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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, February 08, 2014

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering what kind of person might actually start up a conversation with you on a two-seater…

• In addition to all of the security concerns at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia…we’re learning what decades of inefficient planning, corrupt government and just plain stupidity are bringing to the table as members of the Western media arrive and “settle in.” No water in the hotel rooms? No light bulbs in the lamps? No shower curtain? No toilet paper? Hotel room doors that won’t close? Yeah…this’ll go over well…

• Happy 10th birthday to Facebook this week. Unless, of course, you curse it in the same breath. Say what you want about founder Mark Zuckerberg, but his novel idea created in a Harvard dorm room has forever changed the way we communicate…it broke us out of the “email age,” allowed us to reconnect with our pasts – if we choose to reconnect with them…and it helps us stay connected with friends and family far away. 1.2 billion people have signed up for Facebook, and ironically, there are also 1.2 billion Catholics on the planet. You could make the argument it is a religion for some…

• But has Facebook lost the “it” factor? A recent survey indicated that 65% of kids under 18 thought FB had lost its “coolness.” And a recent survey of my friends indicates that 65% of them still don’t know what the hell FB is…

Tweet of the Week I – from @EliasSports: “There have been > 10,000 @NFL games since 1970. In only 2 did same team score in 1st min of each half. One was #SB48…”

Joe Namath (tmz.com)

Tweet of the Week II – from Erik Frenz, NFL writer for Bleacher Report and Boston.com (@ErikFrenz): “I hope Joe Namath was able to return that coat to Cruella DeVille last night…”

• Did anybody realize that the Seattle Seahawks are the youngest team (average age per player) to win the Super Bowl since the 1985 Chicago Bears? Sounds impressive, sure. But then again, what exactly did the Bears do AFTER they whacked the Patriots almost 30 years ago? They’ve hardly been relevant since…

• If the Patriots don’t get it now, they’ll never get it until Bill Belichick departs. Defense wins championships. In five head-to-heads between the #1 offense and #1 defense, the “D” has won four of the Super Bowls. To not pay attention to this detail…not to mention “trend”…in the game would be the height of arrogance. Which is what the Patriots get accused of all the time – being arrogant. Stupid is as stupid does

• They didn’t get it after the then-record setting season in ’07…and you can make an argument that if David Tyree doesn’t make his circus-catch in that game, Michael Strahan might not be a HOF’er today. But it was the Giants’ “D” that was a difference-maker. Get back to how you won your first three trophies…and keep shaping up the other side of the ball…if you want to finally win a 4th ring for TB12

• No one is accusing Robert Kraft, however, of not being “with it.” Because the NY-NJ Super Bowl came off without too much of a hitch (despite the crappy game itself), you can now expect several other cold-weather venues to bid on the next available game…which will come in 2019. Arizona, Santa Clara/San Francisco, Houston and either Indy, New Orleans or Minneapolis (in a dome) will host the next few years…and you can expect Kraft and the Patriots to get in the mix to host the game in Foxboro/Boston/Providence

Route 1, Foxboro

• Honestly, could you see a Super Bowl played on Route 1 in Foxboro? Just down the road from the old “End Zone Motor Inn?” Where post-game traffic jams were invented, and are still as much a part of present-day games as the tailgate? Where Monday Night Football once could not go because drunk and unruly fans caused fights and urinated on neighborhood lawns? Where Sullivan Stadium, best described as a high school field on steroids, once stood? Yeah, right. What were we thinking? Just sayin’

Interesting story this week in the Boston Globe on former Patriot WR Irving Fryar, who is fighting a mortgage fraud charge in New Jersey, along with leading a church ministry. When Fryar played for the Patriots, he certainly was interesting. The opposite of boring. His career was filled with controversial moments on and off of the playing field. While at Channel 12 back in the early ‘90’s, we used Fryar as a Super Bowl reporter on site as he tried to break into the media biz at the time…and I always found him engaging and easy to work with. Perhaps that’s because he was using us at the same time, too…

• A sure sign of the off-season…TB12 and Bill Belichick sighted together again, in the same foursome, playing at Pebble Beach this week…with Peyton Manning tagging along. Would have given a lot to caddy in that group…

• What did you make of the Super Bowl commercials this year? Gotta admit, after the 3rd quarter opened with a kickoff return for a touchdown, I lost interest in the game, so I missed out on a few. Guess I was in the minority, apparently, as this year’s game moves – like it seems to every year – to the top of the list of “most watched TV shows” in the history of TV…with more than 111 million viewers…

• Something old, and something new…next season, CBS will televise eight weeks’ worth of Thursday Night Football games previously seen on the NFL Network. While the NFL’s own creation will continue with eight late-season games, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and company will play in primetime for eight early week matchups, with NFL Network on-air folks also contributing. These games will also simulcast on NFLN – in other words, we’ll be happy to take your $$$, CBS, but we ain’t completely giving up our product to you…

