“Instigators” Returns, Comcast Offers More Celtics On Demand

A couple of quick programming notes:

 The Instigators Returns to NESN

The Instigators presented by Cadillac Village of Norwood returns for its second season on Thursday, November 19th at 6:00 pm. The Instigators is an Original NESN Entertainment (ONE) production that was first introduced last December. The weekly show is hosted by NESN studio analyst Mike Milbury who is joined by color analyst Andy Brickley, play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards and other special guests as they debate the hottest and most controversial hockey topics every Thursday night.

The Instigators, which will once again air every Thursday at 6:00 PM and again at 10:30 PM the same night, is unlike traditional regional sports network programs as Mike Milbury and his co-instigators tackle national topics like hirings and firings, NHL rules controversies, and debates about their favorite NHL tough guys and personalities.

Comcast Unveils Expanded Celtics On Demand Library

The new season of Celtics On Demand returns exclusively to Comcast to put fans in control and give them access to in-depth coverage of the players, team and Celtics Dancers, as well as press conferences and community events, which have been produced by the Boston Celtics.  With Celtics On Demand, fans can watch Celtics Captain Paul Pierce teach a new generation how to play basketball; see Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo rollerskating; and take a front row seat at Coach Rivers’ post-game press conferences.  Soon, fans will also enjoy the latest documentary “Take It Back,” which tells the story of how the Celtics added Rasheed Wallace and other talent to this year’s team to make for another championship-driving season. 

Additionally, fans can tune into replays of Comcast SportsNet’s Celtics game telecasts within four hours of each game’s conclusion.  Games are available On Demand for 24 hours. 

Celtics On Demand programming is updated regularly and is available around the clock with the ability to pause, fast forward and rewind selections for Comcast’s digital cable customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.  It’s easy to access just by selecting the “Get Local” or “Sports and Fitness” categories from the On Demand menu, then choosing “NBA TV” and “Boston Celtics.”  For game replays and other Comcast SportsNet content, viewers can then select the “Comcast SportsNet” category.  As with the vast majority of Comcast’s 17,000 On Demand programs available each month, Celtics On Demand comes at no additional cost to the company’s digital cable customers.

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Red Zone = Red Light for Patriots

 Things appear back to normal on the written side, I’m still on the sports radio blackout, and will likely be all week…

Be sure to check out the latest Dan Snapp column on Patriots Daily: Beholden to None.

Albert R. Breer has a look at the Patriots continued struggles in the red zone, where they sit 25th in the league, behind such stalwarts as Detroit, Jacksonville, and Washington. Robert Lee says that those issues need to be corrected for this Sunday’s game with the Jets. Ian R. Rapoport has Matt Light looking to get back out on the field as quickly as he can.

Mark Farinella feels that Bill Belichick and the Patriots braintrust have lost their way, and that Sunday was perhaps an indicator of what is ahead for this franchise. Kerry Byrne separates fact from myth when it comes to the Patriots.

In the Midweek report, Breer looks at the struggles that the Jets have had since beating the Patriots in week two. Ron Borges says that the tears that Rex Ryan shed in his locker room on Monday show the difference between he and Bill Belichick. Glen Farley has the Jets coming in for a “Super Bowl” rematch.

Mike Reiss and Christopher Price have their weekly mailbags.

Joe Fitzgerald says that the fans are wrong to criticize Belichick for Sunday night.

The Globe notebook has the Patriots looking to keep their streak of games without consecutive losses alive this weekend. Rapoport’s notebook has Belichick ready to move on from the Indy game. Lee’s Patriots journal has Belichick getting back to business as usual.

Celtics

Gary Washburn has Kendrick Perkins not impressed with the Celtics practices this week as the team tries to bounce back from three losses in five games. Mark Murphy has the Celtics needing to get back into defensive mode. A. Sherrod Blakely says that defense is the key for the Celtics.

Jim Fenton has Paul Pierce returning to practice yesterday after sitting out on Monday. Blakely has a C’s vs. Warriors preview. Mike Fine has Warriors coach Don Nelson approaching more coaching records.

The Globe notebook has Andres Nocioni’s name being floated in possible trades to the Celtics. Murphy’s notebook has Piece back at practice.

Misc

Rich Thompson reports that Marc Savard could be back on the ice for the Bruins as early as tomorrow night. Brendan Hall has Milan Lucic returning to practice yesterday.

Michael Silverman has Mike Lowell once again in wait and see mode this offseason. Brian MacPherson has the Red Sox looking to make some noise in the Hot Stove league this winter.

Julian Benbow has a feature on BU mens basketball coach Pat Chambers, who set out on a new path in life after a brush with death in 2002.

