Thinking Out Loud: Good luck, Joe Mazzulla

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Thinking out loud…while wondering why news anchors start their broadcasts with “Good Evening,” then proceed to tell us why it isn’t…

Celtics Media Day next week will be a three-ringed circus. Brad Stevens will serve as the ringmaster, while Johnston, RI native and ex-Hendricken Hawk Joe Mazzulla will be fired from a cannon right into the spotlight.

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This is some way to get your first NBA head coaching job, isn’t it? Good luck, Joe. Hope your run is long and prosperous – before you get run over.

So much for riding last season’s momentum and Finals appearance into a new year with positive momentum, huh?

FWIW, a recent survey from sidelines.io lists Boston’s Ime Udoka as the second-most popular NBA coach, based on average monthly internet searches. Golden State’s Steve Kerr tops the list.

After this week, I’ll put down a shekel on Udoka overtaking Kerr on that list…thanks to the news of his alleged consensual workplace dalliance, which looks like it may not have been completely consensual, and his subsequent suspension?

The Celtics also blew this, big time. They left every one of their female employees hanging out to dry, allowing speculation to take center stage before issuing a statement Thursday night. Internet searches? The Celtics pulled down their front office and employee roster from the team website.

Silence isn’t golden, Gang Green. Not today, it isn’t.

And the year-long suspension? Seems to me in most places, this would be a fireable offense. That Udoka wasn’t let go, especially with the team knowing about this at least since July, says a ton about this story going much deeper than some innocuous “consensual” relationship.

There’s just more to it. This is no bold prediction, but Udoka won’t ever coach again in Boston. How can he? This move is only to keep him from coaching anywhere else over the next year…like maybe Brooklyn, perhaps? Sorry, KD.

Hasn’t exactly been an average offseason, has it? The team has had to deal with Jaylen Brown trade rumors, Danilo Gallinari’s injury, finding out that Robert Williams won’t be available for training camp…and now this.

Maybe this is our penance for 21st century success around here. And the team among the four most likely to continue the Titletown run…is just opening its show.

Getcha popcorn ready.

Absolutely loved how USA Today termed pro football this week: “America continues to snort the NFL with both nostrils.” That was how they termed the best NFL ratings start on CBS television cameras in 12 years.

It helps to follow winners around, to be sure. Close games, star performances? Yeah, those work, too.

Tweet of the Week I, from @AP_NFL: “There have been 12 games decided by three points or fewer, already the most through Week 2 in NFL history. Eight teams have overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win or tie, trailing only the 1987 season when nine teams did it.”

Somewhat ironically, initial ratings for Patriots games have taken a hit over the last year – primarily because video streaming isn’t included in the TV totals, and there are more streaming services available to fans (and other consumers) than ever before.

I, um, even stream the games these days. Hi, cord-cutter here. The New England marketplace might be a bit more tech-savvy than others, even if some fans are simply p*ssed at cable and satellite costs rocketing out of sight.

Or…you can continue with the narrative that the Patriots aren’t any good, so why watch them?

68K fans at Gillette every week for 21 straight years, with a ticket waiting list that would still fill another stadium…would say you’re only slightly delusional.

Couldn’t find the Thursday Night game last week? Me neither. But apparently quite a few did…Amazon Prime had more signups over a three-hour period before kickoff than any other day, including Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

Prime also costs $139 annually. No matter – TNF drew a record primetime audience for the service in the US.

And if you eventually find Amazon Prime or decide to pony up…you won’t see any beer ads. Bloomberg reported this week the company has a policy to not sell ads that promote alcohol. That…is different.

What a difference a week can make. Yes, color me surprised. And while the Patriots didn’t have the Steelers’ T.J. Watt to deal with, Mac Jones’ jersey was clean last Sunday.  There is improvement up front. Whew.

New England’s defense is good, not great. But it can be a factor in keeping this team in games for at least the next few weeks, giving the offense a chance to continue its improvement.

It might help, this week at least, that the Ravens have allowed the most passing yards in the NFL through two weeks. They were last all of last season, too.

