Picked-up pieces after a return to the road for the first time in 18 months …
▪ Forget the championship banners in the rafters at the Garden; the start of this Celtics season is all about red flags.
In their home opener, the Celtics were booed off the parquet at the end of a 115-83 rout at the hands of the Raptors. The Celtics were outrebounded, 60-42, and committed 25 turnovers. Veteran Al Horford talked about poor effort and new coach Ime Udoka said, “They came out and punked us, outplayed us, played harder than us.”
Hours before the second home game this past Wednesday, Udoka looked at his lethargic crew and predicted another embarrassing loss.
“I told them that you’re going to get your [butts] kicked tonight if you come out with that focus in the game,” said the coach.
He was prophetic. The Celtics were spanked by the Wizards, 116-107. Jaylen Brown sleepwalked for 37 minutes (5 for 16, four rebounds). Marcus Smart made 1 of 7 shots. Jayson Tatum complained about the referees and picked up a technical foul. We saw more of the isolation basketball that made last season’s Celtics hard to watch.
The 2021 spring shakeup was supposed to fix things for Brown and Tatum. They got the coaching change they wanted. Their voices were heard before Udoka was hired. Now this.
Udoka is honest. He is calling out his players. Celtics fans should love it. Accountability has been in short supply with Boston’s AAU warriors.
But the fact that their new coach is talking about lack of effort five games into the season is a giant red flag. This is Brown’s sixth year in the league, Tatum’s fifth. Where is the leadership from these two? It’s time for the Celtics All-Stars to show us they are winners. The product thus far is unacceptable.
▪ The Patriots are going to beat the 4-2 Chargers in Los Angeles Sunday.
Take it from the guy who told you Cam Newton would be the Patriots’ starting quarterback. Take it from one who thought the 2021 Red Sox would be lucky to play .500 ball. Take it from an expert who thought signing Pablo Sandoval was a swell idea; the same guy who told Heidi Watney there’s “no way” the Tampa Bay Rays could come back from a 7-0, eighth-inning deficit to beat the Yankees on the last night of the 2011 baseball season.
Call me Eddie Mush if you want. I love the Patriots Sunday.
This is not because they beat the awful Jets twice. It’s because Mac Jones is progressing nicely, Bill Belichick seems to be hitting his midseason stride, and the Patriots had great chances to beat two good football teams — the world champion Buccaneers and the Cowboys.
Sure, New England’s defense needs to step up and the special teams blunders are troubling, but my instincts tell me the Patriots will win Sunday, get to .500, and trigger talk of a path to the playoffs.
Just an ungrounded hunch. If the Patriots get blasted by the Bolts, feel free to pretend you never read this.
▪ Note to all: Pay attention when the Braves and Astros pitchers come to the plate in Atlanta this weekend. It may be the last time you ever see pitchers batting in a big league lineup.
▪ We’ll see if the Sox truly are Tampa Bay by the Charles if they let both Eduardo Rodriguez and Kyle Schwarber walk.
▪ The World Series is problematic for commissioner Rob Manfred on many levels. Baseball’s gambling-loving commissioner is despised in both cities.
Folks in Houston believe their cheatin’ 2017 Astros champions were singled out when other teams were also cheating. In Atlanta, the Braves and their fans are angry with Manfred for moving the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver because of Georgia’s new voting regulations.
Last week, before their fans resumed the moronic, racist, tomahawk-chop chant, the defiant Braves trotted out notorious anti-vaxxer Travis Tritt for an NLCS national anthem.
When Manfred hands over the World Series trophy this coming week, he will get the treatment Roger Goodell routinely gets at Gillette Stadium.
▪ There’s a nice bar/restaurant in Houston’s Marriott Marquis, Biggio’s, owned by Craig Biggio, the Hall of Fame Astro. Spent a few nights there recently, and it was always a hurdle to get the staff to put Dodgers-Braves on any of the sports bar’s massive televisions. Baseball always took a back seat to football, any football. If it wasn’t Tom Brady and the Bucs, it was SMU against Who Knows U. Sigh.
