SOCIAL DISTANCING AT HOME – March 17, 2020. The day the world in general changed.
St. Patrick’s Day. College keg parties begin at 3:00 AM, which is when the sun comes up in Ireland, Eastern Time. Green clothing, green cookies, green beer. You become reacquainted with King Brian, the Irish Rovers, and riverdancing. Everyone is a Celtic fan for one day. Erin Go Bragh!
In 2020, the Great Day for the Irish now has a new connotation. Myself the teacher went into school, taught classes, and said goodbye to my students. We were going on an early spring break. Two major concerts got cancelled. That was sad enough. But no worries. We’ll be back on April 14. Not too big a deal. All will be well, this Coronavirus will be all done and gone. Have a nice Easter (if you celebrate the day), see you in a few weeks, students.
April 14? Not on your virtual commencement ceremonies.
You name it, it got shut down. Schools. Non-essential businesses. Professional sports. March Madness. Everyone was told to go home, stay home, and cover your face and hands when out in public. Stay six feet away from everyone you don’t know. Keep watching the news for more information.
It’s been two months now, and very little has changed. No playoffs for the Bruins or Celtics. The Red Sox have yet to play a regular season game. To paraphrase Alice Cooper, school’s out for the summer about three months early.
The NBA is trying to come up with some playoff plan. MLB has made a proposal to their players union, and some of their loudmouth rank and file members need to shut up about their money situation. We haven’t heard anything from the NHL that could be termed substantive about their postseason.
That leaves the Patriots. They are literally all that we can talk about in these parts.
If not for Tom Brady leaving for Tampa Bay, local sports talk shows and online newspapers would have precious little to talk about. Brady remains the one biggest, and perhaps only, sports news item in town to talk about. Oh, we were able to ramble a little bit about Rob Gronkowski, sometimes it’s fun to talk about the Celtics becoming the new Patriots, and the NFL Draft was fun to hash through in its online state.
But face it, this region is still all about Brady. Six Super Bowls, all the great things this once woebegone franchise has become, and now all we can talk about is Brady and the fact that he will finish his NFL career in Tampa and not Foxborough.
Watching the local sports talk shows is an expose in “What else is there to talk about?” The usually thought-provoking shows on NBC Sports Boston have really taken a hit, as every commentator is broadcasting from their homes and much of their spontaneity isn’t there. All shows have done a good job in making the “at home” deal work. But there is only so much this Huntley-Brinkley approach can give you the viewer.
Worse, if you don’t watch the show for 3-4 days and then watch them again, most of the time the opening topic is Tom Brady related. Instead of examining the Patriots who are really still with the team, what seems to work best is to run story after story and have discussion after discussion about Brady and only Brady. Face it, talking about Jarrett Stidham isn’t as sexy as talking about Brady.
The problem is that these shows need to be captivating for you to watch. The consistent radio ratings champ, 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger and Mazz show, has probably the toughest job of all, finding things to scream and yell about. When they start screaming and yelling, then most of you listeners start listening to them. NBC Sports Boston’s Early Edition and Boston Sports Tonight have cut back on the length of their shows because of lack of material to discuss, Tom Brady notwithstanding. NESN, on the other hand, has changed their looks and content so many times over the years but still remains vanilla in comparison to NBC Sports Boston. The affable Tom Caron has a show called At Home With TC which is a terrific concept, but it is totally non-controversial and may not hold your attention for more than five minutes. Caron, who like NBCSB’s Gary Tanguay is a cancer survivor, is beloved in these parts for his studio work with the Red Sox, but his show will gently entertain you, it just won’t invigorate you.
The print media faces the same problems. Many Globe front-page sports stories were Brady-related or Patriots-related. For a while, the Globe went with a “Buccaneers Notebook” column. Seeing the creativity of some of their writers is interesting. Venerable columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who must feel like he’s at a Red Sox spring training camp with nothing at all that is controversial to report, has answered the call for some copy that he probably would never do under normal conditions, and a lot of it is very good reading. Most of what retired columnist Bob Ryan does lately is of the wistful variety, and always a delight to read. But the Globe loves the Patriots as much as NBCSB does.
It’s time for all media types to move on from Brady. This isn’t like Ray Bourque winning the Stanley Cup with Colorado and spending his day with the Cup at City Hall Plaza. The Patriots have more bling than they ever thought possible 20 years ago. It’s done. Brady is gone. So is Gronk. Gotta move on. Every three or four days or so, we don’t want to keep seeing Brady stories.
Time to focus our attention on other things. Can MLB get their season going despite some idiotic players who are complaining about money? Safety issues, yes, complain. Shut up about the money. Will we see any postseason for the Bruins (lest we forget they came within a game of the Stanley Cup last year) or the Celtics?
And as for the Patriots, I want to know more about those two new tight ends. About how the rebuilt defense will enable Stidham to not win games by himself (like some new guy 20 years ago). About how much Bill Belichick may be contemplating retirement. About how Julian Edelman must feel being the one offensive skill player left from the real glory days.
And most of all, will this pandemic still be going on when it’s time for the Patriots to begin training camp? Or the regular season? There’s a ton more to talk about other than the fact that Brady is gone.
Posted Under: Patriots News