What Belichick’s History Tells Us About Wes Welker’s Situation

The Patriots lost their home opener for the first time since 2001 with a 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It was perhaps the most unexpected loss in recent memory for the Patriots.

The actual game however, will likely be overshadowed this week by scrutiny over the usage of franchise wide receiver Wes Welker.

Welker did not start the game (though he was announced as a starter) and only entered the game after Aaron Hernandez suffered an ankle sprain that will likely keep him out until November.

Whether it is Tom Curran and Ron Borges arguing over the use or Welker, or sports radio hosts and callers and Twitter NFL experts angrily questioning whether Bill Belichick knows what’s best for his team.

Greg A. Bedard tries to cover all possibilities – Role of Patriots’ Welker further in doubt

Karen Guregian asks if we’re nuts to wonder what is going on here – Again, Wes isn’t more

Tom E. Curran says even Welker seems mystified at what’s happening – Welker was a backup plan vs. Cardinals

While it’s natural to look in from the outside and wonder what is happening here, looking back through the Bill Belichick era, three situations come to mind that may shed light on what is going on here.

In so many ways this is reminiscent of the Lawyer Milloy situation nine years ago. The reaction outside of Gillette is almost the same as well. Even though Welker has not been cut or traded, check out these Boston.com “Ask Nick” columns from September 5th 2003 and September 12, 2003.

Does that reaction sound similar to what is happening right now? With Milloy, there were a couple of things that led to his release – his contract and his play. Belichick felt that Milloy wasn’t the player he had been even two years before, and wasn’t worth the contract that he was playing under. They tried to get him to take less to be more in line with what they thought he was worth, and it was certainly in Milloy’s right to refuse a paycut.

Milloy refused, and he was cut the week before the season began. The Patriots had signed Rodney Harrison in the offseason and felt that he would replace Milloy’s production at a more reasonable price. Read the hysterical reaction in those “Ask Nick” columns and then look back at how things turned out.

Belichick and the Patriots saw something that needed to be changed and made that change, unpopular as it was. Nine years later, people are still acting like Belichick is a simpleton who has no idea what he’s doing when it comes to his football team. The Patriots made a similar call to the Milloy one when they traded Richard Seymour to Oakland the week prior to the 2009 season. It was again a production/value call for them, knowing they likely would not be able to sign Seymour after the season. Instead of letting it play out and getting nothing, they got a first round pick.

It’s a fact that Welker has been historically productive during his time here. It’s also a fact that he’s been underpaid during that tenure. He’s been good value for the Patriots. He’s also 31 and has taken a lot of pounding over the last five-plus seasons. He’s getting the biggest payday of his career this season. He could make more next year. The Patriots need to decide whether his production is going to continue and whether the value is there, or whether they can get similar production at a better value. That sounds cold, but its reality. It makes zero sense to give him big money for extended years because “he’s earned it.” You don’t do business that way. Milloy was beloved around here. Welker is probably even more beloved. But the Patriots are going to do what is best for the team. They’re unlikely to cut Welker right now, since his contact is guaranteed for the season, but they need to see whether it is worth extending his tenure here.

Let’s now go back two years for the second situation. The duo of Welker and Randy Moss had been as productive as any combination in football. But even in 2009, as documented in the Bill Belichick – A Football Life episode Belichick knew that the offense was flawed, and that they were entirely too reliant on those two players. He was proved correct. That team was perhaps the weakest of the post 2001 era, and I include the 2002 team in that. I don’t think even Richard Seymour would’ve made a huge difference for them. They got smoked in the wild card game by the Ravens, and in that offseason, changes began with the drafting of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

The 2010 season began and Randy Moss, a smart player, could see what was going on. The offense was changing. His own contract was up at the end of the season, so he went about making noise about it. There was an alleged shouting incident on  a plane ride home from Miami, following a game in which Moss was targeted just once and did not catch a pass. Moss was traded to Minnesota shortly thereafter. Deion Branch was brought back, a player who had the confidence of Brady and who would assist in the transition by offering a familiar target while the offense transitioned to an increased focus on the short game and multiple tight end sets.

