Celtics Win At Home, Bruins Win On The Road, Dell Debuts

Both local winter entries were victorious last night as the Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards 88-76 at the TD Garden, behind 23 points from Avery Bradley. The Bruins wrapped up their California tour with a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Celtics have plenty left in reserve – Mark Murphy has Bradley and Greg Stiemsma playing big roles for the depleted Celtics.

How good can Avery Bradley be for Celtics? – Paul Flannery looks at the potential of the second-year guard. Steve Bulpett says that Bradley’s performance is not a shock to his teammates.

Tacoma has provided Boston fans with Lester — and Bradley – Christopher Smith notes that Bradley and Jon Lester both hail from Tacoma, Washington.

When the W stands for weird – Peter May seemingly wasn’t impressed with the win, and Wiz coach Randy Wittman was not impressed with Bradley, offering some sour grapes after the game.

Bruins and Turco rain on Ducks – Kevin Paul Dupont looks at the Bruins win last night behind Marty Turco.

Looking at the healthy scratch debate and whether that was Marty Turco’s last start – DJ Bean thinks that could be the last start Turco gets with the Bruins.

Jenny Dell made her long-awaited NESN debut over the weekend – on tape. The first segment was an “interview” with Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy in which she talked about herself, and it almost seemed like she was interviewing for the job right then and there. She also had a segment with Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner. There may have been more, but that was all I stuck around for on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s a little puzzling to me how NESN has handled this transition. Dell has been getting well-placed raves for her professionalism and work in spring training, yet the network seemed hesitant to put her on the air. Lack on on-air experience was cited as a possible concern, but what better way to build that experience than by putting her on during some meaningless spring training games that aren’t drawing a large audience? Instead, they held her back, which had people wondering why she wasn’t on, and then made a fairly big deal of announcing when she would make her debut – upping the pressure, if the was feeling it – and then drew it out some more on Saturday.

I think once they start using her in the role she’s actually going to be doing, she’ll do fine. NESN could’ve just done a better job getting her on the air.

Debunking the power struggle and other spring Red Sox myths – Rob Bradford says there is no power struggle between Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington. There’s nothing to see here, nothing to see here…

New position for undecided Matt Light – Ron Borges talks to Matt Light, who is pondering retirement.

If only all coaches were like Erhardt – Mark Farinella remembers the former Patriots coach, and how he once posed for Farinella’s newspaper, unlike the current coach who is “treated as if he was Zeus seated atop Mt. Olympus.”

I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the outraged Tweets, blog posts and columns this week after Bill Belichick again skips the coaches breakfast at the NFL owner’s meetings.

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Celtics Win In Milwaukee, Media Links Abound

Michael Felger wept bitterly as the hated Boston Celtics beat his beloved Milwaukee Bucks 100-91. The Celtics return to Philadelphia tonight, the site of an absolute embarrassment on March 7th, and again have the opportunity to play for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Bobby Valentine continues to make noise in spring training, last night blasting New York manager Joe Girardi for not being willing to go to extra innings in a preseason game.

The Bruins lost to the San Jose Sharks 2-1 last night, but Joe Haggerty says that the play of Tim Thomas was a silver lining to the loss.

Things are looking up for Celtics – Paul Flannery says that the Celtics are on an upswing, and showing they’re capable of pulling a playoff surprise.

Celtics high on ego trip – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics continuing to find ways to win on the road.

Helping themselves looks to be Celtics’ move – Gary Washburn thinks that the Celtics inability to sign anyone of note in the last week could be a sign of what this summer might be like for the club. That’s depressing.

Bill Belichick knows when to fold ’em – Mike Reiss looks at the Patriots’ decision to part ways with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Mark Anderson.

Patriots owner big fan of offseason moves – Karen Guregian has Robert Kraft talking about his club’s offseason thus far.

Parnell’s legacy in good hands – Gordon Edes with a nice piece on former Sox lefty Mel Parnell and his connection with Jon Lester.

