Friday Night Megalinks

Time for the megalinks now. Too many things happened at work for me to be able to get it done there so I’m doing them now.

The Weekend Viewing Picks are here.

Now to the links.


USA Today’s Michael Hiestand looks at ESPN’s strange method of studying viewing habits.

Charles Siebert writes in the Wall Street Journal about the way golf on TV has changed over the years.

BusinessWeek’s Tom Lowry talks with MLB Network head honcho Tony Petitti about launching the channel.

Todd Spangler from Multichannel News says despite Verizon claims to the contrary, DirecTV says new subscribers to Verizon DSL bundles will indeed pay for the NFL Sunday Ticket package.

Mike Reynolds of Multichannel reports that the US-Mexico Gold Cup Final on Sunday did well for Fox Soccer Channel.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell looks at the Top 10 Most Interesting Trends in Sports.

Darren talks with Arizona Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall who feels that publishing the entire “anonymous” doping list would make baseball better off.

Darren says David Ortiz was one of the bigger commercial endorsers before his name was leaked from the doping list.

The Sports Media Watch noticed that ESPN has lifted its ban on New York Post reporters over the Erin Andrews story.

SMW has some ratings news and notes.

SMW says the WNBA All-Star Game last weekend was a huge ratings bomb.

Chris Byrne of Eye on Sports Media says the SEC is going digital.

The Big Lead talks with columnist Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times.

In the Sporting News, Dan Levy of On the DL looks at Dan Patrick’s new DirecTV venture.

Also in the Sporting News, Spencer Hall writes that Versus is beating ESPN in one category.

The Orbitcast satellite radio blog notes the return of Tony Bruno to Fox Sports Radio.

Maury Brown from the Biz of Baseball writes that is incorporating Twitter into its Gameday and MLB.TV applications.

The BBC reports on ESPN’s quick expansion of its live sports programming in the UK and Ireland.

Owen Gibson of the Guardian in the UK writes that ESPN will use some familiar faces in England to show English Premier League and Scottish Premier League soccer games.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Roger Catlin of the Hartford Courant says ESPN will tap SportsCenter old timers Chris Berman, Bob Ley and John Saunders to celebrate the network’s 30th anniversary.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times writes that Cablevision has spun off Madison Square Garden into its own separate company.

Newsday’s Neil Best says Dan Patrick begins a loose simulcast of his radio show on DirecTV starting Monday.

Neil decided to catch a bit of Chris Russo on Friday.

Neil has ESPN’s statement on why it lifted the ban on New York Post reporters.

And Neil writes that only subscribers to digital basic were able to watch ESPNews and MLB Network duel it out on their MLB Trading Deadline coverage.

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post actually has a decent point that reporters try too often to ingratiate themselves with the teams they cover, but he goes a bit far in trying to prove his thought.

Justin Terranova of the Post talks with MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds about the improved Yankees relief pitching.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union talks with former NFL Today analyst Irv Cross who goes into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his broadcast work next week.

Pete writes that the Jets have lost a Capital Region radio network affiliate for now.

Pete feels it strange that the Professional Bowlers Association is embargoing the results of its tournaments until ESPN airs them on tape. Strange.

Pete felt the first hours of MLB Network’s coverage of the Trade Deadline were dull. But he felt the show picked up as more trades were made.

Alan Pergament of the Buffalo News writes that Western New York is watching Terrell Owens’ VH-1 reality show.

Dave Hughes from writes in Press Box that CBS Radio is crowing about the ratings for the Scott Garceau-Anita Marks combo.

Jim Williams from the Washington Examiner feels the major sports league will lose their court case against Delaware which wants to start legalized betting.


Ron Morris of the Charlotte Observer writes that ESPN/ABC has swooped in and split up next year’s North Carolina-South Carolina football matchup for two other games.

Barry Jackson in the Miami Herald is not a fan of the Dolphins or the U restricting media access to their practices.

Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reviews HBO Sports’ latest documentary.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News wishes Fox Sports Southwest would cut the small talk in the crowd during Texas Rangers games. Fox Sports Southwest responds to Barry’s criticism.

Barry talks about some lineup changes at the local ESPN Radio station.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle lobbies for the creator of NFL Films to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Mel Bracht in the Daily Oklahoman talks about Irv Cross breaking ground on CBS in the mid-1970’s.


Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids Press says Dan Patrick is ready to unveil the machinations behind his radio show on Monday.

Ted Cox of the Chicago Daily Herald says a new ESPN documentary will drudge up bad memories for Cubs fans by focusing on Steve Bartman.

Paul Christian from the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin says all roads lead to Minnesota for the PGA Championship in two weeks.

Dan Caesar in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Gateway City’s newest sports radio station has already taken the ratings lead over its two established rivals. Dan lists the ratings from the latest survey.

Dan writes about Dan Patrick’s return to TV this Monday.


Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) Morning News writes that the Mountain West Conference and the mtn. are subject to criticism some justified, others not.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star looks at some of the movies in ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 project.

From the Los Angeles Times, Bill Dwyre reviews HBO’s documentary, “Assault in the Ring”.

Diane Pucin of the Times writes that Irv Cross is thankful to the teacher who inspired him.

Tom Hoffarth looks at this week’s E:60 feature on golfer and model Anna Rawson.

Tom writes about how ESPN is using this year’s X Games as a testing ground for new technologies. Tom has more on the X Games in his blog.

Tom has his usual extensive media news and notes.

Tom also reviews the week in blogging and very kind of him to link to my interview with Dave Sims.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times who profiled the city’s radio play-by-play voices this week got all of them together to talk about their jobs.


Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail looks at the journalism ethics in reporting the Ben Roethlisberger civil lawsuit.

The Toronto Star’s Chris Zelkovich talks about programming changes at all-sports TV network The Score.

And Chris writes that Rogers Sportsnet is making a change of its own.

That will end the megalinks.


Twitter Updates for BSMW on 2009-07-31

  • RT @MikeReiss: Patriots now confirming that Michael Vick was NOT in Foxborough today. #
  • RT @RochieWBZ: Vick rumor….Pats PR man Stacey James says this is NOT true. He laughed when told about it #patriots #
  • BSMW Network Post: Weekend Viewing Picks #
  • Miami Herald Blog: Souces: Vick Working out for Patriots I’m still taking this with a grain of salt. #
  • Heck, let’s get them all, Martinez, Halladay and Gonzalez! Make it happen, Theo. #
  • RT @NESNcom: Casey Kotchman for Adam LaRoche. #
  • RT @RochieWBZ: Just confirmed Sox getting V Martinez for Masterson and Hagadone #redsox #wbztv #mlb #
  • RT @tomecurran: I covered the Patriots closely for 13 years I get how the pieces fit together on a Belichick team Vick won’t fit as a player #
  • BSMW Network Post: Does Bill Like Mike? #
  • RT @BNightengale: The Red Sox are about to acquire Victor Martinez from Indians #
  • Heard on WEEI: John Dennis: Investigators have determined that Arturo Gatti committed suicide yesterday. Butch Stearns: Did he die? #
  • RT @SI_JonHeyman: #redsox still talking adrian gonzo. buchholz, lowrie, masterson in mix. sd wants ryan westmoreland and lars anderson, too. #
  • RT @realpatriots: Shawn springs back into action; veteran DB comes off NFI list for 1st Pats TC practice. #
  • RT @JonCouture: #RedSox Gm 101 (8-5 W) Reloaded at — Sox can has Adrian Gonzalez, please? #
  • BSMW Network Post: Patriots All Access Tonight at 7:00 #
  • To give a smidgen of credit, they’ve been making edits, both on Mazz’s “dumplings” comment and that he wrote a book with Papi. #
  • GREAT comment on my post this morning about the Ortiz issue. Well said, Jon. #
  • BSMW Network Post: Ortiz, Dice-K, Trade Deadline, Patriots Camp = Insanity #
  • BSMW Network Post: Friday’s Viewing Picks #
  • BSMW Network Post: Twitter Updates for BSMW on 2009-07-30 #

Ortiz, Dice-K, Trade Deadline, Patriots Camp = Insanity

Just another day in Boston sports, huh?

Today is shaping up as more of the same as the fallout continues from yesterday’s revelation in the New York Times, and with the MLB trade deadline. Both events should dominate the discussions today.

