College Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network
Thinking Out Loud: Providence must put aside bad call, loss to Villanova 03.14.15 at 7:37 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Providence must put aside bad call, loss to Villanova

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Keno Davis.

— An absolute heartbreaker of a game for the Friars on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. If you saw what happened at the end, you know PC got hosed by the officials. It’s not an excuse, but the entire arena of 20K strong booed the call from referee Brian O’Connell so vigorously that they took the replay down off of the big screen. It’s just a shame players can’t decide games at the end — especially when the officials themselves have very little clue as to what constitutes an actual foul.

— Not for nuthin’, but Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono made a great play to drive to the basket at the end, yes. There was contact with PC’s Ben Bentil, and Arcidiacono then hit two free throws to win it, 63-61. But the inconsistency with foul calls was grotesque. The game wasn’t lost here, however. The Wildcats hit two big shots with the Friars breathing down their necks in the clutch moments late in the game (Darrun Hilliard, Josh Hart) that really won it for them.

— It’s important now, for the Friars, to put the disappointment aside. They’ve still got games to play this season — somewhere next week.

— Had a very uneasy feeling going into Providence’s Thursday Big East quarterfinal with St. John’s. That comes, of course, when a team physically pounds on you not once, but twice during the regular season. The Friars pounded back, however, holding the Red Storm to a season-low 31 percent shooting and getting an unprecedented three double-doubles (LaDontae Henton, Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn).  Five or six 3’s and a defensive effort like that? Yes, please — a couple more like that next week, too, while you’re at it.

— If you watched the games — I mean, really watched them — then you have no problem with the Friars’ Kris Dunn being named as the co-Player of the Year in the Big East along with Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono. I’m a little surprised that Arcidiacono got the nod from the coaches rather than his teammate Darrun Hilliard, but perhaps Hilliard’s unspectacular play late in the year cost him a bit? Austin Croshere called Arcidiacono the best pure shooter in the league, and while there are some good ones (Butler’s Kellen Dunham comes to mind) out there, to have a team dominate the conference when the Big East is strong this year? Gotta have a Wildcat share the honor.

— Dunn’s ability to create his shot, to penetrate a defense, to rebound the ball and then take it away from an opponent is what won him a piece of the POY pie. Henton’s year is still special, as he, Dunn and Hilliard were unanimous choices to the all-Big East first team. More than 2K points, 1K rebounds? Ridiculous. But so is Dunn’s ability to dominate. The scary part is, he’s not all the way there yet.

— I know, the elephant in the locker room. Is Dunn going to come back for another year at Providence, or will he head for the NBA? He is a junior academically, a sophomore in eligibility, and so many seem to believe he’s outta here just because his name pops up on NBA mock draft lists. Kris likes PC, he likes his teammates. He knows he’s got more to do in order to be the player (and the man) he wants to be. Maybe he’ll kick the tires on the pros after the season is done, maybe he won’t. But I’m enjoying his ride, and I hope it lasts a little longer. I think it will.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Kris Dunn, LaDontae Henton have Providence primed for postseason 03.06.15 at 3:13 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Kris Dunn, LaDontae Henton have Providence primed for postseason

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering who this guy “Old Man Winter” really is.

— Wednesday night’s second half at Seton Hall was the best half of hoop Providence has played this season. There was a sense of urgency, and a sense of pride in the way the Friars (21-9) hung half-a-hundred on the Pirates, like a Top 25 team should be able to do. Like an NCAA team should do. Kris Dunn willed his team to the finish line, with huge assists from LaDontae Henton and Ben Bentil. Best move of the game? Ed Cooley keeping in the unit of Dunn-Lomomba-Henton-Bentil-Desrosiers and opting not to sub out, since there was a clear rhythm that the Pirates could not break with that unit.

— Thoughts on the All-Big East team next week: There are a dozen players who probably deserve first-team mention, which is a tribute to the overall caliber of play in the league this year. It’s been a great season and should be an outstanding tournament next week at Madison Square Garden. IMO, the first-teamers will feature two Friars, Henton and Dunn, for the first time, with Villanova’s Darrun Hilliard, Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Butler’s Kellen Dunham and St. John’s Sir Dominic Pointer. Six get the nod, with the Player of the Year also on the squad, and that will be Hilliard.

