Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Run Run Run

The Boston Marathon is less than a week away and yet for some reason I feel like it hasn't received the media coverage it usually gets each year.

Yes, the signs attached to street lights lining the city streets are billowing in the wind and I know a couple of people who have mentioned that they will be running, but the media coverage leading up to the event seems to be a bit lackluster.

I'm not sure why. Maybe in my cloud of co-op job searching, finals studying and last minute homework assignments, I haven't been reading the paper as much. Or maybe I'm right and the coverage has been nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe it's coming.

But if you really look for it, you can find great stuff. I guess I'm just not used to looking. Boston.com has great coverage and a whole page packed with information. They have photo galleries, an interactive map of the course, history, guides and everything you could possibly need. It's a great package.

I'll definitly being watching on Monday. But until then, I will be waiting for the story that appears every year on the evening before the big race: the runners eat pasta and carb up prior to the 26.2 miler. Every. Single. Year. You have to love the media for their often predictable or favorite story lines. Let's just hope it comes this year!
Photo made available by Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, April 14, 2008

NFL Does Good

Wonder where all of those millions of pre-made "New England Patriots: Super Bowl Champions" shirts went? Well, I now know the answer and it's a good one.

It seems the t-shirts, hats and the rest of the gear are sent around the world to people in need. As much as I wish the people were wearing Giants garb, it's nice to see that the NFL is giving back and not just throwing away.

Check it out here and check out the ESPN.com video below.

More Than Just a Ball

Try not to tear up when you read this piece about Theresa Marie Freitas, a mentally challenged cancer patient, who lives for everything Red Sox.

From the article:

Three years ago, they sat Theresa Marie down in an office at New England Medical Center and told her she had ovarian cancer. Theresa Marie is mentally retarded but she isn't stupid.

"Am I going to die?" she asked.

She got sick and wouldn't do the chemo. Her physician, Katie Wakeley, made a deal: If Theresa Marie would do the chemo, she'd get her some tickets.

Theresa Marie Freitas was 41 years old when she went to her first and only game at Fenway Park. It rained like hell. There was a three-hour delay. She wouldn't leave her seat. The Red Sox won.

She goes for chemo three times a month, and Wakeley went to check on her while she was hooked up to an IV. Theresa Marie had a newspaper spread out and was studying a box score, taking notes. She asked the doctor to come back later, when she wasn't so busy.

Many may see sports as trival, but Freitas sees them as a reason to wake up in the morning. I see them as something I couldn't live without. Many might see sports journalism as trival as well. But Freitas, a woman who is fighting for her life, reads the box scores everday. To me, that makes sports journalism just as important as what is featured on the front page.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Watch Out for the Black Cat

Are you superstitious? I am and I think that many sports nuts are. It's kind of a way of making you feel like you have something to do with your sports team and allows you to feel like you are in someway participating in the game. Wearing a certain jersey ( and in some cases not washing it,) sitting in certain chairs, crossing your fingers.... the list can go on and on.

Sometimes I think people think I'm crazy when I yell that they need to sit back where they were sitting when the game first started and the team was playing well. They usually rebut with the logical, "Casey, it doesn't matter where I sit, the team is going to play the way they are going to play no matter where I sit." It makes sense, but I usually beg them to change seats. When the team comes back to win the game, I usually make a point to let them know they changed the outcome of the game. If the team loses, they had their legs crossed and in the first half they were indian style.

Typing that out... I feel like I nut. But reading this article, it makes me seem a bit less crazy.

Do you have any crazy superstitions?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Beat the Streak

I've only played one day and I'm already obsessed and on the hunt for 1 million dollars.
MLB.com is doing this awesome fantasy-esque competition called Beat the Streak. The premise is simple. Each day you pick a player that you think will have a hit that day. The site shows you the pitching/hitting match up and you choose who, it can be any player in the league, you think will produce a hit. One hit- that's all you need. The next day you do the same thing. You can pick a different player everyday if you want. There is really no restrictions to who you pick, just that you have to pick someone. Your streak continues until the player you selected doesn't produce a hit and then your streak ends and you start all over again. The objective is to have a streak of 57 games. The MLB hit streak was set in 1941 and is 56 games.

The competition was started in 2001 and more than a million fans participate. The furthest that anyone has gotten is 49 games. They also have Home Run Beat the Streak, which I am also participating in. It is the same kinda drill except you pick home runs as opposed to hits. You also don't win a million.

I think this a really cool alternative or addition to fantasy baseball, which is fun, but if you're serious about it, time consuming. This takes a few minutes and is fun to watch for when your checking scores or watching ESPN.

Tonight I have Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox with a hit and Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs with a home run.

Wish me luck!
The image above is by (cc) Erik Jaeger and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Celebrity Sports

I, like the rest of the world, read celebrity news on frequent occasion. But if you told me that Mike Lowell was hanging out at GameOn! and Leonardo DiCaprio was dining at Capital Grille on Newbury Street, you can bet that I would be throwing on my Lowell t-shirt and running to the restaurant which serves wings, not filet mignon.

For this reason, I love reading about where the local players are being spotted, and the best place to find this info is the Inside Track in the Boston Herald. The feature Tracked Down lets you know who was where when.

I love reading where the players are, mostly eating, in the city. Who knows why I really care. I have never been to Sonsie, although it seems like you can see everyone from Mr. Brady to Mr. Garnett there, and I may never go. I guess it's the same reason people care about Britney Spears. Athletes are my celebs and who said there is anything wrong with that?

Last year, I waited in a crosswalk while Daisuke drove by. He waved- I wanted to jump on his car.

The image above is by (cc) FredoAlvarez and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where in the World is...Barry Bonds?

Barry Bonds. Yeah, remember him? The baseball player who broke Hank Aaron's home run record? Bonds isn't playing and to the visible eye of the sports media he may never again.

This is a great story topic and the site offers coverage on the topic in two different ways. The first is the news story format written by Jayson Stark and the second is the commentary of Bill Simmons.

I think this is a great example of how a news story doesn't always offer more insight or information than a column. Maybe it's me, but after reading Simmons article I felt more informed even though there wasn't that much information. Stark's article seemed to drag on.

Why? Most sports fans know all about the Bonds situation, his stats and his history chasing the home run record. Sports consumers were inundated with coverage about Bonds during the span of the past couple of years. Oh and do I have to mention that Bonds did steroids? When reading an article we don't need to hear the predictable quotes about why he isn't playing and the reasons.

Simmons assumes we know and makes something of it. I'm not condoning making assumptions, but if a reader is reading a column on ESPN.com, you have to- ahem- assume that they know their sports just a tad. Bottom line: I learned more from Simmons than Stark and it was because his opinion was something valuable on this topic and I just didn't need anymore Bonds news.

It just goes to show that there is never a formula. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don't. Sorry Stark, you lose on this one.

P.S. This could be biased because I am an admitted Simmons-acholic. Did I mention that Simmons started out as a blogger?

Friday, April 4, 2008

It Gets Better...

Yesterday I included a link about the girl who was attacked by a hawk at Fenway Park. Now it's being considered an omen.

Read this to learn why!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Dangers of Fenway Park

It looks like there is more to fear at Fenway than just a foul ball to the head!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jumping on the Bandwagon?

I don't usually blog much about the Celtics. I love all sports, but as the blog accurately reflects, I am much bigger Pats and Sox fan than any other. But I have found, as I have been writing my final on Celticsblog.com, that I'm finding the game fascinating.

I have never been sold on the actual game of basketball and the constant whistle blowing is something that has always turned me off. Oops- you touched him, stop the game and get to the line. YAWN. And then we have the opposite effect- the superstar effect. I have always said that watching a regular season basketball game is like watching the All-Star game every night. One or two superstars on each team which results in big dunks and not much teamwork.

Well, I think I may be wrong. I don't say that often so bare with me, but I'm starting to enjoy the game more and more.

When you don't follow a certain sport and then your city's team gets good, many hop on the bandwagon. I detest pink Pats jerseys worn by people who know nothing about the team beside their record , so am I starting to see a Celtics bandwagon fan when I look in the mirror?

Nah. I'm not really a fan, but I am enjoying watching this team. I have seen things like teamwork, aggressiveness and pure athleticism that I claimed didn't exist anymore in the NBA.

The Celts are back and the city is wearing green, and not just on March 17th. It's a good feeling, even for me. The Celtics won again tonight and tied NBA history. I like it. Will I watch the next game, probably not, but I will check the post game recap and see how the boys in green played. Is this where my trek to Celtics fan begins? I'm not sure. Am I a fan? Nope. Am I interested? Definitely.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Want to know about and read news stories that other people find interesting, relevant or educational? Check out Newstrust.net, a site that allows users to share stories and rate them.

Newstrust “provides quality news feeds, news literacy tools and a trust network to help citizens make informed decisions about democracy,” according to its Web site.

The idea is for readers to point out good and bad examples of journalism and articles. They will then rate the stories accordingly. I tend to be critical, I mean, do people really even know what they're talking about? Will people just mess with the system? The cynicism is something to keep in mind because trust isn't always foolproof, but as a general rule it tends to work. For every funny guy messing with the system there is usually ten others that want to see the site work. People seem to really like the site, but is it something that would appeal to me?

The first thing that I did when I took my first look around the site was to search for sports related articles. Let’s just say the site didn’t have much to offer. As a whole, I really liked the Web site. Its layout is easy to follow and the main premise is pretty simple. But no sports news?

There is one easy solution. Contribute! If you don’t see something that would interest you on the site, then there are probably others that are missing it too. So it’s simple enough, but here is the problem, I don’t think that I would ever contribute to a site like this and it’s not because I don’t care. I’m just not one to comment at least in public way. I may come to the site and read the articles, but I don’t think I would often rate anything. I’m not a lazy person; on the contrary, I’m a busy person. I’m the type that likes to read something and move on. If I find it extraordinarily moving, perhaps I would pass it on to a friend, but that’s all I would really do.

I’m trying hard for this not to be negative, I just honestly don’t think that at least in this part of my life, that I would ever be too actively involved in a site like this. When I read news online I rarely if ever comment so I don’t think I would ever go to this site for the sole purpose on rating a story. But I’m open to the idea and of the many sites that have this concept; I think Newstrust is going in the most productive direction. This week the creator if Newstrust is coming into our class to give us the in-depth run through and I’m excited to see what he has to say. Can he turn me into a user?

Monday, March 31, 2008

X-treme Sports

I have never really followed what are considered "X-treme Sports" like snowboarding, moto-cross racing, BMX , skateboarding and the rest. But when they are on TV there is something about them which results in me not being able to change the channel.

Well the Snowboarding U.S. Open was held in this weekend in my home state of Vermont so I checked out the coverage.

EXPN.com covered the competition and featured a photo gallery with some amazing photographs. The clarity and resolution is crystal clear and the black background makes the colors pop.

I wish there were a few more photographs, but the ones they have, I personally think are really impressive. Plus, it's nice to see home sweet home as well.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Quiz You Might Actually Want to Take

I'm not a big fan of quizzes or tests. I mean, who is? But do enjoy fun sports quizzes where the outcome doesn't really matter and you learn something.

A lot of news/sports media organizations use polls to visualize reader opinion, but not a lot use quizzes. I have encountered some, but if I knew there was a weekly quiz on Boston.com or BostonHerald.com that tested my smarts on a certain sports subject, I would be sure to take it.

