Music and sports thoughts both have a tendency to play on loop in one’s mind, and both inspire people to only listen to what they want to hear, tuning out anything they don’t like. We all know that Deflategate has become a broken record (kids, ask your parents what records are). But while we wait for the eventual closing of the PSI Pandora’s box, I’m streaming a few sports thoughts.
1. It’s obvious from his order scheduling a pair of settlement conferences (Aug. 12 and Aug. 19) that US District Judge Richard Berman is as sick of the Deflategate saga as the rest of us. He is not-so-gently pushing Roger Goodell/the NFL and Tom Brady/the NFL Players Association to settle. But if Brady accepts a settlement that doesn’t completely exonerate him, will Patriots fans be incensed, cry perfidy, and turn on TB12 the way they did Robert Kraft, when the Patriots owner stood down in May and accepted punishment?
It makes sense for Brady to put this imbroglio behind him and focus on football. Brady’s agent, Don Yee, said last week that was one of the reasons the NFLPA offered a settlement prior to commissioner Goodell upholding Brady’s four-game suspension.
Yee summed up Brady’s thought process as such: “If there is something reasonable — even though I know I didn’t do anything wrong — if there has to be an olive branch offered so I can play for the fans, my teammates, and coaches, that’s really what I want to do.”
That seems pragmatic. But this has become a crusade for Patriotologists and ceding any ground to the NFL is blasphemy.
2. Love him or hate him, Red Sox fans owe Larry Lucchino a debt of gratitude for preserving and improving Fenway Park. The restoration and revitalization of Fenway is the lasting legacy of Lucchino, whose tenure as Red Sox president and CEO will end after the season. Since 2002, the Sox have spent more than $300 million upgrading and updating Fenway. Even those who bemoaned the installation of the seats above the Green Monster in 2003 have to acknowledge they’re a vast improvement over the East German-checkpoint screen.
In an era in which nearly every team has a replica-retro ballpark, the Red Sox have the real thing. Remember, the prior ownership group under John Harrington said the old green lady was beyond saving. “It would be easier to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa,” Harrington told the Globe in 1999. “It just doesn’t make economic sense. And even after spending a lot more money, we’d end up with something that doesn’t provide what the fans and the team need at this point.” The Red Sox have won three World Series playing in Fenway since that statement.
3. ESPN NFL reporter Chris Mortensen, who backed out of a WEEI interview last week, did himself no favors in a meandering ESPN Radio interview on Monday. But the over-the-top ire aimed at Mortensen seems to be a classic case of shooting the media messenger. Did Mort report bad info saying 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs from the AFC Championship game were 2 PSI below regulation? Absolutely. Should he have corrected his report? Undoubtedly. But trying to shame Mortensen into revealing the source of his erroneous information is exactly what many think Deflategate is — a revenge-fueled witch hunt.
Anyone saying that the NFL investigated Deflategate because of Mortensen’s report is doing what Mort is accused of doing — peddling false information. The NFL sent a letter to the Patriots on Jan. 19, a day prior to Mortensen’s report, telling them it would investigate the matter. That letter incorrectly stated that a football measured 10.1 PSI. So, the real culprit here is the NFL, and the Patriots have every right to be livid with the league.
4. How did it take this long for the Red Sox to place Rick Porcello on the disabled list with a phantom injury? Porcello was placed on the DL on Sunday with a right triceps strain, which seemed to be news to him. The real cause is a swollen earned run average. His 5.81 ERA is the highest among qualifying pitchers in the American League. Any chance the Sox had to salvage this season disappeared in part because they extended too much rope to Porcello and Joe Kelly.
5. Listening to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington talk about the team’s inactivity at last Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline, it sounded like baseball operations went into the deadline without a sense of urgency. The idea being that what didn’t get accomplished in July could wait until the offseason. There is a lot of consideration, contemplation, and circumspection from the boys in baseball ops, but not a lot of decisive action. Standing pat and waiting on a sample size appear to be the default approaches.
6. It’s good to see sanity prevailed in Foxborough on practicing with numbers during training camp. Maybe practicing without numbers does promote camaraderie and unity, the reason the team has given for forgoing numbers. But one Patriots staffer acknowledged that sometimes even those in football operations make mistakes identifying players in practice without the digits.
7. I wonder if this offseason the Mets would consider moving one of their electric young starters to the Red Sox for a package that centered around second baseman Dustin Pedroia? The Sox need pitching. The Mets are in dire need of offensive upgrades. Pedroia has six years and a palatable $85 million left on his deal. No one plays harder than Pedroia, who is sidelined by a hamstring injury, but Boston is 88-120 the last two seasons with him in the lineup.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant had a few disagreements with the media last season, but that hasn’t stopped him from investing in a magazine. Durant is part of a group of investors who have purchased mawkish, poster-producing teen magazine Tiger Beat. LOL and OMG, KD. Maybe Durant can get Brady to write a piece on texting with friends.