Carl Crawford’s new look on life (and the Red Sox) – Rob Bradford has the Red Sox outfielder finding enlightenment this spring.

Terry Francona ‘still trying to stop bleeding’ – Scott Lauber has the former Red Sox skipper arriving in Ft Myers with ESPN and talking about how his exit still stings. More from Francona by Nick Cafardo and Brian MacPherson.

Terry Francona, ESPN analyst, set to take share of flap – Bill Doyle’s media column looks at Francona’s adjustment to his new role.

In CBS broadcast booth, laughs come easily – Chad Finn talks with Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, and Lesley Visser about calling the NCAA Tournament, and has praise for Matt Chatham, which I heartily agree with.

ESPN Preps For Hockey’s Version Of March Madness – My SB Nation media column looks at the ESPN coverage of the NCAA Hockey Tournament, specifically the local teams in action this weekend.

Hitting the Course with Bricks – John Molori talks to NESN analyst Andy Brickley about his passion for golf.

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With Fenway Park’s 100th Anniversary just around the corner, PBS (WGBH locally) is airing a one-hour special on the hallowed park this Tuesday at 9p called “Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100.”

The National Geographic special, features interviews with columnist Mike Barnicle, author Glenn Stout, commentator Dick Flavin, and ESPN Senior Writer, Howard Bryant, along with archival footage and photos. The documentary uses a 2011 Red Sox Yankees game as the basis for telling the story of Fenway Park’s history through the years and also takes a behind the scenes look at the operational side of the ballpark. Oscar winning actor Matt Damon narrates the 54 minute documentary.

Edit – The documentary will also be shown at 10p Monday night.

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NESN’s new Red Sox Reporter Jenny Dell (@JennyDellNESN) will be officially introduced and welcomed to Red Sox Nation by Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy during NESN’s coverage of the Boston Red Sox – Philadelphia Phillies spring training game on Saturday, March 24th. NESN’s game coverage begins at 1:30 PM from JetBlue Park at Fenway South.

Boston Sports – Then And Now

Thanks to a message board reader, I came across this Frank Deford column in the July 13, 1970 edition of Sports Illustrated.

Who Are The Hub Men?

It’s about Boston’s refusal to build a public stadium in the city, which forced the Patriots to go and build in Foxborough. However, it is also an overview of the state of the teams in Boston and the mindset of the fans, and media:

In a section which talks about how people in the city recognize Red Sox players whereever they are out in public, Deford writes:

There is a reason for this phenomenon. Sam Cohen says that two things on the sports page sell papers in Boston. These are baseball and championship fights. Since interesting championship fights occur nowadays with the frequency of Halley’s Comet, there is a disposition in the Boston press to write about baseball. Eternally there is no off season. The stuff pours out like lava down Krakatoa. Newspapers may disappear in Boston, but not newspaper baseball writers—they come across the diamond in a phalanx. In Boston so much baseball is bombarded at the reading populace that it is difficult not to know a lot about the Sox even if you don’t want to.

Sounds familiar. So does this:

If Bobby Orr played with the Red Sox instead of the Bruins, they would have to build a new public library to hold his clippings. Even now, Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro appear to be regular features, like the horoscope or Dear Abby. Before he ever strode to home plate in a major league game, some kid infielder named Alvarado had been come at so many ways during spring training that he was beginning to resemble the bridge at Chappaquiddick. Was Alvarado ready? Should he play third base or short? Switch Petrocelli to third? Are you crazy? Will this affect Petrocelli? Will it, in fact, affect Petrocelli if he even thinks Alvarado is being considered for short? Will it affect Alvarado if he thinks Petrocelli is affected by this possible switch? What will this do to Petrocelli’s hitting? His fielding? Alvarado’s? What do teammates think of this situation? Opponents? Rival managers? Alvarado? Petrocelli? After weeks of all this, by which time Alvarado had become a name and psyche familiar to every man, woman and child in the area, the season opened with Petrocelli at short and Alvarado at third. By June Alvarado was back in the minors.

Replace “Avarado” with “Iglesias” and that situation might be a description of today.