The offense took off after that point, and even though the season ended with another disappointing one-and-done in the playoffs, the offensive transition was moving forward. Last season it continued, with a record season from Gronkowski and sensational seasons from Hernandez and Welker. But still, the season ended in disappointment when the New York Giants again exploited the weaknesses in the schemes. For most defenses the Patriots offense was more than they could handle, but for certain squads with the ability to get to the quarterback, the offense still could be disrupted. More tweaking was needed. A healthy Gronkowski would’ve helped in the Super Bowl, but the Giants still pretty much did what they wanted in that game.

Exit Bill O’Brien, (re)enter Josh McDaniels. While the offensive philosophies would essentially stay consistent, the role that Welker plays is clearly under examination here. They seem to feel that the offense has been too reliant on Welker and they want to do some other things here. (Game one in Tennessee seemed to indicate they wanted to run the ball more, but yesterday seemed to set that back a bit.) The offense is transitioning again, and like Moss in 2010, Welker has seen a decreased role in the early going. The injury to Hernandez yesterday seemed to have thrown a wrench in the plans for the offense, putting Welker back into a bigger role than they originally had planned.

It might well be that the Patriots want to save wear on Welker for the long season, or there is the third example from the Belichick era that is worth looking back on and seeing  if it applies here. Bedard and Curran have both said Edelman had a better camp than Welker. Outsiders would have a hard time believing that Edelman could out-play Welker.

In the summer of 2001, Drew Bledsoe was firmly entrenched as the Patriots franchise quarterback. He had even signed a huge contract reflecting that. Nothing seemed more certain than that Bledsoe would be the quarterback of this team. But quietly that summer, the guy who had started the previous season as the fourth-string quarterback impressed the coaches with his preparation, work ethic and improvement. By the time the preseason ended, Tom Brady was the clear number two QB, and according to some, there was talk that Brady could already start over Bledsoe. The Patriots were lackluster in their first two games under Bledsoe, and a hit late in the second game which sidelined Bledsoe opened the door for Brady, who never gave up the job.

In the video above where Curran and Borges argue, Borges laughs at and ridicules the notion that anything can be learned by watching training camp and preseason. He states that he prefers to watch real games to make his judgements. Of course Borges was leading the pack early on in saying that Brady couldn’t play and that Bledsoe should get his job back. Could it be that the coaches are simply going with the player that they feel give them a better chance to win at this time, no matter what perception outside of their circle is?

When the team makes these kinds of tough decisions, the early results are not always pretty, which just amps up the criticism. In Brady’s second start, against the Dolphins, he looked dreadful, and the team sat at 1-3. He threw four picks in Denver to drop the team to 3-4, before they caught fire, losing just one more game the rest of the season. After Milloy’s release, the Patriots lost to Buffalo and their newly signed safety, Lawyer Milloy 31-0. Drew Bledsoe quarterbacked that Bills team which added even more fuel to the fire.  After the Seymour trade, the 2009 Patriots struggled most of the season.

But on the balance, the Patriots make decisions for what is going to be best for the long term stability and success of the franchise. Most of their decisions have worked out. (You can debate the Seymour one, but I’d say he was gone anyway, and that team wasn’t winning the Super Bowl that season even with Seymour.) I’d say overall the track record is pretty good here.

Tell me who has been better over the last decade. Does it mean they’re immune from criticism? Of course not.

But trust me, the people inside that building generally know more than you or the media do. Whatever the reason that Wes Welker’s workload has changed in the early part of this season, they have a damn good reason for it. They’re just not going to tell you. Nor should they.

In mind, it comes down to one of two things:

Either the Patriots offense is changing to be less reliant on what Welker brings to it (either for strategic reasons or in anticipation of losing him), or, the Patriots feel that Julian Edelman is more deserving to be on the field at this time.


Patriots/Cardinals caps Hall of Fame weekend

Troy Brown will be enshrined into the Patriots Hall of Fame this weekend, being honored for his 15-year career with the team.

Pat’s Hall beckons all-time great – Mark Farniella looks at the former 8th round pick, who was cut in training camp in 1994 after a particularly poor performance on the returns team.

Troy Brown, true Patriot Hall of Famer – Mike Reiss talks to those who played and coached alongside Brown.

