Red Sox/Cubs, U.S. Open Highlight Sports Weekend

The Red Sox are in Chicago to take on the Cubs for a weekend series at Wrigley Field. Expect plenty more of Theo Epstein throughout the weekend as the former Red Sox GM faces his former team for the first time.

Also on tap is the U.S. Open, taking place at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. NBC and ESPN have the coverage of the event.

The Patriots wrapped up the offseason portion of their team activities by canceling the final practice of minicamp. Next stop, training camp. Get all the Patriots stories this morning at PatriotsLinks.com.

A few media-related links this morning for your perusal and discussion:

In NBA coverage, TNT team beats ESPN group – Chad Finn loves Mike Breen and thinks that Mike Felger’s Celtics bashing really isn’t all that responsible for his show’s May ratings loss to WEEI. He has a few other media items as well.

Inside Look: How The Boston Celtics Win in Social Media and Digital – Celtics Senior Director of Interactive Media Peter Stringer talks to Brian Solis about the winning strategies the Celtics employ in the digital world.

David Duval’s Roller Coaster Career Goes Through Broadcast Booth – In my SB Nation Boston media column, I’ve got former World #1 golfer David Duval taking an involuntary break from his clubs to serve as an analyst on ESPN’s coverage of the U.S. Open this weekend.

D.A. rules at the top of the Hub – John Molori talks to 98.5 evening host Damon Amendolara about coming to Boston sports radio as an outsider, and about his golf passion.

ESPN’s Sean McDonough to have surgery on bone near brain – Michael Hiestand of USA Today has former Red Sox broadcaster Sean McDonough needing to undergo brain surgery for a rare condition.

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Doubront leads Red Sox to second straight win

After losing five straight games the Red Sox have bounced back with wins on back-to-back nights after crushing the Marlins 10-2 Wednesday night. Felix Doubront took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, where it was snapped by a Jose Reyes solo home run, but even so Doubront pitched possibly his best game of the year. He allowed just two runs on three hits, while striking out nine. It was also the first time the Red Sox scored double digit runs since May 13.

With the Red Sox traveling to Chicago to take on the Cubs this weekend, Theo Epstein is back in the spotlight with the Boston media. Epstein appeared on Felger & Mazz yesterday touching on a variety of subjects in a lengthy interview. He also appeared on Dennis and Callahan this morning, and did a lengthy Q&A with Dan Shaughnessy in the Globe.  Also, a few Red Sox media members traveled to Chicago ahead of the team to speak with the former Red Sox general manager in his new office on Wednesday.

How success bred a monster: Theo Epstein considers his Red Sox legacy– Alex Speier has a number of thoughts from Epstein touching on a number of subjects, both from his time in Boston and now with the Cubs.

Theo Epstein’s unhappy ending– John Tomase focuses on Epstein’s departure from Boston.

Wednesday was the second day of Patriots mini-camp. Despite the rainy weather the team still held practice outdoors. Tom Brady spoke to the media for the first time, which was a big topic for the local media.

Tom Brady sticks with the program– Mike Reiss has mechanics still being key for Brady, and how he will remember his late mentor Tom Martinez.

Tom Brady tunes up– Jeff Howe also takes a look at how important mechanics are for the Patriots QB.

Brady adjusting to Lloyd’s unique skills– Tom E. Curran says newly signed wide receiver Brandon Lloyd is not the type of received Brady is used to and will have to get used to Lloyd’s ability to made plays on balls thrown his way.

Why Brandon Lloyd might be one of the most rare receivers in recent Patriots’ history– Christopher Price looks at the first impressions of Lloyd in a Patriots uniform.

Belichick won’t read into ‘unwritten’ rule – Alex Prewitt’s notebook in the Globe has the Patriots coach denying any breach of the unwrittens in claiming Jake Ballard off waivers.

Wednesday mini-camp observations– Andy Hart has his usual in-depth look at what took place during Wednesday’s second day of mini camp.

Celts’ future begins with current roster – Mark Murphy has a positional breakdown of the current roster.