First, let’s get to the Ortiz stuff. To be honest, I’m not interested in reading yet another session of moralizing from sports writers. I’ve read it all before. Do we honestly think that Gerry Callahan is going to say anything new in his column today?

Before I list out the articles on Ortiz, I’d like to address this ridiculous notion that now the 2004 and 2007 World Series titles are “tainted.” You’re going to hear that word a lot. The two “T’s” – “tainted” and “tarnished.” If you’re going to make that statement, then I encourage you to look over the rosters of all World Series champions since say, 1996, and try and find a team that hasn’t had someone connected with steroids. The zealots will turn and say that Ortiz and Manny were the superstars, and that’s different than some role player taking them. Maybe, maybe not. Let’s give a hypothetical scenario here, let’s say in a few months it comes out that Dave Roberts took steroids in 2004 (Note – there has never been so much as a whisper saying this, this is just a hypothetical.) Let’s say it helped give him that split-second extra speed that he needed to steal second in game four. That play had as big an impact as any that postseason. So if he were on steroids, that also significantly “taints” the title, even though Roberts was just the fourth outfielder. More so than Ortiz or Ramirez? Perhaps not overall, but in the most crucial moment, yes.

Is this just going to continue? Is the New York Times going to leak another couple names every few weeks, and we can get another round of moralizing. When are we going to realize that the entire era is “tainted?” I agree with those who say people will look back in 50 years and not even give any significance to steroids in this era. I’ll be happy when everyone can just move on.

OK, I’m going to list out the Ortiz articles from this morning, with no comment. You can decide if you want to read them or not. Before you click any of them, though, I suggest you read Michael Gee’s take on the matter. Then you might decide not to read anything else.

Steroids scandal hits home – Bob Hohler

Suffering from ‘roid rage’ – Dan Shaughnessy

Another big hit – Bob Ryan

The clubhouse view is a show of support – Amalie Benjamin

No. 1 gripe: the list – Nick Cafardo

Papi goes the weasel – Gerry Callahan

Steroid taint hits home – Sean McAdam

David Ortiz failed drug test – John Tomase

A big blow to Big Papi’s legacy Rep takes a hit – Steve Buckley

Bronson Arroyo: Bad andro may be cause – Michael Silverman

Teammates standing behind beloved Papi – Tomase

Pop Goes Papi Myth – Jeff Jacobs

How could anyone be ‘blindsided’ by the news? – Jim Donaldson

Does David Ortiz’ News Really Matter To Red Sox Fans? – Rob Bradford

David Ortiz asking a lot from Red Sox fans – Rom Chimelis

Tarnished legacy for Sox and Ortiz – Eric Avidon

Ortiz revelation is not news – Brian MacPherson

There’s nothing tainted about how Papi made us feel – Jon Couture (OK, I do recommend you read this one)

Fans saddened but not shocked about Ortiz’s drug test – Jessica Bartlett

A sad attempt to make sense of the David Ortiz accusation – Dan Lamothe

Red Sox journal: Most fans express support for Ortiz after test report = ProJo

Ortiz steroid controversy creates quagmire for Red Sox, MLB – Steve Krause

Ortiz test rocks Red Sox Nation – Maureen Mullen

Question is, now what? – Steve Solloway

David Ortiz’s fiscal star power threatened – Jay Fitzgerald

Red Sox fans stand by their men – Edward Mason

OK, so I think that’s about it around New England this morning on this topic.

Red Sox

How about that game yesterday?

John Tomase looks at an Ortiz homer saving the day and salvaging a split with the A’s yesterday. Michael Whitmer has Ortiz and the Sox all business yesterday. Ron Chimelis has Ortiz coming through in the clutch yesterday. Alex Speier says this could be a season-changing win for the Sox. Paul Kenyon notes that there was no celebration over what should’ve been a big win. Scott McLaughlin has Ortiz delivering in a big spot for the Sox.

John Powers says that Theo Epstein has never been shy about making a bold move at the deadline.  Sean McAdam says Epstein is still very active in trade talks. Nick Cafardo says that making a move would help the Sox move on. Speier has more on the Sox Pursuit of an Impact Trade today.

Benjamin has the Minor League notebook with a look at first round pick Reymond Fuentes. Bill Burt says that it is time for Dustin Pedroia to take over for the Red Sox.

