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Thinking Out Loud: Jeremy Kapstein would be good fit with PawSox 11.06.15 at 4:47 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to John McDonald?

— Our friend Nick Cafardo at The Boston Globe mentioned last week that another friend, Jeremy Kapstein, recently was told his contract would not be renewed with the Boston Red Sox after 14 years as a senior adviser. Kapstein was a Larry Lucchino confidant, so the move isn’t a huge surprise, even though it is disappointing.

— Kapstein has had a marvelous career — from Chris Clark’s on-air statistician years ago on Providence Friars radio broadcasts, to super-agent, to baseball executive and one-time political candidate. It will be different not seeing him sit behind home plate at Fenway with his radio headsets on, but I’ll wager someone with foresight will recognize Kapstein still has much to offer — in management, scouting or otherwise.

— Based on Kapstein’s relationship with Lucchino and his deep ties to Rhode Island as a native son, isn’t there a spot somewhere in the new PawSox hierarchy for him? On Monday the team officially will introduce Dr. Charles Steinberg as the new president, Dan Rea III (formerly special assistant to the Red Sox) as new GM, replacing Lou Schweichheimer, and Jeff White as the new treasurer. Mike Tamburro has agreed to remain with the new management team as vice chairman.

— Steinberg led much of the public discussion in the pitch for the new Providence stadium project, which has fallen flatter than a pancake. Not exactly a great start, Dr. Charles.

— In case you didn’t notice, the Red Sox reported this week that pitchers and catchers will begin workouts in Fort Myers, Florida, on Feb. 18. The countdown to “truck day” (Feb. 10) has begun. Will we need a spring respite in the middle of winter again?

— Now’s the time, Trader Dave Dombrowski. If you’re serious about the Sox competing again — and you should be with the payroll you’ll have — let’s see what you can do about finding some pitching. Right now, every option should be open and (almost) every player should be available.

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Read More: Jeremy Kapstein, John McDonald, Kris Dunn,
Thinking Out Loud: Patriots fans should put aside talk of undefeated season, but they won’t 10.30.15 at 6:29 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark?

— The Patriots are oh-so-lucky that 12 drops by receivers didn’t cost them a win against the Jets last weekend. Ironically, it was a drop/bobble in the fourth quarter by New York’s Brandon Marshall, however, that might have kept the J-E-T-S from a W-I-N in Foxboro.

— News Bulletin: The Jets are pretty good, and they should reach the playoffs this year. Unless Geno Smith re-enters the QB picture, or Ryan Fitzpatrick remembers he’s actually Ryan Fitzpatrick.

— Six drops from Brandon LaFell? Well, after all, he did have a lot of (not) catching up to do, having missed the first five games of the season. Maybe he spoke with Jerry Rice about some stickum? No official drops against the Dolphins on Thursday, by this count.

— You can forget the 16-0 talk, for now. But you won’t. The comeuppance could occur in a couple of weeks at the New York Giants, and if the first ‘L’ doesn’t happen there, how about in Denver at the end of November? Or on the road at Miami and New York to end the season? There is about a 3 percent chance for the Patriots to run the table, based on current numbers, scheduling and research.

— Said in my best Jim Carrey “Dumb and Dumber” voice: “So you mean there’s a chance?”

— If the Patriots defense plays at the level seen Thursday night against the Dolphins, there certainly is a chance to run the table. And the truly scary part for the rest of the NFL? This unit is Y-O-U-N-G. No one is older than 28 (strong safety Patrick Chung), and with two All-Pro caliber linebackers leading the way (Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower), the D is playing B-plus ball. And getting better.

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Thinking Out Loud: URI poised for run at A-10 basketball title 10.23.15 at 4:39 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the Worcester Sharks?

— No surprise here: URI was picked second in the Atlantic-10 preseason men’s basketball poll by the A-10 media and coaches. Dan Hurley has this team poised to go where Rhody basketball hasn’t been for a while, which is exciting. With excitement comes expectation, however.

— Part of that expectation surrounds not one, but two Rams named to the preseason first-team all- Atlantic-10 team — E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin. First time that’s happened since Tyson Wheeler and Cuttino Mobley ran the show in the late ’90s. Not coincidentally, Matthews and Martin also appeared in’s list of the nation’s top 100 players for 2015-16.

