t you have guessed that Nick Cafardo would write about Pedroia now being able to cash in with a big contract? Nick doesn’t disappoint, providing exactly what we knew he would do.

BSMW Guest Blogger Bob Ekstrom wanted to pass along his thoughts with the following passage:

As happy as we are with Pedroia’s selection, we’re as equally confounded by his exclusion off the ballot of Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant. Yesterday on WEEI’s The Big Show, Grant was grilled on his omission of Pedroia, and he defended himself weakly to say the least. In some later damage control, he now credits himself for over-analyzing MVP selection criteria in shunning Pedroia. As recently as September 20, he had Dustin fourth on his MVP ballot. So what happened after that? Well, Pedroia hit .391 for the balance of the season and carried the Sox into the playoffs, while Grant was obviously the one who shut it down.

Grant certainly was grilled on WEEI yesterday, and the station is pretty proud of it, having even issued a partial transcript of the interview on their website. Dan Lamothe has more on the sportswriter who snubbed Pedroia. The Rangers might find themselves angry at Grant next season, as Pedroia has been known to hold a grudge. However, Steve Buckley assures us that the MVP voting is still in good hands.

Alex Speier looks at how the Red Sox young stars will build on this season. Dan Duggan had Kevin Youkilis very happy for his teammate. Bill Burt has Sean Casey gushing over Pedroia. Lamothe also looks at a New York report that says that the Red Sox will be major players for A.J. Burnett in free agency. Sarah Green loves the hot stove.

McAdam’s notebook has more on Evan Grant leaving Pedroia off his ballot.

Joey Porter Won’t Shut Up. Doesn’t Have To.

Christopher L. Gasper has Joey Porter running his mouth and the Patriots ceding the floor to him. Mark Farinella has the Patriots focusing on Miami, not just Porter. Karen Guregian says that these have not been your typical Patriots this season, beating themselves on several occasions. She also takes a closer look at some of those missed plays or miscues that cost the team. Eric McHugh says that the Patriots are no strangers to trickery of their own – even against the Dolphins.

Jim Donaldson tells us what we knew already – the Patriots need to win this game. Mike Petraglia tells us why the media loves Joey Porter. The Telegram & Gazette has a look at the Pats roadmap ahead to the postseason. Ben Swasey says that it is gut-check time for the Patriots.

John Tomase has Stephen Neal and UFC Champion Brock Lesnar recalling their 1999 NCAA wrestling Tournament matchup, which Neal won.

Gasper’s notebook has Jabar Gaffney as a potential big contributor on Sunday. Guregian’s notebook has the Patriots choosing not to return Porter’s trash talk. Shalise Manza Young has Scott Pioli not interested in other GM opportunities around the league.

Bruins

Stephen Harris says Peter Chiarelli deserves a new deal. Fluto Shinzawa has Andrew Ference down after his tough break.

Pedroia Named AL MVP

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was named AL MVP today by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Chad Finn has story on Boston.com. Sean McAdam has the story on the Herald website. Alex Speier weighs in on  WEEI.com. Tony Massarotti points to the 18 at-bats when Pedroia stepped into the cleanup role after Manny Ramirez was traded as what tipped the scaled in Pedroia’s favor. That, and the fact that he is 5 foot 8.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News left Pedroia off his ballot completely. Before you slam him too badly, his first place vote went to Kevin Youkilis.

Mike Reiss has his Patriots Mailbag for the week.

On the BSMW Full Court Press, we weigh in on the ridiculous Garnett Suspension.

Eckersley To Stick Around at NESN for Awhile

The very busy Jessica Heslam also has the news that Dennis Eckersley and NESN have agreed to a multi-year contract extension.

This is great news for viewers of the NESN pre and post game shows, as Eckersely is easily the most insightful and entertaining analyst in their rotation.

Eckersley also received one of the highest Approval Ratings from the BSMW voting earlier this year, with a whopping 96% approval.

Eckersley, who went national for the MLB postseason on TBS, has gotten attention for his unique vocabulary. During the playoffs, TBS provided this “Ecktionary“:

Cheese = Fastball

Salad = Bad Pitch

Paint = Good Control

Johnson = Home Run

Moss = Hair

Boiling = Fat

Iron = Money

Filet = Ugly Person

Patriots Start Prep For Crucial Game With Dolphins

With the Patriots coming off a 16-0 regular season and Miami a 1-15 one in 2007, who would’ve thought that this Sunday’s game down in Miami would be so critical for both clubs?

On Patriots Daily, Scott Benson notes that if the playoff started now, the Patriots would be on the  Outside Looking In at the top teams. Brian MacPherson also takes a peek at the AFC playoff picture as we stand now.

Mike Reiss says that it will be interesting to see how much the Patriots use their tight ends against the Dolphins this Sunday. Shalise Manza Young says that the Patriots won’t be surprised by the “Wildcat” this time around. John Tomase notes that even though the Dolphins run the formation every week, it has still been effective. Mark Farinella says that the talk yesterday was all wildcat, all the time. Glen Farley says that the Patriots should be ready for the formation this time around.