Still Too Much Noise

The media is a strange, yet pretty predictable group. they’re almost always going to go against the tide, trying to buck popular opinion.

This means that nationally, where most people loath and despise Bill Belichick, writers and columnists are coming out and supporting the Patriots coach and his decision to go for it on fourth down Sunday night. It’s the edgy thing to do.

Locally, where most people respect Belichick and hold him in high esteem, the columnists are blindly savaging, mocking and insulting him (and enjoying it).

Neither side is enjoyable to read. Most are stretching too far either way to try and make their points. I suppose for some, perhaps the columns bashing Belichick serve as validation for their own feelings of frustration over the loss, but for me, it only makes me more mad.

Do they think people really want to read this garbage? After a day of peace and quiet yesterday, I’m ready to move on and think about the Jets and getting the AFC East under full control.

So I’m declaring this a “Fourth Down-Free Zone.” That actually wipes out about 80% of articles out there today.

Red Sox increase prices for some tickets – smart move by the Red Sox, sneak in a ticket price increase when Boston fans are ticked off about the Patriots. This is usually a day after Thanksgiving tradition, but with the uproar over Sunday night, the Sox managed to sneak this on in under the radar.

LeBron James’ numbers game at least raises eyebrows – Tim Weisberg’s NBA column looks at LeBron James’ announcement that he’ll ditch #23 because he doesn’t think anyone should be allowed to wear it, and choose #6 instead, which he associates with Dr J instead of Bill Russell.

No time, no chance – Brian MacPherson says that things changed for the Patriots Sunday night when Tom Brady no longer had time to throw the ball.

No running game equals no Super Bowl – Bill Burt says that the Patriots won’t win the Super Bowl because they cannot run the ball when it counts.

Bruins take another step backward – Mike Loftus examines another disheartening Bruins loss, this time 4-1 to the Islanders.

Respect Is Hard to Come By For Celtics – Paul Flannery’s look at why part of the Celtics problems of late might actually be a lack of respect for their opponents.

Rivers looks inward for answers to woes – Frank Dell’Apa has the Celtics coach taking blame for recent losses, and vowing to get things straightened out.

 Celts must stop ‘fense sitting – Lenny Megliola has Doc Rivers not afraid to call out his defense.

Red Sox may see pop – John Tomase has Sox pickup Jeremy Hermida’s hitting coach with the Marlins believing that Boston will see more pop from the former first round pick.

I guess we can toss in the report cards from Ron Borges and Jeremy Gottlieb though they each come with a warning  that fourth down commentary is contained within.

For the rest, head out to the link sites.

Making Sense

That’s something very few people are doing today, as they attempt to discuss the perhaps the worst loss (right up there with the Giants Super Bowl) of the Bill Belichick era.

I’m keeping it short and simple this afternoon, even as I duck out on listening to any sort of sports radio or television today. We’ll forego the hysterics, the gloating, and the smarm that appears in many stories today by sticking with these quick links:

Mistakes doomed Patriots before Belichick’s gamble – Shalise Manza Young’s game story in the ProJo.

Explain this? We’ll go for it – Albert Breer provides level-headed analysis of Belichick’s decision.

Defense takes share of the blame – Chris Forsberg has the defensive players denying that Belichick’s decision was an indictment of them.

Ten Things We Learned Last Night: Pats And Belichick Fall Short – Christopher Price takes more away from the game than simply the fourth down call.

Weak effort beneath Celtics – Yeah, the Celtics had a bad trip to Indy this weekend, too.

That’s all I got for now. Check Patriots Daily and  PatriotsLinks.com if you want all the gory details.

The Calm Before the Storm Friday Megalinks

As we wait for that huge storm to come up the East Coast from North Carolina and Virginia, I’m just waiting for the rain and wind this weekend.

Anyway, let’s provide the sports media stories for today. But first, for the weekend sports including college football, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, NHL, various other sports and primetime TV, check out the Weekend Viewing Picks.

Now to the links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand talks with CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson who lobbies for the SEC over teams from other conferences.

Jim Chairusmi from the Wall Street Journal talks with Andre Agassi about his autobiography.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell wonders if Kevlar can revolutionize sports.

Darren looks at LeBron James discussing a number change and how that could affect jersey sales.

James Hibberd of the Hollywood Reporter writes that Spike TV is going to launch a new series involving sports personalities and their cars.

Georg Salazai of the Reporter says the NFL is happy with its current TV deals including one with DirecTV.

Rick Kissell of Variety the sluggish economy has led to higher ratings for the NFL.

Alex Weprin of Multichannel News looks at ESPN snagging the South American TV rights for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics.

