A Couple Of New Years Eve Links

Just a couple of links this afternoon as the year winds down:

Media Roundup: Boston Sports Media Figure Of The Year – My SB Nation Boston media column tells you why Michael Felger is the figure of the year in the Boston sports media.

For outdoor game, NHL outdoing itself – Chad Finn’s media column in the Globe has the NHL getting thing right in learning to promote its product.

Bill Belichick deserves Coach of the Year honor – Gotta love Ron Borges, even while praising Bill Belichick and promoting him as Coach of the Year, he can’t help himself by putting in this line: No system and no coach can overcome an absence of talent, as Belichick’s 52-62 record and one playoff appearance in seven years with anyone but Brady at quarterback proves.

Take away the 5-13 record compiled by Borges favorite Drew Bledsoe, and Belichick’s record is closer to even.

Patriots Already Beating Jets in Future, Through Draft – Decent post on the NY Times Fifth Down blog about the Patriots approach to team building contrasted with the Jets.


Celtics Down Pacers, Six Patriots To Pro Bowl

The Celtics played tough defense in the second half as they pulled away from the Indiana Pacers 95-83 on the road last night. Check all the links at CelticsLinks.com.

Six Patriots were named to the Pro Bowl yesterday, with QB Tom Brady leading the way, and followed by defensive captains Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, with guard Logan Mankins and rookie Devin McCourty also well deserving of the honor. Safety Brandon Meriweather is a head-scratching decision. Who voted for him?

McCourty’s selection means that we might have a new version of the Ron Borges 2001 draft day quote on Richard Seymour.

We can make this one real simple.

Devin McCourty better be Darrelle Revis. Or Nnamdi Asomugha. Or quickly show the promise of Mike Jenkins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Again, it’s not because the pick was criticized – it’s the mocking certainty of the statement and entire article that stands out.

Poring over the Patriots’ potential playoff opponents – Karen Guregian stacks up the playoff teams from easiest to toughest.

Six Patriots get Pro Bowl nods, including Brady, Mayo and McCourty – Christopher Price looks at the Pro Bowl honors.

End justifies the means – Shalise Manza Young’s notebook observes that draft status doesn’t dictate playing time, production does. The notebook from Karen Guregian has Pepper Johnson talking about his respect for Bill Belichick.

In down time, Rondo is wising up – Gary Washburn looks at what the Celtics point guard is doing with his time off the court due to his injury.

Marquis Daniels saves the Celtics – Paul Flannery has the Celtics reserve saving the night for the Celtics.

Daniels’s height carried weight – Julian Benbow’s notebook has more on the contributions of Daniels.

Recchi’s last-minute goal gives Bruins a 4-3 win – Joe Haggerty has the veteran scoring with 20 seconds left to lift the Bruins.

Merlot and behold – DJ Bean has more on the win.

Red Sox Subtly Integrate Giant HD Screens in Fenway Park – Tom Leblanc looks at the new high definition screens going in at Fenway.

Why The Patriots Media Policy Is The Right One

This tweet from Globe football writer Greg A Bedard caught my attention last night:

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Bedard went on to explain a little bit more of what he was referring to, by saying that he wasn’t talking about the Packers, and adding:

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It appears he was attempting to say that the Patriots should treat their players like adults by trusting them not to say dumb stuff to the media.

This continues a glorious Boston Globe tradition carried on by the likes of Nick Cafardo, Jerome Solomon and others of complaining about lack of access to the Patriots and implying that the Patriots players are somehow held under some sort of bondage and indentured servitude down there at Gillette Stadium.

My first instinct upon reading the above tweets was to reply that the Patriots methods seem to have worked pretty well for them. But why? Is their method of dealing with the media the correct one, perhaps not for all teams, but for them?

I believe it is. Here’s why:

1) They don’t give opponents anything to take and use against them.

Some might believe that “bulletin board material” is overrated. To some extent that is true, but it is also true that professional athletes are a prideful bunch, and very much into “respect.” If they’re not getting it, they’re going to be motivated to prove themselves. Rodney Harrison was the master of this, he used slights, perceived or real, to give himself an additional shot of motivation. The Patriots don’t provide bulletin board material. Tom Brady starting that Terrell Suggs and the Ravens talk a whole lot for only having beaten the Patriots since he’s been there is about as far as they go. In most cases, they go the opposite route and praise the opponent – something that some media members (Bedard included) have complained about as well.

