This column, originally published Oct. 2, has been updated. Read more on the Patriots' COVID-19 positive tests here.
Picked-up pieces as the Lakers get ready to tie the Celtics with a 17th championship banner . . .
▪ Cam Newton has the coronavirus. Clearly, the virus doesn’t care if you are a Patriots fan, a Chiefs fan, a Cam Newton fan, or a Patrick Mahomes fan. Just like it doesn’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican. The virus decides everything and the virus has decided that the “big game” with the Pats and Chiefs will not be played Sunday afternoon.
As ever, there are tentative plans and hopes, but no one really knows anything anymore. In sports, we have operated on a day-to-day basis for more than 100 years. It’s all different now. This is the era of the virus. Sports — like everything else —now changes from minute to minute. Everything is “stay tuned” for the indefinite future.
▪ The Red Sox do everyone a disservice when they talk about Eduardo Rodriguez as part of their rotation in 2021. It will be great if that happens, but the Sox have minimized E-Rod’s health risk since he tested positive for the coronavirus. Rodriguez has inflammation of his heart caused by the virus. It’s great to be hopeful, but the Sox were still talking about him pitching in 2020 after his myocarditis was discovered. On Sept. 25, there was "encouraging'' news that Rodriguez has been cleared to “start walking” in a couple of weeks. Walking! Let’s slow down the train on E-Rod the pitcher and hope he lives a long, healthy life and perhaps someday resumes his brilliant career.
▪ More than ever, Kyrie Irving presents as a delusional fool. His latest beauty came when he went on Kevin Durant’s podcast, insulted ex-teammates in Cleveland and Boston, then gave new Nets coach Steve Nash a warm welcome, saying, "I don’t really see us as having a head coach . . . We don’t need someone to come in with their coaching philosophy and change everything we’re doing.''
▪ No one around here is surprised to learn that Don Sweeney is looking to see what he can get in a trade for Tuukka Rask. There’s no way Cam Neely wants Rask back after the goalie’s abrupt departure from the Toronto bubble in the middle of the playoffs.
▪ After the Yankees beat the Indians, 10-9, in a game that ended at 1:14 a.m. Thursday, manager Aaron Boone said, "I’ve been in some really big games. I don’t know how you can top that one.'' Hmmm. Let me give Grady Little, Pedro Martinez, and Tim Wakefield a call and get back to you, Skip.
▪ Feel sorry for the Minnesota Twins, who have lost 18 consecutive postseason games since 2004. The Red Sox lost 13 straight between 1986-98, a slump that started on that fateful night at Shea when Mookie Wilson’s little grounder scooted "behind the bag!'' The Chicago Black Hawks lost 16 consecutive playoff games from 1975-79.
▪ There’ll be plenty of emotion in both American League Division Series. The A’s hate the Astros even more than the rest of America, and the Yankees and Rays feature the same raw feelings we saw with the Red Sox and Yankees in 2003-04. Rays manager Kevin Cash put the Yankees on notice in September after Aroldis Chapman threw at Mike Brosseau’s head. "We have a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 m.p.h.,'' warned Cash.
▪ Since 2000, Boston’s four major pro sports teams have advanced to the Final Four of their respective sports 29 times and won 12 championships.
▪ Quiz: Name the last New York team to win a championship in any major sport? Answer below.
▪ Ed Davis took a break from cracking the case in the Dominican Republic to tape a political ad for Question 1.
▪ Joel Sherman of the New York Post thinks the Mets should go after Theo Epstein. Theo is in his ninth year of a 10-year deal with the Cubs. He’s already a lock for the Hall of Fame, but can you imagine if he could win with the Mets after his curse-busting terms in Boston and Chicago?
▪ Why are mask-wearing football coaches still holding flip cards over their face when they talk into their headsets? Todd Bowles and Steve Belichick are still doing it and they’re not alone. Note to the paranoid: Lip readers can’t see through the facemask.
▪ Let the record show that Carl Yastrzemski saw something in Bobby Dalbec early. Yaz works with Red Sox minor leaguers for a couple of weeks every spring training and in 2019 cited Dalbec as a young hitter he particularly liked. It’s a blessing and a curse when any Sox rookie gets out of the gate with amazing numbers. Dalbec joined Sam Horn as the second Red Sox player to hit five homers in his first nine big league games. Tanner Houck’s amazing three-start performance (one earned run in 17 innings) in September drew comparisons with Billy Rohr, Vaughn Eshelman, and Juan Pena. None of them went on to long careers.
▪ How does Pascal Siakam make second-team All-NBA while Jayson Tatum is on the third team?
▪ When the Rays beat the Blue Jays in the first round it marked Tampa Bay’s first postseason series victory since Joe Maddon’s Rays beat the Terry Francona Red Sox in the seventh game of the 2008 ALCS.
▪ Old friend Jed Lowrie was paid $20 million for seven at-bats over two seasons with the Mets. Lowrie signed a two-year deal before the 2019 season, went 0 for 7 over nine games, and did not play this season because of a balky knee.
▪ The great Pete Maravich came along too late to take advantage of the 3-point shot. Maravich averaged 44.2 points per game over three years with LSU before the three existed. Pistol wound up taking only 15 NBA threes (he made 10), including 3 of 4 with the 1979-80 Celtics.
▪ RIP to Mac Davis, the songwriter/actor who died Tuesday. Davis didn’t have a lot of movie roles, but he was great as Nick Nolte’s quarterback in "North Dallas Forty.''
▪ No John Calipari Kentucky player has won an NBA championship. That will change this year. The Heat have Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. The Lakers have Anthony Davis.
▪ It’s not too early to order your copy of “The Spencer Haywood Rule: Battles, Basketball and the Making of an American Iconoclast” by the Globe’s Gary Washburn and former Globie Marc Spears.
▪ One more time to all you reporters Zooming out there. Asking Bill Belichick, "How great was your offensive line today?'' is not a real question. You are making a statement and asking the coach to quantify the level of something you have already established. Please stop.
▪ Quiz answer: The New York Giants defeated the Patriots on Feb. 5, 2012, in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.