— Still think URI could use a little size, and perhaps the Rams have found some of that for the next couple of years. Providence faces the same situation this year as well.

— Dynamic guards — Matthews and the Friars’ Kris Dunn — might make this upcoming winter move along a little more quickly around here. Certainly, they’ll help heat things up. Just sayin’.

NCAA Tournament Friars-killer Dayton was the preseason No. 1 in the A-10, but the Flyers will miss arguably their best player for the first semester. Dyshawn Pierre, who scored 20 points against PC in Dayton’s 66-53 NCAA win last March, has had his reinstatement request rejected by a federal judge in Cincinnati. Pierre was suspended by Dayton for a semester for his role in a sexual harassment case. While he continues to pursue his exoneration, chances are he could return in time to be a factor for the Flyers in conference play.

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Thinking Out Loud: Patriots fans will settle for nothing less than embarrassing Colts 10.16.15 at 4:44 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Jim Harrick?

— Should we allow for a mea culpa on URI football? Rhody earned a win last week, beating Delaware, 20-0, for just its fifth win in the past 41 games. I know there’s an old adage that says, “Winning cures all ills.” The trouble with that here is that there’s probably not enough winning available to cure anything with Rhode Island football.

— And speaking of URI football and success, former URI player and coach Darren Rizzi was named assistant head coach of the Miami Dolphins this past week. Good luck with that. No, seriously, good luck with that.

— Don’t know about you, but I felt let down that the Patriots-Cowboys game last week wasn’t a bit more competitive. Dallas is a mere shell of its former self, without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. But I will say this: New England’s defense was surprisingly stout across the board, and completely locked up tight end Jason Witten.

The Pats secondary is improving each week. They don’t have Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner back there, but the two young players in Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan are athletic and physical and they can make plays in the mold of a Revis. They make mistakes, too, but haven’t been burned much. Yet.

— Losing Nate Solder to a season-ending biceps tear is a blow, no doubt. But injuries are always a part of the game, and to get into Week 6 before having someone lose their season to an injury is about as good as it gets these days. The rotation system the offensive line has learned should pay off from here, as the Patriots now work to protect TB12’s blind side.

— Part of protecting the blind side is for Tom Brady to get the ball out to his receivers as fast as he can. Expect teams to muddle the middle of the field in an effort to reach him more often — which also puts a premium on using a talent like Dion Lewis. Get the man the ball, as often as possible. He makes defenders miss, and the move he busted to get into the end zone against the Cowboys? It was a video game-quality move.

Julian Edelman already calls Lewis “Jitterbug” for his stopping and starting, cat-like quick reactions. How about “X-box?” More relatable?

— Love the suggestion from Pats fan Max in San Diego, who wrote in to suggest the Lewis-LeGarrette Blount duo be nicknamed “Sonic Boom.”

— If the Patriots don’t lay a 40-dog or 50-burger on the Colts this week, I get the impression most fans around here will be disappointed. Revenge can only carry you so far, so let’s move on. Are the Colts a chief culprit in the whole Deflategate mess? Of course, but what would you rather be? The snitch who tried to make something out of a deflated football or the bully set to pound the snitch into the ground?

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Thinking Out Loud: Louisville scandal another black mark for Rick Pitino 10.09.15 at 5:39 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Irving Fryar?

— The latest in a seemingly long line of sordid collegiate scandals has surrounded Louisville in a spirit of “What’s next?” Former Providence and Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino is in the spotlight again, with the release of a book alleging one of his former players and staff members arranged for prostitutes to help in recruiting players. Wow. All I ever saw when I was in school 30-plus years ago was a bunch of guys getting free pizza and beer, and the drinking age was 18 then.

— I really don’t mean to have fun at someone’s expense like this, but in reality here, we all know the answer is somewhere in the middle. Pitino says he had no idea this was going on, but when coaches are held to a standard of responsibility by the NCAA — if not by their own institutions — over governing their program, it’s hard to feel much sympathy here. You’re paid an ever-growing amount of money to coach, manage, instruct (i.e. RUN) a team, and you don’t know something like this is going on? I have some swampland in Florida I’d like to sell you.

