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For your dining pleasure, here’s some stray sporting thoughts, observations, editorial points and mere wisecracks looking for a place to land.
Beginning with a resounding rebuke to the most pampered of the local pets, David Ortiz, the erstwhile “Big Papi,” who is now emerging an even bigger ‘‘prima donna.” His pompous rant blaming everyone but himself for his rampant mediocrity since the 2007 season was one of the most unprofessional performances in the tortured history of the Olde Town Team. That’s no small achievement given how much self-serving mush has been served by the many tin-horn sluggers Red Sox owners have uniquely favored over the decades.
Ortiz might better serve his wounded pride and diminished stature by keeping his promise to track down the “mystery” of how he -- in all of his innocence -- happened to be outed as a drug cheat. You’ll recall he promised fervently to get back to us on that. The local media he now roundly scorns has been more than fair in quietly waiting almost 10 months for him to keep his so vigorously asserted promises.
Indeed, all of us in this business as well as the adoring fans have been much too polite on this matter given how many other players in other towns have been crucified on roughly the same charges on much the same evidence. Mr. Ortiz has gotten a free pass in this town rather too long.
Regarding the Bruins, still hovering in a state of shock:
It says here they are going to regret chaining themselves for seven seasons to Marc Savard for the alleged “bargain” price of 30 million large. A soft player under the best of circumstances, he won’t age well. Savard should thank Harry Sinden for his good fortune. When Harry tartly questioned Savard’s Bruins’ legitimacy it guaranteed that the new boys in charge would take care of him. Otherwise they might appear to be under the influence of Harry. Can’t have that, can we.
On Tuukka Rask, the Finnish phenom who had some dandy moments in net until the bitter end, there is this tentative advice. Falling too hard for young goalies can be very risky as those of us who have witnessed the coming and going of Jack Gelineau and Mike Moffat and Andrew Raycroft among too many others over the years can painfully attest. With goaltenders, the second year is the acid test and if they survive three seasons unscrambled they tend to last. Until then, presume nothing.
On the always shaky coaching issue. Claude Julien is a decidedly likeable gentleman, earnest and worthy, and he’s done a decent job. But the Bruins may have blundered egregiously when they let Peter Laviolette escape after they’d groomed him so well. He’s already performed a hockey miracle by winning a Cup in the Carolinas. Now he’s topping that with his brilliant re-orchestration of the Flyers accomplished in just a few weeks. He’s gifted, tough and still young.
Memo to GM Chiarelli who seems irked that the folks in the seats who pay heavily for the privilege are striving mightily to boo Dennis Wideman out of town. As it happens, Sir, these people know the game; maybe as well as fans of any game in any town. And they recognize that while Mr. Wideman has skills on offense he’s unacceptably limited, marginal, and soft on defense, which isn’t what they favor in a defenseman. As was noted, they know what they are booing about.
Then there are the Celtics, taking the sporting world by storm once again.
There are two ways of looking at this rash and so abrupt incarnation. You can be awe-inspired, as a local pundits suggests is appropriate. But if you happen to be a season-ticket holder who wasted thousands of bucks on rafts of dreary and losing regular season games which are now being termed “meaningless,” you may be free to feel you’ve been taken for a bit of a ride, sucker.
Meanwhile the Lakers rage on in the West making another Los Angeles-Boston grand finale, in all its exaggerated gusto, look, as of this writing, likely. It’s a prospect that thrills the commissioner and his Madison Avenue buddies while bringing rapture to the denizens of the two long polarized towns. But increasingly it’s a prospect that aggravates the rest of the Republic. Folks out in the vast reaches resent the implicit air of supremacy and entitlement these teams have exhibited over the last half century. And who can blame them.
Some short takes
-- Maestro Theo Epstein, our learned GM, should understand it’s not his work ethic that’s being questioned, but his taste in music. There would have been no problem with Tanglewood. But “Pearl Jam”?
-- Everyone had a good laugh at the expense of the bumbling Boston mayor who so colorfully booted his sports facts while trying to honor Bobby Orr. But is it not refreshing to have a working politico who has better things to do than maintain a grip on the trivialities of the culture? In the same regard, one remains unimpressed when the president offers his annual painstaking analysis of “March Madness.”
-- The shoot-out, whereby tie hockey games are decided with dreadfully inappropriate penalty shot contests, has to be abolished. Three key matches in the prestigious World Hockey Championships being held in Cologne, Germany have been decided by shoot-outs. It was the means by which the Czechs beat the Swedes to reach the finals. Worse still it’s how the Flyers gained entrance into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s become a bad joke unworthy of a great game.
-- Anyone out there know what happened to Daisuke Matsuzaka’s killer, inscrutable, allegedly unhittable, and thoroughly phantom “gyroball”?
-- Congratulations are due Joe Thornton who has once more failed to lead favored San Jose to a Stanley Cup while coming up with yet another blah post-season performance. Oddly, many local media savants -- none of whom ever covered hockey -- still believe the Bruins surrendered the rights to the second coming of Wayne Gretzky when they finally gave up on Jumbo Joe. Wrong!
-- And there’s something equally wrong with the need for the NBA to stage a lottery to avert the potential scandal of having bad teams maneuver for the top college draft pick by bagging games. This year’s bogus lottery thwarted the pathetic New Jersey team, clearly the worst in any league in all of Christendom. This amuses the basketball lodge which has little interest in ethics because the Nets have lately been purchased by a Russian entrepreneur. So amusing, eh! And so sad too that there’s no better way to keep professional sports teams from committing the serious crime of fixing games to serve whatever purpose suits their silly whim.
Lastly, on the latest insult to the Olde Town Team.
Red Sox ownership, which hardly lacks sufficient appreciation of its own grandeur and glory, has to be privately miffed that the beloved Town Team has been named “the second most disliked team” in the entire kingdom of baseball. Winner of the top prize -- “most disliked team” -- is that eternal punching bag, the Cleveland Indians. Nice company the “Nation” is keeping these days.
Nielsen, the same outfit that governs the TV industry with its immensely powerful ratings’ service, conducted the survey so it can’t be casually dismissed as flawed or irrelevant. Nielsen is hardly a lightweight in the field of surveying the dear public’s dearest preferences, or lack thereof. Nielsen didn’t offer explanations but it’s presumed the Nation’s brash bravura was at least a factor in this obvious insult. We do tend to be a bit loud, you know.
In what amounts to the unkindest cut of all, your dearly despised New York Yankees finished a distant fifth in the Nielsen poll. It seems they are “relatively” beloved. But then it’s been a hard year, so far. Hey, it’s early.