Thinking out loud…while wondering if we’ll ever learn to think for ourselves…
· “We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools.” – The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
· G.O.A.T. = TB12 in his 14th conference championship game. Either that, or he’s the luckiest man to have ever lived and played pro football…and I need a little of that juju to rub off on me these days, know what I’m sayin’?
· Bruce Arians said the Patriots didn’t allow TB12 to ‘coach.’ And all he does is ‘sit back and watch’ TB12 sometimes.
· Well shoot, Bruce. The team DID win six Super Bowls while TB12 was here, so…they probably all knew a little about what they were doing. Including the guys with whistles.
· If the loss to the Bucs was his last dance, Drew Brees leaves the game with incredible numbers. But does he leave as an eventual Hall-of-Famer? His Super Bowl win sez he does.
· The Saints won 49 games in the past four years without getting to a Super Bowl, much less winning one. The Elias Sports Bureau sez that’s the most, ever, by a team over that time without getting to The Big One.
· So…the shortcomings ain’t all on Brees’ shoulders. May have to go higher up than that.
· Philip Rivers? Lots of numbers. A great, 17-year career. Not a Hall-of-Fame one.
· Ain’t so ruff in the Buff right now, as one-time Buffalo Braves coach Cotton Fitzsimmons used to tell me.
· Not entirely sure they have the offensive depth to win it all, but if the Chiefs don’t have Patrick Mahomes as his usual self…well, it’s why they still play the game.
· Tweet of the Week, from @OnlyinBOS: “Robert Kraft purchased the Patriots twenty-seven years ago today (Thursday) for a then-record $172 million. ‘My objective in buying the Patriots is to help bring a championship to New England.’ Today, the team is worth $4.4 billion.”
· With six Lombardi’s in the trophy case, that’s a little better than six times the return, amiright? And in case you’ve forgotten, Patriot fans, 19 years ago this week was the “Tuck Rule” game as well. You’re welcome.
· But 27 years ago? 19 years ago? Time moves fast when you’re in the middle of a dynasty.
· Does anyone really believe Deshaun Watson could become the next New England QB? Not if you have any sanity intact. But crazy things can – and do – happen all the time.
· The J-E-T-S hiring of Robert Saleh as head coach might – might – be the best move they’ve made in New York since Joe Willie Namath’s Super Bowl guarantee. He’s impressive.
· But NFL head coaches who have never been head coaches get little-to-no room for error. We’ll see if the Jets still gonna Jet.
· Jerod Mayo needs to remember this as he pursues future opportunities. It ain’t easy, even if it must start somewhere. Josh McDaniels is different, of course. He’s had experience. He should be ready to move on if he’s any kind of a competitor.
· Hence his reported assemblage of a staff for the Philadelphia Eagles, following his interview with the team this week. It didn’t work out in Philly, but I’m not certain that’s a bad thing.
· Sarah Thomas will be the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl game, on the crew as the down judge. That’s great and all but shouldn’t be a concern. Just be good at what you do – is the concern. And she has been.
· Not sure I understand entirely why Baylor head women’s hoop coach Kim Mulkey – an all-American athlete while I was a student reporter – lashed out at the NCAA this week over playing basketball for m-m-money.
· “The NCAA has to have the almighty dollar from the men’s tournament. The almighty dollar is more important than the truth and welfare of me, the players or anybody else,” is what she said in the aftermath of her Bears’ loss to Iowa State. She also has recently recovered from a bout with Covid-19.
· Well, duh. That almighty dollar, Kim, pays your almighty salary – which is one of the highest in the game. It also allows thousands of individuals working within your sport – and the men’s as well – to continue earning a living during this pandemic. Like you do.
· You can, you know, opt out. Many have, including the entire Ivy League. Not sure of your point here. Other than…stupid is as stupid does?
· PC’s women’s basketball team is still sidelined, through this weekend and next week but scheduled to return Jan. 30th at St. John’s. Bryant’s women also paused this past week, through Jan. 29th at least. URI’s ladies had false positive tests, and they’re back on the court this weekend.
· More good news on the local front – the Rhode Island Interscholastic League has authorized games can begin again in basketball, indoor track & field, hockey, gymnastics and swimming. Massachusetts’ MIAA sez spring sports may be able to hold tournaments.
· Small steps. But crawl, before you walk.
· To say the Friars have a big, rough week would be a classic understatement. They hadn’t lost four straight games in eight years before Wednesday night in Omaha, NE.