Tomase’s notebook has John Smoltz still hoping to straighten things out. Whitmer’s notebook has Dice-K trying to put out the fire on his controversy with a statement of his own. Chimelis’ notebook has the Sox interested in San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez. Ballou’s notebook has Mike Lowell continuing his hot hitting.  


Christopher L. Gasper says that Tom Brady, though he didn’t speak a word, was still the talk of camp yesterday. Andy Vogt says that it was business as usual down in Foxboro on the first day of camp. Rich Garven has a “friendlier” Bill Belichick getting things rolling. Hector Longo tries to sum up what he felt was a strange opening day of camp. Ian R. Rapoport has Brady with a slight limp and strange gait at times, but looking good overall. Mark Farinella looks at a soggy opening to camp.

Julian Benbow has Fred Taylor ready to help not just the Patriots in general, but Laurence Maroney specifically if needed. Jennifer Toland has Taylor ready to dispense advice if needed. Karen Guregian has Taylor looking to be a mentor for Maroney.

Mike Lowe has a group of happy campers on hand yesterday. Guregian has the newbies thinking Bill Belichick isn’t really all that bad. Shalise Manza Young has Belichick adapting over the years. Glen Farley says that Michael Vick’s services aren’t needed with the Patriots.

Gasper’s notebook has Belichick complimentary of Michael Vick’s talents on the field. Vogt’s notebook says Belichick was a little coy in talking about Vick.  Rapoport’s notebook also looks at Belichick’s comments on Vick. Young’s Patriots journal has Belichick not giving any hints on Vick. Farinella’s notebook has Belichick passing over comments on the recently reinstated QB.


Chad Finn has a look at NESN’s planned coverage for today’s trade deadline, and a number of other media notes.

Bill Doyle also looks at the coverage and has other items, such as HBO’s boxing documentary and WEEI’s curious press release on the Patriots Monday and Friday programming.

Twitter Updates for BSMW on 2009-07-30

  • Heard 5 sec of Felger on CSN. wow. SCREAMING: The Twins knew Ortiz stunk and that's why they let him go. He needed steroids to be good! #
  • Michael Gee – those saying 2004 & 2007 are damaged by today are "feeble-minded" and "Ignore them" #
  • Tim Graham -Safe bet Vick won't be a Patriot – PFT – Vick still possible for Pats: – using same quotes #
  • RT @985TheSportsHub: he Sports Hub debuts 2 weeks! Let us know what you want to hear on Boston's 1st FM Sports Station #
  • RT @AmalieBenjamin: Matsuzaka just issued a statement. Good times. He's essentially saying he was off the record and misquoted. #redsox #
  • BSMW Network Post: Belichick Remembers Jim Johnson #
  • BSMW Network Post: NY Times – Ortiz and Ramirez Failed Drug Tests in 2003 #
  • BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Special Teams #
  • Monty sounds exactly the same as he did when I was 12 years old. Not often you get to experience something like this. #
  • Cool to hear Bob Montgomery on the NESN #redsox telecast today. No matter what @fangsbites thinks of him. #
  • New York Times – Ortiz and Ramirez Said to Be on 2003 Doping List: (What? No Yankees?) #
  • BSMW Network Post: Today in Patriots History – First Preseason Game. Ever. #
  • Belichick on Vick: "Michael's an outstanding player" who has been out of the league for a couple of years. #
  • RT @mlbtraderumors: Correction: McAdam said it was the Red Sox who rejected the Indians' proposal of V-Mart for Buchholz. My bad. #
  • Video interview with #redsox manager Terry Francona on the Washington Post website, about leadership: #
  • RT @tomecurran: Here's a Favre retirement timeline back to 2002 that you may enjoy. It took about 8 hours to compile. #
  • BSMW Network Post: Patriots Set To Start 2009 Camp #
  • BSMW Network Post: Thursday’s Viewing Picks #
  • BSMW Network Post: Out From The Start #
  • BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Cornerbacks #

NY Times – Ortiz and Ramirez Failed Drug Tests in 2003

Michael S. Schmidt in the New York Times reports that “according to lawyers with knowledge of the results” both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were among the 103 MLB players to test positive for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2003.

That was the first year baseball tested players, and the results were supposed to remain anonymous.  However, names have started to leak out, and now in addition to Ortiz and Ramirez, the names of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Jason Grimsley and David Segui have been tied to the list.