Sports Business Daily has highlights of NBC Sports Emperor Dick Ebersol’s speech at the FSA Sports Media & Technology Conference.

In the Sporting News, Dan Levy of On The DL looks at this Sunday’s NFL games on TV.

CBS College Sports’ play-by-play man Tom Hart writes a guest column for the Eye on Sports Media on the importance of a good statistician in the booth.

The Sports Media Watch has some ratings news and notes.

SMW says the SEC package on CBS is paying off with high ratings.

SMW says get ready for another primetime finish for next year’s U.S. Open golf tournament.

And SMW says Versus is seeing ratings gains for the NHL and college football despite being dumped from DirecTV.

The Big Lead speculates how much money the woman who sparked the Steve Phillips affair would seek from ESPN.

Maury Brown has highlights of an interview MLB Network’s Bob Costas conducted with Ernie Harwell.

Steve Lepore of Puck The Media has suggestions for programming on Versus.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe talks with former Fox25 sports anchor Butch Stearns who signed off for the last time last night.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette says Holy Cross is putting interviews and highlights of its greatest athletes on its new website.

Kristine Leahy has today’s version of The Five on WEEI.com.

Richard Sandomir from the New York Times speculates on the future of Versus and Golf Channel if NBC Sports’ Dick Ebersol gets to run them under a Comcast-NBC umbrella.

Stuart Elliott of the Times writes that the NFL has put the kybosh on a guerrilla ad campaign involving players and donating money to charity.

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News says the finish of the Giants and Jets this season will directly affect the sales of their Personal Seat Licenses for their new stadium.

Phil Mushnick in the New York Post criticizes Derek Jeter for attempting to gouge his fans.

The Albany Times Union’s Pete Dougherty talks with Siena radio voice Robert Lee.

Speaking of Siena, Ken Schott of the Schenectady Gazette says Siena’s radio network adds a station.

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post profiles the public relations henchman for DC NFL team owner Daniel Snyder.

Tim Lemke from the Washington Times wonders why the NBA out-of-market broadband package costs more than MLB.TV.

South

Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times says South Florida fans are angry that the local ABC affiliate won’t showing next week’s game against Louisville in favor of Ohio State-Michigan.

Sarah Talalay from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel talks about the rumors that surfaced yesterday that The Who is going to play the Super Bowl halftime show.

Ray Buck in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes about some former college football coaches getting their acting bug in a new movie starring Sandra Bullock.

The Star-Telegram has a video of ESPN’s College Gameday setting up at the TCU campus in town.

To the Dallas Morning News and Evan Grant who says the Texas Rangers and TV voice Josh Lewin are now talking about a new contract.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle says a local sports radio station went against the grain and hired an outsider for its morning show.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman tries to scrape up ten college football games to watch this week.

Mel profiles ESPN/ABC’s college football analyst Craig James who’s happy to be out of the studio and calling games involving his son.

Midwest

John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that local college basketball games are being bumped off Fox Sports Ohio in favor of the Cleveland Cavs and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Michael Zuidema in the Grand Rapids (MI) Press feels a one week suspension was proper punishment for ESPN’s Bob Griese. Zuidema is incorrect when he mentions Griese returns this week, he returned last week after being suspended for one game.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says NBC’s Tony Dungy is giving high praise to his successor at the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Caldwell.

On to Ed Sherman of Crain’s Chicago Business who has his weekly winners and losers in sports business and media.

Paul Christian in the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin says Patriots-Colts will be quite special for NBC on Sunday.

Scott Dochterman of the Iowa City Gazette says Iowa fans will have to find a way to watch basketball and football on Saturday as the Hawkeyes’ games overlap.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says fans are angry at Fox for its handling of NFL games in the market.

Dan writes about a sports radio talk show host who is now taking operation for most of the station’s daytime programming.

West

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News is surprised at the sudden ESPN love for the Mountain West Conference.

Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic writes that the high school football championships may not be televised statewide due to a dispute between the state’s governing body and Cox Communications.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune talks with Fox Sports’ Brian Billick who’s enjoying his time on television.

Over to the North County Times and John Maffei who writes about a local sports radio host who returns to the air after suffering a heart attack.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star says Pats-Colts gets the national spotlight this week.

Jim writes about a local resident who will be showcased on CBS’ presentation of the Arete Awards on Sunday.

Jon Weinbach of the Los Angeles Times looks at the increasing role of the league-owned TV networks walking that fine line of providing and potentially taking away content from other TV partners.

Diane Pucin of the Times says NBC’s Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison have personal interest in Sunday’s Patriots-Colts game.

To the Los Angeles Daily News and Tom Hoffarth who talks with NFL Today host James Brown.

In his blog, Tom has more with JB about his new book and other subjects.

