A LOOK around at some news and notes as spring training games begin:
The baseball world — and yours truly — lost a great friend when the Globe’s Nick Cafardo died suddenly in Fort Myers the other day. His death led to recalling the good times together in our 35 years of knowing each other.
Brown or yellow?
We’re talking mustard here folks.
Appearing on XM radio with Ed Randall and Kevin Kennedy on Saturday morning, I found myself thinking about the ongoing battle Cafardo had with Worcester Telegram colleague Bill Ballou – the kinds of things that go on that have nothing to do with baseball.
I couldn’t recall which one liked which, so I e-mailed Ballou who told me, “I was brown, he was yellow.”
I called the show’s producer back and told him to get it on the air. He did.
Soon after my chat, Yankees announcer Suzyn Waldman texted me the following:
“I’m in the car driving to JetBlue (for Saturday’s game). When I heard about Nikki one of the first things I thought of was … the bleeping yellow mustard. Oh my God; great to hear you.”
These are the weird things you think about at times like this. These things – and all the good things you see and hear people say.
In short, NO ONE disliked Nick Cafardo.
That’s why Alex Cora didn’t take media questions Friday – he just spoke about Nick for 7½ minutes, saying, “Let’s actually celebrate his life. I told the guys just go out there and have a great day. Let’s have a blast on the field. He loved the game.”
And he died doing what he loved doing.
Next up is we have to hope he will be posthumously be awarded with the Spink Award that puts him where he belongs – in the Hall of Fame.
Pats in the crosshairs
Just what the Patriots need: another reason for the country to hate them.
There are so many questions to be answered in light of this Robert Kraft scandal that came to light late in the week. There are jokes. There are already names – column pal Jack Brown called it SpaGate while others are already using INFLATE-Gate – but there is a serious issued here that can’t be overlooked.
Personally, I’m not going to judge what Kraft did or didn’t do. That’s his business. The alleged charges are misdemeanors. He got caught in a sting and will pay – likely in terms of an NFL suspension (yes, owners have a conduct code). If he did what they said he did, my only question is why a rich man would go to a strip mall to satisfy his needs? All the money in the world would suggest home “delivery” would be an option.
I don’t care about any of that.
What I do care about is a tweet from educator Juliette Kayyem that read: “Dear Boston writers, editors and @Patriots fans: the Robert Kraft story is not a sports story, it is a slavery and rape story. No reason to be emotionally confused about it. Thank you.”
The NFL is investigating and there will be punishment if Kraft is in fact guilty of this crime. Pats fans will scream that commissioner Roger Goodell is picking on their team, but the Colts’ Jim Irsay was suspended from running the team for six games and fined $500,000 for his 2014 drunk driving charge.
The league code reads: “everyone who is part of the league must refrain from conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL.” The policy also states: “It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful.”
You will read all kinds of wild things about possible punishment. Former linebacker and always outspoken Bart Scott called for the Pats to forfeit all draft picks this year. Pay no attention, unless you want to laugh.
Blows a tire
With Barack Obama and Ken Griffey Jr. among those looking on, and with people spending thousands in the secondary market for tickets, Zion Williamson‘s shoe exploded the other night, leaving the Duke freshman with a knee injury that apparently isn’t serious.
But just like the Kraft story, the real story here isn’t how many games Williamson will have to miss. It’s about the fact that he shouldn’t even have been on that Cameron Indoor Stadium court.
The NBA needs to go back to immediate entry into the league. Make it an age thing – you have to be 18. OK, we’ll go with that. But Williamson could have lost hundreds of millions playing a basketball game in his only year of college. He has a pro body. Let him go learn in the pros against great competition.
A look around
…Tip of the cap to Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon. MassLive’s Chris Smith tweeted: “Sandy Leon followed Red Sox World Series title by bringing 2,000 toys to Venezuela and giving them to children at his old baseball field.”
…After getting rewarded with four compensation picks, here’s what the Patriots have coming in the draft: 1st round — 32 overall; 2nd round — 56 (from Bears); 2nd round- 64; 3rd round 73 (Lions); 3rd round- 97 (compensatory); 3rd round- 101 (compensatory); 4th round- 134; 6th round — 205th (compensatory); 7th round — 241 (Eagles); 7th round — 245 (Browns); 7th round – 248; 7th round — 252 (compensatory).
…What the New Orleans Pelicans are doing with Anthony Davis, limiting his playing time after refusing the trade him, is a crime. Let’s see if they refund any part of their fans’ ticket prices every time they throw a game.
…David Price had several reasons for staying in Boston, saying, “No, it wasn’t a difficult decision. I mean, I don’t want to pitch against this team. If I chose to go somewhere else and went to the National League or another team, the Red Sox aren’t a team you want to pitch against. I like our chances of winning ever since I’ve been here.”
…Ottawa traded Matt Duchene to Columbus Friday. He changed dressing rooms and help beat the Sens in a game. The game in Ottawa featured a video tribute to the traded player.
