Butch Dill/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Where will PawSox play next season?

John Rooke
August 10, 2018 - 6:40 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to Jack LeFaivre?

  • I can’t imagine Ben Mondor would approve of this.


  • There’s a new Twitter account and hashtag set up.  A new trademark for “WooSox” has been applied for by Minor League Baseball.  Larry Lucchino, Mike Tamburro and International League President Randy Mobley were spotted in Worcester this week.  Dr. Charles Steinberg has been visiting the summer league team.  Rumors persist concerning the use of Holy Cross’ baseball field on an interim basis, although the team has denied the last one.


  • Still, Worcester Magazine, which does have a bias and perhaps a stake in a move, wrote last week that an announcement of a Pawsox move to Worcester is imminent. 


  • Maybe a move is in the works, maybe it isn’t.  First, I’d expect an announcement on a Worcester stadium plan, which hasn’t yet materialized.  Next, would be an indication of intent from the Pawsox, who haven’t done anything beyond what could be described as normal, business due-diligence.


  • And finally, I would expect EVERY Rhode Island option to be extinguished first before talking about a move to Massachusetts’ 2nd largest city.  Why?  First, because the Providence/Pawtucket vicinity has a much larger population base, and quite possibly, better potential infrastructure with future development around a new stadium.  It also has nearly 50 years of history with the franchise.


  • And, no one in that organization wants Mondor to roll in his grave.  Because that’s what he’d do if this move as it presently stands goes through.  The very reason Ben resurrected a bankrupt franchise in the ‘70’s was to create and build a legacy in Rhode Island – providing proof that family entertainment at affordable prices could work.


  • It does, and has, since 1977 when the Triple-A team began.  Yes, Ben Mondor was a businessman.  Very shrewd.  I know this, because I worked for him.  Mr. Mondor is one of the reasons I remained in Rhode Island after my departure in ’91 from Channel 12, because he offered me a job doing radio. 


  • His love for what the organization stood for was very real.  Nope, Ben Mondor would not approve of a move.  At all.  The kicker to this is, Ben would have already done a new deal to keep his team in Pawtucket.  Politics, as per the norm in Rhode Island, get in the way of everything worth doing.  Mondor would never have allowed that to happen.


  • This isn’t anti-Worcester, although the city has struggled mightily in recent years with minor league sports teams.  This is more pro-Pawtucket.  Pawtucket gets thrown into a veritable, economical Stone Age without its team.  Millions in current tax revenues will simply walk away, out of state and across the border. 


  • The State of Massachusetts, and the City of Worcester, will laugh at Pawtucket and Rhode Island.  They know what they would be getting – an effectual engine that may appear to be sputtering right now, only because politicians are bent on pumping diesel gas into a motor that has long run on regular.


  • I really don’t think that’s the legacy Mr. Lucchino and Mr. Tamburro have in mind for leaving behind.  At least, I hope it isn’t.


  • R-e-l-a-x.  It’s just the preseason.  But the first half offense Thursday night stunk, sure.  Then came a halftime change-of-direction, and pounding out two drives of 19 and 16 plays, for 84 and 90 yards respectively, and two TD’s was impressive – exhibition or not.


  • I’d still worry about the defense, a little, if I were you.  Missing a couple of starters at the beginning, Colt McCoy ripped through the “D” like he was back at the University of Texas.


  • Offense sells tickets, yes.  Defense wins championships – still yes.  You only need to look as far back as last year (last February?) to see that.  Dont’a Hightower’s health will be the key to keeping the Patriots in the hunt for SB LIII.


  • More penalty flags?  We’re told NFL officials will throw more of them in the preseason, then re-evaluate and adjust for the regular season.  Great.  Boring, three-hour games just became more boring, four-hour extravaganzas. 


  • But the NFL ain’t dyin’.  There’s just more choice in the stratosphere these days.  The Hall of Fame game last week drew about 6.5 million viewers, and while that’s down from the estimated 6.8 million who watched the game a year ago, it did outdraw this years’ Game 5 of NBC’s Stanley Cup Finals, NBC’s British Open coverage and 63 of Fox’s 64 World Cup soccer matches.


  • Eric Decker will become Tom Brady’s new binky.  A veteran with size, decent hands and smarts.  He might also become Gronk’s best friend, too, if he improves his penchant for the dropsies.


