Monday, September 24, 2018

SZ 686

SEPTEMBER 24, 2018

How do you lose to an 0-2 team, even on their home field? Well, a clue was in last week’s stats when the Lions, while losing to the 49ers in San Francisco 30-27, ran for 98 yards. You know that Detroit coach and ex-Pats Defense Coordinator Matt Patricia would want to run the ball against NE, winning the Time of Possession battle and keeping the ball away from Tom Brady. The Lions ran for 159 yards and had the ball 18 ½ minutes more than the Patriots (39:15 to 20:45).

Then, looking at the depleted NE wide receiver group, the Lions needed to stop the Pats from running. They did, holding NE to 89 yards. The Pats had to be able to run the ball effectively with few receiver options (no Gordon, Hollister and Edelman). They even had RT Marcus Cannon back. Sony Michel was twice stopped on 3rd and 1, including just before half, resulting in a FG when they could have used a TD.

This game was won in the trenches and Detroit deserved the victory as they bested NE in the battles on the offensive and defensive lines.

It didn’t help the Patriots that their best pass rusher, Trey Flowers, and safety Patrick Chung were inactive due to concussions. Chung often covers the TE and comes up in run coverage at times. With CB Eric Rowe also out, it put other personnel in their places. Jason McCourty started opposite Stephen Gilmore at CB. The loss of those key defenders also affected substitute nickel and dime packages.

The Patriots scored their only TD at the beginning of the 2nd half after Ja’Whaun Bentley intercepted a pass at the NE 48. But after making it 13-10, the Pats allowed Detroit to score a TD and a FG on its next two possessions. Down 23-10, the Pats were done in when Darius Slay intercepted Brady with 7:39 left.

Congratulations to Matt Patricia for beating his mentor Bill Belichick and rallying his Lions to their first win. Let’s hope that the Patriots get some key players back for Miami.

Tom Brady was barely above .500 throwing the ball (14 for 26). It didn’t help that Phillip Dorsett, while targeted 5 times, didn’t have a catch. The rest: Gronk (5 targets, 4 catches), Hogan (4/3), White (3/3), Burkhead (3/2), Michel (3/1). Patterson had 1 target and 1 catch. You would have thought they’d throw to him more. And no end arounds.

Brady’s longest throws were for 19 yards, one to Gronk, the other to Burkhead.

The Lions had 2 sacks and 6 QB hits. LT Trent Brown gave up his first sack. NE had but one sack (Wise) and that was their only QB hit!

Detroit was 7 for 14 on 3rd down. The Pats an anemic 2 of 9. The Lions scored on their first three possessions (FG, TD, FG).

Last week, Keionta Davis started at RE in place of Bentley. Yesterday Davis didn’t start but played. He didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Neither did DE Derek Rivers.

Ok, the Red Sox have won the AL East. Now it’s up to Alex Cora to assemble the
Wrecking Crew that gets them to the World Series and a Championship.
You saw what happened to Jimmy G (should have gotten out of bounds). The 49ers just paid him a ton of guaranteed money. Hope he’s able to come back from his injury.
A shout out to Buffalo Steve whose Bills just destroyed the Vikes 27-6. Looks like QB Josh Allen helped mightily.

The song: The first song that came to my mind was “Hey Joe”. But I’m pretty sure that “Are you Experienced” came out before.
Dennis Doyon
Dennis, you are actually right with your first guess - Hey Joe. - Z

Hey Joe/Stone Free.
The Wizard
Wiz, yes, you are right, it's Hey Joe. - Z

Pats get Gordon- you didn't want Bryant an egomaniac- but you’re OK with Gordon a Sociopath-do you know the name of the Pats in-house therapist?
Ken Forestal
Ken, if any team can rehabilitate a reprobate, it's the Pats. He has a drug problem I think. Dillon, Harrison, Ochocinco, even Moss with his ego. Pats took ’em in. It's a chance for Gordon. He'll have great support, if he wants it. - Z

Folklore was talking about playing golf with his father. He talked about making some tough shots against his Dad. Fleet Feet Pete said that he plays ‘Military Golf’. What’s that? Left, Right, Left, Right.

