fb-pixel Skip to main content
dan shaughnessy

Some unsolicited advice for new Celtics coach Ime Udoka, and other thoughts

New Celtics coach Ime Udoka has to get Jayson Tatum (left) and Jaylen Brown (right) on the same page.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Picked-up pieces while pulling my hair out and insisting that no amount of well-reasoned, 2021 baseball logic tells me it’s OK to lift Nick Pivetta from a no-hitter with two outs in the seventh . . .

▪ Unsolicited advice for new Celtics coach Ime Udoka:

Do something to make your players care about wins and losses. The most annoying thing about the 2020-21 Celtics was their apparent indifference to defeat. At the very least, Udoka needs to create a culture in which his players care at least as much as Celtics fans. Could we see a little less postgame love for Kyrie and friends after the Nets win on the parquet next season?

Advertisement



Getting away from iso-ball at the end of games also would be nice. Not to go all Norman Dale here, but Udoka should install a Hoosiers play where the Celtics have to pass the ball at least four times before taking a shot.

Meanwhile, tell Marcus Smart he can’t jack up a three any time he feels like it. Introduce Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to one another and ask them to make it look as though they know each other when they are on the court together. Tell them that team success is more important than making the All-Star team, the All-NBA team, or selling Subway sandwiches. Remind them they are not as good as they think they are and that they have not really accomplished anything yet.

Udoka is the 18th head coach in Celtics history, and we know almost nothing about him. Since Red Auerbach replaced Alvin “Doggie” Julian in 1950, the Celtics have been coached by a parade of former Celtic stars, Celtics assistant coaches, and hotshots from the college ranks (not including John Carroll, who filled in for 36 games after Jim O’Brien resigned in 2004). Like Don Vito Corleone, Red did not like to go outside the family.

Advertisement



▪ Garrett Richards has ascended to the medal platform of professional athletes ill-suited to play in Boston. Richards repeatedly tells us he doesn’t know how to pitch without cheating. He says he’s glad he had a good nine years in the big leagues before rules about foreign substances were enforced. He makes $10 million this year and he’s never learned to pitch without the sticky stuff.

Boo hoo. Matt Young and Carl Crawford were soft, but this guy takes the cake.

Richards’s next start should be Monday at Fenway Park against the Royals, and Red Sox Nation is agog.

Alex Cora comes out to remove Garrett Richards from his start Wednesday against Tampa Bay.Julio Aguilar/Getty

▪ Tom, we know you were dissed in the draft 21 years ago. Yes, there were doubters last season. You won. So stop with the social media campaign to tell everybody how great you are and that you are still out to prove everyone wrong. Remember the words of John Lennon: “Instant karma’s gonna get you. Gonna knock you right on the head.”

▪ Quiz: Name the four big leaguers who hit a home run as a teenager and also after turning 40 (answer below).

▪ Sorry, but I love seeing the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals again. No team from Canada has won the chalice since the 1993 Canadiens.

▪ MLB’s latest horrible idea: Official All-Star team uniforms for the midsummer classic. One of the best parts of the All-Star Game is seeing everybody wearing their team uniforms. Red Sox and Yankees side by side. Giants and Dodgers side by side. Rob Manfred should reverse this bad idea.

Advertisement



▪ This from Jim Kaat, who won 283 games in the big leagues: “In the ’60s, veteran umpire Jim Honochick accused me of using a foreign substance on the ball. I told him that mine was made in North Carolina. There was no punishment. We used it because of the slickness of the ball in the cold weather in Minnesota. And in defiance, because batters could use it on the handle of the bat, and eventually, batting gloves.

“Here is my proposal: we (pitchers) will not use a gripping aid if you step in the box without a helmet, no gloves, no pine tar, no sticky substances on the bat, no protective gear on your person. That’s a level playing field.”

▪ Great nugget from Tyler Kepner of the New York Times: Before 2018, there had never been a big league season with more strikeouts than hits. Baseball in 2021 is on a pace for 5,000 more strikeouts than hits. So yes, something needed to be done.

▪ The upstart Atlanta Hawks — seeded fifth in the East — play a home game in the conference finals Sunday night. No NBA city is less deserving of a spot in the NBA’s Final Four. NBA players love Atlanta, but the city does not love them back. It’s a college football town in a college football state.

Advertisement



I remember being at the Hawks arena for a Boston-Atlanta playoff game a few years ago and being unable to get anyone to switch the press room TV to NBA action. Everyone in the room was riveted by Georgia’s intrasquad spring game, which drew 93,000.

Larry Bird’s 60-point game against the Hawks in 1985 was played at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans because the attendance-starved Hawks had a deal to play 12 “home” games in the Big Easy.

▪ Little-known Hawks guard/forward Kevin Huerter, who scored 27 points in Game 7 against the Sixers, played high school baseball in Clifton Park, N.Y., with Braves pitcher Ian Anderson.

▪ David Wells was trouble for both Joe Torre in New York and Terry Francona in Boston.

Here’s Wells on a New York Post podcast last week: “I never liked Joe as a manager. He did stuff to me that he shouldn’t have done to anybody.”

Wells said Torre fined him $2,500 for wearing a vintage Babe Ruth cap in a start against Cleveland.

“I went and got a bunch of ones, fives, and tens, and I threw it at him in the office,” said Wells. “Money went flying. I was like, ‘Go buy some stuff for your car, [expletive]. He never talked to me for the rest of the year.”

David Wells pitched for the Red Sox in 2005-06.STEVE NESIUS

Years later, Francona recounted a confrontation he had with Wells in the manager’s office in Chicago after taking Wells out of a Red Sox playoff game against the White Sox in 2005: “He told me, ‘I really wanted to punch you out.’ I said, ‘[expletive], Boomer. Give me a break. Are you kidding me? I’m tired. Do you want to have a fistfight? Fine. Let’s go. But we’ve got to hurry because I want to get to the airport before the White Sox so we can get through security before them.”

Advertisement



Wells and Francona wound up sharing beers and the Red Sox beat the White Sox to O’Hare.

▪ Cedric Maxwell has an autobiography coming out in the fall, “If These Walls Could Talk,” with Mike Isenberg.

▪ As a hitter, Danny Santana makes Jackie Bradley Jr. look like Barry Bonds.

▪ Mentioned a couple of weeks ago that single-franchise Hall of Famers Jim Rice, George Brett, and Mike Schmidt were all selected in the 1971 MLB draft. Other notables from that draft: lefthanded aces Frank Tanana, Ron Guidry, and Mike Flanagan.

Manchester, N.H., native Flanagan was picked by the Astros in the 15th round but opted for UMass and was drafted by the Orioles during his time in Amherst.

Also selected in the ’71 draft: Joe Theismann (Twins), Steve Bartkowski (Royals), and Archie Manning (Royals).

▪ Former Patriot Nate Ebner withdrew from competing for a spot on the US Olympic rugby team Tuesday. The safety, who played for the US in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, hopes to return to the Giants for 2021.

Nate Ebner (left) competes for the US in the 2016 Rio Summer Games. PHILIPPE LOPEZ

▪ Joe Biden’s Secret Service code name was “Celtic’' when he served as vice president under Barack Obama.

▪ The Globe’s 2021 Pulitzer Prize-winning team of investigative reporters will toss ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway.

▪ Quiz answer: Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez.


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