Streaming services are popping up everywhere these days, their proliferation part of the zeitgeist. What you binge-watch is a matter of subjectivity and personal preference. The same holds true for sports opinions. So, it’s time for a little stream work. I’m sharing some thoughts taking up bandwidth in my brain, starting with the clueless, clownish, and dangerous misbehavior of a certain Cleveland Brown.
■ The NFL must send a message with its punishment of Browns defensive end Myles Garrett for using a helmet as a weapon against Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph Thursday night. The league announced Friday that Garrett had been suspended without pay indefinitely and will at minimum miss Cleveland’s six remaining regular-season games plus the postseason.
Suspensions also were handed down to Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (three games) and Garrett’s teammate Larry Ogunjobi (one). Both the loathsome Browns and the Steelers were fined $250,000 by the league.
The league isn’t doing its job if Garrett steps on the field for the 2020 season opener. Garrett said he lost his cool. The 2017 No. 1 overall pick should lose his uniform for at least a quarter of the 2020 season for leaving a black mark on the league. He deserves to be suspended for 10 regular-season games.
Garrett took the helmet off Rudolph and wildly swung it at his helmetless head, sparking a fracas that marred the end of Cleveland’s 21-7 win. This is a league in which players get fined for trying to tackle a player right after he makes a catch right in front of them because that player is said to be defenseless.
Well, there is no more defenseless position for a player than to be without a helmet. Now, take an opponent using that missing helmet to strike that player. Luckily, Garrett’s aim was as off as Rudolph’s had been all night.
It’s always dangerous to compare illicit and malicious behavior in a sporting contest to criminal behavior in the real world. No one should be filing assault charges or lawsuits against Garrett. I hope the good folks in Pittsburgh didn’t call 911 the way Montreal Canadiens fans did when Zdeno Chara blasted Max Pacioretty. Let’s not get silly. (Of course, this was closer to former Bruin Marty McSorley clubbing Donald Brashear with his stick in 2000 in Vancouver. A British Columbia court did actually convict McSorley of assault, but he served no jail time.)
But Garrett should feel the pain of his uncalled for and unprofessional actions. It’s not the first time this season that Garrett has crossed the line, just the most egregious. According to nflpenalties.com, Garrett has been flagged eight times this season, including two roughing-the-passer penalties, an unnecessary roughness, and his disqualification Thursday.
He smacked Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker in the head with an open palm. He ended the season of Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian with a late hit. He emphatically crossed the line Thursday, endangering another player in an unacceptable manner.
By the way, Garrett has a Boston connection. His older brother is former Boston College and NBA center Sean Williams, who holds the BC career record for blocks but had his promising career at The Heights cut short by substance abuse issues.
■ The Patriots’ loss in Super Bowl LII to the Eagles is the most disappointing Super Bowl loss of their reign. Hear me out.
Losing a perfect season and Super Bowl XLII to the Giants will always register as the most painful and rueful because of the stakes and the history denied. However, that Giants team had already proven it could go toe-to-toe with the Patriots in a memorable regular-season finale. Plus, the Giants wouldn’t have won without David Tyree pinning a football to his helmet in quite possibly the luckiest play in NFL history. What can you do?
The loss to the Eagles was different. It was a dyspeptic defeat because the Patriots were accomplices in their own demise and got thoroughly outplayed and outcoached when it counted most. The Eagles scored 41 points with a backup quarterback, Nick Foles. They racked up 538 yards, the most allowed by the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era. They scored on eight of 10 drives, including their final five. They punted once.
The New England defense got schooled with the assorted Marquis Flowers, Johnson Bademosi, Eric Lee, and Jordan Richards types running around while cornerback Malcolm Butler mysteriously never took a defensive snap.
The Patriots missed tackles, missed a field goal and an extra point, and missed the opportunity to capitalize on Tom Brady’s Super Bowl-record 505-yard passing performance. New England botched its trick play and gave up a touchdown on the Philly Special. And the Patriots still could have won the game in the fourth quarter with one stop. Ugh.
The Eagles were the better team that day, but they weren’t the better team. Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy called the loss “humbling.” I would say haunting. That’s why the regular-season rematch Sunday in Philadelphia is interesting.
■ What some folks seem to be missing in the Mookie Betts debate is that his retention is not solely the Red Sox’ decision. This is a two-way street. It’s up to Betts, too. If he signals to the Sox that his first choice is to remain in Boston, then it makes more sense for the Sox to hold on to him for 2020.
No one really knows what Betts’s intentions are other than maximizing his value, which I’m all for players doing. But if he’s determined to go to free agency, that puts Boston in a bind. It’s just hard to believe that if staying in Boston were unequivocally Betts’s first choice, he wouldn’t have made that clear to the team by now, with his name swirling in trade rumors.
Betts is an affable, intelligent, professional fellow. But he has always seemed a bit guarded. He has been in this market long enough to know that if he says anything that even remotely hints at planning to depart, it will explode into a major story. So take all the platitudes he has offered about playing here with a grain of salt.
Betts might be the face of the franchise, but he prefers to stay out of the harsh glare and cruel crosshairs of the Boston Baseball Experience. He has seen them firsthand with fellow Tennessean and friend David Price.
■ With Major League Baseball delving into allegations of systematic and technology-aided sign-stealing by the Houston Astros, it made me think of an odd comment that Red Sox manager Alex Cora had about former Astro Carlos Beltran during this past season’s London Series. The Sox were bludgeoned in the inaugural London Series, allowing 29 runs (28 earned) and 31 hits to the Yankees in two games. Beltran, who was hired as New York Mets manager this offseason, served as a special adviser for the Yankees last season.
After the sweep, Cora said, “That’s a good offensive team. They’re a lot better than last year. The attention to detail is phenomenal. I was joking to somebody that the biggest free agent acquisition is Carlos Beltran. I know how it works, and he’s helping a lot. They’re paying attention to details, and we have to clean up our details.”
Perhaps that was just praise for an old friend and fellow Puerto Rican. But it certainly could be interpreted differently in the wake of the sign-stealing allegations.
MLB investigators planned to speak to both Cora and Beltran about the allegations. Both were with the Astros in 2017 when they won the World Series. Cora was the bench coach for manager A.J. Hinch; Beltran spent the final season of his 20-year playing career there.
Beltran’s value to Houston went beyond his .231 batting average. He was a clubhouse conduit between the Latino players and those who weren’t fluent in Spanish. He also might have been part of a different type of useful communication.
■ Is it possible that as much as we overrated last year’s Kyrie Irving-led Celtics team, we’ve underrated this year’s? Maybe we were just off by a year and a point guard.
The Celtics awoke Friday with the NBA’s best record (9-1), and we haven’t seen what they look like when all the wings and bigs are healthy at the same time. Bring on more Kemba Walker-inspired kumbaya and Brad Ball.