Why Is Ron Borges In Phoenix?

I made the mistake of reading Ron Borges’ piece in The Boston Herald Wednesday. It’s called “Borges: A one-sided conversation over breakfast with Bill Belichick,” and I’m linking to it here, with the warning that it could cause severe agitation.

This column makes me despondent. Borges used to write for The Boston Globe, which had the best sports page in the country 30 to 40 years ago. Do yourself a favor and order the compilation of Ray Fitzgerald columns called Touching All Bases. When you get it, turn to the final entry, written in 1982, called “Tricks of the Trade.” It’s eye-opening, because, in his inimitable, cheeky way, Fitzgerald lets you in on how to hack your way through a column. It’s a timeless piece.

Seemed like a good idea (“good” being a relative term) to go over this Borges work bit by bit, in a Drew-Magary-takes-on-Gregg-Easterbrook kind of way.

Put on your housework clothes, because we’re going knee deep.

PHOENIX – I sat down for breakfast yesterday with Bill Belichick. He seemed kind of distant.

He and his fellow coaches had come out west to join their bosses, as well as the straw bosses who run the NFL, for the annual league meetings. That’s where members of the rules committee annually conspire with commissioner Roger Goodell against the Patriots. Bill knows this better than the rest of us, but he was kind of mum on the subject.

Ah. See, if you read actual Patriots news, you would know that Belichick skipped out on NFL meetings to attend college pro days in Florida. If you did not know this, the column would get super confusing. The rules thing, I assume, is based on the presumption of many local fans that the NFL conspires against New England on a regular basis. Never mind that this week an NFL owner was quoted as saying that, if another team besides the Patriots proposes a rule change, it gets more traction.

But let’s not let the extra work of writing fact-based background get in the way. Avant, Ron!

When I went to charm school, one thing I was taught was the best way to get a conversation going is to break the ice with small talk.

Ha! Charm school. I don’t think he ever even went to charm school. Get it?

So I asked something I was sure a lot of people back in New England were wondering about since Super Bowl LI ended with Tom Brady’s jersey inside some Mexican editor’s sports coat.

“How come nobody stole your hoodie?” I asked.

No one – not one single person I’ve spoken to, texted with, or emailed – has ever asked about stealing the hoodie. Perhaps the biggest reason for that is because Belichick did not wear a hoodie during the Super Bowl. Again: facts. Maybe 20 seconds of research, depending on one’s ability to type “Belichick SBLI” and click on “Images,” would have made that apparent. At this point, I’m not sure if Ron even watched the game.

But why strain oneself, really? Why try, when you can effortlessly demonstrate writing skills that ooze from every pore?

Not wanting to cause an international incident by getting into a beef with Mexico over some dirty laundry, Bill thought it best not to comment. Who could blame him with a wall going up and all.

“Dirty laundry” is a pun, there, that accurately determines the level of humor within this article. We’ll ignore the weird wall comment, which I have to assume Ron thought was funny. Let’s keep going, Guy Imitating Everyone’s Probably-Racist Uncle!

I did wonder what he might think the hoodie was worth on the black market if Brady’s soiled game jersey was valued at $500,000, but I didn’t ask. Why pry?

Belichick. Didn’t. Wear. A. Hoodie.

Instead I did it the way it’s done these days. I spoke to one of the FOBs instead, who insisted, “A dollar more than Brady’s!” Of course. Who would quarrel with a spokesman from a society more secretive than the Freemasons? Not me. Back to my oatmeal.

Get over the hoodie, for God’s sake. Moving on, there is so much to unpack in this paragraph. FOB means Friend Of Bill, which leads to some journalistic issues. Did Borges actually talk to someone who knows Belichick? Is this a real quote? I don’t know, and I can’t tell from the context of this piece. What’s potentially revealing, though, is the line “I did it the way it’s done these days.” Though I’m not exactly sure what Ron is referring to, it seems like a curmudgeonly jab at today’s journalism, i.e., a method of getting around a source’s unavailability. That again calls into question the veracity of his quote: is there a real FOB, or to him, does “the way it’s done these days” mean making something up?

Because he made up just about everything else, often in fruitless searches for laughter. Cases in point:

Breakfast at 6:35 a.m. is a tad early by sportswriter’s standards, but according to deeply held beliefs in New England, Bill usually would have had lunch by now as well as done hot yoga, a Zumba class, watched tape of 12 college seniors and every AFC East opponent’s games since 1971, balanced his salary cap, worked on variations of the Pythagorean theorem and taken 100 throws right-handed and 100 lefty with his Paul Rabil-model lacrosse stick. No wonder the guy was kind of quiet.

This hyperbole is intended to be a burn on both Belichick and his fans. He works hard! The irony is that the coach leaving early to attend pro days is in itself a testament to his preference for football analysis over meetings. Remember, when it comes to scouting, his father wrote the book on it. Also, during the season, Belichick wakes up around 4 a.m. after about four hours of sleep. What a jerk!

