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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, September 01, 2012

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering how I managed to survive almost eight months without college football…

Ricky Ledo checked in to Providence College this week, as all incoming freshmen are supposed to do. It’s a story, because we say it is…because we’re interested in whether or not he plays a game for the Friars this year – and maybe the next. So, what does Ledo care about? I’ll wager it’s not what you – or I – think he cares about…

• I read this week where UConn’s Jim Calhoun is recovering from his bicycle accident this summer that caused a broken hip…and also apparently recovering from the thousands jumping off of the UConn bandwagon this season due to multiple roster defections. Beware of the wounded Husky you have cornered…

• Somehow, I thought justice in Red Sox nation was served – just a little bit – when Josh Beckett’s first pitch as an LA Dodger was sent out of Dodger Stadium…

• And Adrian Gonzalez’ comment after arriving in LaLa-land…on Red Sox nation perhaps being critical of his play because he wasn’t “intense” enough? Uh, duh. Hey Gonz? The west coast is known as the “left” coast for a reason…’cause the east coast is always right…

Jacoby Ellsbury’s time as a Boston outfielder is officially ticking away…with agent Scott Boras proclaiming this week his client is a “franchise player…”

• Former Sox manager Terry Francona said this week the Red Sox now have “a responsibility” to pick up the right players in the offseason to replace those lost in last week’s bombshell trade. I don’t know about you, but I get the feeling he said that while silently chuckling…

• Hey Daniel Bard. Welcome back. You missed a bunch of stuff while you were gone. Including the strike zone…

Jayson Stark at ESPN points out that the Angels’ Mike Trout is in the midst of an historic season…accomplished by just two players before him – Ty Cobb (4x) and Honus Wagner (3x). Trout could be the first player since Cobb in 1917 to win a batting title, slugging title and lead the league in stolen bases all in the same season. And he’s just 21 years old…

• And one other historical note, seen on MLB Network this week…as Derek Jeter pushes for his 8th career 200-hit season. At 38 years of age, no other shortstop in MLB history has ever had 200 hits in a single season at Jeter’s age. Not one…

Bloomberg Business Week listed its “smartest spenders in sports” this week, and at the top of the list…were the erstwhile penny-pinching Tampa Bay Rays. Out of 122 pro sports franchises in the Big 4 (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL), the Rays were deemed the smartest, the St. Louis Rams dumbest. The Boston Bruins were tops in New England (#6 overall), followed by the Celtics (7th), Patriots (8th) and Red Sox (70th). Seventieth? After dumping $262.5 million in dead salaries on the Dodgers? Oh…it was because they had those salaries in the first place…

• And speaking of those Dodgers, the tax man cometh. Their payroll was $80 million under the luxury tax before this season got started. For next year, they’re on the hook for $181.3 million to 17 players, which is $3.3 million OVER the threshold before they even fill out the roster…

• Hate to say this, Sox fans…but with the newly-found room in the checkbook, don’t be surprised if the team decides NOT to take a shot at Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke in the off-season. It makes sense, and cents. How would you react if you found money you didn’t have before…would you spend it, or keep it for a “rainy day?”

• Although, for a shot at Hamilton…storm clouds could be gathering…

• Step Two in the Roger Reputation Rehab Tour will include another start for the Sugar Land Skeeters next week, after 3.1 scoreless innings the first time around…and the Houston Astros are making noise about taking a flyer on signing Clemens. Why not? Really, what exactly does either party have to lose here?

Not for nuthin’…but who has lost more off of his fastball – Roger Clemens, or Clint Eastwood?

• Is it just me, or weren’t the US Open Tennis Championships a bigger deal a few years back? Lack of personalities? No top male American players? Andy Roddick retiring? No rivalries? Or, have other sports simply passed over tennis because of the aforementioned reasons?

• Golf has a playoff? I know, I know…the FedEx Cup has been around for a while. But really, why doesn’t this “playoff” (at TPC Boston this weekend for the Deutsche Bank Championship) get more run around here…especially with Tiger Woods playing? Has the Tiger mystique/phenomenon run its course?

• Cool stuff for the six Brown University student-athletes involved in last summer’s rescue of three teens in the ocean off of Little Compton. Mike Wolff, Jeff Ryan, Dennis Robertson, Mike Borge, Bobby Farnham and David Brownschidle (a former GoLocalProv intern) pulled two girls and a boy from heavy surf at South Shore Beach after Tropical Storm Irene blew through, and this week they were nominated for the NCAA Award of Valor - given to a coach, administrator, current or former athlete who "when confronted with a situation involving personal danger, averted or minimized potential disaster by courageous action or noteworthy bravery...''

