Jamie Rhodes/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Who knew Rhode Island and Massachusetts like gambling so much?

May 04, 2018 - 6:01 pm

By John Rooke

Thinking out loud…while wondering how Ken and Barbie have managed all these years?

  • With horse racing’s Triple Crown now at hand and the Kentucky Derby going off this weekend, would you be surprised to know that Rhode Island is the 12th-most gambling-addicted state?  Massachusetts comes in at #19. 


  • Yeah, let’s keep building those casinos.  It’ll work eventually.


  • Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine all pale by comparison to the two Top-20 New England denizens of debauchery.  Do we laugh, cry or merely shrug our shoulders at this news?  Meh.  Pass me a Keno card, will ya?


  • For your reference, Nevada is Numero Uno, which shouldn’t be surprising.  Nebraska is last.  Or is that actually first?  Rhode Island is also tied for first – that’s #1 in the nation – in highest lottery sales per capita.  With Massachusetts. 


  • Looking for a rooting interest in the Derby?  How about pulling for Mike Repole, who is involved in ownership with two entries (Noble Indy and Vino Rosso) under trainer Todd Pletcher.  Channel 12’s Yianni Kourakis tweeted this week Repole is a Narragansett, RI resident.


  • Hey, could someone tell Drew Pomeranz and David Price that spring training was over more than a month ago?  That would be great.


  • I’ve seen more meatballs thrown down the middle of the plate over each of their past two starts than I’ve seen on the menu recently at Angelo’s on Federal Hill.


  • Price seems to be returning to his “I could give a crap” attitude and performance.  An 8.22 ERA over his last 5 turns?  Ownership of four out of the Sox’ nine losses?  When do we get the announcement of the impending surgery?


  • Yeah, the boys of summer are back, just as the weather starts to turn in our favor. 


  • Maybe this is hitting low, below the belt.  Maybe it isn’t.  But Jackie Bradley – sorry, I refuse to call him “Junior” because I don’t know his Dad, nor is his father on this team – might want to also wake up and realize spring training is long since over with. 


  • I don’t care if you’re Spiderman in the outfield.  If you can’t hit above the Mendoza line (that’s north of a .200 average for you newbies) you’re pretty much yesterday’s news.  Dude, lean in and take a pitch in the arm to get on base, will ya?


  • Defense don’t score runs.  Defense don’t sell tickets.  Defense don’t get the ratings.  Defense don’t, well, don’t do much. 


  • Mookie Betts is a different story, a different player.  He can combine his defensive prowess with ever-improving bat skills.  His three tater-game against Kansas City this week was as impressive as they come. 


  • And his 4th career 3-HR game is one more than Ted Williams had in his lifetime, in less than one-quarter of the Splendid Splinter’s entire career?  C’mon now.  This is the stuff legends are made of. 


  • Unfair to put that one on Mookie’s back?  Hey, this is who we are around here.  Promise leads to expectations, which leads to demands.  Just sayin’.


  • But Mookie is delivering, unlike a few of his teammates.  He leads the majors in homers.  This is what the Sox do to us, when they raise expectations.  There is no “feel good” grace period.  Mookie’s hitting bombs?  Keep swinging!  The team is winning?  They should win more!  The team is losing?  They stink!


  • Guess all of that “uppercut” angle stuff the Sox are going with this year at the plate seems to be working, huh?  Six grannies in the opening month of the season, and none for the entire year last season? 


  • And while Alex Cora has managed to pull mostly all the right strings and levers so far, his best managerial move may be the one he hasn’t (yet) made – and that’s moving Betts from the top of the order to take advantage of his power surge. 


  • In a word – don’t.


  • Not for nuthin’, but Don’t Mess with Mookie.  That’s a tee shirt waiting to be printed.


  • It’s coming…Major League Baseball to Europe.  In London, June 29-30, 2019 for the first time in the regular season.  Red Sox vs. Yankees, with Boston as the home team.  This is NEW England, after all.


  • Good to hear, finally, that the Rhode Island House is pursuing an agreement on the new Pawsox stadium.  ‘Bout time.  Worcester has been a serious option.  And Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is up for re-election.  Do the math.


  • Oh, and Mr. Speaker?  Getting this done before the session is up at the end of June would be preferable, thanks.