2) They don’t give away information that could be used in game planning against themselves.

In recent weeks, Rex Ryan has given out small details on how his team plans to attack an upcoming opponent. (Including the Patriots prior to their45-3 loss to New England.)  He talked about how they would defend Tom Brady. He said they wouldn’t kick to Devin Hester. He revealed that Mark Sanchez has cartilage issues in his shoulder. Why? Why would you give out any information about your team? Much of this is tied to injury matters, but it applies to general strategy as well.

3) Giving out no injury information is better than giving out incorrect injury information.

So if Bill Belichick goes up to the podium and says that player X has a strained knee ligament and will be out for two weeks, and then those two weeks and more go by and there is no player X on the field, wouldn’t that be pointed out by the media? You bet. They’d wonder if they had been deliberately misled, and speculate about what else they had been sold a bill of goods on. Why would Belichick give an answer about an injury, especially immediately following a game when not all the information is available? Even when the injury is fully diagnosed, different players heal at different rates, so it is unfair to place some sort of artificial deadline on a player recovery. It’s better to give the minimum required (league mandated) information rather than creating an expectation of a return time.

4) Having one voice for the organization prevents conflicting messages and keeps things consistent.

Yes, assistant coaches are now required to be made available to the media. When they get that chance, don’t they sound a lot like Bill Belichick? Of course. Whether he’s speaking or not, the messages coming out are the same. That consistency keeps things simple and protects the players and coaches from revealing too much.

5) The players can stay focused on the task at hand.

The players know what is expected of them when speaking with the media. If they feel uncomfortable dealing with a topic, they know the “pat” answer that can be given. If they’re more comfortable dealing with the media, they have freedom to speak – for themselves, not on behalf of the team. Some players use that freedom and speak more, others stick strictly to the company line.

Mike Reiss had a post today about a Patriots Today clip that showed a sign reminding the players what is expected of them. I think it applies to their media policy as well:


* Don’t believe or fuel the hype

* Manage expectations

* Ignore the noise

* Speak for youself

In summary – The Patriots avoid giving themselves a lot of headaches or complications by the way they deal with the media. They keep things simple, and allow themselves to focus on the field. Their job after all, isn’t to please the media, but to win games. If they feel this is the best way to do it and it works for them, then they should keep doing it. I’m not saying it’s the only way to operate, but it works for them. It’s not about letting the players act like adults. It’s about staying consistent as an organization. If the end result is success, I don’t think the players much mind the “shackles” they are forced to operate under.

Celtics Extend Streak To 14 With Win Over Pesky Sixers

My wife and I welcomed our second son on Tuesday morning – 21 1/2 inches and 8 lbs 3 oz. Mother and son are doing fine.

The Celtics extended their winning streak to 14 games last night with a 84-80 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden.

Defense delivers 14th straight – Scott Souza has the Celtics defense getting this win for the Celtics.

Good, but not good enough for Celtics – Paul Flannery says that there were few positives to take away from this one.

Celtics grind out another win – Peter May says that good teams win games they shouldn’t, as the Celtics did last night.

O’Neal able to step up to the plate – Michael Vega has some encouragement from David Ortiz helping Shaq sink a pair of late free throws last night.

A Different Side of Ray – Alan Segal talks to Ray Allen about his Ray of Hope Foundation.

Winning streak not exactly hearts, flowers – Mark Murphy’s notebook says that this winning streak has actually been a burden to a beleaguered Celtics squad. The Globe notebook from Julian Benbow has the Celtics just trying to get and stay healthy. The Metrowest Daily News notebook from Scott Souza has Doc Rivers riding Nate Robinson hard in practice to make him more of a point guard.The CSNNE notes from Jessica Camerato has more on the Celtics grinding this streak.

The Patriots continue to get ready for the Buffalo Bills, who have played much tougher than their 4-win record would indicate.

