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dan shaughnessy

Could the book be closing on sports in 2020? And other thoughts . . .

The Garden offered a hopeful message, but is it realistic?
The Garden offered a hopeful message, but is it realistic?Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Picked-up pieces while wondering if we are all kidding ourselves . . .

▪ Far be it from me to be negative, but I’m seriously contemplating the notion that no big league baseball, basketball, hockey, and football games will be played this year. This has nothing to do with MLB’s preposterous labor crisis. It’s everything else

The daily drumbeat of athletes testing positive across the country, coupled with safety protocols that appear impossible to follow, make me think maybe the book is closing on sports in 2020. Hope I’m wrong.

▪ How is it possible that MLB players and owners came away from their March agreement with two separate understandings regarding player compensation? The players believed the agreement was ironclad and assured them pro-rated pay regardless of the potential for empty stadiums. The owners believed the agreement was ironclad and assured them that player compensation would be open for further reduction if games were played without fans.

Who was the lawyer who drew this up? You and I can’t buy a house with that kind of contract ambiguity.

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▪ Who ever thought baseball fans would be longing for the good old days of Bud Selig? Rob Manfred is making Uncle Bud look like Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Rob Manfred had a rough spring.
Rob Manfred had a rough spring.LM Otero/Associated Press

▪ We love Boston. We are a proud community. But it serves no purpose to enlist in the cult of denial when Blacks in the sports world repeatedly tell us they are uncomfortable here and cite their own bad experiences.

Former NESN anchor Elle Duncan said it best when she appeared on WEEI last week: “What I would say to you is, how can we all be lying? How can Adam Jones and Mike Wilbon and me and Torii Hunter and the countless other African-Americans who have said they’ve experienced this issue in Boston, how can they all be wrong? Why would we all lie about that?” Amen.

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It’s patently unfair to characterize all New England fans as racist, but the climate created by an ignorant few is not improved when the angry social media/airwave mob demands proof and brands those violated as liars.

▪ “Long Gone Summer” did some serious airbrushing of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s cheating ways. The ESPN documentary addressed the steroid issue lightly. It was mentioned near the end that Sosa’s only positive test was the one leaked by the New York Times along with three others in the 2003 baseline testing. The documentary cited Sosa and Alex Rodriguez as two of the four from 2003 — but did not mention that the other two were Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Of the four, only Ortiz got the presidential pardon from Manfred.

ESPN's "Long Gone Summer" put Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the spotlight again.
ESPN's "Long Gone Summer" put Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the spotlight again.FILES/DANIEL LIPPITT/AFP via Getty Images

▪ Here’s what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told the New York Times when he was asked about NFL owners (Bob Kraft and Jerry Jones) donating millions to President Trump: “It’s just hypocritical. It’s incongruent. It doesn’t make sense. People aren’t blind. Do you go to your staff and your players and talk about injustices and democracy and how to protest? I don’t get it. I think they put themselves in a position that’s untenable.”

▪ I can’t get enough of the Kendrick Perkins-Kyrie Irving war of words. Perk said this on ESPN last week: “If you take Kyrie Irving’s brain and put it in a bird right now, guess what that bird is going to do? It’s going to fly backwards because Kyrie right now is confused.”

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▪ QUIZ: Name the onetime Boston Celtic who was named commissioner of the American Soccer League in 1974 (answer below).

▪ The NCAA is putting pressure on the state of Mississippi, telling officials that it will not hold major competitions in the state unless the Confederate emblem is erased from the state flag. Mississippi State star running back Kylin Hill tweeted, “Either change the flag or I won’t be representing this State anymore.”

Mississippi State's Kylin Hill bursts through the line in a game against Louisville last December.
Mississippi State's Kylin Hill bursts through the line in a game against Louisville last December.Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

This comes on the heels of the Minnesota Twins removing a statue of late owner Calvin Griffith, who moved the team from Washington, D.C., to Minnesota in 1961. Griffith’s many racist remarks are well-documented.

Meanwhile, according to a new book by Doug Swanson (“Cult of Glory”), the law-enforcement Texas Rangers of the 19th century had a history of lynchings, massacres, and white supremacy in the Lone Star State. Wonder if this will be a new problem for the American League baseball team with the same name.

▪ Enes Kanter’s father has been freed from a Turkish prison. “They no longer could keep him from his freedom because of the spotlight that we put on this case,‘' tweeted the Celtics center.

▪ Tom Brady has been working out in Florida with Shedeur Sanders, a rising senior quarterback at Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas. Sanders is the son of the loathsome Deion Sanders.

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▪ Old friend Bruce Hurst, who most recently worked for the Dodgers, checked in from out West after reading about MLB’s loose rules regarding the acquisition of international underage prospects in Latin America. USA Today reported that prospects are verbally agreeing to professional deals at the ages of 12 and 13.

Bruce Hurst, seen here in 2004, helped pitch the 1986 Red Sox to the brink of a title.
Bruce Hurst, seen here in 2004, helped pitch the 1986 Red Sox to the brink of a title.Richman, Evan Globe Staff

“The whole game is corrupt,” said Hurst, a former Latin America field coordinator for the Dodgers. “How do you exploit children as a business model and then just claim you can’t keep the rules?”

▪ David Tyree was let go by the Giants this week after six years as director of player engagement. Tyree is best-known around here as the guy . . . never mind. You know who he is.

▪ The death of Claudell Washington at age 65 last week reminded me of the final home run of Bill Buckner’s career in 1990 when Claudell fell into Fenway’s right-field seats after missing a deep fly ball by Buckner. Billy Buck was able to circle the bases before Claudell made it out of the stands. It was the final year of both of their careers. And now both are gone too soon.

▪ You Knew It Would Happen Dept.: Fans gathering on the balcony of an apartment complex near Colonial in Fort Worth could be heard yelling, “Get in the hole!” when players hit shots on the 14th hole of the Charles Schwab Challenge.

▪ Congratulations to Newton North High School baseball coach Joe Siciliano, who’s hanging up his cleats after 52 years in Newton schools and 33 seasons coaching the Tigers. North won the Super 8 in 2014 and Siciliano is enshrined in the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

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▪ Joseph Corcoran of Milton died at age 84 June 3. Corcoran was not known to sports fans, but he’s the man responsible for tearing down the Columbia Point housing project and replacing it with Harbor Point in 1990.

Columbia Point was one of the rougher neighborhoods in our city, and I covered Boston Neighborhood Basketball League games there in the early 1970s. It was home to Felton Sealey, who won a state championship at Don Bosco, then went on to star at Oregon.

According to an obituary in the Wall Street Journal, Corcoran played basketball into his mid 60s every Friday night, then would join his friends at the Eire Pub for “the second half.” RIP.

▪ Quiz answer: Bob Cousy.


Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.