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SPORTVIEW

A case of separation anxiety

Maybe it's time to bring in Judge Judy to decide which party, if either, is being forthcoming in the divorce case of the Red Sox vs. Nomar Garciaparra.

You knew there would be recriminations in the wake of the four-team deal that sent Garciaparra to the Cubs Saturday. But did you expect it would be this nasty?

Was it, as Sox general manager Theo Epstein said on WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" show yesterday morning, a case of the team not wanting to go forward "shouldering the burden" after Nomar had told them he could wind up on the disabled list in the final two months of the season?

Or did ownership simply hear what it wanted to hear in the exchange between Garciaparra and the training staff?

Or did Garciaparra use the reported "I'm probably going to need much of August on the DL" statement as a way to punch his ticket out of town?

If Nomar did that, then why would he make the call to NECN's Chris Collins at 11 Sunday night to dispute the team's position?

"The disabled list? No. I need time off now and then to avoid it. There's inflammation, stiffness, and tightness in the tendon," said Garciaparra. Later in the conversation, he elaborated, "Rest heals it. And rest is something you don't get in baseball. You have to play through it, and take a day here and there."

Then there was Epstein's reiteration yesterday morning with "Dennis and Callahan" that the team had made another offer to Garciaparra, one that was "market-corrected" and adjusted for his performance over the past two years. "We have a track of two seasons after his wrist injury with lesser performances," he said.

Epstein also said, "We do shoulder some blame in what had become a doomed marriage, but I don't think he handled it very well or was the same guy in the clubhouse this year."

One thing is for sure: Neither side managed to hold the relationship together for the kids, er, fans.

Still, as Epstein said in his radio appearance: "The easy thing for my career would have been to do nothing."

The soap opera certainly didn't hurt ratings over the weekend, with the Sox averaging double figures for the three games and NESN doing its second-best pregame rating ever -- a 4.1 -- with the trade announcement Saturday evening.

One veteran TV observer cautioned, "Remember to keep an eye on the ratings for the rest of the year. Viewers love to watch stars, and the Sox just got rid of a big one."

So whom does one trust? A. The Sox; B. Garciaparra; C. Neither of the above; D. Both of the above.

We're circling "C." Because in most divorces, the truth usually is somewhere in the middle.

Full plate

NESN's Don Orsillo did double duty in Minneapolis over the weekend, pressed into service as the network's reporter as well as doing play-by-play. Orsillo was assigned to do the pregame and postgame interviews and postgame reporting from the locker room, with regular NESN reporter Eric Frede handling the studio shows back in Boston. "Other than doing spring training stories -- our daily `Report from the Fort' -- I've basically been a play-by-play guy all my career," said Orsillo. Many viewers may have assumed the opposite, that NESN had its No. 1 guy working the weekend series and covering the news with the likelihood of a trade announcement . . . Channel 7 reacted to the trade by sending Wendy Nix to report from Minneapolis and Dave Briggs to Chicago for Garciaparra's Cubs debut, with both contributing to "Sports Xtra." Channel 4 had Dan Roche, who worked the afternoon telecast, reporting live on "Sports Final" . . . During Sunday's Sox-Twins telecast, Jerry Remy noted that before the game, "It almost seemed like a new day in the Red Sox clubhouse." Play-by-play man Sean McDonough: "You've got to move on." Remy: "Exactly." . . . Channel 25 benefits from the trade, as Cubs-Giants was switched to Saturday's Game of the Week at 4 p.m., replacing Athletics-Twins at 1 p.m.

Commercial venture
If you haven't seen Tom Brady's commercial with Patriots receivers Deion Branch, Troy Brown, and David Givens, don't fret, you will. In the spot, John Madden thinks he has a news item when Brady reveals he has a new favorite receiver, something that comes as news to his three teammates. Of course, the new favorite receiver is Sirius, the satellite radio service that's starting a 24-hour NFL channel and pushing its partnership with the NFL to make all games available to subscribers. To get it, you must buy a satellite radio setup for home or car and pay the monthly subscription fee ($12.95). Aside to displaced NFL fans on the Net: The games won't be available online . . . Globe staffers Ron Borges and Nick Cafardo have signed on to do "Pure Football" each week with Eddie Andelman and Dave Jageler on WWZN. One will be in studio from noon-3 p.m. each Tuesday, and the other on Thursday . . . Andelman pulled the plug on his Friday night boxing show scheduled for Lynn's refurbished Fraser Field. Andelman had hoped to have six bouts for New England championships but ran afoul of rival promoters who weren't willing to make qualified fighters available, putting half of the fights in peril. "If you can't do it right, you don't do it," said a disappointed Andelman yesterday . . . With the Sox off Thursday, NESN will air the PawSox-Rochester game at 7, with Tom Caron and Bob Tewksbury . . . Also Thursday at 7, ESPN has the WNBA All-Stars vs. the US women's basketball team from Radio City Music Hall in a pre-Olympic warmup . . . ESPN has the US men's basketball team today (vs. Italy) and tomorrow (vs. Germany), each at 2 p.m.

`Plus' times two
NESN and the Globe are expanding their "Sports Plus" collaboration starting this week, when a second show, this one with a football emphasis, joins the rotation Friday night at 11 (with a repeat at the same hour Saturday). The original show, which airs Wednesday at 11 p.m. and repeats Thursday at the same hour, will continue. Bob Ryan joins host Bob Lobel this week to examine the Garciaparra trade. The second show will look at the Patriots' training camp and also have Globe staffer John Powers's Olympic preview. "We feel that `Sports Plus' is a franchise, and we're looking to expand it," said Bill Borson, NESN vice president of programming and production. It doesn't take a great leap of imagination to envision a third show. But Borson has something else on his mind these days: hockey. "We've got to prepare for a hockey season, even on a 1 percent chance that they're going to play," he said. That means arranging technical equipment, crews, assignments, studio talent, advertising sales, and the like. But what if there's no hockey? "We're looking at all our options -- and opportunities -- for fall," he said . . . Entercom, parent of WEEI, has agreed on a contract extension with the Arbitron ratings service, so expect some justifiable crowing on the air this week . . . Mike Patrick is due for heart bypass surgery and will miss ESPN's four preseason NFL telecasts. His replacement? Pat Summerall, rejuvenated after a liver transplant. He'll work with ESPN's regular "Sunday Night Football," crew: analysts Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire, plus reporter Suzy Kolber . . . There's a young demographic that will be watching "X Games X," to be shown live from Los Angeles Thursday-Saturday (ESPN, 9 p.m.). ABC has more action Saturday (Channel 5, 4 p.m.) and Sunday (Channel 5, 4 and 7 p.m.). New events for '04: SuperMoto and Big Air Skateboarding.

Bill Griffith's e-mail address is griffith@globe.com

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