Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Don't be upset with Patriots opting out

John Rooke
July 31, 2020 - 1:02 pm
Categories: 

Thinking out loud…while wondering when the heavy stuff is going to get here…

  • Why is anyone upset with Patriots’ players opting out of a football season that will be anything BUT normal?

 

  • I’ve seen social media this week. Sure, most sane, reasonable people seem to understand the decisions made by Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, Brandon Bolden, Dan Vitale and Najee Toran. 

 

  • Protecting their loved-one’s health rates a bit higher on their lists than swapping sweat and spit and risk catching a serious illness that is responsible for more than 150,000 deaths in this country.

 

  • And counting.

 

  • A no-brainer?  Throw in the fact that those guys combined for 12 Super Bowl rings and a lot of money and…

 

  • …it’s next man up.  Hightower, Chung and Cannon not being here will hurt, but opportunities will abound.  Who doesn’t believe that one of the potential replacements for these guys will go on to a stellar career?

 

  • And they have cap space if they decide they want to use it.

 

  • Bill Belichick is a smaht guy, on that most can agree. But is he ingenious enough to have actually anticipated these opt outs? 

 

  • Or is this merely the start of what we all fear is headed our way…the beginning of the end?

 

  • Matthew Slater says he’s still in.  That should go a long way toward keeping the dominoes from falling further in Foxboro.

 

  • Cue the resumption of a premature celebration in Buffalo in 3, 2, 1…wait, they just sent two rookies home who tested positive.  It’s gonna be a process, for everyone.  Just sayin’.

 

  • Ty Webb: “I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.”

 

  • The Miami Marlins season is on ‘pause.’  If we find out some of these guys did something they shouldn’t have done, they should all probably be relegated to Triple A.

 

  • I mean, they’re already there anyway, amiright?

 

  • But baseball’s reaction is largely underwhelming.  The Phillies may also be in some corona discomfort, too.  It’s really pretty simple – operating outside of a bubble, you’re at the mercy of the virus, and at the mercy of a few privileged, surely-spoiled athletes who have rarely – if ever – been told “no, don’t do that.” 

 

  • Except from their coaches.  But when it comes to personal lives, nope.  Not listening.

 

  • Judge Smails: “I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn’t want to do it. I felt owed it to them.”

 

  • In the bubble, with the testing that has been done thus far, the NHL (4000+ tests, zero positives) and NBA (three weeks without a positive test) seem to have a pretty good grip on this thing outside of nitwits like Lou Williams.

 

  • Someone should put a Judge Smails’ smackdown on that guy.  Or at least send him home for endangering so many others over a few chicken wings and a lap dance.

 

  • But it’s my right!!!  Yes, and it’s also your right to be held accountable by others, and to be completely selfish and stupid.

 

  • Here’s the issue at heart – can pro and college sports ‘trust’ their athletes to do the right things?  

 

  • Can the NFL play on, perhaps learning something from MLB?  15 more players were placed on the reserve/Covid-19 list Thursday. 

 

  • Judge Smails, to his grandson Spaulding: “You’re playing golf and you’re going to like it!” Spaulding: “But what about my asthma?”  Judge Smails: “I’ll give you asthma.”

 

  • They. Were. Just. Awful.  The Red Sox went 39 innings without so much as a lead in a game before taking a lead Wednesday night against the Mets. And they blew that one, too.

 

  • Did this team actually win a World Series 21 months ago?  The mighty haven’t just fallen. They’ve hibernated.

 

  • Aside from the pitching, the hitting has largely been abysmal.  When do Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers decide they don’t have 100 games to work themselves out of whatever slump they’re in?

 

  • If it matters to anyone in the clubhouse, would someone care to step up here and take a lead role?  There’s no Dustin Pedroia walking through that door anymore.  At least, not to play. 

 

  • But the pluses?  Brandon Workman showed a gutsy performance in relief against the Mets Wednesday, leaving the bases loaded in the 9th.  But it was surely in doubt the whole way.  White-knuckle stuff.

 

  • Ditto Matt Barnes in Thursday night’s 8th inning in New York.  Nail biter.  Guess it won’t be boring, at the very least.

 

  • Thank goodness for Joe Kelly…trying to bring some ‘normal’ back into the game and remind us all that maybe the Astros cheated, back in the day.  But that stuff should be decided on the field, not by some suit.  Joe Kelly Fight Club fan for life.

 

  • In my best Bob Lobel, “why can’t we get players like that?”

