The recent weather in Maine has been hotter than NESN reporter Jenny Dell, so there’s a slight chance I might be suffering from heat-induced delusions. But when it comes to the Red Sox, I think I can see clearly now; the rain is gone. While these thoughts might make you a bit overheated, here’s what I think about the rest of the Sox regular season.
There will be no playoffs again this year. Sox are at .500 as we speak. Sure, they’re getting healthier every day, but unless they have three quality starting pitchers coming off the DL (they don’t), they’re going nowhere. Message to John Farrell: “Please come back!” Sox pitchers have struggled since he has been gone. The bullpen has been serviceable, but without a few guys who can get you to the seventh inning consistently, there’ll be no October baseball for Boston again this year.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “Opinions are like butts: everyone has one.” Well, when you’re in sports talk radio or you write a sports column, in my opinion you really need one. An opinion that is. And some predictions too. Lots of both make for good radio. Some people must think you’re a genius. The rest should regard you as something lower than a snake’s belly. If you’re in between you’re radio vanilla and at some point you will be passed over for a new and more exciting flavor.
But above all else, you must embrace being wrong. It happens to everyone. I still remember Peter Gammons saying flat out there was no way the Red Sox would ever trade Manny Ramirez. Two weeks later, Manny was being Manny in LA.
Having written this column since 2007 and worked almost eight years doing sports talk radio on WZON and now on the FOX Sports Maine network with Rich Kimball, I’ve given a boatload of opinions and predictions. I got a few right. I bombed on a bunch too.
I have so many topics to write about its making my head spin right round baby right round. (Anytime I can get some 80’s music lyrics in the first sentence, it’s going to be a good column.)
An injury to Derek Rose was just what the doctor, as in Doc Rivers, ordered. Now instead of losing in the second round, the Celtics will most likely beat the 8th-seeded Sixers and play in the Eastern Conference Finals. I know KG and crew had some success against Miami late in the year, which has Green Teamers thinking another trip to the Finals. But as much as I can’t stand Lebron and the Heat, me getting my own reality show is more likely than a Celtics series win, which means the “New Big Three” era in Boston will end. It’s been a nice five-year run resulting in one NBA title and another Finals appearance. Let’s be happy with that because KG, Ray Allen and maybe even Rondo will be somewhere else next season.
Joe Buck won the sports Emmy for best play by play recently. Yes, he is smooth, knowledgeable and talented on Fox Sports. But do you know anyone who enjoys his play by play? Me either. It’s like when they give the Oscar for Best Picture so some artsy flick that five people on the entire planet took the time to see. Buck is good, like caviar. But I don’t know many people who really like either one.
Call it a midlife crisis if you like, but the fact remains that to put my life in sports vernacular, most likely the first half and even halftime are both over. Second half action is underway. As I crossed the 40 yard line heading for the 50 at a rapid pace, I realized that even in Japan, which has the highest life expectancy on the planet at 82, I’m running smack dab into Heartbreak Hill in the marathon of life. As Coach Bill wisely says, “It is what it is.” I’m happy, lucky and blessed. Great family. Good job. Pretty decent health albeit carrying a slightly larger waistline than I featured in the first quarter of this game called life. But generally speaking my wife shouldn’t worry about me bringing a sports car home anytime soon.
As I wonder what will be different about the second half of life, I think sports may play a smaller role than it has so far. Like so many boys, much of my spare time growing up was consumed with playing sports. I have paid the rent by covering sports for many years of my adult life as a sports anchor and reporter at WLBZ TV and sports talk host on WZON radio.
And, perhaps like you, I’ve been a rabid and passionate fan. I consider myself lucky that in the first 40 years or so of my existence I have seen about all I need to see.
I’m talking about the animosity built up between two teams and their fans over the course of generations. As the cliché goes, “Throw the records out when these two rivals meet.”
It seems ever since "The Bucket List," starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, came out a couple of years ago, everyone has been working on their own bucket list. For the record, a bucket list is a list of things you hope to accomplish before you kick the bucket.
I recently reconnected with an old (she will not appreciate that word) high school friend through the wondrous technology that is Facebook. She told me she had put together a bucket list. It contained very reasonable items such as visit Niagara Falls and vacation in Hawaii. Her list got me thinking; maybe I should assemble a sports bucket list. As the song says, "The lines on my face are getting clearer."
Here's what I have come up with in no particular order:
Things change in sports all the time. Some changes are sudden, but most often they're very subtle and gradual. You don't notice anything different, but then one day you look up and say, "When the heck did that happen?" One such change is happening right now, right here.
Eastern Maine is very engaged with the local sports scene. Sure, we love our regional professional teams. But since they're all more than 200 miles to the south, high school, UMaine and Husson rightfully garner the bulk of the fandom around these parts. Yet coverage of local sports is changing, and we're not far from waking up and saying, "What the heck happened to local sports reporting?"
Let's start with sports talk radio. WZON AM 620 had been one for the premier local sports stations in the country for much of the past two decades. But due to owner Stephen King's passion for left-wing politics and what I maintain is general mismanagement of Zonecorp, WZON's sports talk flame is slowly but surely being snuffed out. I hear from people every day who tell me how much they miss local sports talk on the radio.
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