The Bucks Really Stopped Here

After dropping two straight game, the Celtics were determined not to drop a third, and the Milwaukee Bucks were the unfortunate recipients of the wrath of the Celtics defense, as Boston set a franchise record (in the shot clock era) in holding the Bucks to 56 points in a 87-56 home rout. Get all the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

On the Celtics postgame last night on CSSNE, Gary Tanguay made repeated references to the “shot clock era,” but neither he nor Donny Marshall knew exactly when that era began. I may have misheard, but it sounded like Tanguay guessed 1961 when asked (could’ve been 1951) but either one was wrong. The shot clock was instituted for the 1954-55 NBA season. It was a little embarrassing for guys who should know this stuff.

This is a small item, but I’ve always thought that sports media types should be at least as knowledgeable as a diehard fan. Perhaps a diehard NBA fan wouldn’t know the exact year the shot clock was instituted, but they would at least have a rough idea of when it was introduced.

For Celtics, good things start with DChris Forsberg says that it would be an understatement to say that this game was exactly what the Celtics needed.

Input on paltry (56 points) output Gary Washburn observes that last night was a reflection on how strange the NBA can be on a nightly basis.

Baby much needed Big – Steve Bulpett has Glen Davis making a much-needed return to the lineup. Mike Fine has more on the return of Davis.

Has Ray Allen ever been better?Kirk Minihane has the future Hall of Fame guard continuing the best shooting season of his career.

West gets closer to a return – Julian Benbow’s notebook has Delonte West looking at a Wednesday return to action. The Herald notebook from Mark Murphy has Paul Piece tweaking BU fans. A. Sherrod Blakely has Troy Murphy (11 points) making the most of some extra floor time last night. Mike Fine’s notebook in The Patriot Ledger has more on the return of West.

Changing luck with Dice?Nick Cafardo has new pitching coach Curt Young attempting a change in Daisuke Matsuzaka’s between-game ritual.

For Red Sox reserves, versatility becoming name of the game – Tim Britton has the Red Sox backups attempting to make the most of their skills.

Trying to frame Beckett outingThe Globe notebook looks at a tough fifth inning for Josh Beckett yesterday. Britton’s Red Sox Journal has Clay Buchholz set to take his place behind Jon Lester in the rotation. The Herald notebook from John Tomase also looks at the change in routine for Dice-K. The CSNNE notes from Sean McAdam and Joe Haggerty have Alfredo Aceves replacing Buchholz in today’s game against the Yankees.

Ference would help team sharpen its skatesFluto Shinzawa has the return of Andrew Ference a possible boost for the Bruins.

In the NFL labor wars, it’s all relative – Michael Felger’s take on the NFL labor war. Michael Gee’s take is worth reading.

Plenty of teams in position to win NCAADan Duggan has an overview of the college basketball tournament.

Terriers hope to make splash in crowded, competitive pool – Bob Ryan looks at the tournament for the Globe.

 

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Friday Quick Links; Bruins Lose To Sabres

The Bruins lost a two-goal lead last night against the Buffalo Sabres and fell in OT, 4-3 at the Garden. Check all the coverage over at BruinsLinks.com.

Just a few links for this posting, we’ll start with the media columns:

Pepperell native delivers Mut on your WEEI – Bill Doyle has an interview with new WEEI midday host Mike Mutnansky.

Brush up on these new Dance steps – Chad Finn has a look at the NCAA tournament TV coverage and some assorted notes.

NCAA Tournament Promises March Madness On Television – In my SB Nation Boston media column, I’m also looking at the NCAA schedule from CBS and Turner, and add in some notes at the end.

DJ Bean, Joe Haggerty and Joe McDonald have Zdeno Chara with no plans to change the way he plays the game.

New-look Green play deny defense – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics denying that they’re changing into more of an offensive-minded team.

Bigs problem is a small one for Celtics – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics focused on keeping their “bigs” healthy for the postseason. Julian Benbow and Jim Fenton have Nenad Krstic making a smooth transition to Boston.

