Picked-up pieces while celebrating 40 years full-time with Globe sports, writing for the best readers in the sports universe …
▪ J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.
It’s a perfect weekend for Mac Jones and the Patriots to be playing the Jets. We fully expect Boy Jones to get his first NFL victory Sunday in the Meadowlands.
For more than 60 years, the Jets have been an important part of the Patriot narrative (even when they were the New York Titans and played in the Polo Grounds).
Never forget that it was the Jets — Mo Lewis, to be precise — who KO’d Drew Bledsoe and made room for Tom Brady in Game 2 of the 2001 season, 20 years ago this week. Brady had thrown only one pass in his rookie season, and hardly any of us noticed when the kid from Michigan took over in the final minutes of a 10-3 Patriot loss to the Jets in Foxborough.
Five months later, 24-year-old Brady and the Patriots were Super Bowl champs and a dynasty was born.
There often has been a Jet presence when Patriot history is made.
The Jets gave us head coach Clive Rush. The Jets were in town when Globe columnist Will McDonough punched out Ray Clayborn in the Patriot locker room.
When the Patriots played in their first Super Bowl (January 1986), the path started with a playoff win on the road against the Jets. The Jets gave us Rex Ryan kissing Bill Belichick’s ring, the Butt Fumble Game, Sam Darnold seeing ghosts, and Eric Mangini going full Fredo on Belichick.
The Jets gave us the 1997 Tuna Bowl, when Poodle Pete Carroll faced off against Bill Parcells in Foxborough. Parcells and the Jets stole Curtis Martin, who ran all the way from the Meadowlands to Canton, Ohio. The Jets developed Darrelle Revis, who came here and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots.
Most important, the Jets gave us Belichick. In 2000, the Hoodie famously resigned as HC of the NYJ before actually coaching a game. When Belichick quit, Jets president Steve Gutman said, “He obviously has some inner turmoil.”
Belichick still hates the Jets.
Sadly, there is little other Jet hate around here these days. How many of you know that the Jets head coach is Robert Saleh? Has Belichick actually met this guy?
Happily, the Jets are still Tomato Cans, starting from scratch for the third time since 2015. The Patriots — an ordinary team since winning their last Super Bowl — have beaten the Jets 10 straight times.
Welcome to Mac Jones vs. Zach Wilson I. May it be a long, great rivalry.
▪ Quiz: Name the only big league player to win the stolen base title in both leagues (answer below).
▪ Would the Red Sox dare start Nate Eovaldi over Chris Sale in a one-game playoff?
▪ Pet peeve: Ever notice when there is a “scoring change” in baseball, it’s always an error being changed to a hit? Changing an error to a hit makes two players happy: the hitter and the fielder. Only the pitcher gets annoyed. So virtually everything is a hit.
It’s almost impossible to be charged with an error anymore. And if you are, you just lobby to have it changed to a hit.
▪ Old friend John Lowe, who covered the Tigers for decades, notes that this could be the first season in which neither the AL nor NL batting champ hits at least .325.
Starling Marte, who has split his season between Miami and Oakland, could lead the majors in batting average and not winning a batting title because he doesn’t have enough plate appearances in either league.
The lowest average for an NL batting champ was Tony Gwynn’s .313 in 1988. Wade Boggs hit .366 to lead the AL that year.
▪ Jackson State football coach/fraud Deion Sanders went on ESPN with Stephen A. Smith to explain why he insists on being addressed by the media as “coach”: “To call someone by their name to try to belittle what I’ve accomplished, I’m not going to stand for it … I’ve never stood for foolishness.”
Wonder why Belichick is OK being addressed as “Bill.”
▪ Naomi Osaka confuses me. She’s a great champion. By her admission, she has mental-health issues and does not want to be in the spotlight. And yet: She’s on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, she lit the torch at the Tokyo Olympics, and last week she arrived at the Met Gala (where everyone goes when they don’t want attention) in an outfit and hairdo that made Madonna and Lady Gaga envious. So which is it?
▪ There will be a raging debate regarding Shohei Ohtani vs. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for American League MVP, especially if young Vlad wins the triple crown. Always reminds me of Ted Williams. Williams did not win the MVP in either of his triple crown seasons, nor in the year (1941) in which he hit .406.
When Pedro Martinez got jobbed out of the MVP in 1999, I called Ted to ask about it and he said words that no man will ever say again: “Yeah, I hit .400 one year and didn’t get it. I thought .400 was pretty good.”
▪ Justin Verlander (last year) and Max Scherzer (last week) became the 18th and 19th pitchers to crack the 3,000-strikeout barrier. Fourteen of the 19 are in the Hall of Fame. Verlander and Scherzer should join them in Cooperstown, as will CC Sabathia, who is not eligible until 2025.
The other two 3,000 K-men not in the Hall are Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, who are on the ballot this year for the final time.
▪ The Yankees clinched their 29th consecutive winning season, tying the Bruins (1967-68 to 1995-96) for the third-longest streak. The 1926-64 Yankees had 39 straight winning seasons, and the Canadiens are second with 32 (1951-52 to 1982-83).
▪ A reader wants to know if anyone can establish “exit velocity” for long-ago home runs such as Bucky Dent’s Fenway shot in 1978. Stat Masterson Alex Speier says it can be estimated from old video with reasonable but not precise accuracy.
▪ Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre opted to lose his job rather than receive a COVID-19 vaccine. NHL coaches and other staff who interact with players are required to be vaccinated, per league protocol.
▪ Jack Parker, who won three NCAA crowns behind the Boston University men’s hockey bench, is a huge Red Sox fan and says this about the team’s sorry vaccination rate: “There should be fistfights in the clubhouse. Not vaccinated? ‘Stay away from me, you mook!’ It’s amazing to me that ownership in all sports can’t do more.”
▪ Why does Ryan Brasier always tilt his head to the left?
▪ College hockey savant Joe Bertagna has finally written his book: “Late in the Third — Observations from Both Sides of the Glass.” Highest recommendation. You can get it by going to lateinthethird.com.
▪ Anyone who wants to help Milton senior hockey player Jake Thibeault is encouraged to go to a GoFundMe page set up for him. Thibeault, a Fitchburg native, suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a hockey tournament over Labor Day weekend.
▪ Quiz answer: Ron LeFlore, with 68 steals for the 1978 Tigers and 97 for the 1980 Expos.