Celtics Hatred Catches Up With Michael Felger

In the latest ratings numbers for the month of May, WEEI enjoyed a strong bounce-back month, fueled by the playoff run of the Boston Celtics. Chad Finn has the breakdowns per show, but the essence is that while Toucher and Rich defeated Dennis and Callahan yet again, Mutt and Merloni came out ahead of Gresh and Zo and Ordway and Holley defeated Felger and Mazz as well.

There’s no doubt that Felger’s incessant bashing and ridicule of the Celtics is directly responsible for his show losing this month’s ratings, just as WEEI’s total dismissal of the Bruins led to their own downfall last year.

Now, I have little doubt that as the summer goes on, the 98.5 shows will regain the top spots, as the Red Sox stumble around in last place and the Patriots start up training camp at the end of next month, but it’s interesting that Felger was essentially willing to take a ratings loss in one month of ratings to simply satisfy his own predilections, and didn’t care about the possible repercussions to his station and sponsors. That’s an Ordway-like ego at work there.

I found myself listening to Ordway and Holley much more in the last month, not so much because they were offering great insight (Though Michael Holley seems to have finally hit his stride on that show.) but to escape the constant barrage of Celtics hatred in that timeslot up the dial. I clearly wasn’t alone.

The Mutt and Lou success is fairly shocking. I didn’t think Gresh and Zo were doing much in the way of Celtics bashing – they were OK – but I think Mutt and Lou trotted out some strong Celtics/NBA guests during the month which really helped them enjoy their first successful month.

This is only a one-month snapshot, it should be interesting to see what the quarterly ratings look like when they come out next month.

Some items of interest:

Which way should the Red Sox go?  – A blog post from Peter Abraham yesterday which I applaud heartily. This team needs a major shakeup. I’m onboard.

Kevin Youkilis about good to go – Michael Silverman has Youkilis sounding like he’s ready to move on.

Voices line up for Red Sox announcer job – Beth Teitell in the Globe talks to some of the candidates.

Situation must be right if he is going to return – Steve Bulpett has sources close to the Kevin Garnett/Celtics situation saying that KG could be open to a return, but wants to see what pieces Danny Ainge is able to put together first. KG would like to know who he’s playing with before committing to a return.

Celtics in good hands with Doc – Jackie MacMullan says that whatever the Celtics roster looks like next season, they’ve got the right coach in place.

Joseph Addai fills important role – Mike Reiss has the former Colt already stepping into a leadership role with his fellow running backs.

Looking at the Ballard move – Greg A Bedard warns us not to overreact to the Patriots claiming Giants TE Greg Ballard, but I love it – it’s such a Belichick move to make.

Tuesday mini-camp observations – Andy Hart provides his usual thoroughly detailed recap of yesterday’s Patriots practice.

NHL could be looking at a shortened season – Joe Haggerty reports on what could be another ugly labor fight for the NHL starting on September 15th.

105.5 WEEI FM Springfield has announced an exclusive partnership with the University of Massachusetts (UMass), making it the official home of UMass football and men’s basketball.   The five-year agreement kicks off with the 2012 UMass football season, which begins on August 30th at the University of Connecticut.

Red Sox lose fourth straight

With the Celtics season ending over the weekend, Boston’s full attention is now on the Red Sox, and that may not be such a good thing. The team lost their fourth straight, and seventh out of eight with their 4-1 loss to the Marlins Monday night in Miami. During the tough recent stretch the team actually has gotten decent starting pitching, the issue has been lack of hitting. Of the teams’ last seven losses they have scored three runs or less in four of those games.

Josh Beckett struggled early Monday night, but settled down and retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced. In the first two innings Beckett allowed four runs on six hits, which was enough for him to take the loss. For the second straight game Beckett did not speak to reporters following the game. While I don’t agree with Beckett not talking after his last two starts, and think he owes it to the fans/reporters, let’s remember it was just over a month ago that most of the Boston media was hammering him for his “golf outing” and “what he does on his 18 off days a year is his business” comments.