My question is when do the names of the lawyers who are leaking confidential information come out?

Patriots Set To Start 2009 Camp

The official end of summer isn’t until late September. For many people the unofficial end of summer is Labor Day. For others the start of Patriots training camp signals that there isn’t a whole lot of summer left. With camp starting today, those people are digging their Bruschi jerseys (Hi, Tony!) and Belichick hoodies out of the closet in preparation for the new season.

With Ian Rapoport on board, the Boston Herald has renamed their Patriots blog from The Point After to The Rap Sheet. Rapoport has posted an introduction on the blog, where he tells you a little about himself and what he hopes to do with his coverage. He also notes that comments are turned back on, and asks readers to behave themselves there.

Over in the Metro, I’ve got a few Media storylines to look for in Patriots training camp. On Patriots Daily, the first post of the day is a preview of the all-important cornerback position. Last night, Dan Snapp posted that Brett Favre did the Vikings a favor.

On the first day of camp, Mike Reiss reports that Vince Wilfork will be in camp, though his agent expresses that he is “terribly disappointed” in the talks with the Patriots and that they haven’t agreed on “what a player of Vince Wilfork’s value truly is” and that the situation is “unjust.” Great. Nice way to kick off camp.

Christopher L. Gasper peeks at a few positional battles to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. Spots include outside linebacker, right tackle and the third receiver. Karen Guregian trots out five areas to watch in camp, including health and contract status of key players. Christopher Price also has a number of things we need to look out for during camp. Jonathan Comey asserts that Bill Belichick has some questions to answer about this team. Mark Farinella says that everything hinges on Brady, but also lists out five other areas of “moderate concern” about the team. Shalise Manza Young runs through the training camp roster to look for areas of competition.

 Brian MacPherson examines what impact the Matt Cassel/Mike Vrabel trade will have on this year’s Patriots.  Glen Farley says that Tom Brady should be a sight for sore eyes this summer. Gasper reports on the Patriots getting a deal done with sixth round draft pick Jake Ingram, the long snapper from Hawaii. Guregian looks at a few key Patriots that will need to make big contributions this season. David Pevear counts down the 10 craziest moments in Patriots history.

Another sure sign that football season is here  is Dan Shaughnessy whining about the “secrecy and self-importance” of the Patriots. Oh wait, he does that year-round. My bad. Today he tries to have a little fun with the new hotel that overlooks the Patriots practice fields. The only problem is that Mark Farinella has already covered all this ground, something even Shaughnessy himself in the column readily admits. Way to be out in front of a story that no one really cared about in the first place, Dan. That’s why you’re at the top of your profession.

Dan Shaughnessy, Hard at Work. (Globe Staff / Barry Chin)
Dan Shaughnessy, Hard at Work. (Globe Staff / Barry Chin)

Note: a few astute readers have pointed out that in the photo Shaughnessy is looking to the right of the fieldhouse, when the practice fields are actually to the left. Shaughnessy appears to have his glasses actually trained on Bed Bath and Beyond and the Christmas Tree Shops instead.

Out From The Start

With Patriots camp starting today, I’m going to split up the links into two posts. The Patriots links will be coming very shortly.

Giving up a five spot in the first inning was a hole that the Red Sox were never fully able to crawl out of last night, falling again to the Oakland A’s, 8-6 at Fenway Park.

Amalie Benjamin notes that now with the Red Sox bats starting to show some life, the pitching has fallen off. John Tomase says that after losing 6 1/2 games in the standings in 12 days, it might be time to make a change. Robert Lee has Brad Penny off his game right from his very first pitch. Dom Amore says that the Sox might need to make a big trade to take away from what is going on out on the field. Eric Avidon has the Sox behind right from the start. Bill Ballou says that the Sox have some big decisions to make before tomorrow’s deadline. Jim Fenton has the Sox struggling for answers as August approaches.

Ron Borges says that Theo Epstein needs to pull the trigger on Roy Halladay, no matter what the price. (That’s rational. ) Joe McDonald agrees that the Sox need to make a major deal. Sean McAdam says that there have been no talks between the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the last three days. Daniel Barbarisi adds that a deal for Halladay is unlikely, but Victor Martinez could still be a possibility. Brian MacPherson wonders if the price will be right for a trade.

Bill Burt says that the Sox need to loosen up and have fun…like the Yankees. He only half-jokingly suggests bringing Kevin Millar back so that journalists will have something to write about in these tough times.  Borges has Mike Lowell showing that he can still hit.  Julian Benbow has Lowell starting to hit his stride. McDonald also has the third baseball back and hitting as of late. Chaz Scoggins says that the Sox are just playing messy ball right now.

Mike Fine has Dice-K and the Sox trying to make it work. Mike Petraglia has the Sox headed in the wrong direction. McDonald says that Jonathan Papelbon has gotten away from his fastball and it is catching up with him. DJ Bean has Jim Rice still not ready to unwind from his whirlwind week. McAdam reports that the Sox have promoted Exec. VP Sam Kennedy to President of Fenway Sports Group.

Check the out of town coverage at

Benjamin’s notebook has Terry Francona and Daisuke Matsuzaka talking yesterday in an attempt to clear the air. Tomase’s notebook has more on the talk between manager and pitcher. McDonald’s Red Sox journal also reports on the conversation. Amore’s notebook has the pair now on good terms. Avidon’s notebook has the sides continuing their dialog yesterday. Ballou’s notebook reports on efforts to repair the relationship between the two sides.


NH Union Leader sportswriter Kevin Provencher, who covered the AHL Manchester Monarchs and the motor racing beat, was arrested yesterday on charges of running a prostition ring. Dale Vincent and Dan O’Brien report on their colleague in the Union Leader. Jessica Heslam and Jazmine Ulloa also report on the story, which hit major blogs like Deadspin and The Big Lead yesterday as well.

Ron Chimelis has Dee Brown saying that his time with the original Big Three will help him in his new coaching gig with the Springfield Armor.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell covers UFC? Really?

Twitter Updates for BSMW on 2009-07-29

  • RT @celticsblog: Recommended Reading: The Last Great Celtic #
  • BSMW Network Post: Brett Did Vikes a Favre #
  • RT @GlobeChadFinn: Cool flashback in the Red Sox TV booth coming tomorrow night. Bob Montgomery will handle color alongside Orsillo. #
  • BSMW Network Post: Football Outsiders Almanac 2009 Interview With Aaron Schatz #
  • Check out my interview with @JasonLaCanfora in this week's edition of Patriots Football Weekly. Subscribe here: #
  • BSMW Network Post: A Wednesday Blog #
  • RT @fb_outsiders: Our @doug_farrar with a fantastic WaPo piece on #Eagles Jim Johnson: #
  • BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Safeties #
  • NH Union Leader sportswriter arrested on "two felony charges of deriving income from prostitution." #
  • Massarotti's blog changed Dice-K getting fat eating "dumplings and shumai" to "cheeseburgers." #redsox #
  • BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – The Linebackers #
  • RT @SportsMediaNews: New blog post: Free NFL Sunday Ticket and Netbook from Verizon and DirecTV #
  • D&C with an interesting interview with the Commish of the UFL #
  • Good Bruins interview with Fluto Shinzawa on Toucher & Rich right now. #
  • BSMW Network Post: Sox Bullpen = #epicfail Against A’s #
  • BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Defensive Line #
  • BSMW Network Post: Wednesday’s Viewing Picks #

Football Outsiders Almanac 2009 Interview With Aaron Schatz

When it comes to statistical analysis of football, no one does it better than Football Outsiders. For the past four years, in addition to their work on the internet, they’ve also published the Pro Football Prospectus. This year however, their publication is titled the Football Outsiders Almanac 2009. So what happened?

From the introduction of the book:

So why the name change, and why aren’t we in bookstores?

For those who don’t know, our frst four books were published through an agreement with Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, the company that owns Baseball Prospectus (as well as the expansion projects Basketball Prospectus and Puck Prospectus). It was PEV that had the publishing contract (first with Workman, then Plume). This year, for various reasons, Plume decided they no longer wanted to publish books related to other sports besides baseball. Other publishers were interested in doing our book, but by the time Plume made their decision, it was too late to get on the publication schedule for 2009.

Thus, because of this mess, they decided to go the self-publishing route.

