Huddle Up: An early start on summer


After Friday night’s Boston sports debacle, we all need someone to talk us down off the bridge, someone to provide a thorough, thoughtful dissection of what transpired and cogent analysis of where we go from here.

What? Don’t look at me. I’ve got to buy Mother’s Day gifts for my mother and wife and from my child, who won’t observe any “holiday” that doesn’t involve him getting presents or pie. Just knee-jerk reactions today.

• When the Red Sox signed Josh Beckett to a contract extension through 2014 last month, a lot of people asked “What’s the rush?” Beckett was brutal down the stretch last year and is off to a terrible start this year. Friday night, Beckett essentially declared the Yankees are his daddy by losing control, literally and figuratively, in the sixth inning. His track record suggests he is due to begin a big turnaround soon. If he doesn’t, it will put more heat on Theo Epstein, who should be very thankful that John Lackey isn’t off to one of his typical slow starts.

• Not only did the Celtics look lazy in suffering the worst home playoff loss in their history, but Doc Rivers revealed that they were just as apathetic in the two days of practice leading up to Game 3. Not a big surprise, right? This has been one of the most uninspired Celtic teams we’ve ever seen, and while the balance of the blame must rest with the players, one has to wonder what Rivers is doing allowing his team to so blatantly go through the motions when it had just embarrassed Cleveland on its home floor. The players may look like they can’t wait for the season to end, but Doc seems to be just as eager for his tee time. I wouldn’t be shocked if the series is over Tuesday night and if Doc takes an early retirement a couple of days later.

• One certainly can’t accuse the Bruins of not trying in Game 4 of their series with the Flyers. They rallied twice in the third period to tie it. And unlike the Red Sox and Celtics, most of the B’s are easy to root for. Mark Recchi is a freak (NESN replayed Game 2 of the 1992 conference finals the other night and he was in his fourth year with the Penguins then, for crying out loud). Patrice Bergeron is just a great story, period. Tuukka Rask seems to have the perfect mentality for a playoff goalie. Marc Savard and Miroslav Satan are clutch. No matter what happens in the next round, I’m just grateful that they’re going to make the summer less dreadful.

• The dreaful summer is coming because Tampa Bay is going to run away with the division and the Yankees, while starting to show their age with a slew of minor injuries, have younger players like Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes stepping up big time to help fill the void. The Red Sox are better than they’ve played for the first five weeks of the season, but not good enough to keep up. Epstein called this a “bridge year” during the off-season. He back-pedaled almost immediately, but that may prove to be the most candid comment he’s ever made outside of a gorilla suit. The question remains, however, a bridge year to what?

• Rasheed Wallace — still loathsome.

• The outrage over the tasing of the Phillies fan is obviously coming from non-sports fans, or at least those who have never encountered Philadelphia fans. Anyone who has met a Philadelphia fan would agree that they should be tasered upon entering any stadium, arena or ballpark, not just when they run on the field.

• I know the budget is tight, but it’s time for Lewiston High School to do something about the access “path” to the baseball diamond. The dirt path to the field is narrow, rutted, cracked, craggy, on a steep hill and a broken ankle or neck waiting to happen. Fans who attended the opener against Edward Little after a brief rainstorm must have felt like they were one step away from recreating the mud slide scene from “Romancing the Stone.” The path has been deteriorating ever since the baseball team moved to Franklin Pasture , and a number of folks, most of them elderly, don’t even dare traverse it, electing to set up their lawn chairs on the sidewalk at the top of the hill to watch the action. Coach Todd Cifelli has rebuilt the Blue Devils into a playoff contender and they’re a fun team to watch. There is finally excitement surrounding Lewiston baseball. It’s a shame they are losing some of the support they deserve because one needs to be a mountain goat to get to the game.

• Speaking of exciting baseball in Lewiston, Bates College missed its first berth in the NESCAC playoffs by a couple of base hits, but that shouldn’t overshadow the amazing turnaround brought about by Edwin Thompson in just two years at the helm. With 25 wins this season, the Bobcats set a new school record and more than doubled last year’s victory total of 12. That was just one in a string of team and individual records they set this season. But the Bobcats aren’t one-year wonders. They will graduate three seniors and the heart of their order, Chris Burke, Noah Lynd, Gordy Webb, Jake Simon and Noah Burke, will be back next year. So will virtually the entire pitching staff, led by Karl Alexander, Paul Chiampa and Ryan Heide. The incoming class will add even more talent and depth and assure Bates’ place in the post-season conversation for several more years. Credit Thompson and his staff — Travis Dube, Dave Jordan, Bob Flynn and Tyler Hanson — with not just settling for giving Bates its first winning baseball team since 1993. The plan is to make Bates a worthy rival to perennial NESCAC powers Trinity and Tufts, and even a force in Division III. Don’t put it past them.

• Finally, sincere and warmest Mother’s Day wishes to all the mothers and grandmothers. If it weren’t for moms, attendance at high school and junior high games would be 1/3 what it is, athletes’ attendance at practice would be 1/4 what it is, and booster clubs would generate 1/10 the revenue. Don’t let anybody kid you — Mom makes the scholastic sports world go round.