Mike Shalin's Working Press: Never is heard a discouraging wordBy MIKE SHALIN
January 15. 2018 10:42PM
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — After all these years of winning, all these trips to the AFC title game and Super Bowl, there have been many consistencies in the way things happen at Gillette Stadium.
One of them is to never — EVER — say anything bad about the other teams. Whether it be a winless team during the regular season or a playoff opponent, there can be nothing the other team can use as motivation.
Leave that to the other guys.
So when Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey guarantees his team is going to the Super Bowl, the guys at Gillette laugh it off and play it the Patriot way.
Matthew Slater and Duron Harmon were asked by yours truly Monday to react to what Ramsey said.
Slater smiled and said, “Man, that guy’s really good. He should be confident, because he’s very, very good. The good Lord made that guy and he said, ‘Let there be corner’ and there he is, so I’d be confident if I were him as well.”
Said Harmon: “Hey, man, Jalen Ramsay’s a good player. He talks a lot of trash, that’s part of his game and you can’t take it away from him. He’s confident. He should be confident in his team. He has a really good football team. The top two AFC teams are left and he’s a part of one of them, so … his approach to the game is different than ours but we can’t knock him for it.
“We know they’re going to come ready to play and we just gotta match their type of physicality and also just their emotion and their readiness to get ready to play.”
The Patriots are heading for their seventh straight title game. Remember, though, they were 3-3 in the other six so nothing is guaranteed.
The Patriots again showed Sunday that there really isn’t much that can divert them from the task at hand.
“This time of the year there’s no such thing to me as distractions, unless you have some issue going on with your family or something like that there’s nothing else that can distract you,” said Devin McCourty. “I don’t care what comes out, what’s said, our goal from the beginning of the season was to be able to play in the playoffs and try and go out there and win games in the playoffs.
“There’s nothing right now that can deter us from that. We’re going to stay focused on that and try and play our best game each week that we earn the right to go back out there.”
Rob Gronkowski had no trouble noticing the eight sacks turned in by the Patriots’ defense Sunday.
“It’s great. I mean our defense balled tonight,” he said after the game. “They did excellent. Whenever they’re playing well, the offense has got to play well. They were playing super well. They had eight sacks. I mean I saw up on the Jumbotron or whatever ‘Patriots record.’ That just shows how good they played tonight. It’s always great to see that and it was good for the guys.”
Cute note from @BortlesFacts: Playoff Losses, Tom Brady: 9, Blake Bortles: 0
Davis in town
Remember last season, when Celtics fans angered Jae Crowder by recruiting Gordon Hayward? Well, Anthony Davis and his Pelicans are at TD Garden tonight as the Celtics get back at it.
The difference, of course, between Hayward and Davis is that Davis is not about to become a free agent. Bringing him to Boston would require a trade — a big, big trade. It probably won’t happen, but there won’t be a Celtics fan in the building tonight who won’t be dreaming about it.
Sunday in New York, Davis scored 48 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in an overtime comeback win over the Knicks at MSG. The Pelicans are 22-20, 11-11 on the road.
Markelle Fultz, who almost became a Celtic in the draft, is still troubled by a shoulder injury that won’t allow him to shoot properly, leaving him a long way off from a return. The Sixers are in Boston Thursday night.
Don’t look now, but Lonzo Ball, the other top pick with Fultz and Jayson Tatum, is playing much better — and is currently battling a knee injury suffered in London that doesn’t appear serious. He is slated to play tonight.
This from column pal Lyle Spencer on Twitter over the weekend — the Lakers with four straight wins: “For all you Ball haters urging trade: #Lakers 4-1 in Zo’s return after 9 straight losses. His team has outscored opponents by 67 points in those 4 wins with pure PG on the floor.” He followed that with “+68 points, not 67 with Lonzo on floor last 4 games. 0 turnovers in 43 minutes today pretty amazing for a rookie PG who hasn’t shot a FT in 6 games.”
In other words, forget the dad, this kid might be pretty good.”
Jaylen Brown said he noticed one of the rims in London was slightly off. Philly’s JJ Redick said the same thing, with Brown telling the coaches, who didn’t react. Obviously, both teams shot half the game at that rim.
Monday at TD Garden, the Bruins were able to battle back from an 0-2 deficit but fell in overtime on a Tyler Seguin goal.
To paraphrase our pal Bob Lobel: Why can’t the Bruins get guys like this.
“It’s special and it’s weird, playing here still,” Seguin said. “You know, I enjoy anthems, looking up and seeing the banner for teams that I was a part of, so it’s always going to be special, you know, playing here and having old teammates on the team, so, also happy to only come here once a year, so we’ll take it.”
Andrew Cogliano was well on his way to becoming the NHL’s all-time iron man. The game he played Saturday night was his 830th straight. But a head hit on Adrian Kempe of the Kings landed him a two-game suspension, thus ending the streak. That left Keith Yandle with the longest current NHL streak, at 676 games. Doug Jarvis holds the record, at 964.
Hall of shame
As we’re near the Hall of Fame announcement, Famer Tony La Russa, who could be called an enabler as Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire did what they did under his nose, thinks steroid guys should get into Cooperstown — with an asterisk.
“I do believe that it’s a black mark, as far as what your production was, but you know, pitchers (are) using it, hitters are using it, and if you were great during that period, I would not vote against you,” the new Red Sox exec said recently. “I just would maybe have an asterisk on your plaque, and I know that’s not what Joe (Morgan) was saying but there’s already been some guys that you question that have been inducted.”
With the Brewers said to be in on Mike Moustakas, signing the third baseman could mean they would trade Travis Shaw — with both New York teams seen as potential suitors.
Shaw had a terrific season in 2017, batting .273 with 31 homers, 101 RBIs and .862 OPS. Clearly, he could be another lethal bat at Yankee Stadium.
Here and there
Bentley University women’s basketball coach Barbara Stevens has 999 wins and takes her first stab at 1,000 Wednesday against Adelphi — and she will join Pat Summitt, Tara VanDerveer, Sylvia Hatchell and Geno Auriemma in that exclusive club. … This tweet from colleague Dave Laurila of Fangraphs: “Mike Trout has 201 home runs and a .976 OPS through his age 25-season. Mel Ott had 211 home runs and a .966 OPS through his age-25 season.” … Both Brad Stevens and Hayward were at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Monday to see Butler lose to Providence College 70-60. … Kyrie Irving on wanting Gronkowski in his Nike commercial: “There’s one person I gotta have in this (commercial) and that’s Gronk. It makes the commercial that much better, just throwing Gronk in there. I love his interviews. ... Man, watching that dude do interviews is hilarious.” … Howie Kendrick signing for the Nationals was a good one. … A woman had her wheelchair stolen Saturday night at Gillette — and Robert Kraft bought her a new one and Cindy Morais will be Kraft’s guest at the title game. ... Finally, Andrew McCutchen, headed for the Giants, tweeting on Monday’s holiday: “Martin Luther King Jr. A man who was killed for standing up for what he believed in. Change has come but there’s more change that needs to take place in this nation. How can We strive toward his dream? “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” #MLK.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.