Music and sports both make for the airing of passionate and subjective opinions. So, it’s time to put my sports thoughts on shuffle, like an iPod on a long road trip, and offer a few random selections from the iThink.
1. I think the Red Sox would have signed Stephen Drew even if Will Middlebrooks didn’t get hurt. The Sox are using the classic break-up bromide of “It’s not you, it’s me” to explain to deposed shortstop Xander Bogaerts why Drew was re-signed. General manager Ben Cherington went out of his way Wednesday to say the move was not about a lack of belief in Bogaerts’s ability to play shortstop, but about making the 2014 team better. But he also didn’t say, when asked, that the Drew signing wouldn’t have happened if Middlebrooks didn’t fracture a finger last Friday.
It was becoming increasingly tough to convince a veteran clubhouse that the best chance of winning wasn’t being forfeited in favor of on-the-job training. A longer audition for Bogaerts and Middlebrooks would have been preferable, but with the American League East there for the taking, it was no longer realistic.
2. I think the Celtics are going to have a hard time acquiring Kevin Love with the No. 6 pick in the 2014 draft. Everyone likes to harken back to 2007, when Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge used another lackluster lottery pick (No. 5) as the centerpiece of a deal to acquire Ray Allen. But the Seattle SuperSonics had just drafted Kevin Durant with the No. 2 pick. And Allen was turning 32 and coming off double ankle surgery. The Timberwolves don’t have a Durant-esque savior. Minnesota is not going to get that player with the sixth pick in a four-player draft (Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, and Dante Exum).
3. I think the biggest tanking team in sports isn’t in the NBA. No, the Houston Astros are the biggest Think Tank. They have the No. 1 pick in next month’s MLB Draft for the third year in a row. Houston has lost 100 games three consecutive seasons, including 111 last year, when they had a $22 million payroll. Houston doubled its payroll this season, but entered Wednesday with the second-worst record in the majors. The Astros also delayed bringing up top prospect George Springer to preserve a year of club control. But you don’t hear Houston talked about with the scorn and derision that a rebuilding NBA outfit draws.
4. I think the Bruins have a different definition of tweaks than I do. Here’s hoping Bruins president Cam Neely considers swapping out a top-six winger and acquiring a top-four defenseman tweaks. You can’t just blame pinging posts, the absence of Dennis Seidenberg, and young defensemen for the Bruins demise at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. Remember the Bruins were a Chernobyl-like Maple Leafs meltdown away from being eliminated in the first round last season. Brad Marchand is an agitator. Milan Lucic is an intimidator. But the Bruins need a forward with less bark and more goal-scoring bite.
5. I think you can’t have it both ways with the selection of Jimmy Garoppolo. If we are asked to submit to the idea that Garoppolo was selected to replace Ryan Mallett, not Tom Brady, then there needs to be a logical agreement about evaluating the pick. If Jimmy G turns out to be Steve Young to Brady’s Joe Montana it can’t be hailed as a stroke of genius since he was brought here primarily to serve as a backup. But if it turns out the team took a career backup with a second-round pick in Brady’s window it gets written off as intending to draft a hat-wearing, clip-board-toting QB all along. Fair?
6. I think trying to suppress Michael Sam’s sexuality defeats the purpose of him coming out. It was like Sam was supposed to mention it once and never speak of it again. The proposed and much-criticized Sam docuseries was never going to film at the St. Louis Rams facility. So, what’s the harm? If Sam is good enough to play, the Rams should keep him. If, like most seventh-round picks, he can’t play, cut him like the rest of the roster fodder. We can treat people equally without forcing them to conform. Sam is trying to break a barrier. To ignore that part of the story is to basically say what was said to gay athletes for decades — pretend you’re not gay and just play.
7. I think seeing a Triple Crown winner in horse racing is on my sports fan bucket list. I didn’t think I would ever see the Red Sox win the World Series, a Triple Crown winner in baseball, the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, or a college football playoff. Seeing a horse win the Triple Crown would rank somewhere on my list between seeing a major league baseball player bat .400 and the United States men’s soccer team win the World Cup. Count me among those who will be pulling for California Chrome June 7 at the Belmont Stakes.
8. I think the Red Sox will regret not trading for Matt Kemp. The Sox entered Wednesday ranked 24th in the majors in center fielder OPS. Kemp has bounced back from shoulder and ankle injuries to hit .273/.340/.807 with 5 home runs and five steals in 39 games for the Dodgers. Kemp, who has five years and $107 million remaining on his contract after 2014, would have been a costly gamble. But he is precisely the type of gamble a well-resourced team, devoid of righthanded, power-hitting outfield prospects, can afford to take.
Bonus track: I think you should tune in for the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday. The intracity match between Spanish league (La Liga) rivals Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid is the Super Bowl of European club soccer. What do you think the odds are I can get Shaughnessy to watch?