Have some notes in passing on a handful of things while breathlessly awaiting more cleats to drop with the latest turn of the screw in dreary “Deflategate,” now precariously pending:
And might there be any way the road can be paved to the Supreme Court on this burning and transcendental question? The mind boggles at the delightful prospect of having the lordly Antonin Scalia assess the wiles of Bill Belichick and the guiles of Tom Brady. You can further bet Justice Sonia Sotomayor, ever perky and also a fancier of sport, would brilliantly rise to the occasion. You may recall that on the appeals court level she historically ended baseball’s last and most abominable strike, in the process conveying a rich sense of the game, the issues, the culprits, and the stupidity of the entire business.
I say let SCOTUS unravel this gridiron Gordian Knot that has rendered so many so daft. It will be great fun to see them do it which, having been required to put up with it, we all richly deserve.
A last word now – at least here in this space – on Boston’s now officially failed 2024 Olympics cause which seems, now that it’s over and no longer dividing us, to beg for a proper understanding, however belated, as if there’s a lesson here needing and deserving to be learned lest the whole thing prove a colossal waste.
Of the countless passionate points of view on the highly complex and hefty question of Boston hosting the games there are two that strike me as notably sensible and they come from a couple of old and estimable friends: Tom Mulvoy, associate editor of the Dorchester Reporter, and Bob Ryan, semi-retired columnist of the Boston Globe, as seasoned a pair of pros as you’ll find in our dodge.
Writing on the Reporter’s editorial page, Tom argues essentially that if the plan was undoubtedly flawed it hardly deserved to be savaged from the get-go by “nattering naysayers” with those who tried to so much as give it half a chance being subjected to ridicule. The “free-for-all” that ensued, he says, pre-empted any chance of the “orderly civil conversation” any serious proposal deserves at a minimum. All of which was undignified, especially for a region of such august presumptions as ours, and we’re all the poorer for that, Tom suggests.
Bob, an Olympics buff who has covered 11 of them, believes the games would have been a sensation if they’d been staged here, with Boston being ideally suited. Yet he fully understands why the grand idea flopped so abysmally. If the performance of proponents was clumsy and erratic, the end result, he argues, was likely foreordained given the fears that our history with massive public works understandably engenders. But the notion that wanting to host the games here was somehow “crazy,” as the fiercer opponents bitterly argued, he roundly rejects. Save for us being us, he holds, it might have been a wonderful thing.
Both are right, it seems to me. Together their points form a kind of bottom line on the rather remarkable if improbable dalliance Boston 2024 proved to be. If it’s deemed an utterly wasted experience, that’s a shame. But at a minimum, in parting we owe at least a polite “thank you” to those who, as Tom Mulvoy rather nicely puts it, “dared to dream.”
In Canada, one hears there’s a boomlet taking shape with the aim of planting “Grapes” in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“Grapes” would of course be our Don Cherry, gone now from the Bruins 35 years yet still enjoying emeritus institutional status hereabouts. A career bush leaguer, Don got to play only one game (I repeat: “one”) in the NHL, so he can’t qualify as a player. Flamboyant as he was at coaching and fairly brilliant at his peak, he didn’t work behind the bench long or well enough to make it as a coach. But as a near apostolic promoter of the game, defender of the faith, champion of its virtues, and critic of its flaws, “Grapes” makes a perfect candidate in the Hockey Hall’s “Builder” category. It’s a great idea.
Still plenty robust and unbowed, “Grapes” is no less nearing 80, so they better do it quick. We don’t want to be denied the rollicking privilege of seeing him commandeering center stage at the hockey pantheon in Toronto, dressed to the nines and looking like a slightly aging and paunchy but still irrepressible Beau Brummell. I can see it now!
Uncertain are the ramifications of the fading away of Larry Lucchino from the Red Sox management scene. Those who most seem to know what they’re talking about uniformly avow Lucchino was the brains of the ruling ownership triumvirate, at least in the baseball sense of the word. And who knows what Sam Kennedy, his heir apparent, brings to it over and above a deep sense of gratitude. Things move swiftly in today’s game. Retrenchments can be costly.
It will be interesting to see how the surviving musketeers, Brothers Henry and Werner, handle life without Larry, and even more fascinating to see if the shockwave of his leaving brings about a prolonged game of musical chairs in the team’s bloated hierarchy, where about three dozen alleged vice-presidents compete for relevance. It’s easy to imagine this organization looking very different in two-three years. Palace intrigues can be costly.
There’s been some aimless chatter about Dave Dombrowski, suddenly and shockingly deposed as the Tigers man in the catbird seat, coming aboard. Very doubtful, says I. Dombrowski has co-existed with John Henry in the past, but I can’t see him taking “advice” from Tom Werner. Moreover, what would they do with Kennedy, or Ben Cherington, for that matter? But then somewhere along the line somebody is going to have to pay for this fiasco of a season.
From a distance, Lucchino somewhat rubbed me the wrong way. My favorite major domo in all of Red Sox history remains Dick O’Connell, easily the most under-rated character in the entirety of that history. Groomed in our highly cerebral World War II intelligence service and a master at its inspired mischief, Dick was elusive and sly and a masterful pragmatist. Lucchino I found too loud and brash. You always knew where he was coming from. With Dick, you were never sure. That’s an advantage in the Byzantine councils of Baseball.
But like O’Connell, Lucchino got things done, the bottom line. And like Dick, he knew himself, had the courage of his convictions, and was never afraid to buck the tide. One wishes him well.
Murray Chass, ex of the N.Y Times who now does a much-read and well-researched weekly baseball blog, has an excellent idea about how to resolve baseball’s nagging all-star game imbroglio. You know, that silly business of this vacuous exhibition determining which league gets precious home-field advantage in the infinitely more important World Series, a condition most baseball people increasingly find outrageous, the clueless ex-commissioner who concocted the nonsense being high among the rare exceptions.
Chass proposes that the league that has the best record in inter-league play should receive the home-field edge. It’s an idea that’s not only simple and valid but entirely logical, a rare luxury in professional sports. It would make meaningful competition on the field the determinant and also greatly add to the meaning and value of inter-league play, which has lately lost its charm and sagged in appeal.
It’s a “win-win,” as they say. Indeed, it’s such a good idea that it probably has no chance of approval.