The $20 Million Men: How opposites Ramirez, Crawford both attracted monster salaries – Alex Speier looks at how both outfielders got the huge contracts with opposite styles of play.

Still a champion of the Sox – Peter Abraham has Johnny Damon with praise for the Red Sox and wishing he had approved the trade to Boston last season. Michael Silverman has Damon and Manny Ramirez settling in with the Rays.

Unheard-of hoop glory within Harvard’s grasp – Shira Springer has the Crimson hoop team looking to get back to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1946.

NFL words heated with day to go – Ian Rapoport has the millionaires and billionaires continuing their public squabble.

In case you hadn’t heard, Ron Borges is now on Twitter!

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Yes, I’ve heard the jokes about watching to see if he starts copying Tweets from ESPN_NFCWest.

Clippers Knock Off Celtics At Garden

The Los Angeles Clippers came into the Garden and pretty much had their way with the Celtics all night. After the Clippers had a lead of as much as 23 points, the Celtics made a run that closed the game to as close as three points, but the Clippers held on with some big shots down the stretch to beat the Celtics 108-103. Get all the stories at CelticsLinks.com.

Garden Clipping – Scott Souza says that the Celtics just didn’t deserve this one. Steve Bulpett says that though the bench struggled, this one was on the starters  – and the Clippers deserve some credit too.

Celtics have a bigs problem – Paul Flannery says that with just two “bigs” available last night, the Celtics struggled in the paint.

Krstic a throw-in? Not for the Celtics – With 20 points and 9 rebounds last night, Chris Forsberg says that Nenad Krstic is showing he has big value to the Celtics. Jessica Camerato has Krstic getting a crash course in the Celtics system.

Taming Blake Griffin doesn’t help Celtics – Jackie MacMullan has Boston keeping the explosive rookie under control, but still losing the game. Bob Ryan says that the Clippers deserved this win.

Guard Carlos Arroyo impresses in Green debut – Mark Murphy’s notebook has the newest Celtics playing some strong minutes last night. Julian Benbow’s Celtics notebook has Boston looking for reinforcements from their injured corps. Camerato’s CSNNE.com notes has the Celtics digging too deep a hole. The notebook from Jim Fenton has several Celtics meeting with President Obama on Tuesday night.

The NHL announced yesterday that Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara would not be fined or suspended for his hit on the Canadiens Max Pacioretty Tuesday night. Apparently though, the Montreal police are opening an investigation on the hit.

Zdeno Chara cleared – Stephen Harris says that the league made the right call. Mike Loftus agrees.

Claude Julien tweaks lines, searching for spark – Harris’ notebook has the Bruins coach trying combinations. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has more on the changes by Julien.

Crawford gets up to speed – Peter Abraham has the outfielder settling in with the Red Sox as he prepares to see his former team for the first time today.

Dennys Reyes tale takes left turn – John Tomase explains how the right-handed Reyes became a lefty pitcher.

Westmoreland hungrier than ever – Joe McDonald with another update on the outfield prospect.

Juan Carlos Linares’ Impressive Spring Spurs Trade Talks and Eight Other Red Sox Thoughts – Tony Lee runs through several Red Sox items.

Buchholz is staying zeroed in – Abraham’s notebook has Clay Buchholz with another strong outing. The Herald notebook by Michael Silverman looks at Carl Crawford reunion with his former team today.

Florida sports radio host Dan Sileo was apparently among the first to report that Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather had shot two men. Of course, Sileo orginally reported that it was “Floyd meaweather” involved in the shooting. Deadspin (Patriots Safety Brandon Meriweather Accused Of Shooting Two Men During Brawl) then jumped on the story, which became topic # 1 on Boston sports radio this morning.

Sileo has been taking victory laps on the story:

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What’s not clear is if the story is actually true. While Sileo has been passing rumors, several Boston sports media reporters are actually gathering information on the story.

Attorney in Meriweather case has ‘doubts’ – WEEI had the attorney for the victims of the shooting on this morning (as did 98.5, but WEEI had them on first.) The attorney says he has doubts about whether Meriweather was the shooter, or was even there.

