A Far-Too-Early Patriots Roster Preview (Bias Included)

Now that New England’s rookie mini-camp has wrapped up, it’s high time we put together the roster for 2012.

(Is it really high time? No, not at all. But with all these players in Foxboro, the temptation proved too much.)

Keep reading this post

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Celtics rout 76ers, Red Sox fall to Rays

After two one-point games to begin their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Celtics blew out the 76ers 107-91 Wednesday night in Philadelphia to take a 2-1 series lead. The Celtics used a 22-6 run in the second quarter to run away from the young Sixers team. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo combined to score 74 of the 107 points. Garnett led the team with a game-high 27 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. Pierce poured in 24 points and added 12 rebounds, while Rondo also had a double-double scoring 23 points and dishing out 14 assists.

Celtics send clear-cut message– Chris Forsberg has Wednesday night’s rout being a statement game for the team.

Angry Celtics send a message– Paul Flannery looks at the Celtics’ dominating performance.

Celtics paint pretty picture– Mark Murphy says the Celtics trusted what has worked for them ever since the All-Star break in Wednesday’s 16-point win.

Unrelenting defense flexed its muscle too– Gary Washburn has the Celtics’ defense being just as dominant as the offense in the win.

Rajon Rondo attacks at will– Dan Duggan looks at the Celtics point guard’s performance.

Celts land on the inside– Steve Bulpett has the Celtics big men getting the job done in the win.

Paul Pierce overcomes injury, 76ers– Ron Borges has Pierce overcoming his injury and coming up big when the team needed him most.

It’s clear what team is better, and they know it– Dan Shaughnessy has after Wednesday night’s game there is no question who the better overall team is.

The Red Sox saw their five-game winning streak come to and end with a 2-1 loss to the Rays Wednesday night at Tropicana Field. The team did get another strong outing from their starting pitcher as Clay Buchholz went five innings, scattering five hits, allowing two earned runs and striking out five. He did balk home the Rays first run in the second inning.

Buchholz has roller coaster evening– Sean McAdam looks at the Red Sox starter’s outing, in which although was shaky at times, was a step in the right direction for the Red Sox righty.

Red Sox pay for a misplay– Scott Lauber looks at the play in which Cody Ross misjudged a fly ball where the Rays scored their second and game-winning run.

Not all the right moves– Nick Cafardo has how balks are becoming an issue for the Red Sox pitching staff.

Difficult math in this division– John Tomase looks at the competitive AL East, in which right now there isn’t much difference from the first place team and the last place team.

Also, a big topic of discussion the past few days has been Curt Schilling’s situation in Rhode Island with his video game venture, 38 Studios. The company missed its loan payment of just over $1.1 million to the state on May 1.

The hypocrisy of Curt Schilling– Kirk Minihane looks at the situation and Schilling’s past.

In case you missed this yesterday, here is Rob Bradford’s piece following his interview with former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. There is some pretty interesting stuff in here including Papelbon going by “Cinco Ocho” now, his dislike for the Red Sox medical staff, when he knew he wouldn’t be returning as a member of the Red Sox and looking back, if he thinks he made the right decision leaving Boston. This was a good get by Bradford, getting to Papelbon before the rest of the Boston media descend on Philadelphia this weekend as the Red Sox and Phillies get together for the beginning of interleague play.

 

Examining How Bill Belchick and Doc Rivers Talk With The Media About Injuries

They are both among the longest-tenured head coaches in their respective leagues. They have both won conference and league championships. They both seemingly manage to get more out of their teams than the roster talent would indicate.

But when it comes to dealing with the media, Bill Belichick and Doc Rivers could not be more different.

Or are they more alike than a surface examination would show?

Doc Rivers was recently named the recipient of the Rudy Tomjanovich Award – a honor given from the Professional Basketball Writers Association to the head coach considered the most accessible to the media.

Bill Belichick is never in danger of being awarded the Horrigan Award from the Professional Football Writers of America, which goes “to the person whose qualities and professional style helped the media best do its job last season.” Guess who won last year? (Professional style? Ha.)

(As an aside, how ridiculous is it that these awards exist in the first place? It seems a little self-important for the media to be honoring people who make their jobs the easiest.)