Can’t put finger on Josh McDaniels – The Chatham Report has become a must-read on the Patriots. Today, the former linebacker notes that against the Titans “there wasn’t a single repeat combination of personnel group, formation and play-call until the 25th play of the game.

Get all the Troy Brown and Patriots/Cardinals links at PatriotsLinks.com.

Heidi Watney bounced from Lakers job – Chad Finn’s media column looks at the former NESN Red Sox reporter leaving Time Warner Cable Sports before she ever even appears on the air.

Media Roundup: John Henry Talks Red Sox Sale; Patriots Open With Strong Ratings – My SB Nation Boston media column has a number of items from this week, including Toucher and Rich’s fan question, John Henry’s appearance on WEEI, Greg Bedard’s new radio gig and a number of other items.

Red Sox fans turn off TVs, but still care about team – Bill Doyle talks to NESN’s Don Orsillo who says that he doesn’t know what the ratings are, but he knows that people are asking him more than ever about this team which shows they’re still interested. Orsillo also thinks Bobby Valentine should return next season.


This Time, John Henry Takes To WEEI To Refute Rumors

A FOX Business story by Charlie Gasparino reported this morning that the owners of the Red Sox were considering selling the team, saying that the team has even begun shopping the club to potential buyers.

Principal owner John W. Henry quickly issued denials and then took to the airwaves to adamantly deny that the franchise is for sale and to emphasize that he and his partners plan on being here for a long time.

Unlike last October, when Henry stormed into the offices of 98.5 The Sports Hub to confront Felger and Mazz about things they were saying on their show, this time Henry called the flagship station of the Red Sox, WEEI.

Henry called into WEEI’s Mut and Merloni show this afternoon, and among other things, stated that Larry Lucchino has signed a contract extension and will be back with the Red Sox in 2013. Earlier in the show, Gasparino had been a guest to talk about his report and his sourcing.

Audio for the segment has not yet been posted, but when it is, I’ll put the link here.

Edit 2:39pm: The audio is now posted on WEEI.com.


Red Sox fight to the end, but fall to Yankees

After a walk-off win Tuesday night the Red Sox were looking for another one on Wednesday, but they could only get one run in ninth inning and fell to the Yankees 5-4. The Red Sox trailed 5-1 and fought back scoring two runs in the seventh and then one in the ninth, but that was as close as they could get. Cody Ross, Bobby Valentine and Jerry Royster were all ejected in the eighth inning following a tough third strike call on Ross.

The Red Sox have have shown more fight the past two nights than the past two months. Maybe playing spoiler against their rivals has something to do with it, maybe it doesn’t, but there will be plenty of opportunities coming up for the team to play spoiler and with the way the past two nights have gone it actually makes the games worth watching.

There was an awkward moment when Valentine went to remove reliever Alfredo Aceves from the game. Aceves never got within three feet of Valentine, never handed him the ball and walked off the back of the mound, looping around the players to walk to the dugout. While the NESN telecast never showed or made mention of it, Sox beat writers were sure to mention it on Twitter and asked the players about it afterwards. Valentine offered a pretty good quote on his relief pitcher.

“I’ll have to look at it,” he said before pausing. “And who cares if he showed me up? If I have to explain Aceves’s actions, I’ll wind up going across the river and work for Harvard.”

Five questions with Nomar Garciaparra– Chad Finn asks Nomar Garciaparra, who was in town to broadcast the game for ESPN, five questions about the Red Sox, including how to rebuild their roster.

It was spoiled long before this for Red Sox– Dan Shaughnessy has a number of Red Sox thoughts including saying they need to trade Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason and Valentine is more relaxed than ever this season.

Finding cash value in Sox situation– Michael Silverman looks at the payroll situations for both the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Red Sox are $26 million less than the Yankees for next year right now, which gives them plenty of flexibility this off season.

Red Sox still showing some fight– Gordon Edes says the Red Sox are still fighting hard to the end, including Cody Ross and Alfredo Aceves, except Ross for the good and Aceves for the bad.

Red Sox tempers flare in loss to Yankees– Sean McAdam looks at some of the frustrations the Red Sox displayed Wednesday night.

