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Sports Columns

Keeping Score: Whipple effect

Good morning! The Mark Whipple Show debuts today at Gillette Stadium, where the UMass Minutemen are 17-point underdogs against Boston College. UMass athletic director John McCutcheon took his mulligan the day after Christmas when he fired Charley Molnar with three years and $836,000 remaining on his contract. “There wasn’t the sense we were where we needed to be,” said McCutcheon, who two years earlier had hired Molnar because his “... background clearly separated him from an outstanding pool of applicants.” It’s hard to imagine any 0

On the Trail: Old & eager

The swamps are sporting their royal, invasive purple, yellows are lining the edges, rose of Sharon’s in bloom, mud-splattered acorns are scattered underfoot, my favorite sweet-16 side-by-side is in the shop for repairs and — ah! — life is good. Yet, still, I find myself pondering the mortality of Lily, a dynamo gundog whose age hit double digits on my 35th wedding anniversary in April. Of aristocratic springer spaniel pedigree, Lily is looking frisky these days, free-wheeling, a bounce in her step, fully recovered from 0

Keeping Score: Caught looking

Good morning! A while back I wrote a column about a local teacher who aspired to be a major league umpire. His career path began in the New York-Penn League, and on a summer evening I watched him ump a Single-A game in Lowell. We met in the umpire’s room underneath the grandstand, where he was rubbing up game balls with mud taken from the Delaware River (another story for another time). In the press box, I told Dick Berardino of my assignment. Berardino played 0

On the Trail: Nuts & bolts

Photographer friend Erik Hoffner, whose eclectic interests intersect mine in several areas related to nature, worldview and politics, chimed in from the wilds of Ashfield this week speculating that, judging from what he’s seen thus far around home, there’s a bumper-crop of acorns this year. Although I haven’t toured my favorite high ridges, where freeborn spirits whisper in primitive tongues I cannot understand near geological wonders of our little world, I tend to agree with my friend. On the bottomland terrain I daily tour with 0

Jaywalking: Ravenous pro

It has been a while since I checked in with the local fighters from Team Ravenous. For those who don’t recall, Team Ravenous is a mixed martial arts (MMA) team residing in Greenfield that has now been around Franklin County for about seven years. I have not heard much from the group in the past year or so, but a recent text message from Ravenous founder and Greenfield resident Jeremy Reipold piqued my attention. Reipold explained that he had recently made his professional debut in 0

Keeping Score: Summer travels

Good morning! My annual sojourn to Saratoga Race Course resulted in a whopping $5 profit. I put the pen away this trip and enjoyed sitting with friends under a television carousel near the Big Red Spring where brave hearts with strong stomachs drink mineral water that tastes like stale pickle juice. I had taken the scenic route through Brattleboro on Route 9, stopping at Dutton’s Farm for apples and pastry and overheard the give-and-take from the drive-up window of a nearby Dunkins Donuts. “Okay. You 0

On the Trail: Sales jobs

Why not traipse back this week to that old, familiar topic of salmon? Yes, salmon, specifically Connecticut River Atlantic salmon, which I once spent a lot of time and energy on before wandering off to other subjects that tickled my fancy. But now, briefly back to the fish fit for kings and noblemen. Who knows how long before I’ll revisit it again, if ever? For that matter, who cares? The impetus for this step back in time is twofold — 1.) a recent rereading of 0

Jaywalking: Cup visit

I didn’t think I’d be late when I arrived at Collins-Moylan Arena in Greenfield at about 10:20 a.m. Sunday. When I spoke to Franklin County Hockey Association president Sean Lavoine last week in advance of Sunday’s visit to the rink by Los Angeles Kings head trainer Chris Kingsley and the Stanley Cup that he helped his team win this season, Lavoine admitted that he didn’t know what kind of turnout to expect. Sure, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for area hockey fans 0

Keeping Score: Bottom’s up

Good morning! The long slog up Crittenden Hill is the closest that today’s Bridge of Flowers runners will come to what a local quartet accomplished on June 21 when they completed the 54th annual Mt. Washington Road Race. Leverett’s Ethan Nedeau, 41, was the fastest to the top of the highest peak in the Northeast, covering the 7.6-mile climb in one hour, 19 minutes and 49 seconds, good for 55th place in a field of 1,060 finishers. Not far behind was Amy Rusiecki, 34, of 0

On the Trail: A teaching moment

This subject’s been sitting handy on my desk for three weeks now, printed and pushed aside at least twice to allow for bear banter that came my way the same way most things seem to find me: by email, phone or personal conversation. So, having now put the bear discussion to rest for a while, let’s take a few steps back to that lingering subject, the genesis of which was mention right here in this space of a hen turkey my spry, 10-year-old springer spaniel 0