While their approaches with the media are certainly different, you can’t argue with the results.

Belichick does not give away information on the day-to-day operation of his team, whether it be about injuries, the opponent, or what color jerseys his team is wearing that Sunday. He will almost never criticize a specific player publicly, instead putting the blame on the entire team, including the coaches and himself. Belichick will, from time to time, speak at length about the history of a certain strategy, or about players of the past, or will acknowledge something in the personal life of a media member (as he did by noting Monique Walker’s last day on the beat this season.) His press conferences, especially after a game, can be painful. He doesn’t elaborate on anything, does not want to speak about certain plays or performances until he has a chance to review the film. His weekly radio spots with WEEI are a little more open and cordial, though he still does not give away much.

Rivers talks openly about injuries. (sort of, more on that in a bit.) He’ll be critical of his players publicly. His press conferences are informative, engaging and smooth. His weekly spots on WEEI are appointment radio.

Both are successful, showing that there is more than one way to do things.

Let’s get back to injuries. The Patriots policies on information about injuries can be infuriating when, as a fan, you want to know how hurt a player is, and what the impact, long and short-term is going to be. But after a few days, it becomes “out of sight, out of mind.” The injured players are “day-to-day,” with no timetable set on a return.  The focus is turned onto the players who are playing. In addition to keeping fans and media guessing, it also keeps opponents in the dark, which is the real reason for the policy. Injuries never become an all-consuming drama.

If I have a frustration with the Celtics, and Doc Rivers (and Danny Ainge) it is how they deal with injuries. They talk about them, but in reality, they’re not giving you much more than the Patriots do. The release last week about Paul Pierce’s MCL was a bit of a surprise, it was also obvious that Pierce had a knee injury. (Well, except to foil-hat Felger.) In general, the Celtics will give almost daily updates on injuries without giving you any information.

Let me give two examples: Kevin Garnett in the 2009 playoffs, and Shaquille O’Neal last season. In both cases, you got daily updates which told you absolutely nothing. With KG, every day there was talk about being day-to-day or getting “close” or wanting to play. First there was talk about whether he would be ready for the playoffs, which Ainge and Rivers said he would be. Then as each game went by, KG was said to be “close.

He never stepped on the court for the Celtics in the 2009 playoffs.

Last season, it was Shaq. Following the trade of Kendrick Perkins, Danny Ainge repeated said that the trade was made in part because they expected Shaq (and to a lesser extent, Jermaine O’Neal) to fill the center spot. We got daily and weekly updates on Shaq, and how close he was to returning. Rivers talked about it, but Shaq never really came back, making just a token appearance in the playoffs (2 games, 2 points total) and obviously never being a factor.

If you think about it,  in the end, the practices of Doc Rivers and Bill Belichick when it comes to information about injuries, really have the same endgame. They tell you nothing. They do it to keep people guessing.

Celtics ownership infamously joked/bragged that they were being Belichickian during the KG injury. They knew the severity of Garnett’s injury, but played the “day-to-day” game to keep opponents guessing. In the endgame, perhaps it was Belichick-like, but the method of getting there was about as far from Belichick as you could get.

The difference between the Rivers method and the Belichick method is that Doc Rivers is going to sit in front of reporters and talk about the situation, seemingly being helpful, yet saying nothing, while Belichick is not even going to bother playing that game. But Rivers is lauded and awarded for being “helpful” to the media, while Belichick is mocked, and reporters gripe about not getting any information from him.

I actually prefer the Belichick way of doing things. The KG and Shaq sagas were painful. Every day it seemed like the player was very close to coming back, yet it didn’t happen. Hopes were raised, the frustrations grew as the weeks went by. Had it been Belichick handling it, it wouldn’t have been the same huge topic. Focus would be on the players who were actually playing. If the injured players came back, it would be a pleasant surprise and a bonus, perhaps even a lift to the team.

While Doc Rivers is definitely more media friendly and is certainly always accessible, part of him is more like Bill Belichick than it would seem. Let’s keep this mind next time you hear Rivers praised for his accessibility and willingness to talk about injuries, and the next time a reporter dumps on Belichick for refusing to talk about injuries.