You can get all your Patriots links leading up to Sunday’s game with the Cardinals at Patriotslinks.com.

After Wednesday’s aftermath of Rich from Toucher & Rich’s visit to Fenway for Bobby V’s pregame press conference on Tuesday, Gordon Edes had a tweet that I found pretty amusing. Edes tweeted Dustin Pedroia left the game to go be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Then, a fan asked Edes what he was getting the new born…

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/GordonEdes/status/246059883894566913″]


Toucher and Rich Have The Right Idea, But Wrong Methods

By this point you’re probably aware of the incident at Bobby Valentine’s press conference yesterday involving Rich Shertenlieb of 98.5 The Sports Hub.

For some background, yesterday Toucher and Rich talked about how the media does not ask the questions that the fans would like asked at these sort of press conferences. Rich announced his intention of taking a listener question – a legitimate one, and getting a credential from the Red Sox and sitting in the front row and asking that question to Bobby Valentine.

Which is exactly what he did. He had no trouble obtaining a credential from the Red Sox, and he attended the press conference, and asked the very first question – “If you had to make your case to the fans as to why you should be the manager of the Red Sox next year, what would you say to them?’’

OK, so maybe it’s not the question that is on the tip of the tongue for the majority of Red Sox nation, but it’s a question that the beat reporters and people that cover the team on a regular basis are not going to ask.

Valentine seemed surprised by the question, and it apparently also didn’t sit too well with some of those on the beat, who viewed it as nothing more than a stunt.

Gordon Edes wrote about it in the Red Sox blog on ESPNBoston.com – Valentine: ‘I’m the best man for the job’

He added the following commentary:

Radio talk-show hosts don’t typically show up for pregame sessions, but Valentine presented WEEI’s Glenn Ordway with a gift sound bite last week, so perhaps ‘EEI’s rivals were looking for the same. If so, they probably went away disappointed.

Tyler Kepner of The New York Times also mentioned the incident in his column on Valentine today – For Valentine, a Ruined Season and Spoiler’s Role.

Kepner wrote:

The pregame news conference Tuesday began not with the standard talk about injuries and the lineup, but with a breathless demand from a radio reporter that Valentine tell fans why he should still be manager.

Both Edes and Kepner’s commentary seemed fairly benign from here, but it led to an epic, screaming rant from Fred Toucher on this morning’s show.

Toucher insisted at least twice that this was “not a wacky bit” just done to get attention. The pair insisted that this was an effort to get the “voice of the disenfranchised fan” out there and heard by Valentine. Toucher was insulted that Dan Shaughnessy after bring apprised of Shertenlieb’s intentions asked that they just not get the nice girl who gave him the press pass fired.

Toucher, who from the rant you would think was the one who went down and asked the question yelled that the pair is “in our mid-30’s” and that “we know what we’re doing.” It was stated again that this was “not a wacky bit” for the radio.

You might recall that a couple of years ago, Shertenlieb, on a somewhat similar mission, attended Celtics media day in order to quiz then-Celtics guard Delonte West about his alleged relationship with LeBron James’ mother. That was a stunt, and an incredibly awkward one as well. It would be easy to understand why some might have concerns that the intentions might be similar here.

Toucher went on, calling the sports media a “self-important righteous bunch of jerks” and wondered what the problem was with questioning an “a-hole manager who’s never won anything.”

He chided Edes for having an “overinflated sense of what you’re doing – what a jerk!” He then went on this hysterical, screaming rant after they read the quote from Edes above suggesting that this whole thing was just to get their own Bobby Valentine “moment.”

That’s right, Gordon! That’s what Rich wanted, was for Valentine to just BLOW UP on him, you hit the nail on the head! Better give your guys at EEI a nice pat on the back because they cover ESPN programming and ESPN guests can’t come our station. Better give your boys a little pat on the back you prick, you condescending prick, that’s just great.

This is where he lost me. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t hear Gordon Edes a whole lot on the WEEI airwaves. I don’t think he has any reason to plug WEEI in the least. ESPN talent cannot appear on any other radio networks, that’s their policy, it’s not particular to 98.5 just because WEEI is in town.

