John Henry Speaks Out On Felger and Mazz

Red Sox principal owner John Henry made a surprise visit to the Felger and Massarotti show this afternoon, after taking exception to how he and the organization were being characterized by the duo.

The interview was contentious at times, with the hosts asking very pointed questions of the Red Sox owner, and not always allowing him to finish an answer before moving to the next point. In the end, Henry stayed on the show for 90 minutes, and took every salvo launched at him.

The item that most will grab onto from this interview is Henry assertion that he did not support the move to sign Carl Crawford, a statement that has to have the outfielder feeling warm, fuzzy and wanted by his team.

This interview further cements Michael Felger’s spot atop the sports media landscape in Boston, and having Henry come to their studio instead of going to the flagship station of the Red Sox (WEEI) is a major coup as well.

 

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Sports Media Musings: Felger Relents, Sticks & Stones Debut, Links, Closing Thoughts on Sox

Putting Out the Fire

Michael Felger called his implication of Heidi Watney into the Red Sox mess “regrettable.” I thought it was wrong for Felger to talk about the alleged Watney/Varitek affair, and wrote as much yesterday. I understood his larger point: If the Red Sox are going to air out Terry Francona’s dirty laundry, then lets take a look at everyone’s issues.

Felger has also been riding the “Where were the media while Beckett & Co. were eating KFC, drinking BLs, and playing Halo in the midst of an epic collapse?” bus. And, to his credit, Felger didn’t fully concede his point. He stuck to his guns saying Watney is a team employee; therefore, should be subjected to some deal of scrutiny. Moreover, she was part of the aforementioned media who failed to serve the public on what was going on in the clubhouse.

To a degree, Watney perpetuated the scarlet letter stigma by going on WEEI’s “Planet Mikey” show last night. She had already said her piece on “Toucher & Rich” and the issue was cut and dry — Felgy was in the wrong.

One odd angle to the ordeal is Felger’s reaction to Joe Haggerty getting involved. He seemed perplexed his fellow CSNNE personality decided to give his two cents. Maybe Haggs saw it as an opportunity to kick CSNNE’s competition, NESN, while they were down. Or, maybe, the answer could have to do with their new partnership on “Sticks & Stones.”

Names Will Never Hurt Me

First they produced “Celtics Now.” Then they came out with “The Baseball Show.” Lastly, the largely successful “Quick Slants” debuted last fall. This week came the last of the “Big Four” sports franchises to have a program dedicated to it via CSNNE, as their new hockey show, “Sticks & Stones” debuted.

The show itself features host, Michael Felger, talking Bruins hockey. The show has an interactive twist with fans (a la “Quick Slants”); a player interview with Shawn Thorton (Think Jerod Mayo with Tom E. Curran. Again, a la “Quick Slants”); a national segment where Felger spars with writers in different cities (Sort of like his “Sports Sunday” segment, I think named, ‘Conference Call’); and finally a portion named, “Offsides with Joe Haggerty” — where Felger and CSNNE hockey insider, Joe Haggerty, dish with one another.

(Presumably, not about Heidi Watney. Though, that isn’t confirmed.)

The show will be fine. Another smart move by CSNNE for a few reasons:

1.) The NBA lockout creates a massive hole in programming for the network. Thus, coverage has to be allocated to other teams.

2.) It shows a committment to their “news gathering” agenda. The move also shows that CSNNE is serious about covering all four teams equally.

3.) After basically earning a draw in coverage after the Bruins Game 7 Stanley Cup victory with NESN, CSNNE has found a niche. This show will further explore how much of the Bruins fan-base the network can captivate (sans in-game coverage, of course).

4.) NBC & Versus own national coverage of the NHL. CSNNE , being a sister station, is wise to dedicate programming to hockey as it helps pool resources and bolsters advertising on both national and local scale for the product.

5.) The simulcast of “Felger & Mazz” on both 98.5 The Sports Hub and CSNNE is ideal. “The Sports Hub” was a major part, along with the team’s success, in the Bruins renaissance in recent years. “Felger & Mazz” and the rest of “The Sports Hub” line-up talk a great deal about the team since the station carries the games. “Sticks & Stones” reinforces continuity and synergy in the growing relationship between the radio station and cable network.

