Keeping Score: Forged signatures at UMass

Friday, December 22, 2017

Good morning!

Unless UMass settles for less, those weren’t “signature” wins against Providence and Georgia this month. The media characterized them as such, but beating two teams rated 80th and 81st by USA Today barely moves the needle on basketball’s Richter Scale.

A signature win is Boston College knocking off No. 1 Duke two weeks ago, or John Calipari’s Minutemen beating top-ranked Kentucky in 1995. Signature wins are stunners, something that two decent wins can’t combine to make thereof.

UMass did show its signature inconsistency on Wednesday, losing to Georgia State, 71-63, before 2,004 fans who came in from the cold at the Mullins Center.

Assuming they beat Maine on Friday, the Minutemen are 7-6 headed into the A-10 schedule next week at St. Bonaventure. A year ago, UMass was 10-3 and lost by a dozen to the Bonnies. Next week’s game will be an early barometer of any improvement under new coach Matt McCall. Sorry, but the signature wins will just have to wait.


New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick never eased up on Mike Francesa, not even on the day he signed off after 30 years at WFAN.

Mushnick doesn’t have a gig on the YES Network or get free tickets from Madison Square Garden. Unburdened by any such conflict of interest, he unloaded on Francesca. “I have never dealt with, known or covered a more inexorably conceited, condescending, factually wrong, name-dropping,  dissent-intolerant, megalomaniacal, pompous, boastful, hypocritical, self-entitled, self-annointed, self-delusional, unilaterally rude, humorless, imperious and dishonest person in the media.”

As the late Pete Brulotte would say, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

The NY Daily News reported this week that Craig Carton is seeking a gig with Barstool Sports. Carton resigned from WFAN in September after he was arrested for securities and wire fraud.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was drafted out of North Dakota State the same year the Fighting Hawks won the NCAA hockey title.

Fending off jibes about playing I-AA football, he wrote in the Players Tribune: “You don’t get through winters with an average temperature of 12.8 degrees without being a certain kind of tough — the cracked-skin-dried-blood kind of tough. Up there, jamming your numb fingers against an ice-cold helmet happens every practice.”

Wentz showed his toughness by staying on the field for four plays after he tore his ACL against the Rams on Dec. 10. He handed off twice and threw a touchdown pass before walking off the gridiron and onto Injured Reserve.

Scott Zolak was named the Voice of Boston at the third annual Globie Awards at the House of Blues on Dec. 5. Gino Cappelletti received the Lifetime Achievement Award, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez shared the Good Sport Award and Mookie Betts was named Most Stylish.

Yawn. Tickets cost upwards of $300.

There’s nothing better to do on a day when Mother Nature’s throwing the kitchen sink at us but to watch football. ESPN’s tripleheader begins at noon with South Florida versus Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl, followed by Army against San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl and Appalachian State versus Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl.

Twenty bowl games in seven days, and a rundown of all the teams, times and totals on Page D3.

SQUIBBERS: The Powertown’s Fran Togneri will call it a career at the Franklin County House of Correction on Friday. Togger’s bound for West Palm Beach where he’ll watch his wife Kerry teach figure skating and wait for spring training to start at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. … Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is selling the team after accusations of workplace harassment. Richardson’s the guy who told Cam Newton in his rookie season to behave like a pro. … Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask had an African wasp named after him. “Apparently they thought it looked like me making a save,” Rask told the NHL Network. … Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter traded his best hitter to the Yankees for a player named Castro. … Hockey writer Larry Brooks calls Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan “two guys who’ve never had less than an honest shift in their careers.” … Bob Weiss and his son Dr. Doug Weiss leave for the World Hockey Juniors in Buffalo next week, the latter to mend broken bones, and the former to watch bones breaking. … Lane Kiffin’s FAU Owls scored three times on 4th-and-goal en route to their 50-3 blowout of Akron in Tuesday’s Boca Raton Bowl. Deadspin reported that Kiffin went for a late two-point conversion because an Akron official had bad-mouthed his team. … The man who would be coach at UMass, Pat Kelsey, is 5-6 at Winthrop, and the man who was the coach, Derek Kellogg, is 4-8 at LIU-Brooklyn. … The previews for “I, Tonya” refer to it as the “Good Fellas of Figure Skating.” … According to Sports Business Daily, the Dollar General Bowl’s swag bags included a Wilson football, Amazon Echo, Maui Jim sunglasses and a Timely Watch timepiece. … “On any other football field at any other level that would’ve been a touchdown,” Brian Billick said of Jesse James’ 10-yard non-catch against the Patriots. “Only after it went back to New York and the lawyers got together was it not a touchdown.” … Weather be damned, nosebleeds are selling on StubHub for $140, parking is $63 and tickets to Sunday’s All Pro Tailgate party are $189. … Recorder forecaster Tom Bevacqua didn’t quite nail it when he predicted we’d get a snowstorm today, but he was close enough. … Cheer up, only 44 days till the Red Sox’ equipment van leaves for Fort Myers. … The four stages of life: You believe in Santa Claus, you don’t believe in Santa Claus, you dress like Santa Claus, you look like Santa Claus. … Whatever your stage, Merry Christmas and happy holidays.


Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached by email at sports@recorder.com.