Butch Dill/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: What is the latest on PawSox' new stadium?

December 23, 2017 - 10:20 am

By John Rooke


Thinking out loud…while wondering if a Weenie Whistle will ever appear in my stocking?

  • Wait a minute.  Dunkin Donuts is selling beer?  That would certainly bring new meaning to the sentiment “every day is Christmas day.”


  • Truth – DD released a specialty dark beer, brewed with their dark roast coffee, in collaboration with Wormtown Brewery in Worcester, MA – where one of the first DD’s was located. 


  • Here’s the rub – you can’t get it at your neighborhood Dunkin.   It’s a limited-edition brew released this week on Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) and available only at the Wormtown Brewery.  Oh well.


  • The rally in the State House this week for support of the PawSox stadium plan, while contrived, was very much pointed to Rhode Island lawmakers – and to the City of Worcester, Massachusetts as a potential suitor as well.  But I will echo some of what was said – because I’ve been saying it all along. 


  • You can’t be afraid to move forward, just because you failed in the past.  Vote it through, build the stadium, people will come.  They will most certainly come.


  • Or, don’t build it and chase away future business growth in Rhode Island for years to come.  Who in their right minds would bring new business into this kind of an uncertain, wishy-washy, politically-charged economic climate, with a legislature as messed up as this one? 


  • Priorities, people.  Baseball, and Pawtucket’s revitalization, should be up on the list.


  • Mitch Moreland has been re-upped for two years.  YAWN.


  • Which means, of course, no Eric Hosmer.  Umm, Dealer Dave?  The party has started.  When do the Sox plan on attending?


  • Tweet of the Week I, from @SalMaiorana of the Rochester (NY) Democrat & Gazette: “The Patriots are the most despicable team in sports history. Bar none. Despicable. And the NFL is even worse. The league is a sham.”


  • Did the Patriots get away with one against the Steelers?  Yup.  Jesse James caught the ball.  Didn’t score, though.  His knee was down short of the goal line.  But the whole “catch” thing?  Gotta be revisited in the off-season.  Something else to legislate-to-death. 


  • Who didn’t love Mike Tomlin’s “Pete Carroll” moment in the immediate aftermath of the end zone interception?  First thing I thought of – “I’ve seen this before.  Déjà vu all over again.”


  • Hats and T-shirts for a 9th straight year.  Think about that for a sec.  It’s unprecedented, and may not happen again in our lifetime.  Nine straight division titles?  Actually, that’s nuts, what with the NFL being hell-bent on creating parity.


  • It’s the core reason why people hate the Patriots.  They win, period.  Why else do baseball fans hate the Yankees?  Because they win, or at least used to.  They’ll win again.


  • The record, before the Patriots broke it last year with eight straight AFC East titles, was seven consecutive crowns.  The Los Angeles Rams of the 1970’s set that mark in the NFC West.  Give yourself another 40 years or so, plus a few more, when gauging the chances of this record being surpassed.


  • Maybe there’s something to the fact that it was a long-time Pittsburgh columnist who uncovered this – but the Patriots have had three controversial calls help win games this year.  Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote this week about it – Brandin Cooks’ game winning TD against Houston (Cooks lost control of the ball), the Jets’ Austin Seferian-Jenkins fumbling through the end zone, and Jesse James.


  • Isn’t that just delicious?  Let’s make sure the Patriots give a Super Bowl ring to NFL Senior VP of Officiating Al Riveron.  Sheesh, short memories all around – or do you not remember the “they’re out to get the Patriots!” talk during Deflategate?


  • Tweet of the Week II, from @SalMaiorana: “I love when the most entitled fan base in the universe revels in its good fortune with the very arrogance that we loathe most about them. Can you imagine these people if the right call had been made? The tears would have dwarfed Niagara Falls.”


  • Alex Guerrero is banned from the Patriots’ sideline?  Big deal.  The guy has apparently had some success with his “alternative” training methods (see TB12), and that’s fine.  This is business.  If those methods fly in the face of what team doctors and trainers ask a player to do, you can see the potential conflict.  Bill Belichick does not like conflict.  Where is the issue?


  • Two games left in the regular season, and Arizona’s Chandler Jones is #1 in the NFL in QB sacks.  Using my best Bob Lobel voice, “how come we can’t get players like that?”


  • The upcoming sale of the Carolina Panthers means just one thing, really.  Owner Jerry Richardson pretty much gets to cash in on his alleged misconduct and abuse.  Amiright?


  • New owners? How about Joe Thomas?  The Cleveland Browns’ all-pro tackle tweeted this week he would buy the Panthers if he got a million retweets.  Then, he said he’d get rid of kickers and punters, largely because his team would be going for it on 4th down.  Every time.