A sports quiz might be a great way to draw in readers and make an article or feature interactive. What if there was a prize or a reader hall of fame based on points? People would sign up and compete each week, answering questions and logging points. At the end of a certain amount of time, the participants with the top 5 scores win tickets to a local game. Something like that would be great.

I'm not an expert, but I know you would have to figure out the kinks. But some kind of game/contest would a great addition and a way to draw readers to your Web site. Better yet? Do it in the newspaper, but advertise it online, potentially bring online readers to buy the paper on the day the contest is run. Sounds far fetched? Well, everyone loves trivia and some may go a long way for bragging rights and tickets to a Celts game.

Check out a quiz I made. Kinda cool and not too hard!

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's Official: Bracket Busted

I picked Tennessee.

That's all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Play Ball!

Did you get up?

I did and let's just say I am not a morning person. Tuesday morning was a breeze. I woke up before my alarm, which was set for 5:45am and got myself ready to watch the first regular season baseball game of the 2008 season. This morning was a bit more of a challenge. But was it worth it? With a doubt. Absolutely. Yes.

Tuesday was a game that baseball fans wish for and today was one that I wish had gone the other way. But more important than the scores was the experience. The night before the opener, after announcing that I was heading to bed because I had an early morning ahead of me, I had someone ask me why I would ever get up that early to watch a game.

"It's just a game," he said as he looked at me in confusion as I explained the scary (for any college student) fact that I would be waking before dawn.

But that's not true. I defended myself by jumping up and down exclaiming that it’s baseball season and I’m a real fan, but if I could sit down and explain why I did, this here is what I would preach.

1. I’m a Red Sox fan. I love the team and I love sports. I hate missing games and missing two in a row, including the season opener, shouldn't even be an option. I’m not just a Sox fan at 7:05pm, but at 6:05am as well.

2. In 20 years when my child asks me about the Sox playing their 2008 opener in Japan, I will say I watched it. What if Dice-K wins the Cy Young and they credit it to him being able to play at home one final time? I will have seen it happen. What if the Sox win the 2008 World Series? The commemorative DVD will show the historic season opener. I will have already seen it. What if the MLB decides to ban international play due to the cumbersome stress travel has on player health? I will have seen the last game. Will any of these things happen, most likely not, well maybe the winning it all again statement, but if they do I can say I watched it.

Sports are about memories. You watch history take place, making memories and having fun while you do it. And maybe not to all, but to me memories are made all the time, even at 6:05am.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ready to lose some Zzzzzz's?

The Sox are in Japan! Although it was a bumpy road getting there, our city's favorite ballplayers are in Tokyo and are preparing for their first regular season games.

The city of Boston is ready for baseball. The Celtics are tearing through the NBA without regard and the Bruins are hoping to make it to the playoffs, but there is a certain sports energy that is missing from Beantown, and that energy comes from the much missed baseball season.

But there will be a difference at the start of this season. Let's just say you probably won't be getting your friends together for beers and peanuts. Since the Sox will be in Japan, loyal fans will have to wake up at 6am to watch their hometown heroes and defending champs start the season off.

Away games are tough, but an away game to Japan is even tougher. I think the trip weakens the Sox a bit, not for the long run, but for the first week or two. That said, I can understand the value of spreading the MLB brand across the world and forging deeper relationships with the Japanese organizations that end up cultivating some of the best players in Major League Baseball.

As Larry Lucchino, Red Sox president, said in an official MLB.com press release,

"It comes at a good time for us, because we want to express our gratitude to the Japanese baseball world for the contribution their two pitchers made to our World Series championship."

So the season is upon us and the city of Boston will likely be awake a bit earlier than usual. I know that it's going to be rough couple of mornings for this not so early bird. But in the end, who cares? It's baseball season!

P.S. Did you hear and is this really such a good idea? But more on that after the holiday weekend...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Baseball Briefs

1. The Sox released catcher Doug Mirabelli. Mirabelli's primary job on the roster was to catch the wobbly knuckleball of starter Tim Wakefield, but since Mirabelli has been unproductive at the plate, the Sox decided his time was up. Kevin Cash, who has proved he can catch Wakefield, will take over Mirabelli's place behind the plate.

2. Josh Beckett will not be going to Japan and Daisuke Matsuzaka will start the first game in Japan. Jon Lester will start the second.

The countdown has begun. One week until the start of the season!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wanna know what I heard?

News is often spread by good old fashion word of mouth. It's not unusual to hear sports news before you even get a chance to check out ESPN.com or watch SportsCenter for the day. It's a common occurrence to have someone say to you, "Did you hear about so and so?" or "Guess who got traded?" Now there is a Web site where you can do just that, but instead of sharing the news with just your friends, you will be sharing it with hundreds of online readers.

9neighbors.com is a new Web site where users can submit news stories and then users can vote on the stories they find important. Users can share information about their city or share a particular news story that they find interesting. Then users can vote for stories that they think are interesting, helpful or in any way newsworthy. The site's focus is the Boston area and is currently covering the towns Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline and Newton.

And it wouldn't be a Boston area Web site if sports didn't find their way into the mix. Out of the top five streams on the site, two of them are sports related, the Celtics and the Red Sox. Most of the posts are links to Boston.com and articles on their sports page, but it is interesting to see what readers think is the most important or interesting part of current sports news. Check it out and maybe it will lend you some information so you can say, "Hey, wanna know what I heard?"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'll have a degree, but will I have a job?

Let's take a little break from sports coverage and take a deeper look at the current state of print journalism and what the future has in store. Tomorrow I’ll be sure to report on some sports headlines: Mirabelli’s gone, Beckett’s a no go for Japan and much more.

Since I came to college and entered the journalism school, class discussions have constantly focused on the state of journalism and in particular print journalism. It isn’t breaking news to anyone that newspapers are in trouble. People are losing jobs and departments are shrinking, if not disappearing all together. The advent of online news outlets, where you can pick and choose your news and customize your news-gathering to fit your needs, has completely shook up the money making print paper. Everybody knows this and the dialogue about it is abundant, but necessary.