Things I’m Reading

Chris Gasper

I thought this was the best column I’ve ever read by Chris Gasper. Enjoyed the “Horrible Bosses” line and liked the sarcastic use of “magnanimous.” The only road I won’t travel with Gasper is his comparison of the Sox recent struggles to the Patriots playoff win drought.

The Red Sox won 89 and 90 games the last two seasons. The Patriots were 14-2 last year, and are 4-1 this season. Yes, neither team have done much in the way of post-season success — but the Patriots have sustained a Super Bowl contender in a league which eats, sleeps, and breathes parity. On the contrary, the Sox play with the second-highest payroll and can’t even make it to the dance.

Still, I really liked the piece.

Michael Schur

The Grantland scribe wonders how things would have been different if the Sox had won one more game here or there; then hypothesizes Boston is headed back to the good old days of pain, suffering, and negativity.

Ty Duffy

Duffy – who SI’s Richard Deitsch noted as rising star in a recent column – reaches a bit here, but questions ESPN’s influence on conference alignment and in particular Boston College.

The Last Something That Meant Anything

(I usually write about the media here. Like Tito did at the infamous presser, I’m going to deviate a tad. Please don’t pull a smear job on my way out)

I became a baseball atheist around 2008. The reason? Do you care? In that case..

  1. The game moves to slow.
  2. There are to many games in the season.
  3. The players aren’t relatable.

Don’t get me wrong, I still watch the Sox. I suppose this is (mostly) for two reasons: 1.) I write about sports; 2.) Sports in general are great conversational talking points — If you are at a bar or forced into conversation a great ice-breaker is “Did you catch the game last night?”

But, for the most part, baseball is monotonous to me. It’s NPR. And, worse off, things like Jack McKeon’s mandated bathroom pass with the ’03 Florida Marlins doesn’t even phase me.

(And that should phase me. What other profession requires a bathroom pass?)

The other three professional sports teams in the Hub? I’m all-in on. I watch the Patriots every Sunday with the intensity of a 20 year-old girl watching Kim Kardashian’s wedding special on E!. Same goes for the Bruins and the Celtics.

When thinking of why the vigor became indifference in terms of my fandom of the Sox, I think of Pedro Martinez leaving. Shortly after, I recall Keith Foulke turning from Godsend to the jerk that called the “Dale & Holley” show once a week. Then I think of Man-Ram leaving. About .022 seconds later, I think of Man-Ram failing his drug test. I don’t remember David Ortiz admitting to using PEDs, but I don’t remember him denying it either.

The 2004 World Series victory was like every New Years Eve. There is so much anticipation built up: What are you going to do differently this year?  What are your resolutions? After all, tomorrow is a new year, and a fresh start.

Only ’04 felt like the turn of the millenium, we weren’t quite sure what to expect with Y2k.

With two outs left in the 9th inning (or 10 seconds left in the year), more and more anticipation built up. Until, finally, the clock hit midnight Sox won the whole freakin’ thing. It was a new day!

Well, not really. You see, all of the incidents mentioned in the aftermath sullied one of the greatest sports moments in my whole life. The memories are furthermore tarnished with our Boston-bred GM, Theo Epstein, leaving then coming back — only to leave again. Not to mention the final days of Terry Francona being portrayed like a hapless manager dealing with a pill addiction and a failing marriage.

I’m not blaming ownership. Whether you like (or I like it) this is the group which broke the curse (twice, actually). And if you asked any Sox fan after Aaron Boone sent them into near-lunacy in 2003, they take all the bad that has happened in a heartbeat.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this — I’m not mad at the 2011 collapse. I’m mad the 2004 euphoria feels aloof, both in spirit and in accomplishment.

Brian McGrory Is Delusional, And Other Media Links

Brian McGrory really should never write about sports.

He really has no clue. He attempts to wax poetically about the time when the Red Sox were lovable losers, but can’t even manage a decent impression of Doris Kearns Goodwin in this regard.

Adrian Gonzalez is one of his targets, for supposedly complaining about the schedule, (He was actually answering a question from a reporter about whether the scheduled had been tough on him – comments that were made before the collapse, but held until after the season.) and then for his “God’s plan” comments, which Gordon Edes did a great job putting into context.

McGrory puts Gonzalez in the same category as Josh Beckett and John Lackey, and wants him gone. His solution to the Red Sox problems:

Build an entire team around Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Marco Scutaro. Don’t overspend, ever, on anyone from the outside. Your fans would rather lose 50 percent of the games with a scrappy, charismatic team than win 60 percent of the time with the flavorless jerks you seem to favor.