Ron brings in the “No wonder the guy was kind of quiet” reference, another strained attempt at humor that at this point is just distracting. How confusing this must have been for readers who did not realize Belichick had left early. Must have seemed like the longest prelude to an interview ever.

Though, I’ve got to admit: solid reference on Paul Rabil.

Our silent rendezvous yesterday was in a hotel where it costs $11 for coffee, unless you want cream. Then it’s $17. That’ll put a damper on conversation, not to mention your appetite, so it was kind of quiet at the table.

So … billionaires like to meet at fancy hotels. Front page news, that. But, in light of nagging questions of veracity, I wondered if the $6 for cream were true. It is not. I got in touch with the Arizona Biltmore and received this price list: small coffee at The Café, $3.75. Large coffee, $4.75. Room service pot of coffee, $12. All cream is complimentary.

Now, some of you might be telling me to relax, that it’s obvious he’s exaggerating. I didn’t think it was so obvious. According to the hotel’s Cabana Club menu, an Arizona Sunrise cocktail costs $12, so it’s not impossible to think the prices he wrote were real.

In any case, if Borges wants to get into how expensive the place is, he could try harder. (He actually would have to: a room with two double beds costs $210 a night – not the Town ‘n’ Country Motor Inn, but not exactly The Ritz.) Its seems like even hyperbole gets a half-assed effort here.

Coffee there was so expensive, I had to ask Robert Kraft for a MicroLoan. It’s just not that difficult. Also worth noting how Ron keeps bringing out the “quiet at the table” ruse. Because Ron’s all alone. Seriously, this thing has turned into a plaintive cry for help.

I’ll skip a few more half-hearted metaphors regarding Belichick’s absence (“Bill had kind of a faraway look,” is one example) and settle into this mud puddle of references:

Later in the day, the owners were going to vote on a rule change that would prevent what it called “the leaper” block attempt on a field goal or extra point. You remember that became Shea McClellin’s specialty last season. He looked like Edwin Moses hurdling the line and slapping down kicks so New Englanders knew this was now a conspiracy to stop the Patriots. It seemed logical to ask Bill if he believed the Philadelphia Eagles offered that change just to hurt his team.

For those under 30, Edwin Moses won the Olympic gold medal in the 400 hurdles in 1976 and 1984. (Fun fact: the U.S. women swept the 100 meter hurdles last year in Brazil. That took 90 seconds of research.) Ron wants Pats fans to know how silly they are to think the rule was brought up to work against them. It’s a safety issue. Right?

The competition committee claimed it was an unsafe play. Well, isn’t running through the line more unsafe than jumping over it?

Kind of a turnaround from the previous point, here. In one paragraph, he says that Patriots fans are ridiculous for pointing out what they see as a ridiculous rule. In the next, he agrees that rule seems ridiculous. I have to wonder if anyone else looks at these columns before they get printed.

More disdain for Pats fans unveiled here:

I didn’t want to ask why he decided to blow the bank on Stephon Gilmore for $14 million a year when he’s paid Malcolm Butler minimum wage his entire career because In Bill I Trust, but I have to admit the last time I saw Gilmore he was about 15 yards behind Chris Hogan. It makes you think, unless you’re a Patriots fan.

Wow. Not even hiding it anymore. Besides contempt, Ron shows disingenuousness. He knows how contracts work in the NFL, and that, as an undrafted rookie, Butler was not going to make a lot of cash until his second contract (which is what Gilmore, a first-round pick with Buffalo, signed with the Patriots). In other words, Butler’s “entire career” has been three years of UDFA money. (You can check out old pal Miguel Benzan’s Patscap Twitter page for more info and links to salaries.) As far as Gilmore getting toasted by Hogan, just about every Patriots fan who paid attention this season thought of that upon news of the signing.

But Patriots fans don’t think, apparently. It’s almost like they’ve been conned into believing Belichick is good at his job.

What was on my mind was if Bill was considering doing his hair like Gilmore’s in a kind of bonding thing with the new guy? Sources say, you know. Then I realized with a hoodie that could get kind of bulky in the back. Bill seemed a little detached so why ask?

If making fun of dreadlocks is not racist, it is, at the very least, an exhausted, desperate bid at humor. “Wouldn’t it be funny if an old white guy got dreads?” could have passed for an attempt at a joke last century. It’s clumsy and painful now. And again with the hoodie, and again with the “detached” Belichick-as-absentee reference. At this point, he’s like a child in love with the same knock-knock joke.

“Who’s there?”

“Not Bill Belichick!”

I’m skipping ahead. One can only take so much.

It was kind of quiet at the table with just me and Bill and one bowl of oatmeal and it was getting late.