· And they still haven’t. Providence has now won six of its’ last seven against Top 25-ranked teams. Nate Watson’s performance at Creighton Wednesday was reminiscent of classic college basketball from yesteryear, back when the low-post, traditional big man ruled the game. Think George Mikan.
· Ok, ok. Too far back. But look him up. See if you agree?
· The emergence of freshman guard Alyn Breed may end up being a saving bit of grace for PC, who desperately need a calming influence on the floor. His poise belies his experience.
· TWITBE 7.3 this week features Butler head coach LaVall Jordan, Marquette guard D.J. Carton and sportswriter/author Dana O’Neil, who is working on a book to be published this fall on the Big East. Plus, the latest in scheduling news and more – download on your favorite podcast provider or on westwood1sports.com, bigeast.com, and listen live on Sirius/XM (11 am ET Saturday) or your favorite Westwood One station.
· Most impressive to me this week? Freshman guard Posh Alexander as St. John’s beat UConn at UConn for the first time in 21 years. Whoa. Alexander has game. And Mike Anderson can coach.
· Hard to believe, but Villanova is back after missing almost a full month of play due to their Covid pause. Fair or not, they’re thrown right back into the fire pit and get the Friars Saturday. Plus, a new recruit is coming in, Trey Patterson, who will be eligible next week.
· He was #33 in the ESPN Top 100 last year. The rich stay rich.
· More Covid pauses – on the men’s side, Xavier, Butler and Boston College are sidelined this week, and UMass postponed a game. Such is the way of life these days.
· Rhody had a 17-point, first half lead at Duquesne, but déjà vu showed up and the Rams repeated a two-year old meltdown in Pittsburgh Wednesday night against the Dukes. Makhel Mitchell may be less heralded than his injured twin Makhi, but right now he’s giving his team a chance with back-to-back double-doubles.
· What they do with that chance is a different story. The game with George Washington Sunday has been postponed due to Covid protocol in the Colonials’ program.
· Atlantic-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said this week athletic officials across the country are concerned over a possible federal shutdown that could essentially take the ball out of the hands of schools across the country, and perhaps cause a ‘pause’ in the current season.
· After splitting with Saint Francis last week, Bryant has a 14-day reprieve in the schedule…but not from a Covid-pause. Present scheduling has them next facing Fairleigh Dickinson on Jan. 30th.
· With the start-ups and looking ahead to the spring, the (poison) Ivy League still says no sports for the foreseeable future.
· It’s an easy decision for the Ivies, of course. But don’t think for a minute they’re just being protective of their ‘student-athletes.’ Puhleeze. Let’s call it as it really is – they don’t make the TV money other schools and leagues do…and what they need is to keep endowments healthy, thank you.
· Mighty Notre Dame? Hit with a one-year probation for football recruiting violations. See what getting into the ACC will get ya?
· CBS’ Jon Rothstein reported this week the Big 10 is discussing moving its’ postseason tournament from Chicago to Indianapolis, ahead of the NCAA Tournament using the facilities and infrastructure that will already be in place for The Big Dance.
· The Big East, at this moment, is still planning on its’ tournament at MSG in New York. With or without fans, and probably without.
· UConn’s Geno Auriemma passed Tennessee legend Pat Summitt for #2 on the all-time wins list this week, earning his 1099th victory in a 103-35 rolling of Butler. He is just six wins behind Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer.
· Speaking of the women’s game, my buddy Edward in East Providence might be pleased to know the NCAA is waiving the .500 rule for teams to be eligible for an at-large spot in the women’s tournament this year.
· Oh goody. The March Madness equivalent of ‘everyone gets a trophy.’
· More technology on the way, especially in college hoop – ShotTracker is a sensor-based system that will deliver real-time stats and analytics using movable and wearable technology…even computer chips inside the basketballs.
· The Pac-12 will be getting a new Grand Poobah, as commissioner Larry Scott steps down in June. They’ll need someone to negotiate a new media rights package when the current one expires in 2024 – and those figures are expected to rise for all Football 5 conferences in the next go-round.
· Where does the Big East fit into this equation? They won’t match Football 5 money, not by a long shot. But with UConn now in the mix, it’s reasonable to expect member schools will look to Fox (or someone else) for an increase on the $4.5 million or so they currently receive each year.
· Especially when SEC schools will reap approximately $60 million annually starting in 2024, per school, thanks to their new deal with ESPN.
· And UConn ran a $43.5 million athletic department budget deficit this past year.
