Thinking Out Loud: Nice try soccer, but it's time to be realistic

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E
Live On-Air
Ask Your Smart Speaker to Play One Oh Three Point Seven W E E I
WEEI 103.7
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

Thinking out loud ... while wondering if a clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer?

Soccer No. 1? In this country? Really?

FIFA President Gianni Infantino sez by 2026, when the World Cup comes to North America – and Boston/Foxboro – soccer or football will be “the number one sport in this part of the world.”

When the US hosted the Cup in 1994 (at the old Foxboro Stadium, too), it spawned the start of Major League Soccer two years later.  And MLS has certainly succeeded thus far, including here in New England with the Revolution, and continues to grow.

But will the 2026 Cup vault soccer higher up the ladder, surpassing the NBA, MLB, NHL or NFL? Umm, no. But baseball and hockey had better watch out – they could slip a rung or two.

Soccer is not the afterthought it once was, for several reasons. Apple just paid out $2.5 billion for 10 years of exclusive streaming rights. Ampere Analysis conducted a survey last fall of US sports fans and found that 49% like soccer, behind football (70%), basketball (61%) and baseball (57%).

And remember, US ownership in the English Premiership – considered the top soccer league on the planet – is definitely a thing…with John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group owning Liverpool, and Dodger/Laker/Sparks co-owner Todd Boehly just shelling out $5.25 billion for Chelsea FC.

Comcast also just forked over $2.7 billion for US broadcasting rights to the Premiership for the next six years. Somebody is definitely bullish on futbol.

Did Manny Ramirez take a shot at Derek Jeter this week? After he threw out a ceremonial first pitch against Detroit Tuesday, Ramirez told NESN and WEEI listeners that Jeter would have been “just a regular player” if he had played in Kansas City.

On WEEI, Manny also jumped off the deep end and said players weren’t really “big leaguers” if they didn’t play in Boston or New York.

Can’t really say he’s wrong. Outside of New York, Boston and maybe to a lesser extent Philly or Chicago…athletes who perform under the brighter lights, on the bigger stage and in the bigger markets invariably get a boost in the career department. That’s just the way it is.

It doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in KC, or Dallas, or Cleveland…but if you are big time IN the big-time locales, the boost is undeniable.

Why else do athletes tend to gravitate to the big cities, when given the choice?  This time, ‘Manny being Manny’ ain’t so crazy. Just sayin’.

Derek Jeter would have been a Hall of Famer no matter where he played. But transcendent? It took New York to get him listed among the great names in history.

The Red Sox and their present run into prosperity is what most expected of them before this season began. After the extraordinarily ugly start, this team has played its way into post season contention.

There’s a long way to go, and a lot of games left against the AL East – which these Sox seem to have trouble with. Next week, it’s at Toronto. Looming in the short distance, are Tampa and NY.

We should know a LOT more about this team by the all-star break.

It’s still all about the pitching. Nick Pivetta’s performance has been astounding, really. Did you even notice Nate Eovaldi has been on the IL? Give the starters credit where it’s due.

But the bullpen? More often than not, it’s still the blowpen. Five run late-inning leads aren’t safe.

Right or wrong, Tanner Houck’s or Jarren Duran’s vaccination status shouldn’t be an issue. But they are. Their stubbornness and selfishness are the real stories here. It’s a requirement of them doing their jobs in Canada, and they won’t be available to do those jobs.

Practice your personal freedom without affecting others. This is a perfect example of the sense of entitlement within a younger generation. Not only are they NOT helping their team and teammates, which is a requirement within team sport, but they are also not helping humanity (potentially).

Both should have 100% of their pay docked for everything they miss. And donated to Covid relief funds, or to families who have lost loved ones to Covid during the pandemic.

Can’t root for either guy. Won’t root for either guy. Baseball is very much a team sport, and they’re letting down teammates. But they won’t miss me. They’re too worried about themselves.

And Duran? He’s up and down between Boston and Worcester like a thermometer in the summertime.