  • But what got me – is that he suggested the ticket price would include “all you can eat.”  And free helicopter rides to get in and out of the stadium.  Now he’s just being silly.


  • Eight Steelers, four Patriots in the Pro Bowl.  Don’t jump off a cliff.  Sounds about right.  Which to me means Pittsburgh really screwed up a lot more than the Patriots did this season, if they had better players.  You?


  • James Develin, congratulations.  First Pro Bowl nod, not bad for a former defensive end at Brown.  Not that there’s anything bad about that, either.  But when the Patriots employed him in the backfield, the job usually got done.  Just sayin’.


  • Not for nuthin’, but college football bowl pools?  You in one?  Why else would a million people be interested in Middle Tennessee playing Arkansas State in something known as the Camellia Bowl? 


  • Used to love the Poulin Weed-Eater Independence Bowl, just from the sheer novelty of the sponsor company.  Hey, it made me pay attention.  Now?  Gotta love the Bad Boy Mower Gasparilla Bowl.  It’s played in St. Petersburg, Florida, just in case you didn’t know.


  • Barely-qualified 6-and-6 Florida State’s record-setting 36th straight bowl bid is a sham – in part because one vanquished opponent (Delaware State) didn’t have enough qualified scholarship players. 


  • Seriously though, if you’re a minor bowl (like the Independence Bowl, which has FSU against Southern Miss) looking to sell tickets, who are you inviting – FSU or Buffalo, Western Michigan or Texas-San Antonio?  They’re the schools snubbed by the Seminoles, um, good fortune.


  • Happy 126th birthday, basketball!  Dr. James Naismith is credited for inventing hoops on Dec. 21st, 1891.  His initial set of rules sold at auction for $4.3 million.


  • The Crossroads Classic in Indiana is an outstanding event, with Butler, Purdue, Indiana and Notre Dame squaring off on the hardwood every year.  Now, there’s talk of a Buckeye event in Ohio with Ohio State, Xavier, Cincinnati and Dayton.


  • A few years ago, there was also discussion of an Ocean State Classic, with PC, URI, Brown and Bryant – dismissed, largely because PC and URI already face each other annually.  And, there’s little interest from those coaches. 


  • All I’ll say, is that the Crossroads Classic works – even with Purdue and Indiana already facing each other in Big 10 play.  That’s because those four schools are Top 100 teams.  What we need here, is Bryant and Brown to gain a little more juice.  RPI’s and SOS’s would need to rise, significantly. 


  • The women’s teams at Rhode Island’s four Division I schools already square off in an Ocean State Classic – won by Brown this year.  The Bears, under coach Sarah Behn, beat PC and Bryant and currently sit at 9-1 on the season, heading into the weekend.


  • Kudos to Jim Crowley’s PC women’s team, beating Boston College this week for the first time since 1998.  Small steps, taken one at a time.


  • All you need to know about the Friars right now?  The Red Cross has set up a triage tent outside of Alumni Hall.  Joking, of course.  But it might not be a bad idea.


  • Not having Kyron Cartwright available at full strength is like having cut off the head of a snake.  Providence’s offense and defense both key on his ability to use speed and loosen up the opposition.  Makai Ashton-Langford is very talented, but he’s not Kyron.  His mentality has been score-first, not pass-first.   


  • And free throws?  All I know is, they’re free.  There simply is no excuse not to hit (at least) seven out of 10.  No one guards you.  The Friars are valuing freebies about as well as they’re valuing possession of the ball.  Which is to say, they’re not doing either one very well.


  • Friday night against Sacred Heart found a little life in the offense after struggling mightily against Houston.  But the interior defense left much to be desired, in an 89-75 win.  That kind of “D” in the Big East, starting next week at St. John’s, will get you plastered.  Will relative good health, in time, heal what ails?


  • Former Providence Associate Athletic Director and former America East Commissioner Pat Nero is stepping down as AD at George Washington after more than six years at the school.  The Colonials won 22 championships and had 18 Coach of the Year honors during his tenure.


  • Wanna feel old?  Kevin McHale turned 60 this week.


  • Tweet of the Week III, again from our ol’ friend, @SalMaiorana: “What’s disgraceful is the biggest game of the year is decided by one of the worst calls you’ll ever see, because of the most ill-conceived and screwed up rule in sports. The NFL is a broken mess. The rulebook needs to be blown up and re-written. Travesty.”


  • Think the guy was upset much?  And he covers Buffalo, not Pittsburgh.  Get a grip, dude.


  • LaVar Ball says he is starting something known as the “JBA” – ostensibly for basketball players who don’t want (or can’t qualify) to go to college, but still hope to play professionally.  Says he’ll be paying between $3k and $10k per month in salaries. 


  • Selling tickets to watch wannabes and prima donnas play is one thing, but the stunner here is that he’s not naming the league after his shoe company. #Stupidisasstupiddoes #madmarketingskillz


  • My buddy “Big E” told me he tried to go fly a kite this week in his backyard, and as he threw it up into the air, several times, it always came crashing to the ground.  His wife yelled at him out the window, “Hey, you need a little tail!”  To which “Big E” immediately replied, “Last night, you told me to go fly a kite.  Make up your mind!”


  • While injuries may have sacked David Krejci for a while, anyone else notice the Bruins are still making noise, in both Boston and Providence?  Younger guys are rotating in and about – and seem to be creating opportunities for themselves. Plus some wins on the ice, too.


  • Very saddened to learn of the passing of Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg this week, at 82.  He was preparing for a holiday trip to Boston, when he was found at his home in LaJolla, CA.  If there is such a thing as a soundtrack to your life, Enberg’s voice is surely on mine.


  • Not only did he work the biggest games of my younger years, but I had the ultimate thrill as a young TV anchor fresh out of college to do a promotional shoot with him.  He could not have been nicer, as I sat and stared in awe through most of it.  One of the most-nervous performances of my professional life.  The experience was proof to me that you didn’t have to be a jerk to be successful or famous.


  • I mean, Dick Enberg WAS the Super Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the NCAA Championship (he called the stratospheric Larry Bird-Magic Johnson 1979 game for NBC) all rolled into one.  He called eight NCAA titles in nine years as UCLA voice.  Enberg often said the most historically significant game he ever called was Houston’s 1968 win over UCLA at the Astrodome – Elvin Hayes over Lew Alcindor.


  • Think of the guys he worked with – Hall of Famers, all.  Al McGuire, Merlin Olsen, Billy Packer, Don Drysdale, Tony Gwynn (on San Diego Padres games) and even the legendary John Wooden.  Our dear friend Don Orsillo succeeded Enberg in the TV booth with the Padres.


  • God speed, Mr. Enberg.  He has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.  It truly doesn’t do the man justice.


  • ESPN President John Skipper announced his resignation this week, citing an on-going battle with substance abuse as his reason to step away from steering the ship.  He had just re-upped his contract, and gave a pretty big “rah-rah” speech to the masses at a recent mandatory meeting, too. 


  • One thing ESPN could use is a steadying influence during the navigation of recent rough seas, with employee layoffs, declining subscriber numbers and off-air controversies dominating the conversation.  Skipper’s resignation won’t do much to smooth those waters.


  • Ex-AM 1510 show host Ryen Russillo is leaving ESPN Radio, although he’ll still produce a weekly podcast through next summer.  Rumor has it he’s headed to Barstool Sports after more than a decade of on-air work at ESPN and some recent off-air troubles. 


  • Christmas gifts I never got, and always wanted, include the infamous Oscar Meyer “weenie whistle,” popularized in the first “Santa Clause” movie with Tim Allen as Santa.  Remember the scene when Judge Reinhold opened the case in awe and said, “a weenie whistle!?”  Always wanted one of those, after watching countless thousands of Oscar Meyer commercials while a kid, and eating thousands of their hot dogs.


  • Always wanted “a real football helmet,” too.  There is a scene in “A Miracle on 34th Street” where the prosecutor’s son reminds Kris Kringle that he wants “a real football helmet” for Christmas.  That was me.  Not really, but at that age (about 8-10) it’s exactly what I wanted.  Didn’t get it.  Had to wait until I was about 12.


  • And don’t judge – but I remember asking my mother years ago for an Easy Bake Oven.  My sister got it, instead, but I darn sure used it.  The thinking was, to cook up some snacks I could hide in my room.  But that dumb light bulb used as a heating element never got hot enough to bake anything – so my snacks were usually nothing more than chocolate goop.  Still good, though. 


  • My hope is you receive all the good wishes you ask for through the holidays – including the weenie whistles and Easy Bake Ovens. 


  • Joe posted on Facebook this week on the Friars’ recent misfortune: “Friars finish 17-14. Softer than baby poo. If three seniors still ‘don’t have an identity,’ they’ll finish in 7th place.”  Joe:  I don’t think you’re wrong one bit. But I would also say that everyone loses in college basketball, and PC is certainly going through some trying times right now with injuries. Emmitt Holt’s loss can’t be understated to this team. But sometimes, stuff happens, and the guys left behind must pick it up and play. Mental toughness certainly needs to be cultivated, and continually developed.


  • 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, 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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