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Dan Shaughnessy

Opting for cheers instead of chores

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / April 27, 2009
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Get much done this weekend?

The scene played out in thousands of New England households. Day after day. Night after night. Hour after hour.

"Honey, the soup's getting cold . . . are you coming to the table to eat with us, or are you going to keep watching that ballgame?"

Or maybe . . .

"Hey, bozo, I thought we were cleaning the garage this afternoon. You said that game was going to be over a half hour ago. What's the deal?"

Or maybe . . .

"Tell me you're not still watching that insipid NFL draft? I don't care if you had that wideout from Oregon State going to Tampa Bay in the seventh round. You're supposed to be filling out job applications!"

Productivity is way down in our region. Small wonder Mass Pike toll takers are calling in sick. There's simply too many games and sports transactions to follow. And nothing happens quickly. The Red Sox and Yankees play for four hours and 21 minutes. Extra innings. Then they play for 4:21 again even though it's only nine innings. Then the Celtics and Chicago Bulls wrestle for three hours and 32 minutes, through two overtimes. And all the while Bill Belichick makes moves that will be studied by draftologists for centuries to come. Like the DaVinci Code.

Oh, I almost forgot. We also had to follow the Rangers and the Capitals, and the Devils and Hurricanes because we still don't know who the Bruins are playing in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. There's a good chances the Bruins and Celtics will have another of those Causeway Street twinbills Saturday. The Red Sox will make their first visit to the new Yankee Stadium two days after that.

Our bobble heads are spinning. There are not enough hours in the day to be a New England sports fan in this surreal spring of 2009. We barely have time to dissect and analyze before it's time for the next big game.

Such was the case yesterday.

I was one of those guys who was supposed to help clean out the garage. I figured I'd do it between the Celtics and Red Sox. Seemed reasonable enough. The Celtics started just after 1 p.m. and the Sox weren't scheduled until 8:05.

Then strange things started to happen. Word broke from Foxborough that the Patriots had traded Ellis Hobbs to the Eagles for a couple of draft picks. This made me sad. I'm going to miss Hobbs, even though Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers famously called him the "sorriest" corner in the league after the Patriots' victory celebration during the 2007 playoffs. Hobbs was an electric return man. And a peacock to boot. On the gridiron, Hobbs was like Chris Canty with talent. Every time he tackled a guy - even if the player just moved the chains - Hobbs would strut and thump his chest. Can't have enough guys like that on your team. He was also an All-World sound bite. No wonder they traded him.

All interest in the draft dissolved when the Celtics and Bulls staged their double-overtime classic. It was the second OT game of this terrific series; Game 4 against the Bulls was just a few notches below the Boston-Phoenix triple-overtime Finals game in 1976 at the old Garden. Rajon Rondo (25 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) continued his emergence as the best point guard in the NBA playoffs. At the end of the game, the undermanned Celtics were without Kevin Garnett, Leon Powe, Kendrick Perkins, and Brian Scalabrine (Scal looks a little like Jackie Moon with that headband, no?).

The Celtics and Bulls frustrated ABC. The network had the Cavaliers and Pistons in the on-deck circle but didn't get to the LeBron Show until the final two minutes of the first half. When there's a Boston team in the mix, cancel all postgame plans. You might be there for a while.

The Celtics' double-OT loss left just enough time for me to skip garage duty and get down to Fenway in time for batting practice and another nationally televised game involving the Red Sox and Yankees. Ho-hum.

Consistent with the theme of our town as the sports capital of the world, the Sox trotted out more champions for the ceremonial first pitch of their series finale with the Bombers. This time it was the Boston University hockey team. Perhaps you remember two weeks ago when the Terriers won the greatest college hockey game of all time, overcoming a two-goal deficit in the final minute of the NCAA final.

"It's unbelievable all the things you can watch in this town," said Boston University coach Jack Parker, a Sox fan since 1955.

With the first ball tossed, Parker and his champs sat back to watch the Sox and Yankees play their 897th game at Fenway. Going in, the ledger read 446-446-4. Pretty symmetrical.

Justin Masterson threw the first pitch about an hour after the NFL draft ended. And then we saw Jacoby Ellsbury pull off the Red Sox' first straight steal of home in 15 years. Against 15-year veteran Andy Pettitte, no less. Shades of Benny "the Jet" Rodriguez.

At 11:19, Takashi Saito got Johnny Damon to fly to right to give the Sox a 4-1 victory and a weekend sweep of the Yankees. It was emphatic. It's only April, but your team looks a lot better than George Steinbrenner's team. The Red Sox have won 10 in a row.

The Sox go for 11 straight tonight in Cleveland. Tomorrow night it's Celtics-Bulls at the Garden. Thursday it's the Bruins at home in Game 1 (we think), the Celtics in Chicago for Game 6, the first day of Patriots minicamp (welcome, Patrick Chung), and the Sox' first game in St. Pete since Game 7 of the ALCS.

The garage is just going to have to wait.

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

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