Wow. Where do we begin with this statement? What planet does he live on? Anyone notice a pattern about the four players he mentions? Do you think if McGrory actually knew that Scutaro is Venezuelan, not Italian (though of Italian descent, apparently), that he would’ve included him on this list? He does also know that Scutaro is an almost-36-year-old journeyman, not a guy you build around, right? I doubt it.

So what he’s saying, really here, is that Boston would LOVE a .500 team made up of scrappy light-skinned (has anyone other than a white athlete ever been called “scrappy?”) players who are demonstrative on the field, in the mold of Trot Nixon. We want that more than a winning team. OK.

What a complete joke Brian McGrory is.

Now that that is out of the way, here’s some media links from today:

As Fox’s pinch hitter, Francona connected – Chad Finn has Terry Francona talking his stint next to Joe Buck in the broadcast booth.

Media Roundup: Comcast SportsNet, NESN Beef Up Boston Bruins Coverage – On SB Nation Boston, I’ve got a look at new Bruins programming from CSNNE and NESN.

Sports Hub’s Michael Felger apologizes for Watney remark, sort of – The Names Blog on Boston.com has Felger feeling some regret for comments about Heidi Watney.

ESPN’s Chris Berman is serious about having fun – Bill Doyle catches up with the ESPN personality.

America’s Snitches’ Team – Michael Gee looks at the Bob Hohler article from the perspective of an ex-newspaper man.

Sports Media Musings: The Sports Lodge Is On Fire!

There are days when covering the local media is rather tedious. After all, there are only so many CHB columns, ESPN slip-ups, Grantland opinions, ‘radio war’ coverage, among other incidents to write about. Then there are days like October 12th, 2011.

Before we get to yesterday’s sh!show, I need to say how much I wish I was a fly on the wall in the Globe’s sports editor, Joe Sullivan, office the night before Bob Hohler’s in-depth, mostly off-the-record, evisceration of the 2011 BoSox was published. I can picture Sullivan with his staff much like the Commodore informing Jimmy, “We’re going to take back Atlantic City,” in “Boardwalk Empire.” (Don’t get the reference? Watch the show, and thank me later.)

What ensued the following day was high comedy. It began at the start of the mid-day shows on both WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub. WEEI’s “Mut & Merloni” program predictably started their 4 hours off by attacking the players; meanwhile, “The Sports Hub’s” show, “Gresh & Zo”, went after Red Sox ownership. Tensions reached an apex while Scott Zolak tended to an interview with Coach Bill Belichick, leaving Andy Gresh to accost the Sox ownership group in a LONG rant.

Gresh’s rant reminded me of a WWFE  heel doing a dragged out shoot. There were pauses, there was over-reaction, and there was Gresh – apparently so irate – standing in an empty CBS Scene. Gresh alluded to the “Non-Pink Hat” fans getting screwed. Then a texter messaged, “Where is Zolak? I can’t take this..” to which Gresh replied that said-messenger was “buying into” the propaganda.

(That, Or — he was just tired of Gresh’s soliloquy. One or the other.)

Even with Mike Giardi’s piece – released later in the day – the overall ire seemed to turn to a flippant aura. The subject matter changed to mostly how crappy you feel after you eat fried chicken. Then Michael Felger happened.

Felger believes the source for Hohler’s story came from the top. Consequently, in an attempt to prove why Red Sox ownership was out of line in leaking Terry Francona’s marriage and alleged pill addiction for reasons in the Sox demise, Felger tried calling out other people in the organization and their personal issues. Co-host Tony Massarotti demanded to know how John Henry’s three divorces have collectively impacted the team. Felger, as usual, took it one step further — calling into question Jason Varitek’s failed marriage and the rumor NESN sideline reporter, Heidi Watney, and the Red Sox captain had an affair.

I’m a Felger guy, as many of you know, and I generally like his acerbic tone. But, both journalistically speaking and from a general personal values belief system, it is fair to say Felger’s comments were not appropriate. One could argue Felger was saying what many believe: Watney is a more of a puppet, a la Greg Dickerson, than a team sideline reporter and rumors percolating about possible transgressions between her and Tek were definitely prevalent at one point. The former I have no problem with. Watney does have to maintain relationships, but the transparent conflict of interest between the NESN employee and the Red Sox hampers her ability to be a hardened journalist.

