Picked-up pieces while mourning the loss, and celebrating the life and times, of Tommy Heinsohn …
▪ Chaim Bloom is a devout man with the highest standards of integrity. Given the way he lives his life, was it hard for Bloom to hire a manager who got caught cheating?
“It was certainly something I had to wrestle with, that I had to think a lot about,” the Red Sox chief baseball officer acknowledged in a phone call Thursday night. “I didn’t take it lightly.
"I also came to the conclusion that it wasn’t something that should disqualify him. It wasn’t something that should be held so heavily against him that he should never work in the game again or that I would be unwilling to employ him again.”
It’s hard to believe rehiring Cora was Bloom’s call. Tuesday’s carefully crafted press conference didn’t convince me otherwise.
Was reaching out to Cora really Bloom’s idea?
“Yes,” he answered. "Look, it was obvious throughout the year that he was going to be an option that teams could consider, so once we made the decision on Ron [Roenicke] and we knew we would be looking for a long-term manager, it would be silly not to think about it.
“At the time we started that search, I knew I wanted to have some kind of conversation with him. I didn’t know at that time if I was ready to consider him a real candidate.”
Whose idea was it to talk to Cora?
“I would say it was my idea,” Bloom said. "I don’t think anybody put me up to it. Our owners made it clear that if it was something we wanted to do, they would support his return and that they thought highly of him.
“I think that’s totally appropriate and necessary for them to do. It’s their organization and there’s obviously reasons that people might not want to consider him.”
Is Bloom bothered that a portion of Red Sox Nation does not believe this was his call?
“I’d rather that weren’t the case,” he said, “but it’s not a good use of my time to worry about narratives.”
▪ Bill Belichick’s statement to WEEI that quitting on the Jets in 2000 was “not only one of the most defining, but one of the great moments of my career” was as close as we’ll ever get to the Hoodie admitting he ordered the Code Red.
▪ We still like Tom Brady and everything he did for the Patriots, his charities, and our community. But he increasingly presents as some Tom Cruise-like weirdo, selling TB12 stuff incessantly and poisoning his new team with his man-crush on Antonio Brown.
The Buccaneers ran the ball an NFL-record-low five times in AB’s first game, the abominable loss to the Saints last week. Tampa Bay’s offense was totally out of synch, no doubt owing to Tom’s fascination with AB.
Meanwhile, it’s pathetic hearing network broadcasters tap dance around AB’s rap sheet as if he’s some unlucky guy who’s been misunderstood. Look it up. Antonio Brown is poison, and last week the Bucs got what they deserved.
▪ Good job by the folks at Boston College keeping a lid on COVID outbreaks, but college football is a mess. It’s been great to have Saturday sports programming, but it’s past time for the NCAA to give up the ghost on this season.
As of Friday, we were looking at 11 games canceled or postponed this weekend (four in the SEC!), including Alabama-LSU, Texas A&M-Tennessee, Georgia-Missouri, Ohio State-Maryland, and Memphis-Navy. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has the coronavirus.
Ever ahead of the curve, the Ivy League has already canceled winter sports and delayed the start of spring sports. Nobody likes it. This is the reality.
▪ Wondering if Ed Davis will be dispatched to Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania to clean up election disputes.
▪ Quiz: Name the Red Sox first baseman who set the single-season major league record with 184 assists. (Answer below.)
▪ Heinsohn touched a lot of lives in his seven decades around here, and I received hundreds of e-mails about Tommy in the days after his death. A few favorites:
"When I was a kid in the ’60s, Johnny Most and his wife and Tommy and his wife used to have a Sunday night bridge game at our house. They played in a den, right above my bedroom. I never got much sleep on Sunday nights. All I would hear was Johnny or Tommy screaming “You can’t (expletive) trump my spade (expletive)!”
David Vivat, Framingham
“I took my final professional designation exam for insurance back around ’71, seated next to Tommy at BU. I learned some new words that day through the mumbling and I watched him snap at least six or seven pencils in two. Happily, we both passed. Tommy was intense!”
Rick Denton, Ipswich
“I used to watch practice at the Cambridge YMCA where Red was constantly yelling at Tommy and Russ was never a target. I was in the Celts' locker room with an injured kid (high school teams used to play prelim games in those days). Tommy took time to tell the kid he would be okay. I saw Tommy all the time at the Hamiltonian in Bermuda. Always would say hello. Never a snob. He was always along Route 16 in south Natick with his easel painting. And at local road races promoting Miller Light.”
John Sullivan, Framingham
▪ There’s unusual optimism around the Mets in the wake of Steve Cohen’s purchase of the team. Cohen gets points for taking care of Mets employees and reinstating their pre-pandemic salaries (some were cut by 30 percent). The cynical New York scribes are buying it bigly thus far, and signing Marcus Stroman will extend the honeymoon.
Meanwhile, sounds like we are nearing the end of the Gary Sanchez era at Yankee Stadium.
▪ Any book by Bill Madden is a must-read for baseball fans, and Madden’s latest, “Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life,” is no exception.
The last 16 starts of Seaver’s career were for the 1986 AL champion Red Sox. He hurt his knee in September and was not on the active roster for the postseason, but he sat alongside Roger Clemens and Bruce Hurst during Boston’s ill-fated World Series at Shea Stadium.
“We called it the University of Seaver,” said Hurst, who would have been Series MVP if the Sox had prevailed.
Here’s what Seaver told Madden about the Red Sox Game 6 collapse at Shea: “Two outs, two strikes, nobody on, showed me a lack of killer instinct. When you’re up by two runs, within one pitch of winning the World Series, you have to win. If you don’t, you don’t deserve to win.”
▪ There’s a lot of good stuff in Jeff Benedict’s “The Dynasty” (check out the details from hand surgeon Matthew Leibman when Brady suffered a hyperextended thumb and gaping hand laceration before the January 2018 AFC Championship win vs. Jacksonville), but the book consistently reads like a history of the Patriots dynasty as told by Bob Kraft.
Kraft liked this book so much it was sent to Patriot season ticket-holders as a party favor of sorts.
The estimable Benedict had this response when I called to ask about what I consider the disproportionate weight of Kraft’s voice in this well-researched, 578-page tome: “ 'The Dynasty’ is the biography of an organization. It is not the individual biography of Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick or Tom Brady … I chose to tell the story from their points of view. My objective was to show how they built the NFL’s greatest winning machine, and then reveal what it took to sustain it for two decades.”
▪ Great causes need to get creative in 2020. In this spirit, we bring you a memo from the annual “Tradition” fund-raiser.
The Sports Museum is offering a sponsorship benefit called “Legendary Cocktail Parties” — private Zoom sessions for a sponsorship group of 10 with a Boston sports legend such as Dave Cowens, Deion Branch, Johnny Bucyk, Ray Bourque, Doug Flutie, Luis Tiant, or Antoine Walker.
The Legendary Cocktail Parties run through mid-December, and there are still a limited number available. For more information, contact Maria Kangas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ Quiz answer: Bill Buckner, 1985.