— Coach of the Year? Butler’s Chris Holtmann, narrowly over Villanova’s Jay Wright. But that’s my choice, and the coaches may very well give the nod to Wright as the Wildcats dominated in the regular season. Pointer is the Defensive Player of the Year, and the Rookie of the Year should be Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado. The Big East coaches vote on all of the postseason awards. Let’s see how well they’ve been paying attention.

— History in the making: If Kris Dunn finishes as the Big East leader in assists and steals (he’s currently No. 1 in both categories), he’ll be the first player in conference history to accomplish the feat in a single season. Henton can become the sixth Friar in the 37-year history of the league (and third in the last five years) to lead the conference in scoring. Can you name the other five? The answer is below.

— Oh, and one more from the “Did you know?” department: Henton’s 2K/1K career marks put him in an exclusive class within the Big East as well. The only other players to accomplish 2,000-plus career points and 1,000-plus career rebounds? Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning at Georgetown, along with PC’s Ryan Gomes. THAT is great company.

— FYI, we’ll be updating the proceedings from the Big East Tournament next week at Madison Square Garden in New York right here on WEEI.com, with daily reports and posts covering the games and the stories that will make the headlines.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: PawSox sale marks end of era 02.28.15 at 12:24 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: PawSox sale marks end of era

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Mike Torrez.

— I’m left with an overwhelming sense of sadness in considering the sale of the Pawtucket Red Sox announced this week. Maybe it’s because it’s the end of an era, one in which Ben Mondor turned a moribund minor league team into a true Rhode Island treasure. Maybe it’s because of the fond memories over several years of calling games on radio and TV, covering those great players and watching my own kids grow up at McCoy Stadium. Maybe it’s because I sense that, in the end, greed is winning out over all.

— Greed? What else could it be? There’s a perfectly good, classic stadium sitting on Ben Mondor Way in Pawtucket with a low-cost lease in hand that the new ownership feels is no longer viable. Historically, the new owners are turning their back on the site of the longest game in the history of the game — 33 innings — that took place in 1981. From that context, it’s difficult to understand why they might feel the way they do. Why wouldn’t Larry Lucchino have felt that way about Fenway Park before sinking millions into keeping it around? Because it’s about control. Put up with what you have to, but control everything else you can.

— The new owners have every right to pursue every option in an effort to maximize their investment. After all, it IS an investment. But don’t feed me and every other Rhode Islander a steady diet of Quahog crap how this is “Rhode Island’s team, it belongs to everyone,” when you don’t consider the city of Pawtucket or its residents who have supported it for so long. To not even consider Pawtucket as an option? Stupid is as stupid does.

— The reluctance to consider staying at McCoy tells me one thing and one thing only: Brace for a move OUT of Rhode Island. If the land parcel on I-195 (and where would they park cars?) doesn’t work out, there’s your excuse to call in the moving vans to Massachusetts, where ownership can control everything. Land, new stadium, ticket prices, everything. That’s what they want. They’ll get it, too, unless R.I. leadership somehow holds their feet to the fire.

— Three words: I. Don’t. Trust. And I don’t mean the state or the city of Providence needs to unnecessarily capitulate on taxpayer-financed incentives. If a new palace goes up, the emperors should pay for it. If the skids can be greased without whacking an over-taxed populace over the head again, so be it. If not, well, it’s been nice knowing you, PawSox. We’ll have a two-year going-away party. Gee, that’ll be fun, huh?

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Providence makes statement with rout of DePaul 02.20.15 at 2:56 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Providence makes statement with rout of DePaul

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Joey Meyer.

— Providence’s win at DePaul on Wednesday wasn’t a sizzler, but it was the kind of win that a contending team — a championship-contending team — needs late in the year against a team in the lower half of the league. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Oliver Purnell didn’t at least try a little zone against the Friars, but maybe if it’s not as good as DePaul’s man-to-man, then it makes sense.

— On the other hand, Providence’s zone was as good as it’s been in a while, and the Blue Demons had a very tough time hitting and getting into the gaps. The Friars did a superb job of cutting down and restricting the passing lanes, and extending to their shooters. Defense like that, provided there’s attention to detail when teams attack the baseline, will win a couple of tough ones down the stretch.

