SporTView – NFL Draft Weekend Edition

This is a weekend for the Patriots and the NFL as they go through the annual college draft to determine where those stars of the future will begin their careers in the pros. ESPN and the NFL Network will both have extensive live coverage of the selections starting tomorrow at noon.

Keep up with the coverage of the Patriots selections from the newspapers and blogs throughout New England and nationally on the Patriots Daily Links page.

For sports fans, it’s not a leap to say that this is the greatest weekend of the year for viewing. In addition to the draft there is MLB baseball with the Red Sox playing the Devil Rays in Tampa as a prelude to their first meeting with the New York Yankees on Monday and Tuesday of next week. (Red Sox Daily Links page) In addition there is NBA and NHL playoff action, with seven games scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. There is also golf, NASCAR and MLS soccer on TV this weekend.

Here is the latest ratings update from RadioandRecords. The WEEI hosts have been crowing all day today about again being number one in their slot and demographics, (18-54 year old males) however, overall the station is down nearly a point from what it was last year at this time, and with a 4.6, sits in fifth place behind number one overall, WBZ, which pulled in a 7.1. ESPN Boston, after appearing in the last two updates, does not appear in this one.

Charting out the last year is pretty startling:

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Now, as mentioned, the WEEI programs might be maintaining enough listeners in their very specific blocks that they can continue to tout the claim that they are number one. But in terms of total listeners, the above chart has to be at least somewhat disturbing to them as compared to the four stations that finished ahead of them in the overall ratings.

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*To aid with your draft day enjoyment, the crew from Cold Hard Football Facts have teamed up with Harpoon Brewery to host the first NFL Draught Day tomorrow, Saturday, April 29, at the Cask ‘n Flagon Pub, next to Fenway Park in Boston. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with beer, food and Draught Day festivities and analysis. There will be beer- and football-related trivia and prizes

*I have to say, even though they’re trying to update it more often, the Lawrence Eagle Tribune website is a disaster. Stories are posted and the links expire 3 hours later, you can get to a story one time and then not another. Sometimes columns are restricted under the “Plus Edition” login, other times they’re not…it’s an inconsistent, maddening disaster and it keeps a wider audience from reading the work of Rob Bradford, Michael Muldoon and others on the paper. Stop…I can hear the jokes now… a system which keeps readers from being exposed to the stories of Bill Burt and Hector Longo can only be a good thing…

Here’s the weekly sports media columns from around the country:

Fluto Shinzawa, Boston Globe – Another team at draft.

Jim Baker, Nashua Telegraph – Ready for marathon coverage of NFL Draft.

Andrew Neff, Bangor Daily News – Uneasiness stirs among UM broadcasters – New group’s rep seeks to quell concerns.

Richard Sandomir, New York Times – Look for Something New at the N.F.L. Draft: A Second Network.

Also from Sandomir – (Keith) Jackson Silences His Voice of College Football.

Neil Best, New York Newsday – Draft getting double coverage.

Bob Raissman, New York Daily News – Bad sign if J.D. signs off.

Phil MushnikNew York Post – Keith Isn’t All Bad, Honest.

Andrew Marchand, New York Post – Sam Has ‘Eye’ on WCBS.

Also from Marchand – Nothing Like It. (Red Sox/Yankees)

Michael Hiestand, USA Today – Whoa, Nellie! Is Jackson really gone?

Also from Hiestand: ESPN puts vast resources to work to combat NFL Network.

Dave Darling, Orlando Sentinel – ESPN has company at draft.

Barry Jackson, Miami Herald – ESPN, NFL Network doubling up on draft.

Chris Zelkovich, Toronto Star – Storm brews over major sports events.

David Barron, Houston Chronicle – Analysts say Texans right to pass on Young.

Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News – Facts need to get in the way.

Larry Stewart, Los Angeles Times – NFL Draft Hype Produces Dueling Gurus.

Also from Stewart: Jackson Didn’t Want Fuss as He Leaves ABC.

Jay Posner, San Diego Union Tribune – ESPN loses TV draft monopoly.

More links for the weekend:

Bill Simmons lists out more reasons why he loves sports.

More NFL draft coverage from the New York Sports News page and the Bay Area Sports pages.

Chad Finn is always a worthy read.

Sheriff Sully is a prolific poster and should have plenty of thoughts on baseball and the NFL draft.

If you’re worried about the play of the Red Sox the last two games in Cleveland and with the Yankees on tap next week, you can take some solace in the fact that the Red Sox have already beaten the Yankees. On Jonathan Papelbon’s Xbox. The Red Sox closer took on the Yankees’ Kyle Farnsworth using Xbox Live this past Monday, each pitcher representing their own team in the MLB 2K6 contest. Papelbon and the Red Sox defeated the Yankees in the game, 4-2. Papelbon played from Cleveland while Farnsworth was in New York city. The two went head to head to help demonstrate the online capabilities of the Xbox Live.

Here’s a shot of Papelbon in action against Farnsworth:

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Have a great weekend, I’ll be back on Monday with a look at the Patriots draft coverage, and then it’s a short week for me on the site…

Feeling a Draft

The NFL draft is this weekend, and it is a highly anticipated one for Patriots fans. With personnel losses to free agency this spring as well as other holes to fill, it appears that New England will be looking to add players who can step in and begin to play right away. Michael Felger looks at four Patriots on the current roster who might have cause to be watching this weekend’s selections very closely. Eric McHugh goes position-by-position through the Patriots defense and looks for prospects who might be able to fill holes on that side of the ball. Jerome Solomon has the Patriots attempting to fill some needs at certain positions this weekend, and takes a look around the roster for those holes. Chris Kennedy also examines what the Patriots thinking might be when it comes to the draft this weekend.

Felger also says that the Patriots shouldn’t trade away picks to make a giant leap up in the draft. He feels it isn’t worth it, and that there is enough talent in this draft to help the team, so they should make as many picks as they can. Rich Garvin says that the Patriots are likely to make trades in order to move up and get the players they want. Tom E Curran gathers together a few mock drafts and tries to see if there is any agreement on who will be available when the Patriots go to pick at #21. Dan Pires asserts that the Patriots should be in the market for a shutdown corner, and lists out some potential candidates for that role. Hector Longo says that the Patriots need to draft offensive weapons to surround Tom Brady. Jim Donaldson laughs at NFL draft “experts”.

Jerome Solomon talks to various NFL types about the proper mix of brains and brawn to make a successful NFL quarterback. Then he goes and looks at the top quarterbacks available in this draft. John Tomase looks at some of the kickers who are out there and might be considered a candidate to be the long-term replacement for Adam Vinatieri here with the Patriots. Michael Parente also looks at possible replacements for Vinatieri. Albert Breer has a look at Oregon State receiver Mike Hass, who fits the Patriots no-respect mantra. Breer also has a look at Tennessee safety Jason Allen, who is on the Patriots radar as well. Kevin McNamara looks at Providence native and Boston College receiver Will Blackmon, who is something of a mystery man in this draft. Steve Conroy says up to five BC players could get selected in this draft.

The CBS4Boston website will have a special NFL draft webcast at 12:45 today.

Josh Beckett and the Red Sox got walloped 15-3 by the Indians last night in Cleveland. Chris Snow has the gruesome details from Jacobs Field. Jeff Horrigan has more on the worst start of Josh Beckett’s career. Joe McDonald also examines the start from Beckett, before which he seemed loose and raring to go, but couldn’t locate anything where he wanted to once the game got underway. David Heuschkel says things started bad for Beckett and only got worse as the night went on. Phill O’Neill looks at Beckett appearing like a batting practice pitcher last night against the Indians. David Borges has Terry Francona noting that Cleveland is a good fastball hitting team and Beckett couldn’t do anything with his off-speed pitches last night.

Gordon Edes says that the Red Sox need to get this game out of their minds and focus on reviving their offense, which currently sits 23rd in the majors. He concludes his piece by looking at an apparently content Manny Ramirez. Steve Buckley (subscription only) has Curt Schilling holding court on retirement, the Yankees and Roger Clemens. McDonald has more from Schilling, as he recalled his greatest baseball moment – pitching Yavapai Junior College to the Junior College World Series in 1986.

Steve Buckley has Geno Petralli offering to assist Josh Bard with learning how to catch the knuckleball. Buckley also talks to Alex Cora about pitching, the backup infielder nearly got called into the game to throw an inning last night.

Snow’s notebook looks at Craig Hansen getting promoted to Pawtucket for the next phase of his development. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Hansen moving up the chain. McDonald’s notebook has Matt Clement remembering the scary incident in Tampa last summer which could’ve gone much worse for him. Heuschkel’s notebook has Terry Francona expressing confidence in Josh Bard. He also clarifies an incident mentioned in Horrigan’s notebook where it appeared that Julian Tav

Sox Passed By

When Tim Wakefield is on the mound this season, there have been a couple trends in play. 1) The Red Sox don’t score a lot of runs. 2) Josh Bard struggles hanging onto the ball. Both trends held last night as the Indians defeated the Red Sox 7-1 and Bard’s fielding line in the box score looks something like this: PB: Bard 4 (10).

Joe McDonald believes that eventually Bard will get comfortable as Wakefield’s catcher, but for now, the knuckler is getting the better of him. David Heuschkel has more on a tough night for Bard and the Red Sox. Chris Snow observes that not having Jason Varitek’s bat in the lineup on the days that Wakefield pitches could be a big factor in the lack of offense on those days. Jeff Horrigan looks at Wakefield once again pitching pretty well, but suffering because of the passed balls of Bard. David Borges however, says that Wakefield was more to blame for this loss than Bard was. Phil O’Neill has more on a tough night all around for Bard, Wakefield and the Red Sox.

You can check the Cleveland coverage in the Plain Dealer.

Gordon Edes looks at the Red Sox options should they decide to go in a different direction with Bard. He notes that they have a catcher at Pawtucket who can’t hit a lick, but has been shown an ability to catch the knuckler of Jared Fernandez. Steve Buckley (subscription only) reports on Bard’s teammates coming to his defense regarding the passed balls and notes that Bard is what he is, a steady solid backup catcher, who is adjusting to catching the knuckleball. Edes also looks at Wily Mo Pe