God damnit. This is like if T. S. Eliot drank a bottle of gin, fell on his face, got concussed, and then tried to write “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

Kind of quiet … getting late … coffee spoons … Like a patient etherized upon a table, indeed.

In Gainesville, Fla., where the University of Florida was holding Pro Day, it was already 10 a.m. I had a few more questions but Bill had drifted away. I thought, poor guy is so tired he came to breakfast disguised as an empty chair, which up to that point I thought was a pretty clever way to keep things intimate.

Someone please read that last sentence and explain to me just what in a tinker’s hump is happening there. Belichick is not present. We get it. With this empty chair thing – are we supposed to read it and experience it as a joke, where the premise hits us all of a sudden and our response is presumed to be laughter? I can’t imagine an adult writing this paragraph, reading it over, and thinking, “Yup, earning my money today.”

Judging by his record for drafting Gators from Gainesville, …

Ah! Alliteration! See, he already said the University of Florida was in Gainesville, but sometimes we sports writers can’t resist those alliterative phrases, even when redundant. Anyway, onward, Ron, you Writerly Rapscallion!

 … it seemed his time might have been better spent over a bran muffin.

Is that a poop joke? I’m, like, 90 percent certain that’s a poop joke.

Of the eight Gators he’s drafted in 17 years, only Jeremy Mincey hasn’t been a bust. Only three remain in the NFL and none are in New England, unless you include Aaron Hernandez, whose uniform number is now W106228 not 81. Unlike when he was a tight end, whenever we see Aaron these days he’s covered … with prison tats and handcuffs.

Boy, Belichick must be terrible at drafting. (Only we know he’s not.)

Okay, to sum up something Borges knows but isn’t saying: Belichick knew former Gators coach Urban Meyer well and drafted a slew of his players several years ago. Florida has a new coaching staff and quite a few athletes – including the son of former Patriot Bryan Cox – who are getting a close look from the coach.

We’ll get to Hernandez in a minute, but I’d like to pause here and reflect on the fact that most of the “research” that went into this column involved finding the prison number of the former tight end. No statistics, no wins/losses, no combine results. A prison number.

Time for a super-fun detail. If you type the above number into a search engine, this article from an April 2015 page of The Daily Mail pops up. Here’s the best part: the first bit of the headline reads,

EXCLUSIVE: Aaron Hernandez is Prisoner W106228 – not 81 –

Looking at the similarities between the headline and his sentence, it sure seems that Ron got this idea from a source other than himself. This points to his laziness, because he can’t even think of another way to state a sad, stale one-liner. By the way, that ellipsis leading up to the “punchline” is all his.

Prison tats and handcuffs! Because innocent men were killed! Ba-da-BOOM!

Crap, there’s more? There’s more.

Maybe avoiding Gainesville might have been wiser than avoiding breakfast, because there’s only so many mistakes you can make with an omelet, but there was no sense asking. Bill was gone.

Maybe the biggest irony of this Borges work is that he laments “the way it’s done these days,” while showcasing the reason why it’s done that way. In the previous century, when I first got the AOL disk in the mail and stuck it in my tangerine iMac, I discovered Bill Simmons, aka “Boston Sports Guy,” on AOL Digital City. Like him or not (and these days, mostly not), Simmons tapped into the frustration that a lot of sports fans felt with writers – why do those guys get to travel and follow the team, yet seem to hate it? Why can’t I build a following writing with passion and humor from my home?

So, back to the headline question: why is Borges in Phoenix? What does he tell us about the NFL meetings that we didn’t know already, besides the price of a cup of coffee (which he made up)? Seems like a lot for the Herald to pay for an ongoing schtick of talking to a chair. Ron offers no fewer than 11 references to Belichick’s absence (“quiet,” “distant,” “invisible,” etc. – eviscerating a horse that was beaten to death by paragraph six), and zero references to New England actually winning the Super Bowl.

What hurts, here, is that it’s yet another blown opportunity. What is a day at the Phoenix Biltmore like? What’s the mood among owners and coaches? Laughs and golf? Furrowed brows and tense talks? I mean, if you’re there, do something besides writing about game-worn hoodies that were not worn at the game. And, if you’re going to write about the coach not being there, tell us he’s not there. Give us a Belichickian rundown of the breakfast. Was the bacon executed well? Did the kitchen put enough time into preparing the coffee? Does anyone work harder than the omelet chef? So many options.

There’s mailing it in, and then there’s this column, written with all the effort of having an intern send an emoji. About 10 years ago, Borges retired from the Globe. Given his palpable apathy shown on this page, it’s apparent he’s stayed that way.

Chris Warner still has that tangerine iMac somewhere. His email is chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com, Twitter @cwarn89.

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Plagiarist Ruins Perfectly Good Rolling Stone Feature

Why’d you do it, Rolling Stone?

