A SUNDAY TRIP around the sports landscape with the 2019 baseball season less than a month away.
…We seem to be paying all kinds of attention to the coming Red Sox contract situations. Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts are right there at the front as they potentially enter free agency for the first time. But remember this: Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado just signed $890 million worth of contracts — and J.D. Martinez, who may just be the best hitter in the game, can opt out after this season, his second with the Red Sox.
…666 is the devil’s number. Consider this: Brad Marchand, affectionately known as the Bruins’ little devil, was set to play his 666th NHL game Saturday night. He came into the game — against the Devils — with 666 career penalty minutes.
…Marcus Smart, who until this season was known as a lousy outside shooter, passed both Dana Barros and Walter McCarty and moved into seventh place on the Celtics’ all-time 3-pointer list, with 418. Isaiah Thomas is in sixth, with 460.
…The Patriots are releasing blocking TE Dwayne Allen but are looking to bring him back at a lower salary.
…Saturday marked the 57th anniversary of the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the Knicks in Hershey, Pa. No 3-pointers folks. And Chamberlain, a career 51.1 percent foul shooter who was forever trying different ways to shoot free throws, was 28-for-32 from the line that night.
…All that money floating around and Craig Kimbrel doesn’t have a job? Strange.
…Tommy Heinsohn was so frustrated at one point in Friday night’s game that he blurted, “This is stupidity in action.”
…The Red Sox have been nothing but class with the respect they’ve shown over the passing of our pal Nick Cafardo.
…Friday night, Alex Ovechkin became the first NHL player ever to register 10 45-goal seasons. Remember when he was considered the captain of the All-Selfish team? It’s been the greatest development of a great career.
…From NESN’s Zack Cox: “San Diego State TE Kahale Warring is a really interesting prospect. He’s a former water polo goalie who didn’t start playing football until his senior year of high school. Also said he didn’t realize the NFL was a legit possibility until after his college career ended.”
…James Harden is in town as the Celtics begin a stretch that has the team heading west to visit the Warriors, Kings, Lakers and Clippers. Harden is averaging 20.4 in his career against the Celtics, among his lowest numbers against any team in the league.
…ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Rob Gronkowski’s return: “I think it could go either way. … If I knew, I would report it right now, but we don’t know the answer quite yet.”
…As he has done with everything in his life, Mookie Betts has handled the big-money contracts in the game with his usual class and dignity. Asked if the landscape has changed for him as he readies for the big money, Betts says, Not really — they’re all different players, we’re all different players. “We all have different things that are important. Like I said, good for those guys, they deserve it. I’ll just continue to worry about what’s going on now.”
…Antoine Walker doesn’t think Kyrie Irving is a leader, but Danny Ainge told WEEI: “Kyrie has a lot of amazing leadership characteristics. “I don’t really know the perfect leader, but I think that that’s why I say it takes more than one. ... I think that Kyrie has an impact on the games, that’s leadership, impacting games the way that he does, taking games over, being mentally tough to make shots in the face of adversity is a form of leadership. Being able to influence people with his work ethic and his passion for the game.”
…I am finishing Marty Appel’s “Casey Stengel” and just started the Art Shamsky/Erik Sherman “After the Miracle” effort about the 1969 Mets. Sorry for the New York bias but both books are great.
…From Mark Maske of the Washington Post: “The NFL will consider adding a video official to each officiating crew to correct egregious officiating mistakes, the league’s Troy Vincent said. Owners would have to approve such a change.”
…Speaking of changes, it looks like baseball’s pitch clock may be held off until the new basic agreement. Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the sides are talking about mid-contract changes, one of them being the elimination of the August waiver trade period.
…It looks like Todd Gurley was indeed hurt in the Super Bowl. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe cited a source saying Gurley has arthritis in is injured knee.
…Marcus Morris was among the Celtics speaking out during the losing streak, explaining himself by saying, “I don’t tweet a lot. And I really meant it. We gonna get this (bleep) together. We owe each other to play better, man. This opportunity that we’ve got, with this amount of talent that we got, man, we gotta get it together and we deserve to get it together.”
…Marcus Johansson was impressed with his new home fans, saying, “We had teams in Washington that had a good chance to win and we never did. It didn’t go our way. I’m definitely looking forward to having a chance to go after it. I feel with the team we have here, we’re going to have a really good chance.”
…NBA commish Adam Silver really wants to fix the league’s All-Star Game. “The All-Star Game didn’t work … I get it. We put an earring on a pig,” he said.
…As tough as things were already going for the Royals, All-Star catcher Sal Perez is gone for the season.
…Carl Yastrzemski and David Ortiz are in Red Sox camp. Royalty. I remember being down in Florida all those years with Ted Williams in camp. And also seeing the likes of Joe DiMaggio in Yankees camp in 1982 (yes, I’m old).
…Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he learned about his team landing Harper from fans behind the dugout reading it on their phones.
…Patrice Bergeron trailed only Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid as the best all-around players in the league in The Athletic’s poll of NHL players.
…Doc Rivers stopped his game the other night, grabbed the PA mike and saluted Dirk Nowitzki.
…Umpire Ted Barrett worked the 2018 All-Star Game and World Series, and this week worked a spring training game with his son, Andrew, a Double-A ump.
…Like Betts, Trout didn’t want to say much about coming money (both he and Betts are up after 2020). “With spring training you want to get ready for the season,” he said. “You don’t wanna worry about anything else.”
…Tuukka Rask’s win Thursday left him 13-0-3 with a .931 save percentage and 11 games with two goals or fewer allowed in his last 16 full games, without a regulation loss since Dec. 23.
…Jason Witten didn’t get great reviews in his debut as the Monday Night Football color man last season. He isn’t returning — because he’s coming back to play for the Cowboys. Witten is just the latest example of what a football player will do to play regardless of head and other injuries.
…From Fangraphs’ Dave Laurila: “Through age 25, Bryce Harper has a .900 OPS and has averaged 4.4 WAR annually. Through age 25, Mookie Betts has an .888 OPS and has averaged 6.1 WAR annually. Each has won an MVP award.”
…From Jon Gruden: “I have no interest in expanding replay. I have a strong interest in eliminating replay. But that’s a conversation for another day.”
…From @SoxNotes: “Mookie Betts began 2018 Spring Training 0-for-16. He then became the first Red Sox player to lead the majors in both AVG (.346) and SLG (.640) since Ted Williams in 1957. He also hit for the cycle, had a pair of 3-HR games, and recorded the 2nd 30-HR/30-SB season in Sox history.”
…Jason McCourty on new Pats defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, his coach at Rutgers: “Very aggressive. Man-to-man and a ton of blitzing.”
…Even before signing with Philly, Harper was the favorite to win the National League MVP by the Westgate sports book. Trout — not Betts — was listed as the AL favorite, at 3-1.
…WR Golden Tate has made it clear where he’d like to land in 2019, telling the ProStyle podcast, “I would definitely love being a part of something like that and catch a few passes from old Tommy Boy (Tom Brady). Julian (Edelman) is a buddy of mine. I’m really good buddies with him. I’ve heard good things from Kyle Van Noy, who got traded from Detroit and went there and has just been balling out since. It’s, as I said, a great organization. I definitely would not mind going over there for sure.”
…Kudos to the Salem Red Sox, who will debut the first all-female radio broadcast crew this season — Melanie Newman and Suzie Cool.
…The Bulls beat the Hawks 168-161 in four overtimes Friday night, despite 49 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds from Trae Young. According to Elias, Young is one of four players in NBA history with 45 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in a game as a rookie. He was also the first rookie to have a 45-point, 10-assist game since Michael Jordan did it on Jan. 26, 1985. It was his third straight game of scoring or matching his career highs, the first rookie since Allen Iverson in 1987 with 120 points in three games.
…The NFL Films’ Patriots championship DVD/Blue Ray is available from NFL Shop and ITunes. “There is a reason why the New England Patriots have been so successful,” says Todd Schmidt, senior producer at NFL Films. “And in this film, you’ll see and hear what makes them so impressive. The in-game wires are incredible. Never before have we had such an inside look at the inner workings of one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.”
…Great Red Sox Foundation telecast on NESN Saturday! There is literally no end to what the team is doing off the field.
…The Avalanche are in the middle of fighting for a wild card playoff spot despite entering play Saturday 1-11 in the 3-on-3 overtime.
…Robots calling balls and strikes? I truly believe that will happen at some point. Not sure how I feel about it but with people throwing 98 with movement, if the idea is to get it right …
…From Schefter: “Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray measures in at 5-foot-10.1, 207 pounds.” Drew Brees is 6-even, Russell Wilson is 5-11, Sonny Jurgensen was 5-11, Fran Tarkenton 6-even.
…To me, folks are overlooking the Cubs coming into this season. “Apparently we’re just old and ready to be on the back side of our careers,” says old pal Jon Lester. “I’ll let a computer program tell me whether or not I’m going to be good this year. We’ll have to play out 162 and see.” Asked about the pitch clock, Lester says, “Whatever makes people feel better.”
…New Twin Nelson Cruz is 38. His manager, Rocco Baldelli, is 37. His GM, Derek Falvey, is 35.
…How many of you recognized Royals manager Ned Yost in the TV commercial touting Verizon’s service? He had cell service in the middle of nowhere after falling 22 feet and shattering his pelvis.
…Finally, baseball fans have to be excited and looking forward to Dustin Pedroia finally starting to play games. Forget the contracts, this is THE STORY of this camp.