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Thinking Out Loud: Red Sox owe Don Orsillo opportunity to seek other employment immediately 08.28.15 at 6:41 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering what has made this world go mad?

— My thoughts and prayers are extended to the families of the two TV journalists (Alison Parker and Adam Ward) who lost their lives simply doing their jobs this week, and to their fellow employees at WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. As someone who has made his living doing exactly what they were doing at the time they were attacked, words simply cannot express all of my thoughts. Like many, I’m asking only one question: Why?

— What a scary, scary world this has become. Mental health issues need to be discussed, certainly as much as gun control is talked about. Isn’t it about time we tackle this?

— After this disaster of a baseball season at Fenway, to have NESN and Red Sox brass make the move to remove Don Orsillo from the broadcast booth simply shows the side of this business that too many people don’t see. It’s ugly, largely unfair, and the price many ultimately pay for following a dream. Don is truly one of the good guys in a field full of mines, trap doors and insincerity, as well as insecurity. But he’s a big boy, too, and undoubtedly understands the business side of the equation.

— All too often, moves are made just for the sake of making them. Just to change things up. Poor ratings? Come on now, the team’s performance had more to do with that. There really isn’t any other way to rationalize the irrational. Blame it on a contract, new management, ratings, whatever you want. Everyone in the broadcast business is hired to be fired, eventually.

— Dave O’Brien, who will move over from the WEEI radio broadcast into the TV booth, will do a fantastic job. Another good guy, and superb pro — no matter the venue. I can assure you no one in this line of work likes to reap the benefit from someone else’s misfortune.

David Ortiz‘€™s reaction probably put this rather sordid tale in its proper context. He told the Boston Herald, “No one is safe unless you are your own boss.” These days, I question that too, Papi.

— Orsillo is apparently under contract through December, and reportedly can’t look for another gig until then. Does that seem fair? Welcome to the realities of the broadcast world. NESN needs to do the right thing, today, and allow him the ability to seek other employment. Tom Werner and John Henry should step up and own this.

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Read More: Curt Schilling, Don Orsillo,
Thinking Out Loud: Patriots no Saints, but feeling toward NFL is mutual 08.21.15 at 10:05 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering where Jeremy Kapstein has been?

— And it may be only preseason, but Patriots fans love their football — Deflategate notwithstanding, and a meaningless exhibition seems to matter little. Ratings for the preseason opener were the highest for local TV since just after the Super Bowl in February for the Grammy Awards. Higher than the NBA and NHL finals. Higher than the Republican debates, too — which means a Pats game is one show around here that Donald Trump can’t take over. I hope.

— Deflategate vs. Bountygate. Or Spygate. In effect, that’s what we had this week in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Some in the media tried to play that angle but didn’t have a lot of success with it. The Patriots and New Orleans Saints stayed and practiced at The Greenbrier resort, where some of the Friars basketball teams in the ’90s stayed when facing the Mountaineers during Pete Gillen’s tenure. There’s not much out there, and it’s darn near perfect if you like seclusion.

— Maybe that’s why there weren’t any notable skirmishes between players, whereas in other scrimmages teams seem to be duking it out with regularity? Pats and Saints players were lulled to sleep, or rather, they may have feared for their professional well-being if they were tossed from practice for fighting.

— There are similarities between the organizations, and not just because of the infamous violations for which they’ve been accused. Sean Payton loves to wear hoodies cut off at the sleeves, as does Bill Belichick. Payton is very guarded and doesn’t talk about injuries, just like BB. And both teams appear to have an organizational chip on their shoulders, when it comes to alleged “fair treatment” by the NFL. Right or wrong, that can be useful.

— The Brady-Goodell Peace Accord goes back to the bargaining table on Aug. 31. When does this charade end? Neither side really cares about budging, although rumors of Tom Brady‘s willingness to compromise (one-game suspension, no admission of guilt) at least SOUNDS magnanimous compared to The League. I don’t see him compromising, but then again, I’m not TB12 with this big, fat albatross hanging around my neck, either.