 

  • And something happened this week that has never happened in the history of baseball previously: The Dodgers hit a lead-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the 13th inning against the Astros.  Think about that for a sec.

 

  • And Mike (grandson of Carl) Yastrzemski hit the first socially-distanced walk-off dinger in major league history, too, for the Giants against the Padres.  Funny stuff.

 

  • Kyron Cartwright has signed with a new Euro League team, moving from England to Germany to play for Phoenix Hagen in their Pro A division.  Cartwright spent his first two professional seasons with Leicester in England and Alba Fehervar in Hungary averaging nine points and seven assists per game.

 

  • A Friar update this week – as per athletic director Bob Driscoll’s interview with Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times, PC athletes will be reporting at the end of August.  Basketball players may be reporting a bit sooner.

 

  • As Big East teams begin to bring in 2021 recruits (UConn, Villanova this week), Xavier picked up a valuable transfer piece in Belmont shooter Adam Kunkel.  He’ll have two years of eligibility for the Musketeers but he is expected to sit out this next one.

 

  • Adam Zagoria reported this week the NBA GM’s have voted on a list of 105 players to be invited to the NBA Draft Combine, currently postponed until October.  Big East players expected on the list – Myles Powell (Seton Hall), Markus Howard (Marquette), Naji Marshall (Xavier) and Ty-Shon Alexander (Creighton).

 

  • Louisville received a 45-day extension this week on its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations against their men’s basketball program.  One Level I and a couple of Level II no-no’s while Rick Pitino was head coach.  The Cards are on the clock…before the hammer hits.

 

  • Ty Webb to Carl Spackler: “We have a pool, and a pond.  Pond would be good for you.”

 

  • So, the ACC finally has a football plan for the fall.  10 league games plus one in the non-conference is what Boston College will have on its’ plate. 

 

  • But the big deal that hasn’t yet received the attention it will eventually get?  Notre Dame ‘joining’ the ACC as a conference football member – at least for this season. 

 

  • It would be the first time for the Irish to ever play in a league…but the catch, they’ll most likely be sharing some of their lucrative NBC-TV money with the rest of their new brethren.

 

  • BC, hello. You’re in the money, again.  But ND could also be taking the ACC ‘ship, too.

 

  • The SEC has apparently settled on a 10-game conference-only schedule, much like the Big 10 is planning.  They’ll have 12 Saturdays to get in 10 games, kicking off Sept. 26th.  Can’t imagine that sits well with some in the rabid, virus-ridden South right now.

 

  • It’ll be Alabama’s latest start to a season in 62 years.

 

  • The Big 12 is the only major conference that, as of this moment, is still hoping to play a 12-game slate.  Love to see it, but good luck with that.  Plans are expected by Monday.

 

  • The Pac-12 has had a publicity problem. They now have a credibility problem, as does the Los Angeles Times – thanks to a story this week in the Oregonian that the league would “pay” the Times for positive coverage by promising advertising dollars.

 

  • 70% of major college athletic directors told a Teamworks survey they expect to take a 20% or more revenue hit this year.  Two-thirds of the AD’s also said they’ll reduce their budgets if the football season is shortened or cancelled.

 

  • Tweet of the Week, from @finebaum: “Privately, athletic directors and commissioners are skeptical this can be pulled off. But there’s a belief they have to try because of how much money is at stake.”

 

  • Without ticket sales, Power 5 schools could lose an average of $18.6 million this season. Without a season at all, Power 5 schools could lose $4 billion combined.  ESPN has nearly $800 million in ad revenue on the line themselves. 

 

  • Come hell or high water, football is getting played.  For how long, no one knows.

 

  • The NEC and MAC have now cancelled fall sports, where they were previously delayed in starting.  The NEC, Bryant’s athletic home, has said it will make a further decision about possible changes or additions by October 1st.

 

  • And yet, the NCAA says everyone can play Week Zero (end of August) if they want to.  I get the idea for scheduling flexibility.  But in reality, shouldn’t that be Zero Weeks?

 

  • The US Open Golf Championship (at Winged Foot in NY Sept. 14-20) is now going spectatorless, which means 2 of the 3 majors scheduled will be without fans.  Augusta is still considering fans, in spite of the fact the USGA has declared NO fans at any events for the remainder of the year.

 

  • And Gaby Lopez on the LPGA Tour has become the first women’s golfer to contract the coronavirus.  She’ll be quarantined for 10 days.