· Hockey East announced this week they will schedule games on a week-to-week basis from this point forward, to maximize playing opportunities for league members. The 18th ranked Friars get #8 UMass in a home and home series this weekend. The 7th ranked women’s team gets #4 Northeastern home and home.
· And don’t look now, but a familiar name is perched atop the men’s national poll this week – Boston College. The #1-ranked Eagles get UConn this weekend.
· The Providence Bruins finally have a season schedule, 26 games beginning with a home opener (in Marlboro, MA) on Feb. 5 against Bridgeport. 13 home, 13 away.
· Thursday notwithstanding, saying the big Bruins are struggling to score is overstating the obvious.
· The sooner Pasta can get back from his hip surgery the better…but his immediate return to the lineup probably won’t pay immediate dividends. Best to back off expectations.
· You think the Celtics are struggling post-NBA bubble with Covid? Try Washington. Apparently, the Wizards have a few free spirits on that team…seven players and a staffer tested positive 11 days ago, and they still haven’t returned to the floor. Bradley Beal told the media this week they’re “fighting the league” over resuming play.
· Memphis is also down eight players. Here’s a hint, fellas. Wear a mask. Stay home. Don’t interact, except with each other when you must, like when you’re on the floor. And treat your job like the privilege it is.
· Absolutely agree with several writers, pundits and fans – I’m beginning to lose interest, already, in the Red Sox.
· No splash, no Sale. But Martin Perez is back, so there’s that.
· Now ex-Mets’ GM Jared Porter spent 12 years in the Red Sox organization, beginning as an intern in 2004 before moving onto the Cubs. Apparently, he picked up a few bad habits along the way. Just sayin’.
· Dignified. Graceful. That’s how I’ll always remember the true home run king, Henry Aaron. I’ll never forget sharing a special moment with my mother, who ran to get me (I was outside with a friend) so I could watch him break Babe Ruth’s record on TV back in ’74.
· She knew he was special. I did too. So do fans and baseball historians, everywhere. Hammerin’ Hank is an all-time nickname, without a doubt. He passed Friday at age 86, having just received his Covid vaccine 2 ½ weeks ago…trying to set an example for others.
· Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton, along with HOFer Dennis Eckersley, were the top two pitchers on my old, Strat-O-Matic baseball team back in the late ‘70’s. Yes, a precursor to Fantasy Sports. I had the time for those back then, don’cha know?
· Sutton passed away this week at age 75, the 9th baseball Hall member to leave us in the past 10 months. Aaron’s passing makes it 10 iin 10 months. Sutton was durable, playing 20 seasons with at least 30 starts. Consistent. Loved his ‘fro underneath that Dodger cap, and his clubhouse scrap with Steve Garvey.
· RIP Don, you were a workhorse. For my Strat-O-Matic guys, too.
· The Australian Open Tennis Championships were scheduled to start this week, but because of Covid protocols, 72 players have required quarantine upon their arrival…and the tournament won’t begin until February 8th.
· Seventy-two? Perhaps that’s why the Aussie response to Covid has been so widely praised. Even those who test negative are only allowed five hours per day outside of their hotel room.
· My buddy “Big E” sez while on a tour of Holland a couple of years ago, his group stopped at a cheese farm where the proprietor showed her goats grazing on a hill. ‘These are the older goats, and we usually put them out to pasture when they no longer produce for our cheeses,’ she said.
· She asked the tour group ‘what do you guys do with your old goats in America?’ Sensing his moment, “Big E” offered, ‘we send them on tours like this one.’
· A rare, ’52 Mickey Mantle rookie trading card fetched an industry-record $5.2 million last week. During the pandemic, the trading card industry has been a hot one for investors and fans alike.
· And to think I used to put those things in the spokes of my bike when I was 11. But it sounded cool.
· Michigan has become the 11th state to approve mobile sports betting. New York is considering making the move, and Virginia is launching soon. Not like anyone needs a boost in tax revenue or jobs these days, do they?
· Except in Massachusetts, perhaps. Not for nuthin’, but 94% of New Jersey’s $6 billion sports betting handle was taken online last year.
· Philosophical question: If an NBA player took the Covid-19 vaccine…or NFL, MLB or NHL player, for that matter…would that make you more inclined to take the vaccine yourself?
· Reminds me of an old line from the movie, Animal House…when Eric “Otter” Stratton turned to Greg Marmalard and asked, “Greg, look at my thumb? Gee, you’re dumb.”
· 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? It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and join in on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...
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