I tuned in to “Radio Boston” WBUR 90.9 and listened to a program which explored the question, “What’s the future of Boston newspapers, and Boston news media?” It was hosted by David Boeri and featured commentators Stephen Kurkjian of The Boston Globe and Dan Kennedy, journalism professor at Northeastern and Media Nation blogger. The focus was on Boston media, but of course it also pertains to national media as well. Here are a few things that I found interesting and jotted down:

1. There is the same number of news consumers as there has always been; they just aren’t consuming news in the same way.

Although this was a very simple and maybe obvious point, it really hit me. We constantly talk about newspapers losing readership, but we forget that people still want to read the news, they are just going to other places to find it. I am the perfect example. I love to read the news, but there are few times that I actually buy the paper. I can get all of my news for free online and I can check several media outlets. I would say that I am a Boston Globe reader, just not in the traditional sense. They haven’t lost readership, their readers are just going to their Web site. Newspapers need to find a way to make readers want to read the print paper again or they have to….

2. Find a way to make the newspaper’s Web site profitable.

If the medium where consumers get their news is changing, then it needs to be profitable, because if it isn’t -dun dun dun- news will fail to exist. The problem may not be that dramatic, but big wigs at newspapers need to get a handle on web advertising and try to find a way that it can make money. Martin Baron, the editor of The Boston Globe, called in to the show and said that they [members of the Globe staff] are trying to figure this out. He said that the Web site is generally new, 11 years old, and doesn’t bring in money. It is something they are still trying to figure out. Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at The Poynter Institute, writes about the profits of newspapers and websites. Check out this article in which he accesses newspapers and news sites profits in 2007 and this one where he analyzes a new 2008 study of advertising and news profits.

3. Change and adaptation is key.

There was a lot of talk about The Boston Globe, which makes sense since it is the major newspaper and media outlet in the Boston area. The commentators spoke about the way the paper has changed with the times and become a local news focused paper, when at one time it had much more national coverage. Buyouts and layoffs resulting in cuts in national and international departments and bureaus might be partially to blame for this change, but the Globe is doing the best thing for the paper. People can get their national news from any news site online, but they can only get their local coverage from their local paper. This guarantees readers in some capacity,online and/or print. For example, I am a huge Boston sports fan. I read the Globe everyday because that is where I can get the best Boston sports news, which I can't get anywhere else. They have changed their focus over the years, according to the commentators, but it is only for the better.

This was a very insightful discussion, one that journalists are having everyday within their own newsrooms. If the discussion continues, perhaps an answer will come or it might just need to sort itself out. The silver lining is that people want news and that will never change, we just need to find a resourceful way to give them what they want and see both parties prosper.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bye Bye Brown

All sports have salary caps, it's just all in the details.

Baseball has a salary cap, which many don't know, but it is a "soft cap" which means that a team can spend over the cap, but they have to pay a luxury tax on the extra money they spend. Each year teams with a lot of dough like the Yankees and the Red Sox, spend more than the cap. Who cares about a cap when the owners have more than enough money to do so? The cap doesn't mean much to the millionaires that own the teams. Don't get me wrong, there needs to be a brain in the heads of the people with the money and the teams still choose who they want to spend money on, but there isn't much scrambling or deciding who is more important than who if you can pay for everyone.

The NBA and NHL also both have caps, but both include exceptions when resigning a player that is already on the team. So technically, the teams can both spend more if the opportunity presents itself.

And then there is the NFL. The NFL has a "hard cap" in which no team can pay more than any other. There is a set limit, the upcoming season's limit is $116 million, and no team can go beyond it. Never. No exceptions.

That said, it's hard to have a franchise player in football. There is too much shuffling under the cap, trying to figure out who the team can afford and who is worth what. Sometimes good players and hometown favorites go even if they and their fans hope they are there all of their careers.

So why all the salary cap/franchise player talk? According to The Boston Globe, the Patriots are choosing to forgo offering veteran wide receiver and one of the few franchisers in the game right now, a place on the team next year. Brown, who was drafted in 1993 by the Pats, was told by the team that they don't have plans to keep him and that if he plans on playing next year he should begin looking to other teams.

Troy Brown is a class act who has been in the league for 15 years now. He has discussed retiring before, but now with the Pats cutting ties, it looks like the retirement might happen sooner than later. I personally would like to see Brown retire as a Patriot. He is a standout player and human being, who took less money to play in New England a few years back. He belongs in New England and gave Pats fans unbelievable memories.

We will see what Brown does, he could always continue his spectacular career with another team, but it's sad to see him leave the Patriots. Number 80, with his quick feet, versatility and love for the game, will always be a Patriot in my eyes.

Photo (cc) by Barry Chin of The Boston Globe, and is republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Beckett's Back Blues

First it was a bit of pain in his back. Then it was a lot of pain. Now it's back pain that will potentially keep Sox star pitcher Josh Beckett out of the season opener. Although the Sox still haven't issued a statement, it is looking unlikely that Beckett will be able to pitch in either of the first two games in Japan.

Beckett had a MRI on his back and the results showed that there was no disk injury, which means the injury is most likely muscle related. This is a good sign for down the road, but will still mean that Beckett will be most likely out in the beginning of the season.

Adding more worry to the mix, there is a chance that number two starter Daisuke Masuzaka will not be able to pitch in Japan either. Masuzaka's wife is pregnant and he has been given permission to miss the games if he needs to be with his wife.

Terry Francona told the press,
"We'll just have to see how things play out over the next few days. We'll have two starting pitchers for the trip, we just don't know who they are yet."
I don't think the Sox have much to worry about, with generally the same team from last season, but it is still an unsettling thought to most to see the season begin on such a bumpy start.