— No, this goes down to the bitter end. Commissioner Bad-ell (how can anyone really call him Goodell?) loses what’s left of his disciplinary authority if he caves and compromises. Brady is branded a cheater if he caves and compromises — if that hasn’t happened already in 31 other NFL fandoms. Both are standing at the craps table, hoping that Judge Berman rolls a seven or 11 for ’em.

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Read More: Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: NFL on power play in Tom Brady case 08.14.15 at 7:40 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the two-point conversion?

— Is there any doubt that Deflategate won’t snake its way through the Federal Court system in New York? But here’s the concern you should have, Pats fans. The issue the NFL is attacking is the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA — that says the commish has the authority to be stupid. Or something close to that.

— The NFL is a cartel. The NFL is socialistic. The NFL is Mother Russia. Say whatever you want, but the NFL is most decidedly not democratic. It doesn’t have to be, based on the CBA. That’s what the league is arguing, and it will be up to Judge Berman to decide if the Brady-Goodell Peace Accord is about actual justice, or about injustice being forced down the throats of league denizens.

— Denizens? That’s you, me, the Patriots, the Jets, Ravens, Colts and all other creatures who live in and around Planet NFL.

— Not for nuthin’, but the players now largely feel this thing is way overblown. ESPN.com recently conducted a poll and had 100 players respond to the questions of cheating, guilt and innocence in Deflategate. Bottom line — 60 percent feel there’s nothing to see here, move along. They know all teams look for “advantages.” I think I said that about six months ago.

— I’ve heard the word “integrity” used so many times in the last few months by so many people who have little or no clue what the term means, I’m beginning to doubt what it really means myself.

— Ego is the reason we are where we are. Not Brady’s, but Roger Goodell’s. Had the commish simply imposed a fine on TB12, this would be over with. But because the commish insists upon holding a heavy-handed hammer, he’s pounding his own head (and respectability, integrity, etc.) into the turf, again. One poor decision after another. Precisely WHY he shouldn’t be commish. But he is, and he will be for a while, unless somehow he’s shamed out of it.

— Shoot, if anything, Goodell should be gone because he’s nothing more than a lemming, doing the dirty work for a few greedy, jealous and not-very-smart-or-savvy owners. I mean, here’s a guy that would probably jump off a bridge if Woody Johnson asked him to do it.

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Read More: Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: Deflategate finally nears conclusion, with NFL looking bad right to end 08.07.15 at 7:26 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering about the fuss over Donald Trump’s sudden “political correctness.”

— I’d like to say, “I told you so.” So I will. Told ya’ so.

— It’s not over yet, but the fat lady is warming up her vocal chords when it comes to singing the final stanza of the Deflategate song. The release this past week of testimony and documents from Tom Brady‘s appeal hearing with Roger Goodell is damning for the NFL. How can it not be?

— Anyone with an ounce of common sense — whether a hater or not — can detect logic. And there is none of that contained within the NFL’s argument over whether or not TB12 had plausible knowledge of football deflation. Do the Patriots still own some of this? Of course they do. There very well may have been something going on, as has been documented. But the league’s “investigation” was a poorly run, mismanaged attempt at control and pumping air back into its own office hubris, thanks to its bungling of other disciplinary matters.

— Legally speaking — and I’m no lawyer here — but I’d say the NFL is backpedaling faster than a defensive back in one-on-one coverage of Rob Gronkowski. Now, how to save face — if not jobs? Expect a settlement over the next week. or two, to include NO suspension for TB12. And NFL people will merely say, in the face of utter embarrassment, they only were doing their jobs to protect “The Shield.” This is precisely why other players — and other teams, and their fans — should be very concerned. No one is immune to league incompetency.

— This is precisely why 32 NFL owners should take note. These people didn’t become billionaires through mismanagement. But this is what they currently are supporting. Wise up, fellas, and find competent management for your fortunes, unless you like looking the part of old fools. Gentlemen, your emperor ain’t wearing any clothes.

— In the circus that is sports radio, I happened to hear John Dennis, Gary Tanguay and Kirk Minihane engaged in a little shouting on WEEI’s D&C this week, with Tanguay’s attempt at playing the contrarian a little over the top. His argument — completely unfounded — was that there must be something sinister going on because we haven’t heard from John Jastremski or Jim McNally. Gary, they’re in witness protection. On lockdown. They’d like to resume their jobs, if possible. And probably a little scared and shaken by all of this mess, too.

