USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Good to see Red Sox-Yankees rivalry back

April 13, 2018 - 1:59 pm

By John Rooke

Thinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to Dice-K Matsuzaka?

  • Ok, so it wasn’t Varitek-in-ARod’s-face kinda stuff, but it did get the juices flowin’ a bit this week.


  • Ecstatic to see the “rivalry” is back between the Sox and Yankees.  The passion.  The dislike.  The Hate.  Aren’t you?  I mean, things had grown kinda stale and soft all at once, like eating old Cheese curls out of the bag three weeks after you opened them…amiright?


  • But here’s what I liked the most about the two bench-clearing episodes between Boston and New York earlier this week – that each side backed up its own.  Both teams believe they’re in the right.  Both teams seem to like themselves, and despise the other guys. 


  • Yeah, now we’re talkin’.  And we’re fightin’.  Where ya’ been, Boston and New York?  Missed ya’.


  • Sean McAdam pointed out in the Boston Sports Journal this week that the Sox screwed this up royally last year after Baltimore’s Manny Machado played bad boy – and Dustin Pedroia basically backed down when Matt Barnes finally retaliated.  “Ooh, it wasn’t me!” 


  • And I agree 1000%.  This time – and there’s always a next time, too – the Sox reacted with some spine.  Just sayin’.


  • Not for nuthin’, but NY’s Tyler Austin had to know – had to know – his spike of Brock Holt was going to be received poorly.  He’s not that stupid, is he?  And Joe Kelly’s retaliation to Austin’s backside? 


  • Joe, I like you about as much as I like eating liver for dinner.  But you showed some backbone and took one for the team – so good on ‘ya, mate.


  • Just glad you didn’t have to face a right-cross from either Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of the brouhaha.  Those are some big dudes right there.


  • Tweet of the Week, from @bostonradio: “Majority of callers all over (David) Price this morning. Can’t disagree. The guy has an extensive track record of being a drama queen loser when pressure mounts.”


  • Tweet of the Week II, from @45PedroMartinez: “The only thing I would had done different than Joe Kelly tonight, is I would’ve hit Tyler Austin at his previous at bat. Other than that, Kelly executed perfectly.”


  • Gotta love it.  The spit and fire in the Old Towne Team, and Sawx Fans, is definitively back.


  • The nine runs scored in Tuesday night’s 6th inning against the Yankees was the most runs scored in a single inning by the Sox against New York in almost 20 years.  Whoa. 


  • And how about trying these (Rob) ‘Bradfo Notes’ on for size:  9-1 to start, best in franchise history; Alex Cora is the 2nd manager in franchise history to win his first nine games (Joe Morgan’s Magic – 1988); zero errors through 10 games, longest streak to begin a season in team history; 96 straight losses trailing by 5+ runs in the 8th inning or later – before last Sunday.


  • The fact that the Sox already have three Grand Slams this season, when they had all of zero last season, tells you how much Boston management whiffed on the evaluation of the post-Papi era.


  • Speaking of whiffs, Giancarlo Stanton clearly has no shame in his frequent swinging-and-missing.  So I say, give it to him high and tight, every time.  It’s what he wants.  He’s begging for it.  Can you imagine what we’d be saying here if the Sox had pried him out of Miami before the Yankees did?


  • The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani is NOT the reincarnation of Babe Ruth.  But if you don’t find a way to watch this guy pitch AND hit some this season, you might miss out on a once-in-a-century player.  Talk about throwbacks – and it’s just what today’s game needs.


  • A dose of old-school talent in a nu-skool world.


  • Did you miss out on the Pawsox hot deal for cold weather this week?  The promotion was “Everyone is a kid at heart,” and handed out free general admission tickets to fans this week because of the cold weather.  Brilliant. What’s a couple of bucks when you can create such good will in the community? 


  • I like the forward-thinking of the Pawsox staff.  I’d really like it if the backward-thinking House of Representatives in the Rhode Island State House would get off their collective rear-ends and start thinking with their heads, rather than sitting on them. 


  • A little birdy (yeah, I got a guy) told me this week that a majority of the Reps in the House favor the new Pawsox stadium deal.  If that’s the case, why are you stalling, Mister Speaker?  ‘Cuz you ain’t got yours, yet?


