Sunday March 31, 2013

The 2013 baseball season begins tonight and our regioinal pro teams open play on Monday.

Frankly, I find all the hand-wringing over the fate of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees laughable.

There is no rule that says those two teams have to be top contenders every year. They are allowed hiccups now and again.

Imagine, Red Sox fan, that you were rooting for a team that really suffers -- like the Pittsburgh Pirates.

You don't think that Pirate fans, me included, would trade your headaches of the last two years for the longest sub-.500 streak in professional sports history? I would trade it in a heartbeat.

If it were a choice of 20 losing seasons vs. a couple of real stinkers along with a couple of titles, I'd take the latter every day.

Which leads me to a thought or two about the Red Sox. I don't think this team is going to be a disaster.

The Sox have question marks throughout the lineup. In fact, I don't think I have seen a Boston team with as many question marks in all the years I have lived in the Berkshires.

Will the infield be able to field the ball? Who will play in the outfield? Will Jackie Bradley Jr. be as good in the regular season as he was in Florida? How will the pitching hold up? How quickly will the sellout streak come to an end?

Certainly, it was only spring training, but the performances of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and even John Lackey had to encourage Red Sox fans.


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I'm a fan of the Hammer, new closer Joel Hanrahan. The former Pirate -- sold off for a bag of magic beans -- will certainly be more stable than Alfredo Aceves.

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UMass basketball fans should be embarassed with the turnout for the first-round NIT game against Stony Brook.

There were some 2,000 fans in the Mullins Center when Stony Brook beat the Minutemen. The game was played the night I was on my way to the Division III Sweet 16.

When the D-III tourney was over, I took a visit to Charlottesville, Va., for a Sunday morning NIT game between Virginia and St. John's.

There were nearly 8,500 fans in the arena, and 11,000 a couple of days later when Virginia lost to Iowa.

If you want to be a big time program, you have to turn out in a big time way.

UMass fans flunked that test in a big way.

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On the ride back from Virginia, I spent much of the afternoon finding the radio broadcasts of the NCAA men's basketball tournament games.

The last time I listened was two years ago and that's when I first really heard Kevin Calabro broadcast hoop. He is now ESPN Radio's top broadcaster and perhaps the best in the business.

But last Sunday, I got a chance to hear Lee native Wayne Larrivee broadcasting a third-round game. His call gave the game plenty of gravitas.

Larrivee seems to be able to most anything on the radio or TV. He's the radio voice of the Green Bay Packers and handles television for the Big Ten Network.

A memo to Bob and Jonathan Kraft: Think about Larrivee to replace the now-retired Gil Santos. Larrivee may have been born a Packers fan, but it would be great to get him back in New England.