Picked-up pieces while waiting to hear that Jane Swift, Vinnie Piro, and Billy Bulger have been hired by Boston 2024 . . .
■ As we wade into conference tournament week and prepare for Selection Sunday, let’s pause to consider the popular notion that NCAA athletes should be paid because they are being exploited by colleges and universities. It’s an easy argument. And it’s certainly true that “revenue” sports at big institutions make bundles of TV money off the labors of “student-athletes,’’ who officially receive nothing more than a free education. But the real exploitation comes when said college “programs” fail to educate student-athletes who will not play professionally. According to the Wall Street Journal, “only about 2 percent of athletic-scholarship recipients are drafted.’’ Every draftee does not enjoy a professional career. Meanwhile, “a bachelor’s degree adds about $1 million to lifetime earnings,’’ according to the Journal. Relative to other students, scholarship athletes are richly rewarded for their efforts. Most of the ballplayers will not play professionally, so it’s up to them (and dare we say, their coaches?) to make sure they take advantage of the quality education that represents a tremendous financial burden for most American families.
■ Nothing says spring has arrived quite like the Revolution’s season opener, which (believe it or not) was Sunday night in Seattle.
■ Alex Johnson died in Southfield, Mich., at age 72 last week. The former Angels batting champ played a small role in Red Sox history. Johnson and Carl Yastrzemski were locked in a battle for the American League batting title in 1970 and Johnson prevailed by taking a seat on the last day of the season. Yaz ended his season hitting .3286. Johnson’s Angels played their final game one day after the Sox finished and Johnson was lifted for a pinch runner in the fifth inning after getting his second hit and edging ahead of Yaz. A year later, Johnson was regularly benched for loafing. Johnson sometimes would not even bother to jog down the first base line when drawing a base on balls. The Globe’s Peter Gammons summed him up best on these pages in a game story, writing, “In the fourth inning, Alex Johnson walked. And we mean walked.’’
■ The Bruins have a GM-for-life, a coach-for-life, and it seems that every player now gets locked into a long-term contract. But when does stability become complacency? Many fans find Peter Chiarelli’s amazing “patience” more annoying than applaudable. It’s hard to believe that making the playoffs would ever be an issue, but here’s hoping it’s not a one-and-done series with Montreal. Including playoffs, the Bruins have one win in their last 11 games with the Habs, including six straight home losses.
■ RIP Jerome Kersey. Part of the Portland Trail Blazers’ Flying Burrito Bros., Kersey was on the floor at the old Garden Dec. 6, 1985, when Portland beat the Celtics, 121-103. It was the only home loss for the Celtics all year. Including playoffs, the Celtics went 50-1 at home. Look it up.
■ If you can work your way around the skull-imploding analytics articles, pick up ESPN The Magazine’s March 2 issue with Alex Rodriguez on the cover. J.R. Moehringer’s exhaustive profile tells you more about A-Rod than anything ever published. If A-Rod hits six home runs this season, he ties Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list, trailing only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth. The Sox will see A-Rod at Yankee Stadium in the fourth game of the season (April 10), but you won’t have a chance to boo him at Fenway until May 1.
■ The Celtics are exciting again thanks to Isaiah Thomas. Still, I love Golden State coach Steve Kerr calling out Thomas for carrying the ball on almost every play. Kerr admitted that his guy (Stephen Curry) does it and, indeed, everybody does it, but it would be hilarious if officials ever started enforcing the rule.
■ Responding to news that UMass will honor John Calipari by retiring his “number,’’ next season, a reader asks if the Chicago White Sox plan on honoring their 1919 World Series team four years from now?
■ I have given up challenging the Patriots for anything they do in the offseason. They are always ready to go with a younger, cheaper model (Julian Edelman instead of Wes Welker, Ryan Allen instead of Zoltan Mesko) and they are invariably right.
■ According to Sports Illustrated, manager Joe Maddon has asked the Cubs analytics department to access the upside of batting his pitcher in the No. 8 spot in the order.
■ Larry Lucchino has vaulted back into the No. 3 spot in the club masthead in the Red Sox’ recently released 2015 media guide. Meanwhile, a 72-word paragraph regarding Tom Werner’s input into “The Cosby Show,’’ has been surgically scrubbed from the chairman’s bio.
■ Harvard plays Yale at the Palestra in Philly Saturday with an NCAA bid on the line. The Crimson have been in the tournament three straight seasons, winning games vs. New Mexico and Cincinnati in the last two tournaments. Yale hasn’t been to the big dance since it was less prestigious than the NIT back in 1962.
■ I’m not aligned with Curt Schilling on much, but hats off to the Big Blowhard for outing Twitter tough guys who thought they could aim hateful, threatening tweets at Schilling’s family. The web serves nicely as the new bathroom wall for anonymous cowards.
■ Big news out of Dallas: Rajon Rondo can’t make a free throw and doesn’t get along with his coach.
■ The Pittsburgh Pirates were compelled to issue a press release describing their “sickening” feeling when a photo surfaced of suspected ISIS monster Jihadi John (Mohammed Emwazi) wearing a Pirates cap.
■ Looks like Kendrick Perkins, now with the Cavaliers, is back in the NBA Finals. I still say the Celtics would have won the 2011 NBA title if Perk hadn’t been moved for Jeff Green in midseason.
■ Check out thetournament.com if you want to take a crack at a $1 million prize to play in an open basketball tournament that will conclude Aug. 2 in a game televised live on ESPN.
■ According to Slate, dating to 2007, NFL teams other than the Patriots lose a fumble once every 105 plays. The Patriots lose one every 187 plays. Amazing.Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at email@example.com