We were talking about Patriots running backs and Ernesto The Walker brought up the NE back who scored 4 TDs one week and then was benched the following week. I thought hard and long, but couldn’t come up with the answer. Ernesto looked it up and while doing so, Charlie Clancy said “Jonas Gray”. Yup!
Dr. John and I were talking about some of the not so holy televangelists who had large followings. John mentioned that Jim Bakker (brought down by scandal) once said: “If you want to be a fisher of men, you need to have good bait.” I recalled that Robert Schuller, who used donations to build the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA, saw his ministry collapse. The irony: the Catholic Church now owns the Crystal Cathedral.

So I told Dr. John, Cap’t Jack, Special K and Joanne about a book subtitled, My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars by Scotty Bowers and writer Lionel Friedberg (2012). It’s a wonderfully salacious tale of Bowers who, after WW II, worked at a gas station on Hollywood Boulevard and used it to set up ‘tricks’ for men and women of different sexual persuasions. Many were Hollywood legends, but whose studio contracts would have ended their professional film lives had they been ‘outed’. The title of the book is Full Service. There is a documentary now out by Matt Tyrnauer called Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2017) which is on Starz.

So last time I asked you to tell me what was the first hit song Jimi Hendrix released (in the UK). Dennis Doyon and the Wizard got it (via email) and Special K knew it in person. It was Hey Joe.
A little change of pace – a sports question, but not about baseball (no way, Foot Joy). This NBA Hall of Famer once had a game in which he went 0-14 from the field. One clue - the player was known more for his defense than his offense, but still... Name?
Sportzine is also available at thanks to Buffalo Steve Lenz


SEPTEMBER 17, 2018

It wasn’t just the game time temperature that was hot (97°), but the Jaguars offense (2 TDs on their first two possessions) and defense which had Tom Brady rushing his throws, and uncomfortable in the pocket.

Surprisingly, Gamebook stats show that the Jags only had 2 sacks of Brady and 3 QB hits in the whole game, but it seemed like he was under pressure much of the day. Part of that was the excellent coverage of Brady’s receivers, especially Rob Gronkowski. Loudmouth CB Jalen Ramsey, who said Gronk wasn’t that good pre-game, had little to do with shutting down Gronk as I only saw him on Gronk once. Ramsey’s coaches must have thought otherwise about Gronk’s value as he was double-covered most of the time.

The real surprise was how well Jags QB Blake Bortles played. The first two TD passes were perfectly thrown as the Pats coverage was actually good. The one interception Bortles threw wasn’t his fault as it went off his receiver’s hands.

However what Bortles also did well was run for first downs on 3rd and long. By my count, he had to have done it 4-5 times. A Gamebook check shows that on 3rd and 6, Bortles ran for a 1st down to keep the drive alive that resulted in the Jags 2nd TD. On the Jags first possession of the 2nd half, Bortles had a 3rd and 7 and ran for a 1st down. That drive consumed 7:10 minutes and resulted in a FG that made it 24-3. Later Bortles was stopped after gaining 4 yards on a 3rd and 5. With 3:07 left and the score 31-20, Bortles ran on 3rd and 8 for a 1st down which ended any small hope the Pats had.

Usually the Patriots have a ‘spy’ who is responsible for preventing running QBs for doing what Bortles did. Was that person Trey Flowers who went out with a concussion in the 1st half? Chung also went out with a concussion. Neither returned.

This game turned for good (bad) after Van Noy’s interception. It was at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The score was 24-13 and the Pats had the ball on the Jags 25. On 3rd and 9, Dante Fowler strip sacked Brady, beating RT LaAdrian Waddle. In Waddle’s

defense, he subbed with Marcus Cannon at RT in the 1st game, but Cannon was inactive with a calf injury. Waddle may have worn down in the heat.

The coup de grace occurred after a Jags challenge overturned a 1st down by James White. On the next series, Bortles hit Westbrook for a 61 yard TD down the sideline and the game was out of hand.

The Jaguars are a very good team and played well. They took it to the Patriots. Their offensive and defensive schemes were good. On some of their catches, they used crossing routes and picked off a defender. They also had some highlight reel catches.

Losing is tough for the Patriots, especially against a team they may face in the playoffs.
Belichick and his coaches will use this game (hopefully) to have the players learn from the loss. The Pats will be better with Edelman (after 2 more games) and another receiver (Kenny Britt?) or two (Jordan Matthews?).