I'll keep you posted when the Sox make the official announcement, but it will most likely be made closer to the March 25 season opener.

What Does Your Pats Jersey Say About YOU?

In a previous post, I mentioned how much I love Boston.com photo galleries. Well, check out this fun read. Sports psychologists explain how the Pats jersey that you wear displays your personality.

I wear a Bruschi jersey and I'm not sure that I'm a " blue-collar scrapper who confronts steep odds and is not afraid to get [my] hands dirty." Oh well.

What does your jersey say about you?

Photo (cc) www.topprospectalert.com, and is republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Moss is Back

I'm back and ready to blog after an exhausting mid-term week and more relaxing spring break. Let's get it started...

Sighhhhhhh. There you go. That was my sigh of relief knowing that Randy Moss will be with the Patriots for the next three years.

It is easy to be negative in sports. We remind ourselves that it's a business, but can't seem to fathom when a hometown hero leaves the town for a few more million in another and sometimes even rival city, a la Johnny Damon.

Well it looks like Randy Moss, an athlete most were sure was completely focused on dollar signs, isn't all about the benjamins. Moss signed a 27 million dollar, 3 year deal with the Pats even though other teams, according to his agent Tim DiPiero, offered up more money for the record breaking wide receiver. Rumor has it one of the teams was the Philadelphia Eagles, where Asante Samuel just landed after jumping the Patriot ship for solely what Moss turned down, more cash. But more about that later…

So Moss stayed because he wanted to be with the Patriots even if it meant less money. Because being with the Patriots is the closest you can get to almost guaranteeing a playoff spot and that is one step closer to a Super Bowl ring which Moss, despite his great numbers, has never gotten as close to as when he wore the red, blue and silver.

Athletes have egos, there is no denying that. Being the best often means making a lot or the most money. But in the world of sports, rings can trump money, because no Canton bound football player wants to leave the game without a ring. It's nice to see that ego being put in check for the love of the game and the hunt of the title, instead of a new Escalade and eight bedroom pad.

So Moss is back and the Pats can smile when looking at there barely touched, minus Donte Stallworth, offense. With the draft approaching and trades in the mix, the Pats can breathe easy and focus on what needs to be focused on: the defense.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pats Take a Gamble

The Pats passed putting the franchise tag on superstar WR Randy Moss. This would indicate that the Pats think that they can sign a multi-year deal with Moss and this should get everyone in New England smiling. I'm all for smiling, but just remember what happened with Deion Branch, the Super Bow MVP who went to the Seahawks after the Pats refused to offer him the amount of cash he wanted.

Bottom Line: The Patriots are known for smart spending and have never spent too much on an individual player. The Pats also don't have too much money to play with under the salary cap. Keep your fingers crossed and in the mean time- here is a much needed Randy Moss fix in a hilarious ESPN clip.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BostonNOW: Direct to the Web

I pick up BostonNOW everyday. I made the big switch from the Metro to BostonNOW about six months ago and it was solely because BostonNOW has a better crossword puzzle. Never underestimate the power of the crossword because now I'm a loyal BostonNOW reader when I hop on the train.

BostonNOW isn't anything mind blowing, but I do admire their persistence in trying to make the commuter paper into a strong web presence. Every brief and article, unless it's a wire story, has a link that you can go to. The link brings you to the story online and allows you to comment on the story. I'm not sure how well this will work. I read BostonNOW as a quick read if I don't have time to read a major newspaper, catch the news or hop online before I leave my apartment. This rarely ever happens and I have usually scanned NYTimes.com, Boston.com and/or CNN.com before I even get out of my pajamas. But the effort is commendable and I really like what they are trying to do.

The paper is also pushing for citizen journalism in more ways than just through comment boards. BostonNOW is looking for citizen journalists that can write about various topics that the paper is trying to cover and the paper would pay them for their services. I’m not sure how much you can really call this citizen journalism, I guess it depends on the way it is presented and written, but it seems kind of like a freelance position with a new age title to me. The paper's website also features online polls, cell phone access and downloadable copies of the paper.

BostonNOW is still relatively new so I think there effort to bring readers to website is excellent. And if there is a lesson to all small newspapers in this somewhere, maybe it’s to feature a great crossword, you never know how you will bring in a new reader.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Boston.com Photo Galleries

Like most journalism majors, I am a bit of a news junkie and as a sports fan, a sports news junkie. But even the most diehard of fans can sometimes get a bit worn out and would prefer a quick news brief over a two pager with a jump. Boston.com gets this. They get it more than ESPN.com, which has great features but has yet to really see the beauty in constructing a news article out of photographs and briefs.

Boston.com understands how to do this perfectly. Sometimes I will click on a link thinking it’s a news story and it will bring me to a photo gallery, which is often a pleasant surprise. This means less reading for me!

Now should every story be done like this? Obviously not, but it's a great way to create a countdown or rank importance of things without having to fumble through an article. There doesn't have to be expert commentary, just the reporters’ ideas and it can be done in a really fun way. It is a great way to explore ideas without them having to be hard facts and sometimes I feel like I learn as much if not more from a story constructed like this.

Here is a great example of a story, “10 offseason questions for the Patriots,” that works way better in this format than I believe it would in a standard article.

I really like the way this photo gallery was done. It is a quick read, but it highlights important facts. If you want to learn more about a certain aspect you can do so, but this is a great overview. It also incorporates the readers by featuring a poll at the end asking for the readers’ opinion.

To me this is quality journalism. It isn’t a Pulitzer Price winner, but it does what journalists should do, raises questions and educates readers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Inexpensive Memories

I remember when the Patriots were terrible. Instead of our now expected double digits in the wins column, it was always double digits in the losses column. Tickets were cheap and available and my Dad and I would make the trek to the old Foxboro Stadium.

I remember walking into the stadium wearing a dark blue Drew Bledsoe jersey under my puffy Patriots winter jacket and taking in the scene with wide blue eyes. At that moment all I could think was that I wanted to come every Sunday.

My Dad and I would sit on the metal bleachers in the end zone and eat Papa John's pizza and peanuts. Because the Pats were on the bottom of the NFL barrel and because of their annual loser status, I got to root for my favorite team in the sticky seats of Foxboro.

Nothing is better than seeing the thing that you love live and in person. Whether it is a play, concert or sporting event, there is something about seeing something you are passionate about play out in front of your eyes. This is especially important for children and the times that I spent with my dad within the walls of that stadium are times that I will never forget.

Boston.com has reported that the Patriots will be raising ticket prices next year. Here are the new prices according to the press release and the post on Mike Reiss’ blog on Boston.com, “Reiss’s Pieces,”

Lower Level Sideline -- $169
Lower Level Corner/End Zone -- $117
Mezzanine Level Corner/End Zone -- $117
Upper Level Sideline -- $89
Upper Level Corner (Rows 1-7) -- $89
Upper Level Corner (Rows 8-26) -- $65
Standing Room -- $49

I literally gasped when I saw the new prices. I can’t imagine having parents spending 100 dollars on two STANDING ROOM tickets. I went to a game last year with my Dad for my birthday and it will probably be the last game I go to for some time.

It kills me to think that some kids will have to miss out on what I got to experience so many times when I was small. Sports are a business and I know that. More people want to go see a good team play than a team where a loss is almost guaranteed. It just hurts me to think that the thousands of little Pats fans may not get the chance to see their role models hit the field because of unbelievably high ticket prices.

I would never want the Pats to do badly and it may never go back to the way it used to be when rows of empty seats could be found cluttering the stadium. But I do know that I much rather see the stands filled with parents and kids, old friends and long time fans all clad in Pats gear, then rows of suits and ties. Hey, maybe I’m cynical, but those suits won’t be coming when the Pats are no longer the cream of the crop.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

King of the Mailbag

Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy, is a columnist for ESPN the Magazine and for ESPN.com. He is a native Bostonian and constantly shows his undying love for all that is Boston sports in his lengthy columns. He doesn't just have a fan base in New England, but across the country, making him one of the most popular ESPN personalities.
Simmons is a great writer and his style is something I have never seen done so well before. He mixes incredible sports knowledge with clever remarks and pop culture tidbits. His words flow and he makes a subject that you may not think you would ever find interesting into a column that you read to the very last paragraph.

The great thing about Simmons is that he plays off of his readers and invites them into the conversation. He asks them to give players nicknames, coin new sports phrases and weigh in on the sports debate of the day. Simmons is not the traditional, here is my opinion, take it or leave it columnist. He knows that his columns get better with help and who is better to help than people who know or at least love sports.

Simmons does a regular mailbag column where he takes selected reader questions, comments, rants and raves and constructs a column where he and the reader interact. This is interactive journalism at its finest. His articles and columns get hundreds of letters because the readers know that their voices are being heard. Check out his latest mailbag or check out previous articles and columns.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Schilling Shoulder Woes

It looks like Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is out until at least the All-Star Break. Schilling, who was resigned by the Sox shortly after the season ended, will forgo surgery so that he will be able to play later in the season. Instead of surgery, Schilling will go through a rehabilitation regimen for his shoulder. If Shilling chose surgery, he could have been out the entire season.

The End

I have officially popped my head out of my hole of mourning and denial. The New England Patriots lost the Super Bowl. My fingers hurt when I type it. When I think about it my face goes dark and my voice gets quiet. But on Sunday history was squashed and Pats fans will have to wait until next September to see the Pats grace the field at Gillette Stadium.

The worst part about a big loss isn't always just the fact that it happened, but the fact that you will have to hear about it for weeks after.

"I seriously don't think I'm going to be able to watch Sports Center for like two weeks," my boyfriend said to me after the epic loss.

It's funny how we react to the media. We love it when they hype our team for two weeks straight and then despise it when they report the unsettling truths.

I don't think I'll get into the details of the game. We all watched the game and now New England is trying to put it into perspective. Now I'm preparing myself for the backlash. I'm ready for the media to forget the amazing, record-breaking season. The sports media needs something to focus football related and Spygate is just the thing to focus on when teams aren't playing. Besides trades the off-season can be a bit dull, but the media has just the story to keep the NFL in the headlines. Unfortunately, it's a story that should have been dropped after the team was punished months ago. Maybe I'm cynical, but I have a feeling that it's going to be a long off-season.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

RIP Keith Ryan

I wanted to make a quick mention on the blog about the death of Keith Ryan, the son of The Boston Globe's own sports columnist Bob Ryan. Here is the obit that ran in the Globe.

Santana to the Mets: The Deal is Done

I know everyone knows this by now, but I thought I would give the official word on "In the Huddle." The Mets will pay Santana 137.5 million over six years. Sports are unbelievable.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Separation of Sports and State

Last night I saw a headline on CNN.com about a U.S. Senator that wants to look further into the Patriots Spygate scandal. I ignored it. I skipped over it hoping maybe it wouldn't turn into anything important and perhaps I could look into the exciting future (2 days!) instead of the regrettable past. But this morning I saw this article pop up on ESPN.com and I felt like I had to sit down and read it. The headline read, "Senator wants answers on Spygate tapes from NFL." According to the article, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) wants to know why the NFL destroyed the tapes that the New England Patriots made when they cheated during the first game of the 2007 season. The senator apparently made several attempts to contact the NFL and no one ever got back to him. The article goes on to say, "NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, in a September e-mail to ESPN.com, wrote that the reason for destroying them was "so that our clubs would know they no longer exist and cannot be used by anyone."

So if the league has already explained why they did what they did, why does Specter plan on pressing the issue? I'm not sure what else the league will tell him. There may very well be a more deceptive and mysterious reason why they destroyed the tapes, but what if there isn't and if there is, does anyone really care at this point? Why does Specter, a longtime senator, care about this? Maybe that's what really should be investigated.