  • Doesn’t everyone still have ‘a guy’ at the State House?  Therein lies the problem, people.


  • The more I think about it, the more I like the Patriots taking a guy like Louisville’s Heisman-winning QB Lamar Jackson in the draft.  He doesn’t have to play this year, or maybe even next.  But if (and when) he gets into a game this year or next, he’ll cause opposing defensive coordinators to have hissy-fits right on the field trying to stop him with the personnel changes they’ll need to make.


  • Think Deshaun Watson-light.  With a chance to learn under TB12 before he needs to take center stage.  That could work.


  • If it is true that Bill Belichick dressed down Gronk in front of the team for working out with Alex Guerrero, that explains a lot.  Gronk, Brady and even Julian Edelman are all taking sides here – with their “Mr. Miyagi.” 


  • Bill, with all due respect, you’ve got some work to do in that locker room.  ‘Your way or the highway’ is beginning to run out of road.


  • How about new receiver Jordan Matthews?  Signs a deal with New England for less than he could have elsewhere, because he says he wants to play with TB12.  Sticks around when he could have gone home before official workouts begin.  Makes himself available to the media for interviews.  Can we have more like this guy, please?


  • The official conference tallies for the Big East after Villanova’s national title triumph:  21 Final Four appearances in 39 years, the first Big East program to win two titles in three years, and Donte DiVincenzo’s 31 points in the title game was the most scored by ANY reserve player in the history of the NCAA championship game.


  • The Big East is also 9-5 all time in championship games.  28 NCAA bids (of a possible 50) over the five seasons since the league reincarnated itself.  And the non-conference record of 103-23 was the 3rd best in the 39-year history of the league.  Including the two best seasons (1984-85, 88-89), the conference has had national title game participants in each of those years.


  • It’s somewhat of a surprise to learn Georgetown’s 6-7 Marcus Derrickson has decided to turn pro and will hire an agent, rather than return to Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas.  Then again, there was evidence down the stretch the two didn’t see eye-to-eye on some of Derrickson’s shot selections, either.


  • Creighton’s Khyrie Thomas, the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year, will also kick the tires on the pros but won’t hire an agent.  Smart move.  Wondering why we don’t see more of this now that players can gauge their worth and still return?  We might, soon.


  • Portsmouth, RI’s Cole Swider was asked about his commitment to the national champs, revealing he was told the Villanova program isn’t counting on either Jalen Brunson or Mikal Bridges to return.  No surprise there, in either case.


  • Former Seton Hall guard and longtime Pirates’ assistant coach Shaheen Holloway finally got his shot to run a program, after working with Kevin Willard at Iona and Seton Hall for the past 11 seasons.  This week, Holloway was named to the head coaching position at Saint Peter’s in the MAAC, replacing John Dunne.


  • Former Friar, ex-CCRI Knight and North Providence High grad Ken McDonald is on the move back into college coaching again.  McDonald is joining the staff at Tulsa as an assistant under Frank Haith after spending the past six years in Austin, Texas with the G-League Spurs.


  • Sign of the times (to come):  Rumored program cuts may be coming at Cal-Berkeley and at New Mexico to meet budget and Title IX requirements.  That’s something PC had experience with about 20 years ago, right Lou Merloni?


  • The FBI dirt was shoveled onto programs at Kansas and North Carolina State this week.  At Kansas, where Dr. James Naismith’s original Rules of Basket Ball are housed, the school moved quickly to try and distance itself from the impropriety.  No truth to the rumor that is Rule 5, Paragraph 2B on Dr. Naismith’s list – fast break with all haste when the FBI comes a’ knockin’.


  • There hasn’t been much said about Michigan State, and soon there may be.  A student has accused three basketball players of rape three years ago, and said campus counselors discouraged her from reporting the crime.  She has sued the school in Federal Court. None of the three accused players are still with the basketball program.


  • The school remains under investigation by Michigan lawmakers, Congress and the US Department of Education after facing a string of assault cases against football and basketball players in the athletic program.  At what point do Mark D’Antonio and Tom Izzo need to be held accountable for the actions of players once under their supervision?


  • And this comes on the heels of the gymnastics scandal with former US Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nasser facing life in prison for his abuse.  Someone needs to look into the soul of the Spartans, for certain.


  • Wasn’t Rick Pitino canned at Louisville for a lack of oversight over the unseemly acts committed in his program during his tenure?  Um, yep, believe he was.


  • Kudos to PC associate head hockey coach Scott Borek, who moved on to lead the program at Merrimack this past week.  Borek was a big part of the Friars’ national title run in 2015, and has been a part of NCAA tournament runs in 13 of his past 16 years of coaching within Hockey East.


  • If you haven’t read or heard about it, Masters champ Patrick Reed’s family story is a sad one.  He’s ostracized himself from his parents and siblings and taken on a loner, “me against the world” attitude, with his wife and current in-laws apparently adding to the discord.  


  • I’m no angel myself, but Reed’s issues seem curable, if he’d just grow up enough to cure them.  The guy is now asking for trouble from the media, with questions on his lack of a family relationship sure to follow.


  • And then, there’s Jordan Spieth.  Forget Tiger, he’s so…so…yesterday.  Spieth’s Sunday charge on his Ryder Cup teammate Reed was memorable.  Fun to watch.  Even the golf-flavor-of-the-month, Justin Thomas, said he got goosebumps watching Spieth charge from behind. 


  • Yeah, talent with a little bit of class and respect.  That wins for me.


  • Outside of soccer-krishna circles, does anyone care about the Revolution?  Don’t look now, but former US keeper-turned-Revs-coach Brad Friedel has something going in Foxboro.


  • The Revs have an aggressive look to their offense in a 3-1-1 start, and the backline defenders aren’t as sieve-like as they’ve been the past couple of seasons.  Not holding my breath, but there also seems to be a sense of accountability Friedel is holding this team to – unlike in previous years.


  • MLS’ version of the Buffalo Bills – 0-5 in the MLS Cup title game – could be interesting to watch this summer, without a US team to follow during June’s World Cup. 


  • Something to look forward to?  More than 5000 marathoners were turned down for Monday’s Boston Marathon, largely because the field is capped at 30,000 runners.  But every year, more than 50 manage to sneak their way onto the course to run it, unofficially, anyway.  Funny, and a little scary, all at the same time.


  • Anyone have issues with some of these multi-faceted android phones out there?  My lady buddy Bobbie sez she woke up one morning and tried to check her phone before getting out of bed.  After a few minutes of tap-tap-tapping, she let out four-letter bomb that woke up her husband, and ran to the bathroom. 


  • Worried what happened to her, Bobbie’s hubby ran after her to check on the problem – only to find her frantically putting on her makeup.  “But you don’t have to work today,” he reasoned.  “It’s Saturday!”  Bobbie replied, “My phone with facial recognition locked up on me, and apparently it’s not recognizing me without my makeup on.”


  • Daisuke Matsuzaka’s name came up in a conversation this week, when a student asked me if I knew what a ‘gyroball’ was.  Told him to go ‘Google’ it.  Remember, that was the pitch that Dice-K could supposedly throw that would screw opposing hitters into the ground?  It turned out the ex-Sox pitcher had a cut fastball, a slider, a fastball, a curve – but no gyro. 


  • Supposedly, the gyro has been thrown mostly by Japanese pitchers with a spiral spin, and is often mistaken for something called the shuuto.  He left Boston almost six years ago and today, Dice-K is still toiling on the mound for the Japanese League Chunichi Dragons, at age 37.


  • @TTAPCBBall tweeted this week: “Can we stop with all conference solidarity kumbaya BS now? The Big East is a great conference. No one denies this. Let’s all get back to viscerally hating each other as God/Dave Gavitt intended.”


  • @TT:  Honestly, I laughed and spit out my coffee over this one.  I get it.  But in a league that was forced to remake itself and gain credibility in a world where ESPN (a one-time partner) largely ignores you, there’s a natural tendency to pull for your opponent to make some noise when considering the common good.  You know the old adage – keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?  To your point, however…yeah, it’s probably about that time to start the hate again.  Love it.


  • 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 [email protected]. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, ...


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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