Butch Dill/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Red Sox' time in Pawtucket ticking away

John Rooke
July 28, 2018 - 8:57 am

Thinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to Jared Lorenzen?

  • Said it a week or so ago, and the feeling hasn’t changed.  The Red Sox’ time in Pawtucket may be ticking away.   And there doesn’t appear, right now, to be much anyone can do about it.


  • I don’t know this to be a fact.  What I do know, however, is since the entire Rhode Island legislature passed the recent stadium plan with several ‘adjustments’ made from the original plan passed by the Senate, the silence from the Pawsox organization should speak volumes about baseball’s shaky future in this state after nearly half a century.


  • There’s no state-backed guarantee.  Fine.  But because of that, interest rates on the debt will rise, increasing the cost of the stadium and leaving more of a burden on the team – and the city.


  • As a sports fan, I’m worried.  As a baseball fan, I’m worried.  As a taxpayer – maybe you feel you’re dodging a potential atom bomb of a tax increase, but you aren’t.  Brace yourself, instead, for the economic fallout. 


  • New business in Rhode Island?  If you can’t keep a 50-year business thriving in a stable industry (and there’s only 30 Triple A teams in the entire country), with politicians squeezing every last dollar they can out of it, why would any new entrepreneur in their right minds decide to put down roots in Lil’ Rhody?


  • Here’s the vibe I’m getting – Worcester’s plan is better.  And the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo told WPRO this week the corporate interest in Massachusetts is far better.  Better for the team and organization, but because of the extreme loyalty to the City of Pawtucket and to Rhode Island, it’s tough for the team to pull the trigger on a move. 


  • Trouble is, the plan passed by the state could conceivably hurt Pawtucket more over the long haul if revenue projections aren’t met – and the International League may not approve the deal in its present form, anyway.  Excuses are already beginning to queue into place on both sides of the fence, should a move become the only remaining option.


  • What about the fans’ side of this fence?  You may need to find directions to Worcester if this goes much longer without shovels hitting the dirt at the Apex site.  Hope I’m wrong.


  • The Boston Red Sox are leading the race to the finish line in the AL East now, sure.  But after the week’s flurry of trade activity, are the Sox or the Yankees in better position for the stretch run? 


  • Erstwhile Baltimore pitcher Zach Britton was thought to be a Boston priority, and the Yankees trade for him instead.  No matter, Tampa’s Nathan Eovaldi was the Red Sox priority all along, in spite of everything we heard.


  • Ok, so Eovaldi’s the guy.  I’ll buy it to an extent, only because Drew Pomeranz has been a disaster and Eduardo Rodriguez will keep a boot on his injured ankle until next week.  His injury history hasn’t exactly experienced speedy recoveries, either.


  • Then the Yankees follow up with a move to obtain Toronto’s J.A. Happ, who just so happ-ens (no pun intended, really) to have had strong success against the Sox with a 2.98 ERA in 18 starts.  Hmmm.  Yankees move, Sox counter, Yankees move again.


  • With their lead hanging in the balance, is it too late to counter again?  Or do the Sox even need to?  History says – hold onto your hats.  It ain’t over, til’ it’s over.


  • I don’t like the consistency in the performance of the Boston pen, and haven’t liked it all year.  It’s been poor since the all-star break.  That alone should keep questions about the validity of the Sox-Yankee rivalry in check.


  • Jackie Bradley and Rafael Devers are huge sink-holes in the Red Sox batting order.  Just sayin’.


  • The first brick to begin building the Class of 2019 for PC hoops is in, with North Carolina’s 6-7 Greg Gantt verbally committing to Ed Cooley.  Another nationally-ranked player (Top 60) in this case, but keep in mind – if you’re banking on freshman to win for you, you’re banking on trouble.


  • In case you haven’t noticed, Providence’s Ruane Development Center is getting closer to completion.  But the crown jewel in the Friar basketball renaissance won’t be the only thing needed this year to move PC up in the Big East.


  • Emmitt Holt will be needed, too.  And Kevin McNamara’s piece in the Journal this week on Holt’s return and slow, steady improvement is the real shot-in-the-arm needed for the ’18-’19 team to experience on-court success.


