Thinking out loud … while wondering if Pikachu, Squirtle or Charizard might be lurking around the corner.
— Well, then. That’s it? What do we have to complain about now?
— Eighteen months after the torturous tale began, Tom Brady has decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, effectively ending Deflategate. And my initial reaction is a deflated one, like the way I felt after watching “The Sopranos” finale. That’s it?
— All along, the smarter Kool-Aid drinkers (and I’m still one of them) believed TB12’s best chance at playing in September was through a stay granted by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg, if we are to believe in her precedents, generally has sided with labor over management in labor-related causes.
— However, the burden of proof was on Brady’s team to show this case traveled well beyond a simple football spat between a player and a commissioner. Ultimately, based on case precedent, the odds weren’t on TB12’s side. And we know how he loves to win. So let’s strike up the band and climb aboard the Jimmy Garoppolo bandwagon.
— Perhaps the recent public display of “dislike” for presidential candidate Donald Trump could have caused a problem with Justice Ginsburg’s consideration of TB12’s case – especially with Brady as a Trump “friend”? You’d like to think not. You’d like to think our Supreme Court justices can be impartial, even though they are human. But impartial enough to keep TB12 in the fight? Nope. You have to think his legal team suggested as much.
— The media pundits/blowhards who said Brady should pack it in? They’re cackling now. But would they have quit if faced with the same situation? Hardly. The surprise here is with the legal team’s added influence of attorney Ted Olson, who has plenty of experience arguing cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and still deciding to pack it in.
— Not for nuthin’, but if you really believe in your innocence, don’t you fight this to the bitter end? There’s nothing to lose, except four games in your career you’ll never get back. Surely Tom knows most of the country outside of New England has already branded him as a cheater. Maybe that’s why he’s moving on. But what about legacy? Pats fans know what he’s accomplished, as do most reasonable NFL observers. Should this dismal chapter affect his future? Could he be branded as a quitter in the sports world, and is that better than being tagged as a cheater?
— Herein lies the rub: It might actually be in the better long-term interest of the team to have Garoppolo playing in September, if only to potentially try to improve his trade value for next summer. That’s the silver lining in an otherwise dark storm cloud that now has — finally — passed us by.
— There was a slim chance at a stay, and to my way of thinking, ol’ slim is better than ol’ nuthin’. Far be it for me to tell Brady what or what not to do — I don’t have his life, his talent, his money, his anything. Just hope he’s ready to deal with any fallout after pulling the plug, and after Patriots fans initially turned on Robert Kraft for not fighting the NFL to the bitter end. History says we fight things well beyond a reasonable means to an end in New England. That’s how we became “New” England in the first place.
— Las Vegas still gives the Patriots the best odds to win the Big One next season, even without TB12 at the QB helm for September’s four games. The good ship Patriot remains on a championship course, in spite of the choppy waters.
— Speaking of the best, the Patriots have the best fan base in the NFL. At least, according to sports analytics research conducted by Emory University in Atlanta, they do. You knew that, right? In terms of which cities’ fans are more willing to spend to follow their teams, taking into consideration market size, team performance and social media equity, Pats fans are No. 1.
— The Patriots rank at the top because fans will pay premium prices on tickets, show up for all games (including the crappy, put-us-all-to-sleep preseason ones) and follow religiously on social media. Dallas, Denver, San Francisco and Philadelphia round out the top five.
— The bottom five? Bills, Rams, Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars fans. Chiefs fans surprise me, just because of the noise they make at Arrowhead Stadium. Bills fans? Not much of a shocker there, when you haven’t made the playoffs in 50 years. OK, it’s really 16 years, but it seems like 50. Just sayin’.
— Holy 50th anniversary, Batman! Fifty years ago this week, the made-for-TV “Batman” series (starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader) debuted on ABC. Cesar Romero played the Joker, Frank Gorshin was the Riddler and Burgess Meredith was the Penguin. Yes, that Burgess Meredith — who also played boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill in the “Rocky” movies.
— What an all-star cast on the “Batman” series, though. In addition to the aforementioned actors, how about Julie Newmar (Catwoman), John Astin (also played the Riddler), Victor Buono (King Tut), Bruce Lee, Ethel Merman and Milton Berle? Other big-time actors later played villains in the “Batman” movies as well (Jack Nicholson, Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Heath Ledger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman). Yes, Robin. Those are examples of fine actors, and good citizens! DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DAH! Batman!
— Good citizen Bill Koch at the Providence Journal was kind enough to introduce us this week to the Rhode Islanders who will be Olympians in Brazil next month, giving us local rooting interests to follow. Elizabeth Beisel (swimming), Molly Huddle (track), Louisa Chafee (sailing), Anders Weiss and Michael DiSanto (rowing) are qualified and will march into Rio on Aug. 5.
— Beisel already has a silver and bronze medal to her credit from London in 2012, and the native of Saunderstown, Rhode Island, is an 18-time All-America swimmer at Florida. Huddle is a native of Elmira, New York, who attended Notre Dame but lives in Providence and is trained by PC’s track and field guru, Ray Treacy. Chafee is the daughter of former Governor Lincoln Chafee, and was a three-time All-America sailor at Brown. Weiss is from Barrington, Rhode Island, and twice earned all-Ivy honors in rowing, while DiSanto was all-Ivy at Harvard and traditionally spends his summers in Narragansett, Rhode Island.
— Get the feeling you’ve found fool’s gold? That’s the feeling I had with the Red Sox at the All-Star break. Is Drew Pomeranz the answer for the questions in the starting rotation? Methinks we’re all fools for believing this team can win in October. We may get a show, but a pennant? Doubtful.
— Craig Kimbrel’s knee surgery certainly is a setback. But the Sox still are slightly better off in the bullpen than they are in the rotation. There is mix-and-match ability, as long as they don’t have to rely too much on Koji Uehara’s rapidly-diminishing talents. Uehara’s fastball reminds me of a balloon that’s leaking air, making that irritating, squeaking noise.
— The pickup of Brad Ziegler is a good one. His sidearm style is tough on right-handed hitters, and his performance (18 saves, 2.82 ERA) for an underachieving Arizona team stands out. John Farrell’s job might be safe right now, but use Uehara over Ziegler two or three too many times? His employment issue might be revisited with the team in the heat of a pennant race.
— Red Sox relievers — eighth in the American League in ERA. Starters? They’re ninth. ‘Nuff said.
— Although David Price did have a statement game against his former employer, Tampa Bay, before the break. I would argue he should pitch like an ace against one of the worst teams in baseball. You?
— While I understand the strategy, I didn’t like Kansas City and AL manager Ned Yost keeping the Sox’ Stephen Wright from pitching in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in San Diego. That’s chance-of-a-lifetime stuff Yost messed with, right there.
— Did you watch any of the Home Run Derby? Giancarlo Stanton’s 61 big ‘ol mashed taters was beastly. That is all.
— I was reluctant to watch what has become a rather mundane, repetitive, uninteresting event, until I saw the format change for the derby included a time limit for at-bats with a clock. Clocks make the game better. Keeps things moving. Adds a sense of urgency. Does anyone get bored with someone trying to beat the buzzer?
— PawSox first baseman/outfielder Chris Marrero won the Triple-A Home Run Derby in Charlotte this week. Marrero, who is tied for second in the International League at the break with 16 homers, launched 44 of them into the North Carolina night, also aided by a timing clock like the major leaguers.
— Marrero is a former top draft pick of the Washington Nationals, and wasn’t even in Pawtucket’s opening day lineup this season. He got his chance when Sam Travis went down with a knee injury. That’s a good story, picked up and expanded upon by our buddy Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times.
— Remember when I said Yoan Moncada might be the best trade bait the Sox have? He’s still bait, but it should take a lot more than just a starting pitcher for Boston to put him on a hook now. Moncada hit a two-run blast in the All-Star Futures Game for the World team in its win over the U.S. team, and his star is rapidly rising. He was named the Futures Game MVP, and his bat is headed to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
— The International Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport still is the only event played on grass courts outside of Europe. It’s also the only chance to see pro tennis in the northeast before the U.S. Open starts late next month. American tournament tennis got started in 1881 on the grass courts of the Newport Casino.
— Is Serena Williams the best, ever? Williams won her 22nd major career championship at Wimbledon, and she deserves to be in any discussion of “Best Ever.” But if you’re playing by the numbers, Margaret Court is the Queen of Best Ever. Court won 24 singles grand slams and owns 64 total grand slam tournament titles overall, which is the record for women. And men. Whoa.
— Tim Duncan’s retirement this week from the NBA was classic in its understatement. No farewell. No press conference. No interviews (yet). Just a press release from the San Antonio Spurs, after 19 Hall of Fame-caliber years. The game could use more Tim Duncans, couldn’t it?
— As I’ve recited previously, Duncan’s near arrival at Providence back in the mid-’90s is a story that borders on the incredible in several circles. For one, Wake Forest fans generally never knew they nearly never had Duncan. Two, if Duncan had played at PC, Rick Barnes doesn’t leave for Clemson and the Friars have a potential national title team on their hands.
— Jason Williams and Greg Buckner in the backcourt? Duncan with Austin Croshere and Eric Williams in the frontcourt? That would have been a hellish lineup in the powerful Big East, and a commanding, program-changing follow-up to the program’s first-ever BE title in ’94.
— You’d like to think you’re important enough to be remembered in historical terms, but God bless the late Father John Cunningham, PC’s president who was in charge 20-plus years ago. I recall a conversation I had with Father Cunningham, who didn’t understand how Coach Barnes could offer a scholarship to a student-athlete when he didn’t have one to give, as the basketball program was at the scholarship limit at the time.
— It’s clear he didn’t quite understand (or didn’t quite like) present-day realities in college athletics, as he was preparing to retire from the school presidency when Barnes sought his (and then-athletic director John Marinatto’s) approval to make Duncan a formal offer. The incoming president at the time, Father Philip Smith, also figured into the decision, and the timing of the change in leadership at the school didn’t help Barnes’ potential coup. Ultimately, the request was denied, and the rest — as the saying goes — is history.
— Trying to leave their own marks on history, the very early NBA returns on Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil are mixed. Dunn has had some early “wow” moments for Minnesota, and then he suffered a concussion and is currently following the league protocol for rest and recovery. But he’s already being mentioned in some circles as a prime Rookie of the Year candidate.
— Bentil’s situation is vastly different, as he attempts to win a job and stick with the Celtics. While Jaylen Brown may be better than originally advertised (outside of Danny Ainge’s purview), Bentil has shown strength and agility in limited summer league minutes. His biggest areas of improvement needed? Defense and rebounding. Where have we heard this before?
— Jared Sullinger leaving the Celtics for Toronto could eventually work in Bentil’s favor in his attempt to make the Boston roster. Best bet? Unless a late summer rush raises a few more eyebrows, Bentil spends his fall and winter with the Maine D-League affiliate. If he’s lucky.
— Keep the Celtics rumors coming. Although, I prefer the Russell Westbrook one to the Blake Griffin one. Griffin could make Boston as tough as they come in the East, but Westbrook could make this team championship-caliber within the East. Which would you prefer?
— On the ladies side, PC’s Yoyo Nogic has been playing for Serbia’s national team in the FIBA U20 European Championships. She’s averaged 9.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game through group play, and shooting 41 percent from 3 — good news for new coach Jim Crowley. He needs a sharpshooter, among other items. Serbia defeated Portugal in the knockout round to advance, ICYMI.
— Larry Brown “retired” at SMU, stepping down late last week after reaching a contract impasse. Silly man. He had the gall, at age 75, to ask for a five-year extension as he was preparing to enter his final contract year this fall. Never mind he’s the only coach to ever win an NBA title and an NCAA national championship. Never mind his resurrection of a once-moribund program in Dallas into national relevancy.
— There were these little issues called NCAA infractions (unethical conduct, academic fraud) that SMU was slapped with a year ago, and Brown served a nine-game suspension last season as part of the sanctions against the school. The NCAA has slapped Brown wherever he has been (Kansas and UCLA, too). The NCAA might not have him to slap around anymore.
— My buddy Statbeast sez his son, Statbeast Junior, got into an argument on the playground recently. The kids were bragging on their dads, and Junior said, “My dad scribbles a few numbers on a piece of paper and gets paid for it!” Another boy said, “That’s nothing. My dad scribbles a few words on paper, he calls it a story, and he gets paid a hundred bucks!” Then a third kid chimes in. “I got you both beat. My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight guys to collect all the money.”
— If you’re thinking that Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network are gaining notoriety and viewers in the TV world, you’re not wrong. But somewhat surprisingly, ESPN is appealing to an age group that FS1 and NBCSN originally coveted. The Four Letter Network presently is No. 1 in the entire TV industry (broadcast and cable) in male viewers age 18-34.
— Former Hendricken Hawk, Boston College Eagle and current Washington Redskins defensive back Will Blackmon will host his second annual USA Football FUNdamentals Clinic next Saturday, July 23, at Bishop Hendricken in Warwick, Rhode Island. The one-day camp is free and open to boys and girls aged 7-14, and is designed to introduce kids to football by teaching basic skills.
— Several notable camp counselors will be in attendance, including former East Providence Townie, BC Eagle and Indianapolis Colts DB Jamie Silva and ex-LaSalle Academy and UMass QB Liam Coen, who now is an assistant at Maine. There will be two sessions. To preregister, visit Will Blackmon Football.
— A reason why soccer has a harder time catching on in America, as opposed to the rest of the world: penalty kicks. Portugal defeated France on PK’s for the 2016 Euro Cup. It’s like deciding an overtime basketball game with a free throw competition. Or a hockey game on penalty shots — wait, wut?
— If you haven’t heard — Pokemon are back. Big time. The Pokemon Go craze has swept the nation, about two weeks after the game was released for mobile applications. It has quickly become the hottest app out there — and also one of the most distracting apps out there. Literal mobs of people have been seen wandering neighborhoods, parks and urban areas in search of imaginary creatures on their smartphones.
— ICYMI, Pokemon are animated animal or plant-like characters that each possess special abilities or “powers,” based on their creation and release in the 1990s. As they progress, or age, they can turn into bigger, more powerful and authoritative creatures. Pikachu (electric powers), Squirtle (water) and Charizard (fire) were three of my favorites when I had little kids running around the house years ago. Key words here? “Little kids.”
— It’s more than a bit alarming to see so many alleged adults wandering aimlessly like zombies in search of fictional characters through their phones. But I’m also glad to see so many people with so much time on their hands, with nothing else to do with their lives, choosing to “hunt” for said fictional beings. Too much sarcasm?
— But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. In the World of Pokemon, 20 years ago I may have started out as a simple “Voxasaur.” Now? I’ve morphed into “HolyMolyodon.” Patent pending, of course.
— Laughed Out Loud this week, thanks to Ted from Providence posting on Facebook: Would love to read John Rooke’s thoughts on Wimbledon, Euro Cup 2016, US Women’s Open, Alberto Contador’s exit from Tour de France and who he thinks will be on the women’s gymnastics team in Rio next week. No. MakeTheGuyWorkHARDForHisColumn. Ted: Glad you’re not my boss. But I was happy to see that Needham, Massachusetts’ Ally Raisman is back on the Olympic gymnastics team. Does that just about cover it for you?
— 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.
— Don’t forget to tune in to Providence’s 103.7 FM every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. for Southern New England Sports Saturday! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text us at 37937.