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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

Pieces with a bit of an edge

If Danny Ainge were running the Red Sox, disappointing seasons would not be as easily overlooked.
If Danny Ainge were running the Red Sox, disappointing seasons would not be as easily overlooked. (Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)

Picked-up pieces while working on my mock draft . . .

  • At what point, precisely, did the 2005-06 Celtics season become a success story? The Celtics went 33-49 and they've been applauded madly all around town. The Bruins went 29-37-8-8 and their name is mud. It's hard to understand this free pass for the Green. Sure, we all like Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers, but the recently completed season was a train wreck by any definition. Two more losses and they'd have been able to say they lost more games in a season than any team in franchise history. The only two times the Celtics lost more games were in 1977-78 (50), the dreadful Sidney Wicks era, and in 1993-94 (50), when things bottomed out after the last of the Big Three (Kevin McHale) left. The 1996-97 Celtics don't count because they were trying to lose games under M.L. Carr and went 15-67. It's nice the Celtics have some promising young talent (though we don't know if Gerald Green is anything more than ''SportsCenter" highlight material), but Ainge has been on the job three years and he still can't guarantee a playoff team for next season. In two years, Rivers is 78-86. If either one worked on Yawkey Way, he'd have been ground to powder by now.

  • Now let's move on to the real sacred cows. We all know everybody around here loves Theo Epstein. He delivered a World Series champion and forever will be the boy wonder who can do no wrong. But doesn't he look just a little underprepared when nice guy Lenny DiNardo (7.43 ERA) is starting games in the third week of the season after a winter of hearing about how the Red Sox had seven starting pitchers? The Bronson Arroyo (3-0, 3.04, two homers with the Reds) trade looks bad in the wake of what's happened to David Wells, and some would say the Sox should have been better prepared for a Wells collapse. Again, had Lou Gorman or Dan Duquette let this happen, there would have been hell to pay. In any event, the Hendricks Brothers (Roger Clemens's agents) no doubt will try to take advantage of Boston's sudden need.

  • And then there's His Infallibleness, Bill Belichick, who could not be cajoled into saying anything complimentary about Adam Vinatieri when he finally came out of the bunker last week. This would have been a chance to maybe say thanks for the three rings, or ''We wish Adam well," but your coach wouldn't give it up. ''It doesn't make any difference. He's not here," deadpanned Belichick. Is this, too, OK with you Patriots fans?

  • One of the most underreported stories of this spring is the minor league umpires strike. The minor league umps have been out since Opening Day and nobody cares. These guys make peanuts as is, and folks simply do not feel their pain. It's unfortunate.

  • Does Joe Thornton get a day in City Hall Plaza if the San Jose Sharks win the Stanley Cup?

  • Don't you wish you went to the Mavericks' final home game? American Airlines gave vouchers for free flights to 19,000 fans (give or take a few) who attended the Mavs' regular-season home finale Wednesday night. Must have made American's stockholders happy. The airline announced Wednesday that it lost $92 million in the first three months of 2006.

  • All guys who are 47 years old still have hope they can play in the majors. Julio Franco, who turns 48 (at least) in August, went deep for the Mets last week.

  • Trot Nixon suggests a new camera be put on a building across the street from the Wall to record the landing spots of Wily Mo Peña's home runs. ''His bat is more like a club from caveman days," says Nixon.

  • People who know a lot about the NFL draft -- weeks before the draft -- scare me.

  • Great moment at Yankee Stadium Friday night when the voice of Bob Sheppard returned to the Bronx cathedral. Sheppard, who won't give his age but is probably between 90-100, missed the Yankees' first home series of the season after injuring his hip, but the voice of the baseball god was back in his booth Friday night. Meanwhile, Red Sox fans can count their blessings that Carl Beane remains behind the mike at Fenway. Beane is a worthy successor to the late, great Sherm Feller. Sounds just like him sometimes.

  • Leave it to estimable colleague Peter May to notice that this is the first time in NBA history the Celtics, Knicks, and Sixers all missed the playoffs in the same season. And is anyone else alarmed that the Celtics and Bruins both missed in the same spring for the fourth time in the last 10 years? What has happened to our winter teams?

  • If you lived in Green Bay right now, your entire world would be hanging on Brett Favre's decision to retire, return, or request a trade.

  • Everybody OK with the Padres wearing camouflage uniforms at home against the Mets Saturday night? Obviously, it's meant as a tribute and San Diego is a military town, but I wonder what the soldiers and their families think. Their opinions would be the ones that count.

  • Speaking of the Mets, brother Pedro is 4-0 and the National League is hitting .166 against him. And wouldn't it be great if he makes a start here June 27-29 when the Mets come to Fenway?

  • Mel Kiper is saying Texas quarterback Vince Young will go to the Raiders with the seventh pick Saturday. Remember in 1984 when Michael Jordan was picked by Chicago at No. 3, after Sam Bowie went to Portland at No. 2 (Hakeem Olajuwon went No. 1 to the Rockets)?

  • Doug Mientkiewicz tells the New York Times The Ball is going to the Hall of Fame. What remains unclear is the subject of The Ball's owner. Is Doug donating it to Cooperstown, or merely lending it to the Hall for a spell?

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

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