IT’S NOTHING PERSONAL, Mr. Commissioner, but the Boston Red Sox would like some answers.
If we can harken back to the good old days (two months seems like a lifetime, right?), when we could go outside without wearing masks and could do exciting things like sit in a restaurant or even go to a movie, you might remember there was an investigation into the Sox’ alleged 2018 sign stealing. MLB kept digging. Rob Manfred kept promising a resolution — one that has not been announced.
Alex Cora has been bounced, on the basis of his involvement (and masterminding?) of the Astros’ 2017 scandal. GM Dave Dombrowski was bounced last year, with no obvious connection to any of this (although you have to think he’ll get at least dishonorable mention when this finally resolves). Chaim Bloom is running the show and Ron Roenicke is still the INTERIM manager, waiting to interim manage his first game.
Like the sport itself, everything is in limbo.
Hall of Famer Claire Smith of ESPN tweeted about this the other day, writing, I’ve been asleep for about four months, so I must ask: what came of @MLB’s investigation of the @RedSox?”
Excellent question from an excellent journalist. Inquiring minds want to know.
Bloom, still waiting to general manage his first games in his new job, is saying all the right things.
“As you guys know, given that it is an ongoing process, there obviously isn’t much we can or should say about it,” Bloom said on WEEI. “I would say we still are at the same point where we think everybody is to reserve judgment until we see what comes out of it.
“It is obviously frustrating that we don’t have that outcome yet. But with what is going on in the last month, I think it is understandable.”
Diplomacy 101. But you know he wants to scream, “GET THIS THING OVER WITH!”
Rosters are frozen and talk continues that the sport can resume in the coming weeks — likely in empty stadiums — but the Red Sox are waiting for their punishment. Nothing has really leaked, but indications are the Sox are not in as much trouble as the Astros. Nevertheless, the “tainted” ’17 and ’18 titles continue to smudge the game we all love.
Joe Kelly, who wound up being an important cog in the Boston title, weighed in on WEEI the other day, defending his team.
“Whenever the investigation is done, I’m interested in seeing what is in the investigation,” he said. “If there is cheating involved with how good our team was, we should have won every single out. We should have not lost even an inning if there was some good cheating involved, which would have been a lot more fun because we would have won in four.
“We would have swept through the playoffs and made it really, really fast and been able to go to Hawaii or go to Mexico and go on vacation a lot sooner than we did.”
Remember: If baseball does come back, there will be no Chris Sale starting the delayed opener for the Red Sox. Mookie Betts and David Price are Dodgers. Rick Porcello is a Met. If healthy, Alex Verdugo is the Sox’ right fielder, while Kevin Pillar is one of the four outfielders.
One of those Sox outfielders, Jackie Bradley Jr., has stepped up along with so many others in sports helping out during the pandemic. He and his wife, Erin, are helping the homeless at this dreadful time.
“There are so many different storylines to their lives,” Erin Bradley told the Boston Herald. “Because of that, they deserve a chance and deserve support. Whether that means volunteering to hand out food at shelters or a financial donation or just being there to chat (with) them, I think they’re people like us. It can happen to anybody. The more you sit and talk to them, you realize it can happen.”
Celtic Kemba Walker, already a fan favorite in Boston, is donating headphones to kids for virtual learning.
“It’s times like these where we need to come together as a community,” Walker said. “Mentoring students, and helping them believe in themselves and succeed has always been important to me. JBL (Headphones) has been a partner for me throughout my career, and we teamed up to donate headphones to Boston-area children to help them adjust and stay focused in their new educational environments.”
Hogan’s a hero
The Patriots still don’t have a quarterback set to guide the offense if and when the NFL starts for the current season. The depth chart on Patriots.com lists Jarrett Stidham as the starter with nobody behind him. Brian Hoyer has been re-signed but wasn’t listed. Also, there is also no kicker on the roster, but that’s a matter for another day.
The Pats have apparently decided to pass (pardon the pun) on the available veteran quarterbacks (like Cam Newton and Jameis Winston) and we know Bill Belichick has had good luck with QBs in the draft (Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo).
With the mock drafts all over the place, there has been speculation the Patriots might want to trade up from No. 23 for Tua Tagovailoa. Two things against that: He’s coming off hip surgery — and can’t work out for or meet with anyone before the draft because of the virus — and he’s left-handed and there just haven’t been all that many lefty QBs.
Two lefties — Steve Young and Kenny Stabler — are in the Hall of Fame. Boomer Esiason was the 1988 MVP, an award Young won twice. Young won three Super Bowls and was the first southpaw elected into Canton. Stabler, the 1974 MVP, won a Super Bowl. Jim Zorn and Mark Brunell were solid NFL QBs. Michael Vick, Bobby Douglass and Tim Tebow were great athletes who did not have great careers.
