Keeping Score: Not quite ready for primetime

Published: 8/28/2020 5:06:55 PM

Good morning!
The UMass football team was supposed to be playing UConn Saturday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. All week McGuirk Stadium would have been buzzing with whistles blowing, pads colliding and the marching band practicing its halftime show.

COVID-19 took care of that, which is a shame because the stadium is beginning to look like a bona fide D-I facility. Its new locker room, weight room and athletics bubble are all within walking distance of the football field and new restrooms have replaced the old trough out back.

All that’s left is to remove the crumbling pavement around the grandstands and lay in some fresh sod, and UMass will have itself a viable venue for FBS football.

Only a handful of players were on the gridiron Monday. A quarterback was tossing spirals to a receiver and a place kicker was drilling the pigskin between the uprights.

“I’m sorry your season was canceled,” I said to the quarterback who looked to be Andrew Brito, the redshirt junior from Paramus Catholic in New Jersey who chose UMass over Maine and Austin Peay (according to 247sports).

“Thank you sir,” he replied. “Maybe this spring.”

It’s understandable he’s itching to play, but a full year without games might provide AD Ryan Bamford with the “hard reset” the program desperately needs to break out of its eight-year rut.

Meanwhile against all odds, Boston College will kick off at Duke in three weeks. The season opener was supposed to be Sept. 12 against Ohio University, but that game was canceled after the MAC threw in the towel.

As it now stands, the Eagles will play a 10-game ACC schedule that includes home games against North Carolina (10/3), Pitt (10/10), Ga. Tech (10/24), Notre Dame (11/14) and Louisville (11/27).

Anybody got tickets? An online chat with a BC ticket rep garnered this response: “As of right now, there are no fans allowed at the first game, and the remaining games may have tickets available on a single game basis pending state approval.”

It’s no guarantee, but fans can at least hope that there will be college football in New England this fall.


Sirius-XM’s Chris Russo recently interviewed Bill Jenkinson, a baseball historian who painstakingly researched all 2,503 games that Babe Ruth played.

His primary quest was to determine the number of home runs the Bambino hit before 1930 when home runs didn’t count if they curved foul after leaving the park.

“My guess is he lost about 75 home runs that went over the fence but curved foul,” said Jenkinson, which would move Ruth’s total from 714 to about 800 career home runs.

There were other factors. Batted balls that landed foul off the foul pole didn’t count, but balls that hit the ground and bounced over the fence did count. “Babe never hit a ground rule home run,” said Jenkinson, who lives near Philadelphia.

While he was at it, Jenkinson scoured game stories to find when and where Ruth hit his longest home run. “The one that has the best credentials for being the longest happened on July 18, 1921, in Detroit,” said Jenkinson. “Having the benefit of a strong 17 mile per hour wind, Babe hit a ball to straightaway center field that went far over the 505-foot mark and landed about 550 to 560 feet from home plate. It’s hard to believe, but that’s where the data takes us.”


Sports talker Kirk Minihane resumed his Barstool Sports podcast this week after a three-week hiatus to treat depression. It was the second time this year he’d had to take a leave of absence. In March, Minihane tweeted, “I’m scared that these thoughts and feelings are back. It’s a hard fight.”


New Hampshire’s first brick-and-mortar sportsbook opened two weeks ago at The Brook in Seabrook, the site of the former dog track. The Union Leader reported that the owners of Boston Billiards and Casino in Nashua had hoped to put sports betting on next month’s primary ballot after the measure was defeated last November by 65 votes, but the bill to which the rider was attached was vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu.

They’ll have to wait until November, 2021, by which time other towns may have gobbled up the remaining nine licenses. In March, Hinsdale voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to allow sports betting, but the pandemic has hampered movement toward making it a reality.


Readers Write: Bob Condlin of Baltimore doesn’t have a lot of respect for Johnny Bench. “Anyone who tries to convince his wife to pose in Hustler Magazine for the $25K has some growing up to do,” wrote Condlin. “After they were divorced she called him, ‘a great athlete, a mediocre everything else, and a true tragedy as a person.’”

Bill Gutfarb sent along a note regarding two of President Trump’s siblings. “His younger brother Bob (who died August 15) played on the BU men’s soccer team, and their sister Maryanne was appointed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals by Bill Clinton. She is a Mt. Holyoke grad, though I’ve never seen a word about her in their alumni magazine. Not surprised.”


A baseball fan named E. Lewis has started a petition on that calls for the New York Yankees to change their nickname. “The term Yankee is a derogatory and offensive term used by Confederates to describe people north of the Mason-Dixon line,” said Lewis, whose tongue was planted firmly in his cheek. “Join me in the rally to change this horribly oppressive nickname.”

At this writing the petition had garnered 135 signatures.


Here we go with another convoluted baseball statistic, the ISO which is short for isolated power. Originally devised by Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey and statistician Allan Roth, it’s been updated by Sabermetrics guru Bill James to help gauge a player’s raw power.

At this writing the Yankees’ Luke Voit leads all major leaguers with a 0.425 ISO. Voit has 11 home runs and 21 RBIs and far outdistances Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe (0.362) and Baltimore’s Anthony Santander (0.352).

Boston’s lack of power is reflected by the fact its top three in ISO — Xander Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers — are ranked 55th, 59th and 92nd, respectively.


SQUIBBERS: Say what you will about pitcher David Price, he’s given a thousand dollars to every minor leaguer in the Dodgers farm system. … Considering he’s allowed 13 earned runs in nine innings, Red Sox lefthander Kyle Hart has an apt twitter handle: @hart_attack_kid. His autobiography in a dozen words: “4X Big Ten champion. Future Skyline Chili franchise owner. Deer slayer.” … It only took three years for Rick Pitino to wipe the dirt off his Louisville resume and get back to work coaching at Iona. … The local sports community lost a fervent fan with the passing of John Collins, the former Turners Falls elementary school principal who rooted for the Celtics, UMass basketball and the New England Patriots, pretty much in that order. … Say a prayer that Indians manager Tito Francona gets over what’s ailing him. ESPN reported that doctors at the Cleveland Clinic had inserted a stent to help Francona’s blood flow “around what was a clogged filter in his veins.” … Sonny Gray was booed out of Yankee Stadium but is 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA for the Reds. As Mel Allen would say, “How ‘bout that?” … Happy birthday, Princy Stotz. Tennis anyone, or have you traded rackets at Howie Natenshon’s pickle ball emporium? … The teenager arrested for trying to instigate a riot in Manchester, N.H., was court ordered to stay with his parents. I wonder if Jerry Rubin got to stay with his parents after he tried to blow up the ‘68 Democratic Convention. … The NY Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that Greg Carton is returning to WFAN after serving a year and six days at the U.S. penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa., the same place where Jimmy Hoffa, John Gotti and Whitey Bulger served time. Carton swindled a hedge fund out of $2 million to pay off casino gambling debts. … The Blue Jays put photo cutouts of family members in seats behind their dugout at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. “It’s a great visual to walk off the field and see my daughter looking at me with her big smiling face,” said pitcher Anthony Bass. … Former Baltimore manager Earl Weaver, on his team’s prolonged batting slump: “We’re so bad right now that for us back-to-back home runs means one today and another one tomorrow.”

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 at


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