Random thoughts while traveling on I-95 North …

• Tuesday was a disappointing day. Jim Rice got rejected and Joe Thornton got ejected.

• There is simply no reason Rice shouldn’t be in the Hall. With Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, and Mark McGwire on the ballot for the first time next year, 2007 doesn’t hold much promise for Jim Ed. Still, if he can hold onto his votes from 64.8 percent of the writers who get to vote, he’ll have another good shot in 2008 when there is another weak first-year class.

• Thornton’s hit was borderline at best, and even Hal Gill thought a double-minor would’ve been sufficient. Referee Chris Rooney (a Boston native) was quick to send Joe to the dressing room, and will now be known as the man who ruined a night of drama for some 17,000 fans at the Garden.

• The ejection reminded me of two other events. I was too young to be at the Arena (long before it was called the Colisee) when Sonny Liston stayed on the canvas for some 20 seconds in 1965, but many of you were there. And many of you weren’t in your seats just yet when the fight was called. I was in Oakland in October of 1990 when Terry Cooney ran Roger Clemens out of the game in the second inning of Game 4 against the A’s. While the stakes were much bigger than a Bruins/Sharks game in mid-January, it had the same feeling. Fans came to see a star perform, they left talking about a referee (umpire) taking too much control of a game.

• Rice wasn’t the only NESN analyst on the Hall of Fame ballot. Gary DiSarcina, who spent his first summer in the studio with me last year, was also on the ballot for the first time. He didn’t receive a vote, and is considering a recount. He told me he probably won’t go through with the plans, however … “since there were no votes to recount.”

• Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz, former coach of the Portland Pirates, was recently named the 76th most powerful man in hockey by The Hockey News. Impressive. Even more impressive is that he’s only six spots behind Bobby Orr.

• Anyone else try to build a rink in the backyard this winter? My box of slush has been sitting unused since before Christmas. The Cincinnati Bengals played their home playoff game in 62 degree weather last weekend. Anyone doubting the existence of Global Warming?

• Here’s the deal with the Red Sox: As we stand here today, they are not as bad as you think. They’re pitching is better than ever, and (even with Alex Cora at short) they’ve improved their infield defense dramatically. Their biggest need is a center fielder, and they’ve got enough pitching to fill that void with a trade (goodbye, David Wells.)

• That, of course, is assuming Manny Ramirez is back in left field. And it’s never a safe bet to assume anything when it comes to Manny.

Lewiston native Tom Caron covers the Red Sox for NESN.

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