Celtics-Lakers Delivers Highest NBA Regular- Season Rating in Four Years

From ABC/ESPN:

Lakers Win Over Celtics on ABC Earns Highest Regular-Season Rating in Four Years Audience is 66 Percent Higher than Last Year’s Christmas Game

The Christmas day rematch of last year’s Finals, in which the Los Angeles Lakers broke the Boston Celtic’s 19-game win streak 92-83, earned a 5.3 household rating on a fast-national basis, the highest-rated regular season NBA game in four years. The rating was 51 percent higher than last year’s late Christmas game on ABC, Phoenix Suns vs. Lakers (3.5), and delivered a 65 percent larger audience (9,960,378 viewers vs. 5,984,539).

In addition, the early game on ABC, San Antonio Spurs-Phoenix Suns, earned a 3.2 household rating, up three percent from last year’s early Christmas game on ABC, Miami vs. Cleveland (3.1) and a 15 percent larger audience (5,757,393 viewers vs. 5,020,417). Roger Mason hit a three-point shot at the buzzer for the Spurs to beat the Suns 91-90.

Advertisements

Lakers End Celtics Streak

The Lakers put an end to the Celtics 19 game winning streak last night with a 93-83 win over Boston in Los Angeles.

Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics turned into Plaxico Burress in this one.  You know…shooting themselves in the foot…Marc J. Spears has the Celtics giving the Lakers their due for the win. Paul Flannery says that this was clearly not just another game for the Lakers.

Steven Herbert has Pau Gasol providing a big finish for the Lakers.

Spears’ notebook has Big Baby Davis returning to the court following his car accident last weekend. Bulpett’s notebook has the Celtics missing out on Christmas eve with their families.

Patriots

Christopher L. Gasper says that what Junior Seau is doing in his return to the Patriots is nothing short of amazing. John Tomase pinpoints three plays that did in the Patriots season this year. Glen Farley has hard work paying off for the Patriots offense. Rich Garven has the Patriots continuing to work through the mounting injuries on the roster.

Kerry J. Byrne says that no receiver has ever made as big an impact as Randy Moss does. It’s quite a compelling case.  Dave Wedge has Ty Warren helping out a boy whose family lost their home in a fire. Brian MacPherson says that Matt Cassel has given Patriots fans the best possible Christmas.

Gasper’s notebook has Wes Welker focusing on winning, not the individual records he’s racking up. The notebook from Shalise Manza Young says that the Bills may be without Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters on Sunday. Garven’s notebook has the Patriots putting together one of their best ever season on the ground.

Misc.

Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins talking about the slap shot vs. the wrist shot. Stephen Harris has Peter Chiarelli already making plans for the future to keep the Bruins competitive.

Daniel Barbarisi examines Lou Merloni’s transition from the playing field to broadcast studio.

Yesterday, Sean McAdam suggested that the Red Sox might be done pursuing big name free agents. Jon Couture said that the Teixeira mess was a rare miss by the Red Sox.

New York Times Co Looking To Sell Globe, 17.5% Share of Red Sox?

From an article by Russell Adams in the Wall Street Journal late yesterday:

The Times Co., which faces a cash shortage accelerated by steep industrywide revenue declines, has been rumored for months to be open to selling non-core assets. Besides its flagship newspaper, the Times Co. owns the Boston Globe, About.com and a 17.5% stake in New England Sports Ventures, which owns the Red Sox, their fabled ballpark Fenway Park and most of the cable network that airs their games.

The Times Co. pushed discussions beyond the exploration phase early last month at a quarterly meeting of NESV’s limited partners at which the Times Co. indicated to the partnership its intention to sell. Since then Times Co. has been pursuing potential buyers, according to people familiar with the discussions. A Times spokeswoman declined to comment.

It is unclear what the Times Co. thinks it can get for its stake. Barclays Capital estimates the Times Co.’s investment is worth about $166 million; analysts and sports bankers recently told Reuters the Times Co. could raise at least $200 million if it sold its stake.

The Times Co. acquired its stake in NESV when it joined John Henry in the hedge fund billionaire’s $700 million purchase of the Red Sox in 2002. It is the second largest shareholder behind Mr. Henry. The stake was supposed to shore up the Globe’s advertising position in New England by packaging the Globe with New England Sports Network, one of the most powerful television outlets in the region. But it wasn’t enough to stop the decline in advertisers and readers.

It’s possible that the Globe could be packaged with the sports assets in a sale; Jack Connors, a former ad executive in Boston, and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch took a serious look at the Globe two years ago, when people close to them said they were valuing it at $550-600 million at the time. The Times rebuffed the inquiries. The Globe was recently valued by Barclay’s at $20 million.

CSN’s “Manny Being Manny” – Not as bad as you might think…

OK, so that doesn’t exactly read as a ringing endorsement of the Comcast SportsNet special Manny being Manny – The Final Days in Boston, which is set to debut tomorrow night following the Celtics post game show.

But I’m sure you can forgive me for fearing the worst of this show, which I assumed would be simply an hour video extension of the Dennis and Callahan program, especially since Gerry Callahan is one of the commentators. With Dan Shaughnessy and Steve Buckley also lined up to appear, I was fearful to even pop the review DVD into my player last weekend.

But I did, and found it to be better than expected. Shaughnessy and Callahan were nowhere near as vitriolic about Manny as they have been elsewhere, and Shaughnessy actually spent some time gushing about Manny’s skills at the plate. Callahan called most of Manny’s antics harmless.

 

The show starts with a fairly quick overview of Manny’s tenure in Boston leading into the 2008 season. Many of his prodigious home runs are shown, and previous “Manny being Manny” incidents are not rehashed. As the show moves into this year, the hiring of super-agent Scott Boras is highlighted, as is the subject of Manny’s option years. Ramirez got into great shape coming into this season, initially hoping to get those options picked up and a contract extension worked out, and was even talking to the media. His pursuit of home run #500 for his career occupied much of the Manny talk in the early going of the season, and once he had reached that mark, things seemed to go downhill from there.

The dugout scuffle with Kevin Youkilis (which Callahan shows some of his WEEI venom when commenting on) and the strange confrontation with traveling secretary Jack McCormick are discussed, as well as the three-pitch at bat against Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium (which Shaughnessy wavers on a bit before opining that Manny was sticking it to Red Sox management) and his mysterious knee injury that couldn’t be diagnosed with an MRI.

The show could’ve been a lot harsher toward Ramirez, and I give CSN credit for not going that route totally. I think the show was a pretty good balance of Manny’s accomplishments here in Boston contrasted with his tumultuous exit from the Red Sox and the huge sense of relief felt in the clubhouse when he was finally traded.

There still seems to be a lot that we don’t know about Manny’s exit from Boston, and while the show doesn’t really shed any new light on things, it gives us a snapshot of the end one of the strangest tenures in Boston sports.

Press Release from CSN on Program.

Sox Trumped By Yanks for Teixeira

So the Boston Celtics – the most storied franchise in pro basketball – set a record for the longest winning streak in team history, AND beat the NBA record for the best start in league history (27-2)…and they can’t even be the lead sports story in Boston? Instead, all the coverage and talk is about a player that the Red Sox didn’t sign?

Yup.

Internet reports starting trickling out in the late morning yesterday that Mark Teixeira was ready to finally make a decision on where he was going to sign. The Red Sox seemed to be the favorite. On SI.com, Jon Heyman warned that the Yankees were lurking, but it seemed easy to dismiss that as simply Scott Boras propaganda.

By mid-afternoon word was out that the Yankees had actually swooped in and sign Teixeira from under Boston’s noses, stunning those who had placed their middle of the lineup hopes in the first baseman.

Brian Cashman and the Yankees have an odd, but very effective negotiating tactic when it comes to players. In the case of CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, the Yankees interest was well known, and the negotiations were almost public. It could be because the Yankees knew the Red Sox weren’t serious interested in either player. The Red Sox were interested in Teixeira, and the Yankees knew that too, so they kept quiet about their interest, even releasing carefully worded denials that they were involved in talks. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they come in at the last moment and beat all other offers.

They seem to have done this a couple of times now. The Johnny Damon signing a few years back was another example. I recall the Yankees seemingly having no interest in Damon until the day he signed with them, beating the offer the Red Sox had on the table.

In any event, it seems clear that the Yankees clearly enjoy pulling the rug out from under the Red Sox when it comes to free agent signings.

Adam Kilgore outlines how the Yankees swept in and grabbed Teixeira from the Red Sox and Nationals. Sean McAdam has weeks of back-and-forth negotiations coming to an unhappy end for the Red Sox yesterday. Daniel Barbarisi notes how the Red Sox pushed Scott Boras for an answer after increasing their offer on Monday. Dom Amore has the Yankees taking their spending spree from wild to epic with this move.

Nick Cafardo calls this a “knockout punch” by the Yankees. Knocked out of what, exactly? Steve Buckley says that this deal is great for the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. Mike Fine says the loss of Teixeira hurts, but it doesn’t cripple the Red Sox. Brian MacPherson says that this is the Yankees’ idea of going young. Dan Lamothe says that the Yankees got to us on this one.

Bob Ryan says that this is the Yankees (and the Steinbrenners) sending a loud message – “We’re back!” Bill Burt claims that the Red Sox just didn’t want Teixeira enough. Jeff Jacobs says that this is just the Yankees doing what they do best. Steve Krause says that John Henry dropped the ball on this one. Curt Schilling weighs in as well.

With this issue settled, Barbarisi says that the Red Sox now can concentrate on acquiring a catcher.

Celtics Make it 19 in a Row

The Celtics won a franchise record 19th game in a row last night, routing the Philadelphia 76ers 110-91 at the Garden last night. Frank Dell’Apa has the fans at the garden last night already looking forward to the matchup with the Lakers. Mark Murphy says there is no avoiding history for the Celtics now. Bill Doyle has the Celtics heading out cross country a night ahead of Santa. Jim Fenton looks at another historical night for the Celtics.

Monique Walker has the Celtics players not focused on their winning streak. Patrick Gilroy says that continued good health and humility are about the only things Danny Ainge can wish for this Christmas. Steve Buckley says that the game everyone has been waiting for Celtics-Lakers, is finally here. Burt says that the L.A. Fakers are back at it again. Lenny Megliola says that the suits at league headquarters and at the ABC network are hyperventilating over this game tomorrow. Bill Reynolds says that Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins can no longer be overlooked on this team. Paul Flannery tells us how Lakers/Celtics really is just another game.

Dell’Apa’s notebook has the crowd clearly into the L.A. game on tap tomorrow. Murphy’s notebook has Glen Davis inactive again last night after his car accident last weekend. Doyle’s notebook says that 19 games isn’t a lot to Rajon Rondo, who won 44 in a row in high school. Fenton’s notebook has the Celtics celebrating the holiday with their families in the locker room after the game.

Bruins Shut Out Devils

Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins proving they can muck and grind for wins as well. The Herald had Sean McAdam on the Bruins beat last night, and he’s got the Bruins beating the Devils at their own game.

Joe Haggerty notes that Phil Kessel and Jon Lester have a lot in common.

Shinzawa’s notebook has Zdeno Chara returning to form on offense as of late. McAdam’s notebook has Tim Thomas taking a winning turn in net.

Patriots Prep For Final Exam in Buffalo

Mike Reiss takes a closer look at the three games that will determine the Patriots playoff fate this weekend. It still doesn’t look too good for the Patriots. Karen Guregian wonders about the possible absence of Richard Seymour this weekend. Eric McHugh says that offense is once again this team’s strong suit. Mark Farinella has the Patriots just focusing on their own business for now. Rich Garven has the Patriots offense juiced after a slow start to the year. Shalise Manza Young says that everything has been adding up on offense for the Patriots.

Ben Swasey would like to end the “trade Brady”  idiocy. Farinella offers a number of Ponderous thoughts. A disturbing bit in the Projo informs us that in the six times that the Patriots have needed help to get into the postseason…they’ve never gotten it. Burt has Ron Jaworski gushing over Matt Cassel.

Reiss’ notebook has Junior Seau comparing Mike Vrabel to Karl Mecklenburg. Guregian’s notebook has Matt Light talking about playing in pain. McHugh’s notebook has Matthew Slater and Russ Hochstein enjoying their dual roles with the team. Young’s notebook has more on Seymour’s back injury.

CSN Celtics-Bulls Top Rated Show on Local TV

From CSN this afternoon:

Celtics-Bulls at Top of Ratings Chart in Seven Male and Female Demos

BURLINGTON, MA – Comcast SportsNet’s Celtics-Bulls telecast was the Number 1 or Number 2 rated program in seven different demos on Friday, December 19, earning a record 7.5 rating and reaching an estimated 270,000 households in New England.

In the Boston television market, Comcast SportsNet’s Celtics-Bulls telecast was a winner in the following demos:

No. 1 with Males 18-34 – 9.2 peak

No. 1 with Males 18-49 – 8.7

No. 1 with Males 25-54 – 8.6

No. 2 with Adults 18-34 – 5.3

No. 1 with Adults 18-49 – 6.5

No. 1 with Adults 25-54 – 6.6

No. 2 with Women 18-49 – 4.6

CSN’s Celtics-Bulls household rating peaked at a 10.2, reaching an estimated 368,000 homes in New England. The previous regular season record of 6.8 was set earlier this year when the Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks on November 12. Celtics-Hawks also peaked at a 10.2.

“We are delighted that our Celtics games have become a top draw with both male and female viewers. Being number one or two with adults demonstrates that the Celtics are reaching a larger audience than ever before,” said Bill Bridgen, Comcast SportsNet executive vice president and general manager.