Over here in the toy department, this is supposed to be the slow time of year, the transition from winter to spring. But as we all know too well, winter refuses to leave, and there’s too much going on to consider this a lull:

• The signings of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and re-signing of Julian Edelman have already paid off if only because they forced the chorus who have decried the Patriots’ supposed cheapness to scramble for another narrative.

• Some Bruins fans, or maybe it’s just an overlap of hysterical B’s/Pats fans, lost their spokes because Peter Chiarelli didn’t pick up a big name at the NHL trade deadline, opting instead for depth. The Bruins are playing their best hockey of the season and are outscoring everyone in the Eastern Conference. But some people, even hockey fans, need a shiny new object to look at every once in awhile.

• A hearing on proposed cuts to Lewiston’s athletic budget set off panic in the streets this week. Yes, it’s a cynical, time-honored tradition in the school budget process — threaten painful cuts to extracurricular activities to get the public’s attention. It’s also effective. Unfortunately, threatening to cut teachers and academic programs doesn’t get out the vote, so to speak. But the gap between idle threats and fiscal reality is closing quickly.

• Happy to report that high school basketball fans to our north have moved on and embraced the Cross Insurance Center as their new Mecca. Watching the Class B championships in the new building only confirmed my long-held belief that it was the fans and the bands that made the atmosphere at the Bangor Auditorium, not the dump itself.

• Dave Crutchfield has always been his own toughest critic, so I wasn’t suprised to hear his self-flagellation when we discussed Dirigo’s search for a new head football coach. But I disagree with his assessment that perhaps an “x-and-o’s coach” could have gotten more out of his team the last two years. The other guys are trying to win, too, and Winslow and Oak Hill were clearly the better team in their regional final losses. But Crutchfield and Dirigo fans, who are usually the first to acknowledge how spoiled they are, should remember the Cougars also beat more talented teams (Oak Hill and Winthrop, respectively) in the semifinals each year to get to regionals.

• I’m sure most people have already made up their minds over whether the University of Maine football team and head coach Jack Cosgrove are in any way culpable for players’ off-field conduct. But administration and Cosgrove owe it to the university’s students, staff and the taxpayers of Maine to be open and honest about athlete misconduct is handled by the program and its leaders. Lay it all out on the table in regards to Zedric Joseph’s 2012 domestic violence arrest and subsequent suspension or face increasing mistrust. That’s the last thing an athletic department needs when the entire university system is scrounging for money, and especially when it’s already hit one rock bottom this decade.

• Speaking of rock bottom and the University of Maine, I can’t remember the men’s basketball program ever being so far off the radar screen for the state’s top high school basketball talent. Fortunately, the cupboard is still very well stocked. Maine has a wealth of talented underclassmen. If athletic director Karlton Creech wants them to have any interest in spending four years in Orono, he knows what must be done.

• Maybe it will change as we get into the season, but I’ve watched two Red Sox games so far and I can’t listen to Jerry Remy without thinking of his family’s tragedy. Remy had every right to ask for his job back. NESN, which has invested a great deal into making him a personality, had every right to bring him back. But the murder charges against his son and the custody battle for his granddaughter  aren’t going away, and even if Red Sox fans try to forget, they will be reminded all season long. Red Sox ownership may find itself having to make a much tougher decision than whether to extend David Ortiz or Jon Lester.

• This is the first time in about 25 years I’ve been able to watch Duke play an entire season without getting nauseous. You know what that means? Jabari Parker is destined to wear green. Let’s all slap the floor together, Celtics fans.

• Regardless of who Danny Ainge drafts or what his rebuilding plans are, here’s hoping those plans don’t include Jeff Green. As a fellow member of the zipper club, I root for Green, but he’s just so undependable. In a year where he should be anxious to assert himself as a legitimate building block, he continues to sleepwalk through at least 50 percent of his playing time.

• Gauging Lewiston’s merits as a hockey town based on Portland Pirates attendance isn’t fair. Everyone knew the Pirates were one-and-done from the start. That having been said, anyone who accuses Lewiston of being a parochial hockey town won’t get any argument from me.

Randy Whitehouse is a staff writer. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] and on Twitter @RAWmaterial33.


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