Despite the overkill, Boston writers do not live up to their image. For one thing, their potential power is limited by the fact that the money and the eggheads still scorn the Boston papers, except for occasional ventures into The Christian Science Monitor. Tennis, which draws from the upper-class element, is likely better served by advance publicity in The New York Times than in local papers. Nor are Boston writers exceptionally critical. Many are downright avuncular. Only one, Clif Keane of the Globe, may be classified as a character. Certainly none resemble Dave Egan, “The Colonel,” who was the “Splendid Splinter’s” nemesis.

Irascible and unpredictable when in his cups, which was often, Egan was a child of mixed parentage—Hearst, out of Harvard. The conflicts showed. He had an almost brilliant capacity to infuriate, and he came, before his death in 1958, to personify The Boston Sportswriter. It was bad casting. In reality, Ted Williams created a monster. Not only did Williams drive Egan to escalate their feud, but the stature Williams gave Egan caused other writers to try to emulate him as a knock artist. None, however, could match The Colonel’s artistry of invective. “You couldn’t help but laugh,” Jackie Jensen says, “even if it was your best friend he was knocking.” Besides, Egan was not all the blackguard Williams made him out to be. He often stooped to mercy. He was an original and flamboyant defender of Williams when most Hub Men had taken it upon themselves to launch vicious personal attacks against him for being a draft dodger and unfit father. Moreover, The Colonel was an utterly charming man when sober, and then his writing could become almost gooey. “He used to write columns about me that would embarrass my mother,” Cousy says.

Today, instead of Dave Egan, we have Dan Shaughnessy.

Still, reading through the article it’s a good overview of the state of Boston sports in 1970. The Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots are all looked at. The article concludes this way:

As usual, Boston is not out of step; it is a step in front. It should not be called the only city that will not build a stadium. It should be known as the first city that refused to. Once again, the Hub Men are coming.

Sometimes, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Robert Kraft fought a similar battle to Billy Sullivan in trying to get a stadium built in Boston, and in the end, simply built another one in Foxborough.

Last fall, ESPN the Magazine devoted an entire issue to Boston sports. It’s interesting to compare some of the things written in 1970 to how things are today. In an article looking at the state of the Celtics, Ric Bucher wrote:

One game into the Heat playoff series, longtime Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy compared the Celtics to 74-year-old actor Morgan Freeman. At the end of the series, MassLive.com ran the headline: “The Death of a Dynasty That Never Was.” A video of two Boston writers debating the Celtics’ chances for another ring had one joking that it was possible only if “LeBron James will take off the fourth quarter in four of six playoff games.” A running September fan poll asking “How are you feeling about the Celtics?” on a scale of 10 to 100 sat for a time at 10 and never topped 50. That same month, when another blog asked, “Is This Already a Lost Season?” message-boarders said they’d prefer to lose the entire season to the lockout than witness banner-fail in a quest for an 18th title.

Then there was the introductory story to the issue, entitled Why Boston is better than you. The writer, Peter Keating draws a conclusion not unlike the one that Deford came up with above:

“This city has a passionate fan base and smart fans and a supply of intelligent people coming out of universities nearby,” Morey says. “Boston’s got the lead. And they’re going to hold it for a while.”

We’ll see.

Maybe The Media Can Now Move On From SpyGate

News came down a little while ago of the punishment handed out to the New Orleans Saints in the bounty program that was operated under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is now with the Rams.

  • Saints Head Coach Sean Payton is suspended for the entire 2012 season without pay.
  • Saints GM Mickey Loomis is suspends for eight games.
  • Saints Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt is suspended for six games without pay.
  • Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely, with Roger Goodell re-assessing the situation after the 2012 season.
  • The Saints give up their second round picks this season and next season.
  • The Saints franchise is fined $500,000.

There will also apparently be player discipline coming down at a later time.

This makes the Patriots 2007 punishment look like a slap on the wrist.

(Of course, for some, this will go the other way, and some will claim the Patriots got off too lightly and will call for a retroactive suspension of Bill Belichick.)

