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Putting the pieces together

Page full of 2 -- Picked-up pieces while wondering if the Yankees might get stuck here because of road closures after their July 23-25 series at Fenway, which leads right into the Democratic National Convention . . .

The Great Unspoken around Fenway these days is "what's up with Nomar?" The star shortstop had his annual charity bowling festival at Town Line Ten Pin in Malden last night and continues to say all the right things about wanting to play here. No one can ever judge another man's pain or physical readiness to play. That said, the notion that the shortstop is sticking it to management by taking his sweet time returning goes beyond talk radio and water-cooler chats. Like so many fans, the men who run the Red Sox now are wondering whether Nomar is sending a message.

From this point forward, Grady Little is "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" of Harry Potter lore. Grady has become our Voldemort, the wizard who went bad and cannot be mentioned in public or private. In this spirit, we look forward to seeing the Brockton Rox bobbleheads of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named on eBay or black market outlets soon. The Rox' ingenious yet insulting promotion was supposed to reward the first 1,000 fans at this Saturday's game with dolls made in the image of the former Sox manager. The doll is equipped with a "bobble-arm," calling for a new pitcher. The event was nixed in the interest of good taste after some ticket-holders and club officials worried about backlash. Word from Chicago was that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named didn't appreciate the promotion. Fine. But the dolls exist. So where can I get one?

No more Ty Law. Please. Has there ever been this much attention devoted to a player who has two years remaining on his contract? Every time his agents, the Poston brothers, talk, they start with, "If Ty were a free agent . . ." Guess what: HE'S NOT A FREE AGENT! If I were 7-foot-6, I'd have played in the NBA. Law needs to deal with the deal he signed. Play the two years, then go if you must.

Ellis Burks homered off Don Sutton, who played with Sandy Koufax, who played with Jackie Robinson, who played with Pete Reiser, who played with Joe Medwick, who played with Rogers Hornsby. Just thought you'd want to know.

Hmmmm. Calgary and Tampa Bay for the Stanley Cup. Talk about your traditional rivalries. And can you imagine if this is the last NHL action for a year or two? Just for laughs, I'm thinking of putting together one of those "we've got-they've got" matchup columns . . . "Calgary has Theo Fleury; Tampa has Lee Roy Selmon . . . Calgary has the Summer Stampede; Tampa has spring break . . . Calgary's close to Banff, home of the burglar of Banff; Tampa's close to St. Pete, home of the Red Sox haunted hotel . . ."

Did anyone notice that two days after Manny Ramirez went to Florida to become a US citizen, Canadian-born Pamela Anderson was in California passing the same exam and earning citizenship? Adjacent photos of Manny and Pam, American flags in hand, would make for one of the great newspaper caption contests of all time.

The Boston Shootout takes place June 5-6 at the Shelburne Center in Roxbury. The Boston Blazers and Leo Papile's BABC will represent Boston in a field that includes Albany, Arizona, Washington, Maine, New Jersey, and New York. A lot of folks got their first look at Doc Rivers when he played in the Boston Shootout as a Chicago high schooler in 1980. My introduction came when he sat next to me at the press table at the old Mecca in Milwaukee, as we watched the Bucks finish a sweep of the Celtics in Games 3 and 4 of a pathetic conference semifinal in the spring of 1983. Rivers was a junior at Marquette, contemplating entering the NBA Draft. He opted for the draft and was the Hawks' second-round pick in '83.

When Gabe Kapler plays right and Johnny Damon plays center, and they stand side-by-side chatting during a pitching change, folks in the bleachers are treated to a painful reminder of "19 18."

Whenever Sox general manager Theo Epstein starts wishing his team had better luck in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, he reminds himself that the A's went home early in the playoffs because two players neglected to touch home plate in Game 3 at Fenway. The A's are back in town tonight for the first time since that series, and Tim Hudson vs. Curt Schilling is a pretty nifty matchup. Miguel Tejada, one of those who didn't touch home, is now with the Orioles, and Oakland's 2003 bench coach and closer have joined the Red Sox (Terry Francona and Keith Foulke). Outfielder Eric Byrnes, the other guy who didn't touch home, has scored 23 runs in 29 games for the A's and comes to Fenway hitting .295 with seven steals.

Gee, you think there's any chance Roger Clemens will be starting the All-Star Game in Houston July 13? It would make for a triumphant return. In 1986, the year Clemens first struck out 20 in a game, en route to a 14-0 start and an American League MVP award, he started the All-Star Game at the Houston Astrodome and earned the game's MVP with a nine-up, nine-down performance.

If you want to get the attention of Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, holler, "Hey, Flip." Carlisle's enormous feet earned him the nickname "Flipper" when he was a rookie with the Celtics in 1984-85. Bet Larry Bird still calls him "Flip" around the Pacers executive offices.

Francona meets John Kerry and anoints him the next president. Whoops. There goes the Republican vote.

When's the last time you heard anyone bring up the topic of steroids in baseball?

In the thick of all the ink regarding unemployed Raul Mondesi owing former Sox shortstop Mario Guerrero $640,000, Murray Chass of The New York Times reminds us that Guerrero (nicknamed "The Dictator" by Peter Gammons all those years ago) was the proverbial player-to-be-named-later Boston received in the infamous Sparky Lyle-for-Danny Cater deal of 1972.

Anyone not rooting for Martina Navratilova at the French Open?

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is dshaughnessy@globe.com. 

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