The Case of the NALL vs the PLL and the Use of Media Behind it

By Marisa Ingemi

Most of the professional lacrosse leagues that the casual fan follows causes a stir. The National Lacrosse League isn’t on TV enough. Major League Lacrosse is slow. But what takes the cake is the case of the North American Lacrosse League and the Professional Lacrosse League.

The NALL was founded by former NLL commissioner Jim Jennings. The rest of the league looked incredibly solid. Scott Neiss, one of the smartest men in lacrosse and former NLL front office worker, was the assistant deputy to commissioner and Phil Evans, the former NBA D-League commissioner was the NALL commissioner. Graham D’Alvia, who is behind the USIL, the governing body of US Lacrosse, was a team owner along with former basketball owners Anthony Chase and Brett Vickers.

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Patriots Draft Potential: Wide Receivers

By Chris Warner

Our series on Patriots positions of need continues with a closer look at wide receivers. There’s a decent lineup of pass-catchers available beginning April 26, but Foxboro needs another pass-catcher like your grandmother needs another antique: only if a great one’s available at a reasonable price.

New England has 10 receivers on their current roster, but only two seem like locks to start (Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd). Special teams ace Matthew Slater is a receiver in name only. Last year, punt returner Julian Edelman touched only slightly more pigskin than a PETA volunteer. Veteran signees Anthony Gonzalez and Donte Stallworth are great pickups (oh, wait: it’s not 2007?).

Yes, the Patriots could use an injection of productive youth at the position. The question is, where do they look?

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Celtics win Atlantic Division, Red Sox lose third straight

No Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, or Michael Pietrus. No problem. Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley led the Celtics to a 102-98 win over the Orlando Magic to clinch their fifth straight Atlantic Division title. Pierce scored four of his game-high 29 points in the final 7.6 seconds to clinch the win. Pierce also dished out a career-high 14 assists.

Pierce got most of the postgame attention. Dan Duggan has how Pierce stepped up in Rondo’s absence. Frank Dell’Apa in his Celtics notebook says the rest paid off for the Celtics captain.

Paul Pierce dishes out The Truth– Chris Forsberg has how despite being banged up, Pierce single-handedly led the Celtics to the win.

Appreciating Paul Pierce’s season– Paul Flannery takes a look at the Celtics’ captain’s entire season.

Division title no thrill, but sign of progress– Mark Murphy in his Celtics notebook says winning the title is just step one for this Celtics team.

Emotional Doc salutes Pat Summitt– A. Sherrod Blakely has how Doc got emotional in his postgame press conference when asked a question about Pat Summitt, who stepped down as Tennessee’s women’s basketball coach on Wednesday.

The Red Sox dropped their third straight game, and were swept in a brief two-game series by the Texas Rangers. Josh Beckett delivered his second consecutive quality start, but it was not enough as the Red Sox fell 6-3. Once again, the bullpen struggled as Franklin Morrales gave up three runs in the eighth inning, only recording one out.

Offseason choices bring Red Sox no relief– Michael Silverman has how the Red Sox’ offseason moves for the bullpen are not working out after 12 games.

Besides Aceves as closer, bullpen still work in progress– Tim Britton says Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox are still trying to figure out what they have in the bullpen.

Bullpen woes plague Red Sox– Didler Morais has just how much the bullpen has struggled this week, and there should be concern with the Yankees coming to town.

A tick up, then down for Josh Beckett– Michael Silverman also looks at Josh Beckett’s start. While pitching well once again, he’d like to take back a pitch in the fourth inning.

Red Sox are sorely lacking because of injuries– Nick Cafardo looks at the 4-8 start for the Red Sox and says how injuries have played a major role.

The renovations that did not reshape Fenway Park– Alex Speier looks some renovation ideas at Fenway Park that were discussed, but never actually happened.

The Bruins and Capitals were off on Wednesday and will face off in Game 4 tonight where the Bruins will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Capitals coach Dale Hunter accused the Bruins of head hunting on Tuesday. Yesterday Claude Julien strongly refuted those claims.

Bruins-Capitals have been warned– DJ Bean has that with the suspension of Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom, and what has happened across the league, Brendan Shanahan has made it clear that he will not tolerate anything this postseason.

