Bob Ryan’s not-quite-farewell from the Globe

Some unexpectedly good news in Bob Ryan’s “farewell” column in today’s Boston Globe: He’s going to continue writing between 30 and 40 Sundays a year. That’s more than we had been led to believe. Not quite a farewell. Ryan writes:

[W]hat matters most to me as I wind down my association with this great newspaper is that I firmly believe I have been a member of a true All-Star team in sports journalism for the entire 44 years. We tend to judge sports figures by the number of championship rings they have been fortunate enough to accumulate. I want to be judged by the people I’ve worked with. Lists are dangerous, because someone obvious invariably is left off. So I won’t risk that. Just appreciate that I have been in a killer lineup for 44 years.

Well, Bob, you were as good as any of them, and better than most. I’m glad we won’t be missing you as much as we thought.

The Celtics’ — and Ryan’s — great run

Ray Allen in 2008

I can’t add to what’s already been said about the Celtics — noble, selfless, you know the rest. What is astonishing is that all the good Celtics teams — Russell’s, Cowens’, Bird’s and the current bunch — have had the same basic team ethic in a league of freelancing showoffs. We’ve been privileged to live in Boston.

Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan rises to the occasion, just as we knew he would. Hard to believe he won’t be around for the next NBA playoffs.

And his stablemate Dan Shaughnessy debases himself by asking whether Ray Allen’s improved play was part of his “salary drive.” You’re excused for wondering if Shank is referring to a different Ray Allen. But no, he’s talking about the one in the green uniform, 36 years old, in need of ankle surgery, out there for long minutes every game because of Avery Bradley’s injury.

Emily Rooney lit into Shaughnessy on “Beat the Press” last Friday. Well-deserved.

My basketball predictions are worth precisely what you’re paying for them. But to listen to the chatter, you’d think they were going to finish last next year, and I don’t buy it. Allen will probably leave. But I’ll bet Kevin Garnett comes back and they’ll make another decent playoff run next year — if not quite as thrilling as this year’s.

Photo via Wikipedia.

“What’s the end-game there?”

Former Boston Globe columnist John Ellis, a venture capitalist who disclosed earlier this year that he’d done some work for a potential buyer, warns that things are still bad at 135 Morrissey Blvd. and likely to get worse.

“How long can the NYT afford to carry the net operating losses?” he asks. “When does it make more sense to just shut it down?”

Ellis also argues that the Globe must do everything it can to hang on to what’s left of its big-name sports talent, namely columnists Dan Shaughnessy and Bob Ryan.

I revere Ryan, who, despite his veteran status, happens to be one of the hardest-working folks at the Globe. Shaughnessy’s a good read even when he’s sending me over the edge. But the idea that management might have to shell out more money to keep its stars from jumping to the Internet is galling at a time when everyone else is being asked to sacrifice.

Which is not to say Ellis is wrong. He’s probably right.

Can Globe readers get a refund?

A few quick observations on a Saturday morning.

• Someone at the Boston Globe had a good idea for selling a few more copies of the Saturday edition: plug a Joan Vennochi column on page one. But that’s a trick you can only pull once unless you actually run a Vennochi column inside. (Apologies for the unreadable page-one teaser, but trust me. It says “Point of View: Joan Vennochi.”)

• New York Times columnist Gail Collins makes some semi-amusing fun of folks who can’t handle the switchover to digital TV. It would have been more amusing, though, if she could figure it out herself. “How could the Republicans not be worried about this?” she writes. “A disproportionate number of the endangered TV viewers are senior citizens. Bill O’Reilly’s entire audience is in danger!” Uh, Gail? O’Reilly’s entire audience has cable and won’t be affected by this — a fact you seemed to grasp earlier in the column, but I guess not.

• Bob Ryan’s got a great lede this morning: “Jason Varitek wanted to test the waters. He’s lucky he didn’t drown.” Personally, I’m glad Varitek is coming back, though I’m more than a little puzzled by the games-started incentive his contract calls for in 2010. If Tek starts more than 80 games in 2010, then the Red Sox will have a serious problem. Secondarily, it puts Terry Francona in the position of costing Varitek money. Not good.

What happens to the Globe and NESN?

No doubt many folks at the Boston Globe are breathing a sigh of relief at the news that its corporate parent, the New York Times Co., plans to unload its 17.5 percent stake in the Red Sox. The conflicts of interest have been many — not over game stories, but over various Red Sox business ventures the Globe has had to cover over the years.

But hold on. I thought the main reason the Times Co. made this investment was because of the Sox’ 80 percent ownership of New England Sports Network. Globe sportswriters have been all over NESN, and some — especially Bob Ryan — have been quite good.

I imagine NESN would still want Globe people on the air. But doesn’t this mean the end of Globe exclusivity? I suppose NESN and the Globe could sign some sort of agreement, but that’s not the same as ownership.

Among other things, it strikes me that Sean McAdam, formerly of the Providence Journal and now of the Boston Herald, is an accomplished on-air performer, and would fit right in at NESN.

More: Adam Reilly wonders the same thing that I did when I first read the story: Is the Globe really worth just $20 million? I think it’s a typo. This suggests the Globe is worth $120 million. Of course, that’s shocking enough, given that the Times Co. bought the Globe for $1.1 billion back in 1993.

Second-best Celtics team ever? (II)

Media Nation reader J.V. notes that Bob Ryan wasn’t exactly predicting glory last August, when it looked to him like the Celtics were going to throw three superstars and a bunch of not-very-warm bodies out there every night. Ryan wrote:

Unless it really is going to be a three-on-three NBA, the Celtics will be forced to place two additional players on the floor, and not just occasionally, but for every one of the 48 minutes.

That concerns me. That concerns me because what I am about to say is nonnegotiable: What’s left on the Celtics’ roster is by far the worst collection of proven talent in the NBA.

Be sure to watch the video, too, in which Charlie Pierce agrees with Ryan. Hey, it wasn’t that dumb when they said it. I guess.

Second-best Celtics team ever?

That’s what Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan says in today’s tour de force: his ranking of the top 10 Celtics teams of all time. He places this year’s winners right behind the fabulous 1985-’86 team.

Ryan’s list is sure to be controversial. Given that the Celtics have won 17 championships, it seems odd that he’d pick three losers among his top 10 — including the 1972-’73 squad, his only entry from the Dave Cowens era. Also, even at my advanced age, I’ll have to take his word for it on the great Bill Russell teams.

But this, kids, is why it’s important that papers like the Globe retain some institutional memory as they desperately seek to downsize their way to profitability. No one else in Boston could have written this piece. Good thing Ryan didn’t take the buyout.