After already angering much of Boston last month with the cover story on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the magazine this time ruins an otherwise sterling feature on Aaron Hernandez by allowing plagiarist Ron Borges to sully the work of writer Paul Solotaroff.

While Joe Sullivan was having his Boston Globe writers out talking to private investigators and handwriting experts, Solotaroff was putting together perhaps the most complete investigative profile of Hernandez yet.

Much of the feature is outstanding – it really puts together a lot of the pieces, and background that brought Hernandez to the point where he is now. Where we’ve heard so many disjointed accounts of incidents, the narrative of this story puts them all together in context, along with testimony about Hernandez’s upbringing and the events that put him on this path. It’s really compelling and fascinating material.

But then, out of nowhere, Ron Borges swoops in, takes a steaming dump on the Patriots, and then flies out again.

It really is amazing. You can tell precisely where Borges’ takes over the narrative (the stoop-to-conquer Patriots of Bill Belichick) and when he gives it up. It’s not a smooth transition at all.

Solotaroff brings the piece to the point where the Patriots come into the story – the 2010 NFL Draft. Then this;

Time was, the Pats were the Tiffany franchise, a team of such sterling moral repute that they cut a player right after they drafted him, having learned he had a history of assaulting women. But Beli-chick, the winner of three Super Bowl titles and grand wizard of the greatest show on turf, had decided long before he got to New England that such niceties were beneath him. Over a decade, he’d been aggregating power unto himself, becoming the Chief Decider on personnel matters. He signed so many players bearing red flags they could have marched in Moscow’s May Day parade (Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, et al.), and began drafting kids with hectic pasts, assuming the team’s vets would police them. Some of this was arrogance, some of it need: When you’re picking from the bottom of the deck each spring, you’re apt to shave some corners to land talent.

The writing style, the tone, everything is completely different from the rest of the piece. It’s all Borges catch-phrases, too.

He continues:

Belichick signed both to big extensions years before their rookie deals expired, giving Hernandez $40 million and Gronkowski $54 million, while stiffing Wes Welker, the slot receiver.

“Stiffing Wes Welker.” How that little tidbit – even if true – is at all relevant to the rest of the story is completely beyond me.

Borges then launches into how Belichick fired Frank Mendes, and “replaced the Pats’ security chief with a tech-smart Brit named Mark Briggs.” (In 2003, mind you, 10 years ago!)  That paragraph ends with a law-enforcement official who “dislikes Briggs” complaining that the Patriots aren’t receptive to tips and it isn’t a friendly environment to call over.

More:

In his first remarks after Odin Lloyd’s murder, Robert Kraft described himself as “duped” by Hernandez, saying he’d had no knowledge of his troubles. That is arrant nonsense: Every team knew him as a badly damaged kid with a circle of dangerous friends and a substance problem. Once a Patriot, Hernandez practically ran up a banner that said STOP ME! I’M OUT OF CONTROL!

Funny, that’s not how Borges himself described Kraft’s initial statements on the case.

Speaking publicly for the first time against the advice of his attorneys, Kraft said he felt the need for the public to hear from the organization — and frankly he is the organization. One can talk all they want about Bill Belichick or anyone else but when push comes to shove one voice dominates all others in Foxboro and it is Kraft’s. The team is still here because he kept it here and it will be here long after Belichick and Tom Brady are gone and so on his first day back in his office he spoke from the heart.

I’m confused; was Kraft speaking from the heat, or was he dishing out arrant nonsense?

And then, POOF, as quickly as Borges swooped in, he’s gone, and Solotaroff wrestles back control of the narrative.

It didn’t have to be that way. By adding Borges to the story, someone with an axe to grind against the franchise, and who left the Boston Globe under a cloud (shouldn’t that have been a RED FLAG?) undermines the effectiveness of the feature.

Question: What does the Boston Herald think about this? How could they not even get an exclusive excerpt out of the fact that their writer was working on this? How can they not be pissed?

Some other points:

We know what the sports radio talking points will be:

The flophouse was Belichick’s idea, Mike!!!

They knew what a scumbag he was, and looked the other way!
If Belichick didn’t arrogantly fire the security director, no one would’ve been killed!

He was walking around the locker room high on angel dust, and they did nothing about it!

So all those locals (Media especially) who swore they would never again read a word that Rolling Stone published after the Tsarnaev cover are going to completely ignore this article right?

Lots of suggestion that Urban Meyer covered stuff up at Florida, but seemingly not a lot of sourcing.  Nor specific details.

Angel dust? One source, and a cop from Bristol who says it was a problem in the city.

The thing about this is, while there is a ton of detailed about Hernandez’s life, when it comes to his Patriots tenure, material prior to this spring is not in abundance. Points about the combine meeting, (how many sources on that one, I wonder?) the missed workouts, the threatened release, those are new. Otherwise, there besides unnamed friends saying Hernandez smoked several blunts while driving home after every game, there isn’t much that seems to indict the organization.

