THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Dan Shaughnessy

The pieces are coming together

We recently lost a national treasure in the muscle-bound Jack LaLanne, who was a pioneer in getting America in shape. We recently lost a national treasure in the muscle-bound Jack LaLanne, who was a pioneer in getting America in shape. (File/Ariel Hankin/Associated Press)
By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / February 4, 2011

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Picked-up pieces while sitting with the NFL commissioner, who says he’s still waiting for Bill Belichick to “tell his side of the story’’ regarding Spygate . . .

There’s always a Red Sox connection: On Opening Day 1989, the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 5-4, in 11 innings. Sitting upstairs at Memorial Stadium with Ted Williams and President George Bush? Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. After the game, Mubarak did not meet with Joe Morgan to talk about the Sox’ five-man infield.

Kansas City pitcher Gil Meche retired rather than collect $12 million guaranteed next season because he knew he couldn’t pitch anymore. “Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad,’’ Meche told the New York Times. “I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again.’’ Stand-up guy, right? Contrast that with Mr. 38 Pitches, who signed a one-year contract after 2007, never pitched another inning, collected the $8 million without embarrassment, complained about government waste and corporate welfare, then moved his local business to Rhode Island for a $75 million loan guarantee.

Wish there had been one or two attack-dog reporters in Dallas this week. And boo to any “reporter’’ who gently preceded a question to Ben Roethlisberger with, “Ben, after everything you’ve been through . . .’’ It’s disgusting. Roethlisberger did not “go through’’ anything. He’s no victim. He’s a perp, one who would very likely be in jail if he were not an NFL quarterback. Roethlisberger has made the Green Bay Packers America’s Team in the eyes of many fans.

The passing of Jack LaLanne was way underplayed. He invented physical fitness in this country. Never saw him on a color television, but in black and white, Jack could get it done with a chair and a towel. Ever see him swimming with a strap in his mouth, towing a seacraft across a body of water? I like to think that when college guys flex their muscles and say they are “Jacked,’’ it’s an homage to the great Jack LaLanne.

If I were king, Curtis Martin would make the Pro Football Hall of Fame tomorrow and everybody’s fool, Deion Sanders, would be on the sideline for life.

At this moment, Mark Recchi is only two years younger than Cam Neely.

Read the case against Lance Armstrong in “Sports Illustrated’’ and try to convince yourself that Armstrong isn’t dirty. In the end, I’m expecting Lance to fall back on the Chuck Turner “I don’t remember’’ defense.

Speaking of fallen greats, smilin’ Roger Clemens was back in federal court Wednesday, assuring the feds that he doesn’t mind that his carnival-barker lawyer, Rusty Hardin, once represented Andy Pettitte, who could testify against Clemens. Clemens has reportedly turned down plea offers that would have kept him out of jail. Another blunder by the Rocket.

Logan Mankins is my favorite Patriot. He’s the first guy to stand up to the Krafts since Mike Vrabel.

In case you missed it, day tripper Sal Alosi finally quit his job with the Jets this week.

Bet you didn’t know that Abbott and Costello performed “Who’s On First’’ on “The Steve Allen Show’’ in front of an audience that included Mickey Mantle and Sal Maglie the night before Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Mantle homered off Maglie the next day, but Larsen was the story. Fifty-one years later, when Chin-lung Hu was promoted to the Dodgers, legendary broadcaster Vin Scully told his audience, “Let’s hope Hu gets a base hit, folks. I can’t wait to say, ‘Hu’s on first.’ ’’ Hu singled in his sixth game with the Dodgers.

Drew Brees wears No. 9 in honor of Ted Williams.

According to ESPN The Magazine, Bill Laimbeer is the top scorer among NBA players born in Massachusetts. The New Hampshire leader is Matt Bonner and Ernie DiGregorio is the Rhode Island scoring king.

Maybe Charlie Sheen will buy the Mets.

Get me a copy of George Dohrmann’s “Play Their Hearts Out.’’ This from Jason Zengerle in the New York Times: “The sheer accumulation of transgressions makes for a devastating portrait of a culture [AAU basketball] in which teenage boys are treated as, essentially, chattel.’’

Anybody else sick of Carmelo Anthony? Sadly, we may be in for another three weeks of Melo Yellow’s “Hire Me’’ Tour across NBA America.

Goodell to SI’s Peter King on Belichick’s Spygate non-response: “He went out and stonewalled the press. I feel like I was deceived.’’ Welcome to our world, Roger.

Just because he weighs twice as much as Cliff Lee, that doesn’t mean Bartolo Colon will be half as good. But I like the Freddy Garcia pickup for the Yankees. He doesn’t throw as hard as he did in the old days, but the big righty won 12 games with the White Sox last year.

Red Sox win one, lose one. The “We Won’t Rest Until Order Has Been Restored’’ ticket campaign (pushed by Sox executive Susan Goodenow) is spectacular. On the other hand, we have New Kids On The Block and the Backstreet Boys at Fenway this summer. Hey, we all love the Wahlbergs, but that’s a big fall from Springsteen and McCartney.

Kevin Love’s middle name is Wesley, in honor of Wes Unseld, the Bullets rebounding machine who played with Kevin’s dad, Stan Love.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to all those NFL lockout stories. March 4 just can’t come soon enough.

Brian Cashman sounds like a guy who wants to get fired, but Hal Steinbrenner told the New York Post that he’s OK with the Yankees general manager shooting from the hip. Cashman said he was overruled when the bosses signed reliever Rafael Soriano, then he said Derek Jeter might eventually have to think about playing center field. He said the Red Sox have a better lineup than the Yankees. All those things are true.

Hope Mark Cuban makes the trip to the Garden tonight.

Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald — one of the most decent and sincere athletes ever to grace our region — attended the funeral of 9-year-old shooting victim Christina Taylor Green. McDonald was signed by Christina’s dad, scout John Green, who now works for the Dodgers. John Green and his family sat with Michelle Obama at the State of the Union Address last week.

Why don’t they just name Blake Griffin the NBA slam-dunk champion now?

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

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