Picked-up pieces while suggesting that our leaders find a more prominent spot for the Bill Russell statue . . .
▪ Tom Brady is a great football player and put the Patriots on the map.
He is also proof that winning a lot of championships cuts you slack forever in this town.
Brady turned 45 this past week while working out in Tampa, trying to win his eighth Super Bowl. On the day before his birthday, we learned that Tom was talking to the Miami Dolphins — angling his way out of Boston — before he even started his 20th and final season with the Patriots in 2019. Throughout the ‘19 season, Brady was actively working on his next gig while he was playing for the Patriots.
Beyond weak. Phony. A betrayal. Hard to forgive.
When all this came out, the Dolphins were docked a first-round draft pick (and a third) and slapped with a $1.5 million fine for tampering violations. Owner Stephen Ross was suspended for six games.
Brady got nothing … just like in an NFL game in 2022. You can’t touch the golden boy quarterback, which — avocado ice cream aside — is the biggest reason Brady can keep playing at this level at 45.
Brady’s integrity takes a well-deserved hit. You have to be a true sycophant/fanboy to dismiss this one. We know for a fact that while he was performing and pouting with the 2019 Patriots, he was scheming to join one of their hated division rivals.
He later did the same two-faced thing in Tampa; his “retirement” was merely a ruse to get him to a player/ownership role in Miami. The scam was foiled when Brian Flores filed his discrimination lawsuit against the Dolphins and Brady had no choice but to slink back to the Bucs, but not without first getting his coach (Bruce Arians) fired.
For all these years, we’ve heard about how team-guy Tom took pay cuts to help the Patriots. In the end, it was just the opposite.
How is all of this OK with you, Boston? Your guy was mentally checked out of Foxborough in his last Patriot season. A lot of Patriot fans are still angry at Bill Parcells for talking to the Jets while he was taking the Patriots to a Super Bowl. The Tuna had a much better reason for leaving (stabbed in the back on draft day by Bob Kraft) than Brady. How is Parcells a traitor but Brady is OK?
Weird that the outing of Brady came while tributes were still pouring in for the late, great Bill Russell. It reminded me of a knee-jerk and incorrect column I wrote the day after Tom won his final Super Bowl for the Patriots in February 2019. Caught up in the moment and the magnitude of the 21st century NFL, I declared Tom the greatest Boston athlete of all time.
I take it all back. It’s Russell, who won 11 championships in 13 seasons, was not protected by referees, never once complained about his supporting cast (Emmette Bryant was a starting guard when the Green finished fourth in 1969), and did not negotiate with the Sixers while he was under contract to the Celtics. A star with integrity. Worthy of your love and adulation. Boston’s greatest of all time.
▪ Quiz: Name the only two members of baseball’s 3,000-hit club who batted below .280 lifetime (answer below).
▪ The death of Russell brought to mind the genius of the late Bud Collins, who wrote this on the day that Red Auerbach made Russell the first Black head coach in American major professional sports: “Bill Russell made history Monday. He became the first bearded man ever to coach or manage a major league team … Some narrow-minded people will object to such a prominent job going to a bearded man. Their reasoning, of course, is that once you give a beard a break, you’ll be over-run with beards.”
▪ Not the Red Sox’ finest hour Monday in Houston when they traded Christian Vázquez to the Astros while he was preparing to play in Minute Maid Park. When Vázquez (drafted by Theo Epstein way back in 2008) learned he’d been traded and stopped to politely answer media questions behind the batting cage, he was escorted from the scrum by a Sox PR guy.
The robotic Sox baseball ops department had no boots on the ground in Houston, so Vázquez was left to fend for himself. (Note to the nerds: This is how you lose the loyalty of your uniformed personnel.)
After trading away the starting catcher — who was having a better season than almost all of his teammates — Chaim Bloom insulted the intelligence of Sox fans by claiming the Sox are still trying to win this year.
Vázquez deserved better. Sox fans deserve better.
The Sox are replacing Vázquez with Reese McGuire, who frames pitches well and evidently is not master of his domain.
▪ Love the acquisition of Eric Hosmer, but let’s not pretend he was part of any master plan. Hosmer fell into the Sox’ lap only because he refused a trade to the Nationals. The Padres are dealing like a big-market franchise while the Sox do their Tampa thing. Hard to believe there’s much love for Bloom in the Red Sox clubhouse.
▪ Would the Red Sox and Boston baseball media please stop referring to every Bloom acquisition as a “prospect”? Every minor league baseball player is not a “prospect.” Some are just minor league players.
▪ Let the record show that in 2016 Jackie Bradley Jr. hit .267 with 26 homers and 87 RBIs and was an All-Star starter. He won one Gold Glove and was the best Fenway center fielder many of us have ever seen. He’s also a good family guy who contributed to the community.
▪ If you are outraged by Deshaun Watson’s paltry six-game suspension handed down by independent arbitrator Sue Robinson, remember that the judge appears to have considered Daniel Snyder’s wrist-slap and Bob Kraft’s non-punishment for Orchids of Asia when she handed down her ruling.
Footnote No. 51 of the judge’s ruling reads: “I note in this regard that the Policy is equally applicable to players and team owners and management. The NFLPA questions whether it is ‘fair and consistent’ to severely punish Mr. Watson for his non-violent sexual conduct and not even charge various team owners who have been accused of similar or worse conduct.”
▪ Patriot luck: The last game of Watson’s suspension is Oct. 16, the week the Patriots play in Cleveland.
▪ Give the Dolphins and their fans credit for taking their well-deserved punishment in mature fashion, without protest. We’ve seen no “NFL Tampering Findings In Context” report on the Dolphins website.
▪ No one has ever cashed in on a Hall of Fame induction as quickly as David Ortiz. How soon before we see Papi in a reverse mortgage ad? Ginsu knives? Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes?
▪ Nolan Ryan talked to the New York Times about batters he had trouble with (Will Clark and Dick Allen were two) and batters he owned, including Tigers pinch hitter Gates Brown (0 for 24) and Red Sox infielder Rico Petrocelli (2 for 35, .057). “[Petrocelli] had a big swing, and for some reason I was just able to dominate him,” said Ryan.
▪ Vin Scully loved Boston and often told of his first professional break when he was assigned to cover (on radio) a Boston University-Maryland football game from Fenway Park’s windy rooftop in November of 1949. Scully’s “behind the bag!!” call of Mookie Wilson’s infamous grounder lives forever in Red Sox lore.
This from author Tom Callahan: “A hundred years ago, when I was a boy columnist at the Cincinnati Enquirer, I always knew where I could find Pete Rose late at night. He was in his car in the driveway of his home because that was the only radio he had that could bring in Vin Scully.”
▪ Keep an eye on the Yankees and Astros as they battle for best AL record and home-field advantage in the ALCS.
▪ Terrible to learn that UConn superstar Paige Bueckers is out for the season with a torn ACL.
▪ Good luck to the New England regional champion King Philip U14 baseball team playing at the Babe Ruth World Series in North Dakota starting next Wednesday.
▪ Best wishes to Togo Palazzi, who turns 90 Monday, and to Bob Cousy, who’ll be 94 Tuesday.
▪ The Boston K Men, those fanatics who’ve been tracking strikeouts at Fenway ever since Pedro Martinez came to town, are promoting the work of The BASE, which provides pathways to higher education and productive citizenship for student-athletes. The K Men are celebrating Ortiz with Dominican flag shirts that can be ordered through bostonkmen.org.
▪ Saddened to hear of the passing of former Red Sox pitcher Win Remmerswaal.
▪ Quiz answer: Rickey Henderson (.279) and Cal Ripken Jr. (.276).