Picked-up pieces while thinking about the prospect of DeAndre Hopkins with the Patriots …
▪ This should have been the mother of all Father’s Day weekends.
I know the mature thing is to acknowledge that the Celtics and Bruins have work to do and simply celebrate the Denver Nuggets and Vegas Golden Knights. But we are sports people and we are not mature and I can’t get the thought out of my head:
The Celtics and Bruins were favored to win the championship in their respective sports.
Which is why we should be getting ready for Game 7 of the NBA Finals at the Garden Sunday night, wondering whether Joe Mazzulla can figure out a defense to stop Nikola Jokic. The Celtics should be getting ready to raise Banner No. 18 over the parquet floor.
Game 7 was supposed to be on Causeway Street on Father’s Day night. And the Celtics would have been favored. Just as they were heavily favored in Game 7 against the Miami Heat … before Jayson Tatum turned into a pumpkin and Jaylen Brown a turnover machine.
Ah, and the Bruins? If all had gone according to plan, they’d have played Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Vegas Friday, squaring their series, 3-3. Game 7 would have been at the Garden Monday night — after the bull gang packed away the parquet for the summer and cleaned Celtic confetti from the lower bowl.
Imagine that. The greatest NHL regular-season team in history would be playing against its former coach in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final one day after the Celtics won it all.
Our duck boats would be fueled and ready for back-to-back parades. Maybe Wednesday for the Celtics and Thursday for the Bruins.
What a week. Back-to-back Finals Game 7s Sunday and Monday at the Garden. Then back-to-back rolling rallies Wednesday and Thursday. Imagine Mayor Michelle Wu working overtime and Government Center offices empty while everybody took the days off to celebrate our first championships since Tom Brady left town. Our friends around the country would have been so envious.
Instead, we have the last-place Red Sox and the Aaron Judge-less Yankees at Fenway. Not what we were looking for on this Father’s Day weekend.
▪ Quiz: Name three future Red Sox managers who were teammates (briefly) with the Cincinnati Reds in April of 1962 (answer below).
▪ Are the Revolution now a bigger draw than the Red Sox? The Revs drew 36,235 to Gillette for their June 10 game vs. Inter Miami. Going into this weekend, the Sox had only two games all season with more fans at Fenway.
▪ Has anybody else noticed that John Henry and Tom Werner had a lot more MLB success when Larry Lucchino was part of their group?
▪ Dave Schumacher of Big JAB radio in Portland, Maine, wonders whether Bruce Cassidy will bring the Stanley Cup to City Hall Plaza the way Ray Bourque did.
▪ The Cardinals, who swept the Red Sox in a weekend series at Fenway in May, went into this weekend 27-42, on pace to have their worst season in 110 years.
▪ The Myth of Chris Sale in Boston is that, while hopelessly brittle, he was worth all the cost because “he delivered a World Series championship in 2018.”
In fact, Sale’s contribution here — while allowing that he may yet return and pitch well — amounts to very little and virtually zero since Henry and Dave Dombrowski agreed to extend his contract (five years, $145 million) in the spring of 2019.
But let’s go back to the beginning and that 2018 championship. Sale was dominant in his first year and a half in Boston. He struck out 308 batters and went 17-8 in his first season (2017) but was routed (0-2, 8.38 ERA) in two playoff losses to the Astros.
The skinny lefty had a great first half in ‘18, but he hurt his shoulder in July, went on the injured list, and pitched in only five regular-season games after July 27. Folks have fallen in love with the image of Sale coming in to the bottom of the ninth (with a 5-1 lead) of the World Series clincher and fanning the side, but that disguises Sale’s actual contribution to the championship run.
Sale was basically an opener in that postseason, pitching five games (three starts), going 1-0 in 15⅓ innings. He didn’t make it into the fifth in his ALCS and World Series starts. His World Series pitching line: zero wins, five innings, 5.40 ERA.
Overall, in three postseasons with the Red Sox (2017, 2018, 2021), Sale went 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA, surrendering 36 hits and 13 walks in 34 innings over 10 appearances (seven starts). Not exactly Bob Gibson stuff, is it?