Worry Wart – Game Fifteen At Bills – As usual, Chris Warner has some worries.

Imperfect defense steps up at critical junctures – Robert Lee notes that five times this season the opponent has had the ball with a chance to tie or win the game on their final possession, but the Patriots have stopped them all five times.

Vince Wilfork plays on – Ian Rapoport notes that the Patriots nose tackle has been on the field for 80% of the defensive snaps this year, unusual for a nose tackle, and higher than previous years for Wilfork. Steven Krasner looks at how the D-Line, led by Wilfork has been a strength of the team despite a revolving starting lineup.

Warren and Patriots: A perfect fit – Mary Paoletti looks at how Gerard Warren has become the second coming of Roman Phifer for the Patriots.

In preparation for Bills, Patriots using lessons learned against Cleveland – Christopher Price has the Patriots using the Cleveland game as a warning. Mark Farinella examines the same angle.

Odd times for Fred Taylor – Rapoport’s notebook has the veteran running back dealing with watching others play ahead of him. Shalise Manza Young says that the Patriots have ratcheted up the rhetoric in talking about their opponent this week.

Apparently this was the mandated week for three-part series on new Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez.

Michael Silverman had his in the Herald:

Adrian Gonzalez ready to get going

Strong foundation put Adrian Gonzalez on road to stardom

Adrian Gonzalez a rock of faith in all facets

And Gordon Edes has a series on ESPN Boston:

Adrian Gonzalez: Special delivery

Adrian Gonzalez: A man and his word

Making Boston home away from home (Coming later today)

Claude Julien buzz makes tonight must-win – There is a lot of speculation about the Bruins and their head coach. Stephen Harris looks at why tonight is a big game for both.

So the sports media world is really obsessed with what Rex Ryan and his wife do on their own time? While the story was perfect for an outlet like Deadspin, I’m nauseated at how all media outlets are jumping on this “story.” It was even a prominent part of sports flashes on both Boston sports radio stations yesterday. Other than being a potential distraction (caused by the media) what in the world does this have to do with his coaching the New York Jets?

Look, I get it, it’s a pretty sensational story. Some of the feet jokes are funny. (Jets acquire LB Larry Foote for future considerations.)  A part of me enjoys the idea of Ryan having to squirm a bit, and explain things to his team, but for a group that proclaims themselves serious “journalists” and reporters, their obsession with this type of story puts them at the level of paparazzi.

One thing, though, if the “couples ad” proves to be actually from the Ryans, will Commissioner Goodell look into things like he publicly proclaimed he was looking to the Brandon Spikes tapes (from college) earlier in the season?

Patriots Squeak By Packers, Pierce Leads Celtics

With the Green Bay Packers missing their starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, many felt that the Patriots should have little trouble with backup QB Matt Flynn and his Green Bay teammates.  The Packers had other thoughts, coming out aggressive with an onside kick to start the game, and kept the energy level high throughout the night. The Patriots got a boost on a 71-yard kickoff return from offensive guard Dan Connolly to set up a touchdown just before halftime.

The Patriots defense was burned much of the night, but made enough plays in the end to hold off the Packers in closing seconds of the game, to pull out a 31-27 victory, improving to 12-2 on the season.

Expect plenty of  “Imagine if Aaron Rodgers had played”  from the likes of Tony Massarotti, (and Michael Felger, as he actually used that line in his CSNNE column today) as if the game was played in a vacuum. Also expect plenty of “blueprint” talk over the next week, as all media members tell you that future opponents, especially in the postseason, will be able to copy what the Packers did, with success.

Get all the Patriots coverage at PatriotsLinks.com. Here are a few of the more noteworthy articles from this morning.

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Patriots just good enough in win over Packers – After technical difficulties on the WEEI.com site last week, Christopher Price is back this week with what we learned from this one.

Pats are good, not lucky – While many in the media will choose the doom-and-gloom outlook after this one, Andy Vogt chooses to be reassured that the Patriots can beat a top opponent even when they’re not playing their best.

Patriots defense comes through in end – Mike Reiss has the Patriots exhausted defense getting the job done in the closing seconds.