I can get on board with an outsider coming in every once in a while to ask a different sort of question. The reporters who are there everyday aren’t necessarily going to be big into asking confrontational questions every day, since it can make for an unpleasant work environment for themselves. The idea of someone like Shertenlieb coming in and getting questions from fans and asking them at a press conference is in theory, an interesting one.

The media can be a bit self-important. That’s not a secret. Calling them out is appropriate from time to time.

But when you do it in the manner that Toucher did this morning, any good points you have made quickly lose credibility. I can’t tell if he’s pissed that he and Shertenlieb aren’t being taken seriously as sports “journalists” or if he’s more mad that Gordon Edes had the temerity to suggest that this might’ve just been another attempt at publicity by a pair of wacky morning zookeepers. When you’re calling a pro like Gordon Edes a jerk and a condescending prick, (knowing he’s unlikely to respond) it tends to distract from your main objective, which is a shame.

More Patriots reaction, Red Sox welcome Yankees to town

All Boston teams were off on Monday, but there was still plenty to talk about following the Patriots’ season opening win on Sunday. The two main story lines were the play of the rookies on defense, and the emergence of running back Stevan Ridley. Despite the convincing win, with the Boston media and fans there will always be something negative coming out of the game.

This time it was the lack of playing time from Wes Welker. He played only 43 of the 67 snaps (64 percent) compared to just under 90 percent last season, while finishing with three catches for 14 yards. Some threw around the idea Bill Belichick and the Patriots are upset with him after his contract negotiations this past off season and are punishing him now. To me it is a non-story, and just one game. The Patriots seem to be stressing balance this season, so give it a few more games. It will work itself out.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges gives his grades for each position from Sunday’s win. They all passed with flying colors.

Ridley’s super Sunday was no surprise to high school coach– Kevin McNamara speaks with Ridley’s high school coach following his 125-yard performance in the season opening win.

Jones up to tall task– Jeff Howe takes a second-look at rookie Chandler Jones’ performance in his first NFL start.

In the line of Duty– Gerry Callahan looks at Logan Mankins’ toughness after it was revealed he tore his ACL in the first game last season, but did not tell anyone until after the season.

Has Welker’s role changed?– Felger & Mazz debate whether or not Welker’s role has changed this season.

News of Welker’s targets is product of media– Tom E. Curran blames the media for creating the Welker story.

Welker, Brown in same mold– Shalise Manza Young compares Welker to former Patriots star Troy Brown.

NFL Week 1: A few thoughts– Tony Massarotti has some thoughts not only on the Patriots, but the league in general.

In what would normally be a very meaningful September series between the Red Sox and Yankees, this time it means almost nothing, at least for the Red Sox. The Yankees now find themselves fighting to stay atop the AL East standings and the Red Sox will look to play spoiler.

Spoiler alert: Yanks in peril– Michael Silverman says the Yankees September has a chance to end just like the Red Sox’ did last year.

Good place to start– Scott Lauber looks ahead to next season and says the team needs to focus on rebuilding their starting rotation first before doing anything else.

Slumping Sox may find pick-me-up in pinstripes– Peter Abraham wonders if with the Yankees coming to town it might inspire the team to play better ball, and spoil their playoff hopes.

Lester: Beckett wasn’t the problem– Joe McDonald has Jon Lester’s reaction to Josh Beckett being traded, and how it could benefit the left-hander even though Lester says Beckett wasn’t an issue.

Young Patriots Impressive In Opening Win

Early in the first quarter yesterday, it looked a replay of some of the worst moments of last season for the Patriots.  The defense gave up a first down on third-and-long, Wes Welker dropped a pass he normally would catch, and Brandon Lloyd looked suspiciously like the guy who wore #85 last season on a long bomb from Brady. The Twitter critics were basking in their self-made glory.

Then the youngsters stepped up. Running back Stevan Ridley flashed a variety of skills, surprise second round pick Tavon Wilson ended up with an interception in the end zone off a tipped pass, then the Pièce de résistance when rookie Chandler Jones came around the edge and strip-sacked Jack Locker and fellow first round pick Dont’a Hightower scooped up the loose ball and took it into the end zone for defensive touchdown.

Young veterans like Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were their typical brilliant selves, and even the much-maligned offensive line was solid, save one sack that left Tom Brady with a bloody nose. And Tom Brady was, well, Tom Brady.