• An absolutely stellar class for induction into the Red Sox Hall of Fame this year…Pedro, Nomar, Joe Castiglione (“Do You Believe It?!?”) and Roger. Yes, Roger. As in Clemens. The Rocket is slowly coming back into the fold. He deserves it…and even Yankee fans must admit, he deserves it…

• One week until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training…on February 15th. And already, teams are taking their chances with long shots…erstwhile Sox pitcher Daniel Bard has signed a deal with the Texas Rangers, who are always looking for pitching help…

• Just over 100 days have passed since the Sox dispatched the St. Louis Cardinals in six games in the World Series. Does it seem like it was that long ago? Few real changes have come about to the Boston roster…so why does that make me nervous for the start of a new season? Just the normal agita for this time of year…

Grady Sizemore, A.J. Pierzynski, Edward Mujica…and a re-signing of Mike Napoli. Who is likely to have the biggest early impact on the team? Scary, but probably Sizemore…even though he’s been out of the game for a couple of years, he could be the starter in CF…

• Something completely off the radar around here, but could have a major impact elsewhere…would be David Beckham’s decision to place his new MLS franchise in Miami. As a byproduct of his signing with Major League Soccer a few years ago, Beckham’s deal included the opportunity for ownership in the league, and South Florida is his pick. Miami has had a failed franchise in the past (remember the Fusion, anyone?)…this was a surprise, considering the affection for the sport with the majority of the population. It could be a home run – or is that a GOOOOOAAALLLL! – for pro soccer. One of Beckham’s partners is Simon Fuller, who introduced Beckham to his wife Victoria (aka Posh Spice), and who also created American Idol

• Note to Russians, and his eminence Vladimir Putin – Western media, while not exactly all cry-babies, do not like to “rough it” in their hotel rooms. They’ll say bad things about you…

• Great choice of music for Cranston’s Marissa Castelli and her ice pairs partner, Simon Shnapir, coming out to Santana as they began Olympic competition Thursday. Finishing 5th in their program, teamed with Jeremy Abbott, they’re in 7th as a team (tied for 5th in total points, out of 10) after the first two rounds

• While we’re currently lamenting winter’s cold cruelty…anyone recall what happened 36 years ago this week? Something known as “The Blizzard of ’78?” 27.6 inches of the white stuff. Uh huh, thought so. This ain’t so bad now, is it?

• And Happy 50th Birthday to G.I. Joe, brought to life as the world’s 1st “action figure” by Pawtucket’s own Hasbro, Inc. and the first talking Joe was voiced by Rumford’s own Bill (McGroarty) Corsair. The only (known) battle Joe ever fought and lost…was to Barbie. She beat Joe into the Toy Hall of Fame by six years…

(islandoflosttoys.com)

• The second most important day of the calendar year – other than the kickoff to the season – for most major universities outside of New England was this past Wednesday. It was National Signing Day, where football programs re-load with high school and prep signees for the future. Winners? Alabama was at the top of most lists, for a 3rd straight year. Not too surprising. Boston College was around 40th in the rankings, out of 125 FBS schools…depending on what you read, just for comparison’s sake. Of course, not much else compares…

• Certainly not football in Rhode Island. Our State University signed exactly ZERO in-state players, which is an unfortunate indictment on the State of Football in our, um, State. Bryant signed two RI players, one of which was the head coach’s son. BC brought in one player (DT Oseh-Lie Saine) from Lincoln who prepped at Worcester Academy. Other than that, crickets…

• A very interesting take on “amateurism” in this country in The Economist this week…and I must say, there are some great points. To someone who doesn’t follow college sports that closely, amateurism certainly appears to be a sham. Money being made by major colleges and universities seemingly dwarfs the amounts being paid out to student-athletes through their scholarships. The publication goes a bit far, however, by referring to civil rights historian Taylor Branch and his comparison of the NCAA to “slavery,” but it does bring to light some of the reasoning behind Northwestern’s football players seeking to unionize. Times…they are (and will be) a’ changin’…

St. John’s was scary-good this past week against the Friars. It wasn’t just Ed Cooley who thought the Red Storm might have the most talented team in the Big East before the season began…there were several coaches wondering when a basketball team might emerge from Steve Lavin’s collection of athletes. If you were at the Dunk last Tuesday night, you saw that team’s capabilities…

• 61% first half shooting…20-2 early advantage scoring in the paint…steals, blocked shots…plus a tissue-paper defense by the Friars helped their cause. Gotta wonder what a zone defense might have done against those horses, ‘cuz we didn’t see much of one that night…

Not for nuthin’…but the Friars have now played two completely awful first-halves of basketball in their last three games, shooting 18% at Marquette (in a loss) and allowing 61% shooting plus 53 points to St. John’s (another loss). We’ll soon find out if this is an aberration, or more the norm for a team that’s been short-handed. Playing on the road, there’s much less room for imperfection…

• Now is about the time that Big East teams have traditionally started beating up on each other, and don’t expect the league to change that trend this year. In the past, the overwhelming strength and depth in the conference protected at-large possibilities for the NCAA’s…but now with just 10 teams in the league – not to mention a screwed-up playing schedule thanks in large part to Fox – someone is going to miss out on the dance who would have otherwise received an invite once-upon-a-time. Friars? Musketeers? Hoyas? It just so happens Xavier and Georgetown are next on PC’s schedule…