Correction On Ron Borges

Yesterday, I wrote that Mr. Ron Borges ate dinner at Drew Bledsoe’s house, based on this tweet from Bledsoe:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsThis claim has since been clarified by Bledsoe:

 

So Mr. Borges didn’t in fact actually eat at Bledsoe’s house. He flew out to the Northwest to visit Bledsoe, but they actually dined in a restaurant.

Our apologies to Mr. Borges. BSMW regrets the error.

Now that we have that out of the way…

Of course, their own words indicates that they had/have a close relationship, and that was the ultimate point all along. I’m also sure that there is no chance that Mr. Borges contacted Bledsoe yesterday and asked him as a favor to change the Tweet.

Mr. Borges can split hairs all he likes (although there are media members – multiple – who INSIST that Mr. Borges was a dinner guest at Bledsoe’s home here years ago) while attempting to muddy the waters, but the larger point remains.

Yes, this is tiresome to go over again, but since Mr. Borges insists on trying to cloud the issue, it needs to be run through again.

That larger point is that Mr. Borges had a close personal relationship with Drew Bledsoe and that when Bill Belichick made the decision to stick with Tom Brady during the 2001 season, after Bledsoe was of the thinking that he would be given the chance to win his job back, Mr. Borges immediately went on the attack against Belichick, and hasn’t stopped since.

Mr. Borges has admitted publicly in the past that he advised Bledsoe on how to confront Belichick on the matter.

From Bledsoe Turned to Borges for Advice…

Michael Felger: How did Belichick lie? What did he say to Drew?
Mr. Borges: What Bledsoe said to him at the original meeting, when he was cleared to practice, and I know this firsthand, for a lot of reasons,
Felger: Why…you were sitting there on the couch?
Mr. Borges: I PREPARED THE GUY TO GO MEET HIM! Quite frankly!

Mr. Borges in the 11/22/2001 Boston Globe:

Why did the normally placid Bledsoe react so angrily this week after Belichick’s announcement that Brady was the starter for the remainder of the season “barring something unforeseen”? Bledsoe’s point of view is reflected in the comments of one source who has personal knowledge of Bledsoe’s thinking on the matter. That person said that Belichick looked Bledsoe “right in the face” and told him he’d get a fair chance. “Face to face . . .” said the source. “Where do you go from there?”

Wait…did Mr. Borges use himself as a source here? He admitted he prepared Bledsoe for this very showdown, so there’s no doubt he would’ve huddled up afterwards to go over how everything went down.

The entire column is shots at Belichick, and contains this all-time classic bit:

Belichick will not be so lucky. He doesn’t have [Jimmy] Johnson’s personality, which can be as jovial and charming as a snake oil salesman’s. Worse, this Patriot team isn’t going to win two Super Bowls any time soon.

Mr. Borges is an angry, increasingly irrelevant man. I’ve wasted enough time on him in the last two days.

Now everyone can get back to vilifying Rajon Rondo.

Ron Borges Caught In Another Lie, Mazz Making Stuff Up, and Peter King’s Laughable Rationalization

Just another day in the world of the Boston sports media.

In the morning, we had Pete Sheppard taking on Ron Borges on the Dennis and Callahan Morning Show. Borges, as usual sounded like a raving madman, screaming, yelling and cursing on the air- getting bleeped out, shouting down any accusations or points made against him. As far as defenses go, its a reliable one, if you’re on the offensive and changing the talking points every two seconds, it’s going to be hard to build that stable case against you in the short time you have on the air.

Of course, the case against Borges was made a long time ago, and it has only been added to since.

One accusation that Sheppard made was that Borges had had dinner at Drew Bledsoe’s house, and how this closeness was part of the reason Borges turned on Bill Belichick so venomously when Belichick named Brady the starter even when Bledsoe was ready to return in 2001.

Borges went ballistic on Sheppard, screaming, asking what evidence he had of this supposed dinner, and when pressed on it yelled “NO I DIDN’T” and demanded again to have Sheppard reveal evidence.

Here’s your evidence, Ron: From Drew Bledsoe himself:

So there you go. Yet another documented case of Ron Borges lying.

Gerry Callahan was his usual loathsome self during the show,  at one point dropping into his whiny, feminine voice to say that Sheppard would now be wearing a fireman’s helmet to the games and leading the cheers of P-A-T-S, PATS!

When the topic of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning throwing the ball on the Packers with five minutes to go came up, the goalposts were shifted again, instead of it being only the evil Patriots and Bill Belichick that do this, it became “we’re only concerned with Tom Brady and him getting hurt.

