Thinking out loud … while wondering how Arnold Palmer actually came up with the idea for an Arnold Palmer.
— I am not one for wild celebrations when it comes to winning championships. Always have preferred the “Been there, done that” philosophy of carrying yourself like a champion should — with grace, maturity and some modicum of sportsmanship. And I’ve never been more convinced of this after watching the Red Sox flop their way into one of the most awkward, ill-placed, ill-timed victory celebrations I’ve ever seen.
— Do the Sox deserve to celebrate winning the AL East? Of course they do. After two last-place finishes in a row since their last one, I’d ask: What took you so long?
— But does that give you the right to appear as if you’ve been unleashed from the La Brea Tar Pits, replete with foul language bombs going off every 10 seconds during an amateurish, ungraceful and coerced locker room celebration after getting walked-off by the New York Yankees on Wednesday night?
— “Hey, at least they won. Better than the alternative,” says the overwhelming majority of Red Sox Nation. Fine, I certainly can accept that. But personally, it’s embarrassing. Having had the chance to be in a few locker rooms where champagne with beer chasers were wild and plentiful, none of those moments compared to the unbridled, ill-mannered exhibition witnessed Wednesday night by a regional/national audience.
— NESN is just as bad as the players, in terms of the lack of class and decorum the network happily allowed to be displayed. I’m all for celebrating titles, but try to stay classy Boston, will ya? You just had your butts beaten, by your arch rivals. Families with kids watch this, you know. No need to resort to Cro-Magnon-like behavior. We’ve advanced as a species — I think — over the past few centuries, haven’t we?
— Maybe I should lighten up. It’s all in fun. But maybe we all should continue to subscribe to the “dumbing down of America” we’re witnessing every day during this election period, too? Does anyone care about raising our collective level of intelligence and decorum around here?
— Not for nuthin’, but it’s as if our brains and our common sense have begun a slow, spiraling descent into various forms of lawlessness and disorder, all melting into a giant cesspool of greed, avarice and feeble simplemindedness. Pardon me, pass the pabulum.
— And speaking to that, the pitching meltdown displayed by alleged closer Craig Kimbrel and fellow reliever Joe Kelly on Wednesday night was a perfect example of precisely why I don’t believe this team has the legs to win it all. Or the arms, either.
— Which brings me to the antithesis of these behavioral issues to which I’m referring, and the passing last weekend of golfing great Arnold Palmer, at age 87. He was class, personified. Gracious, but as tough a competitor as you could find. Loved so many of the stories about personal interaction with Arnie over the past week, I’ll share a few here.
— Leading off with something Palmer once said himself about the sport, and if you play the sport you fully understand this: “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening. And it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind ever invented.”
— The first “clinching” opportunity of the week for the Red Sox was botched by David Price, who may be picking a predictable time for his game to go south. Nope, not bullish on these Sox at all. They were talented enough to win a multi-flawed division. But the Series?
— Hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see it. The offense scores in bunches and hibernates at inopportune times. The pitching is sometimes sharp, but most of the time lacks guts. And character.
— David Ortiz, thank you. Does anything more really need to be said?
— The tragedy surrounding the death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez last weekend was sad, sure. The outpouring of emotion from his teammates and others in baseball was equally touching. But speeding on a boat at 3 in the morning?
— It leaves me with this thought, which is preached to both college and professional athletes, and bears repeating: “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.”
— “He looked like an athlete, a prizefighter, a middleweight. He opened golf’s windows and let in some air. He lifted a country-club game, balanced it on his shoulders, carried it to the people and made it a sport.” — Tom Callahan of Golf Digest, on Arnold Palmer
— I get the feeling that Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan is making his last stand this weekend in Foxboro. Should the Patriots win, his team effectively drops four games behind, and he and his playful personality no doubt will wear further on team ownership.
— I like Rex. His personality is good for the game, often confused for being the “No Fun League.” But can the man coach? He struggles managing, and dictating authority. His teams usually are less than disciplined. If Buffalo loses at Gillette Sunday — and the Pats are 13-1 against the Bills in the building — it may be a neck-and-neck race between Sexy Rexy and Jacksonville’s Gus Bradley as the first coaches to find the unemployment line this season.
— Jimmy or Jacoby? That’s not even a question, but one asked by countless thousands of Patriot fans this week. Look, Garoppolo is better right now — period. But a healthy(er) Brissett stands to give the Patriots a better chance of beating Buffalo than a one-armed Jimmy G.
— Don’t be surprised, however, if Brissett’s thumb injury “worsens.” With two roster spots to clear before welcoming back TB12 and Rob Ninkovich next week, it’s likely someone on the team will find himself with a surprise appearance on the injured reserve list.
— “Man, he was Everyman, only way better. He’d hike up his khakis and swing like a blacksmith, then cock his head to one side in hopes he could find his ball so he could do something miraculous on the next shot. He just … battled … and then kept battling. A life lesson there, for sure.” — Paul Alexander, a former sports broadcaster and current TV news director, on Palmer
— Game No. 101 between Brown and URI on the gridiron is Saturday at Meade Stadium in Kingston, Rhode Island. Kickoff is set for noon, and chances are No. 101 turns out much like No. 100 did, a 41-31 Bears victory. And, like any of the past five games between the two have turned out — all Brown wins. But in rivalry games, you just never know.
— Governor Gina Raimondo said this week she was staying neutral with her rooting interests, which was the politically correct thing to do, of course. But just once, wouldn’t you like to hear a pol yell “Go Rhody!” or “Go Bruno!” Constituency be damned, root for who you follow.
— After all, the Governor only has, what — a 38 percent approval rating in the state? How many people would she actually be upsetting here?
— My buddy Bernie sez he waited a long time in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles last week, trying to renew his driver’s license. As he finally got to the window, the clerk asked how she could help him. Bernie told her he needed to get a haircut, so could she save his spot in the line? The clerk then asked, “Why couldn’t you get your hair cut before you came here?” Bernie, ever the wise guy, simply said he didn’t need one before he got there.
— Providence College finally breaks ground on the long-awaited Ruane Friar Development Center this weekend, at noon Saturday. The basketball-centric facility should take approximately 15 months to go from shovel to shingles (so to speak) before the basketball team can begin the move-in process.
— And while Late Night Madness (complete with DJ Diesel, aka Shaquille O’Neal) is just two weeks away, and the first exhibition game only four weeks away, Coach Ed Cooley is leaving. For one night only, however, as he will speak at his former place of employment, Fairfield University, on Oct. 5.
— The NBC Sports Network announced it will carry a schedule of at least 35 Atlantic 10 basketball games this season, including exclusive coverage of the second round and quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament in Pittsburgh. Four URI games will be featured, including home games with UMass and St. Bonaventure, and road games at Duquesne and George Mason. The games also will be streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
— File this one under “Stupid is as stupid does.” Now, the Big 12 may be leaning toward no expansion at all. Oklahoma President David Boren apparently does not support any expansion of the conference, according to a report this week from Sports Illustrated. If this is true, it would take only one other dissenter within the league to kill any expansion plans.
— BYU, with its anti-LGBTQ stance, is on the outs. Houston remains as a solid favorite should expansion still take place, with Cincinnati waiting in the wings as a second choice. Houston’s candidacy is supported by Texas, which is upsetting Oklahoma, because Oklahoma doesn’t ever support what Texas wants. Grow up, boys, and get a plan. Or don’t get one, and stick with it. Sheesh.
— “If you met Arnold Palmer, you felt special, because he made you feel special. With his firm handshake and a twinkle in his eyes, he became one of the true icons of the last 60 years of American sports. He was one of the most successful golfers to ever play the game, yet his fame transcended golf.” — Dave Goren, executive director of the National Sports Media Association and former sportscaster at WJAR-TV Channel 10 in Providence
— Anyone else surprised with Paul Pierce’s pronouncement that this will be his last NBA season? The one-time Celtics icon says his current LA Clippers team deserves to be mentioned with other league contenders this year as a “super” team. Maybe this is his way of charging up the ol’ batteries one more time?
— Al Horford showed up early, Jae Crowder showed up healthy, and Friars fans wonder if Ben Bentil will show up at all in his attempt to make the Celtics roster as training camp begins. It will come down to about a 1-in-4 shot at grabbing the last seat on Boston’s bench for Bentil, and yes, camp injuries will be a factor.
— Should injuries occur to others, it might be his best bet to make it.
— Former Providence Bruins winger Frank Vatrano had surgery this week to repair torn foot ligaments. The injury is expected to keep him off of the ice for about three months, after having a strong rookie season in both Providence and Boston. In the meantime, Boston will hope another rookie can step forward much like Vatrano did last year.
— The Bruins re-signed Brad Marchand this week, an eight-year extension for $49 million. Too much? Probably. But lose him, and the Bruins probably head back to the ice age. Which was before the stone age, wasn’t it?
— Hockey East appears to be the preeminent collegiate hockey conference in America again this season, with five league teams ranked in the preseason national top 10 by USCHO. At media day this week, Boston University was voted in by the coaches as the preseason favorite. The Terriers are ranked fourth nationally.
— PC’s Friars were ranked in the top 10 by the USCHO, at No. 10. But Providence, the defending Hockey East champ, was a mere fifth in the preseason league vote of the coaches. BU, UMass-Lowell, Notre Dame and Boston College were ranked above PC in the national poll.
— “As the statements poured out in the wake of Arnold Palmer’s death on Sunday night — ranging from 23-year-old Jordan Spieth to 76-year-old Jack Nicklaus to the President of the United States, I was struck by one thing: Almost no one said anything about Palmer’s golf. It was all about the man. No one understood and embraced the responsibilities of stardom the way Arnold Palmer did.” — Author and sportswriter John Feinstein
— As the biannual American golf embarrassment known as the Ryder Cup is underway, the most significant U.S. victory I saw this week was an American heckler putting his putter where his mouth was after ragging on Team Europe’s Rory McIlroy. North Dakota’s David Johnson was challenged by England’s Justin Rose to step up and sink a 12-foot putt for $100 — and Johnson obliged.
— Hope the Americans call on this guy Johnson when they need a few putts to go in this weekend, as they have lost five of the past six Ryder Cup events to the Europeans.
— Watch NBC political reporter Katy Tur following Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail. Watch her facial expressions, and listen to what she says. Am I wrong, or does she severely dislike a candidate she should be impartial about? Listen, sis, your likes or dislikes don’t matter here. Cover the story. If you don’t like it — or him — go cover something else. Like a real circus.
— Or, NBC has a decidedly liberal bent and purposely put Tur on the Trump beat. You can debate and decide which is true.
— Monday Night Football had its lowest ratings — ever — for Atlanta and New Orleans this week, up against the presidential debate. Wonder if the NFL knew about the calendar conflict beforehand and purposely set up a dog of a game for no one to watch, outside of those two cities?
— I favor neither candidate after watching this week’s debate, and it’s funny that the Twitter hashtag #Trumpwon was set up to initially mock Trump and his performance but ended up trending and basically backfiring on Hillary Clinton’s supporters. Gotta love social media.
— Did I hear correctly? The person responsible for, um, erasing some emails from Clinton’s servers is a Rhode Islander? Can’t make this stuff up. Shoot, that’s big time. But we’ve known Lil’ Rhody has long had a propensity for big time political “deals,” haven’t we?
— I’m convinced that the national media is more biased now than it ever has been when it comes to presidential politics. Now it’s all about having an opinion or a “hot take,” just like in sports talk radio. That’s a truly sad state of affairs. When it comes to things that affect me and my life, I don’t need or want someone to tell me their opinion. I need and want someone to report the facts. Just sayin’.
— Watching the debate and the subsequent coverage on TV this week, I’ve come to the conclusion that real journalism is dying, if it ain’t already dead.
— Just how did the “Arnold Palmer,” the iced drink mix of tea and lemonade, actually come into being? Palmer certainly wasn’t the first to order it, or even create it, but his persona was such that it influenced others to name it for him. It seems Palmer’s late first wife Winnie simply put a little lemonade in a batch of iced tea she had made, at Palmer’s request, and Palmer started taking a Thermos bottle of it with him to the golf course. Palmer’s website reports that he once ordered the drink by description (two parts tea, one part lemonade) after a particularly hot day on a course in Palm Springs, and a lady listening nearby thought the drink sounded refreshing. She drew a lot of attention by requesting “an Arnold Palmer.” The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
— Mike from Connecticut (@CTMc12) tweeted this week: I personally would miss Rex ‘s ying to Bill’s yang if the division lost him. Mike: Agreed. The two undoubtedly respect each other for their football coaching abilities, but Rex Ryan’s personality — while sometimes resembling that of hormone-infused teenager — remains a refreshing option to the “strictly business” persona carried forth by Bill Belichick. If Rex is fired, who would we have to kick around? Besides the Jets, I mean?
— 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke.
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