Revisiting that Patriots-Buccaneers Super Bowl prediction, and other thoughts
Picked-up pieces while the Bills Mafia gets lathered up for the first-place-again Patriots in Orchard Park Monday night …
▪ As one who is routinely wrong, let me mention that I’m no latecomer to the suggestion that the Bill Belichick Patriots could wind up facing the Tom Brady Buccaneers in Super Bowl LVI Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
Go back to the Globe’s “NFL Season Picks” that were posted online Sept. 8 and you’ll see me predict that the Patriots would go 11-6 and make it to the Super Bowl, where they’ll beat Tampa Bay in “the greatest event in the history of sports.” Colleague Chad Finn also had the Buccaneers and Patriots in the final, but he picked Brady to win the big game.
Speculation about a Patriots-Buccaneers Super Bowl was a topic this past week after New England knocked off top-seeded Tennessee while the Brady Bucs got back on the winning track in Indianapolis. Data analytics website Football Outsiders stated that going into Week 13, Patriots-Buccaneers is the most likely Super Bowl matchup, with a 9.9 percent chance of happening.
Saturday, December 04, 2021
Shank jumps on another hot-take type of bandwagon:
Wednesday, December 01, 2021
Shank writes about a potential upcoming work stoppage in baseball, which is always less harmful in the offseason:
The good news about Major League Baseball’s imminent lockout is that it has created an artificial free agency deadline for many teams looking to improve in hopes that therewill be a full 162-game season in 2022.I remember a few vague stories about a work stoppage / strike during the year and didn't take much stock in them, given that the game was / still is losing viewership / popularity and anything like a stoppage now would affect (read - hurt) all sides. Cooler heads have this one resolved well before spring training starts.
As of now, unless there’s a labor agreement between owners and the Players Association, all MLB business closes at midnight Wednesday. As a result, we’ve seen a frenzy of signings by aggressive teams intent on improving their chances for 2022.
Through Monday, there had been 16 free agent player agreements with guarantees of more than $20 million (no big splashes for the “deliberate” Red Sox, who spent the last few days buying an NHL team). In the past month, MLB owners have pledged more than $1.4 billion in guaranteed contracts, almost $1.2 billion since Friday.
Monday, November 29, 2021
With the Patriots winning yesterday's game against the Titans, Shank focuses on Mac Jones and one key aspect of the current football season:
Mac Jones can take the hits, make the plays, manage the game — and play in the coldOne game's an awfully small sample size, but we'll know more next week at Buffalo.
Mac Jones keeps checking the boxes, passing the tests.
Managing the game. Check. Completion percentage. Check. Pocket presence. Check. Taking the hits. Check. Inspiring teammates. Check. Winning close games. Check.
Now a new one. Mac Jones Sunday showed he can play in a cold weather game, too.
This wasn’t Patriots vs. Titans at Gillette in January of 2004 (windchill, minus 10 degrees) when Tom Brady and Co. beat the Titans, 17-14, in a playoff rock fight. It wasn’t the Snow Bowl Tuck Rule Game against the Raiders. It wasn’t Orchard Park, N.Y., in December (that’ll be next week).
But it was near freezing with snow showers in Foxborough and privileged folks in the red seats stayed inside by the big fireplaces while Jones completed 23 of 32 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-13 demolition of Mike Vrabel’s top-seeded Titans. Jones was sacked twice, but didn’t have to do much after a spectacular 41-yard touchdown pass play to Kendrick Bourne made it 26-13 with five minutes left in the third.
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Shank recalls a few good local sporting moments:
Recalling some great Boston ‘duende’ moments, and other thoughts
Picked-up pieces while wondering if Mike Vrabel has any rule-book trickeration in store for Bill Belichick …
▪ In this space last weekend, we asked for submissions of Boston sports “duende” moments, like the Kyle Schwarber mock ovation when the Schwarb made a clean play in the playoffs, and the famous “Beat LA” chant at the Old Garden in 1982.
The response was overwhelming. Dozens of you fondly recalled the Red Sox home opener in 2005, when all the Yankees were booed during introductions right up until closer Mariano Rivera received a standing ovation for his role in the 2004 playoffs (Rivera blew the save in Game 4 when Dave Roberts triggered a comeback for the ages with the Stolen Base Heard ’Round the World).
There were plenty of other great suggestions, some too dated, arcane, or difficult to prove.
Some duende nuggets that made the cut: Ray Bourque giving his No. 7 jersey to Phil Esposito and switching to No. 77 when Espo was honored at the Old Garden in 1987; a long standing ovation for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he set the NBA field goal record at the Old Garden in 1984; TD Garden fans singing the national anthem a capella before the first Bruins game after the Marathon bombings; Fenway fans chanting “steroids” at Jose Canseco in 1988, long before anybody knew it was true; Cape Cod families annually opening their homes to host college baseball players for Cape League summers; Globe Pulitzer winner Stan Grossfeld getting the photo of bullpen cop Steve Horgan making a perfect “W” by raising his arms next to an upside-down Torii Hunter when David Ortiz’s homer changed the 2013 ALCS.
Thursday, November 25, 2021
Shank does some backtracking on the Patriots coach...
Bill Belichick is right back to being, well, Bill Belichick, and other thoughtsSo - pretty much what Shank was saying two months ago!
Picked-up pieces while waiting for the Bills to lose to the Colts and restore the Patriots to the top spot in the AFC East …
▪ In short order, we have seen the rightful restoration of the legacy of Bill Belichick. The waves in Nantucket sound were getting choppy around Hoodie’s “VIII Rings” boat in early October. The Patriots were 1-3, coming off the heels of 7-9 with Cam Newton last season. Meanwhile, Tom Brady was a Super Bowl champ — looking good to do it again this season — and the Belichick haters had their day.
Belichick never won anything without Brady … The whole dynasty was because Bill had Tom … Belichick the GM failed Belichick the coach … The Patriots were just another team … Hubris and arrogance will get you every time …
Thursday, November 18, 2021
The Boston Globe published a little more from Shank's book on the Larry Bird era Celtics:
Book excerpt: Remembering the first Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals of the Larry Bird era
The Celtics host the Lakers Friday night at TD Garden (wotta coincidence! - ed.) , and any renewal of one of the great NBA rivalries always conjures memories of their historic matchups.
With that in mind, this has been excerpted from “Wish It Lasted Forever — Life With the Larry Bird Celtics” by Dan Shaughnessy. Copyright ©2021 by Dan Shaughnessy. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
The Bird-Magic Finals of the NBA’s golden 1980s — the Celtics and Lakers met three times in a stretch of four seasons between 1984-87 — were like the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier title fights. The first of the three Bird-Magic bouts came in 1984 after the Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, while the Lakers advanced in the West against the Phoenix Suns.
CBS was ecstatic. Boston-LA meant that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson would be meeting in a championship event for the first time since NBC set unbreakable ratings records with its broadcast of the Bird-Magic NCAA Final in 1979. At least one of them had been in the NBA Finals in each of their first four NBA seasons, but this was the first championship series featuring both.
The Celtics and Lakers were the Yankees and Dodgers of pro basketball. They’d played in seven NBA Finals from 1959 to 1969 with Boston winning every one. Lakers fans were haunted by the 1962 finale, when Frank Selvy’s potential series winner clanged off the rim at the Boston Garden. LA general manager Jerry West experienced what he called the low point of his life when the Lakers couldn’t beat Boston in 1969. A Celtics-Lakers Final in 1984 meant that the league’s two showcase franchises accounted for 60 percent (23 of 38) of all NBA crowns in the first four decades of the league’s existence. (In the COVID summer of 2020, the LeBron James Lakers won their seventeenth NBA crown, finally tying the Celtics for most championship banners.)
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Shank caught up to the former New England Patriots coach and gets his opinion on a few things:
Picked-up pieces while stacking cordwood …
▪ Bill Parcells was the last Patriots coach to turn his team over to a rookie quarterback. In his first season as New England’s head coach (1993), the Tuna put the ball in the hands of No. 1 overall pick Drew Bledsoe and watched the Patriots lose 11 of their first 12 games. The Patriots finished with a four-game win streak, made the playoffs a year later, and went to the Super Bowl in Bledsoe’s fourth season.
Fast-forward to 2021 and Parcells likes what he is seeing from Bill Belichick’s Patriots and rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
“I’ll tell you something,” Parcells said from his Florida home. “I thought last week’s Patriots game was superb. I liked their time of possession [32:29]. That’s my kind of game right there. I really like that.
“The guy [Jones] is taking care of the ball and you had control of the game from beginning to end. You can’t ask anything else of a quarterback. If you can play like that, you’re going to win a lot of games. I really think they’ve got a good chance. I really do.