— And Gare, while we’re at it, sports talk bluster without facts to back up your argument is nothing more than bloviating. Google it. If you want to be taken seriously in anything you do, try having a “take” with evidence to support your claim first. If I want hot air, I’ll roll down my car window. Nice try at playing the bad guy, though. Except, you’re not believable.

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Read More: Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: How did Patriots become so despised by everyone? 07.31.15 at 7:27 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering what Jose Canseco has been up to lately?

— How did we arrive at this point? How did a championship-caliber franchise and Hall of Fame-to-be QB become the hated and the hunted — by the NFL and all of its teams? It began with an inaccurate report from ESPN that was never corrected, either through ignorance or arrogance or perhaps an edict — allegedly (Mike Kensil?) from the league itself.

— I don’t believe Deflategate was a “sting” so much as it was a simple, “You’re too high and mighty; we’re gonna get you, eventually,” by the NFL, or more specifically, NFL VP of game operations Kensil (a former Jets employee) and NFL executive VP and general counsel Jeff Pash. Colts GM Ryan Grigson figures into this as well. It’s odd that there has been this near-scurrilous fervor with which these men have displayed at times in this entire fiasco. You have to ask the question, “Why do they do what they do?” It’s a fair point. Are they under direct orders, or do they have grudges to settle?

— In an era of alleged parity, New England has managed six Super Bowl appearances in 15 years, winning four of those. I would maintain the rest of the league, and the league office itself, is trying to decipher how they’ve done it. And the NFL is taking great pains to expose any shred of impropriety, and blow up any inkling of idiosyncrasy as a scarlet letter for the franchise to wear upon its jersey. It’s all about “The Shield,” and no one team can rise above it.

— Why? There are several reasons, all of them plausible — from good ol’ fashioned envy and jealousy to anger and greed. Thirty-one other teams and millions of fans are enjoying every minute of this fiasco, watching the Patriots squirm and TB12 twist in the wind. To the NFL, it’s tremendous theater, and frankly, if I’m looking at it from the outside, I have to agree. It’s a show, all right.

— The NFL has blasted the Patriots in the PR battle, and it has been an artful performance. The league has taken false science, maybes, rumor and innuendo, and slotted words like “destroy” into their press releases, giving the football-crazed country outside of New England reason to believe we’re all cheaters. I’ve spent the past two weeks in football-mad Texas, and the Brady saga is mentioned in the same breath as two state schools (TCU and Baylor) being ranked in the top five of the college preseason poll. A pound of air pressure vs. two college powerhouses. Whoa.

— Do you feel any better about Robert Kraft now that he’s come out and apologized for “trusting” the NFL?  Kraft’s angst over the league, and over Roger Goodell’s upholding of Brady’s suspension, is a bit misguided. After all, it is HIS team, not the league’s. I understand his wanting to get along for the common good, but this is a perfect example of someone attempting what he thought to be the right thing and then getting steamrolled. It’s past time to revert to the business tactics that have made him a billionaire in the first place. It’s now time to be ruthless and unforgiving, as most of us originally hoped he would be. Goodell played Kraft for a fool here. Just sayin’.

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Read More: Deflategate, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: Red Sox’ ineptitude pushes fans to limit 07.24.15 at 7:52 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Jacek Duda?

— Not for nuthin’, but have we forgotten how to play baseball around here?

— I’m thinking “sell” right now for the Red Sox, but who or what can you sell? And who’s buying any of what we’ve seen so far this season? Right now, it has to be about 2016 and beyond, unless the organization wants to see this two-year death spiral continue. How much can we, as consumers, put up with?

— Boston was outscored 39-13 on the seven-game road trip. That’s bag-on-your-head-stuff right there. Winless on a trip that long for the first time in 64 years, since 1951. Let that sink in for just a minute.

— The Red Sox are still one of the richest teams in baseball? In all of sport? Prove it. Three seasons out of four in LAST place with a payroll in the vicinity of $200 million is not just abysmal. It’s embarrassing. Remember, a good house-cleaner always starts on the top shelf.