Kelly Johnson of the Sacramento Business Journal looks at a new online companion to the Kings’ game TV broadcasts.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail says it’s almost the end of the line for the 55 year career of a CFL radio announcer.

Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star writes there’s more college sports available online for Canadians.

That concludes the megalinks. Have a good weekend. I’ll be posting links over the weekend at the Fang’s Bites @ BSMW page.

Friday’s Top Ten

It’s another busy Friday here on the sports scene in Boston, here are the highlights from today:

1) Being Tom Brady – Ron Borges with a feature on Tom Brady, his love of the game, and what motivates him to succeed.

2) Butch Stearns’ Goodbye – The FOX25 Sports Anchor signs off the station for the final time.

3) Stearns forced to pull up anchor – Chad Finn’s Friday media column focuses on Stearns, who says he is a  “casualty of the business model in local television.”

4) This is no time for the Sox to get cheap at shortstop – Ron Chimelis would like to see Alex Gonzalez come back, and put an end to the streak of free agent busts at the position.

5) Matchups to watch in Pats-Colts clash – Tedy Bruschi and Mike Reiss preview Patriots/Colts.

6) Crusaders’ greatest now starring on Web – Bill Doyle’s media column looks at Holy Cross’ redesigned web site, which features a 20 minute interview with HC and Celtics great Bob Cousy, and will interview more greats from the school in the weeks to come.

7) Banta-Cain proving to be more than able in his second stint in New England – Glen Farley looks at the return of the Patriots linebacker, who has been a pleasant surprise after a failed stint in San Francisco.

8 ) Number of storylines to ponder for the Red Sox – John Tomase looks at the major storylines to emerge from the GM Meetings held this week.

9) For Bruins, Desperation Must Become Contagious – Graig Woodburn looks at why the Bruins need to keep playing like a desperate team.

10) Pro-style QB leads Holy Cross revival – Two stories on Holy Cross in the top ten? Dan Shaughnessy plays it straight with a look at HC QB Dominic Randolph, who has a chance to take his game to the NFL.

Also, check out Chris Warner’s Worry Wart column on Patriots Daily, as well as Trading Places, Bonus Edition – A Conversation with ColtsChatter.

For the rest of the sports news today, you can always hit the link sites:

Patriots/Colts Preparation Heats Up

Over on Patriots Daily this morning, we’re Trading Places with the Colts bloggers from 18to88.com, and you might be surprised (or not) to find out that Colts fans still think Tom Brady is just a product of the Belichick system, and that they guy they really fear is Randy Moss. There is also some good information on the Colts defense there, and why all the injuries aren’t as big a deal as some might think.

Adam Kilgore has a look at the links between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and how they are the best of this era. Ian R. Rapoport has the two quarterbacks ready for the latest chapter in their rivalry. Andy Vogt says that the two have a mutual admiration society going on. Glen Farley has each QB talking glowingly about the other. Mark Farinella has them deflecting the spotlight off themselves and placing it on the other.

Rich Garven has a good look at the Patriots remade defense, which is getting noticed around the NFL.  Brian MacPherson has Bill Belichick talking about the challenge of trying to defend Peyton Manning. Bill Burt says that overshadowed by all the Manning/Brady hype is the fact that this is a must-win game for the Patriots.

Albert R. Breer has Vince Wilfork focused on the job at hand, not his contract. Karen Guregian has Wilfork refuting any notion that progress was made on a new deal over the bye week, but still remaining focused on his job.

Guregian has Rodney Harrison saying that Brady needs to exploit the Colts banged up secondary. Here are the notes from the NBC Conference call with Harrison and Tony Dungy yesterday.

Christopher Price lists out his five favorite moments from Patriots/Colts. Tom E. Curran has his three greatest games. The Projo PatsBlog is going to look at each game between the two teams this decade. Jim Donaldson looks at game one and game two today.

Shalise Manza Young has Colts coach Jim Caldwell keeping things consistent after replacing Tony Dungy. Farinella has Manning and the Colts impressed with former Mansfield High School and Holy Cross wide receiver Brett McDermott, who was in their camp this summer.

Jonathan Comey puts the Patriots fourth in his NFL power rankings.

Jeff Jacobs has the UFL coming to Hartford tonight, and probably getting a franchise next season.

Monique Walker’s notebook has Jonathan Wilhite back at practice, after missing last week with a stomach virus. Rapoport’s notebook has more on Wilhite’s return from illness. Young’s Patriots Journal has the Colts making the most of their unbalanced offense. Vogt’s notebook has more on the Patriots using Wilfork as a defensive end. Garven’s notebook has more on Wilfork. Farley’s notebook has the Colts in pursuit of perfection.