Sony Michel looked good in his debut. The O Line should improve. On to Detroit.
On 3rd down, the Pats were 4 for 12 and allowed the Jags to go 10 of 14. That won’t do.

The Pats had no sacks and 4 QB hits. That’s after 3 sacks and 12 QB hits versus Houston

Keionta Davis started at RE in place of rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley. I saw Bentley run past Bortles on a blitz. Davis had 3 tackles.

When you know it might not be your day – On the first series of the game, Trey Flowers knocked the ball loose from WR Dede Westbrook, but the fumble went right to teammate DJ Chark.

When Jaguars LT Cam Robinson went out on the first drive of the game, I thought that might help the NE pass rush. Josh Wells, who replaced Robinson, did a good job instead.

Both Dietrich Wise Jr. and Calais Campbell were called for ‘leverage’ penalties. I had never heard of that before. A search shows it’s when a defensive player jumps or stands on a teammate or opponent to try and block a kick.

In the Steelers-KC game, Ben Roethlisberger threw past the line of scrimmage for a TD. It was challenged, but not overruled. It seemed obvious to me.
You probably heard that KC rookie Patrick Mahomes went 23 of 28 for 6 TDs. Best %– Derek Carr of the Raiders who was 29 of 32! Philip Rivers only threw for 3 TDs but was 23 of 27. Drew Brees was 28 of 35 (2 TDs) and the reincarnated Ryan Fitzpatrick was 27 of 33. He threw for 4 TDs, including two 75-yarders against the Super Bowl champion Eagles. That’s some slinging.

And it was a bad day for a couple little guys – the kickers. The Vikings Daniel Carlson missed 3 FGs (48, 49 and 35), two in overtime in their tie with Green Bay. The Browns Zane Gonzalez missed an extra point and two FGs (44, 52) in their 21-18 loss to NO. Oakland’s Mike Nugent had an extra point blocked. His team lost 20-19 to Denver. Oh and Gonzalez was kicking with a groin injury. Cleveland just cut him. Carlson cut too.

Ian Rapoport just tweeted that the Patriots may be close to a deal with the Browns for WR Josh Gordon. If any team can redeem a reprobate, it’s the Patriots.

Glad to have "ZINE" back - Sox are OK for regular season - little worried about playoffs - Kinsler playing well (good pick up).
I'm going out on a limb here Smokey Robinson-I know he wrote "First I Look At The Purse" for J Geils - and I believe he wrote "Going to a Go Go" (I think right title) for Stones
Ken Forestal
Good guess on the music trivia but incorrect. - Z

I was cocky with Smokey Robinson-from cuff-I visited J Geils & Wilson Pickett LPs-my guess is Bobby Womack-I believe the Stones did cover one of his songs over his protest (correct me if I'm wrong).
Ken Forestal
Ken, you're right on your second guess. Bobby Womack wrote It's All Over Now for his band, the Valentinos. When the Stones version came out, Womack was unhappy because his band’s attempt tanked. Womack was unhappy until he got his first royalty check. - Z

How about “It’s All Over Now “ Bobby Womack ??
Jim Dwyer
Jim, damn you're good! Who knows the Rolling Stones better than you. Yes it's Bobby Womack who wrote It's All Over Now. He wrote it for his group the Valentinos and was pissed when the Stones 'stole' it and recorded it. That lasted until he got his first royalty check. Those royalty checks for that one song made him financially secure for the rest of his life. - Z
Sportzine is also available at thanks to Buffalo Steve Lenz

Last week I mentioned a trivia question by Professor Peter. It was “When was the National Anthem (The Star-Spangled Banner) first played at a sporting event?” His answer was the first game of the 1918 World Series between the Red Sox and Cubs.
Well an Internet search shows that to be not totally correct. A Washington Post story of
8/30/16 by Fred Barbash and Travis Andrews describes that happening prefaced by ‘As legend has it...” However, a Huff Post piece by Caroline Bologna (5/21/18) notes that the first time the National Anthem was played was at Union Baseball and Cricket Grounds, Brooklyn, NY on May15, 1862, the opening day of the baseball season. The article then goes on to say that the first time the National Anthem was sung was at that first game of the 1918 World Series and it happened during the 7th inning stretch.

