Picked-up pieces while paying homage to the underrated Boston Bruins — the only local team that’s getting the job done in 2020-21 …
▪ Danny Ainge, when asked about losses to the Pistons, Wizards, and Hawks, on 98.5 FM Thursday said, “I don’t think we respect our opponents enough.” That’s it, right there. The Celtics act as if they have won something when they have not. They are not as good as they think they are and that includes Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Brown and Tatum are not yet All-Star starters. This means they are not yet top-10 players. Why does everyone around here treat them like they are top-10 players?
Also, when did our market go totally soft in its evaluation of this team? I watched the Celtics win a Tuesday game at the Garden against a Denver team that had only four of its top nine players. Friday I watched the Celtics handle the 12-17 Hawks — a team that stunned them two nights earlier. During and after both of these pedestrian wins, folks at NBC Sports Boston reacted as if the Green just beat the Lakers in LA in the seventh game of the Finals. Seriously. How did the bar get so low for this team? It’s like NESN gushing over the last-place Red Sox. I remember when the Larry Bird Celtics went 50-1 at home and barely drew a round of applause. Tommy Heinsohn was the ultimate homer, but the Celtics’ flagship nonsense has only gotten worse since we lost Tommy. Get back, Green Teamers! That means you, Scal.
▪ Oddly enough, while the Celtics are annoying and underachieving, the Knicks have become the feel-good story of New York sports. The Knicks last week put tickets on sale for limited seating for three upcoming home games and sold out two of the games in a half-hour.
▪ I would rather stick needles in my eyes than see the Patriots bring back Cam Newton as quarterback in 2021. Say it ain’t so, Bill.
▪ In the last two offseasons, the Red Sox have shed the only Black players on their 25-man roster. Mookie Betts and David Price were traded to Los Angeles in the 2020 salary-dump deal, and Jackie Bradley Jr. looks like a goner in free agency this year. Minor league outfielder Marcus Wilson is the only American-born Black player on Boston’s 40-man spring training roster.
▪ One of my readers wonders if Chaim Bloom is a latter-day Frank Abagnale Jr., the subject of “Catch Me If You Can” played on the silver screen by Leonardo DiCaprio. “Will we find out some day that Chaim was also a doctor, a lawyer and a pilot for a major airline?” submitted my pen pal.
Brilliant. Wish I had thought of that.
Kidding aside, there are team employees from 2002-11 who wish Bloom would stop saying the Red Sox need to go in a new direction. The Red Sox were “all in” from 2002-11 without compromising draft and development. It does not have to be one or the other, and Bloom errs when he calls that approach unsustainable.
Meanwhile, today’s Sox have managed the rare trick of having a last-place team and one of the worst farm systems in the game. MLB.com’s assessment puts the Sox minor league system at 21st out of 30.
▪ The Sox should be embarrassed by the actions of the San Diego Padres, a smaller-market team that committed $340 million to keep its once-in-a-generation young star, Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres have raised payroll each of the last four seasons, doubling it since 2017. They also have a strong farm system.
▪ The notion that the Red Sox still have a big payroll is largely skewed by dead money (nearly $30 million combined to Dustin Pedroia and Price this year) and bad deals done by Dave Dombrowski which have little bearing on the 2021 product. Chris Sale is on the books for $25 million, but won’t be much help this year. Nate Eovaldi is down for $17 million, a steep price for his traditional three wins.
Bottom line: The Sox are assembling cheap talent, but still have “big” payroll because of decisions ownership approved while Dombrowski was president of baseball operations.
▪ Fangraphs still has the Red Sox down for 87 wins, seventh-best in baseball. Is that Fangraphs or Fanboys? Vegas is going with 80.08 wins.
▪ One of the dumber local narratives is that the 2021 Red Sox are “just like” the 2013 Sox, who signed a bunch of one-year players after finishing last, then won a World Series. Don’t be suckered. This year is nothing like that year. Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, David Ross, Koji Uehara, Jonny Gomes, and Ryan Dempster were recognizable big leaguers when they came here on short deals in 2013.
▪ Quiz: Name three men who coached basketball championship teams in the Olympics, NIT, and NCAA (answer below).
▪ Only in Boston could the story of Carson Wentz getting traded to the Colts be all about the Patriots.
▪ Keith Gill, the Reddit stock player and focus of the GameStop Congressional hearings, was a two-time Globe All-Scholastic who ran a 4:20 mile at Brockton High. He also was an All-America miler at Stonehill, clocking a 4:03.43.
▪ Pass Go and collect $200 if you knew that Gregg Berhalter, coach of the US men’s national soccer team, is Carl Yastrzemski’s godson and cousin. Berhalter took his US players to a San Francisco Giants game to see Mike Yastrzemski play.
▪ Great to see the repugnant Urban Meyer smacked down for his first arrogant hire as head coach of the Jaguars. Meyer appointed Chris Doyle as strength coach even though Doyle had a history of racist and bullying tactics at Iowa.
It was a classic case of Meyer thinking he could do whatever he wanted — just as he always did in his NCAA career. He found out the rules are different when you get away from yahoo college towns. Doyle was forced to resign, but it was an overdue smackdown for Meyer and a win for humanity.
▪ After I wrote of being annoyed by Tom Brady’s lack of sweat, several readers — including former Celtic Rick Weitzman — reminded me that John Havlicek was another great local athlete who never seemed to perspire.
▪ I’ll never understand all the heat Tim Tebow got for trying to play professional baseball.
▪ Al Skinner is rested and ready to go if Boston College wants to go back to the future.
▪ The late Rush Limbaugh was director of promotions for the Kansas City Royals beginning in 1979, following some early disillusionment with management and radio in general.
▪ Get your hands on Bob Schron’s “Taking a Knee, Taking a Stand: African American Athletes and the Fight for Social Justice.”
▪ It’s awful news that the Baseball Hall of Fame has canceled another July gathering in Cooperstown. The Class of 2020 — Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons, and Marvin Miller — will be inducted in a television show, which is the best we can do in these times. This means we again are denied the opportunity to fete the Globe’s Nick Cafardo, who died two years ago Sunday, and is the recipient of the 2020 BBWAA Career Excellence Award.
▪ Quiz answer: Pete Newell, Bobby Knight, Dean Smith.