Bruins need Tyler Seguin to breakout– Ron Borges says that now is the time for the 20-year-old to make his presence known in the playoffs.

Looks like a cakewalk for Patriots– Tony Massarotti takes a look at the 2012 Patriots schedule and says 14-2 or 13-3 is what he is thinking at this point, a week before the NFL Draft.

Patriots Draft Potential: Running Backs

By Chris Warner

Our series on Patriots positions of need marches on with an inspection of available running backs. Though the team lost free agent Benjarvus Green-Ellis, second-year players Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen look primed to pick up much of that production.

New England returns Lil’ Danny Woodhead and adds fullbacks Spencer Larsen and Tony Fiammetta, the most fullbacks this team has had on the roster since 1978. (That’s not true, but you probably had to think about it.)

With youth and tested veterans at the position, would a draft pick end up as more than summer camp fodder? Let’s take a look.

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Boston Marathon Draws Strong Numbers For WBZ-TV

WBZ-TV offered up the following ratings numbers for Monday’s Boston Marathon:

Boston Marathon Elite Race Coverage (9:30AM-12:15PM)

  • Total Viewers: Elite race coverage averaged 143,400 viewers and peaked as the elite runners finished 12:00-12:15PM with 224,400 viewers.
  • Elite race coverage was #1 in the time period in households, total viewers, A25-54, M25-54, M18-49 and all 18-34 demos.

Boston Marathon Coverage (12:15-1:30PM)

  • “Rest of the Field” coverage was #2 in the time period households, total viewers, all 25-54 and 18-49 demos.

The Lou Merloni Conundrum

Here’s something I just don’t get about Lou Merloni – why does it seem like he’s trying way too hard to be just like every other sports radio/TV personality in town? Why does he spend his time pushing storylines, being negative and trying to create and further controversy?

He might try to be like everyone else, but he’s not. For the better part of a decade, nine seasons, Lou Merloni spent at least part of every season as a Major League Baseball player.

While he wasn’t an All Star, or even an everyday player, he made it. He did what 99% (or whatever the number is) of people who play sports could not do. He made it to the highest level. No one else on his station can make that claim, and of all the full-time hosts on the two sports radio stations in town, only Scott Zolak can make the same claim. (If fact, you can make the case that Zolak was the Lou Merloni of the NFL.)

As someone who made it, Merloni can speak of professional sports from a perspective that none of his colleagues can. He can offer perspective on what these athletes and teams face, and perhaps offer insight into why they struggle, or why they succeed.

Why doesn’t he?

Instead, we only get the standard sports radio storylines. We get an entire season of Merloni telling us how badly the Patriots suck. When he goes on TV and hosts Sports Tonight on CSNNE, he’s fostering discussions of controversies so transparent that Skip Bayless cringes.

Zolak, for all his shenanigans beside Andy Gresh, does offer regular nuggets of insight and perspective from his own playing career. Perhaps they get lost in the bluster of their show, but you can occasionally learn something from the show as well. I don’t get any of that from Merloni.

He started out strong. When Merloni first started appearing on WEEI, I felt like he was contributing from the perspective of a former player, not  as a member of the sports media. So where did it go? Did he morph into just another sports media member by osmosis?

I find it hard to believe that 98.5 and WEEI engaged in a bidding war for his services, as has been reported. WEEI kept Merloni, and after paying him big money, needed to carve out a full-time role for him. The result is the Mutt and Merloni show, which I think was unfair on both hosts. Chad Finn has noted that the pair had never worked together prior to their first show together.

At the time, WEEI was desperate to shake things up. They jettisoned Dale Arnold, and moved Michael Holley to the revamped Big Show alongside Glenn Ordway. That pairing after an equally abysmal start, has started to improve, mostly through Holley, who seems to finally be getting comfortable.

In hindsight, it seems like WEEI would’ve been better off keeping Arnold as the host of the midday show, and moving Merloni alongside him. I think the veteran Arnold would’ve gotten a lot more out of Merloni, and been able to draw on his playing experience more than Mike Mutnansky has. I’ve been a longtime booster and supporter of Mutnansky since his days in NH radio. I don’t think he was placed in a position to succeed, but he had to take it. Full-time sports radio gigs are like NFL head coaching jobs – there are only so many available, and if one is offered to you, you don’t turn it down, no matter how big of a mess you’re walking into.

