Celtics, Red Sox Finish Off Sweeps

What a difference a week makes. After seeing the Red Sox flop out of the gate, the Celtics fizzle down the stretch of the regular season, and the Bruins fall 0-2 to the hated Montreal Canadiens, things were pretty grim around here. Now the Celtics have finished off a four-game sweep of the (non)rival New York Knicks, the Red Sox are coming off of a 5-1 road trip, including a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Bruins have won three straight games, including two straight in overtime, to lead the Canadiens 3-2 in their first round series. Not a bad few days.  Not bad at all.

The ratings reflect this. Ken Fang over at FangsBites on BSMW, looks at how NESN and WCVB fared this weekend:

Stunning Ratings for Canadiens-Bruins & Celtics-Knicks

The Celtics ran out to a big third quarter lead yesterday, then lost a bit of an edge and let the Knicks get back into the game before closing things out for a 101-89 series-clinching win yesterday in New York. Get all the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

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Sweep stands as lesson for Celtics – Steve Bulpett says the Celtics can go away from this series knowing they’re going to need to be better in the second round.

Celtics on their game again – Jackie MacMullan says that the Celtics have flipped the switch.

Bench play bears fruit — a rest period – Bob Ryan gives props to the Celtics reserves.

Anybody else want to question Rajon Rondo? – Paul Flannery has the Celtics point guard destroying another detractor. Chris Forsberg has Rondo answering all challenges the Knicks threw his way.

Sweep Dreams – Natural cynic Michael Muldoon is wondering if the Celtics can beat the Heat.

Jermaine O’Neal does part – The stats are not overwhelming, but Mark Murphy’s notebook has the veteran center as a big part of the Celtics right now. The Globe notebook from Julian Benbow has Rondo making a huge statement with his play. The ProJo Celtics Journal has more on the bench finally contributing.

The Red Sox got eight shutout innings from former Angel John Lackey, as they rolled to a series sweep with a 7-0 win yesterday. Get all the news at RedSoxLinks.com.

John Lackey takes ire out on Angels – Gordon Edes has the Red sox righty pitching with an edge.

Momentous mound men – John Tomase examines the tremendous run the Red Sox starting pitchers are on. Sean McAdam has the staff digging the team out of the hole it dug itself at the start of the season.

Trying to uncover the reason it took so long for Carl Crawford to be Carl Crawford – Rob Bradford examines possible reasons for the outfielder’s slow start, which may be coming to an end.

Tasting Salty success – Scott Lauber’s notebook has Lackey giving credit to the young catcher, who is starting to feel more comfortable with the staff. The Globe notebook from Peter Abraham has Crawford hitting his first home run as a member of the Red Sox. Tim Britton’s Red Sox Journal has more on Crawford.

Bruins hope Game 5 winner signals better days ahead for their top line – Mike Loftus has the Bruins top line showing encouraging signs of life in game five.

Hard to stomach dull Habs – Stephen Harris isn’t a fan of the Canadiens style of play.

Pressure brought out their best – Fluto Shinzawa says that game five brought out the best in the Bruins stars.

Dennis Seidenberg wins endurance race – Rich Thompson’s notebook says that “Dennis Seidenberg is a German with the stamina of a Kenyan.” The Globe notebook from Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has more on Seidenberg. The Gatehouse notebook from Mike Loftus has the Bruins still working on that power play.

Patriots are in position – Bill Belichick talked with Shalise Manza Young over the weekend about this week’s draft.

The question remains: Will Pats run with Mark Ingram? – Christopher Price wonders if the Alabama running back is on the Patriots draft board.

Patriots have needs as annual NFL draft approaches – Glen Farley looks at what areas the Patriots are likely to address.

Kraft on ESPN Boston Radio today at 1:15 – Jonathan Kraft is a guest on ESPN Boston Radio with Adam Jones today.

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Bruins, Sox Go Extra For Big Wins

Both the Bruins and Red Sox needed some extra time last night, but they both managed to pull out road wins. The Bruins evened up their first round series with Montreal at 2 games apiece with a 5-4 OT win. The Red Sox beat the Angels 4-2 in 11 innings.

This is a little late, but there is some really good material today, and I tried to look at some different sources as well.

Get all the coverage at Bruinslinks.com and RedSoxLinks.com.