Just Curious…

Did anyone else laugh out loud at these lines from Nick Cafardo on the Kevin Youkilis/Will Middlebrooks situation:

Sunday:

It should be Valentine’s decision as to whether Youkilis gets his job back, and nobody else’s.

Today:

The Drew Bledsoe-Tom Brady analogy is somewhat pertinent in this case. Bill Belichick had just about reached the end of the line with Bledsoe and when Brady took over and performed so well, it was an easy decision.

Those are somewhat different sentiments than Nick had at the time of the Bledsoe/Brady debate.

From November 21st, 2001.

The principals in the Confrontational Conference at Foxborough – that would be heavy-handed head coach Bill Belichick and once-upon-a-time starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe – were asked yesterday in separate interviews how they would characterize Bledsoe’s emotions in the meeting Monday in which the coach told Bledsoe he was going with replacement Tom Brady as his starter the rest of the season.

And a little bit later on in the same column:

Belichick’s pronouncement came at an awkward time, just after Brady had played his second consecutive subpar game, a 24-17 loss to the Rams Sunday night. Brady is 5-3 as a starter but has shown obvious decline in the last four games.

If Brady was performing “subpar” and in “obvious decline” it doesn’t really sound like an “easy decision” like Nick makes it out to be, 10 years later.

Valentine gets free reign in making the decision on Youkilis, but Belichick was “heavy-handed” in making his decision.

Celtics fall in Game 2, Red Sox win fourth straight

In yet another one-point game between the Celtics and 76ers, this time it was the 76ers coming out on top, defeating the Celtics 82-81, evening the series at one Monday night at TD Garden. In what was an ugly game most of the way, the offense picked up during the last five minutes. An offensive foul call on Kevin Garnett for an illegal screen with ten seconds left in regulation and the Celtics trailing by three, ended the Celtics’ hopes of pulling out a win. It was also a major discussion following the game. Games 3 and 4 are Wednesday and Friday in Philadelphia.

Celtics ignore Kevin Garnett til 4th quarter– Steve Bulpett says the Celtics should have gone to their big man more during the game.

Celtics make bad decision– Mark Murphy looks at the offensive foul call on Garnett being one of the many mistakes the Celtics made.

After ugly effort, Celts can only wonder if loss will haunt them– Bill Reynolds has an 11-point third quarter hurt the Celtics in their one-point loss.

For Celtics, one that got away– Paul Flannery looks at Game 2, a game the Celtics certainly had their chances to win in.

Celtics’ experience doesn’t pay– Chris Forsberg has bad execution down the stretch hurting the Celtics and their chances to win.

Paul Pierce, Celtics aren’t right in Game 2– Chad Finn says Paul Pierce’s injury is limiting the Celtics captain and also effecting the team.

Pierce: ‘The knee was fine’– Jessica Camerato has Pierce not making any excuses for Monday’s 7-point performance.

No matter the outcome, Celtics must convince themselves of the process– Gary Dzen looks at the Celtics’ reactions following the game and looks ahead to the remainder of the series.

This time, Celtics couldn’t close it out– Bob Ryan has the only difference between Game 2 and Game 1 was the Celtics not closing it out down the stretch.

Behind a complete game performance from Jon Lester, the Red Sox defeated the Mariners 6-1 Monday night at Fenway Park. With the win the Red Sox have now won four games in a row. Daniel Nava and Kelly Shoppach both homered for the home team. The two teams will play again this afternoon on Tim Wakefield day. Josh Beckett will take to the hill for the Red Sox.

Lester’s gem just what the Red Sox ordered– Maureen Mullen looks at Lester’s impressive performance in Monday’s win.

Jon Lester’s gem continues Red Sox rotation turnaround– Didler Morais has Lester’s outing being the fourth straight good outing from a Red Sox starting pitcher.

Still the one: Jon Lester’s season has a familiar top-of-the-rotation shape– Alex Speier looks at this season compared to Lester’s first four seasons, and  notes his start is very much in line with career norms.

Red Sox in complete control– Michael Silverman has getting good solid pitching has been the key to the teams’ four game winning streak.

