YOUR SUNDAY trip around the notes and quotes of the sports world:
NEWS ITEM: Tom Terrific suffering from dementia.
When you reach a certain age, many people you know and, in this business, have covered either pass away or suffer from some horrible malady. This week, it was Tom Seaver, who has retired from public life with this dreadful prognosis.
I covered Seaver’s 300th win — he beat the Yankees on Phil Rizzuto Day in the Bronx – in 1985. I worked the phones all night one Saturday night with the Red Sox in Baltimore, helping break the story Seaver was coming to Boston in the trade that sent Steve Lyons away. I covered Seaver’s rather brief stay in Boston.
But for me, that’s not the Tom Seaver story. That story went back — way back — to when my arrival as a teenager coincided with Seaver’s arrival in New York.
In short, Tom Terrific was our guy. Our Ted Williams. Our Yaz. I lived 2-3 miles from Shea Stadium and many a summer night was spent at the very top of Shea Stadium, paying $1.10 to watch this guy pitch.
Of course, in 1969 Seaver and his pals followed a man walking on the moon by winning the World Series. For years, I have teased people around here for their “Impossible Dream” of 1967. OUR impossible dream, two years later, ended in a Series win over the heavily favored Orioles.
Predictably, the tributes have been pouring in on Seaver, including word the Mets are planning a statue of the right-hander at Citi Field. Seaver will apparently not be able to join his teammates for the 50th anniversary celebration in June. That is the sad postscript to this story — a story that began when Seaver was suffering Lyme Disease.
The release from the Seaver family read: “The Seaver family announced today that Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver has recently been diagnosed with dementia. Tom will continue to work in his beloved vineyard at his California home, but has chosen to completely retire from public life. The family is deeply appreciative of those who have supported Tom throughout his career, on and off the field, and who do so now by honoring his request for privacy. We join Tom in sending warmest regards to everyone.”
How good was Seaver? As my buddy Kevin Kernan pointed out in the New York Post:
“Consider that from 1969 through 1971, Seaver was 63-29 with a 2.26 ERA and threw 58 complete games in 106 starts for the Mets.
“Over his 12-year career with the Mets, Seaver was 198-124 with a 2.57 ERA. Over his 20-year career, the right-hander compiled a 311-205 record with a 2.86 ERA and an amazing 231 complete games with 3,640 strikeouts.”
In a tribute, writer Lindsay Berra, Yogi’s granddaughter, tweeted: “Grampa really loved Tom Seaver and they had a blast with the #Mets. So sad to hear of Tom’s diagnosis. Our prayers are with him and his family and I hope he finds peace and happiness in the vineyards he so loves. #tomterrific”
NEWS ITEM: Plans hatched to save baseball.
It’s broken. The game is broken. It’s slow. It’s boring. People are losing interest.
Blah blah blah.
I have been covering this game for 40 years and have NEVER sat at a game that wasn’t boring – at some point. It’s a slow game. Isn’t that what real fans love?
Now, they’re trying to fix it – and there’s a new set of rules that will be used in the independent Atlantic League this season, including moving the MOUND back.
A list of the trial rules (from the Washington Post):
• 18-by 18-inch bases rather than the traditional 15-by-15-inch ones.
• A prohibition against mound visits.
• A three-batter minimum for pitchers.
•A prohibition against defensive shifts (two infielders have to be on each side of second base).
• A shorter period between half innings and pitching changes, and a radar-enabled strike zone.
And, in the kicker: The Atlantic League will move its pitcher’s mound back two feet in the second half of its season.
“One of our principle objectives is to reduce the amount of dead time in games, and one way the commissioner has measured that is the amount of time between balls hit into play,” said Morgan Sword, MLB’s senior vice president for league economics and operations in a recent interview. “We’re looking at more defensive play, more base running, more competitive, entertaining action.”
The pitch clock is being used in spring training— and the clock can only be good news for those watching David Price and many others labor through their performances.
”If it’s something that happens, that’s something I will definitely be able to adjust to,” Price said. “But I feel right now with the 20-second pitch clock — if the pitcher wants to step off, the clock resets, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”
By the way, Price averaged 26.9 seconds per pitch last season.
NEWS ITEM: Patriots pick up Michael Bennett.
For the life of me I can’t understand why people keep trading veteran players to the Patriots. Now, it’s Michael Bennett, and there’s also a chance his brother, Martellus might be coming out of retirement. Toss in the possibility of Danny Amendola and Jamie Collins coming back, and there’s a real reunion feeling to the whole thing.
Someone even suggested a reality show with the Brothers Bennett, Brothers McCourty and Gronkowski.
By the way, here is what Bennett said in 2013 about new Pats defensive coordinator Greg Schiano (they were together at Tampa Bay): “I think he just wants to flex his power. He has small (man’s) syndrome. I still talk to guys who are there, and trust me, there’s not much respect for him in that locker room.”
Michael Bennett can play. Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal tweeted, “Michael Bennett, 33, had nine sacks last season. He had 8.5 the year before. Both marks would’ve led the Patriots. Bennett also had 30 quarterback hits last season. That too would’ve led the Pats.”
NEWS ITEM: Chiefs, Broncos propose rule changes.
