A slow start in what has typically been one of the busiest periods on the Boston sports calendar, as the B’s reacclimate to the West, the Pats come off a week’s bye, and the Sox are on a much longer one. As Bruce is coming back tomorrow, I’m determined to get in one Randy-free Morning Links, but there’s a new kid in Foxborough so we’ll start there.
Nine months later, visions of Ray Rice romping 83 yards still dance in the heads of Ian R. Rapoport and Jerod Mayo, as the Pats keep the pain fresh in preparing for the Baltimore Ravens’ visit to Gillette Stadium this Sunday. Joe Zarbano puts the Ravens atop the WEEI Power Rankings for the second consecutive week. And it doesn’t get any easier. Tom King feels there is only one game leading up to Thanksgiving in which the Pats will have a clear talent superiority. Dave D’Onofrio will take a 3-1 start, but has these next six games determining where the 2010 Pats are headed. Bob Ryan labels this a “House Money Year” that is not headed for the sidelines of Cowboys Stadium for Bill Belichick.
Ron Borges has Deion Branch coming back to new faces and a sprawling mall at Gillette. Despite the changes around him, Rapoport says Branch is the same person on the same team, just a different player in a different situation. Monique Walker has those things that have stayed the same being enough to excite Branch upon his return. Kevin McNamara has Branch wishing he’d never left New England. Mike Reiss thinks that having something end where it once began is not always a bad thing in football. However, the Pete Towshend Belly Factor is ruining this reunion for Jerry Thornton. With Branch for Moss, Jim Donaldson still has the Pats in the red on the plus-minus scale.
McNamara’s Patriots Journal is not surprised that offensive lineman Nick Kaczur was officially IR’d yesterday.
The C’s started a stretch of four games in five nights with a 103-92 loss in Philly last night. Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers liking the packed game schedule because it opens up more time for practice. As for last night’s loss, Evans Clinchy has the Shrek and Donkey duo of Glen Davis and Nate Robinson getting some extended minutes. A. Sherrod Blakely finds the C’s bench good enough to hang with the albeit bad 76ers starters for much of last night. Paul Flannery calls the C’s bench a bunch of misfits who flew under the radar because of what they couldn’t do and whose unique compensatory skills were overlooked.
Bulpett’s Celtics Notebook has neither Jermaine O’Neal nor Rivers frustrated by the former’s lack of offensive flow so far this preseason. Julian Benbow has O’Neal on the bat phone and looking for his missing offense. He still brings the D though. Chris Forsberg tells us that O’Neal and Davis will be pushing each other all season to take charges.
And to close on a self-gloss note, I have the C’s in a season-long battle with the Heat for Eastern supremacy and the chance for a rematch against the hated Lakers.
After an 11-day European trip, Fluto Shinzawa has the B’s reacquainting themselves to a Stateside schedule before getting reacquainted with the ice. As Joe Haggerty points out, the Premiere series gave the B’s a unique bonding experience and it portends of great days to come next June.
Rich Thompson has Nathan Horton looking to fill a humbling gap in his resume this season. Despite some new offensive prowess, Douglas Flynn has the B’s not intending to part with the stingy defensive ways that brought them to the postseason last year.
Kevin Gray has New Hampshirites continuing to make steady inroads into MLB front offices, as Sox scout Allard Baird is a candidate for the Mets’ GM vacancy. Sean McAdam has Sox coaches Tim Bogar and DeMarlo Hale candidates for the Blue Jays managerial vacancy.
Gordon Edes recounts years when Theo was brilliant in maintaining an effective bullpen, and years when he failed, but 2010 was a case of total disintegration.
As always, it was a lot of fun hosting Morning Links this past week. Thanks for dropping by. Bruce will be back at the helm again tomorrow morning, ready to take you into the Branch II era at Gillette.