• Is anyone – ANYONE? – concerned with the Patriots’ 1-3 pre-season record?

• Before training camp began, there was the thought this Patriot team could challenge the ’07 squad’s feat of going 16-0 in the regular season…especially with a statistically weaker regular season schedule handed to them by the NFL. While that may seem like so much folly right now…you heard it here. With relative health on the roster, New England reaches the Super Bowl this year…again…

• Note, however, that I didn’t say they would win it. I’m a-scared of those big, bad, mean Giants

Wes Welker said the right things, after obviously covering some disappointment over the news of Aaron Hernandez receiving a contract extension through 2018. Look, we all love Welker, and the things he’s brought to Foxboro…like grit, determination, guts, and yes…even talent. But pro football is a biz, and the Patriots are good at that part of the game, too. Enjoy this season with 83 out there, because it will probably be his last here…

• Two roster cuts surprised a bit - WR Deion Branch and C Dan Koppen.  The former Super Bowl MVP was thought to have the inside track at a receiver slot because of his relationship with Tom Brady.  Koppen was less of a surprise, only because he was one-dimensional as a player and did not play another line position.  But as a 10-year vet, considering how he missed almost the entire season a year ago with an injury...well, it just shows you how the business of football really plays out.  Don't be surprised if Branch, Koppen or Jabar Gaffney are re-signed at some point...

Brian Hoyer's release as Brady's back-up gives the job to 2nd year pro Ryan Mallett.  Even though Mallett didn't really distinguish himself from Hoyer in the pre-season, Hoyer was to be a free-agent after this year.  Probably not worth keeping around anyway, at $1.9 million.  Rookie RB/KR and Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps suffered an injury late against the Giants Wednesday night, apparently severe enough to warrant going on injured reserve.  That's a surprise, too...

• Wednesday night’s “game” with the Giants was the absolute worst – and best – example of why the pre-season must be shortened. Clearly, no one wanted to play. The veterans were held out for the most part…most of the players in the game knew they would be released…and the coaches kept the game clock running with plays so simple, even Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson could have understood them. How in the world NFL teams charge their fans full freight for these farcical, simplistic faux-football contests is beyond me…

• How about this as an alternative? Two full-fledged pre-season games, knocking heads with another team so players can be evaluated as per the “norm?” Then, one or two scrimmages with one or two other teams…which would include a week of practices beforehand, like the Patriots did with New Orleans in Foxboro, and Tampa Bay in Tampa. Open up the stadiums, charge NO admission (but rake in the concessions) and hold controlled scrimmages. Everyone wins…especially the sport of pro football. The revenue lost by giving up one “game” at home would more than be made up in goodwill…and maybe even made up in beer sales…just sayin’

• Besides, it’s kinda tough to sell these games as legitimate, when your own head coach tells the media (leading up to the last game) that if the staff is doing its job, they’ve already known who will make the team – and who won’t – for some time before the last game is even played…

• The best part of the game on Wednesday night? No catastrophic injuries. Remember 1989, when starters Andre Tippett, Garin Veris and Ronnie Lippett ALL went down in the last exhibition? Another reason to keep the pre-season short(er), sweet(er) and more to the point…

• Here’s another expectation for this season – longer games. Why? Indecisiveness by inexperienced officiating crews. Whether you side with the NFL or the zebras on this one (or even know what they’re squabbling about), expect hand-wringing and hair-pulling…or expletives deleted…by coaches…

• Kudos to URI athletic director Thorr Bjorn for the decision to have the Ram football program stay in the CAA. No disrespect to the NEC, but the drop down surely could have signaled the death-knell for Rhody football. Crowds of 4K become 1-2K…boosters and students lose further interest in an already-secondary sport on campus…and how can you pass off the expenditure of even 40 scholarships (the max allowed in the NEC) with apathy running rampant? Would winning in the NEC cure the ills? No. If you want to be a big boy, at least act like one…

• Sort of reminds me of a favorite quote from former Philadelphia Eagles’ coach Dick Vermeil: “If you don’t invest very much, then defeat doesn’t hurt very much and winning is not very exciting...”

• Love the positive reinforcement in the media by new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco…and his proclamation Thursday night that not only will the league have a true championship game after next season, but that the league is also going after a 14th member for football. Hey ‘Cuse! Care to reconsider?