  • As we mentioned here previously, the Big East and Big 12 are nearing completion on a deal for the leagues to face each other in non-conference play, beginning in 2019.  As a result, expect both conferences to stay with 18 league games, instead of moving to 20 like the ACC and Big 10 will have.


  • Most Big East teams will have non-conference matchups signed with Big 12 and Big 10 schools (Gavitt Games) for the foreseeable future, keeping Big East programs in prime position – provided they win a few – to reach the postseason.


  • Anyone see on social media that former Friars’ Kris Dunn, Ben Bentil and Ricky Ledo (sort of an ex-Friar) have been working out at PC?  Gotta be good for the current players to see that, right?


  • URI’s Hassan Martin, who was second on the Celtics’ summer league team in rebounding, has signed with Medi Bayreuth of the German BBL.  Martin averaged 10 points and six boards in 18 minutes per game for Boston in Las Vegas.


  • How many fans of the Hartford Whalers remember Chuck Kaiton as the radio voice?  Kaiton followed the Whale to Carolina and has been the only radio voice in the history of the franchise.  Until now. 


  • Kaiton is out as voice of the Hurricanes after 39 years of covering the team, as new ownership requested the hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster take an 80% pay cut, or else.  He chose “else.” 


  • Is it a shame that ownership can do that to a guy who has meant so much to so many of their customers through the years, or is it just bidness?


  • PC’s Hockey Friars are expected to contend for Hockey East and national attention this fall, and the Friars released a 36-game schedule this week.  Coming off a program record 5th straight NCAA appearance, PC faces off with AIC at home on October 6th.


  • A schedule highlight includes a trip to Denver, last year’s NCAA champ, in November.  The Friars could also get an early season rematch with Notre Dame, which beat PC in the NCAA’s East Region final last March.


  • If you’re a football fan old enough to remember the 60’s and 70’s, you undoubtedly know about the Wishbone.  The college offensive formation turns 50 this year, after Texas debuted the set in 1968 and proceeded to win 30 straight games and a national title with the triple-option offense.


  • Texas crushed opponents with the punishing Wishbone running game.  Later, Oklahoma (under Barry Switzer) and Alabama (led by Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant) did the same.  ESPN.com had a great historical piece on the option offense this week, and correctly pointed out the ‘Bone still has a large influence on the college and professional game today.


  • How?  Remember those RPO’s (Run/Pass Options) the Eagles killed the Patriots with last February?  Zone-read and RPO plays were born from the Wishbone and the option choices (hand off, pitch, run or – gulp – pass) a QB could make. 


  • So, if you really want to blame someone for the loss in SB LII, blame the Longhorns for starting read option plays to begin with 50 years ago.  Or, you could just blame the defense.


  • Something I never thought I would ever see happened this week – the Heisman Trophy was actually in Newport, RI.  On Goat Island, no less.  Qualifies as a ‘wow’ moment, don’cha think?


  • The Heisman was an invited guest of the American Athletic Conference, which held its’ Media Days in Newport to preview the 2018 season.  UConn was picked 5th (out of six teams) in the AAC East division.


  • UCF, which finished 13-0, beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl and took some heat for laying claim to a ‘share’ of the national title last year, was the media favorite to win the league.


  • Boston College sophomore running back A.J. Dillon was the preseason Player of the Year choice in the ACC, beating out Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.  Whoa.  It might be the only time the Eagles beat the Tigers in anything for 2018.


  • BC was picked 4th in the Atlantic Division, while Clemson was the overall conference favorite over Miami in the league media poll.


  • There shouldn’t be much surprise that URI was chosen 12th (and last) in the preseason Colonial Athletic Association football poll.  But junior receiver Aaron Parker and junior defensive tackle Brandon Ginnetti were named to the preseason all-conference team. 


  • James Madison, which beat URI 84-7 two years ago and 38-3 last year (but it was only 7-3 at the half), is the favorite to win the CAA.


  • Bryant won four straight to end last season and finish 6-5 under James Perry, and the Bulldogs are a preseason pick for 3rd this year in the Northeast Conference.  The Bulldogs also have six players on the preseason all-league team.  Central Connecticut is the favorite to repeat as champ.


  • Tweet of the Week from @FieldYates: “This is the final week without an NFL or college football game until after the Super Bowl. A win for all of us.”


  • Is the NFL still dying?  Ratings may be shrinking in the current universe, but in the big-picture view pro football continues to dominate.  Coverage of the NFL Draft in April drew the same number of viewers as soccer’s World Cup, and well more than either the MLB or the NBA all-star games. 


  • This is the draft we’re talking about.  Not a game.  Not even a practice.  It’s the selection of players and some of them may never play another down.


  • Patriots camp opens and we’re asking about Malcolm Butler and why he didn’t play in the Super Bowl?  Let me guess.  You’re new around here? 


  • What are the storylines in Camp Foxboro?  As I see it – 1) Who plays left tackle; 2) Who plays opposite Stephon Gilmore; 3) Who catches the ball not named Edelman or Gronkowski?


  • The potential answers are:  1) Trent Brown to open camp.  But rookie Isaiah Wynn should get his shot.  2) Eric Rowe for now.  But don’t be shocked to see Jonathan Jones or even rookie Duke Dawson get some run here.  3) Who knows?


  • Stunned to hear the news about Minnesota assistant coach and former Dolphins and Raiders head coach Tony Sparano this week, passing away at age 56.  Sparano is the only NFL coach to lead his team to the playoffs the year after winning only one game.


  • Not for nuthin’, but the Dallas Cowboys apparently don’t care about the NFL fumbling the whole player-protesting-taking-a-knee-thing.  And good for the Cowboys.  Jerry Jones says, “our policy is that you stand at the anthem, toe on the line.”  Why shouldn’t the employer have an organizational policy that employees must follow? 


  • All for freedom of speech, but not on my time if I’m the boss and signing your paycheck.  Especially if I disagree with your opinion, and it infringes upon productivity in the work place.  Do it on your own time.


  • This is not going to end well – Papa John, after resigning as CEO of the pizza chain, is now suing Papa John’s?    


  • Speaking of legalities, my buddy “Big E” sez he was in court with a client this week, and while waiting for the judge to consider his case he turned his attention to a cross-examination underway in front of him when he heard an attorney say, “were you present in court this morning when you were sworn in?”  While trying to figure that one out, “E” said the attorney then proceeded with “were you alone or by yourself?”


  • Reminds me of the time I heard the funniest thing I had ever heard in a courtroom, while being interviewed for a Grand Jury.  The prosecutor asked a guy sitting next to me “have you lived in this town your whole life?”  Without missing a beat, the guy answered, “not yet.”


  • Who remembers the “Hefty Lefty?”  Jared Lorenzen was a one-time NY Giants QB from Kentucky who was always a bit oversized for the position.  He has a Super Bowl ring as Eli Manning’s one-time backup.  Cut by Indy in 2008 after he left the Giants, he rummaged around the Arena Leagues and continued to put on the weight – until last year, in 2017, he weighed in at a whopping 500 pounds.


  • Finally deciding he was unhealthy, Lorenzen decided to do something about his obesity.  Last year, he launched the Jared Lorenzen Project, documenting his fight against obesity and his weight loss.  As of this spring, Lorenzen had melted away more than 100 pounds, according to his project Facebook page.  That’s making a mole hill out of a mountain, and he’s still got a few peaks to climb.


  • @Maribetha522 hit me up on Twitter this week: “Which (Patriots) rookie will have the most effect on the team this year?”


  • Maribeth, I fed this one to my Dean College sports broadcast campers this week, and they were all over it like a rabid dog on a steak bone.  Bottom line, their consensus is Sony Michel, if only because he’ll probably see more playing time and have more of an effect with the football in his hands than anyone else.  A close second was Isaiah Wynn on the offensive line, with Duke Dawson getting a few nods in the defensive backfield along with undrafted free agent J.C. Jackson.  Can’t get anything past these guys – and one young lady – this year. 


  • 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 john.rooke@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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