The head honcho of Football Outsiders is Aaron Schatz, he’s a Patriots fan and New England native. He and I go back a few years, so I asked Aaron to answer a few questions and give us a taste of what to expect in this year’s edition.

football-outsiders-almanac-20091) OK, so we know your print publication is no longer Pro Football Prospectus, but rather the Football Outsiders Almanac 2009. What are your plans for next year? Back in bookstores?

I’m not sure what we’re going to do for next year yet. We have a couple of publishers who are interested in putting out Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 as a standard book. Once we get into October and the book is done selling for this year, we’ll sit down and figure out whether it makes sense to go back to a regular publishing format. We definitely lose a lot of the “promotional value” of the book by doing it ourselves, since we’re not in bookstores to catch the eye of casual readers who may not know about our website. However, there are also significant advantages to producing a book online. We keep a larger share of the gross sales. Also, the previous books were written and edited under a completely ridiculous rushed schedule, where we basically had to do the entire thing in about six weeks after the NFL draft. By doing it ourselves this year, we had an extra month. I think it meant a lot fewer errors in the text, not to mention a huge heaping helping of sanity for me and the other writers. My wife definitely prefers the self-publishing schedule because she didn’t have to be a single parent for six weeks.

2) How have you improved the DVOA in version 6.0?

DVOA, for those who don’t know, is our main statistic. It stands for “Defense-adjusted Value Over Average.” We take the success of every single play during the season and compare to other plays based on situation and opponent. We’ve updated constantly since I started doing this back in 2003. The biggest change this year is that we’re now considering the baseline differently for offense and defense. That allows us to better measure some plays that are really the responsibility of the offense only, where the defense has no effect: false starts, delay of game, and aborted snaps. We’ve also improved the way we adjust for teams playing from behind or with a lead in the fourth quarter.

3) I see you’re also doing more College Football in this publication, tell us about that…

Well, as a Bostonian I don’t really follow college football. The line I usually give to people around the country is that if it doesn’t have to do with Doug Flutie, nobody around here really cares. But I also know that college football has a huge following in other parts of the country, and there’s no reason why we can’t provide the same kind of intelligent analysis for the college game. There’s also the benefit of eventually being able to make better projections which NFL draft picks will succeed once we have more data on the college game. So I went out and looked for people who loved college football as much as I love the NFL, who write well, and who had the same outlook on doing advanced stats, and I found Brian Fremeau and Bill Connelly. We’ve been doing their stats on FO for a couple years now, and this year I wanted to expand that with a full college preview. So the book has about 90 pages of college football in addition to all the NFL material. There are stats tables and writeups for every team in the six BCS conferences, plus a handful of the top independents and mid-major teams. The goal of our college content is the same as the pro content– we want to go beyond just ranking the teams 1-120 and really look at WHY teams won or lost last year and why we can expect certain teams to improve or decline this year. College fans will really enjoy it and people like me who know nothing about college football can learn what they should be looking for on Saturdays in preparation for the 2010 draft.

By the way, we have BC projected 14th in the nation, for those people who do care…

4) What are some of the key differences between the Football Outsiders Game Charting Project and the official boxscores and play-by-play.

Oh, we measure all kinds of things in the Game Charting Project, adding detail to the play-by-play so we can better analyze teams and players. The biggest item is probably defensive coverage — measuring defensive backs by how they do in coverage rather than just when they make tackles. We mark the formation on every play. We mark the number
of pass rushers and blockers so we can see which teams do the best when blitzing or not blitzing. We track why passes are incomplete, so we know which quarterbacks tend to overthrow their guys, or who suffers from the most dropped passes. We count quarterback hurries by defenders, dropped interceptions, and a number of other things.

5) Since we’re dealing mostly with a Patriots fanbase audience here at BSMW, tell us something surprising about the Patriots that we’ll learn in the book…

Here are five fun tidbits.

  • Last year, the Brady-less Patriots actually had the best offense in the NFL from Week 9 onwards, according to our DVOA stats.
  • The Patriots led the league with an average of 6.2 yards after catch; the next highest team, New Orleans, averaged just 5.6 yards after catch.
  • The Patriots ran WR or TE screens 30 percent more often than any other offense.
  • Showing the weakness of last year’s secondary, the Patriots didn’t have a good pass defense even when they hurried the quarterback. Only New Orleans and Detroit were worse when there was a quarterback hurry. The Patriots allowed a league-high average of 7.3 yards after catch on plays where they hurried the quarterback.
  • The Patriots’ 47-7 snowstorm blowout of Arizona was the second-most impressive game played by any team since 1994, according to single-game DVOA ratings. The only team to score higher in one game was the 1994 Philadelphia Eagles, when they beat eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 40-8 in Week 5.