• What do PC, Brown and URI have in common with Alabama, Oklahoma and Stanford? Nelligan Sports Marketing, which owns the multimedia rights for three of the state’s four Division I athletic departments, has been acquired by Learfield Sports. The new company, which will operate under the Learfield banner, will now represent more than 90 schools across the country, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Stanford, eight of the current 12 “Big 10” schools (plus the league itself) and other big-time programs. In theory, this could bring larger, national accounts into the picture for smaller schools, including the three in Rhode Island. In a bit of an ironic twist, Providence Equity Partners is Learfield’s majority shareholder, a transaction that was announced last fall…

• Congrats to Ed Cooley on being selected by USA Basketball to join the coaching staff of the national U-18 team that will compete this summer at the FIBA Americas Championship. Cooley will be a part of the staff that includes Sean Miller (head coach at Arizona, former Pitt star) and head coach Billy Donovan (head coach at Florida, and a former Friar). Nice old-school Big East feel to that staff, huh?

• $51 billion was the price tag Russia paid to build the infrastructure for the Sochi Games.  There’s a Rhode Island joke in here somewhere, sadly…

• Guess this is one way to stop junk mail…you know those annoying letters you get in the mail from insurance companies, asking you to buy their insurance that you don’t need? The badgering apparently worked on the Texas Rangers. Globe Life Insurance just bought the naming rights to their stadium – “Globe Life Park” in Arlington. Horrible. But, wonder if the junk mail will finally stop…

• Wanna feel old(er)? Happy birthday this week to Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, who turned 80…

Curt Schilling announced this week that he’s fighting cancer, which is something his wife Shonda once went through. And as you may recall, Schilling told the Boston Globe last year that he had suffered a heart attack in 2011 as well…on top of the troubles experienced through his failed venture with 38 Studios. Life can be really cruel sometimes…

Tweet(s) of the Week III & IV: @BlueJacketsNHL (Columbus Blue Jackets) “Football season is over. Now ESPN can show our highlights!” @NHLCanes (Carolina Hurricanes) “@BlueJacketsNHL Don’t count on it…” Smack talk takes over the Twitterverse. Love it…

• Last week, I made the case for PC’s Bryce Cotton to join Creighton’s Doug McDermott as a potential “Co-Player of the Year” in the Big East. Certainly, the thought still has merit…on any day that doesn’t end with the letter “Y.” Why? More than likely, at the Big East Tournament next month, McDermott becomes just the 8th player in Division I college hoop history to surpass 3000 career points scored. He’ll also probably become the first player in 30 years to reach AP all-American status for a 3rd straight season…joining names like Ewing, Walton, Alcindor and Maravich – all Hall of Famers – on the list. McDermott will also reach 1000 career rebounds, which will place him in another career Top 10 category. His career accomplishments will overwhelm the individual season he’s had this year (which has been quite good), and those accomplishments will overwhelm the voters – the Big East coaches…

• Why so much love around the country for McDermott? Other than his obvious talents, it’s an easy answer. Creighton’s TV coverage in the Big East, which they didn’t have in the Missouri Valley. He’s being seen. He’s been a superb story, outside of the fact that technically – he’s a walk on. And should the coaches award him the honor, Doug McDermott then becomes the first player – EVER – to win Player of the Year in two different leagues, thanks to realignment…

(businessinsider.com)

• I’m looking at all of these photos via Twitter and Facebook at Sochi under construction, Sochi in need of repair, Sochi with trash on the streets, Sochi without working electricity or gas, Sochi allegedly disposing of “environmental trash” by killing stray dogs and animals…and wondering, that must have been one helluva kickback Russia gave to the International Olympic Committee so they could spend $51 billion to turn a trashy little town into a resort for these Olympics. Whoa

• Best line heard on the Winter Olympics “experience” in Russia thus far, from Jay Leno…passed onto me by my buddy “Big E” – “the Russian government announced that, contrary to popular belief, people in Russia will be allowed to protest. But only in a special protest zone – known as Siberia…”

• From the mailbag this week – Edward from Johnston, RI via Facebook makes a repeat performance with this addition: “A female basketball star is claiming "sexism" by the media for omitting history in its coverage of Seattle's Super Bowl victory. Lauren Jackson, a two-time WNBA title winner with the Seattle Storm in 2004 and 2010, fired off a series of tweets blasting Fox Sports for calling the Seahawks the Emerald City's first champion since 1979, when the Supersonics captured the NBA crown. "Sexism alive and well in sports and sporting culture," Jackson wrote on Twitter, accusing the press of "minimizing female achievement in sport. Again."” Edward: Nicely done. Keep on truckin’…

• Interested in having your questions on local RI sports (including the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions and comments to jrooke@golocalprov.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

• Don’t forget to join us for GoLocal Sports on 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am! Call in (401) 737-1287, or text us at 37937…and send email to the show - golocal@weei.com .

 

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