Lesson not lost on Patriots – Karen Guregian has the Patriots knowing that they have a lot of work to do.

Pats have little margin for error – Tom E Curran says that the Patriots can’t afford to make mistakes and penalties.

Rookie ignores the pain – The Globe notebook by Shalise Manza Young and Monique Walker has Devin McCourty playing his usual high number of snaps despite his rib injury. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport has Tully Banta-Cain atoning for an earlier penalty with a game-ending sack. The Two-minute drill from Hector Longo lists McCourty as one of his “no-shows” even NBC showed a graphic near the end of the game with the impressive stats that McCourty had put up last night.

Paul Pierce had his second consecutive game with double-digit assists and recorded a triple-double as the Celtics won their 13th game in a row, 99-88over Jim O’Brien’s Indiana Pacers. Get all the stories at CelticsLinks.com.

Can’t pin down Truth – Steve Bulpett looks at what makes Pierce so valuable to the Celtics. More on Pierce from A. Sherrod Blakely | Chris Forsberg | Julian Benbow

Paul Pierce gives the game what it needs – Paul Flannery has more on Pierce, as well as Shaq, Nate Robinson and the bench.

Davis’s game is growing on them – Gary Washburn looks at the former Big Baby.

Diesel back, Pierce hot, Celtics streak on – Mark Murphy’s Herald notebook has Shaq returning to the lineup. The Globe notebook from Julian Benbow has conference rival Orlando making major moves in advance of Saturday’s game with the Celtics.

There probably will not be morning links tomorrow, as we’re set to head into the hospital for the birth of my second son. I’ll try and get some things up here and there over the course of the rest of the week.

Missed Storm Means Patriots Ticket Opportunity

Earlier in the week when it appeared that New England might be in line for a Nor’easter on Sunday night into Monday, tickets for Patriots/Packers flooded the secondary market, resulting in great deals.  Now the the forecast for the storm to miss us, it’s a great opportunity to see the hottest team in the NFL.

Click on the image for more deals.

Friday Quicklinks

There’s a whole bunch on my plate this morning, so here are a few quick links:

The Celtics took out the Hawks last night at the Garden. Check the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

The Bruins dropped another, this time to the rival Montreal Canadiens. Links at BruinsLinks.com.

They’re really doing a number – Chad Finn looks at the enormous ratings success that the Patriots have enjoyed this season.

Packers-Patriots And The Curious Case Of Reporter Greg A. Bedard – My SB Nation Boston media column leads off with Globe NFL reporter Greg Bedard finding himself a target this week.

Walker’s on the rebound  and A last shot for Antoine Walker – Gary Washburn and Ron Borges catch up with former Celtics star Antoine Walker, who trying to get back into the league by toiling the NBA Developmental League.

Orien Greene: Crashing into the NBA – Another former Celtic is also working in the NBA DL, attempting a comeback. The ESPN True Hoop blog has a compelling entry of the former second round pick of the Celtics.

Red Sox set to land Bobby Jenks – Michael Silverman reports on the Red Sox signing the former White Sox closer, and adding a bunch of other bullpen arms.

Why Bobby Jenks and Jonathan Papelbon might be a good fit – Rob Bradford looks at why the pair might make quite a combination in the bullpen.

Bruins lacked focus, effort on road trip – Joe Haggerty looks at the Bruins’ issues.

Around The League – Week 14 – Jeremy Gottlieb goes around the league for PD. Also check out the Matchups Of The Week.

It’s the Price he has to pay now – Ian Rapoport checks in with rookie receiver Taylor Price, the 2010 third round pick who has yet to be active for a game this season.

Get all the Patriots coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

Fox Sports And NESN Announce New Digital Partnership

NESN sent around the following release this afternoon. Looks like FOX is attempting something similar to what ESPN.com has done with local sites that have a tie-in to the national site.

December 16, 2010 – FOXSports.com on MSN and NESN announced today a new digital content sharing partnership that will make NESN.com the exclusive provider of New England and Boston sports news on one of the most popular sports web sites in the country. The agreement allows FOXSports.com the right to both publish and directly link to NESN’s sports news content and provides for significant cross promotional opportunities between the two sites.