Edit…and we have a winner:

[blackbirdpie id=”182553603158970369″]

[blackbirdpie id=”182555696099893248″]

 

Celtics, Bruins Take A Breather, Bob Ryan Takes A Tour

The Celtics and Bruins had the night off last night, and have tonight off as well, a rare two night respite in their respective leagues.

The Celtics are still looking for a backup big man, needing to get their roster finalized before Friday’s playoff eligibility deadline. None of the available names are really intriguing, though Steve Bulpett drops the name of Reggie Evans out there, who would be an absolute perfect fit. I’m not sure why the Clippers would buy him out though.

The Bruins are still trying to figure out the best line combinations, while also seeing if Marty Turco can help them at all.

Plenty of bouncing around – Bob Ryan visited all 21 New England NCAA Division I basketball programs this winter, and files a report from each and every venue.

Who has the sports passion to do this type of piece when Ryan retires? No one.

What will the Patriots accomplishments in free agency mean for them come draft weekend? – Christopher Price examines how New England’s free agent signings could impact their draft plans.

There is no option, Patriots must put the ‘D’ back in their draft – Glen Farley says that the Patriots have no choice but to load up on defense in the draft.

Patriots still have big holes to fill – Like Tony Massarotti yesterday, Bill Burt doesn’t think the Patriots have addressed their needs this offseason.

Patriots fans will have something to cheer for – Jonathan Comey says that getting worked up over football in March is a futile exercise, though the chase for a championship is always worth it.

Rivalry stays the same – Ian Rapoport says that even though Peyton Manning will be in a new uniform, the rivalry with Tom Brady will carry over.

Who’s managing Bobby V? – Gordon Edes has a look at Bobby Valentine’s right-hand man, who keeps him on track and on schedule every day.

Will Valentine’s candor wear on Red Sox? – Sean McAdam notes that “with six media outlets traveling during the regular season and two all-sports radio stations on the lookout for topics to discuss.” Bobby V’s candor could prove problematic.

A retro fit for Matsuzaka – Nick Cafardo has Daisuke Matsuzaka enjoying his time working with Valentine thus far.

For starters, questions remain: An updated look at Red Sox rotation competition – Alex Speier updates us on the competition to round out the rotation.Ron Chimelis assigns power ratings to the candidates.

O’Neal: ‘I never spoke to [Ainge] about a buyout’ – A. Sherrod Blakely talks to Jermaine O’Neal about his time in Boston, and wanting to set the record straight about reports he requested a buyout so he could join the Heat.

Greg Stiemsma goes home – Bulpett has the rookie center talking about returning to his home state for the first time since joining the Celtics.

Bruins Blow Away Leafs, Celtics Hold Off Hawks

Both the Bruins and Celtics pulled out victories last night, but in much different fashion. The Bruins were in control from start to finish last night in a 8-0 romp over the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Celtics played an ugly game in Atlanta, used a fourth quarter run with some hot shooting from Ray Allen to build a double-digit lead, and then hung on for a 79-76 win over the Hawks.

The Patriots remained busy, signing tight end Daniel Fells, receiver Donte Stallworth, offensive lineman Robert Gallery and special teams/defensive back Marquice Cole.

Mike Reiss also broke the news that Logan Mankins played the end of the season on a partially torn ACL, which required surgery after the Super Bowl.

Local talk seems centered on Tim Tebow and speculation from ESPN’s John Clayton that the Patriots would be a favorite to land Tebow in a trade from the Broncos. Based on Tebow’s pre-draft dinner with Bill Belichick and his relationship with Josh McDaniels who drafted him with the Broncos, it might seem possible, but in reality the idea is rather far-fetched.

In addition, the Celtics announced that Jermaine O’Neal will undergo season-ended surgery on his wrist. The Celtics are in the market for a waived/bought out/free agent big man, but the picking will be slim.

Bruins Complete Season Sweep by Dominating Toronto, Regain a Bit of Their Swagger With Strong All-Around Effort – Douglas Flynn has the Bruins looking strong at the Garden last night.