In the afternoon, Tony Massarotti spent the afternoon yelling that Jermaine Cunningham was clearly much bigger than he was in previous seasons and that the suspension was definitely not for Adderall.  He presented absolutely zero evidence of this, and really,  how could he? How much is he around the team? I’m not convinced that he even watches the games.

Meanwhile, if you want to know about Adderall, and why NFL players might want to take it, and why it is banned, Tom E Curran has it all.

A GIS search of Cunningham shows no obvious changes in his body since joining the Patriots. Some modest increase in strength, but no Barry Bonds-like transformation. Yet Massarotti was screaming that if you didn’t see, it, you’re an idiot, a moron and just plain stupid.

I continue to be baffled as to way anyone who actually enjoys sports and their teams would listen to this type of programming willingly. I’m clearly old-school, maybe not this old school, but definitely from before the time when sports radio only existed to dump on the local teams 24/7.

The running-up-the-score hypocrisy will not die. Peter King in his MMQB, Tuesday Edition answered an email from a New England NFL fan:

BELICHICK DOES IT ALL THE TIME. COUGHLIN, NOT SO MUCH. “How about a team that is up by four touchdowns (38-10) with five minutes left and keeping the starting quarterback in and is STILL throwing the ball? Man, that Belichick is one evil…. oh wait… that was Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning against Green Bay Sunday night. When it’s not Belichick, the moral outrage goes away, right?”
— Tom, Portsmouth, N.H.

It’s a little different. Belichick’s done this often over the years. You need more than one hand to count the times Tom Brady’s been in a total blowout in the middle of the fourth quarter. But Coughlin had a reason, I believe. His offense had been struggling for four weeks, and he has every right to use the game to do what he can to make sure his team is back on track for the stretch run. People wouldn’t be killing Belichick if it were a one-time occurrence. Obviously, it’s not.

My mind is still spinning at this.

It’s OK for Coughlin to use a real, live game to work on things to make his team better and make sure they’re in top form for the postseason. Bill Belichick does it, and it’s just out of spite and poor sportsmanship. Got it.

I mean, it’s not like Saint Tony Dungy ever did this sort of thing with Peyton Manning. Oh, wait.

I think this might be the more accurate explanation for why only Belichick gets flayed for this.

The other thing to wonder is how often are other teams even in this position? It’s all well and good to say that Coughlin, or any other coach doesn’t leave their QB in with a 35-point lead, or isn’t passing under five minutes with a 35-point lead. How many teams routinely have 35-point leads?

Still on the Patriots, with the Gil Santos era winding down, the subject of his replacement is gaining momentum.

John Rooke, The Obvious Choice To Take Over For Gil Santos – Derek Havens looks at why Rooke and his 20 years of working for the Patriots make him the best choice for the job. I’m on-board with this, certainly if it keeps Gary Tanguay or Jon Meterparel away from the gig.

Meanwhile, Red Sox reporters are waiting for something to happen.

Abraham of course, wrote a Lester column himself, but that was sort of his point. Right now, the Red Sox media is jumping on any scrap of information and writing about it.

I thought Abraham and Chad Finn had a nice 1-2 punch on the Jon Lester for Wil Myers rumor(?) Is it even a rumor? Speculation?

Lester for a prospect? Here’s why it’s crazy – Abraham

Jon Lester for Wil Myers? Why not? – Finn

Prescient Ron Borges on Cunningham?

Patriots defensive lineman Jermaine Cunningham was suspended today for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

In his report card following the season-opener against the Titans, Ron Borges wrote:

Jermaine Cunningham, now mysteriously bulked up, doubled his career sack total with one and at times slid inside to DT, providing a distinct speed advantage without losing much strength.

When the suspension was announced today, Borges wasted no time in his victory lap:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

So how much did Borges know, if anything? Or is this another “even a stopped clock is right twice a day” type of thing?

At Last, Some Reason…

Tom E. Curran shows a little sanity when talking Patriots and putting the “team of the decade” comparisons with the Colts in perspective. He notes that some of his colleagues are letting their facts get a little fuzzy when it comes to this topic.

You may recall the other day when Ron Borges, twisting the numbers to suit his agenda, stated the following:

The Colts have won more regular-season games this decade than the Patriots, won more consecutive games this decade than the Patriots, made the playoffs more often this decade than the Patriots (9-8), reached the playoffs more consecutive years than the Patriots (eight straight) and if they win Sunday will trail them by only one Super Bowl victory this decade.

Borges, was of course spouting the Polian company line, which doesn’t include playoffs in win totals or winning streaks.

Curran acknowledges that Borges is his friend, but does correct him nonetheless.

From 2000 through 2009, the New England Patriots went 126-52. They won three Super Bowls, four conference titles and made it to the AFC Championship five times.

They became the first team in history to go unbeaten over a 16-game regular season and became the first to win 18 in a row in a single season. Only once since 2000 did they finish under .500. And that was 2000.

They won three Super Bowls, four conference titles and made it to the AFC Championship five times. They didn’t go one-and-done in the playoffs until 2009. They finished tied for first place in the AFC East every season from 2001 through 2009. They had one winning streak of 21 games that went from 2003 through those playoffs and into 2004. They had another winning streak of 18 games (2007). They set the record for most consecutive postseason games won (10).

He then compared that to the Colts:

From 2000 through 2009, the Indianapolis Colts went 124-52 (with one game remaining). They won one Super Bowl, two conference titles and made it to the AFC Championship three times.

They set the record for consecutive regular-season games won with 22 in the 2008 and 2009 seasons (a playoff loss in the first-round of the 2008 playoffs prevented them from being able to break New England’s overall record). In their nine postseason appearances, they were one-and-done five times.

He also looks at the money spent by the two teams – another frequent accusation by Borges. It is very close between the two clubs.

——————

Check the coverage of last night’s Celtics win over the Nets at CelticsLinks.com.

#4 Plagiarism Scandals

The decade was rocked by two major plagiarism scandals involving newspaper sports reporters in Boston.

In February, 2005, the Patriots were in Jacksonville, getting ready for their third Super Bowl of the decade. Ken Powers was covering the team for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, when we learned on the morning of February 2nd, that he had been sent home from covering the team. The Editor & Publisher reported that Powers had been accused of lifting material from a Peter King Sports Illustrated story.

Later that day, with the help of a couple BSMW readers, I posted a side-by-side comparison of what King had written and what Powers had written.

Powers was promptly fired by the paper, after an investigation turned up “at least half a dozen” cases of plagiarism. He responded by telling WBZ-TV – “The termination is a terrible injustice to me.” – even as more cases were being posted here on BSMW.

It ws discovered that Powers had copied Michael Smith of ESPN.com and even his friend Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

BSMW got a mention in The New York Times during that week. Here is also the Associated Press story on the incident.

Since that time, Powers has been working as a reporter for The Community Advocate and Central Mass. Sports Insider.

Two years later, in a Sunday Football Notes column for The Boston Globe, Ron Borges used numerous passages originally written by Mike Sando of The News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington. The passages had been submitted by Sando to a “notes-sharing network” used by sports reporters across the country. Borges did not credit Sando in the notes, but there was a disclaimer at the bottom of the column (which ran most of the time in those Sunday notes columns) that “Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.”

Borges was then suspended for two months from the Globe, and barred from making outside media appearances.

Some have defended Borges, claiming that what he did was not really plagiarism. However, the Globe editor specifically stated in the announcement of Borges suspension that “The Globe does not tolerate plagiarism.”

Here are a couple of link collections about the story from that time period.

Media Reaction on Borges 

Borges Suspension Followups

After serving his two-month suspension, Borges wrote one column, relying on fired Raiders offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, who had been operating a bed-and-breakfast in Idaho prior to taking charge of the Oakland offense, to tells us that Randy Moss was washed up, that his skills were in decline, and Moss was “in denial of those eroding skills.”

Five days later, Borges “retired” from the Globe. He was hired by WEEI.com during the summer of 2008, and then bolted WEEI.com in September for a gig at the Boston Herald, where he remains.

In 2003, Hartford Courant college basketball writer Ken Davis was suspended for a month after he lifted nine paragraphs from a Syracuse sports writer. (Journalist Plagiarism/Fabrication Scandals – also used for background on the Powers and Borges cases.)

These scandals put a black eye on sports coverage, and journalism as a whole, and certainly were among the biggest stories this decade in the Boston sports media.

Ron Borges Knocks Out Competition at Boxing Writing Awards

Ron Borges of the Boston Herald (still seems weird to write that) will receive recognition for some of his work writing about the sport of boxing this Friday night from the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).

The Eye on Sports Media has more on the awards, which will be broadcast live on the internet starting at 6:00 PM et at the GoFight Live! website.

The awards are known as The Barneys and Borges will receive recognition in the following categories:

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

First Place
RON BORGES, “The Dying Art of Matchmaking,” Boxing Monthly, June 2008

BOXING EVENT COVERAGE

Third Place (tie)
RON BORGES, “Not A Rock, He’s Limestone,” Thesweetscience.com, July 18, 2008 

BOXING FEATURE (Under 2,500 words)

Third Place
RON BORGES, “Do You Know Who I Am?,” Boxing Monthly, April 2008 

BOXING FEATURE (Over 2,500 words)

Honorable Mention: Ron Borges, Boxing Monthly

Former Herald columnist George Kimball is also receiving some recognition:

BOXING NEWS STORY

Third Place
GEORGE KIMBALL, “Luis Resto – Billy Collins Redux,” Boxingtalk.com, 2008 

BOXING COLUMN – Honorable Mention.  (Boxingtalk.com)

Update on Worst Boston Sports Column Voting

After 500 votes, the Ron Borges draft column from 2001 is the leader in the clubhouse for worst Boston sports column in recent memory.

Borges’ mocking the Patriots drafting of Richard Seymour and Matt Light over such NFL luminaries such as Koren Robinson and Robert Ferguson currently has 29% of the vote.

Three other columns are in a hotly contested race for second place:

Bob Halloran’s attack on the coach of an autistic child.

Dan Shaughnessy’s “I created the Curse, I say when it is over” column from October 2004. 

Gerry Callahan’s “Manny hates kids with cancer” column from last summer.

Each entry has about 10% of the vote at the moment.

As for the AX MEN giveaway from the original post, I am awaiting receipt of the prize from the marketing company, as soon as I receive it, I will notify the winner and post it here.

Bruins Ruin Glen Wesley Night in Raleigh

It was Glen Wesley night in Raleigh, as the Hurricanes honored the former Carolina (and Bruins) defenseman for his many years of on-ice service to the organization. The Bruins then went out beat the ‘Canes, 5-1 behind three goals late in the third period, including one from Patrice Bergeron, who is finally showing some signs of life out on the ice.

Kevin Paul Dupont has the details. Steve Conroy has the Bruins bouncing back to pick up their 40th win of the season. Joe Haggerty has the Bruins picking up the late momentum for the win.

Mick Colageo has a look at Wesley’s time in Boston, as well as what the Bruins ending up getting for him when he left.

Dupont’s notebook looks at the ceremony for Wesley, of which the Bruins were a big part. Conroy’s notebook has more on Bergeron finally breaking through.

Red Sox

Maureen Mullen has Jon Lester ready to step up his game even more this season. Joe McDonald has more on Lester looking to expand his role this year.  Steve Buckley says that Mike Lowell should know that baseball is a business, and shouldn’t be disappointed in the Red Sox for going after Mark Teixeira. Amalie Benjamin has David Ortiz hoping that the Red Sox have enough pop in their lineup this season. Rob Bradford examines how Dustin Pedroia stayed motivated this offseason.

Sean McAdam says that it is likely that Julio Lugo is going to be your starting shortstop to open the season. Alex Speier has more on the shortstop competition. McDonald has the Sox holding Rocco Baldelli out of the shuttle run yesterday. Buckley also has Lowell aiming to be ready for the start of season in April. McAdam has Takashi Saito seeking permission from Manny Ramirez before taking #24 from the Red Sox. McDonald has a quick bit on Mark Kotsay and his back surgery.

John Molori examines how the Boston media treated Manny Ramirez during his time with the Red Sox.

McAdam’s notebook has a report on Mark Kotsay’s back surgery. Benjamin’s notebook has more on Kotsay. Speier’s notebook has a look at the conditioning drills yesterday.

A-Rod/Steroids

Nick Cafardo and Dan Shaughnessy look at A-Rod’s confession from yesterday. Dan Lamothe picks apart A-Rod’s statement. Ron Borges examines the difference in how steroid use is viewed in baseball and in football.

I’m curious though, what Borges means by this statement:

Football is different from baseball and these days no one is happier about that than guys like Larry Izzo, Rodney Harrison and Tom Brady.

(Emphasis mine) We know what the Izzo and Harrison references are for, but is he implying that he has knowledge that Tom Brady has taken steroids or HGH (perhaps during his recovery)? If so, that’s a pretty casual way to drop something that would be a mega-bombshell. Or does he mean that the NFL allows him to use substances in his recovery that MLB would not? If he means something else, why not say so? Or is Brady merely guilty by association?

(Update – see comment section below for likely explanation.)

Celtics

The Celtics lost a pair of reserve guards yesterday as Sam Cassell was traded to the Sacramento Kings (briefly causing panic on Patriots message boards when they saw the headline “Cassell traded for conditional second pick.”) and Tony Allen was lost until the playoffs because he needs surgery on his thumb.

Steve Bulpett looks why the Celtics made the Cassell move. Frank Dell’Apa and Marc J. Spears also look at the trade and the injury and what it means for the Celtics roster. Jeff Goodman says that the Celtics will likely not make a trade prior to tomorrow’s trade deadline. Scott Souza also looks at the events from yesterday.

Jeremy Gottlieb on the BSMW Full Court Press has an All Star Break report card for the Celtics. Jeff Howe has three keys to the second half for the Celtics. Patrick Gilroy has the Celtics prepping for the stretch run.

Bulpett’s notebook has more on the Celtics roster depth after the loss of Allen.

Patriots

Karen Guregian wonders if the Patriots might go with a linebacker again in the first round of the draft this year. Mike Reiss and Guregian have the Patriots cutting a pair of reserves yesterday, perhaps to save some cap space.