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A quick sports entry

Tuesday 11/29/22

Couple of predictions: the Patriots will finish 9-8 and Fred McGriff will gain election to the Baseball Hall of Fame next week. Or is it this week? Whenever the announcement happens. I saw the names of the members of the committee with this special ballot. Chipper Jones and Greg Maddux are on it, former Braves teammates of McGriff's. I'm not espousing cronyism--as I'd be the last person ever to do that--but I think it's safe to say they understand what an awesome player McGriff was. So far as baseball goes, his omission is the most egregious in the sport's history. I don't think I'm exaggerating.

As for the Pats: They are bad and boring, but I could actually see them beating the Bills once. The Bills aren't what I thought they were. I had suggested that this was their year and Josh Allen would be the MVP, but the latter is definitely not happening, and it looks like I was wrong about the former as well, but we'll see. The Patriots have become such a blah franchise. But they can beat the Raiders and they can beat the Cardinals. I don't see how you could see better than a 9-8 record though when it's all over.

I was also wrong about Zach Wilson. My bad. I thought coming out of college that he had a chance to be pretty good. If he hadn't played against the Patriots, the Jets would have definitely won one of those games, and maybe both.

We're in a period with Boston sports that is somewhat reminiscent of the early 1980s, when the Bruins and Celtics were by far the better teams. And yet, because football is what it is--the NFL, rather--most sports talk in Boston is about the Patriots. On bad sports radio programs, you'll hear almost nothing about the Bruins.

I think that last Bruins game in which Jeremy Swayman entered in relief on account of an injury, was significant for him. He'd been struggling and I was wondering if the Bruins had a Swayman problem. I still wonder that. But there can be a game--an appearance--that gets things going back in the direction they need to go, and that may have been the one for him.

I hadn't thought of him this way before, but Charlie McAvoy is looking to me like a guy who can win a Norris. He has the defense. Keep developing your offensive game.

A great defenseman who never won a Norris: Borje Salming, who died the other day. He was one of my all-time favorite hockey players. In the few games where I played defense, I tried to pattern my game after his. A true pioneer, as well. We must remember how provincial the NHL was in the 1970s, when Salming entered the league. Talk about xenophobia. It was basically all Canadians. And many of them--if most--thought all Europeans were soft. Salming took a lot of punishment, and he never wilted. I mean, look at the shape the guy was in, even decades after his career ended. Excellent skater.

There were Leaf teams in the that decade with three future Hall of Famers on them, between Salming, Lanny McDonald, and Darryl Sittler, but they never went anywhere. That's kind of unusual. Three is a lot of future Hall of Famers to have on a team, though it always seemed like Buffalo had a boatload of future Hall of Famers, and they never did much.

In one way, this Bruins start to the 2022-23 season might not be that surprising. They have four possible future Hall of Famers on this team. You really need to win a Cup or two if you have that many. Bergeron and Marchand are locks right now. Anything can happen, but McAvoy and Pastrnak are on their way.

Is this the best extended pitching run of all-time? From 8/11/84--which was during his rookie year season--to 5/6/86, Dwight Gooden was 37-5 with a 1.38 ERA and a WHIP of .890. Gooden is closer to the Hall than most people think. Narrative works against him--that persistent theme of unfulfilled promise.

I was thinking about the autumn in Boston in 1975. On October 21, Fisk hits the famous Game Six home run. Obviously the Sox lose the series the next day, but leaving that aside, pretty big thing, that home run. Then the next month, on November 26, Bobby Orr plays his last game for the Bruins. Time. What a thing. So much of time is how we measure one event against another. Time is depth of field. Time is a geography of perspective.


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