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Thinking Out Loud: Red Sox’ AL East title celebration an embarrassment 09.30.16 at 5:44 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering how Arnold Palmer actually came up with the idea for an Arnold Palmer.

— I am not one for wild celebrations when it comes to winning championships. Always have preferred the “Been there, done that” philosophy of carrying yourself like a champion should — with grace, maturity and some modicum of sportsmanship. And I’ve never been more convinced of this after watching the Red Sox flop their way into one of the most awkward, ill-placed, ill-timed victory celebrations I’ve ever seen.

— Do the Sox deserve to celebrate winning the AL East? Of course they do. After two last-place finishes in a row since their last one, I’d ask: What took you so long?

— But does that give you the right to appear as if you’ve been unleashed from the La Brea Tar Pits, replete with foul language bombs going off every 10 seconds during an amateurish, ungraceful and coerced locker room celebration after getting walked-off by the New York Yankees on Wednesday night?

— “Hey, at least they won. Better than the alternative,” says the overwhelming majority of Red Sox Nation. Fine, I certainly can accept that. But personally, it’s embarrassing. Having had the chance to be in a few locker rooms where champagne with beer chasers were wild and plentiful, none of those moments compared to the unbridled, ill-mannered exhibition witnessed Wednesday night by a regional/national audience.

— NESN is just as bad as the players, in terms of the lack of class and decorum the network happily allowed to be displayed. I’m all for celebrating titles, but try to stay classy Boston, will ya? You just had your butts beaten, by your arch rivals. Families with kids watch this, you know. No need to resort to Cro-Magnon-like behavior. We’ve advanced as a species — I think — over the past few centuries, haven’t we?

— Maybe I should lighten up. It’s all in fun. But maybe we all should continue to subscribe to the “dumbing down of America” we’re witnessing every day during this election period, too? Does anyone care about raising our collective level of intelligence and decorum around here?

— Not for nuthin’, but it’s as if our brains and our common sense have begun a slow, spiraling descent into various forms of lawlessness and disorder, all melting into a giant cesspool of greed, avarice and feeble simplemindedness. Pardon me, pass the pabulum.

— And speaking to that, the pitching meltdown displayed by alleged closer Craig Kimbrel and fellow reliever Joe Kelly on Wednesday night was a perfect example of precisely why I don’t believe this team has the legs to win it all. Or the arms, either.

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Thinking Out Loud: Bill Belichick offers further proof of his supremacy 09.23.16 at 5:44 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Mikey, and does he still like it?

— Lou Merloni tweeted this week: Would the Sox get more attention if Brady weren’t suspended? Maybe, but hey, Lou? Would the Sox get more attention if they weren’t up against the Patriots playing?

— Or if most MLB games didn’t last more than three hours? Or if the season were shorter? Or if players stayed in the batter’s box? Or if pitchers stopped scratching and adjusting themselves before pitches? Or if the sport actually allowed home plate or basepath collisions to happen again? Just sayin’.

— We now resume our regularly scheduled football discussion. Find me on Twitter under the hashtags #killeverybodytour and #scorchedearthtour.

— What did we witness Thursday night? Two things, the way I see it. One, if there was ever any doubt that Bill Belichick is one of the best to have ever plied his trade (I’m looking at you, Steve in Fall River), it has been snuffed out. Or, you’re just ignorant (again, straight at ya, Steve).

— Two, Houston, you still have a problem. Turtling in big games won’t earn you any more respect than those letter jackets you wore a couple of years ago.

— I love Thursday night games. And I hate them, too. I’ll wager if you polled NFL players on “love or hate,” hate would conquer overall. Part of that is, of course, the short recovery time they get after a Sunday beatdown.

— Chris Gasper of The Boston Globe wrote an excellent piece this week on the double standard the league has with instituting new injury prevention rules and making $$$ on Thursday nights. All you need to know is if the league really cared about its on-field employees’ health and well-being, they’d do away with TNF. Spot-on stuff.

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Thinking Out Loud: Despite Jimmy Garoppolo’s impressive debut, let’s keep Tom Brady around 09.16.16 at 5:42 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wondering whatever happened to Craig James.

— For all of the angst over Tom Brady’s NFL suspension, most of it dissipated like squeezing air out of a balloon as Jimmy Garoppolo’s Arizona desert debut unfolded. Now I’m hearing fans say, “Trade Brady!” What is wrong with you people?

— I’ll pony up here: After watching Jimmy G. during camp this summer, it’s clear he’s learned while performing as TB12’s understudy. Plus, Josh McDaniels hasn’t given him anything he can’t handle — yet. He should do the same this week against Miami.

— Most impressive against the Cardinals was his ability to stand in the pocket. Haven’t really seen that yet from him, but the early returns are positive. And he still hasn’t played with Gronk opening up a defense for him.

— He could have handled TB12’s face staring over his shoulder from that banner at Gillette, too. Make no mistake about that. If you’re focused on a banner, then you aren’t focused on your job. Ridiculous. But a good call, nevertheless, by the Patriots for taking it down. We’re on to the next one.

— New England now is playing with house money. Did anyone really figure the Patriots would win at Arizona? You hoped, but you didn’t know. Anything short of 4-0 during the TB12-less portion of the schedule will be considered disappointing, right? Be careful with that one.

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Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: If Patriots beat Cardinals, can anyone stop them? 09.09.16 at 5:46 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wondering whatever happened to that Tiger Woods guy.

— So, it’s finally here. The NFL season kickoff is upon us, and for the next 20-plus weeks our Sundays will be busy. Time to put the honey-do lists away — and brace for the full-court pressure that will be applied to your Saturdays. Honey-dos get kicked up to Saturday.

— A couple of things came to mind this week as the Patriots prep for Arizona. One, the Cardinals are very good. Two, they’ve got just about everyone back from last year, and that team won 13 games and lost in the NFC championship game to Carolina.

— And three, if New England manages to win this one, who can beat the Patriots this season? That’s an honest question. My answer is: Only they can beat themselves.

— The Patriots’ pick-up of defensive back Eric Rowe is another typical NE move. Finding talented, young, versatile, somewhat underachieving players and bringing them into Foxboro to do unto others as they have had done unto them. It’s the Golden Rule.

— If anyone seriously believes Jimmy Garoppolo is looking over his shoulder at the Tom Brady banner on the lighthouse at Gillette Stadium, you clearly have never worn a jock strap in your life. Or a sports bra. Some of you have worn both. See how I became all-inclusive there?

— I have the Patriots at a ho-hum 12-4 for the regular season. You? I also have the J-E-T-S breathing right down their necks most of the year. And there’s no Mark Sanchez to buttfumble anything away at the end, either.

— Is there any reason to think New England might not be a Super Bowl contender this year? Is Brady’s four-game absence enough to keep the Patriots away? Fifteen consecutive winning seasons, 13 seasons with at least 10 wins, six with at least 12 victories. Thirteen of the last 15 AFC East titles, too. TB12 was the QB to start the year in all of those, but nope. Not in my book. They’ve got this thing figured out pretty well.

— Not for nuthin’, but is anyone else buying this Sunday Night as a Super preview? ‘Cuz I think it just might be.

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Thinking Out Loud: Will NFL spy on Tom Brady during suspension? 09.02.16 at 5:30 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wondering if the Magic 8-Ball really knows all.

— As the Patriots roster now begins to take its shape for the upcoming season, keep this in mind: Injuries always play a factor. That’s why I find so-called roster projections from the media interesting. No one really knows what the coaches and front-office personnel ultimately will decide.

— Unless they’re like me, and they utilize their Magic 8-Ball, which always has been quick with a response in the past. I asked the 8-Ball what the Patriots roster was going to look like next week, and it replied, “My answer is no.” Makes perfect sense to me.

— So, any Tom Brady sightings in or around Gillette Stadium in the last 48 hours or so? Think the NFL might have some super-secret spies checking out the landscape to see if anyone is, um, taking liberties with the rules?

— Among the players already visited by “The Turk,” Terrance Knighton’s cut from the roster was a bit of a surprise from this corner. I do seem to recall, however, that when his signing appeared imminent, he wasn’t initially thrilled with becoming a “rotational player.”

— Knighton, according to the NFLPA and seconded by our friend and salary cap guru Miguel (his Twitter handle is @capspacev2), apparently did not earn any of his weight-based bonuses in his contract, either. Wonder if that came back to bite him, um, in the, um, you know?

— Barkevious Mingo brings badly needed depth to the linebacking corps, and if nothing else, also brings an automatic spellcheck every time I type his name.

— If you’re wondering about the guy who was flying around MetLife Stadium Thursday night against the New York Giants, Mingo’s story is a familiar refrain — underachieving, young veteran player looking for a clean start and new opportunity. This is how, more than just about anything else, the Patriots have built themselves into a dynastic franchise — identifying hungry players eager to make a name for themselves.

— Oh, and one more thing: They bring in players who also are in their final contractual years, as Mingo is. Make or break is a pretty good attitude to have on your side.

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Read More: Barkevious Mingo, Terrance Knighton, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: Bryant basketball team continues tour of Italy after earthquake 08.26.16 at 3:43 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wondering whatever happened to Michael Bishop.