Clay Buchholz = that good-looking tease in high school who wouldn’t give you the time of day but now wants to be your friend on Facebook. Meh.

— The one potential silver lining to this cacophony of calamity, lefty Brian Johnson, was sent back to Pawtucket after an uneven major league debut. Maybe they just decided the blasting the pitching staff on the big club is taking would leave him too “shell-shocked.”

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Thinking Out Loud: Why should Tom Brady accept a suspension if he’s not guilty? 07.17.15 at 8:47 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Ray Fosse?

— Tick, tick, tock. Still nothing from NFL czar Roger Goodell on the Tom Brady decision, even though we had multiple reports this week saying the ruling would come today — or tomorrow — or by the end of the week. It was none of the above. Trying to predict when news will happen, just so you can say “I’m first!” only creates foolishness, and erodes credibility. Competition causes reasonable people to act unreasonably.

— We did, however, learn that Brady’s legal team and the NFLPA will take the matter to federal court should a suspension of any length be at hand. Can’t say I’m surprised. If you’re not guilty, why accept a plea bargain?

— We’ve maintained in this corner that Brady would fight his four-game suspension to the bitter end. Sure, it would be best to move this along and get it behind us all, but the NFL’s resistance to logic only adds fuel to the competitive fire in Foxboro. So let the tick, tick, tock keep on ticking. The explosion to come could be entertaining.

— I’m not big into awards shows, and the ESPYs have pretty much run their course for me since their inception in 1993. It was cool when it started, even cooler to be a small part of it by interviewing some of the stars on the radio after the show had completed, but in later years it has become passé with athletes mostly trying to outdo other athletes for recognition. The show this year, on Wednesday night, was a bit different.

— Yes, there was the surreal spectacle that was Caitlyn Jenner. Say whatever you want about her, and you’d probably be right. Bravery, however, was at least a small part of her appearance. And for the Cincinnati Bengals‘ Devon Still, whose daughter Leah continues to fight pediatric cancer? If anyone deserves good will, he deserves to have his prayers answered and have a healthy daughter. He’s well-spoken and proud. And seems to be a great dad, too.

— Play of the Year? Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-handed catch? Please. How about an amazing play that actually counted for something — like Malcolm Butler’s goal-line pick in the Super Bowl? It will only go down as the single most memorable play in championship history. But not Play of the Year. Stupid is as stupid does.

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Read More: Roger Goodell, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: Rhode Island should not pay for new PawSox stadium 07.10.15 at 10:38 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering what it would take to get my mug, or other body parts, in the ESPN The Body issue.

— The “listening tour” has begun, as the ownership group of the PawSox is traveling through the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island to state its case for a new stadium. That sounds great, but I don’t believe the owners are hearing the words coming out of our mouths: NOT AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE. That is all.

— Here’s at least part of the reason why the taxpayers shouldn’t foot ANY PART of the bill for a new stadium — Rhode Island has the third-worst roads in the country, with 45 percent deemed in poor condition, according to a national analysis released this week by TRIP. This costs drivers an extra $637 annually. So traffic is increasing, faster than the population is increasing, roads and bridges are crumbling and state highway tolls have been shot down by the legislature as a way to pay for repairs. Perfect.

— Oh, and the state already ranks in the nation’s bottom 10 (ninth worst) for business. But let’s put a new stadium on the backs of taxpayers anyway, because taxpayers can always be played for suckers.

— I did see where the state issued an RFP (request for proposal) for a state tourism brand this week. Look no further than right here, Governor Raimondo — Rhode Island, the “We love baseball and we love our beaches, but we’ve had enough” state.

— Speaking of a state, we’ve had a soccer state of mind this summer, from the USA claiming the women’s World Cup title to the U.S. men’s national team taking the pitch at Gillette Stadium for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Get on board the bandwagon or get lost in the shuffle.

— And then there are the New England Revolution, who always seem to get lost in the MLS shuffle every season at this time. After extending a 17-match unbeaten streak at home before a loss two weeks ago, the Revs now are in the midst of a five-game losing streak and have dropped six of seven since the end of May. It’s their annual June swoon into July.