“The FOX Sports Local websites are the fastest-growing regional sports websites in the country,” said Mike Hall, NESN’s Director of New Media. “We are proud to join the FOX Sports family of local websites to help extend their reach in the northeast while helping NESN to continue to grow our site as the premier destination for fans of New England sports.”

“Providing our readers with the latest news in New England sports greatly enhances FOXSports.com and complements the coverage from all of our existing local sites. We’re excited to partner with the leading sports website in that market,” said Kyle McDoniel, Vice President of Business Development for FOXSports.com.   

Pierce Sinks “Rival” Knicks

ESPN tried its hardest this week to convince us that the Celtics/Knicks rivalry was back. (Of course, the Celtics biggest rival in their division has historically been Philadelphia.) The Knicks, or should I say Amare’ Stoudemire, tried to make it seem like a rivalry last night, but in the end, the veteran Celtics pulled out the win, thanks to a Paul Pierce step away jumper with .04 seconds remaining, giving the Celtics a 118-116 win over New York. Get all the coverage at Celticslinks.com.

Celtics embrace the challenge in thrilling win over the Knicks – Paul Flannery has the Celtics showing True Grit in beating the Knicks.

Paul Pierce plays villain in New York– Chris Forsberg has Pierce giving the Knicks a familiar ending.

Celtics shocked Pierce got off his go-to shot – A Sherrod Blakely has the Knicks allowing Pierce to get off his patented step-back jumper going to his right.

Loss aside, New York passes test– Bob Ryan looks at a moral victory for the improving Knicks.

Scary situation for banged-up Rajon Rondo – Mark Murphy’s notebook has the Celtics point guard rolling his ankle pretty badly last night. Julian Benbow’s notebook also leads off with the ankle.

The Bruins didn’t have the same success last night in the state of New York, losing to the Sabres 3-2.

Bruins lose their cool, game– Kevin Paul Dupont reports on the Bruins losing two leads in the loss.

Bruins don’t answer call – Stephen Harris calls this one a weak loss.

This Bruins loss hurts – Joe Haggerty says that this loss could haunt the Bruins.

Milan Lucic loses it over referee’s non-call – Harris’ notebook quotes a steaming Lucic after the game. The Globe notebook from Kevin Paul Dupont and the CSNNE notes from Joe Haggerty have a flu-ridden Tyler Seguin sitting out in favor of Daniel Paille. If you’re worried about the Seguin scratch, DJ Bean says to Calm down.

Lie Gate – Dan Snapp on Patriots Daily says that commissioner Roger Goodell’s mismanagement of SpyGate is giving the Jets a pass.  While you’re there, check out this week’s edition of the Worry Wart.

Jets, NFL Teams Need to Own Up to Mistakes Instead of Blaming Patriots – Jeff Howe says that this NFL trick of dragging the Patriots into every scandal needs to stop.

Sorry attempt by Jets coach – I like angry Mike Reiss.

Pats have beaten many of league’s top defenses – Robert Lee looks at some of the Patriots accomplishments this season.

Offensive line passes tough tests – While they’ve shut down many of the league’s top pass rushers thus far, Karen Guregian says that the Patriots O-line gets another big test in Clay Matthews. Mark Farinella says that the unit will not take the Packers lightly.

Without Rodgers, Pack would be lacking– Greg A Bedard says that with the Packers QB looking doubtful, it looks like the Patriots will miss another chance to face a top offense.

Coverage is a tall order– Monique Walker looks at the difficulty that Wes Welker and Deion Branch have put on opposing defenses.

 Arrington turns the corner for Patriots – Mary Paoletti has a look at the second year cornerback’s improvement.

Very good now, maybe even better later – Glen Farley says that this team will continue to get better.

New guy on ‘D’ may have to cut in line – Rapoport’s notebook says that the new additions on the defense line are needed right away. The Patriots Journal from Robert Lee and the Globe notebook from Michael Vega each report on Jonathan Wilhite being placed on IR.

Feller: Hard and fast – Bob Ryan remembers Bob Feller, who passed way yesterday at the age of 92.