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Dan Shaughnessy

Toronto folks know nothing of disappointment

Picked-up pieces while blowing out the candles on Kevin Garnett’s 37th birthday cake . . .

What do we make of Gronk? He’s having a fourth surgery on his arm this week and had an MRI on his back. I’m worried. He’s great to watch on the football field and so much fun off the field. We saw far too little of the great Tony Conigliaro after he was beaned in 1967. Imagine if Bobby Orr could have played as many seasons as Jaromir Jagr. Is Gronk destined to be one of those great Boston athletes with a career cut short by injuries?

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Anybody else think Tuukka Rask looks a little like Clay Buch­holz?

Why is it “news” when a coach honors his contract? We all love Doc Rivers, but it’s amazing that Danny Ainge has to make an “announcement” to tell us that the coach, who is under contract through 2016, is coming back for another year.

After the disaster of Game 7 in Boston last Monday, the Toronto Star cited “other crushing disappointments” in city history and could come up only with: 1. Blowing an AL East lead against the Tigers in 1987; 2. Losing to the Kings in the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs; 3. Vince Carter missing a shot against the 76ers in the 2001 conference finals; 4. Not getting the 2008 Olympics; 5. Leon McQuay fumbling against Calgary in the 1971 Grey Cup. Ha. Mere child’s play. Toronto folks know nothing of crushing disappointment. Our medal platform includes the likes of the Bill Buckner Game, the Grady Little Game, the Bucky Dent Game, two Super Bowls against the Giants, and the 3-0 Bruins lead over the Flyers. And that’s just for starters.

Always liked Jimmy Connors and his game, but it’s impossible to fathom why he would spill intensely private details of his breakup with Chris Evert in his autobiography. It was 40 years ago. Nobody needs to know.

Don’t you wish you could watch one of these games with Tim Thomas?

Big props to our own Gary Washburn for his vote, and his explanation of his vote, in the 2012-13 NBA MVP balloting. Washburn was the only one of 121 scribes to vote for Carmelo Anthony over LeBron James and made his case in unemotional, professional fashion. It reminded me of 1967, when every writer except one voted for Carl Yastrzemski as American League MVP. In ’67, the dissenter was Max Nichols of the Minneapolis Star, who voted for Twins infielder Cesar Tovar. Tovar wasn’t even the Twins’ best player that year. Harmon Killebrew tied Yaz for the home run crown.

Something tells me we’re going to be measuring Paul Pierce’s place in Celtics history very soon. It’s too bad the last memory of Pierce will be his clang show against the Knicks in Game 6. The top four Celtics of all time are Bill Russell, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, and Bob Cousy. Next is either Pierce or Kevin McHale. Then comes Sam Jones, Dave Cowens, and Robert Parish. It’s hard to know what to do with Garnett because he’s only been here six years. But the Pierce argument begins as soon as the Celtics buy him out of his contract.

If you haven’t seen “Silver Linings Playbook,’’ or if you plan on seeing it again, check out Jennifer Lawrence’s spectacular scene regarding the Philadelphia Eagles and the Eagles’ “juju.’’ Her impassioned speech includes at least one sports factual error. She has the wrong score of the Eagles-Seahawks game from 2008. It was Eagles, 26-7, not 14-7.

Bet David Stern is thrilled to have the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals. Old friend Chris Wallace is general manager of the Grizz, and Tony Allen has been their best defensive player.

Facts, not opinions: According to Major League Baseball, there have been 636 professional players suspended for violating MLB’s drug policies since 2005. Two hundred and thirty-four of those 636 are from the Dominican Republic. That’s 37 percent. Players from the Dominican Republic made up 10.4 percent (89 of 856) of Opening Day rosters in 2013. Of 38 positive tests involving major league players, 13 players (34 percent) hailed from the DR. This doesn’t mean all Dominican players use steroids. It means the steroid issue is significant in the DR. Some of you old-timers might remember a time when East German swimmers were more likely to test positive for banned substances than other swimmers. An exhaustive ESPN.com report from 2009 (headlined “Steroid problem reaches critical mass in the DR”) stated, “According to numbers provided by MLB, in 2004, the inaugural year of drug testing in the Dominican Summer League, 11 percent of teenage prospects signed by major league clubs tested positive.’’

The Wall Street Journal notes that Miguel Cabrera is on a pace to surpass Pete Rose as major league baseball’s all-time hits leader. Cabrera got his first hit at age 20 and got to 1,500 at 28. Rose was a 21-year-old rookie, and got his 1,500th hit at 29. Pete had a body type perhaps more suited to longevity, however. Rose played until he was 45.

Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski is from Pittsburgh and had a Jagr poster on his wall when he was a kid.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was trained to be good to reporters. Spoelstra’s grandfather, the late Watson Spoelstra, was a baseball reporter for the Detroit News. Denny McLain once dropped a bucket of water on Spoelstra’s head.

Ben Bradlee Jr.’s long-awaited, 800-page opus on Ted Williams is scheduled to be launched by Little, Brown on Dec. 3. Bradlee worked 10 years on the tome, entitled, “The Kid — The Immortal Life of Ted Williams.’’

This time of year we are reminded again that hockey play-by-play is incredibly difficult and we have some of the best in the business in our town.

June 20 marks the 16th anniversary of ABCD’s Field of Dreams event, which will be held at Fenway Park this year. Anyone with questions about the event is encouraged to contact Alecia Carey at 617-348-6244 or alecia.carey@bostonabcd.org.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.
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