Dude. Not for nuthin’, but you wanna stay in the bigs? Suck it up and get a shot.

And shame on the Red Sox for not showing leadership and demanding this of their players…which the Yankees don’t have to do. They’re vaxxed, unconcerned with this issue, and kicking tail.

Shouldn’t the Yankees’ present dominance of the AL East (hell, all of MLB really) be a bigger story than it has been? Or is this just a case of the baseball world waiting for the ultimate New York fail?

I mean, a double-figure game lead in the division is bringing out a YAWN from most it seems. How many (relevant) trophies have they won in this century again?

Did you notice what “Show Me” Ohtani did this week? One game, a career high eight RBI with two home runs against Kansas City…and the very next night, he pitched eight scoreless innings with a career high 13 strikeouts in a 5-0 win over the Royals. Whoa.

The reigning AL MVP is doing most valuable things again…but his LA Angels are still four games under .500 at midweek this week. So how valuable is he, really? And how crappy are they without him?

Our buddy Joey Mac from the Worcester T&G reported this week it’s likely Patrice Bergeron will return to the Bruins next season on a one-year deal. Good news, sure. But it begs the question – was there an issue with Bruce Cassidy’s coaching?

The recruiting class of 2023 is beginning to take shape for Providence with Indiana (by way of Houston, Texas) star Garwey Dual’s verbal commitment this week. A guard potentially in the Kris Dunn mold, and another Top 100 recruit is great, naturally.

But to be the program the Friars aspire to be…takes more than just one of those. And while you’re at it, mix in a few from the transfer portal too, will ya’?

Did you catch the Friars’ scrimmage with Bryant at the Ruane Center on the PC campus via social media this week? Don’t you want to know who won?

Thursday’s NBA Draft was a huge snorefest. The personalities involved weren’t terribly personable. The players weren’t terribly playable – we’ve had better drafts. Why did it seem like you didn’t know who anyone was?

J.D. Davison to the Celtics in round two…well, he’s a point guard that might at least stand a chance of getting the ball to the wing shooters. But he struggles with his own shot. Got great hair, though.

The Big East had only a single player drafted…and he’s a former URI Ram, UConn’s Tyrese Martin.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t talent within the league. If you watch, you know. But what it means is several things: 1) the NBA Draft is only two rounds 2) current Big East talent tends to be younger 3) the influence of international basketball, along with the G League, is greater than ever.

Surprised that Marquette’s Justin Lewis did not go in the draft, and mildly surprised St. John’s Julian Champagnie also wasn’t selected. But there were other ‘snubs,’ too (Portsmouth’s Cole Swider?), which shows how subjective a two-round draft has become.

Those two, along with other Big East NBA hopefuls (Villanova’s Collin Gillespie, UConn’s RJ Cole, Seton Hall’s Jared Rhoden, Georgetown’s Aminu Mohammed) will try to find the right “fit” for a potential two-way deal between the NBA team and its G League affiliate. Or sign for the $$$ and head for foreign lands.

At last check, three Friars have had workouts with NBA teams (AJ Reeves, Justin Minaya and Nate Watson), as has Bryant’s Peter Kiss. Same deal as above – it’s all about finding a fit. Reeves reportedly hit 84 of 100 attempted threes in his workout with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Minaya already has a deal to play in the NBA Summer League with the Charlotte Hornets. WLNE-TV reported Cole Swider has a two-way deal with the Lakers. And as Reeves tweeted out this week – “all it takes is 1 to believe in you.”

My buddy “Big E” sez he was in a pickle this week. He was seated on a plane next to a new mother and her baby, and sure enough once the plane took off…so did the baby. Cried and cried. The mother, as discreetly as possible, started to breast feed her son.

Being the gallant human that he is, “Big E” provided some cover for the new mom until the baby was satisfied and calmed down. The mom explained that her pediatrician told her breast feeding would help alleviate the pressure on her son’s ears.

“E” then told the mom, “Dang, and I’ve been chewing gum for that all these years.”

It is the quietest “quiet” time I can remember for some time in the NFL. Don’t know if that’s good or bad…even pro football can use a little rest and recharge period during a calendar year, can’t it?

Or could we get some bad boy somewhere to screw up so we can talk about it into oblivion for the next month until training camp starts? That would be great.

Happy to see the Patriot Reds will be back in fashion at some point this season, and that the original “Pat Patriot” will return to the side of a white helmet. Cha-ching in the merchandise department of the pro shop.

Although I seem to recall…we love those throwback unis now, but when the team was actually wearing them every game, the team wasn’t an annual contender. So why do we love them now when, outside of Super Bowl XX, or maybe 1976-77…the Pats were really patsies?

It has been 32 years since the red jerseys were everyday wear. They made a comeback, briefly, from 2009-12 in special ‘throwback’ games (9-3 record in the reds), but the One Shell rule took care of that 10 years ago. Until this year.

Every team will bring back a throwback. Smaht move, NFL.

Gronk, thanks for the love on the way out, bud. You MADE yourself into “Gronk” while in New England, but completely dissed the region by not mentioning the team and organization that MADE you who you are…as you announced you’ve “retired” this week.

Was it really that bad here? How many rings did you win here? No one believes you’ve really retired anyway, so…good luck with that. Gives you some time to kiss and make up before the Patriots Hall of Fame inevitably takes you in.

Greatest tight end of all time? He deserves to be on the list…which should also include Tony Gonzalez, John Mackey, Mike Ditka and Antonio Gates. And as much as I am loathe to admit it, Shannon “We are killing the Patriots” Sharpe was pretty good, too.

Clown of the Week: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (no, he’s not the clown here, at least not today) appeared at a conference on Capitol Hill this week, ostensibly to be questioned on workplace misconduct carried out by the Washington Commanders.

Instead, Texas Congressman Pat Fallon – who is a native of Pittsfield, MA – took his time to grandstand and hijack the proceedings…asking the Grand Poobah about his handling of Deflategate and Tom Brady instead.

Congressman Fallon did, however, call the entire proceedings “a farce,” saying that inflation, high gas prices and Mexican drug cartels fueling the opioid crisis are more significant problems for America…so, there’s that, too. Get to work, congressman.

Why the preponderance of sports betting on radio these days? Simple, actually. A newly released study from MARU/Matchbox claims listeners to AM/FM radio are more interested, and more likely to engage with online sports betting.

Know your listeners. Target your marketing. 21% of those identifying as heavy radio listeners have either placed a bet online or with a sportsbook app inside the boundaries of a legal sports betting state…compared to 13% ID’ing as heavy TV viewers.

So…Brooks Koepka is the latest PGA star to leave for the LIV Golf Series. After he said he wouldn’t. The Dark Side is proving to be a force…and the power of the Saudi pocketbook is stronger than the Death Star’s gravitational pull.

Earlier this week, the PGA Tour did announce a series of additions before the Travelers Championship teed off in Cromwell, CT. Most notable was commissioner Jay Monahan’s statement “We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi Golf League is not that.”

True, the LIV is probably here to do nothing more than line the pockets of a few players who love $$$ more than they really love golf, and to disrupt the PGA Tour while shining a spotlight on the Saudi royal family…which probably deserves a microscope (or a prison cell) instead.

Still, the PGA announced increased purses, a shorter schedule, and three new events will be held after the FedEx Cup playoff in the fall. They did this because the LIV now exists and is tugging at their stars with boatloads of cash.

And they’re succeeding. Welcome to the pro golf arms race.

At the other end of the spectrum, exists the amateur game. The 60th annual Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett in Rumford, RI this week is part of the new “Elite Amateur” Golf Series, the second of seven events created in a collective series of tournaments for an “Elite Amateur Cup.”

It should build and enhance the game of golf and get younger players ready for the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead…like having to choose between earning a living playing as a PGA pro or taking that LIV Saudi $$$ and running away with it.

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 ...

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.