— Think Pitino will step down as coach? Think again. He said in a radio interview this week it would be “the cowardly way out.” And why would he, when a sex scandal and extortion case in 2009 couldn’t bring him down? The Cardinals claimed a national title just a couple of years ago. No, he won’t run from this, and if he’s truly unaware of the misdeeds of those beneath him, he’ll regroup. But recruiting will take a hit — and not just because there won’t be any more hookers at the next party, either. Former UL recruit JaQuan Lyle, now at Ohio State, allegedly confirmed much of the tale is true.

— Is that the sound of crickets I’m hearing coming from Celtics rookie and former Louisville guard Terry Rozier? There is a passage in the book that refers to a recruit from Cleveland named Terry (Rozier did attend high school in a Cleveland suburb), and Rozier told The Boston Globe from Milan, Italy, “When that time comes to answer that, I will.” So, when is that time, Terry? The timing of training in Europe seems a bit fortuitous.

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Thinking Out Loud: How does Larry Brown still have his job after NCAA punishment? 10.02.15 at 5:01 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Allen Craig?

— Great to hear Providence received a verbal commitment from one of its top point guard targets for 2016 — Maliek White from Richmond, Virginia — early this week. Undoubtedly, the lure of getting the ball in his hands right away as Kris Dunn departs for the pros played a big factor. But now the focus and attention has to be on looking good getting off of the airplane — and add a little size.

— Some of that size just walked out the door toward Lexington, Kentucky. Manchester, New Hampshire’s Wenyen Gabriel, a highly ranked and sought-after big-man target for Ed Cooley and the Friars since he was “knee high to a pup,” opted for UK this week over PC and Duke as per his Twitter page. Can anyone really say they’re surprised by this? Great to be in the mix with big boys, but eventually you have to beat the big boys every once in a while in order to be one.

— Might be time to hang ‘€˜em up, coach. Or, at least return to the pros. SMU basketball coach Larry Brown saw his program hammered by NCAA sanctions this week, including a postseason ban, the loss of nine scholarships over the next three years and Brown himself suspended for nine games this year. Every stop he’s made on the college trail, Brown (and his programs at UCLA and Kansas previously) has been hit with some kind of penalty.

— And still, even in its self-righteous glory, the NCAA still got this thing wrong — punishing players who had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged violation(s).

— As for Brown, he is still the only coach who has won NCAA and NBA titles. And he still has his job.

— Perhaps the question should be asked in Dallas: Is it worth it? You’ll recall SMU was the site of the NCAA‘s first (and so far only) death penalty, given to the football program in the mid-1980s. That’s some legacy for a religion-based institution of “higher” learning, don’t you think? Stupid is as stupid does.

— I will now ask the next obvious questions. When does the NCAA lower the boom on North Carolina? Or on John Calipari? Inquiring minds (and opponents, and recruits) want to know.

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Read More: Fritz Pollard, Larry Brown,
Thinking Out Loud: NFL allows Patriots’ opponents to play by own set of rules 09.25.15 at 6:21 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering why we ever gave Miss America contestants the chance to speak?

— “You can observe a lot by watching.” One of my all-time favorite Yogi-isms. We’ll share a few here this week. RIP Yogi.

Yogi Berra certainly had a wonderful life. Yes, he was a New York Yankee, a three-time MVP and 15-year All-Star, but how could any Red Sox fan — any baseball fan — really “hate” him? Yes, good player. Yes, good teammate. Yes, funny guy, even if he didn’t really mean to be. Heaven got another good one this week, I think. He passed on the same date, Sept. 22, as his big league debut 69 years ago.

— Funny, though, that The Associated Press wire story that broke news of Berra’s passing actually said that “New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Bear has died.” Somewhere, Boo-Boo and Ranger Rick are very upset over this.

— But I loved this from the AP story: His wife once asked Berra where he wanted to be buried, in St. Louis, New York or Montclair, New Jersey. “I don’t know,” he said. “Why don’t you surprise me?”

— It’s becoming clearer by the minute, and certainly more so by the game: Teams losing at Gillette can blame whatever they wish, and teams losing at home to the Patriots can do whatever they want to the Patriots and get away with it. Like the Bills blaring of a horn on third downs well past the team breaking the huddle — a distinct rule violation.

— The Patriots have been threatened with fines previously for blaring a ship’s foghorn at opponents inside Gillette, and a memo came out as recently as a week ago saying teams could not play any audio once the play clock reaches 20 seconds. Guess Buffalo didn’t get the memo. Other teams probably won’t either. Get used to it.

— Yogi-ism II: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

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Read More: Tom Brady, Yogi Berra,
Thinking Out Loud: Providence College fall teams make national marks 09.18.15 at 6:27 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to uber-DH Edgar Martinez?

— And, they’re off. Providence cross country teams are ranked first (women) and third (men) in the Northeast region. They both finished in the top 20 nationally last season, and right now rank eighth (women) and 25th (men) in the national rankings.

— The Friars men’s soccer team started where it left off a year ago, after winning the Big East and reaching the Soccer Cup Final Four. PC went 3-0-1 and ranked eighth nationally before falling in back-to-back overtime games to Brown and Columbia. Those pesky Ivies.

— Providence has had a less competitive women’s volleyball team in recent years, but with the program’s addition to the Big East and athletic scholarships added to the program, things might be changing. A 7-4 start to the season features some outstanding play from junior outside hitter Kayla Fitzgerald, who has claimed Big East Player of the Week honors for three straight weeks.

— The Sporting News this week said the Friars’ Kris Dunn “may be the most complete player in D1,” but he can’t get on TSN’s preseason All-America first team? Dunn was named to the second team instead. Chip, meet shoulder.

— Big brother is still punking little brother around here. CBS put out a list of the top hoop programs in each state, and PC got the nod in Rhode Island over URI, Bryant and Brown. Two NCAA appearances in the last two years probably has a lot to do with it, I’m sure, but the Rhody faithful understandably are miffed. Dec. 5 in Kingston is going to be wild.

— UMass took the honors for Massachusetts in the CBS poll, over Boston College, Holy Cross and Harvard. But the writers did say this was among the “foggiest” of the 50 states to determine a leader. Coincidentally, the Friars face three of the aforementioned four teams on their schedule this year. URI plays Holy Cross and UMass as well.

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Read More: Kris Dunn,
Thinking Out Loud: NFL’s feud with Patriots far from over 09.11.15 at 6:55 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to tennis dad/coach Richard Williams?

— OK, Roger. Good job. Call off the Code Red.

— Not for nuthin’, but no one is going to feel much like a winner in this back-and-forth between the Patriots and the NFL. Certainly the fans won’t. And we’re never going to get back the last eight months of our lives, mostly over ball deflation. So I’m crying “Uncle” here!

— It was petty. It was dumb. But it was poignant. Tom Brady was left out of an NFL tweet this past week picturing the league’s top QBs as part of the NFL’s celebration of 50 years of Super Bowls. The tweet was later deleted. But the point was made. League execs don’t like the Patriots, or TB12, or the fact that they’ve been made out to be the bad guys here.

— All of the new Spygate stuff released this week in exposes by ESPN and Sports Illustrated? Does anyone think the NFL, burned by its own incompetence in Deflategate, didn’t feed some additional information to ESPN The Magazine’s crew? If you don’t think this happened to some extent — that the NFL information machine intends to continue to spin things its way — then you haven’t been paying attention. Seems to me to be the league’s modus operandi — act stupidly, get burned, feed more trash to its “partners.”

— That’s editors decided to clip a couple of salient yet non-confrontational points from ESPNBoston reporter Mike Reiss’ opinion piece this week, concerning the ESPN and Sports Illustrated Spygate diatribe — is an absolute disgrace. Reiss questioned the Outside the Lines report alleging that Patriots underlings could sneak into a locker room and steal game plans. It’s preposterous, given the amount of security around the place. I know, I work there. But that bit of his opinion, based on fact and personal experience, was edited OUT of his original story. Smh.

— Hardly a week goes by when journalistic integrity doesn’t take a beating from the Bristol Spin Doctors. Do they even care how they’re perceived? It’s the height of arrogance.

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Read More: Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: Misguided NFL gets its due in Deflategate embarrassment 09.04.15 at 6:49 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering if Ludacris really is ludicrous?