Sheriff: Meriweather not on police report – WEEI also followed up with sheriff’s department, which says Meriweather’s name is not on the police report, nor in any part of the investigation.

The man who raised Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather says of shooting allegations: “It’s not true.” – Ian Rapoport has the legal guardian of Meriweather saying that the Patriots safety was not at the scene of the crime, and was not involved.

So what’s the truth? Is this a money grab? Did it happen as the victims say? It is easy to rush to judgement on Meriweather, one of the least popular Patriots in recent memory, but there seem to be a lot of questions about this story right now.

Bruins No Match For Fired-Up Habs

To me, the Bruins are the very opposite of the famous Godfather quote. Just when I think I’m back in, they push me right back out again. I’m a casual/bandwagon Bruins fan at best. I was excited to watch last night’s game and see how the Bruins would respond in an extremely hostile environment.

They didn’t have a chance.

The Bruins were overwhelmed by a fired-up Montreal team and crowd, and meekly fell 4-1. To make matters worse, Zdeno Chara appears to be facing disciplinary action from the league for a hit, that from many viewpoints was not illegal (though deserving of a penalty) or particularly violent, but left a Canadiens player in thie hospital with a concussion.

Talk today on sports radio, especially the Felger and Mazz show, should be, um, spirited.

Or as Charles P. Pierce says:

(This Blog is anxiously awaiting evening drive on The New Station, since the warm-up for yesterday’s game was a festival of poopy-jokes, brain-dead xenophobia, and barely disguised gay-baiting unseen this side of a middle-school cafeteria. What new delights will ensue this afternoon?)

For all the Bruins news, go on over to BruinsLinks.com.

Not much fight – Kevin Paul Dupont looks at an ugly night all around in Montreal. Mick Colageo also weighs in on an ugly loss.

Bruins take a step back in Montreal – Joe Haggerty has some old questions coming back to haunt the Bruins last night.

The aftermath of an ugly loss to the Habs – DJ Bean looks at where this loss leaves the Bruins.

Zdeno Chara calls hit ‘very unfortunate’ – Steve Conroy has the defenseman and his coach talking about the hit on Max Pacioretty. James Murphy has Chara saying he doesn’t try to hurt people.

Goaltenders doing splits – Dupont’s notebook has the Bruins looking to get Tim Thomas some rest so they can ride him in the playoffs.

New point guard Carlos Arroyo was the focus at practice yesterday as the former Heat guard practiced with his new team and tries to settle in for a playoff run of backing up Rajon Rondo. Meet the newest Celtics with content from: A. Sherrod Blakely | Chris Forsberg | Mark Murphy | Jim Fenton | Julian Benbow | Paul Flannery

Rivers’ challenge: Finding a playoff rotation – Paul Flannery looks at the job ahead for the Celtics coach.

Big Baby unfazed by joining new play group – Mark Murphy’s notebook has Glenn Davis surrounded by a new bench crew.

Learning from the master – Gordon Edes has the new Red Sox first baseman already serving as a mentor to young Jose Iglesias.

Is this the end for Tim Wakefield? – Kirk Minihane has Tim Wakfield prepared to call it a career if he doesn’t make the Red Sox.

Beckett back on mound, in fine form – Peter Abraham has the Sox pitcher getting back on track. Maureen Mullen has more on a strong outing from Beckett.

Andrew Miller’s on his own – Michael Silverman has the Red Sox trying to make the high-ceiling lefty as comfortable as possible.

Red Sox sweep split-squad doubleheader – Mullen’s CSNNE notes has the Sox finding success yesterday. The Globe notebook from Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo has Gonzalez hoping for game action next week. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber and Michael Silverman has more on Gonzalez’s progress. The ProJo Red Sox Journal has more on Beckett’s performance.

Patriots Will Still Be in Good Shape in Event of NFL Lockout and 19 Other NFL Thoughts – Jeff Howe notes that the Patriots handed out pamphlets to their players with conditioning suggestions.

Mike Wright on schedule – Ian Rapoport has an update on the defensive lineman.