Words of wisdom came from Captain Jack to Dr. John, Joanne, Special K and me: He said “Part of life is being human.”

Ran into Rare Earth who told me about the recent hiring of youths at his job. He told one young man, “My surf board is older than you.”

Bob Segar’s Night Moves was playing at the Hot Club. Professor Peter asked me if I knew who played on Segar’s earliest hit though he had trouble remembering the song title. After a few moments I said Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man. He marveled at my recall. I said that some people call me a ‘savant’ but I prefer ‘idiot savant’. FootJoy agreed quickly with the ‘idiot’ part. And it was Glenn Frey, per Pete, who played and sang on it.

Who wrote a #1 song for the Stones and songs for Joplin, J Geils and Wilson Pickett? Only Jim Dwyer and Ken Forestal (2nd try) got it – it was Bobby Womack. Besides It’s All Over Now for the Stones, the HOFer wrote Lookin’ for a Love for J Geils and I’m a Midnight Mover for Wilson Pickett.
On December 16, 1966, the Jimi Hendrix Experience released its first single (in the UK). What was the song title?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

SZ 684

SEPTEMBER 10, 2018

On a cool September 9th (62° at game start) with the wind gusting greater than the 10 mph listed, the Pats took control of the game early and led comfortably until Riley McCarron fumbled a punt (he had called for a fair catch his other 3 times). The ensuing Texans TD made it a 7 point game but the Pats held on, helped by a first down catch by James Develin and a Ryan Allen punt of 54 yards downed by Jonathan Jones at the Houston 1. With only 43 seconds left, Houston was hog-tied.

So my daughter Cara got to enjoy her 29th birthday with Driller Killer and me. If as a guest the Patriots get a win, you get to be invited back. No problem, Cara.

The Texans won the toss and elected to kick off (one of the only things that JJ Watt did. this day). However when Houston got the ball back, Deshaun Watson fumbled, Dont’a Hightower recovered and a Gronk TD followed. The Pats never trailed after that.

Possible concerns about the offensive line protecting Brady were put to rest this day. LT Trent Brown defended Brady’s blind side well and RT Marcus Cannon and sub LaAdrian Waddle the right side. JJ Watt was held to 2 tackles and an assist, and Jadeveon Clowney to 1 tackle and 1 assist as the two edge rushers were held in check.

Not only did the OL protect well but they blocked well on runs as NE rushed for 122 yards. Unfortunately Jeremy Hill (4 carries, 25 yards) was injured at the beginning of the 2nd half when Gronk fumbled and in the ensuing scrum, Develin was knocked into Hill’s right knee. Hill may be done for the year. Rookie Ralph Webb, who is on the practice squad, may replace him if so.

On the Pats’ last drive of the 1st half (after Hill partially blocked the punt) with 1:28 left, Hill ran for 8 and 11 yards. Chris Hogan (only 1 catch on 5 targets) saved the bacon when he recovered a Rex Burkhead fumble. The drive continued with passes to Phillip Dorsett for 12, 14 and 4 yards, the last a TD. I joked that Dorsett caught more passes on the day (7) than he had all last year (he actually caught 12). 7 catches on 7 targets.

Besides the questions about the OL, there was hope that the Pats Defense would be better. It was. It surprised me when rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley started at RE with Trey Flowers at LE. Bentley was second on the team with 7 combos (4 tackles, 3 assists). Only Stephon Gilmore was better (7 and 1). Meanwhile Flowers and Dietrich Wise Jr. each had a sack and a half. The team had 12 hits on Watson and kept his running game somewhat in check (8 carries for 40 yards).

The Pats opened with a 4-2-5 Defense with Hightower and Van Noy at LB and an extra DB in Jonathan Jones who played the slot receiver.

The Texans were held to 2 for 11 on 3rd down and 0 for 1 on 4th. The Texans were 2 of 5 in the Red Zone (NE was 3 for 4) which contributed to the Pats win.

A key play was DL Lawrence Guy tackling Watson as he tried to throw long and was intercepted in the end zone by Stephon Gilmore. The ball was on the Pats 49 at the time.

The Pats were only 4 for 14 on 3rd down.

NE had 3 turnovers (one fumble was recovered or it would have been 4), which was one more than Houston. More turnovers than your opponent often leads to a loss.

James White was targeted 9 times but only had 4 catches.

RB Tyler Ervin, who returned kickoffs, had 5 for 156 yards. That will spell disaster if not fixed.

Cordarrelle Patterson was targeted but once and had 1 catch. He had a penalty on a 3rd and 1 that made it 3rd and 6. He did have 3 end arounds for 13 yards.

When there was an extra point or field goal try, both officials didn’t always signal whether it was good. One would raise his arms, the other didn’t. They’re paid to do so.

Watson was 17 of 34 (.500) with an INT.

There was a play where Watson was in the grasp in the end zone when he threw the ball into the ground. I thought it was intentional grounding and should have been a safety. On replay, TE Jordan Thomas was in the area.

Sportzine is also available at thanks to Buffalo Steve Lenz

Some ex-Pats: the Saints’ Mike Gillislee had 3 carries for 9 yards and his fumble was returned for a TD by the Bucs. Dion Lewis had a good game for the Titans: 16 carries for 75 yards and a TD. Lewis also had 5 catches for 35 yards. Miami’s Danny Amendola had 4 catches for 26 yards.

Jimmy G. opened the season by throwing 15 of 33 (less than .500) with 3 INTs, one returned for a TD. The Vikings sacked him 3x. The Vikes do have a great D. We’ll see how Jimmy G fares at home vs Detroit next week.

Cleveland QB Tyrod Taylor was 15 of 40 with 1 INT and was sacked 7x. He did run for 77 yards on 8 carries and his team tied the Steelers. How? Roethlisberger threw 3 INTs and Pittsburgh had 3 fumbles. They blew a 14 point lead in the 4th quarter at Cleveland.

Seattle lost to Denver 27-24. Janikowski missed a 46-yard FG for the Seahawks. Russell Wilson threw 2 INTs and was sacked 6 times. Denver’s Case Keenum had 3 INTs.

OK so maybe I was a little over anxious when the Yankees crept within 5 games behind in the loss column. Fortunately, FootJoy clued me in on the fact that at the time, if the BoSox went .500 that NY would have to play .710 to tie. And if the Sox played .600 ball than the Yanks would need to play .806 to tie. Thanks FJ for easing my stress.

In less than a week after I wrote about my concern, Boston won and the Yankees lost and the lead in the loss column went back to 9. As of this writing, the Sox lead is 8 in the loss column with 18 games to play (NY has 19)

One of the amazing stories about the Red Sox is Ryan Brasier who was pitching in Japan last year. ERA of 1.73 and very few inherited runners allowed to score.
Now we have Brandon Phillips who stuck around with the PawSox since June hoping to have a chance of being with a team that could win the World Series. It looks like hope may have just been rewarded. Think Phillips will be on that Boston playoff team?

In case you missed it, Brandon Phillips channeled Willie Mays Hayes from the movie Major League II when he did that backwards lean after homering in the 9th to put Boston ahead of the Braves.

Cordarrelle Patterson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings after they traded for the Patriots 1st round pick in 2013. The Pats got the Vikes 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th round picks for him. They used the picks for LB Jamie Collins, CB Logan Ryan, WR Josh Boyce and traded the 7th pick for LeGarrette Blount. Seems ironic that Patterson is now with NE.
The series with the Astros could be a Preview of Coming Attractions. Houston is a formidable foe with as much firepower as the Red Sox. The Astros lead the Majors in team ERA (3.10) while Boston is 4th (3.66). It’s obvious from this recent series that the Sox will need to shore up their relief pitching. Let’s hope that Boston does just that.

While I don’t often mention my movie choices, the three movies that I would recommend that I really liked in the past little bit are: Get Out, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Baby Driver.

I'm guessing that "Rockpile" was the band that you referenced.  Oddly enough, they were an opening act for a Denver based concert that I attended, (circa 1979-80) that headlined Van Morrison. Was not impressed with "Rockpile" and they were henceforth referred to as "Shitpile"; to Van?
"Young Will" LaPlante
Bill, good guess but no. Wasn’t Rockpile the band with Nick Lowe and/or Dave Edmunds? Never saw Van Morrison. Heard he could be great or boozed up beyond control. - Z

How-do James. I think the answer to this week's quiz is "The Pretenders". their 1st album was one of the best debuts ever, for my money. Chrissie Hynde being the 1 lone american paired with 3 Englishmen. The Davies' tune was "Stop your Sobbing".
Bobby Sisto
Bobby, yes it's the Pretenders and the Ray Davies' song is Stop Your Sobbing. Davies also did the song Go to Sleep for the 2nd album. I agree that the first album was one of the best ever. Can't remember a bad song on it. - Z

I think I've  got this week’s trivia-if I don't I'll have hang up my Rock & Roll cleats
The Pretenders-"Gotta Stop Sobbing"-I believe Hynde & Davies were an item at one time
Ken Forestal
Yes Ken, it's Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders. That first album was a knock out. Brad took a pic of her when we saw them at RIC. Guy took his camera away, but left the film in, so Brad has a pic or two of her. She was pissed. Yeah Raymond Douglas Davies and Chrissie had a short relationship which led to a daughter - Natalie (1983). Stop Your Sobbing was the Davies penned tune, as you noted. Nick Lowe produced the single. -Z

SPORTZINE was written while listening to John Prine’s new cd – Tree of Forgiveness.
Professor Peter had a good trivia question. When was the first time that the National Anthem was played at a sporting event? Turns out it was the 1st game of the 1918 World Series, Boston Red Sox vs. the Chicago Cubs. So this year will be the 100th Anniversary. The Professor wondered if it might be a Red Sox- Cubs World Series matchup in 2018. Snark said ‘Don’t play the Anthem in the World Series this year.’ (It seems that the Professor is a little off on this trivia – explanation next time).

Recently FootJoy pointed out to me that the best move Dave Dombrowski made this season was waiving Hanley Ramirez and keeping Swihart after Alex Cora talked him into dropping Hanley and keeping Swi. Best move by both. Give credit to Dombrowski for listening to and heeding Cora. Amazing that no team picked up Hanley.

I pointed out to Charlie Clancy that the mast of a boat in the marina was swaying back and forth rather vigorously. Charlie said, “Someone’s getting lucky.”

Charlie said that no team had come back, down 6 runs in the 8th inning or later this season. Sure enough, it was 0-487 until the Red Sox did it to the Atlanta Braves.

Fleet Feet Pete had a previous job working for Reebok. One of his duties was to meet occasionally with Paul Fireman at Fireman’s Boston office. Someone asked Fleet Feet what that was like. He said, “Like walking into a lion’s cage wearing a 3 pork chop suit.”

A pigskin pundit told me that if the Patriots win the AFC East and Jacksonville or Indianapolis win their divisions, all 16 of the Patriots games in 2019 will be against teams in the Eastern Time Zone.

The question was: This band shot to fame with the aid of a song penned by Ray Davies of the Kinks and the production efforts of Nick Lowe. The band enjoyed great success first in England. It was composed of 3 Englishmen and one American. Name? Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders, of course. Only Bobby Sisto and Ken Forestal guessed it.

This singer wrote a # 1 song for the Rolling Stones. He also wrote songs for Janis Joplin,
J Geils Band and Wilson Pickett. He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. Name?

SZ 683

AUGUST 27, 2018

The last Sportzine, #682, was dated 2/26/18. Some of you may have wondered where it went, why it stopped. My companion, Victoria R. Troxell, had been battling cancer since November 18, 2013. when she was diagnosed with bilateral ovarian cancer, Stage 4.

Victoria went through chemotherapy, surgery, more chemotherapy and finally she got into a clinical trial at Dana Farber in Boston. That clinical trial kept her alive far longer than any of us could have imagined or hoped. And then the trial ended.

In March of this year, chemotherapy was started at Miriam Hospital, but it was so debilitating that her daughters Sophie and Jemma convinced Victoria to stop that treatment and have home hospice care. The staff of Hope Hospice and Palliative Care did a wonderful job helping Victoria, Sophie and her family, Jemma and Victoria’s son Hugh and his family, and myself through those darkest of times.

It was a testiment to Victoria’s tenacity, her will to live that she fought her disease until the very end. She died on April 24, 2018.

Victoria’s family had a Celebration of Life for her (there was no wake nor church service). Sophie, Jemma, Hugh and I were in accord that Victoria’s ashes be scattered on Swan’s Island in Maine where she had a summer home. We scattered her ashes in the waters of Mackerel Cove outside her home recently. Victoria is now in a place where she would have wanted to be. In addition, Sophie and her husband Barak paid Providence Public Works to plant a tree on the walking path on Blackstone Boulevard, near the stone hut. I try to walk 2 miles every day and when I do, I always stop at Victoria’s tree to commune with her. We were together for almost 18 years. I miss her every day and always will.

On behalf of Sophie, Barak and their boys Liam and Tiernan, Jemma, and Hugh and his companion Sharon and daughter Samantha, I would like to thank Dana Farber, Victoria’s clinical trial doctor, Khanh Do, M.D., and the staff of Home Hospice and Palliative Care for their love and support.

Victoria would want me to carry on, and so I will try to do just that. What follows is an abbreviated Sportzine. The full version should resume around the time that the Patriots season begins and the Red Sox inch closer to the playoffs. R.I.P. Victoria, my Love.

Or as Curly of the Stooges would say: ‘Noy-vis? Who’s noy-vis? Well, I am.
Red Sox fans have been treated so far to a memorable season. 50 games over .500 is not a place the Red Sox have ever gone before in my lifetime. The best record in baseball at 90-42. And as Richard Flinn reminded me, Boston is the only team that hasn’t had a 4-game losing streak. However on Sunday, they got swept by the Tampa Rays. The Red Sox had gone 10-0-4 in its previous series. Time to worry?

All this time that the Red Sox have put up great offensive numbers, the lurking Giant in New York has somehow kept pace and stayed in contention, and that despite injuries to Bronx bashers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Sanchez is in rehab and due back soon. Judge has a fractured wrist and his return date is unknown. Oh and the Yankees have the second best record in baseball at 83-47.

So it comes down to the remaining games, with NY having 16 at home and 16 on the road where they are only 38-27. The Red Sox have 17 at home and 13 on the road. The Sox are 46-19 at home.

With Sunday’s games, the Yankees are now 5 games back in the loss column. That’s the only stat that means anything. It was 10. The Red Sox have 6 games remaining against New York, 3 away and 3 at home, the last 3 in Boston the last week of the regular season. Sox fans can only hope that Boston has a big enough lead that those last 3 games are meaningless. Otherwise you may see someone liking Chris Sale pitching a crucial game that weekend, depriving them of their best pitcher for the beginning of the playoffs. Let’s hope that isn’t a wild card game.

As for those remaining games, the Yankees still have a West Coast trip versus Oakland (Sean Manaea just went on the 10-day DL with left shoulder impingement), Seattle and then the Twins. However of the games left for the BoSox, there are 3 at Atlanta, 3 at Cleveland and 3 at home against Houston.

So buckle up your seat belts for this remaining ride. It would be a shame to see the Sox falter down the stretch. Just remember those 2007 Patriots who went undefeated in the regular season and then won the first two games of the playoffs to make it 18-0. They lost to the New York ‘Football’ Giants (this is for you Jim Dwyer and Al Vallese) in the Super Bowl. Does anyone care about that great season the Patriots had or how it ended?

It’s hard to make it to the World Series. This Red Sox team is quite capable of doing that. However I constantly remind Patriots fans that it is extremely difficult to make it to the Super Bowl, no matter how good your team is. And the Red Sox will face much tougher competition. Let’s go Red Sox. Take care of business. You hold the keys. Don’t relinquish them.
What to make of this year’s edition of the Patriots? There are always changes from year to year. Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis and Nate Solder are gone. Edelman is out the first 4 games for using an unknown drug. Tom Brady is 41. The window to winning another Super Bowl is closing. As a Patriots fan, a 6th Super Bowl win would put aside any chatter about who had the best dynasty team (except for Patriots haters).

This 21st Century Patriots team has lost 3 of the 8 Super Bowls in which they’ve participated. The reason they lost those 3 was that their defense let them down. Tom Brady and company had given them the lead in all three. They couldn’t hold on.

So, will this edition have a better defense? I hope so. Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia has gone to Detroit to coach the Lions. His replacement, Brian Flores (technically the LB coach), will be under the microscope. It’s tough to measure how well a defense will do based on pre-season games. Flores seems to want to blitz more and the team had 5 in the first half vs the Eagles (8 for the game). However I’ve noticed that when they didn’t get to the quarterback, there were pass completions for big gains.

Bill Belichick has brought in two players who may play key roles on the defense: DE Adrian Clayborn and NT Danny Shelton. They also have DE Derek Rivers who was injured last year back. Rookie LB Ja’Whaun Bentley has looked good. Dont’a Hightower, coming back from a torn pectoral muscle, has barely shown up on the stat sheet in the pre-season. That is not encouraging for the quarterback of the defense.

On the offensive side, Belichick traded for massive LT Trent Brown (6’8”, 380 lbs) who has to protect Brady’s blind side. Since Nate Solder (gone to the Giants for big bucks) didn’t always do that last year, Brown may be an improvement. The right tackle is Marcus Cannon’s when healthy. The rest of the OL is intact from last year.

With Dion Lewis gone (6 TDs, 896 yards), will the Pats be able to run the ball effectively? A good running game offsets teams with a good pass rush. So it’ll be up to Burkhead, White, Hill and Gillislee (if they both make the team) and rookie Sony Michel to do the job. Rookie Michel had better rushing stats at Georgia than Todd Gurley but tends to fumble a lot.. Michel has a knee injury (left I believe) and had the knee drained in the pre-season. The timing of his return is unclear. Rookie RB Ralph Webb looked good in a game that I saw.

So opening day against Houston 9/9 (my daughter Cara’s birthday and she’ll be in attendance) can’t come soon enough. Oh and FootJoy, the Patriots TV game versus Carolina outdrew the Red Sox game vs. Tampa. Just sayin’.

Readers of Sportzine know that I seldom comment about the political arena. However in losing the PawSox to Worcester, MA, it’s hard to avoid that topic.

First, understand that I am a Pawtucket native and remember it as a once thriving city with a vibrant downtown. Besides China Inn, one of the few current gems in Pawtucket’s firmament since those glory days has been the Pawtucket Red Sox. Now that will be taken away from baseball fans and the citizens of Pawtucket and RI.

As a kid, my Dad took me to games at McCoy Stadium when it was home to the AA Cleveland Indians farm team. Eventually it became the AAA Red Sox team. Stadium conditions were squalid until Ben Mondor (a Canadian!) bought the team in 1977. Ben Mondor brought in Mike Tamburro and the duo with help later from Lou Schwechheimer transformed the stadium into the gem that it is today (a 1998-1999 refurbishing also helped).

When Ben Mondor died, Larry Lucchino and minions bought the team from Ben’s widow. Their first act was to try and move the team to Providence and get a new stadium built, using ‘other people’s money’ (read Rhode Island taxpayers). Mover and shaker James Skeffington was the driving force for that plan and House Representative Nicholas Mattiello was all for it, even though it was a bad deal for RI taxpayers. All the political dominos were in place for the deal but then Skeffington died, and so did the re-location plan.

This year, it was obvious that time was of the essence in getting a new Pawtucket stadium deal plan in place.William Conley of the Senate had town hall meetings, economists weighed in and a financing plan was passed in the Senate. However now Speaker of the House Mattiello wasn’t going along with that Senate passed plan. Mattiello waited until almost the closing of the House session to introduce a bill that undercut the Senate’s plan by removing the backing of the state vis-a-vis the bonds to be borrowed. That would have significantly raised the costs of borrowing.

Governor Gina Raimondo is also a culprit in the loss of the Pawtucket Red Sox as she stood on the sidelines observing rather than making sure that the Senate deal passed the House. Raimondo doesn’t care. She will still probably win re-election and she still has Point Judith Capital, her hedge fund, which has money invested in our state pension fund (with an option for next year too).

My hope is that Nicholas Mattiello loses his election in November to Stephen Frias, the Republican. I’d rather have the devil I don’t know as the new Speaker of the House as I definitely detest the current devil, Mattiello. Of course, Mattiello will probably then become a lobbyist in the General Assembly. That’s how it goes in the Biggest Little.