Why we can’t tell how good the Patriots are, and other thoughts

Bill Belichick waves to Patriots fans after Sunday’s victory over the winless Redskins.
Bill Belichick waves to Patriots fans after Sunday’s victory over the winless Redskins.barry chin/globe staff/Globe Staff

Picked-up pieces while watching the gluten-free, Red Sox-free baseball playoffs . . .

■   It is impossible to tell how good the Patriots are because of the historically bad level of the teams they have played. Truly unbelievable. The aggregate record of the Patriots’ five opponents thus far is 5-18. There are only four winless teams in the NFL, and the Patriots have played three of them in the first five weeks.

Patriots fans, ever-sensitive and protective of The Wall, don’t like the Tomato Can narrative, but it has never been more applicable. In five weeks, the Patriots have faced the wretched of the wretched. Terrible coaches and quarterbacks. Every week.


The only half-decent team they played was the Fool’s Gold Bills, who featured the worst quarterback most of us have seen. You certainly can’t do any better than 5-0 when you’ve only played five games, but New England’s degree of difficulty has been a joke.

The mighty 2-3 Giants are next, and they just allowed 490 yards to the Vikings. The Patriots are 15½-point favorites Thursday. Then, it’ll be the (still winless) Jets again.

Even Bill Belichick cannot be a fan of this. There has been no true measure. Are you entertained?

■   Theo Epstein and the Cubs really know how to fire people. When Theo decided it was time to break up with Joe Maddon, he shared a bottle of wine with Maddon the night before the final game of the season, then, before the Sunday finale, he held a joint press conference with the manager who’d won him a World Series.

Contrast that with the Red Sox’ secretive, chaotic, ham-handed handling of the dismissals of Terry Francona, Ben Cherington, and Dave Dombrowski, all of whom won World Series for Boston.

■   David Ross is the logical choice to be the next manager of the Cubs.


■   At this time next year, Francona will have managed the Indians as long as he managed the Red Sox (eight seasons). Francona has more continuous service with his current team than any other active manager.

■   If I’m hiring the next Red Sox GM, I don’t consider any candidate until he promises to trade Jackie Bradley Jr. JBJ is a nice person, and one of the greatest center fielders we have seen, but he’s a career .236 hitter who strikes out a ton, turns 30 in April, and will get more than $10 million next year if he stays. Enough with this guy.

■   Quiz 1: Joe Girardi is a Mets managerial candidate. If the Mets choose Girardi, he would become the fifth man to manage both the Yankees and Mets. Can you name the other four?

■   Quiz 2: Washington’s Juan Soto Sunday became the eighth big leaguer under the age of 21 to homer in the postseason. How many of the other seven can you name? (Answers below.)

■   The NBA this year is insisting on accuracy when teams list players’ height. That’s how Kevin Durant officially went from 6-9 to 6-10. Wish this policy existed back in the day when Bill Walton insisted he was only 6-11 even though he was over 7-1. Check out the Celtics team photo from 1986. Walton is taller than Robert Parish (who was listed at 7-½) and towers over 6-10 Kevin McHale.


Bill Walton is in the back row (wearing No. 5), flanked by Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.
Bill Walton is in the back row (wearing No. 5), flanked by Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.NBA file

■   When colleague Adam Himmelsbach noted that the 2018-19 Celtics have eight coaches and four player-enhancement specialists, I couldn’t help but think of Red Auerbach, who mocked the presence of multiple suited folks with clipboards cluttering team benches in the “new” NBA of the 1990s.

■   Congrats to Austin Burton, a sophomore from Newton who excelled in his first start as UCLA quarterback Saturday in a loss to Oregon State. Son of Channel 4’s Steve Burton, brother of NCAA hoopers Veronica (Northwestern), Kendall (Villanova), and Kayla (Lehigh), Austin played three years at Newton South in the Dual Country League and is now following in the footsteps of Troy Aikman in the Pac-12.

Playing in the Rose Bowl, Burton completed 27 of 41 passes (one touchdown, no interceptions) and ran for 64 yards, including a touchdown.

Austin’s grandfather, the late Ron Burton, was the Patriots’ first draft pick in 1960 and wore No. 22 with the old Boston Patriots. Steve Burton played quarterback at Northwestern, and his wife, Ginni Burton, was a Big Ten swimming champion.

■   Wonder how Boston College athletic director Martin Jarmond is feeling about head football coach Steve Addazio. Jarmond extended Addazio through 2022 after last year’s late-season fade, and now the Eagles are 3-3, 1-2 in the ACC, and gave up a school-record 664 yards to Louisville in Saturday’s 41-39 loss.

BC has lost five of its last six ACC games, starting quarterback Anthony Brown injured his leg vs. Louisville, and the Eagles still have to play Notre Dame, plus four teams that beat them last year.


■   Nice job by the Kansas athletic department letting Snoop Dogg bring stripper poles and “aerobic dancers” onto the court while fake dollar bills were showered over the heads of basketball recruits. All this while coach Bill Self and his staff are awaiting NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations.

The Jayhawks are hardly alone, but in my opinion, these guys have been dirty since they lured young Wilt Chamberlain to Lawrence from Overbrook High School in Philadelphia in the 1950s.

■   The Minnesota Twins bounced the Red Sox from the record books when they lost the first two games of their ALDS to the Yankees. That gave them 15 straight postseason losses, vaulting them past the Red Sox, who lost 13 straight from 1986-95. Boston’s dubious streak started in Game 6 of the World Series when the Mookie Wilson grounder bounced between the legs of Bill Buckner.

■   Memo to David Price: A Montreal legal firm has requested authorization to launch a class-action lawsuit against Fortnite. The legal notice likens the effect of the game to cocaine, claiming it releases dopamine to the brains of vulnerable youths who can become dependent on playing.

■   Ryan O’Callaghan, drafted by the Patriots in the fifth round in 2006, started seven games for them as an offensive tackle in 2006-07. O’Callaghan, who is gay, has written a book, “My Life on the Line,’’ describing hiding his sexual orientation in the world of professional football.


■   Ten NBA teams have female assistant coaches. More than half of the top advisers to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie are women.

Related: Allison Feaster brings basketball experience and an important perspective to the Celtics

■   November’s Vanity Fair has an excellent lengthy feature on Bob Kraft’s visits to Orchids of Asia before last year’s AFC Championship game.

■   Brad Stevens knows we all want Tacko Fall to be the 12th man on the Celtics roster. “Everybody wants Tacko,’’ said the coach. “My kids are the same way.” Tacko has to be better than Greg Kite, right?

■   Quiz answers: 1. Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Dallas Green, Joe Torre. 2. Miguel Cabrera (4 times), Mickey Mantle (2), Andruw Jones (2), Rafael Devers (2), Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Ronald Acuna.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com