On opening NFL books and the crucial $1 billion – Greg A Bedard has some good insight on the latest roadblock between the players and owners in the CBA talks.

Some Details On Michael Holley’s New Book “War Room”

We’ve been hearing that Michael Holley has been working on a new book, and he’s dropped bits and pieces of hints here and there in his radio appearances. After noticing a placeholder on Amazon.com for “War Room” by Michael Holley, I decided to look around some more.

I found what I was looking for on the Harper Collins Catalogs web site, which has a listing for the book. Here’s the description:

Sports commentator and bestselling author Michael Holley will follow three NFL teams from training camp 2010, through the Super Bowl, and into the April draft, providing a new look at Belichick’s influence, which has now spread from the Patriots to other teams, particularly the KC Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons.

A little further down, it expands on the description:

This is a football book with three central characters: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

Michael Holley will follow Belichick, Pioli, and Dimitroff through the entire 2010 season—from training camp 2010, through the Super Bowl, and into the April draft—exploring the personal connections of the three men and the increasing influence of the Patriot way. Belichick and Pioli have been friends since the 1980s, when Belichick was a young coordinator for the New York Giants. They worked together in Cleveland, New York (Jets) and New England. In 2008, Pioli left for Kansas City to build a Midwestern Patriots model. A year before Pioli left, Dimitroff was the surprising top GM choice of the Falcons, who dreamed of building Patriots South in Atlanta.

The culmination of the narrative will be all three men preparing their teams for the lifeblood of the NFL, which is the draft, as all three franchises seek to improve themselves through similar philosophies but perhaps different strategies.

Here is some final information given on the page about the book:

  • Michael Holley will have unique access to all three NFL teams throughout the entire season. And, during the three days of the draft, he will be in all three draft rooms. (Because of the labor uncertainty in the NFL, the 2011 draft just might be the last draft in league history.)
  • The minor characters in the book make up some of the most iconic names in league history. Bill Parcells is Pioli’s father-in-law; Chiefs coach Todd Haley is the son of Dick Haley, who is the most visionary scout in football the last 40 years; Belichick is the son of the late Steve Belichick, whose “Football Scouting Methods” book was one of the early bibles for football evaluators.
  • Holley is following head coaches from three NFL teams: New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Atlanta Falcons, providing three distinct and devoted fan bases that will come to this book.

I’m pretty sure that 2011 is not going to be the last draft in league history. But it’s a nice tease!

And finally:

  • Michael Holley is the author of the bestseller PATRIOT REIGN, which has sold more than 100k copies. Holley is in the inner circle of Boston sports media and is very connected. He was a sportswriter for the Boston Globe for ten years and currently cohosts the Dale & Holley Show on Boston sports radio station WEEI.

OK, so they need to update that last bit.

Overall, this looks like a very intriguing project, and it will be interesting to see how far Holley has come since the writing of Patriot Reign and what access he was given for this book, especially from the Patriots.

Tuesday Thoughts

In lieu of links this morning, lets go over a few things from the last couple of days on the local sports media scene…

The Mut and Merloni show debuted yesterday, and all things considered, I thought it was an encouraging beginning. I’ve probably listened to more Mike Mutnansky than most, having followed him on the NH stations over the years, and I’ve also found him to be knowledgable and hard-working. My concern would be if he was forced to buy into the daily contrived drama of WEEI, which too often has hosts trying to defend ludicrous “takes” on matters. (See Ordway and the Perkins trade.)

It’s been a roller-coaster with me on my thoughts on Lou Merloni. When he first started on the station, I enjoyed his fresh view and take on things. Then as he was on the station more and more, and asked to talk sports other than baseball, his thoughts and ideas at times seemed more like those of a casual (and sometimes uninformed) fan rather than a sports radio professional. With this gig, at first glance, he appears to be making the effort to be informed and knowledgeable. I’ll give them a chance.

I missed Dale Arnold’s Sunday debut, though I heard he had some comments at the start of the show along the lines of “remember me?” Having him on the last two mornings has been a nice change from the usual D&C fill-ins that have been trotted out there over the years. Having him  filling in all over the station will strengthen the station as a whole. While it isn’t great for Dale to be working different hours every week, the listeners will benefit.

