Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Time to give credit to Rocco Baldelli

John Rooke
June 07, 2019 - 4:08 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering what a guy like Tony Romo does in his off-season?

  • I don’t know about you, but Woonsocket, RI and Hendricken Hawk original Rocco Baldelli is making his Minnesota Twins the story of the year in baseball – and has anyone really noticed yet?

 

  • Baldelli is a first-year manager.  At age 37, he’s the youngest head man in the majors.  And let’s not kid ourselves – without the injuries and illness that shortened his playing career, he might still be swinging a bat, somewhere, at his age.

 

  • Instead, he is overseeing a team that is an astounding nine-and-a-half (!) games in front of Cleveland in the AL Central, as of Thursday this week. 

 

  • The Twinkies are anything but, using the long ball to great advantage – not entirely unlike Boston used it last season.  He’s also taken a laid-back approach to his team, and they’ve taken to him like a fish takes to water.

 

  • His biggest attribute seems to be…he lets the players play.  He expects them to be pros, act like pros, perform like pros.  And so far, it appears the Twins have better pros than anyone imagined. 

 

  • But should Baldelli (or the rest of us) look only to Alex Cora and the Red Sox for future considerations?  After all, that’s pretty much the approach Cora seemed to take a year ago, and we know how that turned out.  This year? 

 

  • Hands-off hasn’t exactly set the world, or Fenway, on fire, has it?

 

  • Yet, Rafael Devers is the AL Player of the Month for May, and Michael Chavis was the Rookie of the Month.  But the Sox are mired in 3rd place in the East with baseball’s highest payroll, seemingly destined for a playoff-less fall unless the team decides to see what everyone can see.

 

  • They. Need.  Pitching.  Period.  It’s a theme we’ve espoused here since Day One of spring training.  Especially in the bullpen, which has mostly been the blowpen thus far.

 

  • Tweet of the Week I, from @MLBStats: “Chris Sale is just the 2nd pitcher ever to throw an immaculate inning twice in a season (Lefty Grove, 1928).”

 

  • Yeah, but can he win any games?  Just sayin’.

 

  • Didn’t it seem like Craig Kimbrel signed for pennies on the dollar when he signed with the Cubs this week?  Three years at $43 million wasn’t what he had in mind a month, or two, or six ago.

 

  • The puck shot that broke Zdeno Chara’s jaw was wicked.  That Chara returned to the bench after the gruesome strike…and suited up to start Thursday night…should further elevate a legendary status around here, if you ask me.  Almost bloody-sock-Schilling-esque.

 

  • But the Bruins’ forwards have flat-out disappeared when they’ve been needed the most.  Even the power play has struggled of late.  Can’t win when you can’t score.

 

  • And I’m all ears, ready to listen, if you can tell me why the Bruins can never seem to have someone sitting in the slot for a rebound? 

 

  • Forget the excuses for blown calls by officials in the Game Five loss.  So the refs stunk.  St. Louis was simply tougher in front of the nets – especially their own, and that includes one-time P-Bruin goaltender Jordan Binnington.

 

  • Tweet of the Week II, from @MarkDanielsPJ: “Did your brother Martellus Bennett give you advice about playing for the Patriots? Michael Bennett: "He tried to give me advice, but big brothers don’t take advice from little brothers."

 

  • Biggest takeaway from Patriots minicamp this week?  N’Keal Harry is a big dude.  Can’t wait to see defensive backs try to ride him like an amusement park pony this season. 

 

  • The last guy wearing a Flying Elvis hat that had DB’s draped over his backside, Rob Gronkowski, may not be through with this football thing.  A report this week said Patriots’ players believe he’ll be back at some point. 

 

  • Ahem.  Didn’t Rookestradamus say the same thing, oh, about three months ago?  Yeah, thought so.

 

  • Julian Edelman had film cameras following nearly his every move last season, from ACL rehab to SB LIII MVP.  The documentary will be shown on Showtime at the end of this month.  Must-see TV?  Yup.