• I’ve never liked them, much less pulled for the Fighting Irish…but I’ve always respected the program, the school and the football tradition at Notre Dame. However, the frustration of fans and alumni (as well as former players) is palpable, as former ND running back (and current radio analyst) Allen Pinkett said this week the program needs “a few bad citizens” in order for the program to win. Are the Irish so desperate to return to relevancy that they need to resort to thuggery in order to field a winner? Say it ain’t so…

• Remember the whole “Catholics vs. Convicts” thing in 1988 between Notre Dame and Miami? Wow, things have changed. Both programs are largely irrelevant these days. Miami wishes they could be what they used to be…ND wishes they could be what they’ve never been…

• I mean, could you have asked for a better start to the football season? Kent State’s Andre Parker runs the wrong way with a muffed punt on opening night this week…made even funnier by the fact two Towson players tackled him, stopping him from running into his OWN end zone. One problem though…you can’t return a muffed punt, by rule. Stupid is as stupid does… 

• My buddy Statbeast sez to err is human…to really screw something up takes a computer…

College football, for the most part, is an afterthought in the northeast. For a football nut like me, that’s a killer. Save for an occasional BC or UConn game, the sport is largely unnoticed by our “mainstream” fans…with all due respect to the three football-playing FCS (formerly Division 1-AA) schools in RI, and UMass, which moved up into the FBS (1-A) this season and is playing home games at Gillette Stadium. Just so you know what you’re missing out on…college football set an all-time high for attendance in 2011, attracting almost 50 million fans to games throughout the country…good for a 32% increase since 1998. There were also another 213 million fans who watched games on TV last year, according to the National Football Foundation. College football has TIED Major League Baseball as a fan favorite, ranking second behind the NFL in overall popularity. Even the oft-maligned, soon-to-be-discarded BCS Championship game drew 24 million viewers last year, which made it the 2nd highest-rated program in cable TV history. What are you missing? A lot, apparently. But I won’t…

• Our mailbag question/comment this week comes from Bob in Bridgewater, MA via Facebook: “Since no news yet on Ricky Ledo what else can you bring to update us on our Friars John? Did Buckets Henton actually go to Europe with Cotton? How did they do? Any new stuff on 2013 recruiting?” Bob: Those are all “million dollar” questions for Friar fans right now…here’s what is known, thanks to our friend Friarblog – Henton was a late addition to the roster for the Global Sports Academy tour, the same program that Kadeem Batts and Gerard Coleman played with last summer.  From August 8-16, in Belgium, Germany and France, both Henton and Cotton were coached by Loyola assistant Greg Manning, and their team went 5-0 against various Euro League teams. They didn't keep too many stats, but Manning said in the Baltimore Sun last week that Maryland senior James Padgett and "the kid from Providence (Henton) were the two best players on the team."  As for ’13 recruiting, a lot of offers made out there, no acceptances yet...after Josh Brown opted for Temple this past week.  Dayshon "Scoochie" Smith, Shane Rector, Jaylon Tate, Martez Walker and Ron Patterson are names to watch...along with forwards Brandon Austin (visiting PC in September) and Russell Woods...

• 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 [email protected]. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @jrooke0722…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

• And you’re up early anyway…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 850850…and send email to the show - [email protected] .

• More plugs – we’ll be back for a 12th season with “Patriots Playbook” on Patriots.com Radio beginning September 5th. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2:00-4:00 pm ET, we’ll be live with commentary, interviews and your calls and questions on the Patriots and the NFL via social media. It’s a great way to break up the day at work! But if you can’t make it for the live webcast, never fear…the podcast will be near. And, college football kicks off Sunday on the Big East/IMG Sports Network (yours truly with former Patriot Pete Brock) as Kentucky travels to Louisville for their Governors’ Cup…check your local listings, and listen LIVE online (for free) at www.bigeast.tv
 

 

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Comments:

John,
You and the other 3 people in New England who follow college football and basketball, should be happy now.

Comment #1 by pearl fanch on 2012 09 01

Pearl...that's the whole point. Broaden your horizons. Get out of your hole. Or your mother's basement. wink
And you're dead wrong about college basketball around here. Most of our traffic on this site comes from fans looking for info...fyi.
Come on in, the water's fine...

Comment #2 by John Rooke on 2012 09 01

Pearl is a moron. And not a very nice one.

Comment #3 by Jonathan Flynn on 2012 09 02

Flynn: I think you just showed who the moron really is.

Comment #4 by Michael Trenn on 2012 09 02

SCott the way the sox season has gone it most feel like 18 momths

Comment #5 by Howard Miller on 2012 09 04




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