Picked-up pieces while mailing a birthday card to the great Bob Cousy, who turns 92 Sunday . . .
▪ Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is one of a long list of former league MVPs who came to Boston to resume or finish their careers. The list includes (among others) Kevin Garnett, Bob McAdoo, Bill Walton, Shaquille O’Neal, Jaromir Jagr, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Andre Dawson, Don Baylor, Orlando Cepeda, Elston Howard, Lou Boudreau, Jimmie Foxx, and Lefty Grove. How many of you remember that 1989 National League MVP Kevin Mitchell played 27 games for the 1996 Red Sox?
Newton was MVP of the NFL five years ago. He’s 31 now and comes to the Patriots after subpar seasons owed to injuries. Patriots fans would love it if Newton turns out to be another Garnett. KG was 31 when he came to the Celtics four years after his MVP season with the Timberwolves and he was still a dominant player. Garnett led the Celtics to a championship in his first season here. Baylor was American League MVP when he drove in 139 runs for the Angels in 1979. Seven years later, at the age of 36, Baylor was still good for 31 homers and 94 RBIs with the pennant-winning Red Sox.
A lot of former MVPs had forgettable stints in Boston. Jagr was 14 years past his MVP prime when he played 33 games for the 2012-2013 Bruins. Henderson was near the end when he played for the Red Sox in 2002. McAdoo was only 27 when he came to Boston in 1979 and his 20-game stint with the last-place Celtics was completely forgettable. McAdoo is best remembered here as the key piece in a trade with Detroit that ultimately delivered Robert Parish and Kevin McHale to the Celtics.
▪ Alex Verdugo growing on you yet? The cocky kid plays with passion, which is in short supply around Fenway this year.
▪ Time for the Gap Year Red Sox to see what they can get for J. D. Martinez, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brandon Workman and Matt Barnes before the trade deadline. Stunning that the once-proud Sox last week had a 16-man pitching staff that included seven hurlers who were either released or designated for assignment over the past nine months. Wasn’t Chaim Bloom brought here to find gems in MLB’s junkyard of broken-down pitching arms?
▪ Put me down as a fan of the ambient noise, cardboard cutouts and virtual fans at ballparks and arenas for these televised games in empty venues.
▪ NBA shooters are making more shots since the layoff, particularly free throws and corner 3-pointers. Makes me wonder if those goofy fans trying to distract guys at the free throw line are actually effective.
▪ In an interview featured on the Liverpool Football Club website, John Henry beamed about his team being champions of England, champions of Europe, the Club World Cup, and the Super Cup and said, " . . . to have been part of it really has been the capstone of my career and I think all of us who have been part of Fenway Sports Group.”
▪ Nomar can’t fool me with those Sam Adams ads. Never saw him smile like that. A sneer is all we ever got.
▪ The depleted Marlins thus far are the story of the baseball season. They went into Saturday night’s action with the best record in baseball (7-1). Florida called up 30-year-old rookie infielder, Eddy Alvarez, for a doubleheader against the Orioles. Alvarez was a silver medalist speedskater for the United States at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
▪ RIP former Yankee infielder Horace Clarke, who died Wednesday at the age of 81. Clarke came to the big leagues in 1965 just as the Yankee Dynasty of Mantle and Ford was crumbling. He became the face of failure in pinstripes. Even the Globe’s great Ray Fitzgerald got in on the act, referencing Yankee Stadium as “The House That Horace Clarke is Tearing Down.’' In fairness, Clarke had more hits than any American League player other than Carl Yastrzemski from 1967-73.
▪ Quiz: Nine major league players hit 600 or more homers. Who are the only two who never had a 50-homer season? (answer below).
▪ It’s only a matter of time now that Ed Davis has hired J.T. Watkins to help crack the case in the Dominican Republic.
▪ There are many examples of big leaguers who have hit .400 over a 60-game stretch since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. Stat guru Bill Chuck discovered that Tito Francona — Terry’s dad — batted .406 over a 60-game stretch from July 2 to Sept. 7 in 1959. Dad Francona finished at .363 over 122 games. In 1984, Terry Francona batted .400 over a 35-game stretch in April and May. He finished at .346 over 58 games.
▪ The folly of big-time college football is still in play. Greedy Power 5 conferences have yet to acknowledge the inevitable and are planning full seasons. Meanwhile, UMass, a complete disaster since moving into big-time football, was scheduled to get $1.9 million for the privilege of being annihilated by Auburn in November, but that payout went away when the SEC chose to play only conference games. The Minutemen are 19-77 since moving up to Division 1 in 2012.
▪ A Newton resident and Boston College neighbor penned a letter of concern to Newton’s mayor and city council, expressing concern about BC football players not taking proper safety precautions while practicing for the upcoming season. BC spokesman Jack Dunn responded with a missive in which he stated that the players “are in compliance with state regulations.” BC has announced its revised schedule, one without Holy Cross, which had been slated for Halloween. The Patriot League is wisely not playing football this fall and hopefully we won’t have to watch BC-HC again. Navy-Notre Dame won’t be playing this fall for the first season since 1927.
▪ Yes, that was Danny Ainge’s son, Tanner, interviewed by CNN last month in the wake of a combustible county commissioner’s meeting regarding student mask regulations when public schools reopen in Provo, Utah. Ainge is county chairman and chaired a meeting that was disrupted by anti-maskers. “This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing,’' Ainge told the angry crowd before postponing the meeting. “We are supposed to be physically distancing, and wearing masks.’'
▪ In case you missed it, the Nets’ 119-116 win over the Bucks Tuesday was officially the biggest NBA upset in 27 years. The Nets were 19.5-point underdogs going into that game.
▪ Hats off to Zak DeOssie, who retired this week, capping one of the great and underrated sports careers of any local athlete. Son of Steve DeOssie, Zak played at Phillips Academy Andover and Brown before his 13-year NFL career with the Giants. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and retires with two Super Bowl rings.
▪ Crushing to see the likes of Gary Tanguay, Abby Chin, Joe Haggerty, Danielle Trotta, and A. Sherrod Blakely let go at NBC Sports Boston. All seasoned pros who make the local sports market better.
▪ Congrats to Mike Trout on the birth of his son: Beckham Aaron Trout. BAT.
▪ Quiz answer: Hank Aaron and Albert Pujols.