If you're like me, you were a little torn about which sporting event to watch on television Friday night.
The Patriots were playing their third preseason game, and that's the one that's supposed to be the most like the regular season that's just two weeks away.
The Red Sox were also on TV Friday night, but we all know how we feel about them. They're dead. They're deader than those talking bugs in the commercials after they see the Raid can. They're stone-cold deceased.
But the Sox managed to interject some excitement into the mix Friday. The rumors hit the Internet early in the day and made it to mainstream media by mid-afternoon - a huge deal in the works with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who'd take Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto (Oh, good heaven, what will the Sox do without Nick Punto!!!) for first baseman James Loney and a bunch of prospects that you've never heard of, and wouldn't have unless you're higher on the geek scale than Bill James.
This is a master stroke, a purging of high salaries and bad attitudes - although it's also one of those things that I suspect you should be careful to wish for, because when it comes true, what's left for the Red Sox? Five more years out of contention?
The only team in Boston sports that can weather that storm is the Patriots, now entering their eighth straight season without a championship, but more awash than ever before in the love of the "In Bill We Trust" brigade.
So after seeing Tom Brady sent to the grass surface of Raymond James Stadium enough times to know what this week's talking points would be at Gillette Stadium, I started flipping back and forth between the channels to see who was going to tell me something of importance first.
On the Patriots' broadcast, Don Criqui and Randy Cross were telling me that some guy for the Bucs was making tackles for the Patriots, and that rookie "Nate Ebert" was a rugby star at Northwestern. Time to flip the channel.
Over on NESN, Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy were gushing over David Ortiz's return to the lineup, even as he struck out to leave a couple of runners stranded. The rumored big deal? Maybe they had been talking about it earlier in the broadcast, but while the game was going on, about the only things I could glean from the soundtrack were a few cryptic references by the Remdawg wondering if he would be showing up at the ballpark Saturday to see an entirely different team.
Part of the problem is that when you watch one of these broadcasts, you're not watching a news report. You're basically watching entertainment programming produced by the people that own the teams.
For instance, even though the Patriots' preseason games are on WBZ, they're not produced by the CBS-owned station. They're produced by Kraft Sports Productions, and the broadcasters wear spiffy polo shirts with the Flying Elvis embroidered over their hearts. You don't have to be home on the range to go somewhere where never is heard a discouraging word tune in at 7 on Wednesday night, and you'll be transported to a Happy Valley that's still happy.
As for the Red Sox telecasts, NESN is 80-percent owned by the Carmine Hose. So if Don and Jerry sound sometimes as if they're broadcasting atop eggshells, you can understand why.
In the real world, things are decidedly different.
These Red Sox are the most dysfunctional and disagreeable team to wear the uniform since the mid-1960s, the days when there more crickets and rats inside Fenway Park than paying customers. And that has to be terribly traumatic to the audience that keeps NESN afloat; assuming that all Red Sox fans born after 1967 have never known their favorite team to have to sell off its best players to help some other team make a run for the playoffs, it's no wonder that they'd be turning off the tube at a record rate and sending NESN's advertisers into a panic.
Meanwhile, over at the little slice of heaven that is Patriot Nation, the propaganda machine continues to chant the "all is well" mantra even though the offensive line has more holes than Swiss cheese and Brady has to be wondering when wife Gisele Bündchen is going to demand that he retire before he gets killed.
Three games into the preseason, and the offensive line looks worse, not better, than it did at the start of training camp. Some players are rusty, some aren't communicating well and some aren't playing at all, but the time to straighten all this out is growing short - and seriously, exactly when did Brian Waters become the divine instrument of the line's salvation? He was good last year, but another year older and no training camp? Good luck to him, if he shows up at all.
About the closest I could hear to acknowledgement of the Patriots' problems was a quick mention by Cross near the end of the broadcast that if fans were "concerned" about the offensive line before the game, they still had reason to be concerned after it.
Way to deliver that hard-hitting blow, Randy!
Again, I was switching back and forth between channels and trying to put the sports section out at the same time, so maybe I didn't hear everything. Maybe all the honest analysis took place between the commercials for Dunkin' Donuts or Nissan's summer savings sale or Scott Brown back in his gas-guzzling truck that I always seemed to hit at the exact moment of clicking.
But I doubt it.