Decision day looming– Silverman also looks at the decision the Red Sox face when Kevin Youkilis returns from the disabled list and what to do with Will Middlebrooks.

Should Youkilis be handed his job back?– Nick Cafardo examines the dilemma of what to do with both Youkilis and Middlebrooks.

Lester is on board; is Beckett– Joe McDonald looks ahead to Josh Beckett’s start today and asks if he can continue the trend of good outings by starting pitchers.

Old Rivals Boston, Philadelphia To Meet In Eastern Semis

The Celtics provided a brief respite from the scopious Josh Beckett coverage with their thrilling 93-90 series-clinching win over the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden. The post game coverage on CSNNE was thorough, but they still could not help themselves by incessantly teasing upcoming Beckett coverage on UNO Sports Tonight by popping Michael Felger up on the screen, hardly unable to contain his joy.

Of course, earlier in the day on his radio show, Felger was proposing at trade of Beckett and Kevin Youkilis to HIS Milwaukee Brewers. He’d love to have Beckett on his team, but just feels he’s all wrong for this team and this city. Right.

Get all the Celtics coverage over at CelticsLinks.com.

The Celtics have moved on to the second round of the playoffs, where they will face their historic rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers, who bumped off the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in their first round series. Game one is Saturday night.

The Patriots are holding rookie camp this weekend, and also finalized their coaching staff yesterday. Check for updates at PatriotsLinks.com.

A couple of media links for a Friday:

Jerry Trupiano’s son tries to get his father Astros job – Chad Finn (subscription now required) has the son of the former Red Sox radio voice lining up support from the likes of Joe Buck and Jim Nantz in an effort to get his dad back in an MLB play-by-play booth.

Media Roundup: Boston Red Sox Are Great … At Being Terrible – My SB Nation Boston column has the team’s struggles proving to be a gold mine for local sports talkers.

If you’re going to read one column on Josh Beckett and accountability, make it this one: On Accountability.

Finally Some Friday Megalinks

Let’s do some Friday megalinks. You’ve been owed some and I haven’t been able to do links at the Fang’s Bites BSMW page for most of the week.

Of course, you have the Weekend Viewing Picks which provide plenty of college sports, soccer, baseball and the NBA and NHL postseason action.

Now let’s do your links.

National

Michael Hiestand of USA Today explores Jason La Canfora’s decision to leave NFL Network and bolt to CBS.

Media Rantz looks into the potential departure of Michelle Beadle from ESPN to NBC.

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch says E! will produce a special on New York Jets QB Tim Tebow.

Ed Sherman at The Sherman Report hears from a Fox Soccer executive on why the Fox Sports Media Group chose to air so many English Premier League games on the final day of the season.

Michael David Smith at Pro Football Talk writes that despite reports to the contrary, it appears that the New York Jets won’t make another appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer.

Eriq Gardner at the Hollywood Reporter says a group of fans have filed a class action lawsuit against MLB and its TV partners on the antiquated and silly blackout policy.

Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel says while the Minnesota Vikings will finally get their long-awaited stadium, one state legislator attempted to sneak a bill ending all local NFL blackouts. I think that was a great idea.

Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News/Broadcasting & Cable writes the long-anticipated Time Warner Cable Los Angeles Lakers-centric regional sports network will launch in October.

At Adweek, Anthony Crupi writes that Fox has sold out its ad inventory for the UEFA Champions League Final.

Thomas Pardee of Advertising Age says social media is changing the way we watch sports.

In the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center, Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times says there are times when the N-word should to be published in full.

Eric Goldschein at SportsGrid says CBC Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean stretched his analogy too far in comparing the 9/11 First Responders to NHL players this week.

Jason Dachman of Sports Video Group looks at NBC/Golf Channel’s joint production of this week’s Players Championship.

Brandon Costa of SVG explores ESPN’s expanded multiplatform rights for NCAA Championships.

And SVG tells us about the Big East Conference’s in-house production of the league’s Baseball Tournament.

Kristi Dosh at ESPN.com looks into the dollars and cents of the major college sports TV rights contracts.

Patrick Rishe at Forbes says while the ACC signed a rich contract with ESPN, it still doesn’t compare to the Pac-12’s huge megadeal.

