The Sports Weekender
In this Monday’s edition of the Weekender, Tito gets a new deal, the Celtics finally get a win, and the Bentley Falcons never lose.
To hear the region’s sportswriters tell it, Terry Francona made out like a bandit with his new 3-year deal (plus two option years), which will pay him an average of $4 million per. The players love him, the writers love him, and the fans are grudgingly OK with him (which is better than every manager the Sox have had since Dick Williams).
Tito, the Herald’s Rob Bradford says in his lead, had the hammer. That may be overstating things a tad.
Let’s say this first: We like Tito. I’ve known him since those dark days in Philadelphia when the fans unloaded their many, many frustrations on him. Behind the scenes, he went ballistic on my newspaper for something a desk jockey inserted into a story, but he was always fair and even-handed with the ink-stained wretches, which accounts for his massive press fan base.
Much like Joe Torre was with the Yankees, Tito’s first job is to keep the noise-level down to a dull roar for his players, and he is very good at it. He plays down stories before they become controversies, and he doesn’t air out the players in print. In terms of in-game decisions, there always appears to be a plan in place. The plan may not work, but there is a thought process, and that’s better than the majority of managers in baseball. (Ask Phillies fans about their current manager’s in-game acumen).
In four years, he has made the playoffs three times, won a division title and two World Series crowns. So, yes, Tito deserved every penny of his extension, but to suggest that the Red Sox would fall apart if, say, John Farrell were running the show, that’s a little much.
The Celtics found themselves in the unusual position of trying to snap a 3-game losing streak last night in Portland. Meanwhile, the Pistons are only 2 games back in the race for home court advantage. So, when the boys got down 32-16 after one quarter to the Blazers things didn’t look so hot. Then the defense picked up and Paul Pierce went off. End of 3-game losing streak.
“Our rule really is to stop it at two and try not to make this an ongoing thing,” said Kevin Garnett of the losing streak the C’s brought into the Rose Garden. “Tonight you could feel it on the bus. Our focus was there. Now we’ve just got to finish the road trip off (tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers).”
Once they get through this hellish trip, it’s on to the home stretch. Most observers still expect them to add someone, be it Brent Barry or Sam Cassell (who is still under contract with the Clippers). Barry, in particular, is an intriguing player. Not a real point guard, but a terrific passer and a great shooter. B-Squared would provide protection at several positions.
As good as the Celtics have been, they’re nothing compared the Bentley Falcons, who have not had to worry about stopping a losing streak since the 2005-06 season. Coach Jay Lawson’s crew won its 53rd straight regular-season game Saturday against St. Michaels’ breaking the NCAA Division II record held by Langston University, which had stood for 63 years.
Bentley wraps up its regular season tomorrow.