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    Putting the pieces together in the sports world

    Who are these guys?
    Jonathan Wiggs/globe staff
    Who are these guys?

    Picked-up pieces while waiting to see what Danny Ainge has up his sleeve for next Thursday night . . .

      The NFL is mandating that the Patriots wear numbers on their jerseys during organized team activity practices. Serious stuff there. A self-important league continuing its battle against a self-important organization. The Patriots want us to think they go numberless for “team building.” We know it’s really so that reporters can’t tell who is who.

    What I love most is that Patriots fans — the folks who are most hungry for information about their team — are the same ones who madly applaud the team’s paranoia and insistence on secrecy.


      Advertising “drops” are making Red Sox radio broadcasts almost unlistenable. Everything is sponsored. “That cut fastball was brought to you by Butcher Boy Market in North Andover.” (There is an obvious punch line when we hear, “Stanley is the official tool of the Boston Red Sox.”)

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    The good news is that you don’t need score updates from the radio booth. The tone of Joe Castiglione’s voice tells you whether the Sox are winning or losing.

      If Clay Buchholz isn’t getting the ball for Friday’s start against Seattle (Roenis Elias has been called up), why is he even on the team?

      Celtics coach Brad Stevens recently paid Bob Cousy a two-hour visit. “I told him everything that’s wrong with the Celtics,’’ said the 87-year-old Cooz. “Which is not much. I love the way he’s got them playing.’’

      Sorry, Ichiro fans. His 1,278 hits in Japan do not count toward any Major League Baseball record. Pete Rose (“Next thing you know they’ll be counting his high school hits”) remains the all-time hit king with 4,256.


      Idiotic Deflategate Notions In Context: 1. Why would Roger Goodell settle the Tom Brady over-punishment when he is winning in court thus far? 2. Love how Bob Kraft always backs Goodell when the Commish punishes other teams, then cries about the injustice and looks for allies when the Patriots get spanked. 3. Love the high-powered legal frauds who had no issue with other Goodell punishments, then expressed outrage in amicus briefs (solicited by the Patriots) in the name of justice and labor fairness . . . all because it was Tom Brady. 4. Why don’t the Patriots and their fans just secede from the NFL? That way, they’d be sure to win their division every year. Oh wait, they already do that.

     Quiz: The late Glenn Frey, singer-songwriter of the Eagles (Frey was co-founder of the band with Don Henley), played a fictional general manager in a popular film in 1996. Name the film and Frey’s team.

      The rules are different for everybody. Maria Sharapova fails a drug test and is gone for two years. Rafael Palmeiro failed one and got life from fans and Hall of Fame voters.

      Bill Simmons is wildly rich and famous. So why does he have to keep playing the diva and crying about past slights? Here’s what The Sports Guy recently said about former employer ESPN: “Who would work there that you respect right now?’’ (I don’t know Bill, maybe Hannah Storm, Jeremy Schaap, Sage Steele, and Tim Kurkjian for starters).

    Simmons later apologized for being a “jackass.’’ I’m sure that made hundreds of his former teammates feel good.


    ESPN boss John Skipper told the New York Times, “Bill would rather spin conspiracy theories and be perceived as a martyr than take responsibility for his own actions . . . I severed our relationship with Bill because of his repeated lack of respect for this company and, more importantly, the people who work here.’’

      It’s great that the Red Sox got payroll relief when they made the big Dodger deal in 2012, but fans need to think twice about the popular notion that the Sox somehow swindled Los Angeles.

    The Dodgers would do that deal again in a heartbeat. It got them Adrian Gonzalez. None of the players the Sox got ever did anything in Boston. Meanwhile, the Dodgers make the playoffs almost every year and folks in LA love The Cooler.

    It was a deal that helped both teams. LA has infinite money and was happy to swallow the poison-pill contracts of Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. The Dodgers got an All-Star first baseman who is still raking. Your team got cash relief for your owner. Swell.

      There’s not a lot of warmth when Orioles GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter are in the same room.

      I want both David Ortiz and Madison Bumgarner in the Home Run Derby. Bumgarner can rake. He’s also a rare “throws left, bats right” guy in the tradition of Rickey Henderson. And don’t ask me how (must be a North Carolina thing) but the Giants clutch lefty did indeed date a girl named Madison Bumgarner in high school (discovered by Sports Illustrated’s great Tom Verducci).

      One of John Farrell’s big league managers in Cleveland was John McNamara. That must have been a daily party.

      Don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough infomation on the neuro-scouting measurements of athletes’ hand-eye coordination.

      According to David Remnick’s Muhammad Ali biography (“King of the World”), Cassius Clay’s heart rate was 120 beats per minute (vs. a norm of 54) and his blood pressure was 200/100 at the weigh-in on the morning of the first Sonny Liston bout in Miami in 1964.

    Fight commission doctor Alexander Robbins told Jimmy Cannon, “This fighter is scared to death, and if his blood pressure is the same at fight time, it’s all off.’’ Clay’s numbers were normal an hour later and the historic fight went on.

      There is “book smart” and then there is a completely different level of smart. Cassius Clay graduated 376th out of 391 students in the class of 1960 at Louisville Central High School. According to the New York Times, Clay’s only satisfactory grades were in art and gym. “Years later, he confided that he had never read a book,’’ said the Times in its Ali obit. “He memorized his poems and speeches, laboriously printing them out over and over.’’

      Go back and look at LeBron James’s steal-fall-alley-oop-slam from the third quarter of Game 3 last week.

    James steals the ball, flips it to Kyrie Irving, hits the deck as he scrambles down the floor, gets tangled with Stephen Curry, gets up, and goes all Gumby, somehow one-handing a way-too-high alley-oop pass from Irving. LeBron was high enough to bite the rim. The ensuing flush was the exclamation point.

    It was as impossible as anything Michael Jordan ever did and every bit as good as Dr. J’s cradle-suspension-under-the-hoop finger roll against the Lakers back in the day.

      No matter how you frame the numbers, I don’t think “Hall of Fame” when I hear the name of Carlos Beltran.

      A service for the late, great Bud Collins will be held Friday at Trinity Church in Copley Square.

     Quiz answer: Frey played the role of the Arizona Cardinals general manager in “Jerry Maguire.”

    Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at