  • Bill Belichick said Malcolm Mitchell did what he could do to stick around.  But I’m left with the feeling there was something more to his injury/disappearance than meets the eye.


  • Are we having a lazy summer, or just saving up for the fall?  We suffer from so much sensory overload around here, with our teams’ overall success rates, that we can’t r-e-l-a-x until the next season starts…and then, with sky-high, often unrealistic expectations. 


  • Surprise pick(s) to be cut?  I’ve got three liable for a dismissal from Fort Foxboro – Mike Gillislee on offense, and Cyrus Jones and/or Jason McCourty on defense.  All three, right now, look to be beaten out of spots by roster newcomers.


  • Tweet of the Week, from @profootballtalk: “Malcolm Butler wasn’t good enough to play in Super Bowl LII, but he’s good enough to debut as a starter on the Tennessee depth chart.”


  • Did you see where Bill Belichick says he loves the Red Sox?  I think what he really loves, is the good ‘juju’ the team has going for it, not just the bats or the (yikes) bullpen.


  • Sweeping out the ghosts of ‘78 last weekend?  Nah, don’t buy it.  The ’78 Boston Massacre left such an indelible mark on Red Sox Nation, I’m not certain winning it all this year (or any other year) will erase that memory.  But getting out the brooms was fun at the Yankees’ expense.


  • The current numbers tell us…the Yankees need to play at Boston’s current clip (.700) to have a chance to catch them, while the Sox need to find mediocrity in a hurry.  Anyone doubt either can happen?


  • Despite a win streak this week, the Yankees are still about .500 in their last 40 games played, thanks to some injury and underperformance.  The Red Sox have an 8-game lead over New York at weeks’ end, built largely without a few regulars of their own in the lineup.  And yet, I still doubt.  The NYY made up a game-and-a-half in the standings, in less than a week.


  • Not for nuthin’, maybe the AL East is already won.  But that’s not the end game here.  Like the Patriots, postseason success is what matters most.  If the Yankees survive a one-game playoff (Oakland? Seattle?) the ALDS could be off-the-hook.


  • The bullpen still makes me very, very nervous.  Watching Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly pitch is like me riding a roller-coaster.  I get queasy watching them.  And every time Craig Kimbrel gets into a game in a non-save situation, watch out.  Dude has disinterest written all over him.


  • Nathan Eovaldi. Who knew?  I mean, really. He’s shooting our overly-egregious expectations more out of whack than ever.


  • Rem Dawg, you have the power of an entire region behind you in your never-ending fight with the Big C.  Take care of you, and your family, and come back to the broadcast booth soon.


  • As much as the NCAA deserves criticism, they (finally) did something good this week.  Sort of.  Basketball players who declare for the NBA Draft and don’t get drafted may now return to school.


  • There’s a catch, however.  The rule applies only to players who receive NBA Combine invitations, and research shows most of those players do get drafted.  So, the new rule may not actually apply much in any given year, if at all.


  • Yet to be determined – will this also apply to college football players? 


  • Other significant moves of note – “elite” players, including those in high school, can be represented by agents.  USA Basketball and the National Basketball Players Association will apparently decide who is elite, and who isn’t.


  • Shouldn’t it be if a player is good enough that an agent wants to sign him, he should be able to sign?  Hey, if you’re going to open this door, open it all the way.


  • What about high school players who declare for the draft and don’t get drafted – but sign with an agent?  Can they still go to school?


  • “There’s still an awful lot of detail and complexity to work through to this point,” is what ex-PC coach and former Bryant athletic director Dan Gavitt – the NCAA’s current VP for men’s basketball championships – had to say after the NCAA released its new policies this week. 


  • Then why unleash the hounds now without a proper leash?  Or at least a little refining to the rules for behavior?


  • One more thing – I don’t think these rule changes will keep anyone (player, coach or school) from cheating.  Or trying to cheat, if they’re so inclined.  Recruiting rules aren’t fixed, the AAU remains monstrous and the shoe companies?  Can’t touch ‘em.  Just sayin’.


  • College hoop writer/broadcaster Andy Katz, who still covers the game for NCAA.com, is bullish on the Friars – picking them second behind Villanova at this point.  Most of his optimism seems based on Emmitt Holt’s (closer) return to form from two seasons’ ago.


  • Michigan head basketball coach John Beilein had double-bypass heart surgery this week, and will miss his teams’ upcoming trip to Spain.  But Beilein expects to return in time for the regular season to start, which includes a meeting with Providence at Mohegan Sun in November.


  • The Princeton Review this week listed its top schools for students packing the ‘stadium’ at college basketball games – and Providence’s ‘Friar Fanatics’ ranked 9th nationally.  Of note, Syracuse was #1, Xavier 3rd, Marquette 7th and UConn 8th.  Seems there’s still some work to do.


  • But I will say this – and I said it a couple of weeks ago, too – for the 3rd straight season, student season tickets at the Dunk are sold out. 


  • This week, Providence and Learfield (the College’s broadcast rights holder) announced a switch in radio stations, going back to WPRO on 99.7 FM and AM 630.  It’s where Joe Hassett and I started our journey 30 years ago, only this time – for the first time – the games will be simulcast on both AM and FM signals. 


  • We’re also hoping, for the first time, to be able to broadcast the radio signal LIVE on an FM frequency inside the Dunk with no delays, so you can listen to the broadcast while you watch.  Just don’t throw stuff at us?


  • As if we needed more distraction, and more spice/vice in life, DraftKings’ new sportsbook is up and sports betting on your phone is now available.  But you still need to be in a state that has sports wagering up-and-running to place your bets.


  • Party on, Wayne.  URI is 10th in the nation’s Top 10 party schools, as determined by the Princeton Review.  Seems to me the gang at Princeton Review is having too much fun this summer.  Party on, Garth.


  • The long-ridiculed URI football program has had two donors step up and contribute large donations for the installation of lights and Field Turf at Meade Stadium by 2020. Total cost of the upgrade, $4.1 million.  Admirable, perhaps.  But a little late to the party.  They’re trying to put out a fire with a squirt gun.


  • Do I have this right?  The University of North Carolina can create fake classes for some of its “student-athletes” and not be punished for it, but 13 of their football players were suspended for re-selling sneakers they were given by the school as gifts?


  • Big changes at Mount St. Charles in Woonsocket, the legendary hockey school that once won 26 RI state titles in a row from 1978-2003.  Former Friar player and coach Devin Rask, with ex-Quinnipiac player and USA U18 coach Matt Plante are moving from Selects Academy in Connecticut to rebuild the Mounties’ competitive hockey fortunes with multiple age-grouped teams.  Bill and Dave Belisle will still coach the high school team next season, even though it (eventually) may not be the best team on the campus.


  • My buddy “Big E” sez he took his wife to the doctor with him last week, and didn’t like that his doctor pulled her aside, privately, for a little chat.  “I’ve got to be honest with you, I don’t like the looks of your husband,” he told her.  Mrs. “E” responded as honestly as she could in return.  “I don’t like the way he looks, either. But he brings home a good wage and is great with the grandkids.”


  • Oh yeah.  Johnny Football’s CFL debut as a starting QB was a b-e-a-u-t last weekend. 11-20, 104 yards and four picks in Hamilton’s 50-11 beatdown of the Toronto Argonauts.  But fans still watched, almost doubling the previous CFL audience ratings on ESPN2.  Yeah, and people also rubber-neck on highways, too.  What is it about watching things crash and burn?


  • This week, the PGA of America – during the PGA Championship – is attempting to regain control of its computer servers that are presently being held for ransom by hackers.  And I thought real hackers only played golf on the weekends?


  • If you remember Jack LeFaivre, you are a TRUE Pawsox fan.  Jack was Pawtucket’s radio announcer from 1991-96, and I joined him as his partner in ’92-93 before I switched over to NESN’s TV coverage.  Dave Shea, an ex-Bruins’ announcer and one of the first voices of the Washington Nationals, moved into the booth with Jack from ’94-96 before Jack returned to his home state of North Carolina.  LeFaivre is living in Winston-Salem, still works in radio and has a son who lives and works in Boston.  


  • Ray in Virginia posted on Facebook about the Patriots defense this week: “Agree that D wins championships, but I don’t see our D being better right now than last year and that is a major concern of mine.”


  • Ray: It’s a concern of mine, too, especially when you saw the presumptive defensive starters (minus Devin McCourty) get gouged by Washington’s 2nd string early on Thursday night.  There’s work to do; LB’s still need to figure out a way to cover the backs, and more pressure is needed up front.  Another playmaker or two is needed.  And Hightower absolutely must stay healthy, which is easier said than done.  Since he’s never really done that before.


  • 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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