At halftime (on CSNNE.com Halftime Live) Mike Felger wanted to know why it took so long for the Patriots to draft players like Jones and Hightower and following the game, he tried his best to drum up a Wes Welker controversy after the wide receiver was almost an afterthought in the offense. It was hard to put  a damper on what was a very encouraging afternoon for the Patriots, but he tried.

The Welker situation figures to be the one that most looking for an angle will glom onto. Are the Patriots trying to phase him out of the offense, vindictively and systematically squeezing him? (That whole stream is hysterical.) Are they looking to trade him like they did Randy Moss in the 2010 season? Those should be storylines that some will try and make into headlines.

What we learned Sunday: Patriots dance past Titans – Christopher Price has some things to take away from yesterday. Jonathan Comey has five things we learned, and Hector Longo checks in with a Jerod Mayo-loving two minute drill.

McDaniels, line were dialed in – Greg A Bedard has been pretty much a lone voice in the wilderness since camp opened, saying that the offensive line was not cause for panic and rioting in the streets. Yesterday showed him right.

Patriots have new difference-makers – Mike Reiss looks at the new impact players on defense for New England. Karen Guregian has more on the Patriots new playmakers. Jim Donaldson has the defensive retooling well under way for the Patriots. Mary Paoletti has the defense shutting down Chris Johnson.

Second-year back Stevan Ridley takes heat off Tom Brady – Ron Borges looks at how Ridley makes Brady’s job so much easier. Michael Whitmer has more on Ridley putting together a game to build on.

First and goals to go for Patriots – Chad Finn looks at a number of “firsts” from this one.

Game 1 Notes: Patriots 34, Titans 13 – Tom Curran checks in with some notes and observations.

Nothing lasts forever: Enjoy yourself, Patriots fans – Ryan Hadfield urges you not to be so eager for January to get here. Enjoy the ride.

Check more links at PatriotsLinks.com.

Is This Stage Too Big For Bobby Valentine?

On the surface, that seems like a far-fetched question, after all, he did manage in New York.

It was the Mets though, not the Yankees, and no matter how good the Mets are, they don’t get the coverage that the Yankees do,  and for all the talk about the “tough” New York media, from an outsider, that seems like a myth.

Valentine’s behavior and performance this season often seem to be that of someone who is over his head and overwhelmed by his surroundings. His appearances on radio and TV have been marred by bizarre comments and head-scratching statements. From his very curious calling out of Kevin Youkilis the first week of the season right up to his recent “punch you in the mouth” comment to Glenn Ordway, Valentine has gotten himself into one mess after another this season.

He acts like someone who is overcompensating for a lack of confidence or security. It’s all been very odd. He’s been nothing like what he was billed to be by the likes of Gerry Callahan and Nick Cafardo coming into the season. Callahan the last few mornings has been saying that “we’ve all” been surprised by Valentine this season, which I disagree with. I think the majority of people were wary of Valentine right from the start, and only those who either cross themselves to Larry Lucchino each morning or who blatantly attempt to curry favor with the manager were boosters of Valentine as the successor to Terry Francona.

Kirk Minihane asks Is the media too tough on Bobby Valentine? I don’t know if that is the right question. It might be instead “Is Bobby Valentine tough enough for the Boston media?”

Media links:

Jim Nantz, Phil Simms familiar with Patriots – Chad Finn’s media column has CBS’s top NFL duo talking Patriots. A couple of years ago I wrote a column for Patriots Football Weekly which showed that Nantz and Simms had called more Patriots games than any other TV duo ever.

Patriots tight ends have Shannon Sharpe’s endorsement  – Bill Doyle has the CBS analyst talking about the Patriots tight end combination.

Doyle also wrote a very good column on the reunion of Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman this week.

Will the Kids be Alright? – George Cain notes Felger and Mazz’s examination of a Greg Bedard column from earlier in the week and adds his own thoughts.

Media Roundup: Could Brian Scalabrine Eventually Replace Tommy Heinsohn? – Though Finn reports above that Scal is an additional hire, not a replacement, I wonder if there is a little Gino Cappelletti/Scott Zolak thing going on here.

