As we hit another Monday morning we’ll once again take a look at some sports happenings from last week that have people talking.
First off we’ll look at the New England Patriots opening day 27-20 win over the Houston Texans. A win is a win, but there were a lot of things that the Patriots could have done better. Holding on to the football is near the top of that list, with the Patriots fumbling the ball three times and losing two of them.
The Patriots also really need to improve on special teams. While kicker Stephen Gostkowski had a great game going 2-2 on field goals and 3-3 on extra points and punter Ray Allen averaged 47 years per punt, including a 55 yarder that was downed inside the one by Jonathan Jones, the defense on kick-offs and their punt returning were, to be kind, sub-optimal.
It turns out one of the biggest plays for the Patriots in the game was one run in haste when Tom Brady hurried to the line to snap the ball before the catch by Rob Gronkowski could be reviewed. While it allowed the catch to stand–and in my opinion it wouldn’t have survived a video review–it also almost resulted in New England losing the ball when Rex Burkhead fumbled. Luckily Chris Hogan recovered the ball and the Pats went on to score just before the half.
The Gronk catch/no catch is also a great example of what a good head coach can do for a team. Inside of two minutes it’s the replay booth that decides if a play should be reviewed, so while Texans head coach Bill O’Brien couldn’t challenge the play he absolutely could have called a timeout to give the booth an opportunity to look at the play. He chose not to.
He wasn’t going to need those timeouts, and he gains nothing by not using one in that situation. It also isn’t like he was going to give the Patriots any benefit for stopping the clock, they were already at the line of scrimmage ready to snap the ball. You can bet Patriots boss Bill Belichick would have known the situation and would have called a timeout.
In referee Tony Corrente’s post-game comments to a pool reporter it turns out the video reviewers in New York wanted to review the play but the Patriots had already snapped the ball and as such the play could no longer be reviewed. And according to Aaron Wilson, who covers the Texans for the Houston Chronicle, O’Brien said it isn’t his job to call a timeout to try to get officials to review (the) Gronkowski catch at end of first half.
If O’Brien keeps making bonehead decisions like that it might not be his job to coach the Texans much longer.
Over at Fenway a glaring hole in the Boston Red Sox roster is starting to cause some issues as their bullpen continues to choke away leads given to them by the starting pitchers. Not having good arms you can go to late in games is a big issue in the playoffs, and right now the Sox are struggling there.
Not that anyone was expecting it to happen, but manager Alex Cora confirmed that Dustin Pedroia will not be playing again this season. Pedroia has returned to the team to be with them in the playoff push.
In some positive Red Sox news, newly recalled Brandon Phillips had a heck of a game in his debut with the club on Wednesday as he helped his team rally back from deficits of 7-1 and 8-7 with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth. Phillips, who became the first Red Sox player to wear the number zero in a game, went 1-3 with two walks and three runs scored in the game.
Phillips is eligible for the Red Sox playoff roster, and while many think he’s a longshot to be added to it I think he does have a better chance than that. The next couple weeks will tell the story.
Nationally, one of my favorite sports events to watch is the Ryder Cup, the biennial golf tournament between the United States and Europe. The 2018 edition will be held in France from September 28-30 on the Albatros Course of Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a suburb southwest of Paris.
For the US team the top eight in Ryder Cup points, earned by where a player finishes in the Majors plus World Golf Events. Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Webb Simpson all earned spots on the team.
United States Captain Fred Couples named three of his four captain’s picks last Monday night, and it wasn’t a shock to fans that he named the next three finishers on the points list to the team, adding Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods to the squad.
Couples gets one more pick, to be announced likely just after this posting goes up and the big money is on him picking Tony Finau.
I watched a bit of the Serena Williams/Naomi Osaka match Saturday, but it was obvious early that this was Osaka’s day and I switched over to the PGA’s BMW Championship as my “main” watch and continued to check into several NCAA football games.
As it turns out, the tennis was probably the more important event.
Chair umpire Carlos Ramos gave Williams a code violation warning for coaching after he ruled that her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, gave her hand signals from the stands. It should be noted that in the aftermath of the match a significant number of pro tennis players that have weighed in have stated that while that it’s technically against the rules for coaches to do that during a match it happens all the time and the rule seldom enforced.
Later Williams received another code violation for smashing her racket, and because of the previous warning was given a point penalty. If you guessed Williams didn’t take that well, you were correct.
On the switch over she confronted Ramos. “You stole a point from me and you are a thief,” Williams told him. Ramos then assessed a game penalty ruling.
Eighteen time Grand Slam winner Chris Evert tweeted “…(Ramos) should have told or warned SW about the verbal abuse/ rule before he enforced it.” I watch a lot of tennis, and chair umpires routinely “unofficially” warn players all the time. This was definitely a case where that should have happened.
ESPN broadcaster Chris Fowler, also from his twitter account, sad, “Truly unfortunate that the umpire got involved far too much. Restraint called for. So a wonderful performance by Naomi Osaka was partly spoiled. She was wrongly gifted a game, but earned the title. A huge new star.”
Former pro James Blake tweeted “I will admit I have said worse and not gotten penalized. And I’ve also been given a “soft warning” by the ump where they tell you knock it off or I will have to give you a violation. He should have at least given her that courtesy. Sad to mar a well played final that way.”
I grew up watching tennis in the era of John McEnroe, Jimmy Conners, and Ilie Nastase. Williams conduct doesn’t come even close to what those three men did. Her cries of sexism, coupled with the US Open and French Opens both having issues in the last few weeks with women’s tennis attire, certainly seem to be right on the money.
Not a ton of new Pawsox/WooSox news this week despite a meeting of the City Council Economic Development Committee on Wednesday. As usual, the meeting itself was the news as opposed to anything said in it.
There was one little tidbit that caught my attention, when Dr Charles Steinberg, President of the Pawtucket Red Sox and longtime Boston Red Sox executive said of the Bravehearts, “We are thrilled there’s another baseball organization that shares our vision of community baseball”. He added that Worcester’s AAA team would support the Bravehearts.
Executive Producer Ben White of WUTY’s “Talk of the Commonwealth” morning show questioned on air late last week why the PawSox would do that seeing as they will compete for the same audience as the Bravehearts, and what could they actually do to support the summer league college team. Both are legitimate questions that probably should have been asked by the media in attendance. Hopefully someone will get that opportunity in the near future.
In Worcester Railers news, the ECHL has announced the slate of preseason games their teams will play and the Railers will play a single game during training camp this year, taking on the Maine Mariners at The Rinks at Exeter in Exeter, New Hampshire on October 6th at 7pm. Admission is free.
The Railers will be announcing their training camp schedule, which will include a special “Members Only” event, very soon.
The Railers AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, announced their preseason games and unlike last season they won’t be playing a game at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center. I wasn’t expecting there to be one as it’s a long drive for the Sound Tigers to make to play an exhibition game. Last season’s game was a special event celebrating a new team and building.
The Worcester Blades announced their training camp schedule, which runs from 7-8:30 p.m. on September 26-28, and is open to the public. The Blades will play exhibition game on Saturday, September 29 at 2pm against an as-of-yet named opponent.
Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center is the host location for camp and all Blades home games.
SOMETHING ONLY I CARE ABOUT
I’m a strong supporter of local college sports, which of course includes Holy Cross. That being said, can anyone come up with a good reason why the Crusaders are playing Boston College in football again? Granted both are Division 1 programs, but they’re separated into two different classifications, with BC being in the “Football Bowl Subdivision” and Holy Cross in the “Football Championship Subdivision”.
As silly as it sounds, the game wasn’t as close as the 62-14 final would indicate. Both of Holy Cross’ scores came off of blocked punts returned for touchdowns. The Crusaders went 0-2 in the red zone on offense while Boston College went 4-4.
Considering the Crusaders have big issues against mediocre FCS teams playing a FBS team is essentially just marking a game in the loss column. It’s akin to Holy Cross playing Assumption College.
Although maybe not, as the Division 2 Greyhounds are actually good, going 32-8 in the regular season since 2014.
HAVE SOME LINKS
The Shame of MLB’s Anti-Labor, Anti-Competitive “Service Time” Rules
PTO be or not PTO be: A breakdown of (NHL) PTOs over the past three years
Cubs, Nationals were reportedly at odds over postponement (Sound familiar Bravehearts fans?)
From The Atlantic:
The Divided Legacy of Lyndon B. Johnson
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
Red Sox vs Toronto, NESN, 7pm
Red Sox vs Toronto, NESN, 7pm
Red Sox vs Toronto, NESN, 7pm
Red Sox vs NY Mets, NESN, 7pm
Red Sox vs NY Mets, NESN, 4pm
Revolution at Los Angeles FC, NBCSB, 10:30pm
Red Sox vs NY Mets, NESN, 1pm
Patriots at Jacksonville, CBS, 4:25pm
All times EDT
Last Friday night Bill Ballou, the dean of sportswriters here in the city, covered his final Boston Red Sox game before retirement. Ballou’s writings on anything are must-reads, so his departure from the Red Sox beat is a big one. His musings on the local pro hockey scene were second to none, and I’ve “borrowed” a bit of his style in what I do here on 210Sports.
The good news is based on his column in the Sunday Telegram Ballou may be back on the Railers beat to start the new year, and it looks like he’s planning on covering the “WooSox” in 2021. So hopefully we’re without Ballou for just a short while.
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