It seems we get our answer about halfway through the story. The article says, "Specter, a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan who still calls sports radio stations on Monday mornings, said he was concerned about the integrity of sports." Hmmm. Is this an issue about the integrity of sports or stale bitterness over the fact that the Pats beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004? Eagles’ players, including Sheldon Brown, have stepped up and claimed that the Pats win was tainted and now maybe they have the ultimate tool of revenge.

Maybe my conspiracy theory is wrong and Specter truly cares about the league itself and not just his beloved Eagles. I hope I’m wrong. I love sports, but as of late I think there needs to be some separation of sports and government. Obviously as large companies and organizations that pay taxes, they are undeniably linked. But a U.S. Senator starting the investigation of a cheating scandal in the NFL? C'mon! Let the league do what it wants to do. Is this the start of another Mitchell report? We can all see how well that turned out.

Instead of pointing fingers and setting out on personal vendettas, perhaps Specter should do what the citizens of Pennsylvania elected him to do; serve the people of his state and represent them on matters important to them and the country. I say fight for more important issues and keep sports as a discussion topic on talk radio not in Congress.

Update: Trouble with the Trade?

According to ESPN.com, "Sources: Mets likely won't reach deal with Santana until Friday, if at all."

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Santana to the Mets

Since I have been in such a Super Bowl daze over the past two weeks, I haven't even mentioned the news that broke on Tuesday afternoon. Everyone at this point knows this, but I'll announce it like it is breaking news.

Johan Santana, who everyone believed was heading either to the Bronx or Beantown, is actually going to Queens. Santana is working on a deal with the Mets and pending a physical and the legal/monetary mumbo jumbo, will be the number one starter in the Mets rotation. He will be the toast of the less famous and talked about New York team.

What do I think? Well, like any Red Sox fan I would have loved to see a rotation including Santana, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Schilling and Wakefield. I mean who wouldn't?

But at the same time, why fix what isn't broken? We won a World Series and of course you want to improve your team, but trading players who were essential in helping you team win it all? That’s hard and that’s why the deal, I speculate, didn’t go down. I would have hated to see Ellsbury go, a rising star with quick legs and a quick bat and Lester is proving to shape up into a solid pitcher and I would think that the big guys at the Sox felt the same.

Well here is the upside; he is going to the National League. We won’t be facing him except during interleague and never in the playoffs unless we make it to the Series. He didn’t go to the Evil Empire and we have the same team that brought the trophy home to us.

Disappointing? Maybe. Devastating? Not at all. Plus, you never know what will happen. Trades fall through and people back out. I’ll post again when it is official.

Super Bowl Media Day

Super Bowl media day was held in Arizona on Tuesday. The sports media, especially media that doesn't get a lot of face time with the teams, made the trip to the dry heat of the southwest and got their chance to ask, well, whatever they felt like. Athletes and coaches are made readily available and reporters have an open forum to ask questions. The tone of the day is very loose. People ask crazy questions and do idiotic things. It isn't the serious tone of the standard press conference and there isn't a game that the reporters have to report on shortly afterward. This is information for fluff stories; at a normal interview would you see a reporter dressed in a wedding gown asking Tom Brady to marry her?

It's all fun and games at Media Day and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. But I found this post on the Sporting News' blog and thought it was an interesting take. No one seems to take media day seriously, but is it just a big waste of time? Do we actually get any real substance out of it? What do you think?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Only Animals Would Pick The Giants!

Boston. com has a great blog dedicated solely to Super Bowl coverage titled "Double Coverage." It's a great read and has pretty much everything you could ever want or need to know about the upcoming game, the competing teams and everything in between. And when I say EVERYTHING, I mean it.

Check out this story about Princess the game predicting camel. That's the best thing about blogs, things that you would never see in the paper, unless it was a slow news day, can be found on a blog. Sometimes that's a bad thing, but fun stories like this should be told and blogs are the perfect place to showcase them.

P.S. Princess picked the Giants. Clearly not the smartest camel in the desert.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Time for Innovation

While browsing the internet sports news universe this morning, I came across this interesting column that ran in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by sports columnist Gil Lebreton, titled "Super Bowl may have outgrown the media that helped create it." It is a fun read, but part of the story really intrigued me. Libreton wrote,

"Newspapers and radio stations still cover the game in record numbers. But whereas, as recently as Super Bowl XIX, a reporter could actually sit down and interview one of the two Super Bowl quarterbacks, the media crush now is so thick, you're lucky to have 10 minutes with the special teams coach."

I had never really thought about it like that before. As much coverage as there is of the Super Bowl, it really is limited. At first this scared me: what will stories include if access is so limited? Will it be pure speculation? Maybe I shouldn't have jabbed the press for creating such a stir over Brady's walking boot and high ankle sprain. If they had better access to the sources they needed then maybe the story would have began and ended in the same news day.

But here is the thing. This may be the perfect time to experiment with new media techniques and technologies. User generated content, more analysis and comparisons using video and audio, blogs and polls, profiles and scorecards and so much more could be experimented with. If only certain media outlets can interview the big names, other media needs to create new content that will draw readers in. Innovation and invention often occurs when the traditional or accepted ways of doing something are taken away. Smaller media outlets would benefit to start the experimentation and draw in readers with features that larger outlets didn't think of doing when they were interviewing the star QB.

And He Is Back...

Where in the world is Tom Brady? That was the question people were asking after the media reported that he was missing from practice. The “Brady Boot” scandal, Brady wearing a walking boot and limping around NYC, was captured on camera by paparazzi that treated Brady like he was Lindsay Lohan about to fall off the sobriety wagon. It was the hot sports topic of the end of last week and this weekend. Will Brady play? Is he really hurt? What exactly is a high ankle sprain? Is Belichick playing games with the media? The only problem: the Patriots had no intention of discussing or even mentioning the topic.

