Patriots Knock Over Another Tomato Can, Media Ups and Downs

The Patriots improved to 4-0 with a 30-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons last night. New England suffered a big blow however, as they have likely lost defensive anchor Vince Wilfork for the season.

Get all the links this morning at

Here are a few of the top links for today:

What we learned: Aqib Talib, defense rise up in win over Falcons – Chris Price runs down the items of note from last night.

Patriots switched offensive strategy at half – Ben Volin has a look at the halftime adjustments.

The Patriots are still Brady’s bunch – Tom E Curran says that the Patriots are making this offense work thanks to their quarterback.

Talib continues to have things covered – Field Yates has a look at the big-time performance from the cornerback.

Kenbrell Thompkins breaks out – Karen Guregian looks at a huge night for the rookie wideout.

Now, for the media performances.

Three Up

Shalise Manza Young, Boston Globe

Broke the scoop in the middle of the night that Vince Wilfork’s injury is a torn achilles, which will likely end his season.

NESN Halftime Show

I enjoyed the live halftime show with Adam Pellerin, Mike Salk and Matt Chatham. It was nice to be able to avoid the NBC halftime show and have something local on the television. They were also pretty good following the game in the times I looked over there, while trying to split time between NBC, CSNNE, WBZ and NFL Network.

Tom E Curran,

Slow clap for this Sunday Notes piece yesterday from Curran which looked at the relative noise-meter for recent NFL scandals compared to Spygate, and also called out selective scrutiny from the Boston Globe when covering business deals by the Red Sox and Patriots.

AlsoJeff Howe for his report Saturday about the seeming divide of opinion between the Patriots and Rob Gronkowski’s camp on when the tight end should return to game action.

Three Down

Ben Volin, Boston Globe

I feel like there was some rookie hazing going on last week with his source telling him that Gronkowski and Amendola were going to play last night, when just about everyone else was saying they likely would not play. Volin got hung out to dry. Welcome to the beat, Ben.

Toucher and Rich, 98.5/Cris Collinsworth NBC

If you really think Cris Collinsworth is a Bill Belichick suck-up, then you haven’t been paying attention over the years. Yes, he gushed over Belichick and the Kraft family last night, especially when talking about Jim Brown’s appearance on Inside The NFL on Showtime (which Collinsworth appears on) where the Browns legend called Belichick one of his three heroes (along with Bill Russell and Bobby Knight) for his work with inner city kids and prison inmates.

Collinsworth went too far though when talking about all the troubled players that come into New England and how they all straighten out once they get there. The Aaron Hernandez elephant in the room was too much at that point. Collinsworth through the years though, has never shied away from being critical of Belichick and the Patriots, and was one of many calling for a ban of the Patriots coach following Spygate.

For anyone to think he’s just a Belichick suckup is ridiculous.

Gerry Callahan, WEEI

Rough morning for Gerry. His premise that “the Patriots are the only team that gets all the calls on the road” is a little flawed if you watched that game at all. (Edelman whacked on fair-catch, Dobson held and hit in the head in the end zone, iffy PI call on Talib.) Can you imagine the national outrage if the officials replay machine failed during a game in Gillette Stadium. The tin-foil hat wearers would be up in arms. Also, when a caller brought up Andre Carter, who the Patriots worked out recently and mentioned he had been in Oakland after leaving the Patriots, Callahan confidently corrected him by saying “Buffalo.” His co-host repeated “Buffalo.” Andre Carter, Mark Anderson, what’s the difference?

The Red Sox have wrapped up their regular season with homefield advantage, and await their divisional round opponent.

What does home-field advantage mean for Red Sox? – Alex Speier looks at the importance of home field.

Red Sox have decisions to make for postseason – Peter Abraham looks at some of the last spots to be decided.

The Celtic have media day this afternoon, and camp starts tomorrow.

Wait ’til next year, or maybe longer – Steve Bulpett has a quick preview.


Sox Inch Closer To Best Record

The Red Sox moved closer to grabbing home field advantage in the AL playoffs last night with a 15-5 win in Colorado. Will Middlebrooks hit two home runs, including a grand slam, to pace the offensive attack. With the win, the Red Sox have a two game lead over Oakland for the best record with three games to play.