Once again members of the Red Sox had issues with the umpiring. After being ejected for arguing a call after striking out Friday night, Kevin Youkilis once again got into it with an umpire Monday night. Youkilis was barking at the home plate umpire from the dugout about his previous at bat and needed to be ushered down the steps by Nick Punto.

The Red Sox have spent a great deal of time blaming the umpires over their recent rough stretch of play, and that starts at the top with their manager Bobby Valentine who was ejected from Sunday’s game and then spent a considerable time before Monday’s game talking about the poor umpiring.

Bats fail to do much damage– Michael Silverman has just how much the Red Sox hitters are struggling of late.

How Dustin Pedroia put concerns about his thumb in rear-view mirror– Rob Bradford has a look at Dustin Pedroia and how he is determined to snap out of his recent slump.

Red Sox need to look inward, not at umpires, to straighten out offensives woes– Didier Morais says complaining about the umpiring is the last thing the Red Sox should be doing right now.

Depth of bullpen should help weather loss of Hill– Brian MacPherson says with the teams’ depth in the bullpen they should be able to get by with Rich Hill being out the next month.

An equal exchange– Nick Cafardo looks back at the trade the Marlins and Red Sox made sending Josh Beckett to Boston and Hanley Ramirez to South Florida.

 

Huge Offseason On Tap For Celtics

The Celtics season came to an end on Saturday night, and now begins a fascinating time to watch the decisions that Danny Ainge and the Celtics will make before the team begins training camp in less than four months.

At one point, it was believed that there was a three-year window, after which the team would be in revert back to a lottery-bound franchise. They got five years out of the era, and it may not be done yet.

Danny Ainge has his critics in the Boston media (Hello, John Dennis!), but he has positioned this franchise to continue to be able to be a contender, provided he can put the right pieces together. They’ve got two first-round picks in a deep draft, and with a ton of money coming off the books, the ability to sign free agents or make trades this summer. They’ve got Doc Rivers, who players seem to want to play for. They’ve got Rondo, who makes teammates better and gets them easy baskets. They’ve got Avery Bradley coming back. (When he’s not boxing, apparently.)  Despite being a cold-weather city, Boston has a lot going for it in terms of being an attractive destination for players.

Much hinges on Kevin Garnett, and whether 1) he wants to keep playing, and 2) if he’ll take a greatly reduced salary to allow the team to add pieces around him. In the past few weeks I’ve read media reports of interest from New Jersey, Orlando, the Lakers and Spurs, but I feel fairly sure that if he’s playing, he’s playing here, mostly because of Doc Rivers.

Saturday night was tough to watch. In some ways, it was predictable, you knew the Celtics would put up a fight, and I feared they would fade late. The postgame was even tougher. Doc Rivers’ press conference was very emotional. You had to love the defiance of Rajon Rondo, refusing to admit his team lost steam in the end, you got the impression Ray Allen had played his last game with the Celtics.

Then you had the media schoolmarms wagging their finger at Rondo and KG not sticking around to glad-hand with the likes of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.  Larry Bird didn’t stick around to give hugs and kisses to opponents. I hated when Kevin McHale hugged up Isaiah Thomas when the Pistons finally broke through against the Celtics in 1988.

Sportsmanship is more than just sticking around for a cursory handshake. It’s about playing the game right, respecting your opponent and leaving everything on the floor. The Celtics did that. For someone to immediately focus on raw emotions following a game which could be the last together for a proud group of warriors is the Twitter version of trolling for attention.

Pick up all the Celtics headlines today from CelticsLinks.com.

A few select stories from today:

Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 on ESPN Sets New NBA Cable Record with 9.1 Overnight Rating – Locally, the game scored a 21.7 rating.

Hard to analyze C’s Big 3 – Steve Bulpett has Danny Ainge talking about his expectations and hopes for this group, and what the future holds.

Big calls to make on Three – Gary Washburn looks at the decisions looming.

Celtics enter an era of change – Scott Souza has the team looking at a busy summer.

