Thinking out loud … and wondering whatever happened to Michael Bishop.
— One of those rare occasions happened this week when the real world and the sports world collide — and excuse each other for the intrusion. The Bryant basketball team is touring Italy, situated in Rome, and was supposed to play in the town of Spoleto on Wednesday night — until a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy.
— That first game in Spoleto, not far from the quake’s epicenter and only about 20 minutes from one of the hardest-hit areas (Amatrice), was canceled. The tremors were felt in Rome, waking coach Tim O’Shea (as he reported via social media), and Bryant’s travel party is safe. But the death toll surpassed 240 late this week as rescue efforts continue in the mountainous central region of the country.
— Sport becomes a complete afterthought when faced with tragedy like this. And it should be. Bryant’s team traveled to Naples late in the week after completing its tour of Rome.
— Sometimes the stress and strain of directing a high major basketball program takes its toll in different ways. To the surprise of many, Providence basketball coach Ed Cooley underwent back surgery for a herniated disc this week. The athletic department reports Cooley’s surgery went well, and he expects to be back in the office next week at some point, with classes starting Aug. 29 — and he certainly expects to be back coaching the team for the start of preseason workouts in October.
— The third annual Providence Basketball Classic will be held Saturday (Aug. 27) at Jorge Alvarez High School in Providence from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eight teams of former pro and college players from New England will compete in a single-elimination tournament, competing for a cash prize, and there will be a high school all-star game as well. Backpack giveaways for the start of school, school supplies and free haircuts are a part of the festivities, and admission is only $3.
— About 1,000 fans attended last year’s event, which is the creation of former Johnson & Wales all-American Lamonte Thomas. Thomas is preparing for his fifth season of playing professionally in Europe. Cool that he continues to give back to the community by hosting this event.
— ICYMI, Tomas Murphy, who hails from Wakefield, Rhode Island, is headed to Northeastern to play his college ball for coach Bill Coen. Coen and Murphy’s dad, Jay, are long-time friends with Boston College connections, and Murphy’s brothers (Erik and Alex) played at Florida under Billy Donovan. Butler, Pittsburgh and Georgia also were in the final mix until the end.
— Don’t know if you noticed this one, either, but Hartford guard Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas was given his release, and he will be a graduate transfer for someone this year. Thomas, with one of the college game’s great nicknames, needed a transfer waiver from Hartford even though he graduated because he already transferred previously from New Mexico.
— Thomas came off of the bench to face the Friars last season (six points, five rebounds in 23 minutes) and averaged 18.9 points per game (43 percent from 3) for the Hawks overall.
— Another football loss for Boston College? This one wasn’t on the field — at least not yet. WBZ-TV sportscaster Steve Burton’s son Austin is heading to UCLA and not to BC, as was his original intent. Burton-the-dad played his college ball at Northwestern, and Burton-the-kid is a multitalented QB from Newton South who transferred to West Orange High School in Winter Haven, Florida, for his senior year.
— Not for nuthin’, but the annual New England Sports and Media Poll, conducted by Channel Media and Market Research, surveyed nearly 15,000 New England sports fans by email on various topics this summer for a fifth straight year. Among the rather strange results, while the Patriots once again were voted the most popular team (over the Red Sox, and it’s not close), an astounding number of the same fans feel Roger Goodell should keep his job as NFL commissioner.
— That one pretty much boggles my Deflategate-addled mind. Stupid is as stupid does is all I got.
— While Patriots owner Robert Kraft received the highest approval rating among the pro sports ownership (at 67 percent), the Celtics brass received just 8 percent. Unfair, ignorant or stupid is as stupid does? I think we’ve got a theme emerging here.
— Where did Channel Media and Market Research find these fans? New Englanders, really? Will anyone actually lay claim to being one of them?
— While the Bruins finished third in the favorite team category (ahead of the Celtics), B’s management rated so poorly it finished behind the New England Revolution in ownership performance. Whoa. My faith in the New England sports fan is restored, somewhat. Just sayin’.
— Let’s see if I’ve got this straight: The NFL is redefining the categories for injury reports this year. No more “probable” on game status reports. Just “doubtful” and “questionable.” Practice reports no longer will categorize “out,” just “DNP,” “limited” or “full participation.” Yeah, that will clear things up a bunch. Thanks.