All that remains of the regular season is a series in Baltimore this weekend, starting tomorrow night.

With Jacoby Ellsbury’s return, Red Sox lineup appears unmatched in playoffs – The centerfielder returned to the lineup last night, and Alex Speier explains how his presence changes everything for Boston.

Ortiz reaction to 7th 100-RBI season? Vindication – Sean McAdam has the Sox slugger pleased that he could validate the contract extension that was given him before the season, and silence critics of the deal at the same time. The other day, Gordon Edes wrote that we need to enjoy Ortiz while we still have him.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia in driver’s seat – Michael Silverman has the Sox catcher and free agent to be hoping to stick around, but also looking to explore the market in the offseason.

Balancing act for Red Sox in the season’s final week – Peter Abraham’s notebook has the Sox looking to juggle their priorities this weekend, mixing work with rest.

If Falcons can get healthy on offense, Patriots may have to pick their poison Sunday night – Nick Underhill looks at the challenge the Atlanta offense will likely present to the New England defense.

Amendola “not likely” for Sunday; better chance next week in Cincy -Karen Guregian has solid sources when it comes to injury/medical items with the club, and this one says we’ll probably have to wait another week to see the receiver.

Get all the Patriots news today at

Green ready to make most of starring role with C’s – A. Sherrod Blakely has the forward looking to step up and out of the shadows of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.  Jay King also has a good piece on Green.


Michael Felger will be part of a new football show on the NBC Sports Regional Networks. “3 and Out” — a new football analysis and debate program will debut on Tuesday, October 1 and air each remaining week of the 2013 NFL season across its lineup of Comcast SportsNet RSNs. The 30-minute program will employ next generation fiber optics to connect a panel of accomplished and spirited football analysts, each located within a separate NFL market, to break down the three most impactful storylines affecting that week’s action.

While each week’s three selected storylines will dictate which panelists will make up the 3 and Out panel, the program will feature regular appearances from CSN Houston’s Kelli Johnson, CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Brian Mitchell, CSN New England’s Mike Felger and CSN Bay Area’s Ray Ratto.

Here’s the bio they gave for Felger:

Mike Felger –- As a self-described impartial observer of the New England sports scene, Mike Felger revels in his ability to play devil’s advocate and singe local sports fans for their unabashed homerism. Felger has been offering his keen observations and entertaining analysis on Comcast SportsNet New England’s UNO’s Sports Tonight and Sports Sunday. He can be watched daily on Comcast SportsNet’s simulcast of 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz.

The show will air Tuesday nights at 11:00pm on CSNNE.

CSNNE Announces Red Sox Postseason Coverage Plans

Comcast SportsNet New England today announced their plans for coverage of the 2013 Red Sox postseason. Here is the release:



Former Red Sox Lou Merloni, Tony Massarotti & Gary Tanguay Join  

One-Hour Editions of Chevrolet SportsNet Central Insider Sean McAdam, Jessica Moran and Trenni Kusnierek

To Report Live from the Ballpark

BURLINGTON, MA – The resurgent Boston Red Sox have clinched the American League East title, and as the region’s nightly source for Boston sports coverage, Comcast SportsNet and will provide fans with the most unbiased, independent coverage of the Red Sox each postseason game night.

Immediately following every Red Sox postseason game, Gary Tanguay will host 45-minutes of Playoff Central coverage during each night’s one-hour edition of Chevrolet SportsNet Central. Former Red Sox infielder and current WEEI midday host Lou Merloni and 98.5 the Sports Hub’s afternoon drive host Tony Massarotti will provide analysis. Insider Sean McAdam along with reporters Jessica Moran and Trenni Kusnierek will report live from the ballpark before and after every single postseason game.

Combined with Chevrolet SportsNet Central at 6, 10:30 and 11:30 and UNOs Sports Tonight at 6:30, Comcast SportsNet will have an estimated 2.5 hours of game night coverage focused on the Red Sox’ World Series chase plus coverage of the entire Boston sports scene.