Hell, the relationship between the Red Sox and The Boston Globe hindered any of their reporters from disseminating information until after ESPNBoston and The Boston Herald broke the beer drinking story.

Watney could have pulled an Abraham/Cafardo and got a different byline to write the story while ‘contributing’ to the investigative piece, but even that isn’t likely. Instead all of these reporters are at the mercy of talk radio hosts….

Felger has a massive platform and should not have brought up the Watney/Varitek rumors. He isn’t Deadspin. This was media on media crime that wasn’t really necessary.

Watney, to her credit, fired back via Twitter..

@HeidiWatney Felger is completely off base on just about everything he is saying. Ridiculous and irresponsible

Watney also went on to note Felger isn’t in the clubhouse and only reports on rumors. I thought that would be it, but then fellow CSNNE employee, Joe Haggerty, came in with a flying elbow in Felger’s defense.

Looking forward to the first lesson in journalistic integrity from @HeidiWatney. She did write the definitive book on it, right?

It was on. Watney didn’t back down from a three-way dance..

@HackswithHaggs I don’t report gossip/rumors Joe… how’s that for integrity.

Haggerty came back for seconds, noting her lack of reporting during the collapse..

@HeidiWatney Given what was going inside clubhouse at Fenway while NESN cranked out happy calliope music, not sure exactly what U report on

And that was that. A bloodbath. Watney made an appearance on the “Toucher & Rich” show basically telling the hosts how disappointed she was over all of the ‘mudslinging’ going around both inside the Red Sox organization and also between media personalities. Haggerty’s defense of Felger seemed a bit off. I think it is fair to question her reporting, and that is all Haggerty did. But there are two separate issues here, and Watney has a right to be perturbed over the affair insinuation.

Either way, I’m sure CSNNE will be talking to both personalities about the incident. As far as Watney goes, I wouldn’t be shocked to hear rumors of her going national (maybe to the MLB Network) start to fire up.

Through all of this, I think the Globe’s Eric Wilbur (who had a great column yesterday)  put it best:

@GlobeEricWilbur:Players vs. coaches and management, now media vs. media. Welcome to your Red Sox offseason.

Bizzaro Boston: Shaughnessy Is On Point

You know things are screwed up around here when Dan Shaughnessy is 100% right in a column.

Wind of change

Many of you will still refuse to read it, and I understand that view completely. But Shaughnessy is completely correct today in his assessment of the Red Sox, how far they’ve fallen and where they stand. The vitriol is warranted.

One thing he doesn’t touch is the issue of the character assassination on Terry Francona, a subject that still has many seething.

Has the Globe finished their victory lap over yesterday’s piece yet? It was a big nauseating seeing all the promotion they put into it, even arranging a special mid-day chat with Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan, who lauded the ethics and professionalism and reporting in the story. Apparently Bob Hohler was supposed to do the chat, but had a conflict, and Sullivan said he felt very comfortable speaking for Hohler. Why not just wait for when Hohler was available and have him do the chat?

The whole situation has caused media on media crime, a subject Ryan Hadfield is going to explore in a bit, with the likes of Michael Felger and Heidi Watney going head-to-head with Joe Haggerty jumping on the pile, Junior Seau-style.

Exit, Epstein – Peter Abraham looks at the departure of Theo Epstein, who has agreed to join the Cubs. Jackie MacMullan says that even though we saw it coming, this move is still stunning.

Owners under microscope more than ever -Sean McAdam says that it “would be nice to get some clarity rather than the strange silence — beyond the dastardly, off-the-record sliming of exiting employees, that is — that has existed of late.”

Sox ownership showing its true colors: yellow – Mike Fine says that ownership has hit a new low.

Forget the wrecking ball: Red Sox unlikely to blow up roster in light of revelations – Alex Speier says that huge roster changes this offseason are likely impossible.

Clean up starts with Josh Beckett – John Tomase says that Beckett is most likely the one to get dealt in the offseason.

Cherington would have work cut out – Nick Cafardo looks at what Epstein’s apparent successor would be looking it in his first year. Scott Lauber has more on Cherington.

Empty feeling inside Fenway – Jon Couture says that Sox fans would be smart to keep their credit cards in their wallet this winter.

Special teams leads to bigger things – Chris Forsberg looks at how special teams led to a starring role for BenJarvis Green-Ellis. Julian Benbow looks at others on the Patriots roster who got their first chance on special teams.

In blink of eye, Tom Brady calls it as he sees it – Ian Rapoport looks at what goes into calling and changing a play at the line of scrimmage.

Pats must ready for another Ryan – Tim Whelan Jr. has the Patriots prepping to face a defense led by one of only two coaches to beat them last year.

Dez Bryant-Devin McCourty a select matchup – Karen Guregian notes that the 2010 draftees will always be connected.

Tip of the hat to Cowboy – Monique Walker’s notebook has Bill Belichick saying that it is fair to compare DeMarcus Ware with Lawrence Taylor. The Enterprise notebook from Glen Farley has Albert Haynesworth feeling like he’s improving. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport has Tony Romo speaking about his clutch failures.

Bruins in need of a remedy – Stephen Harris has the Bruins dropping another one, this time 3-2 on the road to the Hurricanes. Fluto Shinzawa also reports.

Losers All Around In Globe Article

I think we all expected that a tell-all about the 2011 Red Sox was coming, and I think we suspected that the Boston Globe – with their ties to Red Sox ownership – would be the outlet to provide it.

That article came today.

Inside the collapse – By Bob Hohler.

The article is being universally praised among media types this morning. (Well, Eric Wilbur doesn’t love it.) The article basically collects everything that has been previously reported about the team and puts it all into one place, with a few new details and revelations.

No one looks good in this article, and in some ways, that includes the Globe. Let’s look at the entities involved.

Players: The Red Sox players  deservedly take the most heat, especially the trio of John Lackey, Josh Beckett and disappointingly, Jon Lester. The story tells of their eating fried chicken and biscuits, drinking beer and playing video games while the Red Sox games were being played on the field. None of the three would comment on the story, and until they do, this issue is going to linger right through to spring training. Assuming of course that any or all of the three are still here. Other players are targeted as well. Kevin Youkilis is a grouch. David Ortiz whiner. The captain, Jason Varitek, chastised the Globe reporter when asked about the season. Adrian Gonzalez was not a leader in his first season with the team. Tim Wakefield was more interested in personal accomplishments than the team.

I don’t know how fair it would be to expect Gonzalez to come in and establish himself as a leader in a very established clubhouse in his first year with the team. Going forward, I expect him to prove himself in there, but for his first season, I’m not sure that’s fair. The only players to come out of this looking OK are really Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon. In my opinion, the team should build around those three plus Gonzalez and look at everyone else as expendable.

Manager: Terry Francona might come out the worst in this article, and that is unfortunate. I think there is an attempt to paint him in a sympathetic light, but the emphasis comes down on “pathetic.” There were rumors about Francona’s personal life swirling around various messageboards in the week following the season, and Hohler covers most of them here. The article portrays Francona as a “lame-duck manager, coping with personal issues, whose team partly tuned him out,’ and hints at a prescription drug problem for Francona. More on this later. In addition to losing power in the clubhouse and having his marriage fall apart, what’s the deal with mentioning the Francona was concerned about his son and son-in-law over in Afghanistan? What source contributed this, and with what motive? Is it a criticism that he was concerned? I don’t get it.

Francona though, is the only source (beyond Pedroia) that talked to Hohler on the record. If that isn’t a damnation of the entire Red Sox organization, I don’t know what is.

General Manager: Theo Epstein is only referenced in this article in the context of failed player acquisitions such as Carl Crawford. There is nothing about whether Epstein attempted to intervene as the season was slipping away or about his relationship with Francona and management. This is a little curious to me. It makes me think a couple of things 1) People didn’t want to talk about Theo given his uncertain future with the team, a comment either way could be personally damaging to the source should certain events happen, or 2) Larry Lucchino is at this moment huddled with Dan Shaughnessy working on the ultimate smear campaign against Theo, to be unleashed the second it is officially announced that Epstein is moving to the Cubs.

Ownership: These guys might come out the worst in the entire article, and not because that is the intent of Hohler. In fact, I think effort is made to deflect blame off ownership, but they do enough to make themselves look bad in this piece. A pair of paragraphs really stand out.

Sox owners soon suspected the team’s poor play was related to lingering resentment over the scheduling dispute, sources said. The owners responded by giving all the players $300 headphones and inviting them to enjoy a players-only night on principal owner John W. Henry’s yacht after they returned from a road trip Sept. 11.

Are they really saying here “Hey, we gave the millionaire ballplayers $300 headphones, what else are we supposed to do?” If the team was really exhausted and needing rest (and apparently partying too much) was a night party on the owner’s yacht a great idea?

Then there is this:

The owners also indicated in postseason remarks they were generally unaware of how deeply damaged the Sox had become until after the season. They denied being distracted by their expanding sports conglomerate – from the Sox and NESN to Roush Fenway Racing and the Liverpool Football Club – but they professed to have no knowledge about players drinking during games, among other issues.

Are they pleading ignorance here? The fish rots from the head down, and it certainly looks like ownership was less interested and involved in the product than they have been in years past. Did this send a message to the players, who sensed this and felt less accountability to themselves?

The Globe: Fair or not, I simply cannot read an article of this type from the Globe without wondering about the influence that ownership stake has in what is appearing on the pages of the paper. I’m also uncomfortable that just about everyone sourced in this article did so anonymously. What does that say about that organization?

I’m pissed at how Francona gets portrayed as basically a weak, powerless, pill-popping philanderer by nameless sources. Accurate or not, this just smacks of a smear campaign against a former employee on whom the organization is trying to heap as much blame as possible. So Francona, and now likely Epstein are both leaving of their own will. What does that say about the atmosphere over there? The portrayal of Francona can have career-impacting results, especially when he tries to get back into managing. You think the items raised in this article aren’t going to give prospective employers pause when they considered whether to hire him?

We may have the two World Series trophies now, but in so many ways, 2011 proved that these really are the same old Red Sox that we grew up with. Players change, managers change, ownership changes, reporters covering the team change, but it’s the same old Boston Red Sox.

Still, I suspect we haven’t heard the last of the 2011 Red Sox season. Just wait for the article that comes after the Epstein situation is fully resolved.

Bruins Sleepwalk Through Matinee, Patriots Grades In

Tuukka Rask was solid in net, but his teammates in front on him let him down, playing an uninspired brand of hockey which resulted in a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche yesterday afternoon.

Bruins need to wake from Cup dream – Joe Haggerty says that it is time for the Bruins to lay off the snooze button. Kevin Paul Dupont says that it is tough to give the Bruins a pass for this performance. Mick Colageo has the Stanley Cup hangover still lingering for the Bruins.

Tuukka Rask gets back in swing – Joe McDonald looks at a solid afternoon for the Bruins backup.

Team’s passion takes a holiday – Stephen Harris has the Bruins playing without edge or punch yesterday.

Both the Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa and the Herald notebook from Steve Conroy look at a quiet afternoon from the Bruins top line.

Making The Grades – Jets at Patriots – Jeremy Gottlieb on Patriots Daily leads off our list of Patriots/Jets Report cards. More grades from Ron Borges | Kirk Minihane | Jeff Howe | Hector Longo | Derek Havens | ESPNBoston | Boston.com

Pats going back-to-back with Ryan defenses – Tom E Curran has the Patriots getting set to go against another Ryan-led defense. Shalise Manza Young has more on this theme.

With Dallas looming, Patriots offense looks to sharpen things up – Christopher Price has the offense with some work to do heading into this week.

Pats hold ground, get off field – Ian Rapoport has the Patriots able to get the Jets off the field on Sunday. Kevin McNamara says that this performance was one that the team can build on.

Ihedigbo rises to occasion vs. former team – The Globe notebook has the former Jet making an impact for the Patriots. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport has a good week of practice paying off for the Patriots. The Patriots Journal has Aaron Hernandez and Albert Haynesworth making an impact in their returns. The Enterprise notebook from Glen Farley has more on the Patriots facing another Ryan defense.

Writing on wall for Red Sox to sack Chicago-bound Epstein – Gerry Callahan thinks that Theo Epstein will not be with the Red Sox for much longer.

Red Sox have an heir apparent at GM – If Epstein does go, Mike Fine thinks that his replacement is already in the system.

Farm system went dry for most of the season – Brian MacPherson looks at an unproductive season from the farm system.

Jonathan Papelbon bracing himself for the brave new world of free agency – Rob Bradford has the Red Sox closer pondering his future.