Likes: Jon Jones and Jabrill Peppers. Jones has improved. Peppers is the best insurance policy free agency has bought for this team right now, considering some of the injuries in the defensive backfield.

Dislikes: Tight end production. Because there is none, at least not through two weeks.

Yes, Nick Folk missed a 52-yard field goal attempt. But Folk also has tied the NFL record for most consecutive field goals made UNDER 50 yards. His target line? The opponents’ 33-yard line.

Tweet of the Week II, from @Patscap: “Learned today the Patriots and the Broncos are tied for having the longest streak (19 years) of having an UDFA be on the Week 1 53-man roster.”

And now, the Patriots get Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson…who totaled more than 400 yards of offense by his lonesome last week in that debacle against Miami. Think he’ll have anything to prove, especially with his tabling talk of a new contract to next offseason?

Buffalo looks better right now than a roast beef on weck. Ever had one of those? Don’t knock what you don’t know.

Tweet of the Week III, from @Super70sSports: “Tom Brady is older now than Grady was during the first four seasons of Sanford and Son.”

And if you need some reference for this one, go straight to the Google machine.

Think the Niners are happy they kept Jimmy Garoppolo around…unlike another team we know that didn’t?

My buddy “Big E,” now that he’s retired, sez one thing he learned during his professional career is that it takes real patience to listen…and it takes real skill to pretend you’re listening.

Just when we climbed aboard the bandwagon, Rhody football lost at home last week to 10th ranked Delaware 42-21…falling behind 28-0 before scratching the scoreboard. If you think that was tough, wait’ll you get a load of what the Rams face this week.

URI gets a chance to tackle a really big boy, playing at ACC member and FBS 24th ranked Pittsburgh. The Panthers are coached by Rhody alumnus Pat Narduzzi, who played for the Rams from 1987-89.

Doing your alma mater a solid, then expecting them to bend over, grab their ankles and take a ‘paid’ spanking? Love this sport…but love it more when the whipper gets whipped by the scheduled whippee.

Brown began its’ 136th season with an overtime win over Bryant, their first OT game in six years. The Bears ran up 44 points and more than 500 yards of offense, with both totals ranking seventh nationally in FCS.

This week, it’s Harvard at Brown Stadium Saturday afternoon in the traditional Ivy opener.

Can’t say that the Bryant Bulldogs haven’t been competitive. Two of their three losses have come in overtime. QB Zevi Eckhaus was named the Big South Offensive Player of the Week already for a second time this season.

For the first time in college football history, basketball bluebloods Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Duke have all started their seasons 3-0. UCLA and Indiana football teams are also 3-0.

And Kansas plays Duke this weekend, in football. C’mon College GameDay, what are you thinking here?

PC hoop got a commitment from a sought-after big, 6-10 Idaho forward Drew Fielder. First ever Idahoan to make his way to Providence for basketball? Likely. Love what I’ve heard – thinking Austin Croshere when his skillset is described.

And what is more impressive is who he left in the dust on the recruiting trail. USC and Syracuse were there at the end with the Friars, and he opted for Providence…even with a visit to Syracuse on the schedule – for next week.

That, fellow Friars, is a sure sign that the times…they have already a’ changed.’

Speaking of which, ICYMI, PC announced they have surpassed 10K season tickets at the AMP for the upcoming season. I almost said Dunk. Over/under on number of freebies uttered on behalf of DD this season?

Business collectives remain ‘all the rage’ in the college NIL world these days, and Providence this week announced the creation of the Friar Family NIL Collective to assist their student athletes with monetizing name, image and likeness opportunities.

Creighton’s schedule for the upcoming season is certainly challenging, and they likely have the type of team that can measure up to it. 27 of their 31 regular season games will be played against teams from “Power 6” leagues.

Don’t laugh…but even though the Blue Jays have never reached a Final Four, they could do that this season. And they might win it.

The firepower is there on offense; a future NBA’er is at forward with Arthur Kaluma, two stud guards in Ryan Nembhard and Trey Alexander are back and the Jays reeled in perhaps the top transfer in the country from South Dakota State in Baylor Scheierman.

Friar fans should remember Scheierman. Think he’ll remember Providence?

Defensively, Ryan Kalkbrenner, the reigning BE DPOY, is healthy again in the middle. Yeah, these guys are L-O-A-D-E-D.

Lindy’s preseason poll for the Big East is out – first one published, it appears – and they have Creighton as the favorite, followed by Villanova, UConn, Xavier and PC in the top five. Big East Media Day is Oct. 18th at Madison Square Garden.

Nova could have Justin Moore, who tore his Achilles tendon at the end of last season, back in time for league play in January.

One and done, done? The NBA and their Players’ Association will likely reduce the age limit for draft prospects from 19 to 18 when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. Which means, of course, players can once again jump straight from the prep ranks to the pros if they’re good enough to do it.

That’s not a bad thing – if you’re good enough, you should skip the pretense and go earn what you’re worth. The college game is, and always will be, a great game itself…even if younger stars could often use a dose of maturity before taking on the older guys.

It’s when a player isn’t good enough and thinks he is…that’s troublesome. Too many yappers in one’s ears is detrimental to a career, and to the sport, filling both with false hope.

They’ll open their season with an exhibition game next weekend, and PC’s Hockey Friars find themselves ranked in the preseason national polls at #15.

You can say a lot of things about Zdeno Chara…he’s classy, tough, resilient, a great athlete, seemingly a good guy, and tall. Appropriate that he signed a one-day contract with Boston this week and retired a Bruin, after a 25-year NHL career.

The world, and hockey, aligned as it should be.

I’ll ask the question – does TB12 do the same, when he’s done fooling around in Tampa, with the Patriots?

Did you know…that there are 23 different professional golf tours on the planet that contribute to the Official World Golf Rankings?  LIV Golf is trying to become Number 24.

The Athletic reported this week 50 LIV golfers sent a letter to the OWGR, asking for LIV events to contribute to a players’ individual ranking. That’s fine and all, especially since they do have some highly ranked players playing on that Saudi-enhanced circuit.

The problem is, however, that LIV doesn’t adhere to OWGR’s criteria for inclusion in the rankings. All other tours have 72-hole events and a 36-hole cut to be included. LIV has neither. Tours also have to hold qualifiers for entry not only to their tour, but also to enter their tournaments.

And LIV Golf does neither. So in effect, LIV is simply asking to be included “just because.” Hmmm.

Here Comes the Judge…quick historical (or should that be hysterical) note: Sammy Davis, Jr. was not the first one to use that phrase, as he comically did on the TV show “Laugh In” during the 1960’s. Originally, it was the name of a jazz album released in 1964 by Eddie Harris.

Now that that’s out of the way…here comes this Judge, on his way to a possible Triple Crown. Forget the home run record – he’s already the first American Leaguer since Roger Maris to hit 60.

At midweek, Judge was one point ahead of the Sox’ Xander Bogaerts and two ahead of the Twins’ Luis Arraez for the batting title. He leads in homers and RBI. And, he’d be the third Yankee to ever win the Triple Crown, following Lou Gehrig (1934) and Mickey Mantle (1956).

There’s only been one Triple Crown won in the Divisional Era since 1969 – Miguel Cabrera’s in 2012. Yaz hit for the last one before that in 1967, amiright?

Boston has two Triple Crown winners in Ted Williams and Yaz. The Yankees would be the first franchise to have three…if Judge pulls it off. And the fact that Judge faces Boston pitching this weekend, with these marks in sight, only adds to the intrigue and irony…if not rivalry.

J.D. Martinez got close to claiming the Triple Crown in 2018, finishing first in RBIs and second in both homers and batting average (16 points behind his teammate, Mookie Betts).

Yeah, the Sox had Betts once.

Not for nuthin’, but six MLB teams are set to be hit with the sports’ luxury tax this year, for only the second time in league history. The Mets have the current highest payroll at $273.9 million.

Fondly remembering those days that have long gone by around here. Just sayin’.

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? It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments, and local stories to jrbroadcaster@gmail.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here!  Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and join in on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

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Featured Image Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports