Picked-up pieces while nestling into the couch for the best pro football weekend of the year …
▪ Curt Schilling would help himself if he’d stop spewing hate and claiming he’s being punished by Baseball Hall of Fame voters because of his “politics.” Supporting a racist mob that stormed the Capitol is not being “political.” Advocating for lynching journalists, calling Adam Jones a liar when he said he heard racist slurs at Fenway Park, bilking Rhode Island out of $75 million, collecting Nazi memorabilia, and posting anti-transgender material … these are not “political” stands.
Mariano Rivera is a Donald Trump supporter and he sailed into the Hall of Fame unanimously.
The vote on Cooperstown’s class of 2021 will be revealed Jan. 26. The voting deadline was Dec. 31, which means Schilling’s latest screed won’t hurt him on this ballot.
It’s going to be close. If Schilling doesn’t make it this year, he’ll get one more year on the ballot. Schilling’s baseball case for Cooperstown is legit, but hardly a slam-dunk like a Pedro or a Koufax. He was 11-2 in the postseason and a historic strike-throwing machine. Otherwise, he compares most favorably to Kevin Brown, Kenny Rogers, and Tim Hudson, who are not in.
How many of you think we should honor him with a plaque in Cooperstown?
▪ Celtics rookie guard Payton Pritchard is the new big thing on the Boston sports landscape. Pritchard was born about an hour and a half north of Eugene, Ore., and played four seasons for the University of Oregon Ducks. He was selected with the 26th pick of the draft by Danny Ainge, who grew up around the Oregon campus in Eugene.
“I saw him play in some unconventional games and a lot of University of Oregon games,” Ainge said. “I’ve scouted the Pac-12 tournament in the last few years and the West Coast. I grew up right there and spent a lot of time on campus playing basketball with Massachusetts legend Ronnie Lee. He was an Oregon Ducks star.”
The Boston-born Lee, now 68, starred at Lexington High School and was part of the Boston Six, along with King Gaskins, Bobby Carrington, Wilfred Morrison, Billy Collins, and Carlton Smith, when the first Boston Shootout was played in 1972. Lee is still Oregon’s career scoring leader (2,085). Pritchard ranks fourth (1,938).
“Payton told me that Ronnie Lee is still living in Eugene and is around the school a lot,” said Ainge.
Pritchard has been a great weapon for Brad Stevens off the bench early in this season and canned a game-winning follow to beat the Heat. Bob Cousy has been raving about him from Worcester, and some wild-eyed Green Teamers have likened him to a young John Stockton (reminds me of when Tommy Heinsohn compared Greg Stiemsma to Bill Russell). Ainge would like to see everybody pump the brakes a little on this kid.
“I just wish players could have time to grow like a Tom Brady or a Derek Jeter,” said Ainge. “It’s better for a kid to have a chance to develop instead of being anointed too soon. It’s not one of my favorite things in the league. But that’s the world we live in.
“I do try to temper expectations. Payton has a lot of great qualities, and I’ve heard the comparisons to [Fred] VanVleet and comparisons to Steve Nash. Those guys had time to become who they were. I was head coach of the Suns when we drafted Steve Nash, and he had time to develop.”
Pritchard is six weeks older than teammate Jayson Tatum, who is starting his fourth NBA season. Four years of college is a big help for draft evaluators like Ainge.
“It doesn’t guarantee anything,” said Ainge. “But it helps a player like Payton who got better every year in college.
“I loved him as a freshman. I saw the competitiveness and unselfishness and desire to win. Over the years, he evolved into a more complete player. It’s definitely an advantage when you’re drafting a four-year college player.”
▪ Cleveland Indians fans know how Red Sox fans felt in February when the Sox shipped Mookie Betts to Los Angeles for their phony, coveted “payroll flexibility.” The Indians traded franchise player Francisco Lindor to the Mets Thursday.
A salary dump might be expected in Cleveland, where fans don’t support the team. In Boston, it is shameless and inexcusable.
▪ The Doug Pederson/Eagles fiasco on “Sunday Night Football” provided a classic example of what has been lost as a result of media restrictions during the pandemic. With no reporters working the locker room, it was difficult to gauge any insurrection among Eagles players after Pederson threw the game against Washington.
The media ban is nobody’s fault — the restrictions are necessary — but with no media in the locker room, you’re simply not going to know as much about your teams as you once did.
▪ Love it when the 76ers and Celtics are both competitive. Kendrick Perkins believes the insertion of Doc Rivers and removal of Brett Brown is a huge factor in Philly’s early-season success.
▪ What has happened to our once-cynical local sports media? Did I miss something? Were the 7-9 Patriots actually a “feel-good” story in 2020? Yeesh.
▪ When Stephen Curry went off for 62 points against Portland, it was noted that he is the fifth Warrior to score 60 in a game. The other four are Klay Thompson, Joe Fulks, Rick Barry, and . . . Wilt Chamberlain, who did it 27 times! Please remember this next time you read one of those greatest-ever arguments featuring Michael and LeBron.
▪ “Tomato Cam” Newton was an exemplary teammate and a good, loyal worker for Bill Belichick. He was unfailingly cooperative with everyone in Foxborough for the full season. Top shelf, no dust. And here’s a word about bringing him back as Patriots quarterback next season: No.
The Globe’s Chad Finn should copyright “Tomato Cam.” I love it.
▪ QUIZ: Philadelphia’s John Denny beat Scott McGregor, 2-1, in Game 1 of the 1983 World Series at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The first three batters in the Phillies lineup were Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, and Mike Schmidt. Who batted cleanup for the Phillies? (Answer below.)
▪ Brady took the old Patriot magic with him into the playoffs. He got what the Patriots always got: a Saturday night prime-time slot, and (on paper) the worst team in the playoff field, the 7-9 Washington Football Team.
Meanwhile, Brady’s love for Antonio Brown knows no bounds. Brady completed three shovel passes to AB during garbage time of the Buccaneers’ regular-season finale to assure that Brown would cash in on a quarter-million dollar performance bonus. Ownership should take the money out of Tom’s check.
▪ It offends me to get a missive from a PR company touting a Brady-endorsed brain-training service. “Brady credits [name of company] with giving him a competitive edge, allowing him to process the field split-seconds faster than his competition even into his forties.” What a crock. Why, Tom?
▪ The Buccaneers, by the way, went 1-5 against playoff teams this season.
▪ Paul Westphal, who died of a brain tumor last weekend, played only three seasons for the Celtics but left his mark here. Westphal had a crucial role off the bench when Heinsohn’s Celtics beat the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Milwaukee Bucks on the road in Game 7 of the 1974 NBA Finals.
Westphal was traded for Charlie Scott a year later, then came back to play against the Celtics for the Phoenix Suns in the 1976 Finals (also won by Boston). In that series, Globe scribe Bob Ryan stayed at Westphal’s house when he traveled to Arizona for Games 3, 4, and 6. One of the Suns scrubs who’d hang out at Westphal’s house in those days was Pat Riley.
I can assure you this is the only time a writer from the Globe stayed at the home of the other team’s best player during the NBA Finals. Kareem never invited me to stay at his house when the Celtics played the Lakers in the 1984 Finals.
▪ A round of applause for UConn, Old Dominion, and New Mexico State, the only three of the 130 FBS college football teams that didn’t play a game this season. Now we have the fiasco of college basketball lurching across the COVID-19 minefield en route to true March Madness in Indiana.
▪ Who knew the Knicks would emerge as New York’s feel-good sports story of 2021? The Knicks went into the weekend with a better record than the Nets.
▪ Here’s hoping COVID-19 and abject apathy don’t conspire to permanently kill the annual Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner, which has been held every January for the last 81 years.
▪ Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July? Still?
▪ QUIZ answer: Sixto Lezcano.