One more time! – Michael Muldoon want to take another run at it.

Celtics adrift in summer dreams – Peter May thinks the options might be limited for the Celtics.

A couple media-related items.

The NFL and me – In the Globe’s Jobs/Diversity Boston insert yesterday, Shalise Manza Young talks about being on the Patriots beat, and what she feels her role is among the rest of the media.

Haggerty vs Minihane – After their Twitter fight last week, the pair went at it on the CSNNE airwaves as well.

Now that the Red Sox have achieved their goal of breaking the Portland Trailblazer’s record for consecutive sellouts (wink, wink) can we end the charade?

LeBron.

That’s all you need to know, right?

The Heat star had 45 points – 30 in the first half as the Heat rolled over the lackluster Celtics 98-79 to force a game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night.

This seemed like a Sports Guy “reverse lock” game if there ever was one. After all of the media had been picking and praising Miami, after game five, everything turned, and just about everyone – media, fans – had the Celtics closing things out last night at home, with the mentally fragile Heat wilting at the Garden.

Now the tide will shift the other way – very few people will predict that the Celtics can win another game in Miami. We’ll see. This is why they play the games.

Get all the Celtics coverage at Celticslinks.com.

For 1992 squad, Dream Team was perfect name – Chad Finn looks at the NBA TV documentary “The Dream Team.”

NBC Hopes For Triple Crown In Belmont Stakes – My SB Nation Boston media column was rendered rather moot this morning when news came out that I’ll Have Another has been scratched. Still, you can read and see what NBC Executives were hoping a Triple Crown could mean.

A quick reminder about the upcoming 11th annual Tradition which benefits The Sports Museum, on Wed. June 27 at 5:30 PM.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will go to three-time Cy Young award winner and member of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, Pedro Martinez. Alexi Lalas, Soccer Hall of Famer, trailblazer and founding player of the New England Revolution will receive the Soccer Legacy Award. Jeremy M. Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Delaware North Companies for four decades, philanthropist and longtime owner of one of the NHL’s most storied franchises, the Boston Bruins, will be presented with the Hockey Legacy Award. The epitome of excellence and the backbone of the 1980’s Boston Celtics, Robert Parish, will be the recipient of the Basketball Legacy Award. Title IX pioneer, Yale oarswoman, two-time Olympian and star of the award winning documentary “A Hero for Daisy”, Chris Ernst, will be honored with the Special Achievement Award. Former New England Patriot, known as the locker room leader and hard-hitting Super Bowl safety, Rodney Harrison will receive the Football Legacy Award.

Tickets are $200 for general admission and $300 for reserved seating. All net proceeds benefit The Sports Museum. For more information, to purchase tickets and for sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.sportsmuseum.org

From ESPN:

Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 on ESPN Generates Highest Overnight Rating for NBA Game Ever on Cable

Thursday night’s NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 on ESPN – the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics to even their series at 3-3 – generated an 8.2 overnight rating, the highest overnight for an NBA game ever on cable (records back to 2003), according to Nielsen. The 8.2 for Game 6 surpasses the previous record, a 7.9 for Game 4 of this series, as the best overnight ever.

The 8.2 overnight rating is up 49 percent compared to the most recent Game 6 on ESPN – Boston/Orlando in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals – which posted a 5.5.

In Miami, Game 6 delivered a 22.0 rating, the highest-rated NBA playoff game on ESPN in the market. In Boston, the game averaged a 20.5, the second highest-rated NBA game on ESPN in the market.

ESPN will televise Heat-Celtics Game 7 on Saturday, June 9, at 8:30 p.m. ET.  The Finals on ABC will begin Tuesday, June 12 at 9 p.m.

Ochocinco Era Done, But Not Without Confusion

http://storify.com/bruceallen/ochocinco-s-eye-appointment.js?header=false&border=false[View the story “The Ochocinco Drama” on Storify]

The Ochocinco Drama

A crazy day on Twitter from Patriots OTA’s.

Storified by · Thu, Jun 07 2012 16:04:18

If you missed it, Chad Ochocinco was not at Patriots OTA practice today.
No Hernandez and Ocho at practice. TE Brad Herman carted off w/ left ankle/foot injury in warmupsMike Rodak
The story was advanced slightly when it was reported that the receiver was at Gillette, but not practicing.
Source: Ocho was at Gillette facility today but not part of OTA session.Christopher Price
This tweet from the Patriots Football Weekly team is admittedly odd. Content from @patriotsdotcom is definitely not the same as tweets from @Patriots. But someone might get the impression that a tweet coming from the website of the Patriots might be hinting at something or know something that other reporters haven’t learned yet. This comes into play later.
Do you think that Chad Ochocinco will still be a member of the #Patriots at the end of the day? #PFW | http://bit.ly/j7tfOtPatriots.com
Some more information started to leak out:
was told recently that physically Ocho still has it – but still struggling to grasp Pats playbookshalise manza young
Source: Ocho leaves Gillette b4 Thursday’s OTA session, alters Twitter bio to remove Pats’ info #weei #NFL #Patriots http://bit.ly/KeWQ76Christopher Price
Source tells colleague Karen Guregian that Chad Ochocinco arrived at Gillette Stadium today and left 10-15 minutes later.Jeff Howe
FWIW, Ocho’s Twitter bio now has him as WR of the New England Patriots once again.Christopher Price
Source: Chad Ochocinco "is on the Patriots" http://bit.ly/KeZ1YfJeff Howe
I saw all this hubbub over @ochocinco taking "Patriots" off his Twitter bio … So I went to his Twitter page, and "Patriots" was back up.Albert Breer
So Ocho is officially still with the team?
However, I don’t think this @ochocinco story is over yet. Stay tuned.Greg A. Bedard
ProFootballTalk feels that this situation is worthy of a post, and in their original ports (since edited) they actually said that “multiple account” said that Ochocinco had been cut.
Chad Ochocinco hasn’t been cut by the Patriots, yet http://bit.ly/KAM4YEProFootballTalk
This led to questioning:
@ProFootballTalk Which accounts reported that he was cut? There weren’t any.Andy Hart
Andy Hart, of course, works for Patriots.com.
@ProFootballTalk Never saw a single account that said Ocho had been cut. Where are those?Christopher Price
@capeleaguer . . . http://Patriots.com openly speculating about it based on his absence from practice.ProFootballTalk
@AO250 I think Ocho has an uphill battle here. And there might be more to this 1. But the Twitter detectives need to calm down a little.Albert Breer
@ProFootballTalk @capeleaguer No actually we were wondering why he wasn’t at practice. Never said he was cut. Terry Bradshaw still dead?Andy Hart
Hart clarifies what the original Patriots.com tweet meant. However, I think there’s a difference between asking “How come Ochocinco wasn’t at practice?” and “Do you think Ochocinco will still be a member of the Patriots at the end of the day?” Don’t you? Especially when the question is being asked by the official website and newspaper of the Patriots?
Adam Schefter provides another explanation.
Chad Ochocinco left Patriots complex before today’s OTA…to attend an eye doctor appointment. Contrary to speculation, he was not released.Adam Schefter
Hart is still steamed at PFT.
Haven’t heard back from Florio in regard to his irresponsible report. Not surprised. MT @sleyland: @ProFootballTalk Awful reporting on Ocho.Andy Hart
Then Schefter, cleans up and scoops everyone. As usual.
After unsuccessfully trying to trade WR Chad Ochocinco throughout the day Thursday, the Patriots are releasing him, per league source.Adam Schefter
Can confirm that the Patriots are releasing Chad Ochocinco …Albert Breer
… But I stick by what I said about the Twitter Detectives.Albert Breer
So in the end, you have to wonder even more about the original Patriots.com tweet. Did they know that the team was trying to trade Ochocinco? Is that why they asked if he would still be on the team at the end of the day?

And did Bedard know something? This seemed like one of those “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” situations.