— When it comes to the National Football League, power corrupts. Absolute power, Mr. Goodell, corrupts absolutely. It’s a basic, life lesson we learned once upon a time in civics class, and we often forget occurs in all walks of life. Oh, and the arrogance thing? Not a good look. Keep this in mind as you pursue your appeal.

— Inquiring minds need to know. When does the bastion of truth and information, ESPN, decide that its legal analysts now are worthless as teats on a bull?

— If you’ve followed along for any amount of time, you know Tom Brady‘s eventual exoneration was predicted right here. But not because of any special inside knowledge or information gained, really. The legal system had to work, to play itself out. Common sense had to prevail, eventually. The bullies and wannabes within the NFL had to be flushed out, and these things take time. That, and a little faith and persistence from the public. Patriots fans deserve big kudos for keeping this story alive and growing, much like fungus grows on a locker room shower floor.

— And of course, even Patriots haters have caught onto the absolute lunacy of the punishment the league attempted to stick onto TB12’s backside. If Brady’s penalty had been one game for “failure to cooperate”? This would have ended months ago, methinks. Just because Roger Goodell decided he would make an example of the Patriots — and Brady — by doing the bidding of a scorned few within the NFL, tired of getting pasted by the Pats and their ways, he now has opened up a Pandora’s box of litigation anytime he tries to discipline anyone else.

— Um, Rog? Try leading and making your own decisions, rather than following the revenge-fueled mindset of those dopes in Indianapolis, Baltimore and New York. If you had actually done that when this charade began, you wouldn’t necessarily be persona non grata in New England right now and viewed as a toothless shark by everyone else. Stupid is as stupid does.

— Tweet of the Week I, from @ArmandoSalguero: NFL Commissioner’s salary at an all-time high at a time his power may be at an all-time low.

— Biggest winners right now? Maybe those who took the Patriots by just three points over the Steelers in the season opener. Vegas books had that spread just before Judge Richard Berman’s decision came down Thursday. Just after it? New England moved to a 6.5-point favorite. Over/under grew from 48.5 to 51.

Jonathan Kraft said the team might have raised a Brady-themed banner instead of the Super Bowl XLIX banner next Thursday night if his suspension hadn’t been overturned. I almost — almost — wish we could see what that would have said. #FreeBrady?

— Kraft also told the audience it isn’t likely the team will make an attempt to recoup any of the fine or the draft picks deducted by the league. But the banner that read “16-0″ for the 2007 regular season? It’s gone, replaced by a new super box in Gillette Stadium‘s northwest corner. They may send that to Don Shula. Now that’s actually a great idea.

— #FreeBrady? Yes. #VindicateBrady? Nope. Not entirely. The end result is what Patriots fans have hoped for over the past seven-plus months. It is not, however, the truth. As I’ve said before, we’ll probably never know the whole truth. Sure, Brady has always steadfastly maintained his innocence, and the “nice guy” in all of us wants to believe him. But know this: The NFL bungled this so badly, it stretched the boundaries of reality, common sense and fairness. That is, ultimately, why TB12 is free.

— The NFL will appeal the decision, and while it isn’t likely Brady’s court win will be overturned, don’t be shocked if the league tries to “re-punish” him. Since the Patriots haven’t punished Tom for anything, technically speaking, the NFL could go after him again under the collective bargaining agreement’s “one-penalty” clause. No one is accusing Mensa of residing on Park Avenue in New York. But we’ll find out the meaning of the word “vindictive” if the league travels this road. Just sayin’.

— So, how come there isn’t a bigger deal being made over “Orsillogate”? Sorry, kids, but The Boston Globe said it couldn’t “independently verify” that signs mentioning Don Orsillo were actually confiscated at Fenway Park? Did anyone actually attempt to speak with fans holding signs? The Sporting News had the story, and it’s not IN Boston. Social media (admittedly, not always the best source) was rife with stories on placards being removed from the park. Why not check it out?

— Three words: conflict of interest. Yes, a few positive signs have been spotted over the past couple of games. Does anyone really believe they haven’t been screened first? Any mention of NESN or the Boston Red Sox screwing up this entire escapade, and those cardboard-carrying truths undoubtedly are whisked off to the dumpster. And NESN’s apparent attempt to get Orsillo to agree to say his departure was a “mutual” decision is a poor attempt to cover up a bad move.

— Our worst fears, people, are coming to fruition. The era of an actual, independent press continues to dwindle right before our eyes. The Globe, owned by Red Sox owner John Henry, has some ‘splainin’ to do. Or some actual reporting, if the boss lets the employees do it.

— Tweet of the Week II, from @GlobeKPD: Don Orsillo’s trademark, IMO, is his ease of manner and humor. His legacy: the dignity he has shown in recent days.

— Now, on to “Schillinggate.” ESPN, you’ve outdone yourself. A now season-long suspension for Schilling’s comparison of ISIS “extremist” Muslims to Nazis? While Hall of Famer Cris Carter goes free for his unconscionable words of wisdom to NFL rookies that they should have a “fall guy” for their actions? It’s so terribly obvious who the four-letter network is in bed with. Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow must be turning in their graves from the conflict of interest.

— Most right-minded Red Sox fans realized early on that Hanley Ramirez could not play in the outfield, and a move to first base — if he stayed in the organization — had to happen. That John Farrell and Ben Cherington downplayed or dismissed this should be all you need to know about why change at the top has been made. Now that Ramirez is beginning his voyage on the other side of the diamond, this decision has Dealer Dave Dombrowski all over it.

— Providence basketball forward Rodney Bullock tweeted out this past week he’s been given medical clearance to play, after missing most of the past two seasons with a suspension and a knee injury. If Bullock is actually healthy and close to regaining his pre-injury form, he’ll play a major role for the Friars this season. He looks like he’s on a pogo stick when he heads to the boards.

— And if you need to know just exactly what a pogo stick is, Google it. And try to jump on one.

— Good move by the Big East Conference to launch what it’s calling the Freshman Fundamentals Program, which is designed to help student-athletes transition from high school sports to the demands of intercollegiate athletics. The event will be held in New York next weekend, with all 10 league teams sending selected scholarship athletes to learn about things like media demands, time accountability and balancing life with school and sports. Hope they don’t let Cris Carter in the building.

— If you’re wondering about the Big East hoop schedule, it was released about this time a year ago. Expect the 2015-16 version to be announced in the next week.

— It looks as if the Friars have caught a couple of unfortunate breaks before the season gets started. First, Illinois star guard Tracy Abrams went down with an Achilles injury, putting him out for the year. Now, Harvard senior point guard Siyani Chambers is out for the season with an ACL tear. Chambers also has to actually leave school for the year because of Ivy League rules against athletic redshirts. He’ll apparently attempt to re-enroll for 2016-17 and finish his eligibility. Along with his degree.

— URI’s schedule is complete, with the Atlantic-10 releasing the conference portion of the schedule this week. It was buried in the wake of the TB12 court decision (great timing and awareness, A-10), but nevertheless there will be at least 107 conference games on national TV of some kind. That’s a big step up.

— Valparaiso, Providence, Houston in non-league play for the Rams at home, but for an expected A-10 preseason favorite, road trips (with no return game to the Ryan Center) to VCU, George Washington and Davidson should prove to be challenging. Home-and-home with Dayton will be fun to watch.

— Back to the business of football: ICYMI, four Patriots were named in the NFL Top 100 player rankings, compiled by ESPN through voting from a panel of more than 70 analysts, reporters and stat geeks. To me, anything done by ESPN now is branded with the smell of “agenda,” much like the same burning stench you get when a cowboys’ brand is applied to a cow’s backside. Trust me, something stinks. Nevertheless, Tom Brady ranked No. 3, Rob Gronkowski No. 5, Devin McCourty 56 and Jamie Collins 97.

— Houston’s J.J. Watt was No. 1, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers was No. 2 in the poll. Hard to argue with those findings, no matter the agenda.

— Preseason football games in the NFL are a modern-day fraud perpetrated on a willing, gullible society. We want — need — football after the offseason. We get it in name only. Because what we witnessed Thursday night in Foxboro was not football. Whatever it was, it was a gross misrepresentation of actual competition. On a night when emotions were running high over TB12’s court victory, the game against the Giants sucked the intensity right out of Gillette Stadium, faster than a Usain Bolt 100-meter sprint to a finish line.