Comcast SportsNet’s Red Sox postseason coverage will begin with a special 90-minute postseason edition of The Baseball Show on Tuesday, October 1 at 8:30. Featuring host Bob Neumeier, Merloni, McAdam, Moran and Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, The Baseball Show will preview the Red Sox divisional round series and the Red Sox prospects for a third World Series title in 10 years plus take fan calls and Tweets.

At, the online home to Comcast SportsNet, Sean McAdam and Maureen Mullen will have pre, post and clubhouse coverage on the Red Sox Talk blog. will also include all of Comcast SportsNet’s video coverage from the ballpark including player interviews, news reports and analysis.

“Viewers made us their first choice after Bruins and Patriots playoff games, and we will be there again with the most on-air and on-line coverage during the Red Sox postseason run,” said Bill Bridgen, Comcast SportsNet executive vice president and general manager.

Celtics Close To 98.5 Deal, Belichick Has No Patience For Salk and Holley

While it has been rumored as being close for some time now, it appears a deal to make 98.5 The SportsHub the radio home of the Boston Celtics is really close now.

Sean Grande and Danny Ainge both appeared on the Toucher and Rich show this morning, and while no announcement has been made yet, it seems pretty obvious that this is going to happen.

I’m conflicted on the move to this particular station, which has shown itself to be Celtics-hostile in the past, particularly in the afternoons. Does getting the radio rights change their tune? I doubt it.

I’m convinced of a couple things regarding this Celtics team. These will both go against what is largely being said elsewhere in the media.

1) This team won’t tank. They will not be as bad as people seem to think they will be. They definitely will not be a contender, but they will be at least on the fringes of the playoff hunt. A .500 record is not out of the question. There is too much talent on the roster for them to be among the worst teams in the league. They will struggle early, without Rondo, and a new coach and system and players, but they will not bottom out.

2) Rajon Rondo will not be traded this season. It just doesn’t make sense.


Bill Belichick was in top form yesterday in dealing with questions, both at his press conference at Gillette Stadium and on his weekly interview on WEEI with Salk and Holley.

In what is becoming a pattern, Albert Breer attempts to grill Belichick on a question everyone knows will not get answered, and the coach shoots him down.

Q: How close was Rob Gronkowski to playing yesterday?
BB: I don’t know. He was inactive.
Q: Did he have a shot to play?
BB: He was inactive.
Q: Going into the day, was there a chance he’d play?
BB: He was inactive for the game.
Q: What about Danny Amendola?
BB: He was inactive too.
Q: I know they were inactive.
BB: They were inactive so they didn’t play.
Q: I think you have an idea how close they were.
BB: Well, they weren’t able to play. What do you want, percentage points? They couldn’t play.
Q: Going into the day, did you know they couldn’t play?
BB: They were inactive.
Q: That doesn’t answer my question.
BB: They were inactive, it’s as simple as that.

Then on Salk and Holley, Belichick seemed like he could just not fathom a question put to him from Michael Holley, who should know better. Ian Logue put together a partial transcript of the interview, which was just an abomination.

Holley started by asking about how Belichick always talks about what an opposing team does well, even if they’re a bad team.

MICHAEL HOLLEY: “I get the sense that if you, name the team, if it’s the worst team in the NFL, no matter what the circumstances are, I get the sense that you would find a way to say something good about that team or to think what that team does well.  Is it simply you’re preparing for that team’s best even if they haven’t shown it?”

BILL BELICHICK: “Well, of course, you always prepare for your opponent’s best.  I mean, what else would you prepare for?  Do you think they’re going to come in here and turn the ball over eight times?  I mean, you don’t prepare for that.  You prepare for a team to come in here and play their best football against you, and how are you going to play your best football against them?  That’s a competition every week.  We can’t control how they play, but we expect them to play well and we’re going to prepare for them to play well.  That’s what our game plan is going to be based on is the things that they do well and what we’ve seen them do well.”

MH: “You expect them to play well even…I’m not saying this is the case of the Bucs, but some teams haven’t played well.  But you still expect it when you play them?”

BB: “Of course.  Why would you think they wouldn’t?”

MH: “If they haven’t done it…”

BB: “So what?  That doesn’t mean anything.  They’ve done something…I mean, they’ve done something.  Things that they’ve done well.  Doesn’t mean that this week they can’t do a lot of things well if they’ve shown that they’ve done things in spurts or in one phase of the game or another.  I mean I think it would be irresponsible to coach a team and tell them, ‘Ok fellas, the team that’s coming in here is not going to play well, so we should expect them to play a bad game so why don’t we play one that’s just a little bit better than their bad game?  I think that would be totally irresponsible.  I can’t imagine any coach ever doing that.  I mean, I couldn’t imagine that, so I wouldn’t know how to prepare a team the way you’re talking about.  I couldn’t even fathom that.”

A minute or so later, Belichick really put the hammer down on Holley:

MH: If you’re playing a bad team, I mean, it’s tough to say, ‘this team is capable of doing X, Y, Z, when the team is, let’s say you’re playing…

BB: “Yeah, like when we were 12-1 and went down to Miami and they were 1-12 or whatever it was? And they beat us Monday night in ’04? Is that what you’re talking about? Like it couldn’t ever happen? Like what game are you…I mean, what game are we talking about here? I mean, I just don’t understand it. I think it’s…to me, that’s just the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever heard of. I can’t even fathom it.”

The only thing I can possibly think is that they somehow did this on purpose to get Belichick going and create shock value and entertainment. Michael Holley cannot possibly be this dumb.  He just can’t. With two books on Belichick and the Patriots under his belt, there is just no way in the world he can possibly think that these are good questions.

The only redeeming part of the interview came afterwards when Mike Salk got Belichick to talk about Lawrence Taylor. That’s the way to salvage any Belichick interview,  I guess. Ask him to talk history.

Patriots Fall To 3-0, Media Ups and Downs

The Patriots still haven’t beaten anyone, and yesterday another hapless foe folded like a kid’s camp chair in front of the Gillette faithful. Or so goes the sports radio storyline today.

Get all the links from the game over at

Some of the good and bad from the media yesterday:

Three Up

Mike Reiss, ESPN Boston

Prior to the game, Reiss broke the story of the Rob Ninkovich contract extension through the 2016 season. It seems like Mike might’ve had an inkling this was coming down, or else he was extremely prescient in his Quick-hit thoughts column yesterday (see #3).

Gerry Callahan, WEEI

Yeah, he and his cohorts spent plenty of time on the “they haven’t beaten anyone” meme, but Callahan did point out and call out the hypocrisy of the national media in two different storylines yesterday, first, what the national outrage would’ve been had it been Bill Belichick who chose to let a player play after it had been determined that the player was going to enter a treatment facility the next day. The second one was the criticism by Shannon Sharpe, Tom Jackson and others over Tom Brady’s outbursts on the field, acting like he is the only QB to ever react that way.

An aside on that, this was what Sharpe said yesterday:

SHARPE: I played with a guy in John Elway who was every bit of Tom Brady’s equal in his prime, and he never disrespected me and showed that kind of outward emotion even when I ran the wrong route and missed blocks and got sacked. There is a right and wrong way to handle everything. And that is clearly the wrong way.

This is from the January 12, 1998 Denver Post.

On the floor of Three Rivers Stadium, John Elway cannot see or hear his father. Everywhere the Broncos’ quarterback looks, 60,000 terrible towels wave in the hands of Pittsburgh fans. Everywhere he turns, there’s a teammate straining to grasp the details of a play called on third down and 6 from Denver’s 15 yard line.

“Just go get open!” Elway screams to tight end Shannon Sharpe, who doesn’t know what pass route to run.

“Just go get open?” Sharpe replies in a daze. “OK.”

How quickly they forget.

Ron Borges, CSNNE, Boston Herald

Ron was on his best behavior during his TV spots last night, and his column today is an example of what he does best when his head is on straight. Good, solid football analysis.

Honorable mentionHector Longo is pretty good today. He also gets credit for asking Adrian Clayborn about the play in which the defensive lineman ended up trying to cover WR Kenbrell Thompkins.

Three Down

Jackie MacMullan, ESPN Boston

In the middle of an otherwise very good column, she slips this in:

The buzz word for the New England Patriots is fortunate. They are fortunate they are 3-0 as they continue to buy time for the return of Rob Gronkowski and an extra week of healing for Danny Amendola.

They also are fortunate that Tampa Bay was in the house Sunday. The Bucs could have (and should have) jumped out to a double-digit lead as the Patriots’ offense initially stalled, but their kicker missed a 38-yard field goal, the referees missed a third-down interference call that should have drawn a flag on Alfonzo Dennard and their quarterback, Josh Freeman, simply couldn’t close the deal when his team got into New England territory.

Why is it that if the Patriots lose a close game and the “what ifs” and “could have/should have” and the “referees missed the call” lines are brought out, it is evidence of a a “homer” and someone with “blinders on” but it is perfectly OK to apply them to the other team during a win?

Tom E Curran, CSNNE

Actually nothing on Tom’s work, which was up to the usual high standards. But Tom, you’re killing me by retweeting all the negative nitwit Patriots fanz (yeah, fanz) who are incapable of enjoying a game, and want to proclaim Brady and Wilfork done, the schedule soft as tissue paper, and take victory laps on Danny Amendola. Tom, I work very hard at actively trying to ignore these idiots, I don’t need to see them in my timeline courtesy of you, even if you are just exposing their idiocy to a larger audience.

Boston Globe Magazine

Do we still trust Bill Belichick? – That was the featured story yesterday. Does this mean we’ll see a “Do we still trust Larry Lucchino?” piece next week? The piece itself isn’t that bad, but leads off with a dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox/baseball guy in Glenn Stout (not someone I associate at all with football) who worries about the worship of Belichick, and also includes an essay from Gregg Easterbrook, who slips this in:

Belichick’s ethics leave something to be desired — troubling because NFL figures are role models for young people. His open contempt for the sports press is puzzling, given that the sports press has helped make him a multimillionaire. Maybe he’s just an ungrateful, heartless SOB. But he sure can run a football team.

Has the sports press made him a multimillionaire, or is it the 207 career wins (most of any active coach) or the 18-8 postseason record (also best of any active coach)? It seems incredibly arrogant to me to suggest it is the media who has made Bill Belichick.

On yesterday’s FOX broadcast John Lynch was talking about the relationship between Belichick and Greg Schiano, and told how the relationship started – Belichick’s son Steve was a long-snapper on the Rutgers team, and then Belichick invited Schiano and his staff up to Foxborough to observe practice, and at the end of that, Belichick asked Schiano what he liked and didn’t like about how they did things, and said he learned some things from Schiano.

Lynch said “that’s what makes Belichick great, he’s not above anyone, he’s willing to listen to a college coach about what they do well and don’t do well.”

But yes, he’s an ungrateful, heartless SOB, not to mention he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else and has all the answers.

Sox Are In Playoffs, Reader Rant on Mazz

The Red Sox clinched at least a wild card playoff spot with the 3-1 win over the Orioles at Fenway last night. John Lackey pitched what might’ve been his best game in a Red Sox uniform, limiting the O’s to just two hits and going the complete nine innings.

How John Lackey became an improbable symbol of an improbable (and playoff-bound) team – Alex Speier looks at how the once-loathed pitcher has completely changed his image in Boston.

Lackey provides fitting push into playoffs – Gordon Edes says that Lackey being on the mound was fitting.

Red Sox holding off on big celebration – Nick Cafardo looks at how the Sox eschewed a “wild card” celebration because they have bigger goals in mind.

A couple media columns:

WEEI courting Curt Schilling for significant role – Chad Finn says that the pursuit of the former Sox pitcher is for real, and that is Joe Haggerty is brought in instead, it could mean the end for Kirk Minihane. He also has some Sox ratings numbers from NESN.

O’Brien cutting through Red Sox ads, high pitch counts – Bill Doyle has a Red Sox fan explaining his method for watching Red Sox games quickly.

The Patriots take on Tampa Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. From what I’ve learned this week, the Patriots are the worst 2-0 team in NFL history, while the Buccaneers are the best 0-2 team in NFL history. What exactly that means, I’m not sure.

Catch all the coverage at

This came in from a reader yesterday, and I thought it worthy of sharing:

Subject: Dammit!

It is the multiple layers of conceit that get me.  I want to listen/read, and I want to acquire insights, but the multiple layers of conceit are in the way:

  • That opinions matter as much or more than reporting
  • That opinions are tapped into what sports fans are saying and thinking
  • That opinions generate their own relevancy
  • That prediction of absolute outcomes stand in as an argument, particularly to present false choices
  • That criticism can be deflected by having it both ways (a Paul Reiser joke: “I am not saying you are fat, I am just saying that you are a little on the chubby side.”)

Tony Massarotti is now officially a believer in the Red Sox on the Baseball “Reporters,” and as revenge he has hiiiigh expectations for the Sox in the playoffs, and will be disappointed in them if they don’t advance in the right way.

He sees despicable complacency in calling the 2013 season already successful, and states that those who feel that way are not in tune with real Red Sox fandom.

It is evident to Tony that calling the 2013 season already successful places no expectations on success in the playoffs.

He doesn’t think that it is right to place no expectations on success in the playoffs, and that before 2004, maintaining high and passionate expectations is how fans thought about the Sox.

He maintains the Sox should be able to beat some teams easily in the playoffs.  If they don’t, they will be a disappointment.

If Massarotti were a real “baseball reporter,” he would understand and relate a few things:

  • That against playoff caliber teams, the very best likelihood of winning a short series would be no more than 60%, but probably not as much as that.
  • That the chances of advancing to and then winning a World Series would be less than 20% for any and all teams this year, and yet we can still enjoy watching a team try.
  • That the reason why there is uncertainty in a short series, is because a few inches on a Tony Clark line drive down the right field line, or a shut down performance by Derek Lowe who carried a 5.42 season ERA into the playoffs, can make huge differences.
  • That performance on the field is not an absolute indicator of team character, and that character is not what is most on display when a game is being played.

But he is not a “baseball reporter.”  He is not tapped into how real fans view the Red Sox.  He is not relevant.  He does not present cogent arguments.  He does not present consistent arguments.  Instead, he is conceited.  I suspect he is laughing to the bank.

I am guilty of contributing to his humor, by even paying attention to (and writing about!) him, but dammit, I really really want to talk, listen, and read about a very enjoyable team.  I am a sucker and I know it.

There is nothing I can say to Tony Massarotti because I hear others trying to say it on the radio, to no avail, and I know I can’t be any more successful.  It is Tony Massarotti  today, but previous others through the years have exercised those multiple layers of conceit with equal adroitness.  Such people do succeed.

These ilk are not going to ruin my enjoyment of this season but really — dammit.

If you’ve missed it, Massarotti has already moved his goalposts. After an entire season of ‘I don’t believe in this team!!!‘ the theme is now ‘Anything short of a World Series victory and the season is a failure!!!

Can Curt Schilling End The Curse (of WEEI)?

The Boston Herald reported last night that the struggling sports station had talked to former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling about a regular role on the afternoon drive show of Salk and Holley.

Could Curt Schilling pitch in at WEEI?

Entercom Boston boss Jeff Brown is quoted as saying that no offer has been made, and that no changes are expected to the show.

While that might be true, it could be that the station is looking to cover its bases so to speak, by gauging the interest of Schilling in taking the job should Michael Holley decide he’s had enough of working with Mike Salk.

It doesn’t seem to be a secret that Holley would love to get out and jump over to ESPN. He appeared last week on his buddy Michael Smith’s show Numbers Never Lie, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind jumping into the spot opened by the recent firing of Hugh Douglas. Holley could slide in as the replacement. He’s got established chemistry with Smith.

If that were to happen, perhaps Schilling could be a good fit. It might work better for Salk, who worked with a former athlete very successfully in Seattle. Schilling could bring immediate credibility to the baseball talk on the show, and would put that show eons ahead of its competition on that subject in that timeslot.

Perhaps nothing will come of it, but it’s an intriguing idea.

The alternative, according to the Herald article is Joe Haggerty.