Still not thrilled over the new “Big Show.” Glenn Ordway continues to pound on the Kendrick Perkins trade, stunningly overrating what Perkins brought to this basketball team. He’s not the only one. Dan Shaughnessy, writing for SI.com yesterday, compared trading Perkins to the 1980’s Celtics trading Dennis Johnson. Never mind that Dennis Johnson was a Hall of Fame player and Perkins, though beloved and hard working, is a one-dimensional, average NBA center, Shaughness went on to ask Danny Ainge why he “ripped the heart out of his team” with the trade of Perkins.

Ordway might not actually be comparing Kendrick Perkins to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, but his reaction to the deal and the emphasis he is placing on what the Celtics are losing by trading the injured center make you feel like Ainge did trade away Bill Russell in his prime. Ordway was talking yesterday about how he is “scared as hell” about facing the teams in the Eastern conference without Perkins. How did they do the first half of the season without Perkins?

With Ordway and Shaughnessy lining up against the trade, it makes me feel a lot better about my position. Throw in the fact that Mike Felger also hates the trade, and cites the same reasons as Ordway, and I’m convinced this was a steal by Danny Ainge.

Speaking of Felger, everytime I’ve tuned into him this week, he’s been railing against fundamental religions and pounding the BYU topic. Great radio, it aint.

OK, I’ll say it. The media’s obsession with Tom Brady’s ponytail and their breakdown of his dancing in Brazil is downright creepy. I know it’s the offseason and they’re starved for news, but c’mon. This is pathetic.

Harvey Frommer is a prolific writer about both the Red Sox and Yankees. His latest work Remembering Fenway Park: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red Sox came across my desk and is worth a look. It’s a gorgeous coffee-table-style book with many vintage photos of Fenway that I hadn’t seen before. Check it out if you get a chance.

What’s up with NESN? Ratings (post below this one) aside, I’ve heard from several people that they’ve lost a ton of sales people, who complain it is a tough place to work. I’ve heard (not confirmed) that longtime technical operations manager Nancy Rose, who has been with NESN from the beginning, recently left the company.

They’ve also been adding head-scratching programming like “The Strega Life with Nick Varano” to their lineup, while not showing a willingness to cut into programming for breaking stories, even ones involving teams they broadcast for. A recent example was when the Bruins traded for Chris Kelly from Ottawa on February 16th. Comcast SportsNet New England broke in with live coverage and analysis of the deal, while NESN did not. They’ve attempted to expand their national presence with NESN National and teaming up with FOX Sports on the web side, moves that are curious in light of their apparent reticience in covering things locally.

Why doesn’t NESN have shows devoted to the Celtics and Patriots? If they truly want to be the New England Sports Network, they need to expand beyond the Red Sox and Bruins. Dropping SportsDesk in favor of NESN Daily was a disaster, one they’ve attempted to rectify by making NESN Daily more in line with what SportsDesk used to be.

NESN Ratings Updates

A couple updates from NESN on ratings for recent programming:

NESN Keeps Winning with Bruins Hockey

NESN garnered a 4.5 household rating in the Boston DMA for Saturday night’s Bruins OT loss to the Penguins, the network’s second best Bruins rating of the season. NESN’s best rating of the season was Thursday, March 3 against Tampa Bay when NESN garnered a 4.6 household rating. NESN’s season average is now a 3.0 going into Tuesday night’s highly anticipated contest against divisional rival Montreal. Coverage begins at 7 pm with WB Mason’s Bruins FaceOff LIVE hosted by Kathryn Tappen with Mike Milbury and Gord Kluzak.

Strong Red Sox Spring Training Ratings

NESN’s first three Red Sox spring training games of the season averaged a 2.4 household rating, up 85% over the first 3 spring training games televised by NESN in 2010, and the best 3-game spring training game average since the spring of 2007. NESN is scheduled to broadcast 13 spring training games in March. The next game is on Wednesday, March 9 at 7 pm when the Red Sox host Baltimore at City of Palms Park.