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Dan Shaughnessy

Pieces of his mind

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / February 4, 2009
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Picked-up pieces while still mourning John Updike, the greatest writer of them all and the man who wrote "Picked-Up Pieces" . . .

Sorry, I can't get into a lather about this Michael Phelps bong photograph. He has apologized appropriately. He'll no doubt be tainted in the eyes of some, but it's a pretty minor transgression. A 23-year-old guy inhaling a little weed? Stop the presses! Please. Our popular president has admitted to much more in his not-so-reckless youth. Phelps gets a pass on this one. It's the cowardly creep with the cellphone camera who is worthy of scorn.

Not sure when the episode aired, but count "Jeopardy!'s" Alex Trebek among the legions of Belichick bashers. Under the category of "Sore Losers" was this answer: "One second from defeat in the 2008 Super Bowl, this losing head coach threw a hissy fit & stalked off the field." The contestant correctly asked, "Who is Bill Belichick?"

His Hoodieness, by the way, was great with the telestrator on NBC's pregame marathon Sunday. No one is better at teaching football. And let's not forget that it was Bill who put things in the best perspective after the disappointment of not making the playoffs. He said, "I think one thing that we all need and probably deserve around here is a little bit of rest." Amen.

We are a couple of weeks away from pitchers and catchers, and the Red Sox offseason is difficult to grade. Seems like the Boston brass has racked up a lot of "wins" in the player payroll column. The Sox beat Jason Varitek and Scott Boras to a pulp. They locked up Dustin Pedroia for ('scuse the expression) relatively short dough. They assured us that Youk is going to be here for a while. They took on reclamation projects - John Smoltz, Rocco Baldelli, Brad Penny - at safe prices. But is this prudent spending supposed to make fans feel better when the Yankees whip out almost a half-billion for Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett? The AL East (except for Baltimore) is going to come at Boston with killer starting staffs this year and the Sox seem to have a lot of easy outs in their lineup, especially if J.D. Drew drags down the middle with his annual two months of flat-line production.

Congratulations to BC High senior Cory Thomas, who high-jumped 7 feet 1/2 inch at the Reggie Lewis Center Sunday. Thomas broke a 28-year-old state record and also won the 55-meter hurdles in 7.6 seconds. Imagine. Thomas is only 6 feet tall and he can jump over Kevin Garnett.

A lot of college basketball fans probably have no idea that Duke's Gerald Henderson has a dad who was a pretty good ballplayer back in the day. True Celtic fans know that Henderson's steal at the end of Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals was more important than Larry Bird's steal against the Pistons or John Havlicek stealing the ball against the 76ers. Without Henderson's play, the Celtics do not win the '84 crown. Gerald Henderson was also the player dealt for the draft pick that turned out to be Len Bias.

Anything written by Joe Posnanski is worth reading.

In mid-January, the New York Rangers took their dads on a two-game road trip to Chicago and Pittsburgh. It's an NHL trend of late. The Bruins did it two years ago and the Rangers do it every year. It's a small reward for all those 6 a.m. drives to the rink and all the bad coffee and hot chocolate while young talents were sculpted on the ice.

Rodney Harrison looked comfortable on the set with the other NBC "talents" before the Super Bowl. And speaking of Boston jocks behind the mike, Lou Merloni has taken his considerable TV skills from NESN to Comcast.

The Red Sox will be at Fenway against the Mariners when Major League Baseball puts its muscle behind the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis July 4. It will be the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's farewell speech at Yankee Stadium, and MLB will use the occasion at Fenway and 14 other ballparks to raise money and promote awareness.

Renee Zellweger grew up in Katy, Texas. Wonder if she ever met Roger Clemens.

Speaking of the Rocket, Brian McNamee goes back on the attack Monday on "The Howard Stern Show."

Somebody tell Santonio Holmes that it's the "Vince" Lombardi Trophy, not the "Dicky" Lombardi Trophy.

Bud Selig was paid $17.5 million in 2007. Yeesh. No wonder Uncle Bud wants to be commissioner for life. That's got to be a lot better than selling cars or trying to market the old Milwaukee Brewers.

Thanks to the many readers who weighed in on last week's Tom Brady column. More than one reminded me I should have raised the name of Yoko Ono.

Anything more boring than the upcoming weeks of speculation about Brett Favre retiring? Please, Brett, just go away and leave a Post-It on the refrigerator this time.

Are we all enjoying the non-bidding war for Manny?

Bad news on the doorstep: Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the day the music died, when Buddy Holly's plane crashed in an Iowa cornfield.

My favorite Rickey Henderson story: When Rickey toiled for the 2002 Red Sox, he had some issues regarding his contract. This was standard Rickey behavior. Throughout his career, Henderson renegotiated more than Chuck Berry. Sox executives Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino agreed to meet with Rickey. At the start of the session, Henderson said he wanted a mobile home.

Seated across the table from Henderson, Werner said, "That should be no problem; we'll give you two."

Lucchino kicked Werner under the table and whispered, "Tom, what are you doing?"

"Mobile phones are easy to come by," said Werner. "We can take care of this."

"Tom, he's asking for a mobile HOME," said Lucchino.

The request was denied.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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