We love our mock drafts and other draft prognostications. NBC’s Peter King says, “In the draft this year, the most fateful decision will be another medical one ... to draft Tua Tagovailoa with his injury history, or to pass him by.” He said this in reference to the Dolphins with the fifth pick.
King said one GM told him, “(Utah State’s) Jordan Love‘s a polarizing player. He’s the most exciting quarterback in the draft. He’s not (Patrick) Mahomes, but coached well, he could become a really good player.”
As of March 28, FanDuel Sportsbook had Stidham as the clear favorite for the job (-200) while Newton had advanced to third in the odds (+900). There has been cold water tossed on Newton since.
“Maybe the outlier a little bit is the Patriots,” said the NFL Network’s Kurt Warner. “I would love to see Bill Belichick and that defense with Cam Newton and what they could do on that side.”
Regardless who is taking the snaps in the 2020 season, Devin McCourty has a suggestion on someone who could catch some passes and help the offense: Chris Hogan.
Yes, that Chris Hogan. He’s free and out there for the taking.
“Every time I say something on this show, it becomes (a story), so here we go,” McCourty said on last Sunday’s podcast. “… You heard it here first, man: Chris Hogan back to New England. We get him back there, we got 7-Eleven, always open. We’ve got a new quarterback, let’s bring an old target back.
“That’s what we do in New England. LeGarrette (Blount) came back, next thing you know, 18 touchdowns. That’s what happens in New England. Deion Branch came back in 2010, touchdowns everywhere. So New England, get a head start. Start your articles now. It’s 8:47. Devin has said it.”
So far, no Hogan.
Here’s a bright look at the current state of affairs at Gillette: ESPN’s Mike Clay has the Patriots with the 27th-best roster in the NFL. Seriously.
Meanwhile, Belichick is favored to become the latest coach to do more with less as the coach of the year. He is +800 to win the award, which normally goes to a coach whose team overachieves. No other coach is better than +1,600 (Kyle Shanahan, Mike Vrabel).
Belichick met the media last week.
“Let’s start by … I send along my best wishes to everyone and their families,” he said. “Remain safe and healthy. Also, on behalf of the team, just want to recognize and express my appreciation, our appreciation and admiration for all the people whose jobs are to treat people and keep our lives going every day.
“Obviously, very challenging and we’ll keep following the guidelines, but we just want to give a special thanks and shout-out to those that are keeping us going and taking care of us and the medical professionals that are doing such a great job. Look forward to getting to the other side of this, but in the meantime, this has really put things in perspective for all of us and appreciate all the hard work that everybody’s doing to keep us safe and keep our daily lives going.”
Brady is one of eight unanimous selections on the NFL’s All-Decade team. The other Pats named were: Rob Gronkowski, Logan Mankins, Chandler Jones, Darrelle Revis, Stephen Gostkowski, Codarrelle Patterson and coaches Belichick and Pete Carroll.
As more than one Pats fan points out, none of the players is still around.
It hardly came as a shock, but Roenicke gave a less-than-optimistic take on Dustin Pedroia this week. “He’s still not (at) a point where he’s thinking about trying to be ready to come back and join us,” Roenicke told NESN ...
Jalen Green, a consensus top-three high school recruit, has decided to skip the mandatory one year of college and will go straight into the G-League, now seen as a true developmental step in the NBA process. This one-and-done rule should be tossed and they can go back to playing pro whenever they want to. …
The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan tweeted Thursday: “4/16/40 Bob Feller kicks off a 27-11, 2.86, 261K season with what remains the only Opening Day no-hitter.
He was in midst of a 3-year run of 76-33 with 83 CG in 112 GS before missing 3-plus seasons aboard the USS Alabama.” …
Curtis Granderson, now retired and who apparently has never met a cause he didn’t like, is donating 42,000 meals in honor of Jackie Robinson (No. 42) Day. He took to Instagram to say, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. … although baseball is on pause, today is bigger than baseball #jackierobinsonday.” …
Roger Goodell will do the first round of the NFL draft from his basement. “It’s important to have normalcy,” he said. “…We’re doing this in a way that I think demonstrates that you can continue to do what we need to do in this country and do it safely from home.”
The Mets and Yankees were reportedly close to a rare deal between New York’s residents at last season’s trade deadline. Zack Wheeler would have gone to the Bronx. But the medicals on one of the players involved killed the trade. …
Belichick after drafting Brady: “The value board at that point really put him as the top value.” Worked out pretty well, I guess. …
Dusty Baker, still waiting to manage his first game for the Astros, isn’t satisfied that enough blacks are playing baseball. With the numbers down, Baker, one of two black managers in the game, says, “Hopefully in this decade and the next decade there will be more guys that get a chance. All they need is a chance. A lot of guys have been bypassed and overlooked.”…
For the record, the Indians would have been in Boston this weekend, right through Monday’s morning game. The Celtics and Bruins would both be in the playoffs.
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.