 

  • Tom Terrific?  Look, it’s much ado about nothing.  Brady explained himself this week, trying to prevent someone else from using the term when referring to him, who might be trying to make a buck off his back.  You-know-what hit the fan in NY.  I know, and you know, who the only ‘real’ Tom Terrific is – HOF pitcher Tom Seaver.

 

  • Or, that’s the spin put on it when TB12 and/or his PR staff got their hands caught in the cookie jar.

 

  • Did you see this week where the NFL says it will consider reducing the pre-season in the next bargaining talks with the NFLPA?  Be still, my fluttering heart.

 

  • But the owners will have to make up the cash they’ll miss out on from somewhere, amiright?

 

  • Tweet of the Week III, from @GeorgeForeman: “Once again The British displays “Civilization” Win, lose or draw we are still Humans. Wished I’d been big enough to embrace Ali, after he KOd me. Cheers AJ.”

 

  • That tweet was for now-former champ Anthony Joshua, who embraced his conqueror after their battle.  It was largely unnoticed.  But shades of Buster Douglas, a major heavyweight fight upset took place last week as Ruiz beat Joshua for four separate title belts. 

 

  • Ruiz looks more like my beer-drinking buddies than a boxer…but his stunner could be the ticket heavyweight boxing needs to regain some attention.

 

  • I mean, how can you root against a real, live, breathing and boxing Pillsbury Doughboy?

 

  • We should be past this point, but it is noteworthy this week that Minnesota Vikings’ COO Kevin Warren will be taking over from Jim Delany as the next commissioner of the Big 10.  Why?

 

  • Warren becomes the first African American commish of a Power 5 (or 6?) conference.  He’s also thought to be a candidate for NFL commissioner, whenever Roger Goodell decides he’s had enough, or Jerry Jones decides Roger has had enough.

 

  • You think college football is crazy now?  The SEC has decided to allow schools to sell alcohol at football games this fall.  Some of the most-rabid football fans in the country will now have in-stadium fuel for their frenzy. 

 

  • Former Patriot top draft choice Kenneth Sims – remember him? – is on this years’ College Football Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2020.  So is ex-Pats QB Matt Cavanaugh (played at Pitt), Patriots’ HOF’er Kevin Faulk (LSU), ex-BC tight end Pete Mitchell and Pro Football/Patriots’  HOF’er Andre Tippett (Iowa).

 

  • Voting by members of the National Football Foundation takes place this month, and the class will be chosen and announced in January.

 

  • NFL veteran and RI native Will Blackmon (another Hendricken Hawk) will hold his annual free youth camp and high school combine on July 6th and 7th at Hendricken in Warwick.  It’s open to kids age 7-to-14.  The combine portion, along with Kyle Rowley, takes place on the 7th at 8:00 am.  Register here: http://www.rowleyqbs.com/blackmon-youth-camp.html

 

  • Not two minutes after the Friar non-league schedule was released this week, I received several complaints of “when are they evah gonna schedule someone good at the Dunk?”  Look, this is beating a dead horse.  This isn’t Duke, or Michigan or Kansas.  But it is Providence, and it’s pretty good.

 

  • Texas is good, and at home.  Florida will be good, at a neutral site.  URI will be good, close enough to home.  You’re on the road at Northwestern, on the road possibly playing Arizona, or Wake, or last year’s NCAA tourney-darling UCF.  Penn will be good.  There is a very real possibility to get on a run here and go into Big East play 11-2 or 12-1. 

 

  • Or better.  The Friars will have a team capable of doing that.  And the schedule is set up to reach the NCAA’s based on the NET…the way it should be. 

 

  • Considering the way the Friars shot the three-ball for much of last season, I’m not certain moving the 3-point line back next year is such a great thing.  Oh, it’s good for the sport overall, matching the international distance of 22’, 1 ¾”…but PC had its’ troubles with that new line in their NIT loss to Arkansas. 

 

  • That will be the most notable change for college hoops next season, with D II and D III implementing the new distance by 2020-21.  The shot clock will be reset to :20 on an offensive rebound, as was the case in the NIT as well.  Coaches will also be allowed to call their own time outs in the last two minutes of the second half or any overtime period. 

 

  • ICYMI, the Friars have 300-1 odds to win the natty next year.  Worth a fin?

 

  • The new guys, grad senior Luwane Pipkins and freshman Greg Gantt, are already on campus and engaged in classes and workouts.  The coaching staff will be supervising this summer while Ed Cooley coaches up the Big East/USA team in the Pan Am games.

 

  • Heard this week that Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard may join Cooley on the Big East/USA coaching staff, and that Brown’s Mike Martin might be a candidate to pitch in as well.

 

  • If you’re wondering about the Friars’ A.J. Reeves being a ‘happy camper,’ as I know some fans have questioned, I caught A.J. on the internship trail this week at Patriots’ minicamp, working with Nick Coit and WLNE Channel 6.  Seems he’s taking the Kyron Cartwright route to media training as a part of his PC education.  Sure seemed happy to me.

 

  • He’s also already projected in early mock drafts as a high 2nd round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.  Enjoy watching him play here while you can.

 

  • Former St. Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli, fired from Hawk Hill, is a new addition to Juwan Howard’s staff as an assistant at Michigan.  That is one smart, shrewd move by Howard. 

 

  • Ex-USC assistant Tony Bland got a wrist-slap sentence this week of probation and community service in the college hoop scandal, but former Arizona assistant Book Richardson had the book, literally, thrown at him.  Three months in prison, two years of supervised probation.  Whoa.

 

  • But he didn’t (yet) take Sean Miller down with him.  Can’t help but think there’s still more to this, to come.

 

  • With legal sports betting now allowed in 13 states, including Rhode Island, four more states (including NY and NH) are poised to add it before the end of this year.  In Massachusetts, it’ll be 2020.  CT and ME in 2021.  VT?  Maybe never.  Connecticut missing the ball here for two more years is surprising.  Think UConn could use an influx of new state funding?

 

  • My buddy ‘Big E’ sez he was stopped by police at 3:00 am the other night, and the officer asked him where he was going at that time of night.  “Officer, I’m late for a lecture on alcohol abuse and the harmful effects it has on the human body,” was ‘Big E’s’ reply.  The officer then said, “who in the world is giving a lecture like that at this time of night?”

 

  • ‘Big E’ answered with – “that would be my wife.”

 

  • Tweet of the Week IV from @James_Holzhauer: “Knew I shouldn’t have invited @Drake to the @Jeopardy taping.”

 

  • Monday’s Jeopardy! taping where Holzhauer’s winning streak finally ended was the highest rated show for the program in 14 years, with a 10.1 nationally.  The NBA Finals that night drew a 10.2.

 

  • Personally, I think he wanted to lose – he was bored, and ready to move onto other challenges. Next challenge might be with the IRS – he’ll owe about $1.2 million to the gub’ment from his winnings.

 

  • Not for nuthin,’ but speaking of the NBA Finals – is anyone around here watching?  With the Bruins and baseball and all, I have not watched ONE MINUTE – and probably won’t until the title-clincher comes about. 

 

  • The story of the high school sports year might just be from Westerly lacrosse. 0-13 a year ago, with the worst record in the state in any division, the Bulldogs won the D3 state championship this week.  Yeah, worst-to-first.

 

  • Some like him.  Some don’t.  Some thought he was a so-so NFL QB, and less so in the playoffs.  Whatever you think about ex-Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, he has certainly stepped into the spotlight again as the #1 NFL game analyst for CBS, along with Jim Nantz.  Personally, he’s been solid in his work, and very adept at anticipating a play.

 

  • He’s also played as a scratch golfer, and Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, RI announced this week he will play in this month’s Northeast Amateur.  He’s not a pro golfer, but has played in three PGA Tour events, including last months’ Byron Nelson in Texas, where he shot 76-74. 

 

  • That should be competitive at the Northeast Am.  Until he tries to putt on those Wannamoisett greens.  That might be like trying to hold for an extra point attempt – a little slippery, no?

 

  • Randy from Cranston posted on Facebook this week, about the college hoop rule changes: “Maybe they can move the FT line in for us too?  Like 10 feet or so should help.”

 

  • Randy:  As a Friar fan, I detect a note of sarcasm in your comments.  Correct?

 

  • 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 Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

Comments ()