— There is no quick fix to the preseason/exhibition game dilemma. As a season-ticket holder, I will point out that ticket prices are reduced by the Patriots for these games, compared to regular-season games. So there is that. But everything evolves over time, and it is well past time for pro football to follow. We’ve had four preseason exhibitions on the schedule every year since 1978. Time to throw a changeup.

— Players don’t need four games to work themselves into shape, but coaches will argue they need time to evaluate 90 guys trying to make a team. Can a compromise ever be reached, and reduce this charade to two games? Only when the owners and players come to an agreement over one thing: money.

— My buddy “Big E” has trouble with understanding money, even though he’s an accountant. He asked his secretary recently for some math help about a bill he had received. “If I gave you $20,000, minus 14 percent, how much would you take off?” Without missing a beat, his secretary replied, “Everything but my jewelry.”

— Tweet of the Week III, from @Gil_Brandt: Bad news for Rams and Saints: Only one team has finished winless in preseason and gone on to win Super Bowl (1982 Redskins).

— Predictions for the regular season? “Pain,” as Clubber Lang once opined before meeting Rocky Balboa in the ring. Emotion can only carry a team so far. But emotion and a good-sized chip on the shoulder can certainly carry you through some tough times. The Patriots have both going for them. The biggest question? Can the secondary play well enough to keep the other guys from scoring almost at will?

— Tough times right now for former Brown defensive end James Develin, the Patriots’ starting fullback. With a break of his right tibia against Carolina a week ago, Develin was put on season-ending injured reserve by the team this week. I dislike preseason games as much as anyone else, but sometimes getting hurt just can’t be avoided. Tough break, indeed.

— For my friend and tennis fanatic Edward in Johnston, Rhode Island: Serena Williams is NOT the greatest female tennis player of all time. She belongs in the top three or four, absolutely. And she probably inches closer to the GOAT moniker (Greatest of all Time) placed in front of her name if she claims the U.S. Open and clinches the Grand Slam of winning all four major tournaments in a calendar year. For my money, right now I’ll still take Martina Navratilova as the GOAT, and Chris Evert as the FOAT (Favorite of all Time).

— Maybe you missed it around here, but the city of New Britain, Connecticut, lost its minor league baseball team to Hartford, and the Double-A Rock Cats (the Minnesota TwinsEastern League affiliate) will be known as the Yard Goats in a brand new stadium starting next year. Sound familiar? This week, just two days after the Rock Cats played their final home game, New Britain announced it will be getting a new team to replace the old one, an expansion team in the independent Atlantic League.

— It sounds crazy right now, but crazier things have happened around here, haven’t they? If the PawSox build their stadium and move to Providence, what will the City of Pawtucket do with McCoy Stadium over the spring and summer? Maybe the city should place a phone call to the Atlantic League.

— Oh, and not for nuthin’, but that new ballpark in Hartford? Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Damn. Missed out on cornering the market on that one.

— Maybe you like his music, and maybe you think it’s a bit crazy. But rap star Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is the latest big name for Providence College to snag for its upcoming Late Night Madness celebration on Oct. 17, signaling the unofficial start to the college basketball season. Hey, it’s great for the kids and a potential boon for recruiting, to pull in a rap/rock star. But unless you attend PC, you won’t be able to get into Alumni Hall for the performance — it’s for students only. Last year, it was Big Sean. Before that, Nick Cannon. So when does Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top get an invite?

— There were some great comments this week via social media on the apparent end to Deflategate, the overwhelming majority from Patriots fans. But there was this note on Facebook from Kurt in Queens, New York: “The league is full of [expletive deleted]. I’m not even the least bit surprised. Still [another expletive deleted] the Patriots ALL DAY AND TWICE ON SUNDAYS.” Kurt: Good use of all caps. Appreciate the support, bro. And glad to see you’ve come around to the conclusion that yes, indeed, the NFL is having difficulty in the departments of arrogance and attitude. Thanks for the biology and anatomy lesson, too, by the way. You New Yorkers are so smart.

— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ’em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster, and on Facebook,

— Don’t forget to join Scott Cordischi and me on Providence’s 103.7 FM every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. for Southern New England Sports Saturday! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text us at 37937.

Read More: Deflategate, Don Orsillo, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady