Celtics Media Day, Patriots Head To Buffalo

The Celtics/Miami series feels like it just ended (and still stings) and here we are at the start of another Celtics season. The Celtics hold their annual media day today, hold their first practice tomorrow, and then head to Turkey early next week.

Long-ago abuse, and years of repressing the memories, take toll on Dooling – Jessica Camerato has what should be an award-winning feature on recently retired Celtics guard Keyon Dooling, who was hospitalized this offseason after memories of abuse that had been repressed for years came flooding back to him. This really is an amazing story and work by Camerato.

Rebuilt Celtics take another shot at championship – Paul Flannery looks at how Danny Ainge rebuilt the Celtics in one offseason.

The Patriots head to Buffalo this weekend, and there is genuine concern locally that New England could lose its third game in a row, and fall to 1-3 on the season.

These Bills are ready for Patriots – Tedy Bruschi says that the Bills were built with an eye on beating the Patriots.

Bad time to space out – Matt Chatham says that the Bills creative ways of manufacturing space for their offense is something the Patriots need to be wary of.

Get all the Patriots coverage today and this weekend at Patriotslinks.com.

NESN’s Caron refused to spin bad Red Sox season – Chad Finn has the Red Sox TV host speaking candidly about the difficulties of covering an awful team.

Matt Chatham offers Patriots fans a different style – My SB Nation Boston media column looks at one of the newer ex-Patriots who are now working in the media.

UMass football radio analyst needs aspirin from day job – Bill Doyle looks at UMass football radio analyst Matt Goldstein, who manages a Walgreens when he’s not calling games.

Gorman and Golf are a Perfect Fit – John Molori talks to CSNNE Celtics voice Mike Gorman about his love of golf, and desire to announce golf someday.

Dan Shaughnessy Hates Ideas and Loves it When the Red Sox Fail – One of the better takedowns of the Globe columnist. I wish I wrote this:

The Boston Globe allows Shaughnessy to write his columns in such as a way as to be trolling his audience. I have come to the conclusion the only way Dan could be fired is if he murdered someone, and even then the Globe would probably allow Shaughnessy one more column to taunt the family of the person he killed.

Tony Massarotti had an epic meltdown yesterday over people who insist he is nothing more than Mike Felger’s yes-man and lapdog. (Who says that??) The most amusing thing was his insistence that Felger is always right and that’s why he doesn’t disagree with him! He’s also sick of everyone coming after him just because they hate Felger.

Way to dispel commonly-held notions, Mazz.

No one is saying that Massarotti needs to automatically take an opposite stance. That sort of contrived debate is just as annoying. But when Felger is on one of his insane conspiracy theories, how about grilling him a little? Making him explain things. How does he know this? Ask what is to be gained by the Patriots freezing out Welker? Why would they do it? Why are the Patriots cheap? Why would they not want to win? In what ways have the Jets passed the Patriots in organization building and as a franchise? (Oh wait, that was two years ago.)

Show some skepticism over what Felger says once in a while, instead of blindly agreeing with every damn thing the guy says. Work at it a little bit. Not only would Mazz shed the lapdog image, it would actually make for better radio.


Red Sox end home portion of schedule with what else, a loss

The Red Sox played their last game of the 2012 season at Fenway Park and fitting with how the season has gone it was another loss. The fell to the Rays 4-2, thus being swept in the brief two-game series. The Red Sox finished the year  34-47 at home, their worst record at Fenway since 1965. It was also the first time since 1997 the team finished the year with a sub .500 record at home, and it was also the last time a team finished below .500 overall as well. Could this have been the last game Bobby Valentine manages at Fenway Park?

The team followed up Tuesday night’s honoring of the 2004 World Series team with a pre-game ceremony naming the All-Fenway Park team. The team included 40 Red Sox players voted on by the fans as well as the organization. It was a very good mix of players from many decades, past and present, many of whom were on hand Wednesday night for the ceremony. Unlike Tuesday night’s ceremony honoring the 2004 team, this was a very nice way to wrap up the 100th anniversary of the Red Sox and not a PR stunt to try and attract fans to a meaningless game. If there is one thing to be said about the 2012 Red Sox is they do know how to put on a great pre-game ceremony, which have gone on throughout the year.

Enough with the Fenway 100 Celebrations– Tony Massarotti has had enough of all the celebrations this year.

The contrived party is over at Fenway Park– Dan Shaughnessy also didn’t like the pre-game festivities, especially last night. He says the franchise has lost its way.

Bobby Valentine not conceding this is the end– Michael Vega says Valentines pre-game press conference Wednesday sounded like his last one ever at Fenway Park.

A Fenway finale, but same Bobby Valentine- Scott Lauber looks at what could have been Valentine’s last game as manager at Fenway Park.

Red Sox look through gloom– Gordon Edes looks back at the final home game of the year and also how there is hope for the future.

David Ortiz: ‘It’s going to get better’– Joe McDonald says Ortiz wants to come back next season and also end his career as a member of the Red Sox.

After three days of replacement referee talks, the league and the refs finally reached a deal late Wednesday night and the refs will reportedly be ready to go for tonight’s Ravens/Browns game. All I can say is, it’s about time.

For all your Patriots coverage visit Patriotslinks.com.

(Hopefully) Last Day Of Replacement Officials Talk

Chris Mortensen is reporting at this hour that the is an agreement is “in hand” between the NFL and the officials and that the regular refs could be back on the field this weekend.

Patriot defense didn’t look revamped in first test – Greg Bedard’s film study reveals among other things, that Devin McCourty actually played his best game in some time. (Wait, D&C told me it was the worst performance by a Patriots player in franchise history.)

Bedard, by the way, had a marathon Twitter stream-of-consciousness last night where he weighed in on how the defense and schemes that the Patriots employ make it difficult – nearly impossible – for the cornerbacks to succeed. He noted that some of them don’t even fully understand the rationale for the things they’re asked to do.

NFL’s TV partners didn’t hold back on the refs – In a special edition mid-week media column, Chad Finn notes approvingly that networks like NBC and ESPN have not held back from being critical of the league for how it has handled the replacement referee situation.

The best show on radio this week has been Gresh and Zo and their even-handed analysis of the Patriots and of the officials. It’s been refreshing to hear someone in the media acknowledge that the referees did have a huge impact on the Patriots losing that game on Sunday night.

It seems most try to dismiss that by saying that the Patriots had plenty of opportunities to put the game away and failed to do so. (Can’t you say the same about the Packers? Shouldn’t the juggernaut Packers have scored more than 12 points against the Seahawks?)  The defense made some plays which were wiped out by horrific flags. Everyone is saying that the Patriots didn’t get a single sack or hit on the QB, but they got to Flacco late in the game, sacked him for a loss, and a defensive holding penalty was called on Brandon Spikes. If you look at it again, Spikes engages Dennis Pitta, but releases him prior to the 5 yards allowed. The ball was at the 10, and you can see below that at the 5, Spikes has already released him.  Pitta kept his own hand on Spikes’ shoulder and pulls him forward.

The flag was then thrown on Spikes.  Had the sack held up, it would’ve set up 3rd and goal from the 22, but instead it set up 1st and goal from the 5. On the next play, Flacco hit Smith for the TD. That’s one example, but really, it’s the turning point of the game. (apologies to the NBC Sports Network show which will tonight air what their own turning point of the game was.)

There were of course many other calls throughout the game, but this was the most damaging and egregious to the Patriots.

There’s the whole FG thing, but we won’t go there.

Yes, this is blatant yahoo homerism,(on my part) but I don’t think you can just dismiss what happened here in this game. Between this and the holding on Gronkowski against the Cardinals which negated the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute, it’s a tough 1-2 that the Patriots sit at right now.

A few other links:

It could be a Field of Dreams again – Sean McAdam says that seeing the 2004 club return last night should show us that a turnaround from a disastrous season can come faster than you might think.

Red Sox recall better times – Joe McDonald has more on the reunion.

At Least Price Was Right: Red Sox Game 155 – Jon Couture is a little 2004’d out.

He’s a man on a mission – Chris Forsberg has Jason Terry looking to be a Lakers and Heat “killer” for the Celtics.

Celts wonder about Darko Milicic – Mark Murphy has the Celtics wondering what they have in the 7-footer.

More Patriots-Ravens reaction

As was to be expected sports radio was all about the Patriots and their second straight loss Sunday night. There were a bunch of different story lines that dominated the airwaves. Obviously the referees and how poorly the game was called was the lead story, but then there was also the Bill Belichick pushing an official following the game side of things, which got a lot more attention than I personally thought it would. Tony Massarotti was very adamant in saying Belichick should be suspended and brought it up any chance he could. Most everyone else said to expect a heavy fine. Other topics on the airwaves and online included the defense taking a few steps back, and even whether or not the game-winning field goal was good or not.

Taking a step back and looking at the big picture the Patriots went toe-to-toe with one of the top 5 teams in the AFC on the road, without one of their most productive and important offense players in Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots proved they are still one of the elite teams in the league and will be there in the end. Some are saying the Patriots schedule is now tougher than first thought, but until the Texans game Dec. 10 the only “tough” games I see are vs. Denver Oct. 7 and @ Seattle Oct. 14. The Patriots could still hypothetically go 12-4.

One trend that is becoming an issue is the Patriots failure to closeout and win close games. Since 2009 (including postseason) the Patriots are 8-9 in games decided by five points or less. Tom Brady spoke indirectly about it following the game saying the team needs to play better when it counts. This is something to monitor as the season goes on.

The ending of the Monday Night Football game will surely be the topic of discussion all day and for the coming days as well. If this doesn’t end the officials lockout, I honestly don’t know what will. The NFL needs to get this settled and it needs to happen before the Browns and Ravens kickoff Thursday night.

Here are a few of the notable links, but you can get all the coverage over at Patriotslinks.com.

Patriots issues go beyond officials– Tony Massarotti says the Patriots have problems on both offense and defense.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges gives his grades for Week 3. There aren’t that bad, but definitely room for improvement.

Patriots lost in the chaos– Gerry Callahan says the Patriots cannot blame the refs, they need to just play.

Patriots’ offense caught in between– Mike Reiss looks at how Josh McDaniels has handled the offense and how he is trying to find out what works best to start making things click.

Against Ravens, Patriots were lacking finishing move– Christopher Price says the Patriots could not close out the Ravens, which was the main reason why they lost.

Wedge issue: Replacement refs could leave scars– Tom E. Curran notes coaches, execs and players have the right to be upset with their owners for not reaching a deal with the refs.

Patriots Can’t “Hold” Off Ravens, Fall To 1-2

Get ready for a long week.

The Patriots held a two score lead in Baltimore with under five minutes to play last night, but were unable to hold the lead as they fell to the Ravens on a 27-yard field goal as time expired.

Patriot fans will blame the refs. Media, attempting to be objective will point to the 500 yards given up by the Patriots defense, and the inability of the offense to get an additional first down on their final drive to close out the game.Some will pin the entire loss on one player.

The truth is in both theories. The Patriots should’ve been able to win this one on their own. The Ravens did receive some help in their comeback with some drive-extending penalties *coughdefensiveholdingcough* being called on the Patriots. It is what it is, and the Patriots are now 1-2.

If you want to keep your sanity this week, you will not listen to Dennis and Callahan, Mut and Merloni or Felger and Mazz, and you will watch nothing that appears on CSNNE.

Here are a few links from today worth reading:

Patriots leave Baltimore in defeat but proved they belong – Ryan Hadfield takes comfort in this defeat.

Time to think again – Greg A Bedard says that Josh McDaniels had a solid gameplan last night, but got into his own way on occasion.

Analysis/reaction: Patriots-Ravens – Erik Scalavino says that this game will not be remembered for all the reasons that it should be remembered.

What we learned Sunday: Patriots can’t close out Ravens – Chris Price runs down a number of items.

Patriots, Ravens take it down to the wire – John Rooke notes that unless you’re a Patriots fan, this game was terrific theater.

You know what? That’s enough. If you want it all, head to Patriotslinks.com.

The Celtics start training camp next weekend, and Doc Rivers is ready to move on from Ray Allen:

Doc Rivers OK without Ray Allen

Some great stuff from Doc in there.

WEEI’s Marconi Award and other Friday Notes

WEEI received the  Marconi Award for Sports Station of the Year last night at the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Awards dinner and show.

Entercom Boston’s entry beat out stations from Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit to win the award.

So WEEI is the number two sports radio station in Boston, but the best in the country. I think we’ve now figured out who voted Brandon Meriweather as a Pro Bowl safety those two years, and who vote Derek Jeter as a Gold Glove shortstop every year. It’s these people.

Seriously. After the well-documented struggles WEEI has had in the ratings department (though they’ve bounced back impressively in recent books), where they finished behind their local competition in many areas, they get the award as the best sports radio station in the country? Makes sense to me. (Awaiting defensive, passive-aggressive email from Jason Wolfe in 3…2…1…)

Elsewhere in media:

Media Roundup: Is Mike Felger Dictating Local Patriots Coverage? – Chris Gasper’s line yesterday about how Patriots fans are “expected to just nod in the affirmative, utter “In Belichick We Trust,” and walk in lockstep off a cognitive cliff” got me thinking about how many in the local on-air media do exactly the same thing to someone with a much shorter and less impressive record of success than Belichick and the Patriots.

Bruins announcers put on ice by NHL lockout – Chad Finn talks to the Boston Bruins television and radio announcers about how the lockout will impact them.

Tuning In: Holy Cross radio sidekicks astute, emotional – Bill Doyle talks to Holy Cross football radio announcer Bob Fouracre about working with analysts Tom Kelleher and Gordie Lockbaum.

NFL has lost a giant in Steve Sabol – Chris Gasper writes about the passing of the NFL Films pioneer.

Catching Up With Legendary Boston Globe Columnist Bob Ryan – Sports Business Daily has an interesting interview with the recently semi-retired Ryan, who believes newspapers are doomed, among other things.

The Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens on NBC’s Sunday Night Football this weekend. Keep up with it all at PatriotsLinks.com.

We’re one week away from Celtics media day.

Red Sox pitchers struggle in loss to Rays, Branch returns to New England

After winning the first two games of the series against the Rays, the Red Sox couldn’t win a third in a row as they were beat up by the Rays 13-3 Wednesday night in Tampa. Pitching was a huge issue as six pitchers combined to allow 13 hits and 10 walks. Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up five runs on nine hits over three plus innings, including two home runs in the fourth. Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard followed, but were not much better. Aceves, who hadn’t pitched in six games, gave up four runs in two innings of work. Bard allowed three runs in just 1/3 of an inning. He walked three batters and threw just four strikes in 16 pitches. There really are no words for his season.

You really have to wonder just how different the Red Sox pitching staff will be next season. There is no way Matsuzaka is re-signed, and it is very hard to imagine the team will bring back Aceves after all that he has done the past few months. One of the big things to look for next spring training is how Bard bounces back from an abysmal season. He will certainly be pitching out of the bullpen, so fans and the organization can hope he is back to his normal 2011 self.

Daniel Bard blows up again– Scott Lauber in his notebook has Bard having yet another horrible outing.

Red Sox must decide on manager quickly– Nick Cafardo says the Red Sox need to decide on their 2013 manager almost as soon as the 2012 season ends. He mentions Tim Bogar and even Jason Varitek.

John Lackey could be answer– John Tomase writes John Lackey could play a major role for the Red Sox in 2013 coming off of Tommy John surgery.

Bobby Valentine with the Big Show– (audio) Bobby Valentine hung up after being questioned once again about being late for a game in Oakland. Luckily for Valentine, who is contractually obligated to appear on the station once a week, only has two more appearances left.

Deion Branch rejoined the Patriots Wednesday, but it was like he never even left as his locker was still kept in tact, which is something you very rarely see and him returning was one of the least surprising things the Patriots have done of late. Kellen Winslow also joined the team, but it is very hard to see a scenario where both players play major roles in Sunday’s game at the Ravens. Winslow will only have a few days to get acclimated to the new offense, and Branch comes in as the No. 4 receiver for a team that hasn’t ran a 4 WR set all season. Both players should be active, see limited action, but really shouldn’t be major factors.

Welker situation unfathomable– Christopher Gasper is very confused with the whole Wes Welker situation.

Josh McDaniels under fire– Karen Guregian looks at Josh McDaniels and his play calling Sunday, calling it “un-Patrot-like”.

McDaniels, Patriots need time to get in groove– Tom E. Curran says to be patient with McDaniels and the offense.

Patriots trying to keep options open– Mike Reiss looks at how the Patriots might run their offense without Aaron Hernandez.