— LaDontae Henton is almost there. He’s 54 points and seven rebounds away from matching Ryan Gomes as the only two players in Friars history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. That’s extraordinary, especially when you consider some of the talent that has come through PC over the past 88 years. This week he was a national nominee for the new “Julius Erving Award,” which will be given to the nation’s top small forward.

— Speaking of the award, college basketball this season follows in the uber-popular college football postseason awards show’s footsteps (on ESPN2 April 10) by introducing awards for best point guard (Bob Cousy Award), best shooting guard (Jerry West Award), best small forward (Julius Erving Award), best power forward (Karl Malone Award) and center (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award). URI’s E.C. Matthews made the list for the Jerry West Award, but for the life of me, I’ve been searching for Kris Dunn’s name on the Cousy list and can’t find it.

— Not for nuthin’, but Matthews is on that list, too. So is UConn’s Ryan Boatright, BC’s Olivier Hanlan, Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono. All worthy in their own right, but no Dunn. Kinda makes this award a joke, really, because someone is clearly asleep at the wheel. Dunn might be the best guard in the country, period. And he’s a candidate for Big East Player of the Year, but not the Cousy Award. Who looks dumb here?

— Great national PR this week for both PC and URI basketball, as Dunn was the feature subject for a Sports Illustrated piece (on SI.com) and Dan Hurley received a great write-up in USA Today. Getcha popcorn ready, ‘cuz the show really hasn’t started yet. Just sayin’.

— Seven straight losses to the Minutemen? Rhody’s win over UMass on Wednesday night was a huge step in the right direction for the Rams, who now certainly must feel like the Atlantic-10 is there for the taking. But the wins must keep coming, especially on the road. Winning at Dayton is a must for the Rams to have a shot at an NCAA at-large spot, if they don’t win the tournament title.

— But with VCU’s wounded list such as it is, the A-10 tourney crown is achievable even if the regular season falls a little short. If I’m a Rams fan, I’m grabbing tickets for the Barclays Center next month.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Kris Dunn, LaDontae Henton,
Thinking Out Loud: Ed Cooley proves his importance to Providence 02.13.15 at 2:00 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Ed Cooley proves his importance to Providence

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Clell Lavern Hobson.

— Never let it be said that a coach isn’t the heart — or the soul — of a basketball team. When Ed Cooley left the floor at Xavier last week, his team’s chances of winning that game also left the floor. To the players and assistant coaches’ credit, the Friars came back following a 23-5 run that put the Musketeers in control, but the initial damage was already done.

— It’s human nature, really. Coaches are surrogate parents — father figures for many players, really — so it’s only natural for your kids to be worried when you fall ill. Ed Cooley may not acknowledge it, but his players were worried for him. They were distracted, despite the best efforts of the coaching staff to keep them focused on the game. Xavier caught a huge break in the game, as the Friars led by eight and were surging when Cooley left the floor.

— The Friars aren’t quite ready to be on the same plane with the Villanovas of the world. Providence is good, and can be better than what we saw Wednesday night at the Dunk. But the Wildcats have quickness and toughness, two things that PC lacks from time to time. They also have shooters — several of them. Our kingdom for a shooter, right now.

— Teams have figured out how to push, pull and double on LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn, which means someone else must step up in order for the Friars to win. A third scoring option is key, but the freshmen also need to contribute more consistently. And outside of Ben Bentil’s league Rookie of the Week performance recently, no one is doing that. They’re not freshmen any longer — the Big East forces you to grow up in a hurry.

— Friarbasketball.com’s Craig Belhumeur wrote a great piece this week on student participation at basketball games, and for a team and a program that is ascending on a decidedly upward trend, it’s disappointing to see the general malaise from PC students. What happened to the “social” nature of sports? When I was in school many moons ago, my friends and I had to be at the games, because it’s where everything was happening socially, and it’s where the girls were, too. Could some of the lack of interest stem from everything social being at your fingertips via smartphone these days? Or should PC admit more male students who might give a damn about basketball? How about a little of both?

— Nothing like some good old-fashioned school spirit to get your blood pumping. If you can’t get charged up at least a little and show some pride for your fellow students who represent you on the floor, then why did you choose the school in the first place? It’s not the inexpensive tuition, for certain. Because it’s the only place you could get into? Probably not that either — but even so, I’d think you’d at least be grateful to the school for having you in the first place. Just sayin’.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Providence’s victory at Georgetown a monumental one 02.06.15 at 10:49 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Providence’s victory at Georgetown a monumental one

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the real Tiger Woods

— Providence’s win Wednesday night at Georgetown brought out a couple of firsts. It was PC’s first win in Washington over the Hoyas since 2005, and it was the Friars’ first win on the road against a ranked team since a 2004 win at UConn.

— Even more impressive was the comeback from a 13-point second-half deficit. Do-everything guard Kris Dunn was on the bench in foul trouble, and the outcome looked to be all but decided in favor of a tough, physical Hoyas team. The effort over the final 10 minutes of the game was as gritty a performance for a PC team as we’ve seen in the last 10 years — every bit as good as the second-half performance at Butler earlier this year — and is as good a win as any team has had in the Big East this season.

— Balance has been, and will remain the key to any Friars success this season. When they get balanced scoring, it’s difficult for an opponent to pick their poison. When they get a balanced defensive effort, the Friars can be suffocating in their 2-3 zone, and that was a major problem for Georgetown in the last 10 minutes of Wednesday’s game. Now if PC could just figure out how to do this against St. John’s. Just sayin’.

— Freshman forward Ben Bentil came up with his first career double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds), and grew up quite a bit against the physical Hoyas. His body is already strong, and his basketball ability is beginning to catch up to his strength.

— The physical nature of Wednesday’s matchup brought out the best — and maybe a little bit of the worst — in both teams. So physical was the finish that the Hoyas — who did their own pushing, shoving and clubbing throughout — had a hard time getting through the handshake line at game’s end. Sensing potential trouble and possible emotions getting out of hand, Ed Cooley quickly sent his team to the locker room before words, or anything else, could be exchanged. Such is life in the always-emotional, always-physical Big East.

— If the Friars could learn how to shoot with any consistency, or accuracy, they’d be a real handful for anyone they face come tournament time. As it now stands, the Friars’ defense will carry them as far as they can go — and that still might be enough on most nights, when they extend the zone and plug the middle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Providence makes best of snowy situation 01.30.15 at 2:48 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Providence makes best of snowy situation

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the super-villain Mr. Freeze …

— So … what’s a little snow between friends? The fourth-largest snowfall on record? This week, beautiful, fluffy white snowflakes became hated, heavy drifts of pure, cold, white misery. Honestly, I thought I had seen/been through it all in 27 years as a New England resident. That is, until this past week. My backyard, a cranberry bog in the Massachusetts town of Berkley, was buried under 30-plus inches of snow after all was said and done with Winter Storm Juno. And what is it with naming winter storms, like naming hurricanes? Does this help keep track of them through the years? And why would we want to remember this? Stupid is as stupid does.

— We all seem to remember the great storms in history, like the Blizzard of”78, so let’s compromise here. Snowmageddon 2015. Has a great ring to it, with the proper amount of alarm and hype just like our TV reporters would want, don’cha think?

— The week’s confinement to quarters gave me time to recall a few of my favorite one-liners on the weather, like this one: It was so cold this week, lawyers put their hands in their own pockets. The same can be said for politicians, too.

— One of the casualties of the snowfall was Providence’s Tuesday night game with DePaul — delayed to Thursday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. One possibility had the Friars and Blue Demons playing at Alumni Hall on campus, if the Fleetwood Mac concert Wednesday had to be postponed. That would have made for an interesting scenario — with only 3,000 or so tickets/seats available — and the first regular-season game on campus in more than 40 years. Alas, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and crew decided the show would go on as scheduled. The postponement still became the first in almost 22 years for the Friars, since Georgetown and John Thompson pulled out of a scheduled game at the Dunk in 1993 due to a snowstorm.

— Not for nuthin’ … but a stroke of genius by the PC athletic department in selling tickets to the Thursday afternoon game with DePaul for just $1. Who could make a 2 p.m. tip-off on a work day, or during a work week already messed up by the snowstorm? As it turned out, 3,568 fans did show for the matinee. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to local charities, and fans who pre-purchased tickets will get two tickets to a future game next season. That’s certainly making chicken salad out of chicken feathers.

— The rantings and ravings here over Kris Dunn the past couple of weeks? I could say I told you so … so I will. His triple-double performance against DePaul Thursday (career high 27 points, career high 13 rebounds, 11 assists) was rare, of course. First ever for PC in a Big East game, ninth in school history. I hope it means nothing, but perhaps Friars fans need to enjoy these last few weeks of games with Dunn in Friar duds, ‘cuz he is rapidly gaining attention, and ascending the NBA draft ladder.

— For my money, Dunn has perhaps the best pure ability of any individual Friar I’ve had the privilege to cover in more than 20 years — and there have been some very good ones. There is fluidity to his game I haven’t seen since Eric Murdock dominated on both ends of the floor in 1990-91. And Murdock went on to play in the NBA for nine seasons.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: We’ll never get complete truth about Deflategate 01.23.15 at 12:49 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: We’ll never get complete truth about Deflategate

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud . . . while wondering whatever happened to John Linehan …

— The NFL’s investigation into Deflategate against the Patriots? It’s the first league investigation of improperly deflated balls that didn’t involve use of PEDs. Just sayin’.

— I get the integrity/fair play/honesty part. But having covered the NFL for more than 30 years now, I also understand what people do to gain an edge. The Patriots push the envelope as much as any team or organization I’ve ever seen … maybe as much as I saw the Oklahoma Sooners push it in the 1970s and ‘€˜80s under Barry Switzer. They were real, straight-out-of-the-West outlaws. It doesn’t make it right, but few teams with a winning mentality want to be left behind.

— If there was a willful violation of the rules that occurred, that’s one thing. If someone within the Patriots organization purposely flaunted the rulebook, well, they’ll pay. It doesn’t mean the players are all cheaters, or the coaches, or the announcers or the fans. I don’t believe we’ll ever get the exact answer we’re looking for. In this case, it makes the current mob mentality of the media a real embarrassment … and a byproduct of the digital era of immediacy in which we currently live. We want answers, and we want them now … in 140 characters or less. The truth, and the search for the truth be damned.

— It seems that most in the national media throwing their darts toward New England have forgotten a few things along the way. The Colts, at one time, allegedly piped in crowd noise to their stadium for an advantage. There also were real strong thoughts on Indy purposely losing in 2011 to gain an advantage in the Andrew Luck derby. How does the old saying go? Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? Make note, NFL. Stupid is as stupid does.

— The national pundits have proven themselves to be nothing more than sanctimonious windbags this week, in reacting to this story. Forfeit the Super Bowl? Year-long suspensions? Over two pounds of air in a football? Yeah, let’s make this more important than PED use in the sport or domestic violence. Guys like Michael Wilbon and Stephen A. Smith — who I have respected as reporters and columnists for a long time — are simply throwing these things out there for shock factor … to gain ratings and notoriety as the media helps stir this story into a big deal.

— And the former football players’ comments on all of this? It’s laughable. For instance, former Jacksonville QB Mark Brunell — who lost an AFC title game to NE in 1996 — said he “did not believe what Tom [Brady] had to say.” Why don’t you at least have the guts to call him a liar? Jerome Bettis, who also lost a couple of big ones to the Patriots as a Pittsburgh Steeler, and whose teams reportedly had rampant PED use throughout the roster: “I’m disappointed in you, Tom Brady.” Really, fellas? I’m disappointed in the four-letter network that gave you a voice.

— Get a clue. We don’t like it because it affects us. But it is a story because of Spygate. It is a story because of the tuck rule. It is a story even because of the 1982 Snow Plow Game. It is a story because the Patriots win — a lot — especially over the past 20 years. It’s a story because everyone loves to see the king fall on his crown, so to speak, whenever possible. Cheating? If I wanted to cheat, I’d do more than just deflate some footballs … and I think the same holds true for Bill Belichick. My guess is he knows exactly what other teams do during the course of a season — to his team and others — but he’s not a rat. Like former J-E-T-S coach Eric Mangini was a few years ago, and like some in other organizations are now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Deflategate, Super Bowl XLIX, Tom Brady
Thinking out loud: URI getting closer, but not quite there 01.17.15 at 9:47 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking out loud: URI getting closer, but not quite there

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud (while wondering whatever happened to Larry Shyatt) …

URI had its best winning streak in five seasons going into Tuesday night’€™s test against VCU. It shouldn’t be five more seasons before we see another five-game win streak.