You can purchase the Football Outsiders Almanac 2009 or through

Sox Bullpen = #epicfail Against A’s

Leading by three runs in the ninth inning, Jonathan Papelbon couldn’t close out the A’s, who tied up the game on his watch, and then Oakland scored more two runs in the 11th inning off Manny Delcarmen to pull out a 8-7 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Amalie Benjamin has a pair of Nick Green throwing errors in the ninth inning leading to Papelbon’s downfall. Michael Silverman has the bullpen handing this one over to the A’s. Robert Lee has the Sox letting one slip away last night. Eric Avidon has a late-inning letdown doing in the Sox. Ron Chimelis has the Sox coughing it up in the late innings. Jim Fenton has the bullpen finally letting up after not being scored upon since before the All Star break.

Benjamin has the Red Sox visibly frustrated and disappointed over Daisuke Matsuzaka’s public criticisms of the Red Sox training methods. Silverman notes that there was considerable emotion coming from the Sox on this issue. Joe McDonald says that Dice-K’s comments are not being taken well by the Red Sox.

Dan Shaughnessy, who took a little ribbing yesterday for only showing up at the park when something stupid is going on, looks at the fall from grace of Daisuke. Ron Borges says that Dice-K just wants to do things his way. Dom Amore has a look at the two sides at odds over training methods. Mike Fine has more on the situation.

Ben Collins examines the bullpen meltdown. Rich Thompson has Clay Buchholz with nothing to show for his work yesterday. Lee says that this was a rare meltdown for the bullpen last night. McDonald looks at Green’s ninth-inning miscues which led to the A’s being able to tie the game. Jennifer Toland observes that usually a three-run lead and Jonathan Papelbon on the mound are enough to win.

Alex Speier looks at the toughest 24 hours of the Red Sox season. David Willis says that it would be worth giving up Buchholz in order to get Roy Halladay. Joe Haggerty has Buchholz ignoring the trade rumors.

Lenny Megliola has a memorable week coming to a fitting end for Jim Rice. Jennifer Toland has more on the honor by Rice, who was emotional at Fenway last night. Thompson looks at Jim Rice’s uplifting moment last night, and Collins has more on No. 14 being retired by the Red Sox. Chris Helms has Rice proud to be among the Sox elite. Chimelis has another Hall of Famer joining the ranks of retired numbers.

Check the Bay Area Sports Media for West coast coverage of last night’s game.

The Herald notebook has the Sox still in the thick of the Roy Halladay sweepstakes. Benjamin’s notebook has Clay Buchholz making it through this outing with better results than his last. The Projo Red Sox journal has the Sox trading Mark Kotsay to the White Sox for outfielder Brian Anderson. Their postgame journal has Buchholz’s solid start being wasted. Avidon’s notebook  has more on Dice-K being at odds with the Sox. Chimelis’ notebook has more on the trade with the White Sox. Toland’s notebook also examines the Dice-K issue.


Over at Patriots Daily, the first post of the day is a look at the defensive line by Chris Warner.

Mike Reiss looks over the training camp roster and sees a pretty stacked team. Shalise Manza Young lists the teams to beat in the NFL this year. Glen Farley previews the special teams. Karen Guregian looks at Tom Brady’s approach for this season, and whether his knee will be on his mind.

Hector Longo says that all eyes will be on Tom Brady tomorrow. Rich Garven says that the Patriots are aiming for a return to the postseason this year. Mark Farinella says that the Patriots defense still has issues. Longo says that the offensive talent can’t be touched, but there are still questions on defense. Christopher Price looks at the linebackers.


Chimelis has former Celtic Dee Brown being named head coach of the Springfield NBA DL team. Jessica Camerato has Rajon Rondo trying to be a leader by example. Frank Dell’Apa says that Gabe Pruitt’s time with the Celtics might be coming to an end.