Season Over, Celtics Look To The Future, Gasper on Media

So the upset in six games didn’t come true for Mike Gorman and the Celtics, as the superior talent of the Cavaliers finished off Boston in four games yesterday afternoon at the Garden. Despite the outcome, it’s safe to say it might be the most optimistic four-game sweep a team has suffered.

This promises to be an interesting summer for the Boston Celtics, who enter with four draft picks and cap space to spend.

Celtics hope playoff run helps lure free agents – Steve Bulpett has the club looking for a silver lining in the sweep, which was four nationally televised games, which likely raised the profile of the team.

A swan song to build on for Celtics – Jackie MacMullan notes that fans were cheering a team that got swept yesterday, which indicates where this team is now and what the hopes for the future are.

Meanwhile, Michael Felger demanded to know why the green-teamers weren’t booing their team and holding them accountable after a sweep.

Celtics proud, but not satisfied with end of season – A. Sherrod Blakely has the team taking this as a learning experience.

Can Boston Celtics become free-agent destination? Maybe not, but LeBron James, NBA noticing Brad Stevens – Jay King examines whether the coach could be a drawing card for NBA free agents.

Despite loss, Celtics have winner in Brad Stevens – Christopher Gasper trots out a catchy “In Brad we trust” slogan.

Get all the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

*****

The Red Sox starting rotation is not good right now. The latest, an 18-7 rout by the Orioles in Baltimore yesterday.

Boston Red Sox rotation posts MLB-worst 5.75 ERA: Is it too soon for change? – Jen McCaffrey says the sample size is growing, and not looking too promising.

Time for Red Sox to torch struggling rotation – Michael Silverman feels it is time to pour the gasoline and light the match.

Plenty of blame to go around for Boston’s struggles – Brian MacPherson says that it isn’t only the pitching which is letting the team down.

*****

Inside ESPN, NFL Network’s coverage of the NFL draft; more Media Circus – Richard Deitsch looks at the NFL Draft coverage, but also provides this update on Bob Neumeier:

2b. NBC broadcaster Bob Neumeier is taping a piece for NBC’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby and will return fulltime to the on-air team for the Preakness. Neumeier suffered a stroke in October, which required 5.5 hours of brain surgery.

Great news there.

Finally, from over the weekend, Chris Gasper had an interesting, and I think mostly on-target column about the job of the media:

Media’s only allegiance should be to the truth

The jumping off point for this column is the profanity-ridden tirade by Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price last week, aimed at the media. Gasper summarizes the proper role of the media as such:

The job of a traditional media member is not to root, root, root for the home team, or aid its quest for victory. It is also not to intentionally undermine it. It is to report the news or provide insight or commentary. We strive for Swiss neutrality. But in an era of league-owned television networks, fawning team websites, and partisan fan blogs, it’s easy to see the lines between journalism and boosterism getting blurred and folks such as Price getting confused.

Fair enough. It is a little ironic though, that Gasper is writing this in a publication that is owned by the same man who also owns the local baseball team. Is there Swiss neutrality there?

Where Chris and I part ways a bit is a little later on.

The 101 media flavors have created an environment where objectivity is negativity.

The ironic part is that the material written with the unwavering fidelity of a fan expresses an obvious bias, but because it is a palatable and popular one the bias is ignored.

We have reached a point where expressing an opinion or relaying a truth that is inconvenient or not favorable to a team is immediately labeled “trolling,” which is a self-serving and self-centered way to deal with a dissenting viewpoint or unwelcome news.

A few things here. He states that we have an “environment where objectivity is negativity.” In many cases, I would actually reverse that. For some allegedly neutral media, being negative IS how they claim to be objective. If you’re being truly objective, most people with a brain and common sense are not going to think that you are “trolling.”

Is he saying that trolling by the mainstream media doesn’t exist? Dan Shaughnessy does not exist to be a conduit of inconvenient truth, he exists to troll people who enjoy following the local sports teams. He’s not expressing an opinion. He’s trying to upset people and provoke a reacting. He’s baiting them and getting them to chase, which fits the exact description of the fishing type of trolling.

Are there times in which someone is unfairly labeled a troll? Sure. I definitely don’t believe it is as common as Gasper suggests. Trolling by media members happens all the time. Gasper instead places the wrong on the reader, who is being “self-serving and self-centered” by rejecting the content as simply an effort to be provocative, rather than providing any sort of insight, which is what he had previously stated was the job of the media.

On the other hand, Gasper also seems to be suggesting that fan sites or bloggers are incapable of being anything other than fawning and partisan. That’s as unfair as saying that anyone who expresses an unfavorable opinion is trolling.

Overall though, I appreciated Gasper’s column as an effort to sort of give the lay of the land in the media world these days.

Celtics Outmanned in 4th. Sox Win, Patriots Scheduled

The Celtics were competitive in Cleveland last night, pulling to within two points in the fourth quarter before LeBron James and Kyrie Irving exerted their will on the court, leading the Cavs to a 99-91 win and 2-0 series lead on the Celtics.

LeBron James takes charge, leads Cavaliers past Celtics in Game 2 – Adam Himmelsbach notes that while the Celtics cleaned up many of their game one issues, poor shooting doomed them in this one.

Celtics need to make their own breaks – Chris Forsberg says that while the Celtics may feel they got the short end of some calls last night, they need to make some of their own breaks.

Jae Crowder: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving’s late dominance not why Boston Celtics dropped Game 2 to Cleveland Cavaliers – Jay King has the Celtics forward lamenting other lost opportunities which he feels doomed the Celtics.

As Celtics look to take next step, Kevin Love is a good place to start – John Tomase thinks that the Cavs free-agent forward to do would be a great fit here.

Get all the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

The Red Sox picked up a 1-0 win in Tampa last night, with an error accounting for their only run of the game.

First-pitch strikes ‘huge’ for Wade Miley vs. Rays – Sean McAdam has Miley’s 5 2/3 shutout innings due largely to his ability to throw strikes early in the count.

Bullpen pitches in to cap Red Sox’ victory over Rays – Peter Abraham has the ‘pen nailing down the win for Miley.

Mookie Betts’ slide latest reminder: Red Sox’ runners are starting to get a reputation – Rob Bradford notes how the Red Sox are becoming known as “bullies on the basepaths.”

The Patriots learned the dates and times of their 2015 schedule last night, and will open the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10th.

I’m always amazed at how many people who are paid to talk/write about sports and have no idea how the NFL opponents are formulated each year. They honestly think the schedule is made up fresh each season.

Patriots’ 2015 schedule offers drama, intrigue – Mark Farinella looks at some of the highlights of the schedule, and while it’s bit too early for the game-by-game predictions (we haven’t even hit the draft yet) the schedule does have a number of interesting quirks this season.

Nothing routine about Patriots safety Devin McCourty – Mark Daniels has the newly re-signed defensive back being counted on for his leadership like never before.

WEEI Boss: John Dennis a “Hugh Hefner type of party animal”

While WEEI colleagues universally pledge their support and best wishes to John Dennis, a few more details have come out, thanks to a Boston Globe piece from media writer Chad Finn.

WEEI empathetic as John Dennis checks into rehab

Phil Zachary, the vice president and market manager for Entercom Boston talked to Finn about the events that led up to Dennis deciding to enter inpatient rehabilitation for alcohol abuse. His comments are interesting.

This has been going on for awhile, as back in February, Dennis first took time off for rehab, initially on an outpatient basis. He then apparently came back to work (feeling insecure because Glenn Ordway was filling in?) and tried to return to the program after only a couple days off.

While Dennis said in the statement and to Steve Buckley yesterday that it was one drink at the Red Sox home opener which made him realize he needed help, he apparently had enough that he called in sick on Tuesday – which turned out to be an inopportune day for that – and that’s when the decision was reached to enter the inpatient side. (Does anyone have a video of Dennis on NESN “gesticulating animatedly” during the game?)

While all statements are such that it is made to look like this was all Dennis’ idea, reading between the lines, it sure appears that he was “encouraged” to take this step.

Zachary refers to Dennis as having a “Hugh Hefner type of party animal” type of persona, which combined with Kirk Minihane’s statements yesterday that Dennis was straight out of Mad Men, really give you a picture of the lifestyle the 63-year-old Dennis leads.

***

Celtics in six!

That was Mike Gorman’s prediction on CSNNE’s Celtics Preview show last night.

A local media person making an upset pick for the home team? Awesome.

Of course, minutes after this prediction, CSNNE went to Sports Tonight hosted by Mike Felger and Greg Dickerson, who proceeded to laugh at the idea of the Celtics even being competitive against the Cavaliers.

Maybe if Lebron, Irving, Love and JR Smith GOT HIT BY A BUS, the Celtics MIGHT be able to take Cleveland to seven games HAHAHAHAHA!

Click.

Some are still clinging to the notion that making the playoffs is a terrible thing for the Celtics. (Hello, Chris Gasper!) I just don’t get that thinking. At all. The difference between drafting 16th and 10th in this draft isn’t going to make or break the Celtics future.

The team has plenty of assets and cap room going forward, and a rising star for a coach. Why not get this coach, as well as players like Marcus Smart a chance to face the best in the league in a postseason series? There is no downside to this.

For Isaiah Thomas, long road to success ended in Boston – Adam Himmelsbach has a feature on the Celtics guard, whose basketball journey is well worth the read.

Bruins make Chiarelli the fall guy – Joe McDonald says that the fired GM deserved better.

It’s not about the ace; Red Sox require competence more than anything from rotation – Tim Britton looks at the Sox just needing their starters to be average.

How one of Red Sox’ most important pitchers has rediscovered his most important pitch – Rob Bradford has Joe Kelly getting his slider back.

No Offseason – Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler is the latest player to chime in on the Players’ Tribune, and he wants to be remembered for more than just that one play.

John Dennis In Rehab

A second unplanned absence from WEEI this year left many people wondering what was going on with morning host John Dennis. Some listeners wondered about his health, others speculated there was a suspension going on.

Things were cleared up last night when the Herald’s Steve Buckley broke the news that Dennis was entering rehab for alcohol use:

Rehab for John Dennis; WEEI host to take leave

Dennis tells Buckley that “rock bottom” for him came Monday during the Red Sox home opener. It was enough to convince him that he needed to seek help. He took a leave of absence from WEEI and entered a local inpatient facility where he is expected to stay or four or five weeks.

Statement from John Dennis – Statement from Dennis, which he says will be the last he’ll talk about it.

WEEI Morning Show Co-Host John Dennis to Enter Alcohol Rehabilitation – Chad Finn makes his report on the situation.

It would be easy to pile on and kick Dennis while he’s down. Many will do so. I’ll let others take that route and instead just wish him well, and hope he comes out of rehab a better person. It takes courage to admit you have a problem and to take steps to deal with it.

****

The Celtics finished off their regular season last night with a 105-100 win in Milwaukee. The Celtics finished the regular season with a 40-42 record. They finished the season 24-12.

Two years ago the Celtics went 41-40. That team had Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo (until he was injured) Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Doc Rivers and Courtney Lee.

None of those guys are here now.

Here is their playoff schedule:

Game 1 – Sun, Apr 19
@
Cavaliers
3:00 PM
Game 2 – Tue, Apr 21
@
Cavaliers
7:00 PM
Game 3 – Thu, Apr 23
vs
Cavaliers
7:00 PM
Game 4 – Sun, Apr 26
vs
Cavaliers
1:00 PM
Game 5 – Tue, Apr 28
@
Cavaliers
TBD
Game 6 – Thu, Apr 30
vs
Cavaliers
TBD
Game 7 – Sat, May 2
@
Cavaliers
TBD

Patriots 2015 Mock Draft (Mid-April Edition)

In our previous mock for New England, we looked at the positions the Pats could target in certain areas of the draft. We continue that practice this week, making a few tweaks in the wake of certain players’ pro day results.

As of this writing, New England has nine overall picks, including compensatory third- and seventh-round selections.

DAY ONE, Round One: DE/OLB

Possible Pick: Eli Harold, Virginia Defensive End (6-3, 247). Though we’ve considered both offensive and defensive linemen at this spot, there’s nothing wrong with getting some athleticism and production with their first pick. Harold had 54 tackles, seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss last year. He tallied 17.5 sacks in his career at Virginny, and he showed the ability to play off the line. Harold ran the 40 in 4.60 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.16 seconds, both impressive for a man his size. [Read more…]

Aaron Hernandez Guilty, Peter Chiarelli Fired, 98.5 Still On Top

This morning, the jury weighing the case against Aaron Hernandez found the former Patriots tight end guilty of first degree murder. He now faces the a sentence of life in prison without parole, in addition to another double-murder trial in Boston.

Minutes after the verdict the Boston Bruins announced that they had relieved GM Peter Chiarelli of his duties. Nice timing there. Perfect day for the NFL to release the Wells Report.

Sports Hub first, WEEI third in winter Nielsen Audio ratings period – Chad Finn reports on the latest ratings. It was fun hearing Gerry Callahan complain about the signal of WEEI. When they were drubbing the likes of 1510 and 890 in the ratings, they mocked the signal defense.

Looking at the figures Finn provides, WEEI is actually doing decent in the morning and afternoon drive shows, finishing a strong second in each. It’s the midday that is killing them, but as we’ve been told, that slot isn’t very important in terms of advertising dollars.

Speaking of the WEEI morning show. Gary Tanguay? GARY TANGUAY????

A Few Words About Running from the Great Larry Bird – Runners World picks up Bird’s running obsession from Finn’s recent oral history of #33 and gets more for the Celtic legend on the topic.

Q and A with Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Robert Epstein – Adam Himmelsbach talks to the owners about the surprising season.

Celtics face long odds in playoff test with LeBron James & Cavs – The Celtics will officially face LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the first round, and Steve Bulpett looks at their chances of being competitive.

Wizards’ Paul Pierce speaks the truth – You have to love Paul Pierce. The former Celtics captain tells it like it, whether it s about his year in Brooklyn, or his relationship with Ray Allen.

At Fenway Park, no detail too small for Larry Lucchino – Well done by Alex Speier, but this piece reeks of the Red Sox using the Globe for PR.

Mookie Magic

It’s not often that David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady can be in the same place at the same time and be overshadowed.

It happened yesterday at Fenway Park.

Here are your top 10 reads for this morning, in no particular order, other than sport.

In Red Sox’ Impressive Opening Act at Fenway, Mookie Betts Steals the Show – Chad Finn looks at the Fenway opening day festivities, which were overshadowed quickly once the game started.

Mookie Betts’ phenomenal 1st act at Fenway – Scott Lauber looks at the 22-year-old Betts stealing the show in the home opener.

Mookie Betts provides spark Sox have been missing -Kevin Thomas says that Betts gives the team the type of excitement on the basepaths that they’ve lacked since Jacoby Ellsbury left.

After a scary first, Rick Porcello settled right in – Julian Benbow has the Red Sox starter getting the job done.

Tom Brady’s latest title fuels David Ortiz – Michael Silverman has the Red Sox slugger hungry to match the Patriots QB in titles.

Having exceeded expectations with playoff berth, Celtics aim for more – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics not satisfied to just be sneaking into the playoffs.

5 ways Celtics have paved path into playoffs – Mark Murphy has a good look at how the Celtics ended up in this position.

Bruins must quicken pace for 2015-16 – Fluto Shinzawa says that moving the puck from one end to the other more swiftly should be a major goal for the Bruins.

Deflategate questions that need answering by Wells – With the Wells investigation passing the 80-day mark, Tom E Curran looks at the issues we most need answers to.

Taking stock of the Patriots – With the midseason about at the halfway point, Glen Farley takes a look at the state of the team.

Bonus: (But you need to be an ESPN Insider to read it.Patriots’ options to replace Revis – Field Yates looks in-depth at how the Patriots can try to account for the departure of Darrelle Revis.

Disappointing End For Bruins, Sox Open Home Slate.

Over the weekend, the Bruins capped off an extremely disappointing season in which they finished out of the playoffs. Major changes are ahead, be it in the front office, coaching staff, or roster.

While the Globe has noted hockey guy Dan Shaughnessy shouting GET THEM GONE as it concerns Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien, others take a more measured view of the situation.

GM, coach not fall guys – Stephen Harris says it would be a mistake to parts ways with the duo.

After ‘failure’ of a season, Bruins shouldn’t blow things up – Fluto Shinzawa says that while Cam Neely is undoubtedly angry over how things have gone this season, blowing it up isn’t the answer.

How it all fell apart for the Bruins – Dan Cagen has a good look at how Jerome Iginla is still haunting the Bruins – and not because he wasn’t here this season.

With Bruins calling a season sans playoffs a failure, expect an overhaul – Joe McDonald says that fixing the roster, not the coaching and GM should be the focus.

Get all the coverage at BruinsLinks.com.

If someone had told you in September that the Bruins would not make the playoffs you probably would have disagree with them. If that person told you that the Celtics would trade away Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green and only have Jae Crowder on the court to show for it this season, and would still make the playoffs, you’d probably take a cautious step back from the obviously insane person standing before you.

Yet, with a win in either of their final two games, or a loss by the Nets or Pacers in their final games, the Celtics will return to the postseason. The Celtics annihilated a Cleveland roster which was sitting out its four top players yesterday, but also beat the same team on the road Friday night when the likes of Lebron James and Kevin Love at least played some of the game.

Some continue to insist that making the playoffs is fools gold, especially in the weaker Eastern conference, and that not having a lottery pick limits their ability to take another step forward next season. The Celtics have played at a 50-win pace for about half a season now. Their young players are getting the experience they need for the future. It’s hard not to see this as a positive.

With playoff berth within grasp, Celtics’ Brad Stevens stays level – Gary Washburn has the head coach staying on message.

Thomas’ attitude, personality have transformed overachieving Celtics – Jackie MacMullan has a look at how the 5-9 guard has made the team fun to watch.

Get all the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

Fenway Park opens its gates for the first time this season for the Red Sox home opener this afternoon. The Red Sox are coming off a Sunday night loss to the Yankees in which Clay Buchholz gave up 10 runs, but Boston has also won its first two series of the year, and come in with a 4-2 record.

Good times at Fenway – Steve Buckley says that the home opener is always a special day.

Why free agent class didn’t push Rick Porcello to new deal – Rob Bradford’s extensive weekly notes looks at today’s starter and why he made the deal with the Red Sox now.

2015 Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part II

When we left off with Part I, many of those same players who had not been invited to the combine had cracked the top five of most categories (see the updated rundown at the bottom of this post). As we make our way through early April, snubbed athletes continue to excel at combine drills and give themselves a shot on draft day.

As always, a big shout-out to Gil Brandt for his pro day blog on NFL.com, a fun, informative read that we get obsessed with this time of year.

For a rundown of the best NFL Combine performances, you can go here.

Now, on to some recent standouts who made impressions at their pro days… [Read more…]

Grand Opener For Hanley, Sox.

The Red Sox opened up their 2015 campaign (hoping for the Double Boomerang) in style yesterday, as Clay Buchholz went seven shutout innings, Hanley Ramirez homered twice, including an ninth-inning grand slam to lead Boston over the Phillies 8-0. Dustin Pedroia added two solo homers, and Mookie Betts also homered for the Red Sox.

In opener, Red Sox offense as good in practice as on paper – Timothy Britton looks at everything coming together for Boston on opening day.

Ramirez powers Sox in return to original organization – Sean McAdam looks at a day 10 years in the making for Hanley Ramirez.

Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia take control in Red Sox opener – Gordon Edes looks at the Sox answering doubters right away.

Clay Buchholz spins a performance worthy of ace title – Jen McCaffrey has the righty looking the part yesterday.

Dustin Pedroia after 2-HR opener: ‘I’m back’ – Michael Silverman has the Red Sox second baseman reminding everyone that he’s the best player on the team.

Shane Victorino warmly received in Philadelphia – Peter Abraham’s notebook has the former Phillies fan favorite having a nice moment.

Get more Red Sox coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

Following the game, it was also announced that the Red Sox had agreed to a four-year extension with pitcher Rick Porcello, who was acquired from the Tigers in the offseason.

Using Jon Lester to explain why Rick Porcello’s deal made sense to pitcher, Red Sox – John Tomase attempts to tell us why both sides were interested in getting this done, and how the Jon Lester situation compared to this one.

An unprecedented path made Rick Porcello a $20 million man – Alex Speier looks at why this situation was so unique.

Elsewhere:

With Vereen gone, White hoping for an expanded role – Mark Daniels looks at how the 2014 fourth round pick is working to put himself in line for more work this coming season.

Duke proves college hoop is a young man’s game – Christopher Gasper looks at Duke getting by Wisconsin to win the NCAA Basketball championship last night.

Celtics watch scoreboards amid playoff race – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics engaged in late-season scoreboard watching.

Bruins in no position to ease up – Stephen Harris says that Boston must continue playing its best hockey through its final three games.

Michael Felger Apologizes To Jack Edwards – Of all things for Felger to apologize for, this is it? Also, the “this is what we do” defense from sports radio hosts is getting pretty lame in my book.