Picked-up pieces while listening to the 2022 Red Sox insist that they really weren’t that bad …
▪ There will be no forgiveness for the Patriots if they lose at home Sunday to the Lions.
The 1-3 Patriots enjoyed a very un-Boston-like reception when they lost in overtime to the Packers at Lambeau last weekend. We gave them all kinds of slack because they were forced to use their third-string quarterback, played on the road against Aaron Rodgers, played good defense, and Bill Belichick almost willed them to victory. The day-after headlines in our sports section were unusually forgiving: “Masterful show by Belichick,” “Outlook is better despite outcome,” and “It was magic until the end.”
Wow. That’s Full Rochie stuff right there. Right out of Channel 4′s “All Access” playbook. We sounded like a bunch of fanboy Baghdad Bobs, like Alex Cora saying we had the best worst team in baseball.
Not this weekend. No more Mr. Nice Guy. If the Patriots can’t beat the 1-3 Lions at home, it’ll be raining hot takes on the head of the Hoodie, his coaches, and his players.
These are the Lions, people — a team that has won one playoff game since 1957. The Lions have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, yielding a whopping 35 points per game. They haven’t forced a punt in their opponents’ last 13 possessions. They are also banged up.
The Lions can run the football. We kind of like their old-school, bombastically gung-ho head coach, Dan Campbell. They score a lot of points. They have a quarterback, Jared Goff, who faced the Patriots in a Super Bowl just four seasons ago.
But they are still the Lions. And if the Patriots can’t beat them in Foxborough, we will lose all hope for a playoff run this season.
Enjoy the Bailey Zappe story. Root for the comeback of Mac Jones. Look ahead to upcoming layups against the Browns, Jets, Bears, and Colts.
But all hope is lost if the Patriots can’t take care of the Lions at home.
▪ Sam Kennedy told us Thursday that the Red Sox are raising season-ticket prices (1.5-2 percent) for 2023. The Sox already have the highest prices in baseball, and the potential extra revenue seems puny compared with the bad optics of charging more after a stinkbomb season.
Did they consider keeping prices the same, or perhaps charging less as a gesture of good faith?
“It’s a fair question,” Kennedy said. “During the pandemic, we actually took prices down. We held the line on them last year, so now we have this modest increase.”
▪ Spinmaster Sam said the Sox owners are “as accountable as anyone in our organization,” then explained that he’d been dispatched to answer questions for John Henry (who also owns the Globe) and Tom Werner. When pushed on the contradiction of that answer, Kennedy said, “I think I spoke to it. Do you have another question?”
▪ It sounds like “goodbye Xander” when Chaim Bloom is asked about Bogaerts and answers, “We want him here on a deal that works for everybody.”
▪ When a reporter reminded Chaim that the Sox had “by far” the best run differential of any last-place team, even Kennedy could not keep a straight face.
▪ Quiz: Name the top three postseason home run hitters in MLB history (answer below).
▪ Great to see the Seattle Mariners back in the postseason. Since the Mariners last qualified for the postseason (116 wins in 2001), every other MLB team has appeared in the playoffs. Also every NFL, NBA, and NHL team with the exception of the new Seattle Kraken.
▪ The baseball draft is the most imprecise of all pro sports drafts, so we won’t make a big deal out of the fact that Hunter Renfroe (No. 13), Reese McGuire (No. 14), and Christian Arroyo (No. 25) were all drafted ahead of Aaron Judge (No. 32) in the first round in 2013. Boston’s first-round pick (No. 7) was lefthanded pitcher Trey Ball, who became a pitcher/outfielder and never made it to the bigs.
▪ Terry Francona can go directly to the Hall of Fame when he’s done with the Guardians. It’s still hard to believe the Sox fired him after he averaged 93 wins over eight seasons, making the playoffs five times and going 8-0 in two World Series. Now he’s in the playoffs again with another young team of unknowns. Tito is the best manager in baseball.
▪ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was in Cambridge Thursday to accept a W.E.B. Du Bois honor at Harvard. Earlier in the week, writing on Substack, Abdul-Jabbar drove a pipe through Kyrie Irving after Irving posted Alex Jones conspiracy theories on Instagram.
“Kyrie Irving would be dismissed as a comical buffoon if it weren’t for his influence over young people who look up to athletes,” wrote Abdul-Jabbar. “When I look at some of the athletes who have used their status to actually improve society — Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, and more — it becomes clear how much Irving has tarnished the reputations of all athletes who strive to be seen as more than dumb jocks.”
▪ Sign me up for more of 6-7 Celtics sharpshooter Sam Hauser. He might be the best empty-gym shooter I’ve seen, and he took it to the Garden floor against the Hornets and Raptors this past week. He’s certainly cheaper than Duncan Robinson.
▪ In case you missed it, Ben Simmons was back on the basketball court Monday night, scoring 6 points with 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes of a Nets preseason game at home against the 76ers. He played center on defense and point guard on offense.
▪ Close your eyes and try to imagine Mercury Morris and friends putting the champagne on ice and watching every Philadelphia Eagles game the rest of the year until they finally lose. The Eagles are in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday.
▪ Belichick went out of his way Wednesday to single out Lions return specialist Kalif Raymond, who played at Holy Cross. “Love a Crusader,” said Belichick, whose daughter Amanda is the longtime women’s lacrosse coach at the college.
Holy Cross has won its first six football games this season, beating both Yale and Harvard. The Crusaders blew out Bucknell, 57-0, at Polar Park Saturday.
▪ Best to Pittsfield native and Texas Rangers legend Tom Grieve, who retired this past week after 55 years in service to the team. Grieve was drafted No. 6 overall in 1966 when the Rangers were still the Washington Senators. He was a player with the Rangers in the ’70s, their longtime general manager, and spent the last 27 seasons in the broadcast booth.
▪ All Sox fans will miss Dennis Eckersley. It’s a blow to lose him on the broadcasts, especially after the death of Jerry Remy. The overlap years when Remy and Eck shared the booth were pure gold.
How many of you know that when Eck threw his no-hitter for the Indians in 1977, Remy batted second for the Angels and struck out twice? A year later, they were teammates on the ill-fated 1978 Red Sox.
▪ Twelve of the 14 major league teams with winning records made the playoffs. The only teams with winning records that didn’t make it to the postseason were the Orioles (83-79) and Brewers (86-76). Wonder how any Sunday winner-take-all MLB games will do in TV ratings when up against NFL Week 5. Badly, no doubt. The NFL is King.
▪ One of my great readers e-mailed to tell me he finds himself thinking of athletes’ uniform numbers while watching his microwave count down as the food heats up. Now I’m starting to do it … 34 (Paul Pierce), 33 (Eddie Murray), 32 (Kevin McHale), 31 (Cedric Maxwell) … 6 (Al Kaline), 5 (Kevin Garnett), 4 (Lou Gehrig), 3 (Babe Ruth), 2 (Derek Jeter), 1 (Billy Martin), 00 (Chief) … Ding! Food’s ready.
▪ Who knew that University of Texas football fans gather at Hamilton Restaurant & Bar in Brookline every weekend to watch the Longhorns on TV?
▪ Here’s hoping Joe Castiglione wins the prestigious Ford C. Frick broadcasting award, presented annually at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Finishing his 40th year in the Sox booth (43 years overall), Joe is on the ballot with nine other worthies, and the winner will be announced Dec. 7 at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
▪ Tip of the hat to the estimable Charlie Scoggins, who finished his 44th season as an official scorer at Fenway Wednesday night. Chaz, who also was a Sox beat writer for the Lowell Sun for 40 years, started his Sox writing career covering Boston’s 15-5 win over the Yankees in 1973, in the first game that featured designated hitters.
Scoggins scored 1,895 MLB games, including 15 World Series games. That’s a lot of phone calls to the press box from angry infielders who think that every error was really a base hit.
▪ Quiz answer: Manny Ramirez (29), Jose Altuve (23 and counting), Bernie Williams (22).