— Could Josh Gordon work in New England? Lots of teams are looking, but so far Cleveland says no dice to trading the mercurial wide receiver. One more “Johnny Football” is something the Browns don’t need more of, however.
— The Patriots did get Cleveland to bite on LB Barkevious Mingo, in exchange for a future draft pick. This is precisely the kind of move that the Patriots have thrived with through the years, picking up players who somehow seem to have outlived their usefulness or never played up to their hype in other places. Mingo currently is playing on a one-year option deal, meaning he is playing for his next contract this year.
— This also is a move that immediately addresses a depth need at linebacker, and does it get any better than picking up a former first-rounder? Mingo was drafted by Cleveland when Michael Lombardi was the team’s general manager — the same Lombardi who was in the NE front office the past couple of seasons.
— In case you were wondering, Barkevious got his, um, unique first name from his mother, who added the first three letters of her name (Barbara) to a name she liked — Kevious. His father Hugh named his two older brothers — Hugh and Hughtavious. We now return you to your regularly scheduled incredulous disbeliefs.
— And how about this nugget? The Pats now own the No. 6 and 7 overall picks from the 2013 draft, as they obtained Jonathan Cooper from Arizona in the Chandler Jones trade. Reclamation or redemption, thy place is in New England.
— Wide receiver Nate Washington’s departure was not a surprise. Bryan Stork’s was, if only for depth (a key theme this year, if you haven’t been paying attention) on the offensive line. But Stork was a volatile personality with emerging concussive issues, and David Andrews simply had been the more reliable player. The deadline for the first round of cuts (to 75) is Tuesday at 4 p.m.
— With Stork’s trade to Washington for a future conditional draft pick, only Jimmy Garoppolo, James White, Cam Fleming and Jon Halapio remain from the 2014 draft. That was just two years ago, kids.
— Maybe you believe ESPN is agenda-driven, maybe you don’t. The truth about such matters is the answer usually is somewhere in the middle. Nevertheless, seven Patriots made the ESPN Top 100 player list for 2016, including Rob Gronkowski supplanting Tom Brady as the highest-ranked Pat (Gronk is No. 3, TB12 is 6).
— ESPN’s panel of 50 reporters and personalities also included Devin McCourty (50th), Jamie Collins (56th), Malcolm Butler (89th), Julian Edelman (93rd) and Dont’a Hightower (99th). Brady’s ranking is the second highest for a QB, behind Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
— I’m not so much bothered by Rodgers topping TB12 as I am Edelman ranking behind Seattle’s Doug Baldwin and San Diego’s Keenan Allen. Really? C’mon, man.
— After a disappointing 2-2 split with Tampa Bay (the Rays are third worst in the AL) the Red Sox return home for series with the Royals and Rays, then it’s on the road against the A’s and Padres. If the Red Sox truly are playoff worthy, they’ll prove it here.
— A 14-11 record on the road since the All-Star break, after Tampa Bay, isn’t terrible. But it could have been (should have been?) so much better, finishing 7-4 on the 11-game swing. One run against Rays pitching over the last 17 innings of the series? It matters not one whit Boston has the AL’s best offense when you can muster only a single blip against the third-worst team in the league.
— While rookie Andrew Benintendi’s game was beginning to catch on — literally, his leap over the outfield wall in St. Pete to rob Steven Souza of a home run was jaw-dropping worthy — his absence with a knee sprain and trip to the DL is simply terrible timing. Just when you thought the karma was coming around — Slap! — this is still the Red Sox we’re talking about here. Left field has been a black hole.
— And it’s still Clay Buchholz we’re talking about, too, even with his improvement the last couple of times out on the mound. I’d keep him in the pen, rather than the rotation, but that’s just me.
— The Globe’s Pete Abraham pointed out this week the Sox were 8-0 in Craig Kimbrel’s appearances since he came off of the disabled list — until Wednesday’s loss. In his nine games since returning, Kimbrel has 17 strikeouts in nine innings, and opponents are hitting a meek 2-for-30. Did someone throw a little extra somethin’-somethin’ into his pitching incentives, or is he merely healthy? Dude never looks like he really wants to be there.
— The New York Daily News reported this week the Yankees have offered to pay for Dwight Gooden’s drug rehab, if he’s willing to go. Former teammate Darryl Strawberry had put out a plea to get Gooden some help for his cocaine abuse, and the Yankees followed with the extremely gracious gesture. Except that Doc, age 51 and rail thin, says he’s fine and doesn’t need the help.
— If you’ve ever been involved with drug abuse through friends or family members, you know this is a typical response from those who need help the most. Here’s hoping somehow it works out for him.
— My buddy “Big E” is not a typical churchgoer. In fact, he rarely attends services, with the exception of holidays, weddings and funerals. He happened to attend last week and the minister was ready for him as “E” left the church to shake his hand. “You need to join the army of the Lord,” the minister said. “E” replied he was already in it. So the minister said, “How come I only see you at Christmas and Easter?” “Big E” was ready for the return volley, and whispered, “I’m in the Secret Service.”
— Out on the Left Coast this week, I had the chance to get involved for a few days in the San Francisco Giants’ National League West pennant chase with the Los Angeles Dodgers. And for the most part, just like the Sox, the Giants are leaving a lot to be desired in the competitiveness department when it seems their play matters most — Matt Moore’s near no-hitter Thursday aside.
— The consensus from “fans in the stands” at AT&T Park, as I was told, was, “We’re just not that good.” Feeling their pain, I offered them a possible Pablo Sandoval return, and had some takers. Dealer Dave, you listening?
— Oh. And the garlic fries at the park? Perfection personified. Highly recommended if you want personal space, too.
— The Providence Bruins’ schedule has been released, with the team opening at home in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Oct. 14 against Albany. New coach Kevin Dean recently hired former PC Friar Jay Leach and former P-Bruins captain Trent Whitfield as assistants.
— Missing the Olympics? If you consider yourself a millennial, the answer probably is yes. Even though TV ratings were down overall (30 percent from the London games for viewers aged 18-34), NBC claims millennials were there watching, all right. They were just watching the competition in non-traditional ways — like on their smartphones, tablets and computers.
— The Wall Street Journal reported this week that according to NBC Universal, nearly 50 million viewers streamed 3.4 billion minutes across the web and on mobile or connected devices. More than half of these viewers were under the age of 34. I believe it, because I still can’t figure out how to download the stupid app.
— Here’s a good tidbit for golf fans. The Olympic golf competition, in the final hour, had higher ratings than any of the four majors (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA) in their final hours. Put that in your driver and swing it. Those numbers actually might entice some of the professional wusses who couldn’t be bothered playing for their countries to tee it up in another four years in Tokyo, too.
— Ready for college football season? It kicks off — in all places — Sydney, Australia. Cal-Berkeley against Hawaii. What, Maui isn’t good enough? Bora Bora wasn’t available?
— Before you believe there might be a quarterback controversy in New England, do you remember the name Michael Bishop? It hasn’t been that long ago since Patriots fans anointed him as the next “Great One,” after he was selected in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL draft. Bishop was an All-American and Davey O’Brien trophy winner (as best college QB) following his senior season at Kansas State, combining a strong arm with (at the time) extraordinary running ability. He didn’t play much in his two years in Foxboro, but enough to tantalize fans into thinking Bishop should replace then-starter Drew Bledsoe as the future of the franchise. Meanwhile, the real future of the franchise, Tom Brady, called Bishop one of the best athletes “he has ever seen.” Yup. Bishop was released by New England after an NFL Europe season in Frankfort, Germany, and signed by Green Bay — beginning a football odyssey that led him to the CFL, the Arena Football League and something known as the SIFL (Summer Indoor Football League), where he played for the Corpus Christi Hammerheads and Texas Hurricanes. He finished his career back in Canada, playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last in 2011.
— Tim from British Columbia posted on Facebook this week: So Le’Veon Bell gets his suspension reduced to three games, and doesn’t go to the next level of the punishment program for reportedly missing multiple test, which is essentially the same as failing them … in the eyes of the league this is far less heinous than Brady being generally aware of footballs being half a pound under inflated. Where is the consistency, and how long do we have to suffer under this [expletive] of a commissioner? Tim: You make way too much sense. And to answer your question, we’ll suffer as long as NFL ownership continues to line its pockets with profits. When that stops (or slows), the Grand Poobah will be (another expletive) out of luck.
— 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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