Bruins showing lineups, methods for playoff run – Joe Haggerty has the Bruins looking to get serious.

‘Statement game’ a strong sendoff – Mick Colageo has five things to take away from last night.

Bruins feeling positive vibe – Jackie MacMullan has Tim Thomas saying that the Bruins are back on track.

Third watch: Kelly’s new line jells – Stephen Harris says that the re-emergence of the third line is key for the Bruins.

Thornton’s style: Praise from all corners – The Globe notebook has Shawn Thornton’s style appreciated by more than just his teammates. The Herald notebook from Steve Conroy says that Peter Chiarelli is done signing deals until after the season.

C’s warm up in Hotlanta – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics fighting through for this win.

Jermaine O’Neal can’t fulfill promise – Chris Forsberg looks at the failed era with the Celtics.

Bill Belichick’s master plan unfolds – Mike Reiss says that Bill Belichick is working towards his goal of a deep, competitive roster. Predictably, Tony Massarotti says he can’t discern whether the Patriots are better – or worse.

Tebow to the Pats? It’s up to Tebow – Bill Burt says that Tim Tebow will only be a Patriot if he is OK taking a lesser role.

What A Week It Was: Patriots Sign Lloyd, Manning Joins Broncos – George Cain reviews the week in the NFL.

With ace backing, Lester Sox’ Opening Day starter – Peter Abraham has Bobby Valentine naming the lefty as his opening day starter, and Josh Beckett to start the home opener.

Boston Red Sox must solidify pitching staff – Mike Fine says that getting the top of the rotation set is the easy part. Who will round out the staff is the real question.

Beyond the opening acts: Why Buchholz holds key to Red Sox rotation – Alex Speier says that beyond Lester and Beckett, Clay Buchholz is the real lynchpin to the rotation.

Mentors played key roles for Sox – John Tomase has several Red Sox talking about their baseball mentors.

Charlie Pierce on Manny, Boston Media

Interesting column from Charles P. Pierce on Grantland today.

St. Patrick’s Day With Manny Ramirez

In the column, Pierce takes a few paragraphs to recall how things ended in Boston for Manny. (Emphasis mine)

His last great run was in Boston, where he helped the Red Sox win the only two world championships that the team has won since 1918. It ended ugly there. Ramirez was accused, in no particular order, of being disloyal (for meeting New York Yankee Enrique Wilson after a game), of being violent (for an altercation with a clubhouse man), for jaking it with injuries, and, literally, for being opposed to veterans and to children with cancer. His achievements at the plate, where he hit 274 home runs, were attributed to his uncanny “natural” ability to hit the baseball in the middle of all the drama he created around himself. His talent was infantilized. He was a child genius on the field, and he was the personification of mature menace off it. That was the identity that attended him in Boston.

He was shuffled out of town during the 2008 season in a three-way deal that landed him with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The deal was attended by some strategic leaking from the Red Sox front office — something of an administrative trademark under present ownership — whereby the local media could exercise their tender consciences over the departed blight that was Manny Ramirez. His name was among those that turned up in the strategic leaking of the allegedly “confidential” results of a 2003 drug testing survey. When he failed a drug test with the Dodgers in 2009, half the Boston media took victory laps on his head. When he retired from baseball last year rather than face a 100-game suspension for failing another test, much of the national media followed.

(Ridding the Red Sox of bad characters was considered one of the triumphs of current Red Sox ownership. This view held until last autumn’s complete collapse, when it was discovered that several of the gritty gamers that management had brought in spent their time downing beers and chowing down on fried chicken during games. This, it appears, will be the topic of media outrage until approximately 2016.)

Ah, the good old days.

Let’s see, it was Dennis and Callahan who often stated that Manny hated kids with cancer, the infantilization of Manny’s talent pure Shaughnessy. We’ve gotten used to the “strategic leaking” from the Red Sox front office, and 2016 seems a minimum possible lifespan of the phrase “beer and fried chicken” in connection to the Red Sox.