Picked-up pieces while waiting for the Bills to lose to the Colts and restore the Patriots to the top spot in the AFC East …
▪ In short order, we have seen the rightful restoration of the legacy of Bill Belichick. The waves in Nantucket Sound were getting choppy around Hoodie’s “VIII Rings” boat in early October. The Patriots were 1-3, coming off the heels of 7-9 with Cam Newton last season. Meanwhile, Tom Brady was a Super Bowl champ — looking good to do it again this season — and the Belichick haters had their day.
Belichick never won anything without Brady … The whole dynasty was because Bill had Tom … Belichick the GM failed Belichick the coach … The Patriots were just another team … Hubris and arrogance will get you every time …
That junk is gone now. Bill is back on top of his game, and those who doubted him look foolish.
We all know it shouldn’t matter who gets credit for championships, but it always matters around here, and events at the end of the Brady Administration followed by the Cam calamity had many dismissing the contributions of New England’s head coach.
No sport relies on coaching more than pro football. Talented players are essential, but a coach can consistently make a difference. The 2021 Patriots are not a Super Team. They are a good team with a potentially great defense. And they have the greatest coach in the history of their sport.
The Patriots have won five in a row. The head coaches who faced Belichick in those games were Robert Saleh, Brandon Staley, Matt Rhule, Kevin Stefanski, and Arthur Smith. New England’s sideline advantage in each game was inestimable.
It’s going to get harder. The March of the Tomato Cans is over. The Patriots have the 8-2 Titans in Foxborough next weekend, and in the tradition of Tom Coughlin, Mike Shanahan, and John Harbaugh, ex-Patriot Mike Vrabel is not afraid of Belichick. The Patriots have the Bills twice in four weeks after the Titans.
It’s going to be great fun. And we still have far-fetched dreams about Bill vs. Tom in the Super Bowl in February. Meanwhile, I’m just glad we’re done with the silly narrative that it was all Tom all along. That was just stupid.
▪ The Red Sox’ inevitable march toward becoming Tampa Bay took another step forward when Eduardo Rodriguez bolted for big money in Detroit. The Sox get a draft pick at the end of the second round, which they much prefer over a $77 million starting pitcher.
And, of course, rather than replace E-Rod by spending for a Robbie Ray or Max Scherzer, the Sox will cobble things together with cheaper options such as Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock.
Meanwhile, gullible fans who continue to pay the highest prices in baseball will celebrate this fiscal responsibility as if they somehow share the savings with Sox ownership — a group that is adding the Pittsburgh Penguins to its portfolio.
▪ One has to be careful commenting about Fenway Sports Group’s pending purchase of an NHL team for fear that one ends up driving the Zamboni at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena.
▪ Quiz: Name the major league pitcher who has the most career wins without ever appearing in a World Series (answer below).
▪ A committee of 16 baseball Hall of Fame players, managers, and executives will gather in Orlando in early December to vote on a 10-man ballot of players and managers from the “Golden Era” (1950s and ′60s) who did not gain entry to the Hall on BBWAA ballots.
The 10 candidates are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Maury Wills, and manager Danny Murtaugh. I would vote for Kaat if I had the chance, but Minoso and Allen are considered the best possibilities to earn induction for the summer of 2022.
Former Red Sox stars Luis Tiant and Dwight Evans were not eligible for this ballot but will come up for consideration again in future years. Results of this committee vote will be announced Dec. 5.
▪ Reader challenge: Remember Kyle Schwarber making fun of himself when he made a clean scoop-and-toss on a grounder to the right side one inning after butchering the same play in a playoff game against the Rays at Fenway? The Schwarb raised his arms, gave a Tiger Woods fist-pump, then tipped his cap as the Fenway crowd roared.
Globe reader Bob Masella saw this as a uniquely Boston moment and suggests I search for parallel scenes. One that came to mind was Celtics fans chanting “Beat LA!” in the closing minutes of a conference-final Game 7 loss to the 76ers in 1982. It’s what late Globe columnist George Frazier called “duende.” We have it. Others don’t.
Any similar vignettes come to mind?
▪ According to the Wall Street Journal, Mac Jones is one of 19 current or former Belichick Patriots to have played for Nick Saban (at Michigan State, LSU, or Alabama).
▪ Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields — the four quarterbacks picked ahead of Jones in 2021 — have combined to win five games as starters this season. Jones has seven wins.
▪ Tin-foil-hat Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a big win last week, but he could still foul up the Packers’ Super Bowl plans. By the time the Super Bowl is played in February, the unvaccinated Rodgers will be undergoing daily COVID testing, and if he registers a positive, he would be out for a minimum of 10 days. It’s five days if he’s identified as a close contact.
▪ Here’s hoping the Mets hire Buck Showalter as their next manager.
▪ Love Kevin Durant bringing back the mid-range jumper as he launches his early-season candidacy for a second MVP award (Stephen Curry is the consensus early favorite). Wonder if KD dislikes Kyrie now as much as the rest of us do?
▪ The Celtics jacked up 41 3-point attempts in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks. They converted on 11 of the 41 heaves. Ugh.
▪ The Knicks are experiencing the ups and downs of Kemba Walker that we all came to know. In Walker’s first seven games, he averaged 15 points, shot 50 percent, and hit 57 percent of his threes. In his next five games, he dropped to 4.8 points per game, shot 23 percent, and hit 10 percent of his threes.
When the Knicks played in Charlotte last week, Walker rebounded with a 26-point game in a loss to the Hornets.
▪ Color me confused by Enes Kanter, who goes to social media to make strong political statements, but declines to be interviewed about his advocacy of various causes. Why not expand the platform?
▪ Must read: “Raise A Fist, Take A Knee: Race and the Illusion of Progress in Modern Sports,” by the estimable John Feinstein. This is the 35th book for Feinstein, who burst on the bestseller list with his New York Times No. 1 “A Season on the Brink” in 1986. Indiana coach Bobby Knight, unhappy with Feinstein’s blockbuster, alternately called the author “a pimp” and “a whore,” to which Feinstein replied, “I wish he’d make up his mind, so I’d know how to dress.”
▪ Brady will be on “Monday Night Football” against the Giants. Wonder if seeing those Giants uniforms will give him flashbacks to Super Bowls played against Coughlin and Eli Manning in 2008 and 2012. Today’s Giants are 21-52 since their last playoff appearance.
▪ A Malden city councilor is in hot water for dressing up as an Orchids of Asia employee for Halloween two years ago. In an online photo, the councilor’s “date” is wearing a Patriots shirt, jeans, and aviator sunglasses, and holding a fake Lombardi Trophy.
▪ The nomadic New York Islanders opened this season with a 13-game road trip while getting ready to play their first home game in UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y., against Calgary Saturday night. The 2009-10 Vancouver Canucks are the only NHL team to play more consecutive road games, leaving town for a 14-game stretch when the Winter Olympics came to British Columbia.
▪ Brilliant planning by MLS. The mighty Revolution will be working on 23 days’ rest when they resume play in the tournament Nov. 30.
▪ Alas, no readers came up with a frozen loaf of Big Yaz Bread from 1968. Thought you should know.
▪ Quiz answer: Phil Niekro (318 wins).