Tomase has Joey Porter talking about why he hates the Patriots so much. Bill Burt says that the Patriots just need to turn it on like the ’07 Giants did. Farley has rookie LB Jerod Mayo making his presence felt.

Reiss’ notebook has more on the Patriots preparations for the “Wildcat.” Tomase’s notebook has the rookie season of Terrence Wheatley coming to an end after he was placed on IR yesterday. Farinella’s notebook has more on Wheatley’s season coming to an end.  

Bruins Top Leafs

Stephen Harris has Tim Thomas and the Bruins hanging on for a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. Fluto Shinzawa has Thomas surviving a late barrage by Toronto.

Upon further, further review, Mick Colageo reverses his column from yesterday and says that the officials got the call right on Saturday night.

Harris’ notebook says that Brian Burke will be the next GM of the Maple Leafs, not the Bruins. Shinzawa’s notebook has PJ Axelsson getting some point duty in the absence of Andrew Ference.

Celtics

Frank Dell’Apa has a mini-feature on Sam Cassell’s role as a player-coach with the Celtics and his passion to teach the game he loves. Jim Fenton says there isn’t much rest on the horizon for the weary Celtics. Scott Souza says that even though the team was fatigued, they still found a way to win in Milwaukee, which is a good sign for them.

Shira Springer has Magic Johnson saying the Paul Pierce is OK, but he’s no Kobe Bryant. Paul Flannery seems poised to leap aboard the Lakers bandwagon.

Steve Bulpett and Dell’Apa’s notebook have the NBA suspending Kevin Garnett for one game for the incident in Milwaukee Saturday night.

Red Sox

Gerry Callahan says that signing Mark Teixeira is worth the positional chaos it will cause the Red Sox. Paul Doyle says that Theo Epstein is the best GM in the game.

The AL MVP is handed out today, the Red Sox Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis are both top candidates. Mike Fine says that a strong case can be made for either player. Nick Cafardo says that there is no clear favorite for the award. Sean McAdam says that Pedroia could be the slight favorite, but both players could finish in the top three. Joe McDonald has Pedroia as the favorite to win the honor. Dan Lamothe provides a list of players who haven’t won the award to show how difficult it is. Rob Bradford looks at which player should win the award.

Monday Afternoon One-Liners

Among the Patriots items in Peter King‘s MMQB column today is the news that former Patriot Je’Rod Cherry is auctioning off his 2001 Super Bowl ring to raise money for children’s charities.

Mark Cuban is charged with insider trading.

Gordon Edes tries to identify the next wave of great catchers.

Michael Silver isn’t quite ready to annoint Matt Cassel as the Next Big Thing.

Bill Simmons might be ready to go there, though.

The NBA is apparently looking into that Garnett/Bogut incident from Saturday night.

Albert Breer and Ron Borges seem sold on the Tennessee Titans. Mercury Morris is.

A Slow Monday

It’s an odd Monday for the middle of the football season, the Patriots didn’t play yesterday, nor do they play tonight. Instead, they’re getting ready for next Sunday’s critical matchup with the Miami Dolphins.

John Tomase says that the Patriots entire season hinges on this game down in Miami. Mike Reiss says this is just another reminder of what a difference a year makes. Christopher Price has the Patriots acknowledging their miss opportunities thus far this season.

Bob Halloran says that the Patriots have no depth. This despite the fact that many of the players who are starters now, are only in that position because the original starter was injured. Isn’t that what depth is for? Mark Farinella has another episode of Ask Fearless.

Michael Felger hates Randy Moss.

David Scott blasts NBC and CBS for hypocrisy in being very careful not to mention the point spread when discussing the controversial ending to the Pittsburgh/San Diego game yesterday.

Red Sox

Sean McAdam says that if the Red Sox want Mark Teixeira, they at least won’t have to outbid the Yankees for him. Rob Bradford says that Daisuke Matsuzaka is proving to be worth every penny the Red Sox paid for him.

Celtics

Both Mark Murphy and Marc J. Spears each look at Brian Scalabrine finally seeing the court again for the Celtics. Tim Weisberg looks at Paul Pierce becoming Boston’s Superman.

Bruins

Mick Colageo says that the Bruins were robbed on Saturday night, and that Patrice Bergeron did actually put the puck in the net. Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins will be hard pressed to replace Andrew Ference. Stephen Harris looks back at the Bruins first third period collapse of the season on Saturday night. Joe Haggerty says that the Bruins should not go after Brian Burke to run their organization.

Misc

Ron Chimelis and Adam Kilgore have UMass coach Derek Kellogg meeting up with his mentor John Calipari tonight.

Jeff Goodman looks around New England college hoops.

Mark Blaudschun looks back at a weekend of college football. He also has BC returning to top form and keeping their ACC title hopes alive.