My Twitter Trophy Wife, Amanda Rykoff chronicles her day spent at the MLB Fan Cave for espnW.

Paulsen at Sports Media Watch crunches the numbers behind the ratings rise for the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and the lower for the NBA Playoffs.

Joe Lucia of Awful Announcing also looks into the ratings for the NBA and NHL Postseasons.

Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead notes the disturbing arrest of the PA Announcer for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Dave Kohl at The Broadcast Booth looks at some of the sports media stories that are irking him this week.

East and Mid-Atlantic

David Scott at ESPN’s Front Row PR blog gets reaction from people at the network who knew the late Carl Beane.

Gordon Edes at ESPN Boston says Beane felt he was born to be the Fenway Park public address announcer.

WEEI’s Mike Petraglia writes about his personal connection to Beane.

Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe says the Red Sox paid tribute to Beane at last night’s game by not having anyone do the PA.

Amanda Bruno of the Springfield Republican writes that Beane was a role model and mentor to her.

To other stories now, heading back to the Globe, Chad Finn says the ACC got its huge deal and it will affect member school Boston College in many ways.

Chad says former Red Sox voice Jerry Trupiano is getting some familial help in trying to get the Houston Astros radio gig.

Desmond Connor of the Hartford Courant says the Big East’s interim commissioner is hopeful his conference can cash in on the recent big spending by ESPN and other networks.

The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir talks with the legendary Vin Scully.

Richard profiles the person behind a fake Walt Frazier Twitter account.

Jack Bell of the Times interviews Fox Sports President Eric Shanks about Sunday’s unprecedented English Premier League coverage.

Phil Mushnick of the New York Times rails over player unions defending their membership for the wrong reasons.

The Post’s Justin Terranova talks with NBC’s Pierre McGuire.

Justin has five questions for TNT’s Kenny Smith.

Jerry Barmash at Fishbowl NY says a former local sports reporter is returning to her roots with Time Warner Cable’s Southern California network.

Pete Dougherty at the Albany Times Union says technical difficulties plagued a local radio broadcast of the Yankees.

Pete says many of NBC/Golf Channel’s cameras will be focused squarely on one hole at the Players Championship this week.

Ken McMillan at the Middletown (NY) Times Herald-Record explores the new SNY deal to air UConn women’s basketball games.

At the New Jersey Newsroom, Evan Weiner asks if high school football is doomed.

Keith Groller of the Allentown (PA) Morning Call watched the train wreck of former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens appearing on Dr. Phil this week and being confronted by his multiple baby mommas.

Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post says MLB Network compared the swings of the late Mickey Mantle and the Nationals’ Bryce Harper.

South

David Barron from the Houston Chronicle says a new local sports radio morning host comes with some baggage from his old job.

David says Comcast and ESPN cut a deal this week for subscribers to watch the network online.

Mel Bracht of The Oklahoman notes that Fox Sports Oklahoma will air specials next week on the state’s two major college football programs.

Midwest

John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes that the Reds TV and Radio ratings are up this season.

Paul M. Banks of Chicago Sports Media Watch explores the Cubs’ Kerry Wood blowing up at the local media this week.

Paul Christian at the Rochester (MN) Post Bulletin looks at NBC’s coverage of The Players Championship.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that a local sports anchor gets to talk news on the radio.

West

John Maffei of the North County Times says the local media plans to cover Junior Seau’s public memorial today.

Jim Carlisle at the Ventura County Star notes that outgoing flagship TV station KCAL gave another farewell to the Los Angeles Lakers this week.

Jim looks at the 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass which will get plenty of attention on NBC/Golf Channel at the Players Championship.

Jim provides his weekend viewing picks.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News looks at Time Warner Cable’s new sports channels.

Tom tries to give Kings fans missing their local TV voices a silver lining.

Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News goes over the latest developments at the Pac-12 Networks.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin at the Toronto Globe and Mail says CBC’s Ron MacLean had to clarify his 9/11 remarks before Game 6 of the New York Rangers-Washington Capitals series.

The Canadian Sports Media Blog has the announcing assignments for both CBC and TSN in the NHL Conference Final round.

And we are done. Enjoy your sports weekend.