  • Schedule updates for the Friars – hearing that UMass-Lowell could be an early season opponent at the Dunk, and Jon Rothstein reports Providence will open with South Carolina at Mohegan Sun in November’s Hall of Fame Tournament.  The PC-SC winner will face either this year’s national finalist Michigan or George Washington.


  • And mark your calendars – the PC-URI annual bloodletting returns to the Dunk on Saturday, December 1st.  Next season will be longer than usual, from November 6th to April 8th.


  • A rule change college basketball coaches love – they now have up to four hours per week to work on individual skills with their team during the off-season.  Should be a step in the right direction for developing young talent.


  • Speaking of development, his professional options could be increasing by the day – or certainly by the event.  PC’s Rodney Bullock will be attending the Professional Basketball Combine May 22-23, a second-chance event to give players an opportunity to be seen/scouted by pro coaches and teams. 


  • Been by the Providence campus lately?  The new Ruane Center has a roof.  An-ti-ci-pation…it’s making me wait.


  • Villanovans will be watching the NBA Combine rather closely this month.  Two expected attendees are Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, both of whom are staying in June’s draft.  But underclassmen Omari Spellman and Donte DiVincenzo have also been invited.  Both, right now, are expected to return to the Main Line.


  • If either one plays next season for the Wildcats, Villanova is still the preseason favorite in the Big East.  If they both return, the Cats can compete for another national title.  If they both decide to close the door to the college game, it opens another door for the rest of the league. 


  • Right into the throne room, including the Friars.  But Nova won’t make it easy on anyone.


  • Seton Hall lost two more guards to transfers this week – Eron Gordon and Jordan Walker.  And this after graduating four seniors in the program.  Ouch.


  • I know they have a new head basketball coach, but David Cox had his URI coaches’ show on the radio earlier this week.  In May?  Either it’s about six weeks too late, or about six months too early.


  • Boston College’s Jerome Robinson has made it known he intends to stay in the NBA draft, closing his career at The Heights.  The Eagles were a fringe Top 25 candidate for next season with Robinson still in the fold.  Now?  Jim Christian’s rebuild isn’t over, and he just received a two-year contract extension.


  • It’s been a slower-than-usual season for the local college baseball nines.  URI does have an eight-game winning streak heading into a weekend series with LaSalle, and an upcoming series with both Dayton and St. Bonaventure as they make a push for seeding in the Atlantic-10 tourney.


  • Bryant, which fell to URI last week, is battling with Wagner for their accustomed top spot in the NEC this year.  Redshirt freshman Ryan Ward from Millbury, MA has a 30-game hit streak intact (40-straight games on base) going into this weekend against Stony Brook and UMass. 


  • Ward is the 4th player in the country this season to have at least a 30-game hitting streak at the Division I level, which is also a school record.  The Bulldogs have played 44 games thus far.


  • The lax update – Bryant reached the NEC semifinals, but lost to Robert Morris as a #2 overall seed in the conference.  Brown placed five players on the all-Ivy lacrosse team and faced 9th-ranked Cornell in the Ivy semis Friday night.  PC finished its’ season 5-10 overall in the Big East, but included a win over Brown.


  • Safety alert!  The NFL is changing rules around the kickoff, if only to keep it a part of the sport – rather than have the violence completely wipe out a traditional play.  I mean, how would teams come from behind without being able to attempt an on-side kick?


  • In effect, the new kickoff rules will make the play more like a punt and punt return.  The kicking team won’t have a five-yard head start any longer.  All wedge blocking, including two-man wedges, will be outlawed.  And the biggest change – eight of the 11 men on the return team will have to line up within 15 yards of the front line, and blocking won’t be allowed in that area.


  • Like I said, safety first.  More concussions and more injuries happen on the kickoff than any other single play during a game.  And if these changes don’t help keep players on the field, the kickoff will find itself going the way of the Dodo Bird.


  • Tom Brady ‘pleads the Fifth’ in his feeling appreciated by the team?  Why do we care?  Because he’s Tom Brady.  The entire interview he gave to Jim Gray this past week is a perfect example of how some in the media take things out of context and throw it out there, just to stir up a story.


  • After a 20-year relationship with your spouse, sure, you’re going to have some issues.  But you still have love and appreciation, don’t you?  Wait a minute, don’t answer that.


  • I don’t blame some athletes for hating media in New England.  But not all media acts like seven-year-old kids.  I’ve told both college and pro athletes to simply live by the Golden Rule.  It’s a good one.


  • Rumors persist the Patriots wanted to trade up for a shot at Baker Mayfield.  But when the Browns stepped in (and stepped in it, btw), suddenly, the Patriots realized they still had the QB of the future already on the roster. 


  • Eight draft day trades, a new team record.  Kinda says BB hated this draft, doesn’t it?  Especially after he couldn’t trade up for a shot at Mayfield.  That’s his way of pouting.


  • Good draft info nugget here:  All 34 points the Patriots had in Super Bowl LI were scored by a player taken in Round 4 or later.


  • We’re still a little more than four months away from the regular season kicking off (if we still have kick-offs), and the J-E-T-S are already giving us bulletin board material.  Receiver Quincy Enunwa told two radio programs last week, including Sirius/XM, that the Patriots are “vulnerable.” 


  • Good ol’ J-E-T-S.  Good to have some things you can always count on.  Like stupidity.


  • He certainly doesn’t toot his own horn, but maybe he should.  And others should for him.  Brad Stevens can flat-out coach.  Kudos to Danny Ainge for a lot of things Celtic, but huge props for his recognizing Stevens’ abilities before other teams did.


  • Think about it.  Stevens took a Horizon League team, Butler, to two straight Final Fours.  Now, Butler is in the Big East after a one-year Atlantic-10 stopover.  And Stevens, for my money, is the best coach in the NBA with what he’s done (and currently doing) for the Celtics.  It’s not even close.


  • Bruce Cassidy’s coaching the Bruins has been pretty good, too.  He’s blessed with some great young (if inconsistent) talent, and part of that is knowing what his talent can do – having coached much of it up in Providence previously.  


  • Great tweet from PC Men’s Hockey this week, an an ex-Friar made good for Winnipeg: “(Brandon) Tanev’s four-game goal streak is the longest such streak by a Friar in the Stanley Cup playoffs. His four goals are tied for the second-highest total by a Friar in a playoff season (Tom Fitzgerald). Fernando Pisani’s 14 goals in 2005-06 with Edmonton tops the list. #GoFriars”


  • My buddy “Big E” sez he spoke with his pastor this week about relating to his precocious grandson. The pastor related a story to him about a lesson he learned recently from another five-year-old.  He watched a young boy reach for a door bell on the front porch of a house near his own home, but the kid couldn’t quite get to it.  So, the pastor walked up, put his hand on the young boy’s shoulder and gave the bell a good, hard push.  He said to the boy, “now what, young man?”  And the little guy replied, “now, we run!”  


  • The homogenization of America continues. The Boy Scouts are changing their name, to be inclusive of girls.  Scouts BSA is the new name.  The BSA part still stands for “Boy Scouts of America.”


  • I won’t bore you with the details, but I’m a 3rd generation Eagle Scout in my family and have always been proud of the accomplishment.  If a young woman, aged 11 to 17, can do what I did – what all Eagle Scouts have done – and complete those requirements to-the-letter, more power to her. 


  • But if they lighten the load, so to speak, just to be ‘inclusive?’  It cheapens the accomplishment for everyone, now and in the past. 


  • I am not sexist.  I am all for equal opportunity wherever it can be had.  But if this makes me non-inclusive, so be it.  Boys have the Boy Scouts, girls have the Girl Scouts.  What’s wrong with this set-up, exactly? 


  • If girls are feeling left out of the ‘scouting experience’ and don’t like what they have, perhaps that’s an issue they should address with the Girl Scouts? 


  • One of the great lessons in life that we seem to be NOT teaching our kids these days is – you can’t always get what you want.


  • Didn’t Mick and the Stones sing that at one time? 


  • “But if you try sometime, well you might just find – you get what you need.”  That’s the remainder of the chorus to that one – and a subtle reminder that patience is, indeed, a lost virtue today in the era of “I want what I want, and I want it now!”


  • Next thing you know, Barbie dolls won’t have boobs, and Ken dolls won’t have geni – wait, wut?


  • @MikeGorms tweeted this week, in response to a photo of Ed Cooley in the middle of the Ruane Center construction on the PC campus: “Man, they are flying on that thing!”    


  • @Mike – I was also amazed at the rapid progress being made on the new basketball facility.  Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket Call reported this week the Ruane Center would have the basketball floors installed in the next few weeks, with a goal of moving into new offices by mid-August.  The dedication of the building should be scheduled for the end of September.


  • 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.

Comments ()