The Patriots kick things off for real this weekend, check all the constantly updated coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

Red Sox lose again, who will replace Bobby V?

While everyone was watching the Giants-Cowboys NFL regular season opener and then sleeping, the Red Sox lost 2-1 to the Mariners out in Seattle. The team finished their nine-game road trip by losing eight of nine games. The team is off today before hosting the Blue Jays for a weekend series at Fenway Park, which is sure to be interesting as as the Blue Jays manager is John Farrell and he is the man who was connected to the managerial opening last winter. The Red Sox might be interested in going after again this offseason.

The biggest story of the day came off the field, with Bobby Valentine losing his cool on WEEI’s Big Show, which was well documented by Bruce yesterday afternoon.

Strain shows in Valentine’s words– Peter Abraham says the stress of the season is starting to takes its toll on Valentine.

Bobby Valentine in misery– Michael Silverman also looks at Valentine and his comments on WEEI.

Bobby Valentine down for count– Gordon Edes says Valentine’s comments show he is on his way out of town after the season.

Will Red Sox get their man in Farrell this time?– Nick Cafardo wonders if the Red Sox can get Farrell to come back to Boston. He says he will be the teams’ number one choice to replace Valentine.

Why the Red Sox should take another run at John Farrell– From yesterday, Rob Bradford also thinks the Red Sox will push very hard to get Farrell to come back to Boston.

Red Sox need more Bill James?– Dan Shaughnessey touches on a number of subjects in his column today, including Bill James, and yes, the Patriots’ new media work room.

One more lost year for Ryan Kalish– Silverman also looks at Ryan Kalish’s season, one which has been limited due to injuries and once again hurting his development.

The Patriots open their regular season this Sunday at Tennessee, and for Boston sports fans it can not come soon enough, especially with everything going on with the Red Sox.

Double coverage on tap– Michael Whitmer looks at the McCourty twins facing one another this Sunday.

Brady prepares for unknown in Tennessee– Tom E. Curran says the offense could break out Sunday like they did in last year’s season opener in Miami when Brady threw for 517 in the Patriots’ 38-24 win.

In defense of needing a strong Patriots defense– Ron Borges says having a strong defense is still important in the league today, it isn’t all about the offense.

Young, talented defense critical to getting Patriots over the hump– Jeff Howe looks at the young defense and how it has changed over the years under Belichick.

Bobby V Goes Off On Ordway, How Much Longer Can He Last?

While his team continues to nosedive and rumors circulate about his future, Bobby Valentine remains combative, as evidenced this afternoon in a defiant, semi-crazed sounding segment on The Big Show.

Here’s the transcript from WEEI.com, but you need to hear it to get the full effect. (You can also download it as an MP3.)

This is the part that will get the most attention:

Ordway: Let’s get it on the table. People back here are talking an awful lot about you, ummm, I understand they make a huge deal, they change the personnel on your team dramatically, a team that is much more challenged to score runs, but you do get the impression that maybe you’ve kind of checked out. Have you checked out of this?

Valentine: What an embarrassing thing to say. You know if I was there, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Haha. How’s that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing to…why would someone even, I mean, that’s something that a comic strip person would write.

The desire to punch a WEEI host isn’t necessarily an unreasonable nor unnatural one, but expressing it on the air is  not the wisest course of action. A PR-conscious ownership isn’t likely to react charitably to this interview.

Later, Ordway rats out Nick Cafardo as a reporter that wrote that Valentine was “late” for a game (arriving at 4:00 for a 7:00 game.)

Did he really? That’s really embarrassing, Nick. I’ll see him when I get out there. He could have asked me very easily.

Poor Nick. He’s been carrying Bobby V’s water the entire season, and this is how he is rewarded in the end? (He wasn’t even being judgmental in bringing up the “late” incident.)

The media sessions in Seattle tonight should be interesting, to say the least.

I’m no Bobby V guy, to be sure, but the glee with which this meltdown and the meltdown of his team is being met with is slightly nauseating to me. I may have hated the decision to hire him in the first place, but this is a man’s life we’re talking about here, and his career, and we’re seeing it end with a fiery crash. There’s nothing enjoyable about that.