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Thinking Out Loud: Billy Andrade’s golf game still has some bite 07.03.15 at 6:27 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering about my favorite versions of the hit song written by Francis Scott “Off” Key.

— Perhaps it’s the patriotism that washes over us all at this time of year, but after a recent rendition of our national anthem (surprisingly well done, by the way) sung by an off-the-street audition winner at a New England Revolution match, it got me to thinking about some of the truly B-A-D versions I’ve heard — and you’ve heard or heard about — along the way.

— If there was ever any doubt that just because he’s now on the Champions Tour, well, let’s just say Billy Andrade still has some game. Bristol Billy fired the second-lowest round in the history of the U.S. Senior Open with a 63 in the tournament’s final round, equaling his career-best score for 18 holes. Andrade finished fifth overall, at the ripe age of 51.

— And yet, partnered with longtime friend and CVS partner Brad Faxon, Andrade followed up last week by still coming up short to win the tournament he and Faxon started in 1999. They’ve never won the CVS at Rhode Island Country Club, which has always been a bit odd for me, since the two grew up here. Maybe they’re simply being polite?

— As we all were — being polite — listening to rock superstar Steven Tyler of Aerosmith belt out his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner on a couple of occasions, most recently in 2012 at Gillette Stadium. I mean, he’s Steven Tyler. But not only did he need a teleprompter set up to remind him of the lyrics, he still managed to botch the words before coming to a merciful eeee-eeee-eeee-eeeennnnnd! Ouch.

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Read More: Billy Andrade, Brad Faxon, Carson Desrosiers, Kris Dunn
Thinking Out Loud: Tom Brady, Roger Goodell must come to compromise 06.26.15 at 8:04 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Vincent Council?

— We wait. And wait. And wait some more. It may be another month — or more — before we find out the results of Tom Brady‘s suspension appeal with the NFL. How can you possibly expect a league mired in its own mayhem to produce anything of a timely nature? You can’t. But you certainly can expect a decision sometime after the Fourth of July, at the very least, with briefs from both sides due by end of next week.

— Here’s a plausible scenario, just for kicks. The American Educational Institute report blew huge holes into the science behind the Wells Report. The Wells Report, more and more, appears to be an investigation into what the league “wanted” to find, not actually what was found. Maybe there was conspiracy, maybe not. Whatever the case, Roger Goodell is backed into a corner — he must reduce and/or eliminate TB12’s suspension based on actual findings and actual science, or he risks federal court proceedings. And if he does reduce and/or eliminate, there’s little bite left in the bark from the commissioner’s office.

— There has to be a compromise. Either one game, or no games and a fine for Brady’s initial refusal to completely cooperate with a sham investigation conducted by Ted Wells. Followed by the pronouncement from the commissioner that Brady did nothing wrong, to assist in clearing his name and reputation. It’s the only way in which both sides can claim a victory. It could have been done months ago. And trust me, right now both sides want to “win” this — badly.

— Uh, Brad? You meant “twit” when you referred to Ian Poulter‘s complaints about the greens during last week’s U.S. Open, right? Faxon’s comments this week on WEEI were apparently aimed at Poulter not only because of his griping about the putting surfaces, but also because Poulter has apparently used the bad word himself. In this case, the word used was not meant as a derogatory comment toward a part of the female anatomy, but used to describe someone who is obnoxious. Clears that up.

— He could be playing, but Fax is back on Fox Sports this week for the U.S. Senior Open in Sacramento, where his Newport, Rhode Island, buddy P.H. Horgan found himself in early contention. He is contracted for eight events, including the USGA’s majors — the Open, the Women’s Open, the Senior Open and the Amateur. Rogue comments aside, reviews on Faxon as a golf commentator have been pretty solid.

— You can say he was lucky. You can say Dustin Johnson choked away a major with a three-putt to lose the U.S. Open. But you also have to say Jordan Spieth is just what the sport of golf needs right now — a young, good-looking, nice guy, a potential glamor boy for a sport that has been haunted for too long by the specter of Tiger Woods‘ bad-boy misdeeds.

— Watching Tiger play is akin to rubbernecking on the highway. Sure, we want to see the accident. But let’s move on, people. Nothing more to see here.

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Read More: Brad Faxon, Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady