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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, December 07, 2013
John Rooke, GoLocalProv Sports Editor

Thinking out loud…and wondering if we all just flat out share too much “stuff” on line…

• Yo, Antonio Smith. Remember to pull the foot out of your mouth before you speak. Spying? Really? How about making some adjustments? The Patriots did. How about getting your butt handed to you – again – for a third straight time by New England? Yeah, that’s probably too embarrassing to mention. Let’s blame it on something else. 27 second half points. Must’ve been spying…

• Maybe Smith’s allegations against New England spies were in-house all along? Did you see where two Reliant Stadium security guards were fired from their jobs for posing for pictures with TB12? Way to go, Tom. Just shows you, you shouldn’t be such a nice guy all the time…

• With all of the hot stove stuff cooking this week and with football’s playoff season approaching…a friend of mine posted a gem on Facebook this week that I had all but forgotten about, so I thought I’d share it here. It’s pure brilliance. And it makes me realize how much I really miss the great George Carlin – funny, witty, satirical and downright spot on with his commentary. Baseball vs. Football? It’s a slam dunk…

• The Friars’ match up with Kentucky was widely anticipated, and while it was disappointing from a PC-perspective, the team did learn something about itself. I don’t believe the Wildcats could play much better than they did…they are supremely talented, and have SEVEN players who are legit NBA-potential 1st rounders. And Providence took their best shots, and played tough. They simply did not have all of the guns they needed to run with the bigger dogs. To really make a splash, Ed Cooley needs all of the parts healthy, and he won’t have that this year…

• No one feels worse about Kris Dunn’s situation than Cooley. Or Dunn, for that matter. Strong people figure out a way to persevere, however…and no one is going to feel sorry for the Friars around the Big East. True “teams” learn to suck it up, as Ed told me this week. This is a prime opportunity for someone else to step up…and pick up some slack…

• The Big East finally got a marquee win when Villanova knocked off Kansas a week ago. That’s fine, but it’s not near enough. While the league has done well for itself in scheduling strength and overall RPI, now it needs to win some games against ranked teams. Kentucky was simply too stacked for PC right now, although I would love a do-over if the Friars had Kris Dunn and Brandon Austin in the mix. Marquette, struggling in the backcourt to this point this season, faces rival Wisconsin after having lost to Arizona State and San Diego State. Someone else – somewhere else – needs to step up so all may benefit…

• The Atlantic-10 hasn’t done badly itself to start the year. UMass is nationally ranked, and in both PC and URI’s future this year. Dayton? Where the heck did that come from? Take note, Big East presidents. And two Top 25’s, to one for the Big East this week? Hmmm…

Rhode Island played a heck of a game Thursday night. Not aesthetically, mind you…but they played the way they had to in order to win – rough, reckless, tough, scrappy – you name it. It had to be a rock fight for them to win, and they almost pulled it off. Friar fans, at the end of the year, it will still count as a (road) win no matter the score or the style points. That’s all that matters…

• Save me the arguments I hear for PC playing URI twice-a-year again in basketball. Why? Will it really create more interest in hoops around here? You know, as basketball fans, we’d all be better served if we concentrated on actually getting our FOUR Division I schools to play off against each other in a “tournament style” setting at the Dunk every year. With Tim O’Shea building something special at Bryant, and Mike Martin returning to his alma mater at Brown to reinvigorate his program…the buzz would be back to create a true state champ. Win and advance. No big worries about RPI strength and playing someone in a “down year,” you might not have to face them. You’re only committed to two in-state games, not three…so it saves your schedule for someone else. Yes, I suppose that means it’s possible PC and URI might not play…but you could fix that (if needed) by pitting them against each other in an opening game. It’s new, it’s fresh. And it hasn’t been done around here before…

• I know it’s been 33 years since the two rivals have played twice in a year. But didn’t Thomas Wolfe once write “you can’t go home again?” In this case, it’s true. Things have changed. Now more than ever, PC needs to be committed to the new Big East, leaving them precious few chances to upgrade their non-league schedule. I’m not convinced that, in a down year, the team with the 2nd of the two games (if they played twice, and having lost the first) would have a packed crowd. The Friars and Rams struggle to get ONE packed crowd every year. PC fans don’t look at Rhody like URI fans look at the Friars – that’s a fact…

• In a year where both teams are at the top of their leagues, sure, two games would be exciting. How many times have both teams been in that spot over the past 10 years? 20 years? The two stopped playing twice a year largely due to the emergence of the “old” Big East. Whatever happened to progress continuing to move forward? This ain’t Obamacare

• One very important factor in this “let’s play two” discussion…the coaches don’t want to do it. Ask them. Their athletic directors/schedule makers will follow their wishes. End of story…

• Now, I will say this…at the cost of being blasphemous to some Friar fans. It’s not a private institution, but I wouldn’t be averse to giving URI a shot at the Big East if expansion ever comes into play again…and I do believe it will. Football, as we all know, doesn’t drive the bus in Kingston. Can’t see that as an obstacle. From a regional/travel sense, it might make sense/cents, even if their addition doesn’t add another “media market.” If Dan Hurley continues to make progress and gets the Rams to the top of the A-10…if the rivalry between PC and URI has changed from the more “heated” days of the ‘80’s, why couldn’t this be considered now? Just a thought…

• Thought it was great to have the game showcased nationally on CBS Sports Network Thursday night, and to have ex-Friar coach Pete Gillen calling it was even more fun. His perspective certainly is/was relevant. Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times/Woonsocket Call had a good piece this week on the first national exposure for the game in more than 20 years. It’s a start for both programs in trying to raise the regional/national level of their “brands…”

Tweet of the Week I – from Eric Scalavino of Patriots Football Weekly (@E_Scal): “If you give your true love every gift from the “12 Days of Christmas,” it’ll cost $27,393.17 this year, according to a report on the radio…”

• I don’t care what Bill Belichick said…Stevan Ridley’s healthy scratch last week against Houston was just plain dumb. It was an exercise in “who’s the boss?” If you really wanted to make a point, how about suiting him up and then sitting him down…rather than embarrassing him by making him inactive, so the TV cameras could focus on his “status” on the sidelines and turn a “non-story,” as you might call it…into a story? Stupid is as stupid does

• 46 guys were ahead of him in the game plan? Uh, sure coach. This is one reason why some in the media “hate” Belichick. He plays us for fools. He’s only your best running back. Yes, he fumbles. Coach him better, maybe he won’t fumble as much? To borrow a phrase, “it is what it is…”

Tweet of the Week II – from @Patriots: “FB James Develin’s journey from @BrownUniversity to @theUFL to the @NFL..."

Not for nuthin’…but the Seattle Seahawks don’t look as if they’ll be beaten at home. They punched New Orleans in the mouth last Monday, and the Saints turtled. Good thing the Super Bowl is a neutral site affair, destined for the cold clime of Met Life Stadium in New Jersey this year. A cold-weather team will have a shot to punch back…

• Let me get this straight…David Ortiz shaved his playoff beard, and the remnants of said-beard then fetched $11K? I mean, charity is one thing. I’m a pack rat when it comes to saving stuff, but even I will draw the line on saving shavings from another man’s facial hair…

• Salty out, off to Florida with a new three-year deal…A.J. Pierzynski in…a one year deal for a 37-year old catcher whose OPS was 80 points lower than Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s…but it does set up a lefty/righty combo behind the plate with David Ross. And, he hits .322 career at Fenway, with no (as in zero) HR’s…

• You’re right. Pierzynski has been around awhile. He was a HS teammate of Johnny Damon’s in Orlando…

• So…the market for free agent Jacoby Ellsbury was bullish, huh? Can you really say you’re shocked to learn the Yankees “won” his rights? Of course not. Can’t imagine too many other teams were in there at the number he signed for, but really…can you blame him? We’d all jump for that kind of cash if given the opportunity. It’s the 4th largest free-agent deal ever given by the Yanks, and the 3rd largest free agent contract signed by an outfielder. And, the “rivalry” needed a booster shot…

• From the moment the Yankees missed the playoffs, you had to know they were steaming that the Red Sox WERE IN THEM. Boston winning the World Series only grates against their nerves. First, sign Brian McCann. Next, swipe Ellsbury from the Sox. Game on, again…

• Besides, I’m not worried. He may be hurt before he faces the Sox at Fenway in April…

• Finish the sequence: Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon

• You know, like I said…I don’t begrudge the chance to make life-altering money. But all you need to know about many pro athletes today is what Curt Schilling said when he was asked if he’d have taken a wad of cash from the Yankees after playing in Boston: “No way.” Even Damon said on WEEI this week he wished he could have stayed in Boston. If Ellsbury had cared enough…and wanted to stay with the Sox, he would have. The guy turned down several chances to sign extensions. Enjoy your cash, Ells. Just sayin’

• If you’re a Yankee fan, I’m not really sure how you can be completely happy with this move short of the simple fact you signed Ellsbury AWAY from Fenway. NY is now locked into two big contracts with Brian McCann’s deal…leaving precious little cash (even for NY) to re-sign Robinson Cano. Which Seattle just did. Or Curtis Granderson. Hello, Mets. Oops

• One more thought here…what happens if A-Fraud’s $$$ doesn’t come off the books? Signing Ellsbury for $22 million per year, with all of the other needs they now need to address (can anyone play in the infield?)…seems like a mighty big risk. Glad it’s you in this shape. Glad the Dodgers kept the Sox from being right there with you, too…

• Note to Sox: Get Mike Napoli signed - DONE, get in on Shin-Soo Choo, and drive Stephen Drew’s price up. Yeah, that’ll work…

Tweet of the Week III – from @ChrisCarlinSNY: “Ellisbury’s contract was responsible, but Cano’s wasn’t? Hmmm. Last 4 yrs: Ellsbury missed 264 games. Cano missed 7. I heart you people…”

Nelson Mandela’s death this week at age 95 brought an amazing life to an end, but if anyone’s legacy lives on, it will be his. An icon in the fight against apartheid and global racism, he was responsible for the World Cup stage-setting in South Africa in 2010. My most memorable Mandela moment wasn’t from the news coverage following his release from 27 years in prison, or his ascendency to becoming the first black South African president, but when he appeared at the Rugby World Cup in 1995, in front of 63,000 mostly white supporters in Johannesburg, and they cheered “Nelson! Nelson! Nelson!” Remarkable…

• Did you catch any of the World Cup 2014 draw “show” on Friday? First, Group G (where the USA resides) is a killer, included with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Second, why can’t the NFL Draft get a co-host like that up on the podium with Roger Goodell? Whoa

• I’ve seen a few fantastic finishes in my lifetime, but I’ve never seen anything like what happened in the Auburn-Alabama game last week. That wasn’t just unbelievable, it was literally indescribable. Disney would reject the script for its pure fantasy. To have that kind of ending for a game of that magnitude – I don’t blame the radio guys for going a bit nutso. Then again…you always have to remember to tell the story, which they pretty much did. Holy cow, indeed. Everyone else was going nutso, too…

• Want another fantastic finish? How about Shabazz Napier winning it for UConn at the buzzer against Florida this week? Hasn’t Napier been at UConn for like, six years now? Sure seems like it…

• Think anyone who had their flight cancelled was upset when they saw this happening? Delta bumped an entire flight for the Florida Gator basketball team, so they could get to UConn (and get beat on that buzzer-beater by Napier)…

• As a sidebar to the entire Auburn-Alabama affair, Auburn officials noticed cremated remains were left behind on their sideline during the cleanup and aftermath of the Tigers’ miracle win. No, they weren’t Bama’s national title hopes lying there on the turf like a dead bird…but likely the remains of a fan – or a pet – spread on the field. School officials noted it’s not an uncommon practice for fans wanting their final resting place to be Jordan-Hare Stadium, where the team plays…

DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium

• Damn, someone stole my idea. Always wanted to have my remains spread on the North end zone turf at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

• It might as well be a million miles from here…but the unseemliness of college football wafted this way in the Steve Sarkisian-to-USC deal that went down. First, the Trojans crapped all over Ed Orgeron, who came in and cleaned up the mess that Lane Kiffin had made…after leading USC to an inglorious 62-41 thumping against Arizona State. Then, they told Orgeron – “gee thanks Ed, but we’re going another direction” – and hired Sarkisian, a former USC assistant (and alum) who had been at Washington…in the same conference (Pac-12). Oh, and Sarkisian had said in a radio interview TWO HOURS prior to being named coach he wasn’t going “anywhere…”

• I’m reminded of a quote from Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” This definitely applies in college football…

This, you gotta love. Do you get worked up playing video games, and occasionally “yell” at the monitor when you mess up, or when something goes wrong? Sure you do. In the new NBA2K14, curse at the TV, and you get a “T.” I kid you not…

• All I want is real truth in advertising. You know those Cialis TV commercials – like the one where the couple is on a couch watching football, and the wife (at least, it could be the wife) gets excited over a play and the guy stares her down like she’s some movie starlet and starts to give her a smooch? Come on, man! That would NEVER happen in real life. How many men do you know who could actually be interrupted from watching a game?

• Then again, if food is involved…ok, you have my attention. For the length of a two-minute commercial…

• My buddy “Big E” shared this with me recently, as we pondered yet another political goofball making headlines: “Think about how stupid the average politician seems, and then realize half of them are stupider than that…”

• Here’s the thing…after looking at countless HUNDREDS of cute baby pictures and also finding a few needlessly grotesque photos of personal injuries and other vulgarities in my own timelines, I wonder – do we just share TOO much information when posting stories and photos via social media? I read a great article this week that asked the very same question, and I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, we do share too much. It’s ok to share SOME info – news, that job promotion, good fortune, asking for prayers…that kind of thing, perhaps. But where do we draw the line? Are we actually causing our kids future harm by posting all of these photos, telling all of these “cute” stories that define their childhood…and possibly defines who they are later in life, without them having a say? The internet, as you know, is a permanent record. And I don’t know about you, but having a bad mark on my “permanent record” scared me as a kid and a younger man (thanks to my mother constantly reminding me of it). Maybe we should actually stop and think about it, before we post it…

• From the mailbag this week – Bernie from New York, NY writes via Facebook: “Hey John Rooke. You happy with Tom Brady’s play now?” Bernie: If you’re referring to my criticism of his play earlier in the year – which were career worst numbers in his passing statistics – I like his play just fine now, thank you. You do of course realize why his play has improved, right? A healthier Rob Gronkowski to throw to would make almost anyone a better QB. But the end is still closer to reality than many Patriot fans want to believe, my friend. The issue won’t go away. Btw, you happy with the Yankees now?  We now return you to your regularly scheduled rant…

• Interested in having your questions on local RI sports (including 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 and comments to jrooke@golocalprov.com. 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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• The book “Rhode Island Radio” from Arcadia Publishing is available for sale, and it tells the story of the 91-year history of the medium in our state through photographs, clippings and memories from many of the personalities who have graced our airwaves. If you’re in search of the holiday gift that says “Rhode Island,” you’ve found it. Or, find it in local bookstores and online right here