…Panthers safety Eric Reid, who apparently also received a collusion settlement from the NFL, on Colin Kaepernick: “He’s in the best shape of his life, and ready to help win a championship.”
…Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec hit the first homer of the spring, to center field. “I just want to work on things so my hot streaks are longer,” he told MassLive.com. “Cold streaks can sometimes get a little bit long sometimes. But some of the adjustments I’m making are things that will fix that. And then just build off where I am last year. It would be nice to start out with a better first half than I did last year.”
…CBC commentator and ex-Bruins coach Don Cherry doesn’t like the post-game celebrations of the Carolina Hurricanes. Thinks it’s bush. Tough. It’s fun and sports are fun – and the opposition is already in the locker room. Grapes hates change. He hated Europeans when they invaded the league. An aside, the NY Post’s Larry Brooks noting Cherry’s Boston days: “By all means, let’s listen to a guy who didn’t know how to count to six in the biggest moment of his coaching career.” If you’re old enough to remember the infamous too many men penalty, you get that.
…Tommy Heinsohn on Kyrie Irving: “You know what I’d be saying on stuff like this? One day I’d say, ‘Yeah, I want to go to New York.’ Next day, I’d say, ‘No, I want to stay with the Celtics.’ LET ‘EM KEEP GUESSING!”
…Andrew Raycroft on the Bruins at the deadline: “Would Bruins fans be OK if Don Sweeney and management traded every prospect under the age of 25 (minus David Pastrnak) for a Stanley Cup? I would.”
…New collusion in baseball? Says Mark Reynolds, who wound up with a minor league deal to return to the Rockies: Reynolds said he heard nothing for weeks – then heard from four teams with minor league offers – on the same day!
…Charlie Coyle on coming home to play for the Bruins: “I think obviously going into a real winning culture here with the Bruins and the success they’ve had over the years, I’m really excited about that. I don’t know what to call it, but I’m just excited to be a part of that and bring my game, what I do well and see how that goes.”
…Devin McCourty put an official end to a possible retirement, telling Sports Spectrum, “I’m gonna play,’ and adding, “In that moment I kind of forgot like, I don’t play this game just to win Super Bowls, it’s so much more that comes from me playing the game that I love. I think once you get a chance to step away for a couple weeks now, you’re like, ‘yeah I still do want to be around these other young guys that come in.’”
…Clayton Kershaw, who is hurt again, on the coming pitch clock: “I’m not going to pay any attention to it. If I go over then I go over. I’m not going to change anything I do. I’m not going pay attention to it one bit. If it becomes a problem, I guess I’ll have to deal with it then.”
…How good was Al Horford at Milwaukee Thursday night? Stats maven Dick Lipe says Horford is, “the only Celtic, other than KG, to have at least 20 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals since 1990. KG did it twice, in 2013 vs. Denver and 2007 vs. Washington.”
…The Orioles will wear No. 20 (Frank Robinson) and the Dodgers No. 36 (Don Newcombe) and their uniform sleeves this season.
…Radko Gudas, who has graduated from goon to contributing defenseman for the Flyers, received a two-game suspension for high sticking Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov. Two games. Sorry, and this is for you, too, Brad Marchand: you get to a fourth suspension, your minimum should be five games.
…J.D. Martinez, who should have finished higher than fourth in the MVP voting, said: “I was like, guys, there’s no way that the analytic guys are ever going to let that happen. For a DH to win an MVP, they’re going to have to walk on water.”
…The Celtics’ loss at Milwaukee all but ended any chance of a No. 1 seed for the team, but there’s work to be done. “In a lot of ways that started in Philly for us, that mind-set that we’re going to see what we’re made of with this long stretch,” says coach Brad Stevens. “This is a great opportunity over the next however many weeks to see if we can get better. That’s ultimately the goal. Our goal is to play the best that we could be playing in the middle of April when the playoffs start. Tests like this and moments like these, you can learn a lot about yourself.”
…From redsoxstats on Twitter after Padres landed Manny Machado: “In other Padres news, Anderson Espinoza (dealt for Drew Pomeranz) was throwing 97 mph yesterday.”
…Our buddy Ken Powtak did a story out of Fort Myers where he asked players whether or not they used old or new gloves for the new season. “A new glove every year,” said Mookie Betts. “New year, new glove,” added Xander Bogaerts. But Steve Pearce isn’t about to change a good thing after last year’s special finish. “I have them right here in my locker,” he said. “I’m bringing almost everything back I had last year.” He quickly pointed out a poor start will mean new stuff.
…Irving to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald on WNBA players he admires: “Women run the world. That’s just the truth about it. Whether men want to admit it or not, women run the world. They run the fashion industry. They keep this thing going. Like, they keep men whole. It is what it is.”
…Finally, today marks 39 years since the Americans defeated Finland at Lake Placid. Remember where you were that day? I was there – and still think that’s the greatest sports story of all time.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.