With no games for the locals last night, and a couple of appointments this morning, I’m falling back on delivering a few random thoughts, news items and observations from recent days.
I’ve had three separate sources, all very solid, tell me of a New England sportswriter recently fired for plagiarism. The sports editor of the newspaper in question referred me to the HR department, which has not responded to multiple attempts for a confirmation. The material in question was apparently taken from one or more NFL draft publications and used without attribution in NFL draft previews focused on the Patriots.
Neither side in the NFL labor battle is doing themselves any favors. The best hope for a 2011 season at this point seems to rest in the courts forcing the league to conduct business while an antitrust lawsuit moves forward. As each day goes by, I sense the anger (not “panic” as some reporters have termed it) of fans growing as neither side but particularly the owners, seem motivated to come to an agreement.
I heard a radio host this week make the suggestion that Patriots fans aren’t excited for this week’s draft in part because they know Bill Belichick will likely move around in the draft, and that the team probably won’t make both first-round selections. That’s ridiculous. Is it that, or is it because of the aforementioned labor unrest? While some might feel frustrated at the Patriots inclination towards moving around in the draft to maximize the value of their selections and stockpile future picks, the recent results have been solid.
I’ll fully cop to being a casual Bruins fan at best. But the adage that playoff hockey is a different animal than the regular season is 100% true. The last three Bruins games have been compelling, and impossible to turn away from. Jack Edwards takes heat from some corners for his outlandish scripted calls, but I enjoy his enthusiasm during the games. Tim Thomas might be the most underappreciated athlete in this town. The guy is an incredible story, and to emerge as he has late in his career to win a Vezina trophy and seemingly a lock for a second, he’s without a doubt one of the best at his position in the sport. Despite of that, his unorthodox style and uneven playoff record have caused some to downplay his success. However, his performance in game five at the Garden, especially in the overtime periods, is one I will not forget anytime soon. I’m rooting for him to be successful as much as I am the Bruins.
I’m enjoying how the goalposts are being moved for the Celtics and their playoff success. Prior to this first round series, I heard a lot of talk in the media about how the Knicks were the “most dangerous lower seed” in the playoffs, and how they would push the Celtics to six or seven games and tired them out while the Bulls and Heat breezed through their first round series and rested up for the second round. Now, after the Celtics executed a four-game sweep of the Knicks, talk is about how the first two games were too close, and that they gave up a run in the second half of game four, and how the Knicks were just a bad team. Certainly, the injuries to Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire of the Knicks must be noted, but I feel the Celtics would’ve still prevailed in four even with those two on the floor for New York. Now, the Celtics have at least a full week of rest and practice on tap before beginning the second round. While many still want to pick at the Celtics and find negatives, I’m feeling pretty good about their chances going forward.
There was a mild media uproar in some corners over the fact that Bill Belichick did not schedule a session with the local media prior to the draft. Instead, the Patriots had Nick Caserio hold a session, which from all accounts was a success in terms of information and interest. Yet, there was still some rumbling over Belichick not being available. In the last week however, the head coach made time for personal sessions with Tom E. Curran, (CSNNE) Ian Rapoport, (Boston Herald) Shalise Manza Young (Boston Globe) and Mike Reiss (ESPN Boston). So while he may not have had a full group media session (which are mostly useless anyway) Belichick did provide access to himself for reporters who made the effort to contact him directly.
I enjoyed Peter Abraham’s feature on Jason Varitek this morning (Catcher was receptive) but it felt like it belonged more on the society pages than the sports section.
Do Dennis and Callahan have any clue how insecure their rants about ratings and media reporters last week made them seem? I doubt it.
Speaking of sports radio, I still have not settled on a preferred rotation between WEEI and 98.5. I suspect I’m not alone. In the mornings, I’m generally swapping between the two stations hoping to hear a good guest. If the hosts are just bantering between themselves, I’m inclined to click away. Mid-day’s I’ve been on Mut and Merloni quite a bit more than Gresh and Zo. I really don’t have anything against the latter, their show is good at times, especially if they have someone like Sean McAdam on the show. The bombastic, reactionary style sometimes turns me off though. The WEEI offering is still developing, but getting better. I find it ironic that in Scott Zolak and Lou Merloni, you’ve got two former local professional athletes, both backups, who were close friends to the star of the team in their era (Drew Bledsoe, Nomar Garciaparra) and who were popular among the fans, and turned that popularity into a media gig.
Both are also naturally much better at analyzing the sport they played than they are the other sports. I enjoy when either can bring their own experience as a professional athlete to bear on a certain current situation. Zolak perplexes me at times. I think he’s very good as a football analyst. On Patriots All Access, his segments are very good. On the radio at times, he’s completely different and nonsensical. Merloni seems to have a better rounded knowledge of sports along with the advantage of having grown up around here, following these teams. Still, I find myself cringing at times when he attempts to talk about a subject you can clearly tell he isn’t up on. Those moments need to be eliminated.
In the afternoons, recently I’ve had days where I couldn’t listen to either show. Both at times seem intent on killing the winter sports team they held the broadcast rights to. Glenn Ordway still cannot get over the trade of his binky, Kendrick Perkins, and firmly believes it will lead to the Celtics doom. Felger loves to knock Tim Thomas (though he lets up a little bit today on CSNNE.com) and pound on the Bruins failures. However, I can handle that, because the hockey talk seems the most genuine of any topic they discuss on that program. They hate basketball, so the talk on that subject is limited, Patriots talk is absurd, usually sometime solely aimed at pissing people off, and the baseball talk is uneven, seemingly focused mostly on Josh Beckett. I swear, every time I turn them on and the Red Sox are the topic, they’re talking about Josh Beckett. On WEEI, Michael Holley is getting more comfortable, but the addition of Mike Adams has almost pushed me away from that show completely. I find myself, at least for the hockey playoffs, going to Felger and Mazz more than the Big Show as of late.
Anyone else think it was odd that with the Bruins and Celtics in the middle of playoff series, the Boston Globe decided to send Dan Shaughnessy out West with the Red Sox for an April road trip?