▪ Astros manager Dusty Baker wrote a book in 2015, “Kiss the Sky,” and in the tome reveals that he attended the Monterey Pop Festival where Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire in 1967. Baker said years later he ran into Hendrix on the streets of San Francisco and smoked a joint with the guitar man.
▪ Quiz: Baker is one of nine big league skippers to take a team from each league to a World Series. Name the other eight (answer below).
▪ Harvard’s graciousness in accepting an overtime defeat against Princeton last week — a loss that resulted from a league-acknowledged officiating error — is stunning in today’s world of college football.
Globe correspondent Judge Hiller B. Zobel reminds us that in 1940, Cornell was able to beat Dartmouth with a “fifth down” play that resulted in a game-winning touchdown. When Cornell folks viewed game film the next day, they discovered the mistake and offered to forfeit the game. Dartmouth accepted the victory. You listening, Princeton?
▪ The Texas Rangers broke from the pack last week when the 30 MLB teams tweeted support for Spirit Day and the LGBTQ+ community. Spirit Day is dedicated to taking a stand against bullying of LGBTQ+ youth, but only the Rangers did not mention the LGBTQ+ community.
▪ The piped-in music is simply too loud at Fenway Park during games. It’s not just old people complaining, either. One of the things that makes baseball special is one’s ability to talk to one’s seatmate between innings and between pitches. The Sox are stripping fans of one of the last great things about the erstwhile national pastime.
▪ The Dodgers had four pitchers on their staff making $23 million or more this year, and none of them pitched when Los Angeles went down in Game 6 of the NLCS against the Braves.
The four horsemen: Max Scherzer, $35 million; Clayton Kershaw, $23 million; David Price, $32 million; Trevor Bauer, $28 million. Kershaw (injury) and Bauer (administrative leave for off-field behavior) were not eligible; Scherzer stood down with a dead arm, saying he maybe could go in Game 7; Price was eligible but did not pitch in the postseason for Dave Roberts.
▪ Postgame playoff vignettes at Fenway:
1. Standing on the Fenway lawn waiting to do a postgame TV live shot with Channel 7′s Joe Amorosino, we were approached by a giant man and his lovely wife. They told Ammo they “wanted to meet Dan.” Ammo gave me up immediately, and they introduced themselves as the parents of Bobby Dalbec. My life passed before me as I tried to remember anything I’d written about the slugging rookie. But it went well. They could not have been more kind or polite. Whew.
2. Same postgame setup with Ammo, after the turning-point Game 4 implosion against the ‘Stros. Heckling fans came down by the rail to make their opinions known as we were setting up. Kept my head down and mask on. Heard a guy yelling my name over and over and didn’t look up. Finally looked up when he yelled, “Dan Shaughnessy, I thought you were dead!” It was Reggie Jackson.
▪ With help from the NBA Players Association, Rucker Park in New York City formally reopened Oct. 9. It’s where Wilt Chamberlain, Lew Alcindor (he became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Julius Erving (known as “The Claw” at Rucker), and Tiny Archibald went against playground legends such as Earl “the Goat” Manigault and Herman “Helicopter” Knowings.
▪ The Knicks snapped a 15-game, four-year losing streak against the 76ers with a 112-99 win at the Garden Tuesday night.
▪ Nice of Cam Newton to get vaccinated once he needed a job.
▪ Does anyone else think Senator Joe Manchin looks like former quarterback Joe Theismann?
▪ David Ortiz on Fox with the suitcase full of cash for gamblers is one of the more revolting images on TV this fall.
▪ Quiz answer: Sparky Anderson, Tony La Russa, Alvin Dark, Joe McCarthy, Dick Williams, Joe Maddon, Jim Leyland, Yogi Berra.