A statement game? The real disappointment from Rhody’€™s 65-60 close-call defeat to 17th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth at the Ryan Center was the nine-point lead with nine minutes to play, and URI couldn’t hold it. The top teams figure out a way to finish. That’€™s not to say URI isn’t good — the Rams are getting there, and they will punish someone this season. But they’€™re still learning how to be good, and to compete with (and beat) the best in the Atlantic-10, the next step is to finish what you start.

Very impressed with VCU’s Treveon Graham — who hurt his ankle diving for a loose ball early in the second half and returned to lead his team to a road win. It was a “wow” effort, hitting 4-of-5 from 3-point range after the injury, and the kind of effort the URI Rams will need from someone to take the next step up the ladder.

Twelve second-half turnovers, added to Graham’€™s performance, were too much for URI to overcome. Rhody’€™s close, but the Rams haven’€™t lit the cigar just yet. Thirty-five solid minutes can beat Fordham, or maybe George Mason, but it takes 40 to get over the top.

Now that the college football season is complete, the fall standings for the Learfield Sports’€™ Directors Cup show Providence athletics ranked 20th nationally among 195 Division 1 institutions earning points — and No. 1 in the nation among non-football (FBS/FCS) schools. The men’€™s soccer team (finishing third) and men’€™s and women’€™s cross country performances (finishing 13th) have the Friars sports teams standing tall.

Friar fans, want a real resume-builder? Miami’€™s Hurricanes blew through fourth-ranked Duke — at Cameron Indoor — by 16 points this week, shooting 67 percent in the second half. On the road, and the Blue Devils hadn’t lost at home in almost three years. Whoa.

The Big East, if not the rest of the college basketball world, is getting to know PC’s Kris Dunn. And recognizing him, too. Dunn was named Big East Player of the Week for the first time in his career this past week, averaging 20.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.5 steals per game the previous week. He was also the ECAC Division 1 New England Player of the Week for those efforts, and The Sporting News named Dunn to its Midseason All-American 2nd team.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: No reason for new owners to move PawSox 01.09.15 at 3:12 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: No reason for new owners to move PawSox

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Nelson de la Rosa.

— The U.S. Olympic Committee’s decision to select Boston as the potential host city for the 2024 Olympic Games is a stunner. I’m speechless. OK, not really. But it doesn’t mean the Olympic Games are coming here. It means there’s a chance they do. Boston has to beat out Paris, Berlin, Rome, Istanbul, Melbourne and perhaps South Africa, too — and Paris would be celebrating the 100th anniversary of its previous role as host (1924). Frankly, that’€™s tough competition. But in beating out Washington, San Francisco and two-time Olympic host city Los Angeles for the U.S. candidate bid, well, that’s still wicked pissah.

— This will be debated ad nauseam over the next few weeks, months and years — the International Olympic Committee won’t make the call on the host city until September of 2017 — but if the U.S. is expecting real New Englanders to embrace this bid? To get behind it? To root for it? To show national pride? To spend their tax dollars? To willingly put up with construction congestion and traffic snarls? Well, the latter already is a way of life around here. Whatevah.

— After watching a story on the local news this past week, I cannot imagine, under any set of circumstances, why any potential new owner(s) of the Pawtucket Red Sox would consider moving the team from Pawtucket and McCoy Stadium. This would be devastating news for Pawtucket, and for Rhode Island. Even if the stadium lease can be voided (reportedly it was renewed to 2021), why would a new ownership group do that?

— Part of the attractiveness of a place like McCoy — and many other minor league ballparks — comes from the “old school” feel the stadium gives you and gives to the sport — even after the wildly successful renovations to the old stadium back in 1999. The prices remain affordable for those who can’t (or won’t) spend the big bucks on a trip to Fenway. The team is ultra-competitive, the players often make the short trip up I-95 to help the big club. These factors make the relationship between the big league Sox and the minor league Sox one of the most unique in all of sport — and, of course, in all of baseball.

— If the new owners are from the Boston Red Sox ownership group — reported to be the case — what more do they need here? To be closer to Fenway? More money? Higher ticket prices? New fan base? Total control and world domination? It’s already a “model franchise,” considered one of the best in the country. Where would a new stadium be located — and would the community support the team like Pawtucket has done through thick and thin since 1977, when the late Ben Mondor purchased a dirty piece of coal and transformed it into an absolute diamond gem of an organization?

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: John McDonald, Mike Piazza, Olympics, Pawtucket Red Sox