If you recall, the Patriots won the AFC title game by winning the overtime coin toss and going down and scoring – as league MVP Patrick Mahomes never got on the field. Well, the Chiefs have proposed a plan that would allow each team to touch the ball – the team that won the opening coin toss having the option to take the ball first or second in the OT.
The Broncos’ proposal deals with the onside kick – and would give the team trailing in the fourth quarter the option of kicking off or running what amounts to a fourth-and-15 play from their own 35 – a one-time thing in each game.
Free agency begins on Wednesday and you have to wonder what will happen regarding Antonio Brown, who was then wasn’t traded by the Steelers to the Bills this week.
NEWS ITEM: This and that as we look around.
• That 18-game points streak the Bruins brought into Saturday night’s game was being billed as the team’s first in 50 years. But column pal Jon Couture tweeted: “Feel like this got missed in a lot of places, here included, because of what got said on NESN last night. This #Bruins 18-game points streak isn’t their first in 50 years. It’s their first in ... one year.” They had a 12-0-6 last season.
• The Big East Tournament starts at MSG Wednesday with Villanova looking to become the first program ever in the league’s proud history to win it three straight years.
• Heisman Trophy Day in Fort Myers on Saturday – Tim Tebow with the Mets and Doug Flutie there to watch.
• Joe Kelly, now with the Dodgers, suffered a back injury and said he did it standing too long cooking Cajun food.
• Alex Cora didn’t like Eduardo Rodriguez‘s pitch efficiency in his previous start, but the lefty was just fine Saturday.
• Gordon Hayward‘s 30-point game at Golden State allowed him to join Kevin McHale and Ricky Davis as the only Celtics ever with three 30-point games off the bench in the same season – and McHale was there doing the game on TNT.
• The great Ted Lindsay, who died this week, should be known as much for his off-ice work as well as on. As Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun points out, “Haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere — Ted Lindsay refused to go to his Hockey Hall of Fame induction because women weren’t allowed to attend.” Lindsay was also a leader in the players getting organized.
• From MLB Radio’s Jim Bowden on Craig Kimbrel‘s shrinking market: #Nats and #Braves are not ‘in’ on Kimbrel according to sources.
• From the Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont: “Bcz it’s Boston, the @NHLBruins can go 14-0-4, and mainstream broadcast and print outlets do not increase coverage by +/- 1 pct. Saturation remains on Sox spring training, Pats/NFL draft. And C’s self-immolation. Only increased during Orr era.”
• The Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman was the first to break the news the Red Sox are moving their Winter Weekend out of Foxwoods and into the new MGM casino in Springfield, Mass.
•Thursday’s dramatic last-minute win by the Bruins marked, according to the NHL, only the 10th time in league history a team won in regulation after trailing in the final minute of play.
• So far, I like Jarrod Saltalamacchia on television.
• Rasheed Wallace was known for his temper as a player during a fine NBA career. He had an amazing 41 technical fouls during the 2000-01 season. Now, he’s been hired to be a high school coach in Durham, N.C. What could go wrong?
• We all know Jack Edwards tends to lose it at the end of Bruins wins. This week, with the Hurricanes wearing throwback Whalers uniforms, blurted: “Strip the Whale of its blubber.”
• Brown, still a Steeler as this was being written, to ESPN: “I don’t even need football.”
• Carl Yastrzemski, who turns 80 this summer, is more than impressed with the current Red Sox outfield — the latest talented outfield group for the franchise. “Maybe just the way it works out,” he told MassLive. “But you’re absolutely right that we’ve always had tremendous outfielders. … The Red Sox are very lucky to have these three outfielders. They’re young. They can run. And, like I said, they can play defense, and they’re tremendous on the offensive part of the field.”
• Great line from Mets broadcaster Ron Darling, who talking about Dom Smith, said the first baseman had gone “from prospect to suspect” as he tries to salvage his career.
• Steph Curry recently received a letter from a 9-year-old girl who complained his shoe line ignores girls. So, Riley Morrison helped Curry design the first in the line for girls.
• Puzzling quote from Marlins owner Derek Jeter, once known as a guy who would do anything to win: “This is professional sports, and I feel bad for even saying this, but it’s impossible to win every single game. But one thing you always remember is the experience you have while you’re at the park, and we want it to be a positive experience and we want people to enjoy themselves. And look, a lot of times people come, they don’t know who won or lost, sometimes they don’t even know who was playing, but they do know if they had a good experience, and that’s what we’re focused on.”
• One of the great streaks in sports — Kansas’ 14-year run as Big 12 regular season champions — came to an end this week.
• Charlie McAvoy on his Bruins: “We’re a family. We’re a brotherhood.”
• Baseball Prospectus projects Mookie Betts hitting .300 with 28 homers and 91 RBIs this season. Sounds like low numbers.
• Buck Showalter tells ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian that Jonathan Schoop (Twins) will be “the under the radar signing” of the offseason.
• Finally, Betts was mic’d up again for ESPN the other day, the highlight coming when he was asked about changing his infant daughter’s diapers and he said, “Man ... she’s nasty. Like, nobody ever explained that. ... But you don’t really know what goes into these diapers. So public service announcement. Brace yourself.”