Thinking out loud: Red Sox still have a lot to accomplish

John Rooke
September 21, 2018 - 4:21 pm

Thinking out loud…while dreaming of cheeseburgers dancing in my sleep…

  • It was getting to the point where it almost appeared as if Alex Cora didn’t much care about clinching the AL East.  Tinkering with the pitching staff, playing with the lineup.  Couldn’t the tune-up happen after getting into the garage, and not while the car is in gear?


  • I have said this for the past two seasons and believe I’m on the record as saying locker room celebrations after a ‘clinching win’ are juvenile, sophomoric and boring.  If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  I’m lucky (or not) to have been in them.  But I’m no stick-in-the-mud. 


  • If you feel the need to let off some steam and celebrate an accomplishment, fine.  But first, you’re wasting an incredible amount of drinkable champagne.  I mean, it’s not Dom Perignon, but still.  And second – you have the highest payroll in baseball.  Winning was expected.  Act like you’ve been there. 


  • Which you have.  And the past two postseason years have been abysmal.  Celebrate after winning something that matters, huh?


  • It isn’t popular any longer to beat up on the Sox’ bullpen.  Now, it’s just a sad fact of life, and the inevitable byproduct of getting lucky with a few guys early in the year – on the pitching staff and in the lineup.  Now that everyone seems to be flailing – and failing – well, the results are predictable.


  • I tweeted out this week that those who don’t see the inevitable failure of this team – this bullpen as a logical culprit – are probably fanboys.  I heard from a bunch of you, and here’s the thing. 


  • When a team has the highest payroll in baseball, certain things are expected.  Like winning.  And annually competing for championships.  This ain’t the Kansas City Royals here.  Demand more.


  • Tweet of the Week I, from @PeteAbe: ”Bullpen ERA since the all-star break for the expected AL playoff teams – Oakland 3.07 Houston 3.43 Cleveland 3.43 Boston 4.00 New York 4.21. Since Aug. 1 – Houston 2.62 Oakland 3.24 Cleveland 3.58 Boston 4.02 New York 4.04.”


  • And those numbers were before the Sox were torched by the Yankees this past Wednesday.


  • Speaking of the Bronx Bombers, Giancarlo Stanton hit 200 strikeouts this week.  Does he get a bonus?  Was that considered an achievable number in his contract?  Just sayin’.


  • Angels’ catcher Francisco Arcia became the first player to catch, pitch and homer in the same major league game during a 22-3 loss to Oakland this week.  My question – can he pitch for the Sox in the playoffs?


  • Tweet of the Week II, from @BWMcGair03: “Pawsox chairman Larry Lucchino – ‘We bought the team in part with the intention of keeping it in RI. We tried for 3.5 years, but it takes two to tango. I RI, I guess it takes three with the city, the state and us. We could never put a dance team together. #Pawtucket”


  • TMZ – for what it might be worth to you – let one out of the bag this week.  According to his agent, the Patriots are reportedly one of two teams considering signing Colin Kaepernick.  Before you swear off on your season tickets forever, let me say why this isn’t such a bad idea, if it’s true.


  • It’s an aging fan base.  I’ve seen it for the past few years, the trend toward appealing to and attracting more of the 18-35 fan base as opposed to the 25-59 (and older) demographic.  Nike stock is up, even with Kaepernick’s face on the current campaign.


  • A few shoes were burned?  Big deal.  If this is a business decision, it might make sense.  If it is a football decision, Bill Belichick the GM should immediately step down – because that makes zero sense for a guy out of football the last two years, and he wasn’t very good when he left.


  • Do I think it will happen?  When pigs fly.  But if it does, we’ll know who is truly in charge at Gillette Stadium, won’t we?


  • I had Jacksonville, in case you were wondering, beating the Patriots last weekend.  Nope, no action on the game, just a sense that the Jags would probably be more into it than New England.  That, and the Jaguars are still pretty good, and they probably should have won the game here in January.


  • I like the Josh Gordon move.  I like second chances.  And thirds, and fourths.  But fifths?  I draw the line at fifths.


  • Seriously though, Gordon has issues far greater than football to deal with.  I hope he’s able to at least live with those issues, long enough to let football give him an opportunity for a good life.  And a longer life.


  • Even if they tell him to “just run deep,” the fact an opponent must consider his presence on the field should help everyone else.  This is what you call a ‘no-brainer.’


  • Tom Brady was asked Friday how Gordon looks.  “Like an NFL receiver looks,” was his answer.  Telling in more than one way, don’cha think?


  • More than 30 WR position transactions for the Patriots since August 1st?  Really?  What do these coaches do with all these receivers, chew them up and spit them out?  Pretty much.


  • In the “there’s always someone else who has it worse” department, consider Matt Patricia’s plight in Detroit as he prepares to face his former employers.  He’s got veteran players ready to revolt, rookies who don’t relate and a fan base that’s ready to cut him loose after only two games.  Sheesh.  This is Detroit, who do they think they are?  The Patriots?


  • Not for nuthin’, but after two weeks in the NFL, the State of Florida is 6-0.  Some good stories in each of those cities.  If you want to crown ‘em, then let’s crown their *ss.  Thanks to the late Dennis Green for that all-time rant.


  • Brady wants to divorce Bill Belichick?  Ian O’Connor’s new book out on Belichick says TB12 was so upset with his coach, as recently as this past March he didn’t want to return for this year. 


  • Boo-freakin’-hoo.  Big deal.  After 18-years in a one-way marriage, who wouldn’t want a divorce?  This isn’t an equal-partnership marriage.  It is a one-way avenue, and the coach is driving.


  • I’m all for supporting NFL alumni and the guys who came before us and contributed to the sport of football.  But the Hall-of-Fame players who wrote Canton this week to say they won’t attend any future ceremonies without medical benefits and a weekly paycheck from current revenue being brought in? 


  • The medical benefits I agree with.  But giving these guys a paycheck is like you asking your first employer from 30 years ago to pay you now for the good job you did then.  Think that’ll happen?  A pension is one thing, but a weekly paycheck?  Only if you’re still contributing.  Enjoy the ceremonies from your living room.


  • Vontae Davis, hope you have family who loves you and appreciates you.  ‘Cuz your now ex-teammates in Buffalo believe you abandoned them by ‘retiring’ at halftime last week.  A shame that your NFL career will now be framed by your move, and the “quitter” tag applied to your resume.  You reap what you sew.


  • Tweet of the Week III, from @Wendy Nix_ESPN, in response to a tweet that asked ‘You’re an NFL QB.  But your offensive line is either the Seahawks or Giants.  Which one would you choose?’  Her response: “Can I retire at halftime? Asking for a friend.”


  • Maroon 5 is the halftime act for the Super Bowl?  Only if Mick Jagger or Roger Daltrey jump out on stage in a hostile takeover will I be the least bit interested. 


  • The North Texas punt return against Arkansas last week, if you haven’t seen it, should go down as a “play of the year” in football, pro or college.  It took guts and ingenuity, and some stupidity on the part of the Razorbacks, to pull it off. 


  • The kid who ran the punt back is a former walk-on and a former firefighter.  It’s a cool story.  Which is probably why a member of the Arkansas media launched a rumor the NCAA would get the rule changed this week.


  • No such rule change is coming.  It’s a risky play, sure.  For a sport trying to stay safe for its’ future, it wasn’t smart.  But it was the kind of play that keeps fans watching. 


  • Don’t look now, but after wins over UMass, Holy Cross and Wake Forest, Boston College football is ranked in the Top 25.  That’s great and all, but the Eagles have beaten three teams that are a combined 2-8. 


  • URI football is still ranked in the FCS Top 25, even after the 56-49 loss at UConn last week.  Not only that, they climbed two spots to 23rd.  No disrespect, but is UConn that good? 


  • Bryant won its nighttime debut under the new lights at Beirne Stadium in Smithfield last Saturday, beating Marist 37-27.  The Bulldogs have won 18 of their last 22 at home, and get NEC rival Robert Morris Saturday afternoon, again at home.


  • Brown gets Harvard under the lights in the Bears’ home opener in Providence Saturday night, after getting thumped at Cal Poly in their opener.  National TV coverage on ESPNU gets a peek at the Bears and Crimson under the lights, too.


  • Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank said this week that if her school – and other big-time programs – are forced to “pay” their student athletes beyond the costs-of-attendance, she’ll consider dropping sports.  All of them. 


  • That’s a nice ‘amateuristic’ thought and all, but I might believe it after she starts saying ‘no thank you’ to that extra $50 mil-or-so her school receives annually from media rights and other revenues gained from the Big Ten conference.


  • My buddy “Big E” sez his doctor had him on a diet recently.  He told him to eat regularly for two days, skip a day, then repeat this for two weeks.  The doctor said the next time he saw him, he expected him to have lost 10 pounds.  So, “Big E” went back to his doctor two weeks later and he had lost 30 pounds.  The doctor said, “Wow, that’s great!  Did you follow my instructions?”  “E” told him “I’ll tell you, I thought I was going to drop dead on that 3rd day.”  The doctor said, “from hunger, you mean?”  “No,” Big E told him.  “From skipping.”


  • ICYMI, the NCAA announced it now requires schools to pay for books and tuition for basketball players who leave school after two years and want to return to the same school to finish their degree.  A fund has been established for schools that might not be able to afford those costs, but it seems to me those schools involved are probably getting a fair share of March Madness revenue, no?


  • Tweet of the Week IV, from @JonRothstein: “Amazed at how many people directly associated with the Big East truly have no idea how league will shake out. Conference is as wide open as it’s been since realignment. Here. We. Go.”


  • Still like the defending national champs in Villanova as a preseason Big East fave, but Georgetown is gaining momentum as a possible contender, along with St. John’s.  Old School Big East. 


  • The Friars have also been receiving some love from out-of-market media as a team that is likely to be better at the end of the year than they are at the beginning of the year.  But that schedule is in a delicate balance between helping and hurting.


  • EC Matthews signed a pro deal this week to play in Finland, after spending his summer with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. 


  • Rhody Madness this year gets into the pop act, bringing in Lil Baby as the headliner for their October 18th celebration at the Ryan Center.  Rather than show my age with some flippant remark or weak attempt at humor, I’ll just leave this right here.


  • Ex-Friar assistant Steve DeMeo has been ranked as the #1 junior college basketball coach in America by the Basketball Times.  The one-time Tim Welsh assistant spent 10 years at PC, and in his five seasons at Northwest Florida State, his teams are 142-22 with three state championships, two Elite 8’s and a national title to their credit.


  • Another former Friar assistant under Keno Davis, Chris Davis, returns to Keno’s staff at Central Michigan.  He steps in for another ex-PC assistant and former Celtic Kevin Gamble, who is now an advance scout for the Toronto Raptors.


  • Ex-PC head coach Rick Barnes has had a pretty good 2018 thus far.  Barnes signed a contract extension at Tennessee this summer, he has a preseason Top 10 team for this fall and he nabbed a 5-star recruit this week. 


  • The PC-URI rivalry renewed itself on the soccer pitch this week, with Rhody prevailing 3-0.  The Rams are unbeaten at 6-0-0 on the season, ranked 23rd nationally and have not yet allowed a goal.  You read that right.  The Rams have allowed a total of ZERO goals in six games.


  • Former Hockey Friar defenseman Mark Adams sadly passed away this week at the age of 27.  Adams played a large part in the Friars’ 2015 national title season, and the Boxford, Massachusetts native was a 5th round draft pick of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres in 2009. 


  • And condolences also go out to the Celtics’ Marcus Smart, who wrote a touching tribute on Twitter this week.  His mom, Camellia Smart, passed away after a battle with cancer.


  • Happy birthday, City of Boston!  This week, Ye Olde Towne Boston turned 388 years old.  Hub of the universe, indeed.  You know of anything else this old?  Besides those socks and undies in your drawer?


  • ICYMI, National Cheeseburger Day was this past Tuesday.  While my current diet regimen doesn’t have these delightfully delectable sandwiches on the menu, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to savor (by memory) my three favorite cheeseburgers:  1) Five Guys (lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and jalapeno).  2) Whataburger (w/cheese and jalapeno, but unavailable around here.  Gotta hit Texas, baby!).  3) In ‘n Out (Animal Style, w/grilled onions & sauce, also unavailable here).


  • Who wants to go in with me on a Whataburger or an In ‘n Out franchise around these parts?  We’ll probably be fat, but we might also be rich.  They’re that good. 


  • @dporterjax33 tweeted this week on Josh Gordon’s arrival in Foxboro: “The guy has substance abuse problems. Has he had any other issues other than those related to alcohol and drugs? People are so self-righteous. They have women beaters in the league, but a guy with substance addictions can’t be given a chance?”


  • @dporterjax33: It’s typical, really.  When someone like Gordon isn’t your problem, it’s easy to cast stones.  When someone like Gordon becomes your problem, there is usually grudging acceptance, if not tacit approval of his habits.  The truth is, Gordon is much more like all of us, than we are like him.  And too many people forget that.


  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) 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! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and 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 Southern New England Sports Saturday!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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