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Ryder’s goal in overtime squares series – Fluto Shinzawa has the story of the Bruins epic overtime win in Montreal to square the best of seven series at two. Get more on the game from Douglas Flynn | DJ Bean | Steve Conroy | Joe McDonald

When playoffs arrive, Bruins’ Ryder’s not just along for the ride – Matt Kalman notes that “no Bruins’ player has become more synonymous with the team’s failures over the last few seasons than Michael Ryder, yet no player has exceeded his regular-season performances with playoff brilliance more than Ryder.” More on Ryder from Joe Haggerty |Stephen Harris | Dan Hickling | James Murphy | Mick Colageo | Amanda Bruno

Julien’s timeout may prove to be of the season-saving variety – Jesse Connolly of New England Hockey Journal says that the Bruins coach may have saved his season (his job perhaps) with a timeout last night.

Somehow, getting it done – Kevin Paul Dupont examines “how crazy things have begun for the Bruins as they try to win their first Cup since 1972.”

Ference could pay a big price for gesture – Shinzawa’s notebook says that the Bruins defenseman could be looking at league punishment for his one-fingered gesture to the Montreal crowd. The Bruins Notebook from Steve Conroy has Chris Kelly leading a third-line charge that lifted the Bruins.

Extra effort lifts Red Sox over Angels – Scott Lauber has the gamer on the Red Sox win over the Angels.

The catching conundrum: What options do Sox have? – Alex Speier looks at what the Red Sox can do about their catching situation. Nick Cafardo says that now is not the time to make a change.

Sox’ littlest man comes up big – Sean McAdam has Dustin Pedroia coming up big in the win. John Tomase has more on Pedroia’s contributions.

Josh Beckett’s success is Sox’ good four-tune – John Tomase says that “last night Beckett provided some of the most compelling evidence yet that he is back, and in a big way.” Gordon Edes has the Sox leaning on Beckett for 125 pitches last night.

Lowrie making up for lost time – Peter Abraham’s notebook has the shortstop proving himself all over again. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber has Kevin Youkilis having to leave the game early after taking a foul ball off his shin. The CSNNE notes from Sean McAdam have more on the strong start from Beckett.

Iglesias has winning attitude – Michael Vega’s minor league notebook has a look at the shortstop phenom’s start at Pawtucket.

Where history has roots – Amalie Benjamin has a look at Madison Square Garden, and the historic basketball battles that have been held there. Chris Forsberg has Doc Rivers hoping to erase some bitter memories of the place. Steve Bulpett revisits some of the classic battles between the Celtics and Knicks.

Game 3 Keys: Get a rebound – Paul Flannery with a simple gameplan for the Celtics.

Rondo is on the attack for Celts – Scott Souza has the Celtics point guard with the series in his hands.

NBA player, Epsom teen share a loss and a game – Jim Fennell tells the touching story of a NH teen who caught the attention of NBA star Chris Paul.

Belichick says ’11 defensive line class is benchmark group – The Patriots coach tells Tom E Curran that this draft class is stocked at defensive linemen. Wait, I thought I was told repeatedly that Bill Belichick was not speaking to the local media before the draft?

Doing homework sets up Bill Belichick’s board – Hang on, he spoke with Ian Rapoport as well?

Cervasio at home back in New York – Chad (or is it Thad?) Finn checks in with the former NESN reporter, and looks at the latest radio ratings, which caused so much rancor yesterday.

WEEI’s D&C Strike Out at Competitors, Media Reporters

To open up their show this morning, Dennis and Callahan congratulated themselves on winning another ratings book, and struck out at competitors Toucher and Rich at 98.5 (though they never actually named them) and at media writers Jessica Heslam and Chad Finn of the Boston Herald and Boston Globe respectively.

Rather than having you listen to the entire segment, here are the highlights, and I figured we can let John and Gerry’s exact words be on the record and in print here. I do wish I could accurately portray the sarcasm, venom and whining that some of these statements were made with.

After some silly talk about “high body slams”, they said this:

JD – …We want to keep it subtle.

GC – We don’t want to gloat too much, but congratulations.

JD – We just want to wait for Jessica and Chad to write it, which they always do…

GC – The hell with them, We don’t care about them, we’ll announce it ourselves…

JD You know who we care about? We care about the people who made us # 1

GC – That’s true.

JD – The ones who appreciate what we do and like what we do and support what we do. AND by the way, for the record, and this needs to be said, this was the BOSTON rating book, not Providence, not NESN, these are not all the other stations, and I would dare say this, if you added up the people who are listening or watching on NESN and the entire radio network, including Providence, and including the station from Providence that comes up into the Boston signal area, the beatdown would be like bully beatdown. But this is just the Boston audience. Boston vs Boston, number one, I believe that’s seven books in a row.

GC It’s more than that, but it’s at least that many. We can go back and get the number if you want..

A few moments later, Callahan alluded to their demographic by saying:

GC – In our business, in our genre, the only thing that matters is men, and in men, in the winter ratings book, we won again. Congratulations Meterparel.

JD – What a minute, hang on, you mean being slightly ahead for like three weeks doesn’t count as something? REALLY. So we shouldn’t celebrate if we’re slightly ahead for three and half weeks?

After a few more comments referencing their competition lying to their listeners, D&C unloaded on media reporters, specifically Chad Finn.

GC You know what the amazing thing is, you could call a reporter, lie to them, he’ll run with it, the paper will correct it, I’ve been in that business for a long time, that’s the most embarrassing thing, a correction, to fix your mistake,

JD …and you still continue to carry the water…

GC – How that works, I don’t know. If someone lied to me, and I was forced, the paper,  you know, you’d obviously be called into the boss’ office, and he’d be like what the hell are you doing, don’t you check your facts, and then they run a correction, an official correction, and that would be painful, I would never forget it.

JD – Right, you’d be pissed at the person who erroneously who lied to you and gave you misinformation which went with into the paper…and yet some people say “That’s ok…as long as you call me back, and you remember my first name, isn’t THAD. “He didn’t call me Thad!”

GC – That’s how it works.

JD – I’ll just write some story and be your PR agent, basically.                                                                                    

GC – That is the height of unprofessionalism in this business, and kind of pathetic. ….wouldn’t you double-check it next time? It’s one thing to be corrected once, can you imagine being a writer and the newspaper was forced to run corrections multiple times?

Then they dipped into the area that has caused the most controversy. The allegations that WEEI tries to include numbers from Providence in their total ratings.

JD- That’s part of the lie, Gerry, that they’re counting people who listening in Providence.

GC – That’s never been true, and if you say that, you’re either stupid, or dishonest.

JD – As a clarification the Providence signal comes north. It doesn’t just go south to Rhode Island. It comes north to places like Canton, Stoughton, Randolph and places like that, and people can pick it up on the FM side.

GC – Why wouldn’t you? We don’t have the best signal, that’s another thing we’re proud of, overcoming that obstacle.

JD – So the Providence signal comes north into the Boston market, and so when they do count Providence, and this number one has nothing to do with it, nor did the last one or the seven before that, when they do count people who are listening in Boston, but on the Providence radio station, then the beatdown is significant.

GC  – Again, if you say there is anything deceiving about that, then you are either A) Stupid, or B) lying. Because you know if someone is sitting in, forget Canton, sitting right here in Brighton, and they happen to get the FM signal, and they listen to our show, you’re think for some reason they shouldn’t count?

This morning, on his Facebook page, 98.5 morning host Rich Shertenlieb posted the following:

THANKS for making Toucher & Rich #1 in ALL male demos in March. For the months of Jan Feb & March- We had 35% more Men 18-49 listeners & a whopping EIGHT TIMES more Men 18-34 listeners than WEEI. Time & time again, our listeners continue to show that they are hands down the most diehard and loyal in radio. Never seen anything like it. Thanks from all of us…even Wallach for letting us do what we do.

Sox Finally Get a Road Win

More meetings this morning make for short links. Get all the Red Sox coverage of their 5-3 win in Oakland over at RedSoxLinks.com.

Red Sox back on track, if not full speed – John Tomase says that now we can start seeing what this Red Sox team is really all about.

Closers future, past and present: How Sox relievers relate to their roles – Alex Speier with a look at the Red Sox relievers.

Red Sox bullpen handles road work – Gordon Edes has the bullpen key to yesterday’s win.

Clay Buchholz analyzes surge in HRs allowed – Scott Lauber’s notebook has Buccholz pondering reasons why he’s giving up more home runs in the early going. The Globe notebook from Peter Abraham has Jed Lowrie hoping his hitting can keep him in the lineup. The CSNNE notes from Sean McAdam have Buchholz pitching well enough to get the win.

Bruins have a tall mountain to climb tonight vs. Canadiens – Mike Colageo writes History says this series will end Saturday night in Boston.

Four keys to Bruins winning Game 4 – Joe McDonald looks at what the Bruins need to do to even up the series tonight.

Mark Recchi: Believe it – Steve Conroy has the 23-year veteran believing his team can take this series.

Coach as star: Rivers shines vs. Knicks – A. Sherrod Blakely has Doc Rivers the MVP of this series thus far. Dan Duggan says that the coach is always game-planning.

Inside the Celtics excellence of end-game execution – Paul Flannery examines the roles of Rivers and the players in their late-game execution.

How These Two White Guys Wound Up In This Kendrick Perkins Family Photo – Alan Siegel with a very nice story of how the former Celtics center befriended a couple of guys who ran a web site about him.

Plan needed for Tom Brady successor – Ian Rapoport with a look at what the Patriots could be thinking about the future. Karen Guregian has a look at a QB who could be the next Brady.

Son has been able to shine – Shalise Manza Young with a look at running back Mark Ingram, whose father is in jail for for money laundering and bank fraud.

 

Local Impacts of Comcast/NBC Merger

An early meeting that went late, along with the arrival of a Blackberry Playbook have sabotaged the morning links. Check CelticsLinks.com for all the coverage of last night’s Celtics win.

The recent combining of Comcast and NBC was a huge, controversial move that changes the face of network and cable television. It also will have an impact locally, some effects of which are already being seen, and others which may come down the line in time.

One item that has already happened is NBC using Comcast SportsNet personalities for national broadcasts. Carolyn Manno of CSNNE was utilized as a reporter during NBC’s recent “Hockey Day in America” event. In their release hyping the event, the NBC Sports group said the following:

Both “Hockey Day” and the “Heritage Classic” have been identified by NBCUniversal’s Marketing Council as cross-channel priorities. They will receive extensive promotion across NBC Universal’s 20 channels and more than 40 websites. These events for the first time leverage the newly-expanded resources of the NBC Sports Group by combining the national media assets of NBC Sports and VERSUS and the local insight from storied hockey markets like Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia served by Comcast SportsNet.

Another development along these same lines was the deal that NBC/Comcast just signed with the National Hockey League. This deal could impact NESN locally in terms of more nationally televised games, including the playoffs. Dick Ebersol, the Chairman of the NBC Sports Group said in a release announcing the agreement:  “What’s particularly exciting for us is not only the significant increase in regular season games, but the reality of a dream that every single playoff game will air on an NBC Sports Group platform.”

While an emphasis was made on NHL games increasing games by 200% on VERSUS, (which will be renamed to something with NBC in it sometime in the next 90 days) could a few Bruins playoff games be taken away from NESN and actually aired on their competitor here in New England, Comcast SportsNet? It sounds like a possibility.

In addition to the NHL, could NFL telecasts see an impact as well? When the Colts come into Gillette on December 4th, could you see local personalities involved with the broadcast? Utilized as reporters, or having segments prepared by or hosted from CSNNE studios?

Another item that NBC has been doing is creating local news sites around the country, much like ESPN has done with their local sites such as ESPNBoston.com. They’ve created sites in New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Diego. While there isn’t an NBCBoston.com just yet, on the sports side, they already have something substantial in place here with CSNNE.com. Could we see an integration there with CSNNE.com and NBC? You’ve already seen more NBC Sports content being used on CSNNE.com (Such as material from ProFootballTalk.com) and more is likely to come, especially on the hockey side, I would guess.

John Ourand of Sports Business Daily raised another possibility today. He reported today that CSN Bay Area will be producing live daily sports news segments for the over-the-air NBC affiliate in the Bay Area, which will air during the 6:00pm and 11:00pm newscasts. Ourand points out that this “could provide a model in other markets where Comcast owns an RSN and NBC owns a local broadcast affiliate.” CSNNE already does with the NECN newscasts. Could WHDH here in Boston go under a similar arrangement?

It is still very early on in this partnership, which is why so many of the above paragraphs ended with question marks. But one thing seems clear, we will see an impact here in our sports coverage as a result.

Bruins Score Early, Hang On To Get Back Into Series

It was crucial for the Bruins to score first last night if they wanted to have any chance of staying in this first round series with the Montreal Canadiens. They did just that, scoring the first three goals of the game, and hanging on to win 4-2, to make the series 2-1 in favor of Montreal.

Bruins’ Fast Start, Sense of Desperation Fuels Winning Effort to Get Back Into Series With Montreal – Douglas Flynn says that the Bruins at least have a fighting chance in this series now. Mick Colageo says that “Neither Zdeno Chara nor Tim Thomas were perfect, but they were masterful when it mattered most.” Steve Conroy has the Bruins taking “the first step in their recovery last night.”

Ice chopped up but win smooths things over – Kevin Paul Dupont says that even in the win, the Bruins “still displayed the kind of rough edges that all too often lead to playoff disaster.”

Desperate Bruins turn tables on Habs – Joe McDonald says that the Bruins “proved why desperate teams are dangerous in every aspect of the game.

Score one for Tim Thomas – Stephen Harris has the Bruins goaltender coming up big in the third period. Joe Haggerty has Thomas coming “through with save after save after glorious save” in the third period. James Murphy says that Claude Julien’s faith in Thomas was “rewarded with a gutsy performance from a goalie who always seems to tackle adversity head on.

Put Claude Julien blame on ice – Ron Borges wonders “Why is it always the coach’s fault when his players refuse to do what they’ve trained all their life to do?

When push comes to shove, Chris Kelly steps up – Steve Conroy’s notebook has Kelly sporting a shiner following the game, but getting the last laugh. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has a fast start the key to the game. The CSNNE notes from Joe Haggerty have Zdeno Charo looking better in his return to the ice. The Rapid Reaction notes from James Murphy have the first line of Horton, Krejci and Lucic finally delivering.

Matsuzaka Surprises, Impresses – Jeff Jacobs has Daisuke Matsuzaka coming through with a great start yesterday in beating the Blue Jays. Jon Couture notes a report that Dice-K was nervous prior to yesterday’s game.

10 Things We Learned as Sox, Daisuke found their way – Alex Speier has a look at what we’ve learned as the Red Sox won their third straight.

Jed Lowrie’s value appreciating – Ian Rapoport has the Red Sox shortstop continuing his torrid hitting with a 4-5 day. Mark Blaudschun says that “no one is looking for context regarding the Red Sox’ Jed Lowrie. That can come later if he can stay healthy, as well as productive, throughout an entire season.” Maureen Mullen says that “with the way Lowrie has been hitting, he should be a man with a spot somewhere  in the lineup.” Jeremy Lundblad has some impressive stats on Lowrie’s start to the season.

Carl Crawford shows signs of breaking out – Mike Fine’s notebook suggests that the new outfielder is ready to break out of his early-season slump. The Herald notebook from Dan Duggan has an RBI double off the wall in the sixth for Crawford a promising start. The Red Sox Journal from Brian MacPherson has more on Lowrie.  The Globe notebook from Michael Vega has Hideki Okajima glad to be back with the big club. The Rapid Reaction from Steven Krasner says that there is still plenty of room on the Red Sox bandwagon.

Game 2 Keys: Has the switch been permanently flipped? – Paul Flannery wonders if the Celtics have fully entered playoff mode.

O’Neal gives Celts big defensive presence – Scott Souza says that “Jermaine O’Neal has given the Celtics their last line of defense back.

No Billups a big problem for Celts? – Jimmy Toscano wonders if the Celtics will continue their unfortunate trend of losing when an opposing team is missing a key player. A. Sherrod Blakely says that the Celtics aren’t going to take the Knicks lightly without Billups.

Pierce focused on all-around game vs. Knicks – Blakely says that Pierce’s defense on Carmelo Anthony in this series will be just as important as his own offense.

Ray Allen still clutch shooter after all these years – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics guard defying time.

Bench needs to improve against Knicks – Jim Fenton’s notebook has the reserves needing to step up their game. The Globe notebook from Julian Benbow has more on Jermaine O’Neal’s presence in the middle. The Herald notebook  from Mark Murphy has things not looking good for Shaq.

Parcells phones in for a chat – You get the sense of wistful longing for the mid-1990’s from Mark Farinella as he recaps Bill Parcell’s conference call with the local media yesterday. More on the call from Karen Guregian | Tom E. Curran |  Glen Farley 

Teams hungry for Pats’ top picks – Karen Guregian has a recap of Bill Belichick’s interview on SIRIUS yesterday. Greg A. Bedard snidely sets up his recap of the interview by noting that “Bill Belichick, who won’t be talking to the local media before the draft, spoke for 16 minutes earlier today with Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller of Sirius NFL Radio.”

Bedard said the same thing on Twitter yesterday. I thought the Patriots did the local media a favor by having Nick Caserio hold a session with the locals last week, one that was extremely interesting and informative. Would he have prefered Belichick get up there and say nothing? Nothing is going to change guys, no matter how much you complain. (I suppose the same could be said for my complaining about their complaining.)