Everybody knows what’s happened in the four years since Sale’s contract extension started. He has given Boston 107⅓ innings, pitched in 22 games, and made $119 million. Let’s not pretend it was all worth it because Sale delivered a title. He didn’t.
▪ Hall of Famers Bob Ryan and Peter Gammons changed the way sports are covered and continue to grace us with great writing. They were Globe interns in the summer of 1968 (imagine Ruth and Gehrig coming to the Yankees on the same day), and last weekend marked the 55th anniversary of their first Globe story — a dual-byline piece on the sports world’s reaction to the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.
Gammons tweeted, “I well remember the feeling when the 3:30 late stocks edition of the PM Globe came up with our dual byline, then the beer and hot dog at the Eire Pub … two college kids knew by the time we left the Pub what we wanted to do for a living.”
I grew up a mile from Gammons’s house in Groton and see Ryan every Wednesday on my porch. And there are still stories I have not heard. Last week, Bob recalled NBA draft day ‘73 when he was in the sports department and took a call from someone who wanted to know if Harvard’s James Brown had been drafted.
“Yes,” said Bob. “He went to the Hawks in the fourth round.”
Ryan couldn’t help but ask, “Who’s calling?” and the voice on the phone said, “This is James Brown from Harvard.”
▪ Hours before Denver won its first NBA championship, ESPN talking heads were questioning whether the Nuggets are a budding dynasty. After Denver won, bloviators argued that Jokic might be the best NBA center of all time.
Love Jokic. He is about team more than himself, which is more than you can say for most American-born NBA stars. But best ever? When did Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar get erased?
▪ The Sox and Yankees played three sub-three-hour games last weekend (2:28, 2:29, and 2:51 in 10 innings). We want more like that.
▪ According to the Wall Street Journal, Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca has listed his Weston home at $8.999 million. The home has two basketball courts, one indoor, one outdoor.
A few days after the Green Team’s Game 7 debacle against the Heat, Pagliuca flew to Italy to watch his Atalanta team beat Monza to qualify for the Europa League. Pags claims the Italian media go lighter on his soccer team than Globe columnists do when writing about the Celtics. Liverpool/Red Sox/Globe owner John Henry probably would agree.
▪ Anecdotal for sure, but while roaming the streets of Italy for eight days, I spotted four Yankee ball caps, but not a single Red Sox cap.
▪ RIP sprinter Jimmy Hines, who won Olympic gold for America at the 1968 Mexico City Games and later had a cup of coffee with the Miami Dolphins. Hines died June 3 at the age of 76.
▪ RIP wide receiver Homer Jones, perhaps the only 1960s athlete faster than Hines. A Texas native, Jones died at 82 this past week. He was one of the few stars on some bad 1960s New York Giants football teams when their games were beamed into New England homes every Sunday. Jones invented spiking the football after scoring a touchdown.
▪ Rick Pitino, now coach at St. John’s, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Mets game.
▪ The New York Post reports that former All-Star and World Series starting pitcher Matt Harvey has joined a commercial real estate firm in Newark as managing director of multifamily debt origination.
Known as the “Dark Knight,” Harvey, 34, started for the NL in the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field and famously blanked the Royals for eight innings of Game 5 in the 2015 World Series. Harvey balked at coming out after eight and the Royals got to him in the ninth, winning the clincher in extra innings.
▪ Thirty-five-year-old Phil Kessel has won the Stanley Cup three times since the Bruins traded him in 2009 — twice with the Penguins and once with the Golden Knights.
▪ J.W. Aiken, assistant equipment manager for the Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights, is a 1999 graduate of Groton-Dunstable Regional High School. Hope he gets a day with the Cup in Groton.
▪ Anybody else notice the black smudge on Justin Turner’s back? It’s from pine tar on his bat dirtying his uniform top.
▪ The TV experience of trying to watch the Red Sox on NESN with Fubo is one big bowl of bad. Makes me long for the days of trying to find the puck while adjusting tinfoil to an antenna, watching Bobby Orr & Co. skating to the tune of “The Nutty” on snowy Channel 38.
▪ Quiz answer: Darrell Johnson, Eddie Kasko, and Don Zimmer (bet even Gammons had trouble with this one).