But the bigger issue for me here is still why Lou Merloni seems to want to distance himself from the fact that for almost 10 years he was a Major League Baseball player. You hardly ever hear him talk about his playing career, when he’s joking with a former teammate like Kevin Millar over who had frosted tips first, that might be the only time you’d even be aware he played the game. You’d think he could tap into some contacts for information, but that doesn’t seem to happen either, this morning for example, when Mutnansky asked Merloni about some things we might see for Fenway 100, Merloni’s answer was “I have absolutely no clue.”and then repeated that. Not “I’ve asked around, and no one wants to spill the beans.” but just “I have no clue.” Well, thanks for that, Lou.

It’s a mystery to me why someone with the background that Merloni has would choose to completely ignore it, and instead go with the sensationalistic approach that everyone else locally seems to go with.  If you want to stand out and be different, pull rank on them, and use your experience to your advantage.

Patriots Draft Potential: Defensive Linemen

By Chris Warner

Today we preview potential Pats picks for defensive linemen, one of the team’s biggest areas of need (emphasis on “biggest”).

While New England boasts human doorstops Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love, the team has had a difficult time tracking down a long-term solution for a third upfront defender. Veterans like Gerard Warren have filled in well, but the Pats need a young run-stopper who can occupy blockers and provide consistent pressure.

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Bobby V Steals Show, Bruins Take Game 3

On Patriots Day, a day in which the Red Sox held their annual 11 a.m. game, the Bruins played Game 3 of their playoff series with the Capitals and there was the running of the 116th Boston Marathon, the biggest Boston sports story occurred off the field when Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called out third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

On Sunday night’s “Sports Xtra” on Ch. 7 WHDH, Valentine gave this quote regarding Youkilis:

“I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason. But [on Saturday] it seemed, you know, he’s seeing the ball well, got those two walks, got his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he’ll move on from there.”

Of course, plenty was made of the comments, including responses from Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, GM Ben Cherrington, and Bobby V himself.

A Sign that Maybe the Red Sox are a Team– Steve Buckley says that this could bring the team together and could use it as motivation, but also warns that they shouldn’t voice their displeasure too publicly.

Negative Response to Manager in Clubhouse– John Tomase has how Valentine has already taken the first step in losing the clubhouse.

For Red Sox a Matter of Trust– Gordon Edes has how the Valentine-Youkilis flap could weaken the seemingly fragile clubhouse.

What was Bobby Valentine Thinking?– Kirk Minihane calls this Valentine’s first real miss as Red Sox manager.

Valentine’s Criticism of Youkilis is no big deal– Jim Donaldson has a different take on things, and says it isn’t that big of a deal and is just Valentine’s style, which players aren’t used to.

It’s Business as Usual for Bobby Valentine– Dan Shaughnessy has his take on Valentine’s comments and then the teams’ reaction.

Strange Days: For Kevin Youkilis, 2012 off to a Perplexing Start– Alex Speier takes an in-depth look at the start of the 2012 season for the Red Sox third baseman.

As for the game itself, the Red Sox fell 1-0 in Daniel Bard’s second career major league start. The team had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, with the tying, and game-winning runs on base, but Cody Ross struck out to end the game in a questionable at bat, with pitches that were seemingly a foot outside called strikes.

For Daniel Bard, a disappointing decision and outcome, but a bigger picture– Alex Speier takes a look at Bard’s start and a decision to keep him in the game which ended up by hurting the team.

The Bruins and Capitals series picked up with a combined seven goals being scored, as well as some tension developing between the teams. Zdeno Chara’s goal with just under two minutes remaining gave the Bruins a 4-3 win and a 2-1 series lead. After struggling for offense in Games 1 and 2 Bruins coach Claude Julien mixed up the teams’ first two lines, separating Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.

Early on the Bruins played like Games 1 and 2, but as the game progressed the team picked up their intensity and started crashing the net. Kevin Paul Dupont has how just going to the net by lesser-known offensive players led to goals from Brian Rolston and Daniel Paille. Stephen Harris says good things happen when you put the puck on net.

Things got physical and testy for the first time in this series. The Capitals Nicklas Backstrom could face a suspension for receiving a match penalty after the final buzzer when he cross-checked Rich Peverley, and following the game Milan Lucic called out Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner.

