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dan shaughnessy

Thoughts on the last-place Red Sox and other topics

Red Sox fans might feel as though they have hit a wall this season.
Red Sox fans might feel as though they have hit a wall this season.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Picked-up pieces while watching the embarrassing parade of meatball artists the tanking Red Sox send to the mound every day . . .

▪ Does winning four World Series in this century give Red Sox ownership a lifetime pass for biennial last-place finishes and the Triple A product we are seeing now? The Sox are about to finish in the cellar for the fourth time since 2012. In 80 seasons from 1932-2011, the Red Sox finished last exactly once (1992 under Butch Hobson). Now the Sox lead the majors in losses and we’re about to see the fourth basement finish in nine seasons.

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The tanking we’ve seen in the last three weeks is worse than anything the franchise has put fans through since the pre-Yawkey era of 1926-32. And yet still we have NESN feeding us the “Heat Zone” item that features a random “hot” Sox player who has better stats than some slumping Blue Jay. There’s also a Predict The Game app, treating sophisticated Sox fans like 7-year-olds.

Brad Stevens directs his team during the first half of Monday's win over Toronto.
Brad Stevens directs his team during the first half of Monday's win over Toronto.Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

▪ Watching the Celtics annihilate the Raptors Monday, 111-89, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that the Celtics are simply better than the defending NBA champs. What a beating! Impressive. The Celtics are 39-1 all time when they take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. The lone loss was Brad Stevens’s 2018 team that led Cleveland, 2-0, then lost to LeBron James and Co. in seven.



▪ The announcement of Patriots captains is an annual Foxborough farce. The captains allegedly are selected by a player vote, and I have no doubt that most of them are legit election winners, but there are regular blatant examples of Bill Belichick using the captaincy to make a statement or pump of the tires of somebody he wants recognized. In this spirit, say hello to team captain Cam Newton.

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Cam Newton was named one of the Patriots' captains.
Cam Newton was named one of the Patriots' captains.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

▪ The Bruins flameout against the Lightning should put a stop to any notion that this group (Bergeron, Chara, Krejci, Marchand) will go down as the best in franchise history.

Former ace goalie and current NESN analyst Andrew Raycroft suggested to the Globe’s Matt Porter that another Stanley Cup in 2020 might have elevated today’s Core Four “as possibly the best group of all-time Bruins.”

Nope. I understand that if the Bruins had won the Cup this year, the current group could claim two Cups and two other appearances in the Finals between 2011 and 2020. That still wouldn’t have vaulted them over the Orr/Esposito Bruins, who won Cups in ’70 and ’72 , made it to the Finals in ’74, and in 1971 went 57-14-7, shattering every scoring record before they were stunned in the first round by Ken Dryden and the Canadiens.

▪ This from a North Shore parent who has a daughter at Clemson: “I love college sports, and I was a Division 1 athlete myself. But colleges need to be spending every piece of information they have trying to keep their students safe, not figuring out how to have a football game.

“Safety has proven to be a struggle at nearly every school that has tried to open in person. At Clemson, the positivity rate for COVID tests is currently 14.9 percent, compared to a statewide rate in Massachusetts of 0.8 percent.

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“I would love to see Trevor Lawrence win the Heisman and Dabo win another national title, but now my daughter and many others at Clemson have COVID. That’s not a worthwhile tradeoff.”

▪ QUIZ: The division-winning 1982 Angels had four hitters who won MVP awards in the 1970s. Name them (answer below).

▪ When Marcus Smart drained five threes in the fourth quarter of Boston’s come-from-behind win against the Raptors in Game 2, Cedric Maxwell tweeted, “Just saw my bro DJ reborn in front of my eyes.”

Marcus Smart shoots over Toronto's Fred VanVleet during the first half of a recent playoff game.
Marcus Smart shoots over Toronto's Fred VanVleet during the first half of a recent playoff game.Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Nice. Dennis Johnson was hardly a marksman, but there was nobody you’d rather have taking a shot in a crucial situation. Smart would be Auerbach’s favorite player on the 2020 Celtics.

▪ There will be ambient noise when the Patriots play at Gillette Stadium against the Dolphins Sunday. Swell. Does that mean when the Patriots achieve a first down, we’ll get a canned version of the moronic, “Sony Michel carries for 10 yards and that’s good for another Patriots . . . (cue the fake crowd chanting) ‘first down!’ ’‘?

▪ RIP Lou Brock. The great Cardinals outfielder hit .391 with 4 homers, 13 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases in three seven-game World Series between 1964-68. Brock was a wrecking ball against the 1967 Red Sox, hitting .414 with seven steals in seven tries in St. Louis’s victory.

▪ Is J.D. Martinez a creation of video? Can’t hit without it? Is he lost without J.T. Watkins?

Seriously, what’s up with this guy? He’s hitting .227 with four homers.

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J.D. Martinez walks off the field after getting hit by a pitch during a recent game against Washington.
J.D. Martinez walks off the field after getting hit by a pitch during a recent game against Washington.Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

When he Zoomed with the local media last week, Martinez set down ground rules, leading off with, “I’m going to say my statement before you guys come at me, OK? I don’t want to talk about the past or the history . . . You guys don’t like that one very much, huh?”

Correct. Like Sox fans, we generally prefer stand-up guys who don’t make excuses.

▪ Atlanta Braves Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall had three-homer games at Fenway Park on back-to-back nights last week. They became the 14th and 15th Sox opponents to accomplish the feat.

Mark Teixeira had been the last to accomplish the feat in 2010. Lou Gehrig was first to do it in 1927. Joe Carter did it twice. The others were Ken Keltner, Bobby Avila, Harmon Killebrew, Boog Powell, Bill Freehan, Freddie Patek, Tim Raines, Mark McGwire, Frank Thomas, and Adam Lind.

▪ Can’t wait to get my hands on Jeff Benedict’s Patriots tome, “The Dynasty.”

▪ The Red Sox and Blue Jays used 13 pitchers in Sunday’s 418-pitch, 4:23 abomination. On its path to oblivion, MLB is seeing games last longer than ever, and teams are using 4.6 pitchers per game. Batters are striking out more than ever and seeing a record 3.95 pitches per at-bat.

▪ Quiz answer: Don Baylor, Fred Lynn, Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson.


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