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Finneran: Sports Shorts

Friday, March 08, 2019


PHOTO: Red Sox

Baseball: Bryce Harper is not worth 330 million dollars. Manny Machado is not worth 300 million dollars.

The baseball world has lost its collective mind, again.

Machado has an attitude problem. Harper likes to pose like he’s centerfold material. Can either one of them simply hit the ball and then actually run out of the batter’s box? Must they strut like peacocks? They’re lucky that Pedro or Gibson or Drysdale or Clemens aren’t still playing the game. Those pitchers weren’t patient with show-offs. Those pitchers would tenderize Machado’s ribs and Harper’s backside.

Harper’s stats for 2018 show this: a .249 batting average, with 137 hits and 169 strikeouts! But he’s got great hair!

Machado’s stats show an MLB lifetime average of .282! Wow, what a bargain.

These 300 million dollar contracts have implications for you dear fan. Don’t expect ticket prices to go down. Do expect to call your mortgage banker to arrange an equity line of credit if you hope to attend even a single game this season.

Our local nine has a very entertaining and talented roster and last season was a barnburner for Fenway fun. That said, however, how in heaven’s name does any family take a few kids to even one game without breaking a week’s budget?

The NBA: I’m completely schizophrenic about the NBA. On the one hand I see extraordinary shooting prowess in the James Hardens and Steph Currys of the game. I see good ball movement and otherworldly speed, putting the game itself at a level far beyond good college ball. On the other hand, I see the ball being palmed on every single dribble. I see the ball being carried as if it’s a football scrimmage. And I see travelling violations on virtually every possession. And of course, being an armchair referee, I call palming, walking, or travelling quite outloud on every single play. My wife thinks I’m nuts and my fellow early morning gym rats can count on my editorial comments during Sports Center highlights. You’re not supposed to run with the ball on your way to the hoop!

TITLE IX: The topic is verboten given our current condemnatory impulses but “trans athletes” are in the news. Over the past few months, stories out of Connecticut and Massachusetts have highlighted the competitive victories of young biological men over young biological women. The defeated women have felt cheated by the fact that these biological men were deemed women due to ongoing gender transitions. Biologically, men are bigger, stronger, and faster than women, with very different musculature. Thus the historic distinction followed biology, separating men from women in athletic contests. Title IX respected that distinction, yet added a strong corrective to the resource allocation between men’s and women’s sports at the college level. Given the social and moral confusions running rampant on America’s college campuses, I have no idea how these issues will be resolved. Yet I certainly understand the resentment any female athlete would feel at losing a meet or a state title to a competitor with substantial biological advantages. What would you do?

FOUR GOOD SEASONS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER: We’re in for some heady stuff over the next few months. NBA playoffs loom ahead. Stanley Cup battles are on the radar screen. March Madness will reign shortly. And, best of all, daylight savings time returns, meaning Little League fields will be filled with parents and grandparents cheering on their budding All-Stars. Enjoy.

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio.


Related Slideshow: The History of Baseball in Central Massachusetts

Baseball and Central Mass. go way back - to the 1860s. The local historical landmarks range from  Mudville to Hotel Vernon to Fitton Field. A version of these highlights is posted on the site of the new, yet-to-be-formally-named Worcester Baseballteam of the three-year-old Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

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Casey At The Bat

Casey at the Bat was written on August 14, 1863 on Chatham Street in Worcester by Ernest Thayer under the penname “Phineas.” The 150th anniversary of the poem is being celebrated in 2013.

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First Perfect Game

The first perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball was pitched in Worcester, on June 12, 1880, by J. Lee Richmond for the Worcester Worcesters – also known at various times as the Brown Stockings and the Ruby Legs - versus the Cleveland Blues at the Worcester Driving Park Grounds, located in the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds near Elm Park. Worcester joined the National League in 1880, replacing the failed Syracuse Stars.

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Industrial League

In Greater Worcester, there was a deep history of participation in Industrial League Baseball. Locally, teams included Norton Co., Town Talk Baking Co. and Whitin Machine Works (shown here).

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Honorary NL Membership

Worcester’s National League team was suspended in 1882 and replaced by the Philadelphia Quakers, who later became the Philadelphia Phillies. Worcester maintains an honorary lifetime NL membership.

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NE Collegiate Baseball

A New England Collegiate Baseball League team played in Leominster from 1995 to 1999. Called the Central Mass. Collegians, they won the NECBL Championship in both 1995 and 1996, and During the 1995 season, they played a game against the Cuban National Youth Team in Worcester.

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Worcester Tornadoes

The now-defunct Worcester Tornadoes of the Can-Am League played for eight seasons, from 2005 through 2012. Former Tornadoes emcee Dave Peterson is general manager of Worcester’s new team in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

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Wachusett Dirt Dawgs

The Wachusett Dirt Dawgs, who play at historic, and newly renovated, Doyle Field in Leominster, are a 2012 expansion franchise in the now-three-year-old Futures Collegiate Baseball League.The Dirt Dawgs’ 2013 season swung into action on June 5 with big expectations, but ended on August 8 with those hopes being dashed. They finished in the basement, with a record of 20-31 - 14 games behind first-place the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks (38-18). The team is owned by prominent Leominster businessman John Morrison, who also founded, owns and operates Fosta-Tek Optics in Leominster.

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Worcester Baseball

Last month, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League announced the formation of the Worcester Baseball franchise, which will play its first season next summer. The team is owned by the family that owns and operates Creedon and Co. The prominent Worcester catering service will be the food-and-beverage vendor at home games at Fitton Field, at the College of the Holy Cross. Through Octobert 25, Worcester Baseball is conducting a name-the-team competition.


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