Thinking Out Loud: Celtics' momentum, Bergie's future and the voices in Mac's head

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Thinking out loud, while wondering if money talks, why does mine always say ‘good-bye?’

Twenty-two to two. Twenty-two to two? That was the run put on the Celtics by Miami in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals’ Game One Tuesday night during the 3rd quarter of Boston’s 118-107 loss.

I mean you, me and three guys from Prospect Street could have scored more than that. As long as one of those guys is Joe Hassett.

It shows how fragile momentum really is – and the Celtics had a lot of it going in. Then, had their chairs pulled out from under them with the late scratch from Marcus Smart, and the Covid protocols ensnaring Al Horford.

It also shows how fragile life today still is, too. See, this Covid thing isn’t going away. Horford’s absence, no doubt, cost his team. Let’s hope it doesn’t cost more than that.

It certainly didn’t Thursday night in Game 2. The Celts are now 4-0 following a loss in these playoffs. Down double digits early, they turned in a 39-10 run of their own to put the Heat on ice.

Dialing it back for just a bit - dispatching the champs, too? Great series with Milwaukee. Back and forth. Full of drama. The Celtics and the Bucks played a 40-year throwback series, replete with physicality, team effort and an unstoppable force in Milwaukee’s Greek Freak.

And Boston overcame. Well played. Yes, the Bucks missed Khris Middleton, but the C’s missed Robert Williams.

Not surprised to see NBA TV numbers through two rounds of the playoffs are up 19% over last year, averaging 3.71 million viewers per game – the best audience since 2014.

It has been fun to watch. Compelling storylines and competition.

Which is a change from the iso-ball stuff we usually see with LeBron, Kyrie and a few others involved these days. Did I say that out loud?

Hey, you know Pat Bev (the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Pat Beverly) is just playin’ ya’ll, right? Think the dude has probably won his self a TV job when his playing days are over…

A word about the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron – thanks. Regardless of his decision to skate another day or hang ‘em up, he’s the standard-bearer for the spoked “B” logo. He has been fun to watch, and to pull for.

He can still play. The decision to retire always seems toughest for those who have a little gas left in the tank. Does he?

Tough crowd in Vegas. Tough job, too, which is kinda ridiculous. Peter DeBoer (who replaced Gerard Gallant) was fired this past week after the Golden Knights missed on the playoffs for the first time. Like ever. They won their division in three of their first four seasons of existence.

Five pitches in the first inning. Five home runs allowed in the second inning. Never seen anything like that before, and I’ll wager Nathan Eovaldi never wants to see anything like it again.

That feat for Houston Tuesday night was a franchise first for the Astros, too, ICYMI. Since the days of the Colt 45’s (pre-Astros) dating to 1962, they had never hit five dingers in an inning. In fact, it’s only been done EIGHT times in major league history, dating back to the first time it happened in 1939.

And then Nick Pivetta throws a complete game Wednesday night, the first for the Sox pitching staff in three years. Wait, wut?

One of those five homers on Tuesday was hit by Providence Classical High School (and Maine) alum Jeremy Pena, who was also making his Fenway Park debut that night. Disney couldn’t make this stuff up.

Good for him, fun for those guys. Whiplash for the Sox and for Eovaldi, who gave up nearly 2000 feet of long balls in one inning. Think the “new” baseball was put in play that night?

Just wondering…but could the Sox’ lack of success and apparent ownership apathy toward having a competitive, championship-caliber team be tied to Liverpool’s soccer success?

The Reds are after the UEFA Champions League title against Real Madrid Saturday. They won the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. They could still win the English Premier League if they can overtake Manchester City. Four championships in a single season?

No wonder John Henry has little time, and little more money, to spend on his woeful Sox. To the victors go the spoils…and the checkbook.

Speaking of soccer – MLS may be within striking distance of true global acceptance with the news this week Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi will join Inter Miami in 2023 and receive a 35% stake in the team. Wow.

Stat geek stat of the week – saw this one courtesy of The Athletic: The Yankees’ OPS is .835 in the 7th inning or later as of last weekend, more than 30 points higher than any other major league team. Whoa.

They’re crushing it. They have the best record in baseball, so…

…don’t look now, but the best baseball is probably being played in, gulp, New York. Between the Yankees and the Mets, what in the wide, wide world of sports is goin’ on there? The Yankees have a major league best eight games with at least three home runs.

And could the “new” baseball also be a factor in the aforementioned crushing?

Vince Wilfork’s election this week into the Patriots Hall of Fame by the fans is a) predictable b) a no-brainer c) deserving d) another correct prediction from Rookestradamus e) all of the above.

Extraordinarily popular with his peeps – dare I say, the most popular ex-Pat outside of TB12? Big Vince shares a bit of trivia with TB12 as well…as they are the only two Patriots’ players to have rings from both Super Bowl trilogies.

I gotta admit all sorts of second, third and fourth thoughts on the Patriots’ schedule have surfaced in the past week. When they get past the bye in Week 10 and a home game against the J-E-T-S to follow, three of the next four are on the road with the home game against Buffalo Dec. 1st.

Then, the defending AFC champ Bengals come to Gillette on Christmas Eve after roadies to Arizona and Vegas, baby. Not sure anyone inside Fort Foxboro will be in much of a holiday mood by that time.

And the TV execs believe the Patriots will get better as the season progresses? Better make hay early on…which will be hard to do with three of the first four ALSO on the road.

Did the coaches really say anything when asked about their job responsibilities, or job titles, this week? No. Did you expect them to say anything, considering who their boss is? C’mon now.

It’s much ado about nothing. Don’t be fooled by talk show fodder that insists Mac Jones needs ONE voice to tell him what to do. He does – his OWN.

When you get smacked in the mouth, everything you’ve learned is suddenly unimportant, if not forgotten. Survival, and the ability to thrive afterward, is instinctual. You’ve got it, or you don’t.

And if you don’t have it, no voice is going to help you. Have you ever played football?

Not for nuthin’, but kudos to the Pats’ PR staff – Stacey James, Aaron Salkin, Mike Jurovaty and Stephanie Burnham – for receiving the NFL’s Pete Rozelle Award, which is given out annually to the NFL team staff that consistently “strives for excellence” in dealing with the media.

It’s long overdue for this group. The Patriots’ staff is a big reason you get the kind of coverage you get, when reading/watching/listening to your favorite media-types.

Speaking of media-types, my buddy Erik Scalavino is moving on from his football coverage on after 16 years, and his opinion-making on the radio show I’ve hosted for 21 seasons, Patriots Playbook.

Once upon a time, Erik was an intern working with me at another radio station in Providence, and as an assignment manager at another former place of employment in the TV world. Hope whatever he has I don’t catch.

Seriously though, E Scal is a good one...both as a friend and a writer. And you should check out his non-profit, Nutmeg Animal Welfare. Wonderful cause. Wonderful person.

With success, a little rain always falls on the parade. Bills fans hoping to experience a new stadium for Buffalo in the next couple of years will apparently also experience seat licenses to help pay for their, um, experience.

ICYMI (and you probably didn’t) PC’s trip to Mohegan Sun next November (19th) will feature a first round game with Miami and Jim Larranaga in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. The Friars will face either Maryland, with new coach Kevin Willard, or A-10 contender Saint Louis for Game Two.

Next season’s Big 12-Big East Battle will send the Friars off to Fort Worth, TX for a 2nd time in three years to play Jamie Dixon’s TCU Horned Frogs on November 30th.

TCU beat Seton Hall in the recent NCAAs before losing to Arizona, and they’ve been projected as a Top 25-caliber team for next season – despite losing junior guard Damion Baugh this week to the NBA Draft. But all-Big 12 guard Mike Miles is back, and he faced PC two years ago.

The Horned Frogs broke a 35-year drought between NCAA wins with that victory over SHU, and they also won a program-record five games against ranked teams. A quality (Quad 1) opponent.

Other matchups to get the blood flowing: Creighton at Texas, Oklahoma at Villanova, Baylor at Marquette, Oklahoma State at UConn, West Virginia at Xavier, St. John’s at Iowa State, Seton Hall at Kansas (where I thought PC might be), Kansas State at Butler and Georgetown at Texas Tech.

Ed Cooley received the key to the city of Providence this week from Mayor Jorge Elorza, former State Senator Harold Metts – who was his one-time head coach at Central High School – and school superintendent Dr. Javier Montanez. Which was pretty cool.

If the Friars can somehow match last season’s efforts NEXT season? Mayor Elorza had better watch out for his job…that is, if Ed wants it.

In the “It’s Way Too Early” department: ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has six Big East teams presently pegged for the NCAA Tournament next March, with the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 featuring seven entrants. Creighton (3), Villanova (4), Xavier (7), UConn (9), Providence (10) and St. John’s (11) are the Big East seeded reps. Marquette is a “First Four Out.”

He’s undervalued the Blue Jays and Friars, overvalued the Wildcats and perhaps the Musketeers. But that’s just me. And we’ve seen exactly no one play yet, and won’t for almost six months, of course. Better to be mentioned in the mix than not, however.

Going out with a bang: Sportico reports Mike Krzyzewski was paid $12.5 million to coach the Duke Blue Devils in 2020-21, which made him the fourth highest-paid coach in America – pro or college. His money dwarfed numbers two and three on the college list (Kansas’ Bill Self $10.2 million, Alabama’s Nick Saban $9.8 million).

Anyone else notice two college basketball coaches were paid more than the highest-paid college football coach?

16th ranked UConn baseball won the Big East regular season, then went out and spanked Bryant 9-2 this week in Smithfield. All is not lost for the Bulldogs, however. They’re in second place in the NEC, one game back with three to play this weekend against Wagner.

Last week we wrote about the NCAA’s need to get a grip on some kind of national NIL policy guidance to keep irregularities (ok, illegalities) from overwhelming the collegiate landscape. And while many booster ‘collectives’ insist they’re above board, undoubtedly some will undergo microscopic scrutiny.

And suffer some not-so-microscopic consequences along with that scrutiny. That’s one of the bigger issues – the presently-toothless NCAA trying to enforce rules upon membership when they’d rather not be looking under the rug.

Last summer before this got started, the NCAA did say athletes are “allowed to engage in NIL activity that is protected by state law.”

As such, state legislatures have been scrambling to address this. 24 states have now passed NIL laws, sez Bloomberg this week, and many are amending laws to help their schools compete. Connecticut and Maine have NIL legislation in place.

Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire have proposed legislation – but have done next-to-nothing about it.

Rhode Island’s HB 6673 covers many of the common provisions as seen in other states’ laws, without prohibiting the use of school marks (logos) or endorsements in vice industries (like gambling, alcohol, and marijuana sales).

Yes, it’s quite likely someone, at some point, will endorse his or her favorite bud. Or Bud.

As sports betting gains in popularity across the country (outside of Massachusetts, of course), it appears more and more women are placing their bets on sports apps. FanDuel and DraftKings both added around a million new female users last year, up 115% from 2020. Men were only up 63%.

Psst. Hey Mass legislature? In 2021, sports betting revenue increased 179.7% from 2020 to a record $4.3 billion – from $57.2 billion in handle. Just sayin.’

The recent crypto crash will put a slight dent onto the body of the sports world, but apparently not enough of a scratch to keep major sponsors from withdrawing partnership deals and naming rights – yet. Like Miami’s FTX Arena.

Equal pay for USA women’s soccer? Cool. They usually exceed the men’s expectations and performance level. But now, no more campaigning or complaining about unequal pay and treatment. The opportunity is here. Time to deliver.

Major League Cricket? Yup.

So, Congress had a public hearing on UFO’s this week, in case you missed it. First time in more than 50 years. A preliminary report said there were 144 incidents of mysterious flying objects seen between 2004 and 2021 alone.

What the hell have they been waiting for? E.T. to actually phone home?

What I want to know…is when do we get the Star Trek “warp drive” technology so we can go spy on the aliens?

Speaking of aliens – NewsWhip reports this week more Americans are paying attention to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s trial than they are the economy, the war in Ukraine or Covid-19.  Five times as much attention on social media compared to the more worldly issues.

That’s nuts.

My buddy “Big E” sez he knows the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts. Beer nuts are usually 7.99 per can at the packy…but deer nuts are usually under a buck.

51-year-old Phil Mickelson is not at this week’s PGA Championship, trying to defend his title from a year ago that made him the oldest player to ever win a major. It’s too bad.

That’s because he suffers from foot-in-mouth disease, with his inflammatory comments made this winter about the PGA Tour (“That type of greed is, to me, beyond obnoxious”) and the new, Saudi-backed LIV League (“They’re scary mother (bleeps) to get involved with”).

He simply didn’t want to face the music, or the media scrutiny, for either his PGA criticism or his Saudi Arabian support. So, he lays low. That’s not just disappointing. That’s chicken (bleep).

Jack Nicklaus turned the Saudis down, twice, after they asked for his support and involvement – and their offer of more than $100 million. Greg Norman took them up on it.

The first LIV tournament is scheduled for London next month. Despite a handful of PGA players requesting releases to play, last week Golfweek broke the news that the Tour had denied releases for the likes of Mickelson, Robert Garrigus, and Lee Westwood, plus others who made requests.

That pairing of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Speith for the first two rounds of the PGA? A combined net worth of more than $1 billion. Somebody call security.

You think beer prices at Fenway…or at the Dunk…or at Gillette are bad? Those are downright bargains compared to the cost of a Michelob Ultra on the course at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, OK this week - $18 for one beer.

$19 for a Stella Artois. Who in their right minds is paying that price for THAT beer? The answer is – some schmo who wants to look smaht. Instead, stupid is as stupid does. Will they be offering beer at Saudi tournaments?

It should pair quite nicely with a $16 chicken Caesar salad though, amiright?

Never let it be said the PGA Tour or the USGA are behind the times. They aren’t, so get ready for next month’s US Open in Brookline – price gouging is this summers’ true sport of choice.

It’s also six bucks for a bottle of water on the course, with temperatures expected in the 90’s. Ah, ‘Merica.

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 We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here!  Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and join in on Facebook, ...

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