That is the thing about the Patriots: they don’t talk much and if they do, they all say the same thing. The team is a well-oiled machine that is mum on most topics the media wants to talk about. This drives the media crazy and as a journalist it would probably drive me crazy as well. There are only so many stories you can do about how they don't talk and even large issues like the cheating scandal now coined “Spygate” and Randy Moss’ legal troubles seem to be dropped quickly. Stories have a hard time evolving into more than a guessing game if you have no sources or anyone involved that is willing to talk to you.

And now it's Sunday and Brady has emerged. Just like that the “Brady Boot” scandal is done and Brady and the team are heading to Arizona. No one on the team seemed too worried about the story about which the media started a craze. Now the story is kaput and the hundreds of articles and discussion seem a bit for naught. Will Brady play in the Super Bowl? Is Belichick psyching out the Giants team? It may be hard for us, the media, but it may be time to stop asking questions and just wait and see.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Voicemail Message Boards

Have written message boards already started to bore us? Message boards have been around for some time now and Boston.com has just introduced a brand new kind of message. For their Super Bowl coverage, the site has invited readers to call a number listed on their site and leave a voicemail. They encourage you to leave the most creative, smack talk voicemail intended for the New York Giants or praise for the New England Patriots and they will put the most original up on the site.

Check it out!

The site also has other message boards targeted toward the Super Bowl, but are also looking for photos and videos. Are written messages no longer interactive enough? I'm only 21, but I remember when they were revolutionary.

People love to hear their own voice and maybe seeing their words in the comments section is no longer enough. Boston.com is relying on reader contributions and this means they have to do new and inventive things to have readers participate. As Youtube.com has proven, people like to give their opinions and document them. Photo sharing and video sharing are not necessarily new concepts, but the way the site is asking for so much user generated content is. Boston.com is creating a community and the sports section is the perfect place to have a neighborhood.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Casey's Crystal Ball: A Bit Foggy

I don't think I will be changing my stance on making picks on big games after the results of the Conference Championship games yesterday. Below are my picks, the actual scores and the bottom line:

AFC Championship Game
New England Patriots vs. San Diego Chargers

My Pick: New England 31, San Diego 17
Actual Score: New England 21, San Diego 12
Bottom Line: The New England Patriots are going to the SUPER BOWL for the fourth time in seven years!!

NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants

My Pick: Green Bay Packers 24, New York Giants 21
Actual Score: New York Giants 23, Green Bay Packers 20
Bottom Line: I was right in some regards. It was a tight one and the winning team won by three points. The only problem, there will be no Cheeseheads migrating to Arizona, just a bunch of New Yorkers.

So it isn't going to be an epic battle of quarterback royalty, but it's still the Super Bowl. Thirteen days until the most important day in the NFL will be upon us. It should be interesting to see what the press does with this match up.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Casey's Crystal Ball

Let me preface my picks for this week’s NFL Conference Championships by saying this: I don't believe in picks. Things can never be surely predicted and maybe I'm too superstitious or just plain nervous, but I would never put money on a game, no matter the spread or what the past match up history may be. You would never see ESPN commentators debating the biggest upsets ever or be able to watch the NFL Network replay classic underdog wins if sports outcomes were predictable. But, alas, I read them anyways because what is more fun then predicting right and showing off to all of your friends? Below are my picks:

AFC Championship Game
New England Patriots vs. San Diego Chargers

Pick: New England Patriots
Predicted Score: 31-17

I would never NOT pick the Patriots. I would pick the Patriots over any team past or present. This isn’t because I necessarily think the Patriots could beat any team past or present, but because I’m at the level of Patriots fan where your blind love and admiration for the undefeated athletes wearing red, silver and blue, makes you trust everything they do. I have already forgotten Spygate and Harrison’s confession of HGH use. I believe the Pats can do no wrong.

That said, this is playoff football and teams do not give up. The Chargers are banged up with two of their most valuable players, LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers, not 100 percent. But last week they proved they could step up their game and utilize other players to beat the Indianapolis Colts, the reigning Super Bowl champs. This is not going to be some piece of cake, walk into Dolphins Stadium and win with your eyes closed victory, but I pick the Pats to leave frosty Gillette Stadium as winners.

NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants

Pick: Green Bay Packers
Predicted Score: 24-21

This is going to be a tight one. The Giants are rolling into Lambeau Field with momentum, beating the “team to beat” Dallas Cowboys in Texas last weekend. Eli Manning finally seems confident and ready to lead his team to the Super Bowl. But I just don’t think that is going to happen. I’m prepared to see a lot of Cheeseheads heading to Phoenix in two weeks.

I predict a clash of the titans, two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history playing in the most important game of the year. Brady vs. Favre: the media should have a great time with that one…

Friday, January 18, 2008

Welcome to the Huddle

We all know that technology is changing the media and the information that we receive as consumers. Even the least tech savvy or media minded person knows that the influence of blogs, podcasts and social networking is revolutionizing the way we receive our news. It’s no longer just in black and white or on at 5 and 11 p.m., but available to all of us by a click of a mouse, a tap of a satellite radio dial or flip of the remote control.

Sports media has felt the effect of the changing journalistic tide and is jumping on the wave. This blog is going to explore the way newspapers, radio stations, local news, cable networks (man, there will be a lot of talk about the juggernaut that is ESPN) and all the mediums that fall in-between, are using new technologies to change the way sports are covered and delivered to the masses. Of course, there will also be my view on all of the latest news and happenings in the ever-changing world of sports. Sometimes it can get a bit heated so watch out!

This is a great time to discuss sports and the media and if you’re a Boston fan (Go Pats!) it’s even better. So put your helmet on, it’s time to play!