— One of those rare occasions happened this week when the real world and the sports world collide — and excuse each other for the intrusion. The Bryant basketball team is touring Italy, situated in Rome, and was supposed to play in the town of Spoleto on Wednesday night — until a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy.

— That first game in Spoleto, not far from the quake’s epicenter and only about 20 minutes from one of the hardest-hit areas (Amatrice), was canceled. The tremors were felt in Rome, waking coach Tim O’Shea (as he reported via social media), and Bryant’s travel party is safe. But the death toll surpassed 240 late this week as rescue efforts continue in the mountainous central region of the country.

— Sport becomes a complete afterthought when faced with tragedy like this. And it should be. Bryant’s team traveled to Naples late in the week after completing its tour of Rome.

— Sometimes the stress and strain of directing a high major basketball program takes its toll in different ways. To the surprise of many, Providence basketball coach Ed Cooley underwent back surgery for a herniated disc this week. The athletic department reports Cooley’s surgery went well, and he expects to be back in the office next week at some point, with classes starting Aug. 29 — and he certainly expects to be back coaching the team for the start of preseason workouts in October.

— The third annual Providence Basketball Classic will be held Saturday (Aug. 27) at Jorge Alvarez High School in Providence from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eight teams of former pro and college players from New England will compete in a single-elimination tournament, competing for a cash prize, and there will be a high school all-star game as well. Backpack giveaways for the start of school, school supplies and free haircuts are a part of the festivities, and admission is only $3.

— About 1,000 fans attended last year’s event, which is the creation of former Johnson & Wales all-American Lamonte Thomas. Thomas is preparing for his fifth season of playing professionally in Europe. Cool that he continues to give back to the community by hosting this event.

— ICYMI, Tomas Murphy, who hails from Wakefield, Rhode Island, is headed to Northeastern to play his college ball for coach Bill Coen. Coen and Murphy’s dad, Jay, are long-time friends with Boston College connections, and Murphy’s brothers (Erik and Alex) played at Florida under Billy Donovan. Butler, Pittsburgh and Georgia also were in the final mix until the end.

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Thinking Out Loud: Success widespread for RI youth baseball teams 08.19.16 at 9:06 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Jack Hamilton.

— It must be the water, right? Or, maybe the coaching has caught on. Whatever it is, Rhode Island Little League Baseball has had an unprecedented run of success, spread over multiple cities and organizations. Warwick North’s appearance in the LLWS marks the third straight year for the Rhode Island champion to win the New England Regional in Bristol, Connecticut, and advance to Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

— Since 1980, Cranston (Western), Cumberland (American), Lincoln and Pawtucket (Darlington American) have represented Rhode Island and the New England Region at the World Series.

— Having once coached in the Rhode Island Little League ranks (20 years in the East Bay District 2, in Rumford), I have long thought that for every coach/dad who favors his star/son on one team, or pushes kids past their normal limitations, there are dozens of other supportive parents and coach/dads who try to do things a different way and have success.

— Success is relative, anyway. You don’t need to have coached a team that reaches a World Series to know you’ve made a difference in the life of a young athlete.

— Everyone makes mistakes. The truly successful coaches are the people who learn from those mistakes. There have been, and still are, some really good coaches in Lil’ Rhody.

— And let us not forget the Washington Park Cal Ripken team from Providence, which advanced to the Ripken Major/60 World Series in Ocala, Florida. The Rhode Islanders ended the tournament tied for third overall.

— Not to be left out, the American Legion team from Lincoln, Rhode Island (Upper Deck Post 86/14) reached the American Legion World Series held in North Carolina. The UD team was the first from Rhode Island to win the Northeast Regional and earn a Series berth since 1980, and finished its season with a 34-6 record.

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Thinking Out Loud: Yankees made right move forcing out Alex Rodriguez 08.12.16 at 5:40 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wishing every day was like Victory Day in Rhode Island.

— Curt Schilling wants to run for office, maybe even president? Just a guess, but I don’t think he’ll carry the three electoral votes from Rhode Island. You?

— A-Fraud’s forced retirement by the Yankees, even though they still have to pay him another $27 million, was the right thing to do. And I’m not a Yankees fan by any means. It’s also why baseball players have it all over their NFL brethren — guaranteed contracts.

— Still, Alex Rodriguez leaves the game with 29 career home runs at Fenway — only four players had more as a visitor. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew and Al Kaline are serious company.

— Tweet of the Week, from @mooretosay: Someone explain to me why the playing/benching of a washed up guy who hasn’t played all year is all of a sudden interesting. He can’t play.

— Red Sox bats sleeping at inopportune moments is a real problem as the stretch run nears. The bullpen’s sudden urge to allow baserunners to score is another. But rookie Andrew Benintendi has so far proven to be a silver lining in the dark storm clouds gathering over Fenway. His fielding blunder(s) aside, let’s not retire his number to right field just yet, though, shall we?

— David Price makes me tired. And anxious, at the same time. That is all.

— The PC police were at work again this week, over the sudden ditching of David Ortiz bobblehead dolls. Were they racially insensitive? Perhaps, but just about everyone missed the bigger picture here — how did the Red Sox organization let this get as far as it did?

— Having worked for pro sports teams in my past, I can tell you there has always been a chain of command to follow, and someone in charge of quality control for things like this. That Sam Kennedy saw the dolls for the first time just hours before they were to be given away is a joke, really. Someone dropped the ball, or someone has poor judgment. Maybe both. Ortiz had an unprintable response to the dolls’ “look,” which is all anyone needs to know.

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Thinking Out Loud: Invasion of visiting teams’ fans at Fenway a sign of times 08.05.16 at 5:50 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and does anyone know where one-time Patriots linemen go after football?

— Has anyone else noticed the emergence of — gasp! – fans of other teams showing up at Fenway Park this season? This has long been a trademark of Red Sox fans at other stadiums across the country (right, Tampa? Baltimore? Toronto?), but for some reason, Sox rivals are returning the favor this year in surprising numbers.

— The recent San Francisco Giants series at Fenway was a perfect example of this phenomenon, with the stands crowded in Orange and Black jerseys and T-shirts. Even one fan sitting down from me wearing an orange wig, and I tolerated it, somehow. Now I ask you, if the Sox hadn’t been a last-place team the past two seasons, would any of this be happening?

— Of course not. True Sox fans would snap these tickets up in a, well, in a New York minute. Let this be a lesson, Mr. Henry and Mr. Werner, whenever you decide to go “on the cheap” in your hiring and firing. Spend it, to make it. Just sayin’.

— Like everyone else, there was mild disappointment in not being able to swing a trade deadline deal for Chris Sale, but I’ll wager the discussion over bringing him to Boston picks up again in the offseason. As for the one deadline deal done, hard to say right now that it wasn’t Abad one. Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.

— Andrew Benintendi got his anticipated call-up, becoming the first player in the history of the High-A Salem (Va.) Red Sox (Carolina League) to advance to the majors in the same year he started in Salem. Of course, Salem only started playing ball in 2009, but hey, it’s still a significant move up.

— He’s also the first Red Sox player to get the call up straight from Double-A (Portland Sea Dogs) to the big leagues since Boston did that with Josh Reddick in ’09.

— But will he be a good major league player? How often do young players make a two-class jump and succeed right away? Like, never? Dealer Dave Dombrowski said early last month that Benintendi probably could handle fielding and baserunning in the bigs, but that his offense wasn’t quite major league ready — although Benintendi picked up his first two hits Wednesday night. Major league pitching will continue to be an awakening for him, only a little more than a year removed from facing collegiate pitching.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, David Price, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: Linebackers Patriots’ strongest position — for now 07.29.16 at 5:45 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Antowain Smith.

— Happy New Year! Well, it’s what we’ve been waiting for since, oh, last January, right? Football is back, but with a few twists and turns along the way to always keep things interesting.

— Attendance on opening day of Patriots training camp: 12,393. More than Tampa Bay can draw for most Rays baseball games. Twenty states and at least four foreign countries represented among the fandom. Nope, nothing to see here.

— There’s the always-alarming physically unable to perform (PUP) list, which really means guys like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will be OK — but the team is taking little chance to get them injured before playing in games that actually mean something. Injuries kept NE from a possible fifth Lombardi Trophy more than anything else last winter.

— And for the first time in 15 years, New England will head into a regular season preparing to start someone at quarterback not named Tom Brady. Brady’s falling on the sword in taking the four-game suspension from the NFL means Jimmy Garoppolo gets the spotlight, the attention and a lot of reps over the next month. It’s his chance to shine and to set himself up — if not in New England, certainly somewhere else — for a solid career.

— Evaluating the Pats’ strongest position heading into camp, there’s a lot of depth along the defensive front. Even with Chandler Jones’ departure for Arizona, there’s size in the middle and potentially more speed on the ends.

— But for pure talent? I’ll take the linebacking one-two punch of Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. Both can be free agents after this year, so expect new contracts to be part of their storylines until deals get done. Or not. Collins wasn’t present for opening day Thursday, but CSNNE’s Tom Curran says it wasn’t contract-related. Bill Belichick says he was excused.

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Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady,