Picking Philip Seymour Hoffman’s best sports movie

Some picked-up pieces while watching every movie that Philip Seymour Hoffman ever made . . .

Hoffman landed in the sports pages when he played Art Howe in “Moneyball,’’ but his greatest contribution to film and sports was his basketball performance in “Along Came Polly,’’ with Ben Stiller. Google it. You will laugh when you see Hoffman chucking up some of the worst shots you’ve ever seen while hollering, “Let it rain!,’’ “Old school!,’’ and “White chocolate!’’ We’ve all been on a court with That Guy. Daniel Day Lewis can be Abe Lincoln, but only Hoffman had the range to be Truman Capote and Stiller’s asphalt wingman.

One of the unspoken sidebars of the Alex Rodriguez fiasco is how it demonstrates that Major League Baseball’s drug testing is a joke. A-Rod passed all of his MLB drug tests during the same years in which he was using multiple banned substances. Like the rest of his Biogenesis Brethren, A-Rod went away because of a paper trail of evidence. What does this say about the testing? How can we trust any dirty-looking player who tells us he’s passing all his drug tests?


Local Red Sox coverage is so sweet and upbeat you’d think the owners had gone out and bought up all the media outlets. Or something like that.

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Oklahoma State basketball player Marcus Smart made a mistake when he shoved a Texas Tech fan in Lubbock. But I’ll gladly side with the 19-year-old ballplayer in this one. A 50-year-old man who gets his jollies taunting opponents for Old State U. is a loser in every league.

The NFL is most definitely ready for an openly gay player. It’ll take a strong head coach and front office. If Michael Sam slides, the Patriots are a natural landing spot. They love using fourth- and fifth-round picks on second-round talents, and they have a system that would support Sam.

Count me as one who would have honored Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens separately for the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Nomar Garciaparra also probably deserves his own night. That said, the anti-Clemens backlash around here always has been over the top. In his pre-roids days, Clemens was a great pitcher for the Red Sox, winning 192 games in a Boston uniform, tied for first with Cy Young. He was also a charitable and giving member of our community. There is no measurement for giving back, but a few of our worshiped athletes got in and out of Boston with stellar reputations and did not do one-10th of the charity work done by Roger Clemens.

Football’s concussion problem is deadly serious, but anyone who thinks the NFL is doomed is wildly mistaken. Parents in Concord and Weston deciding not to let their boys play football will have zero impact on the future of professional football.


North Carolina State football coach Tom O’Brien had a problem with Russell Wilson’s baseball interests, which contributed to Wilson finishing his college career at Wisconsin. A few years earlier, when O’Brien was at Boston College, he was OK with punter Johnny Ayers playing for the BC baseball team. Ayers, you might remember, had a moment of international fame when he cracked a clean single off Daisuke Matsuzaka on the hurler’s first pitch in North America.

The NBA’s Eastern Conference is the AFC of professional basketball.

ESPN Magazine’s Steve Wulf uncovered the story behind Lorde’s Grammy-winning hit “Royals.’’ It turns out the young singer from New Zealand was inspired by a 1976 National Geographic photo of George Brett signing autographs in his Kansas City Royals uniform. Lorde had no idea who Brett was but said, “I had this image from Nat Geo of this dude signing baseballs, a baseball player, and his shirt said, ‘Royals.’ ’’

Wonder where Vladimir Putin has Bob Kraft’s ring stashed?

David Stern was NBA commissioner for 30 years, and the hyperbolic Bill Walton says Stern is the most important person in the history of basketball, but my favorite Stern story involves his appearance in the Globe’s executive dining room in 1982. Stern was a trusted deputy for then-commissioner Larry O’Brien, and O’Brien sent him to Boston to offer the Globe “help” for a five-part investigative series we were doing on the NBA. “Just tell us what you need,’’ offered the smart young executive. Bob Ryan topped his list with “a letter of resignation from [NBA official] Bob Rakel.’’ In the same meeting, Globe TV critic Jack Craig dived on the dining room carpet when Stern tried to defend the NBA’s then-abysmal television ratings by telling us they were better than those of indoor soccer. Ryan turned to me and asked, “Whatever happened to decorum?’’ For the next 25 years, every time I saw Stern, he’d ask, “How’s Jack Craig?’’


NESN needs to do the right thing and set Jenny Dell free.

Wonder what the UZR geeks would have made of the late Paul Blair. Defensive metrics are something of a joke. Blair’s passing in December was a reminder that there’s nothing like the eyeball test when it comes to evaluation of ballplayers.

Before the Seahawks annihilated the Broncos, Seattle’s last championship came in 1979 when the Sonics defeated the Washington Bullets in the NBA Finals. Dennis Johnson was series MVP for Seattle.

Candidates to replace Bud Selig (if he ever really retires, that is): MLB’s COO Rob Manfred, Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski, former Twins and Orioles GM Andy MacPhail. Larry Lucchino would be a terrific commissioner but has too many enemies to get the job. Tom Werner no doubt is interested.

Ryan McDonough, also known around our office as the son of the late, great Will McDonough, is having a great rookie season as GM of the Phoenix Suns. Willie would be proud.

If the Olympics had “team skating” 20 years ago, we’d have had photos of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding sitting together, waiting for the marks assembled by US pairs and ice dancing teams.

What’s with the surge of baseball writers crying that they want to be able to vote for more than 10 players on the ballot? It’s really not necessary to vote for everyone. Making the Hall of Fame is supposed to be hard. It’s not the Hall of Very Good.

Is it possible to look forward to something and dread it at the same time? The 2014 Boston Marathon takes place April 21.

Trade Jeff Green. Yesterday.

The Grady Sizemore experiment reminds me of the Rocco Baldelli Era at Fenway.

Nobody enjoyed the Boston College-Holy Cross football rivalry more than myself, but putting the Crusaders on the field with the Eagles again is a bad idea.

The one and only Dr. Charles Steinberg was honored at Fenway Tuesday night by the Anti-Defamation League. Lucchino’s maestro is one of the all-time greats and Sox fans are lucky to have him in town.

Let it rain.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at