Marchand and Lucic bring emotion to table in lieu of offense– Joe Haggerty has how even though these two players aren’t scoring they are still contributing in other ways.

Better late than never: Hits, words, hate for Bruins-Capitals– DJ Bean takes a look at how Game 3 brought out the best in the two teams and how in playoff hockey, the teams just don’t like each other.

Fiesty Fits Them– Ron Borges says the Bruins got back to playing like the Bruins that fans are used to seeing.

Seidenberg Makes Early Case for Conn Smythe– Matt Kalman takes a look at Dennis Seidenberg’s first three games of the series and says he is just continuing where he left off from last year’s Stanley Cup run.

 Joshua Cassidy turns in ride for the ages– Bob Ryan takes a look at the Boston Marathon’s men wheelchair winner Joshua Cassidy from Canada, and how he blew away the field.

Bruins Get NESN Off To A Strong Start In Ratings

From NESN:

NESN’s coverage of the Bruins 1-0 overtime win over the Capitals in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game #1 set a new first game of a playoff series ratings record for NESN with a 11.6 average household rating in the Boston DMA and a 19.3 share. The 11.6 rating is also the 7th highest Bruins playoff rating in NESN history.

NESN’s coverage of the Bruins-Capitals series continues on Saturday (4/14) with one hour of pre-game coverage from TD Garden beginning at 2 pm with Bruins Face-Off LIVE. Dale Arnold, Gord Kluzak, Jack Edwards, Andy Brickley and Naoko Funayama will team up for NESN’s pre and post-game coverage. NESN will also deliver complete post-game coverage immediately after the game on NESNplus with Bruins Overtime LIVE presented by Ace Ticket. Fans can visit for the NESNplus channel in their area.

Bruins Take OT Opener, Sox Open Fenway Today

Chris Kelly scored the game-winning goal in overtime last night as the Bruins took a 1-0 series lead over the Washington Capitals with a 1-0 win at TD Garden.

B’s-Caps shaping up as goalie duel – Joe McDonald thinks that last night’s game portends a tight series.

Kelly speaks softly and carries a big stick – Joe Haggerty has Kelly as the humble hero once again. DJ Bean has Kelly once again delivering more than he’s willing to give himself credit for. Stephen Harris has Kelly as the first recipient of the silver medal chain giving by his teammates to the player of the game. Mick Colageo has more on Kelly, and five things we learned last night.

Opening act was a dandy – Bob Ryan says that last night showed us that it’s going to be a long, hard road to the finals.

Tim Thomas poised at all points – Ron Borges has the goaltender remaining focused and getting the shutout despite facing only seven shots in the first two periods.

Dennis Seidenberg Sets Tone Early with Entertaining Running Battle with Alex Ovechkin in Game 1 Win – Douglas Flynn has the Bruins defenseman and the Capitals star trading blows early.

B’s man-up struggles continue – Steve Conroy has the power play continuing to struggle for the Bruins. Fluto Shinzawa has Claude Julien not afraid to turn to Joe Corvo if needed. The Bruins Journal from Matt Kalman has Ovechkin being held in check by the Bruins defense.

This afternoon is the Red Sox Home Opener and with it begin all the tributes to Fenway Park. Hopefully those can overshadow just how dreadful the team has been thus far.The question for today appears to be cheers or boos, or boo or cheer?

How (and why) the 2012 Red Sox were built this way – Alex Speier looks at how we ended up with this group of players.

After 100 years, Fenway matters – Historian Glenn Stout tells us why Fenway is still important.

Five reasons to cut Sox some slack – Gordon Edes attempts to reason with the angry mob.

The genius of Doc Rivers, a true player’s coach – Paul Flannery looks at one of the reasons the Celtics coach is the best in the game.

Veteran RB Kevin Faulk not ready to retire just yet – Karen Guregian has the veteran hoping for one more year with the Patriots, something he stated in a Q&A with reporters yesterday.

Santos facing uncertainty – Chad Finn reports on a serious health scare for Gil Santos, which may force him to retire from the Patriots broadcast booth.

NBC, NESN, CSNNE Gear Up For Bruins’ Playoff Push – In my SB Nation Boston Media column, I’m looking at the embarrassment of riches that Bruins fans have in the coverage of the NHL playoffs.