 

  • I think I’d kinda like to get on that rocket to Mars. 

 

  • Including the professional ranks, these postponements and cancellations certainly mean a fewer number of games overall in the fall.  I get the distinct feeling the virus is trying to tell us something that we just aren’t hearing.

 

  • But, for those that get to play games, they can also make social justice statements – if they choose – by displaying their message where names usually go, or by wearing a patch on the front of their jerseys.

 

  • Not for nuthin’, but don’t the most meaningful messages usually come from those who have suffered injustice previously?  It’ll be interesting to see who takes part, or who supports whom.

 

  • Carl Spackler: So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Dalai Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

 

  • Hockey Friars in NHL camps for the restart - Noel Acciari (Florida), Jon Gillies (Calgary), Mark Jankowski (Calgary), Brian Pinho (Washington), Brandon Tanev (Pittsburgh), Jake Walman (St. Louis).

 

  • The anticipated start date for the 2020-21 AHL season is now December 4th…undoubtedly to coincide with the NHL hoping to begin December 1st.  The Providence Bruins now have a countdown clock to their potential opener, but will they have an arena to play in?

 

  • Titletown’s victory draught has ended, or did you miss out on the Boston Cannons claiming the Major League Lacrosse championship?  Denver went down, and went down hard, 13-10 in the title game.  It’s the second championship for the Cannons, and their first since 2011.

 

  • Former Red Sox manager John McNamara passed away this week at the age of 88.  Always thought history was a bit unkind to McNamara, who won nearly 1200 games over 19 seasons, and then I remembered he was in charge during the ’86 Sox meltdown. 

 

  • History can really be a cruel joke.

 

  • The news of former Pawtucket Red Sox general manager Lou Schweichheimer’s death this week from coronavirus complications hit hard.  As a one-time radio and TV broadcaster for the team, Lou was truly one of the nicest, most decent men I’ve ever worked with – and worked for. 

 

  • New Orleans and Wichita – where he had purchased, then moved his team and built a new stadium in Kansas for the Triple A Miami affiliate – were lucky to have had him after spending 37 years at McCoy Stadium.

 

  • 15 times Pawsox executives were named Minor League Baseball Executives of the Year.  We had the best of the best, for a very long time.  Lou always made you feel like you were his best buddy, even if he didn’t know you.

 

  • The good old days of Ben (Mondor), Mike (Tamburro) and Lou entertaining us all at McCoy and running a true Rhode Island gem are long gone, however.  Almost fitting that the team is, too.  Lou was just 62 years old.

 

  • Regis Philbin may have been Notre Dame’s most notable alumnus, and they have had quite a few.  The long time TV personality passed away late last week at age 88, best known perhaps for his hosting “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” as well as “Live” with Kathy Lee Gifford and then Kelly Ripa.

 

  • His career began in the 1950’s as a page for The Tonight Show.  His on-air career began in nighttime TV in the 60’s, migrated to daytime and then into the syndication circuit.  Most impressive – in 2011 Guinness awarded him the world record for hours spent on US television, with 16,746.5 hours spanning 52 years.  That’s about an hour per day throughout his entire career.

 

  • Qualifies as a ‘whoa’ in my book.  Wonder what he’d think about the Irish in the ACC?  God speed, Reege.

 

  • Ty Webb to Danny Noonan: “Don’t be obsessed with your desires, Danny. The Zen philosopher, Basho, once wrote, ‘a flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a Danish.’”

 

  • This week marked the 40th year anniversary of the rather waggish movie Caddyshack’s release. An all-timer for one-liners and oft-repeated movie lines if there ever was one, Caddyshack (but NONE of its’ sequels) may also have been one of the best sports movies made.
  • Unless you don’t like funny.  Bill Murray, who played Carl Spackler: “Cinderella story…outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac... It's in the hole!  It's in the hole!  It's in the hole!”
  • Clare Cooper emailed from the UK this week: “Considering the strangeness of this (NFL) season and the dwindling depth due to opt outs do you foresee any teams just forfeiting whatever we have of the season?

 

  • Clare – not a chance of that.  There’s still too much TV money at stake, as in the college game, so the owners will push on in order to receive their slice of that pie.  But it could get interesting as we get into the season (IF we get into it) and some teams begin to lose depth rapidly.  Forfeiting?  No.  Mailing it in?  That’s a different story.  And happy birthday!

 

  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics, whenever they play again) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here!  Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and join in on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.