Thinking Out Loud: Celebrating Spongebob and another Patriots draft


Thinking out loud while wondering if SpongeBob Squarepants knows he’s 20 years old:

Did you see this week where Boston hopes to – for real, now– host a college bowl game?  In 2020, the ACC and the AAC are planning to hold a postseason game at venerable Fenway Park – no stranger to football, mind you.

Notre Dame has played there.  Boston College has played there. The Patriots have played there, decades ago.  But will Boston and New England fans turn out to see this – one of an astounding 43 bowl games on the schedule for 2020, featuring two middling teams in their respective conferences without potential local tie-ins?  

In a word, no. Unless BC and maybe UConn earn the bids to square off against each other.  That might have a chance to draw more than just the sound of crickets. I wish it were different. Love college football even with an overload of bowls, but alas, I’m the lone wolf at this picnic.

Although, this week UConn announced a new policy to allow all students into home games for FREE this fall. Including football and hoops. That’s one way to pack ‘em in, I suppose…

- Tweet of the Week, from @MikeMcCartney7: “33 players who weren't invited to the NFL Combine were drafted. 117 players who participated in the NFL Combine went undrafted.”

Does this render the Underwear Olympics moot?  Not entirely, but it also shows there’s plenty more to finding a football player than measuring someone’s, um, height, weight and length.

- Loving the personalities of this years’ Patriots’ draft class. N’Keal Harry is a grinder.  Chase Winovich could be the next version of “Gronk” to hit us over the head.  Flamboyant, energetic, and fast…plus the golden locks don’t hurt.  And he once dated Madonna’s daughter?  Qualifies as a ‘wow.’  But let’s not put pressure on him to be Gronk yet, shall we?

Offensive line draftee Hjalte Froholt once wanted to – get this– be an “art and jewel thief” when he was a kid.  He was kidding, I think.

Joejuan Williams shows a humble attitude and work ethic.  No wonder the Patriots have excelled for as long as they have.  This is part of the ‘Patriot Way,’ finding players who fit their mold.  And the 6-4 Williams will become the match-up weapon for opposing teams to game-plan for – and against.

- At least two with local ties played their way into free agent deals early in the week – Bryant receiver Tom Kennedy (Detroit) and UMass/Hendricken product Lee Moses (Arizona) both got calls to go play.  

It has been 15 straight years for a UDFA (undrafted free agent) to reach the final 53-man Patriots roster.  Two candidates to make it 16 – linebacker Terez Hall from Missouri, and offensive tackle Calvin Anderson from Texas.  Both were probably snubbed by the draft.  Both played in major conferences.  

Both are smart – Anderson played three years at Rice and reportedly can solve a Rubik’s cube behind his back. And don’t sleep on Marshall safety Malik Gant, who went from walk-on to team MVP in his four years.

- The Patriots have needs at those positions.  Preparation + Opportunity = Luck.  And that’s all you need.  

- What the Kansas City Chiefs need is an organizational lobotomy. Tyreek Hill?  Should never see a football field again, unless he’s mowing the grass.  

Ownership – Clark Hunt, specifically – is the root of a systemic problem, with tolerance of misbehavior and misdeeds on the roster, stemming from Jovan Belcher’s murder and suicide in 2012 to signing noted abuser Frank Clark this off-season.

But hey, they’re a top AFC contender to make a run at the Super Bowl again, right?  Is that with or without work-release as an option?

- My goodness.  That must have been some locker room in Storrs at one time.  Old friend Dave Borges reported this week ex-UConn coach Kevin Ollie sued his ex-assistant Glen Miller for slander, saying Miller lied to the NCAA about his paying a recruit to gain revenge for Ollie firing him in 2017.

Whoa.  This could be some soap opera.  “As The Huskies Turn” could be in for a long, legal haul.  Just sayin’.

- Speaking of hoop scandal, the continuing trial in New York noted this week that former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson was recorded (wire-tapped) when complaining he had to dip into his own pocket to pay recruits.  His salary was $250K per year, and he said he even dipped into retirement accounts to pay recruiting ‘costs.’

Not for nuthin,’ but stupid is as stupid does.

And he absolutely threw his former boss, Sean Miller, under the bus – testifying Miller insisted on paying Deandre Ayton $10,000 per month and was also using his own money to keep his players happy.  How is he not suspended from the University of Arizona right now, at the very least?  

Three words = because he wins.

- ICYMI, the NCAA will now allow championships to be held in states where single-game sports betting exists.  You can now expect March Madness and/or a Final Four to materialize in Vegas, ASAP.

Butler this week received a commitment from Derek Smits, the 7-foot son of former NBA big man Rik Smits, as a grad transfer from Valpo.

Seton Hall’s Myles Powell has signed with an agent, but thanks to the amended rules surrounding draft eligibility this year, he still has until May 29th to decide if he’s in or out.

- Villanova’s Eric Paschall reportedly earned an NBA Combine invitation this week, and the Wildcats are waiting to hear if Phil Booth will get the chance to join him.

URI will play at WVU December 1st, on a Sunday, according to  That should put the PC-URI game on the following Saturday at the Dunk, December 7th, if the form chart of playing the first Saturday in December holds out. 

What will a trip to the Final Four bring?  Apparently more than just a new pair of shoes for Chris Beard at Texas Tech.  Beard has a new, six-year extension that breaks open the bank to the tune of $4.575 million per season.

Coaches that are higher paid than Beard?  John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski.  And that’s it.

- One-time Ed Cooley assistant Bob Simon has returned to coaching, joining Carmen Maciariello’s new staff at Siena.  What goes around, comes around – Simon helped bring Maciariello aboard Cooley’s staff at Fairfield before they all moved onto Providence.

Former Friar great, and ex-Brown/Hartford assistant John Linehan is expected to join Jay Young’s new staff at Fairfield, reports CBS’s Jon Rothstein.

- Bravo, Burger King.  I’ve always wondered when McDonald’s “Happy Meals” might get their comeuppance.  BK, partnered with Mental Health America, is rolling out “Unhappy Meals” in several markets. Their ad line – “No one is happy all the time, and that’s ok.”

Whopper, fries and a drink.  My old staple in younger, leaner years, and they certainly made me happy. But my favorite, newly-named ‘unhappy meal’ is called the “DGAF” – as in “Don’t Give a F***.”  

I’m not making this up.  Maybe I shouldn’t give a, well…and maybe just order one?  We can have it our way, you know.  Can I order a “Red Sox still suck” meal?

- PC’s lacrosse team stunned Villanova on a last-second tying goal, then scored just seconds off the face-off in OT to win their way into the Big East Tournament in Denver (yes, Denver) this week.  In a three-way tie for second, it’s their best finish since the inception of the current league in 2010.

Tate Boyce was named Big East Goalkeeper of the Year, leading a defense that gave up less than 10 goals per game – 12thnationally. Just couldn’t hold up to that in a 13-12 semifinal loss to 17thranked Georgetown.

Brown gets top-seed Penn Friday night in the Ivy semifinals, while Bryant had six players receive all-NEC honors, finishing their season with a loss to Brown for the Ocean State Cup.

- Bryant baseball sits atop the NEC at 32-14 on the season after a 10-inning loss this week to Northeastern, while URI baseball (18-23) dropped a tough, 2-1 decision to Boston College on Tuesday.  The Rams are 9-6 in the A-10, however, and currently tied for 4th. 

When can sports and politics stop mixing?  When lame-brained school administrators, like those at Andover High School this week, stop allowing politics and agendas to intercede with the actual teaching of their students. Two hundred students walked out in protest over the firing of hockey coach Chris Kuchar and his assistants.

Oh, the coach won’t play my child!  The coach is too mean!  The coach hates my kid!  The coach has no clue!  Maybe the coach actually has a clue, and you don’t want to admit it?  Lessons do go beyond winning and losing at this level, ya’ know.

- Forgive me all, for I have sinned.  I have not watched one minute of Game of Thrones.  17.8 million of you did this past Sunday night.  What have I missed?

- I never had the chance to work with him, even though our lives and careers paralleled each other.  Tom Ellis started his news career in Texas, graduating from the University of Texas 26 years before I did – then came to Boston where he wasthe TV news’ anchorman of his time.  

Ellis anchored top-rated shows at all three major Boston affiliated stations, and I was saddened to learn of his passing this week at 86 years old.  He had quite the career.

- The owner of the original “Runyon’s” in Manhattan, where the entire media world used to hang out, drink, swap stories and eat steaks at 4:00 am in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, passed away this week.  Joe Healey knew just about everyone who walked through his door, including Bill Raftery, Bob Costas, Mike Lupica, Bob Ryan, Mike Tranghese and many other big names from the sports world.   

Athletes, referees, umpires and coaches used to hang at Runyon’s too, including a once wide-eyed kid from Texas who thought he had died and gone to sports heaven when he first walked in and schmoozed with some of the aforementioned playaz.  A “frat house for sports people” was what Lupica called it.  

It was our era’s Toots Shor’s, where the sports world gathered in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s and made famous all over again by the movie “61,” where Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris used to hang out. Man, those were the days. 4 am, eating a steak.  Miss that place.  And that diet.

- The Providence Journal ran a story this week about Vice Chairman Mike Tamburro’s involvement in an effort to bring another affiliated minor league baseball team to Rhode Island.  While the smart-a** in me would say you already have one on its’ way across the border, this gesture shows who Mike Tamburro really is.

Invested.  In. Us.  In Rhode Island.  And I think Ben Mondor would be proud of that.  Hope it can actually happen and count me in if this group needs support.

The ProJo story mentioned the Atlantic League Long Island Ducks (independent, non-affiliated Class AA caliber) submitted a proposal to move into McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.  Any affiliated team (with MLB) would need the Pawsox, er, Woosox permission to move in.

- So they swept the Oakland A’s this week.  Steps in the right direction, or steps further out onto the plank?  Chris Sale can’t pitch to save his life right now, and Eduardo Rodriguez is as undisciplined and clueless on the mound as a pitcher can be.  

That’s still a full 40 percent of the rotation you cannot count upon. Yet.  Throw in the way-under achievers (Bradley, Pearce, Devers…should I continue?) elsewhere, and it’s not hard to see why a 108-win team a year ago is still under .500 30+ games into this season.

And count on the blowpen, er, bullpen to lose a few for you…like Ryan Brasier did Thursday night in Chicago, turning a potential win into a walk-off loss to the White Sox. But Brasier also had help from another Rafael Devers’ error beforehand to keep the ChiSox chances alive.  

- I mean, it was a routine ground ball.  Devers still threw it away.  Can’t make this stuff up.

- Hey, Danny Ainge?  Listen to your heart.  Literally, for your own sake.  I’d be nice to keep you around.

- The Celtics got what they came for – a split in Milwaukee. Split at home this weekend, at least, and they’re very much in this thing.  I’ll take Kyrie over the Greek Freak in a Game 7, if they can get there.

- My bad.  Hope I didn’t jinx ‘em.  Told the Duck Boats to rev their engines last week for the Bruins, before they lost Game 2 and 3 to Columbus.  I’ll take the heat.  But so should Brad Marchand, too, for his Game 3 cheap shot.  

- I don’t know about you, but I’ll lay a sheckle or two on the horse who got into the Kentucky Derby because the favorite, Omaha Beach, scratched this week.  Bodexpress. That’s a story worth rooting for.

- ESPN The Magazine had a lot of stories worth rooting for over the past 21 years, but the publication announced this week it would shut down production.  Reportedly, ESPN has been losing money on the mag for several years, with the website gaining more traction lately.

Embrace those sports magazines, if you still have them. They’re disappearing faster than a fart flies in the wind.  I have 40 years of old SI’s still around, but my lady buddy Bobbie doesn’t think they’re clutter.  Instead, they’re ‘treasures.’  And memories.

- A big ‘High Five’ to Channel 5’s Mike Lynch, who announced this week he would step down from the WCVB sports anchor desk in August.  Glad to hear he’s still going to contribute, but now also enjoy more time with his family after 37 years at the station.  That’s a career and a half.

- My buddy “Big E” sez a Zen master-looking guy stepped up to a hot dog cart in front of him in New York recently, and asked the vendor to “make him one with everything.”  So the vendor did just that, handed it back and the Zen master dude paid with a $20 bill. 

The hot dog guy put the twenty in his cash drawer and closed it. The Zen master asked, “where’s my change?”  The hot dog vendor replied, “change must come from within.”

- The now-iconic cartoon character, SpongeBob Squarepants, turned 20 years old this week.  Man, that must be one ripe pineapple under the sea.

The Nickelodeon creation is goofy, childish and extremely corny. But maybe that’s why he and his character friends (Patrick Star, Squidward Tentacles, Eugene Crabs, Plankton and Sandy Cheeks) endure?  

They’re never condescending.  They’re adults, masquerading as kids, to kids.  Big kids, too.  Adult life and adult situations are masked by a cartoon veneer, which resonates with kids and adults.  Their creator, Stephen Hillenburg, passed away last year but the characters live on, never afraid to be daring.

Besides, they make money for the network, too.  Or have you not heard there’s a new SpongeBob movie, video games and amusement park rides on the way?  Yeah he’s 20, spongy, and still going strong.  Cha-ching!

- @SteveMaurano tweeted at me this week, on the Red Sox plight: “Have to do something with (Steve) Pearce. Injured list (most likely option), minors (if doable) or even release.  He looks totally lost at the plate.”

Steve: Can’t imagine there are too many athletes who have had a more recent, humbling experience than Pearce.  From World Series MVP – to this?  A 4-for-39 start at the plate with 19 strikeouts?  He did start this season on the IL with a calf injury, but that might have as much to do with the very poor training camp regimen the Sox clearly put the team through.  Or didn’t put them through.  They were not ready to start this season.

And big-league plate appearances are not the place to work out your troubles.  

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,

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