Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you.
1. If Rob Gronkowski doesn't feel strong enough to return quite yet, I'm absolutely fine with waiting it out until he and Papa Gronk are more confident that his arm won't snap like uncooked spaghetti the first time he hits the ground hard. (Right, sort of like what happened against the Texans in the playoffs.) He's noticeably skinnier because of all the lifting time he missed when he was recovering from back and forearm surgeries, plural. The Pats are 4-0 and getting better. There's just no rush. Let him sit on his couch and play Skylanders with his brothers for a few more weeks if need be. Having him at the end of the season is so much more important than having him now.
2. Who's your pick for AL Manager of the Year? The debate around here anyone focuses on the current Red Sox manager, John Farrell, and the former Red Sox manager, Terry Francona. But doesn't Bob Melvin, who got 96 wins out of a misfit Oakland team that was perceived to have wildly overachieved last year, deserve serious consideration as well? I think my vote would go to Francona, who has done extraordinary work with a mediocre roster in Cleveland. Farrell's work is beyond reproach, but he could have written seven names on the lineup card each night and left the other two blank and he still would have been an immense upgrade over Bobby Valentine.
3. Seems to me the majority of fans around here hope the Red Sox draw the Indians in the American League Division Series, not just for the Farrell-Francona matchup but for the most understandable of reasons: Cleveland looks like the weakest possible opponent, even with their 10-game winning streak to wrap up the season. (It wasn't the most grueling schedule: Most of the teams they played should be eligible to be relegated, soccer-style, to Triple A.) After watching David Price mow down the Rangers Monday night, the rooting interest in the AL wild-card game should be tilted even more toward Cleveland. Price was the epitome of an ace in the Rays' 5-2 win in Game 163, and because of the break between series, the Sox could have to face him twice in the ALDS.
4. Anyone who complains about Mariano Rivera's farewell tour is just looking for a reason to howl. Was it a little much at times? Yeah, maybe. And he certainly got enough junk to open his own eBay store. But it was genuine from Rivera's side, and it wasn't just a farewell party for one of the most distinguished and distinctive players we will ever see. He was taking the time to say goodbye to the fans as well, sort of in the same way Julius Erving did back in '87.
5. Bummed that Greg Dickerson isn't going to be part of Comcast SportsNet New England's Celtics coverage this year. More relevantly, so are a good number of his colleagues. Dickerson, who held the sideline reporter role since 2005, was a pro's pro who did his job well while also allowing his appreciation of and respect for the team and its personnel to show through.
6. Not that old friend Adrian Beltre entirely drove the Rangers' offense this year, but in their 91 wins he had 27 homers and 77 RBIs while putting up an 1.105 OPS. In their 72 losses? Three homers, 15 RBIs, .590 OPS. Compare that to Miguel Cabrera, who still managed 17 homers and a .974 OPS in Detroit defeats.
7. Loved this quote from Browns cornerback Joe Haden on Brian Hoyer, the former Tom Brady caddy who has had two excellent starts for his hometown Browns: "He comes to the sideline talking to the `D' all in our face, smacking me on the butt like, 'Joe let's go.' He just has a really good spirit and he's very confident." I'm still surprised it took Hoyer so long to catch on after the Patriots let him go, and that Pittsburgh and Arizona didn't keep him around. He can play a little.
8. I know Jordan Caron has had his share of hiccups, but I'm glad the Bruins kept him around. He's still just 22, is clearly skilled (though as Claude Julien has said, he needs to get better around the net), and the deep Bruins can afford to see if he develops. This isn't an easy roster to crack, you know.
9. Kris Humphries came across as polite, grounded, and likable during Celtics media day Monday out at Healthpoint, even when the cameras were off. Who knew you can't believe everything you see on TV?
10. As for today's Completely Random Basketball Ard:
I've got jokes. I didn't say they were good jokes, but I do have 'em.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.