NESN Diary: What If Bucs Turn On Tom Brady? (And Other Random Thoughts)

Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, NESN.com will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways and other cool tidbits we’ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We’re all in this together.

Question: How many days has it been without sports?

Answer: Too many.

It seems like it’s been decades since we’ve had a live game to sink our teeth into, and unfortunately, it remains very much unclear when sports will return to the forefront. If you haven’t noticed, our country has bigger fish to fry at the moment.

Obviously, our thoughts are with everyone amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This whole social distancing/self-isolation thing totally stinks, though, and what better way to clear our heads than to kick around some random sports topics?

That’s what we did Tuesday. And that’s what we’ll continue to do. Because while some folks might pooh-pooh sports during this trying time in human existence, others will argue it’s exactly what we need to cope, heal and enjoy some semblance of normalcy with everything up in the air.

So, here are some random thoughts for Tuesday, March 24:

— So far, it sounds like players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are fired up to play with Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback who ever lived. And why shouldn’t they be?

Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion, adds instant legitimacy to their championship aspirations, with the potential to positively impact Tampa Bay’s culture on and off the field.

But what if the Bucs turn on Brady at some point?

The Athletic’s Mike Sando on Tuesday evaluated Brady’s transition to Tampa Bay after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, specifically by looking at “The Quarterback Whisperer: How to Build an Elite NFL Quarterback,” a book by Bucs head coach Bruce Arians published in 2017.

Sando’s breakdown included an interesting quote from a veteran coach that took into account Arians’ belief all elite quarterbacks are “life-of-the-party” guys.

“Brady handles success and failure equally until the failure is excessive in his mind,” the coach told Sando. “Then he shows frustration with teammates in what seems to be a ‘they should know by now’ manner. He probably isn’t going to be the life of the party at 42 and 43. He could be more likely to check his wristwatch to make sure he gets home in time for his next float-tank session.”

While outward displays of frustration flew in New England, where Brady had been the king of the castle for two decades, isn’t it fair to wonder how that type of emotion would be received in Tampa Bay if the Bucs fail to meet their lofty expectations?

Brady is being looked at as a savior, when in reality he’s no longer an elite quarterback skills-wise. If the Bucs struggle, with Brady’s performance being a contributing factor, who’s to say the locker room won’t begin to question the status quo?

— Noah Syndergaard will undergo Tommy John surgery, which pretty much is a foregone conclusion if you’re a high-profile pitcher for the New York Mets.

— Syndergaard joins Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox and Luis Severino of the New York Yankees among front-line starters forced to go under the knife and miss whatever comes of the 2020 Major League Baseball season.

That sucks, obviously. But it also begs the question: If you were starting a franchise today, which of those three pitchers would you choose to build around, current contractual situations aside?

Syndergaard turns 28 in August. Sale turns 31 next week. Severino turned 26 last month.

I’d probably lean Severino, as strange as that seems.

Sale is the most accomplished and his peak is downright filthy. But it’s hard to ignore the age, the mileage and the fact that Sale’s arm always looks like it’s going to fly off his slender frame. Plus, he wasn’t exactly his usual dominant self in 2019.

Syndergaard might have the highest ceiling. But he also might have the lowest floor.

— Syndergaard’s injury sent us down a Mets rabbit hole — such is life — and now we can’t stop thinking about what would have happened had the Red Sox actually traded Manny Ramirez to New York for then-top prospect Lastings Milledge in 2005. Yikes.

Or, even worse, what if the Red Sox went down this path described by Jayson Stark in an article published to ESPN.com on July 30, 2005:

According to three baseball men familiar with the three-way conversations, the original three-team trifecta involving Manny collapsed over a dispute between Boston and Tampa Bay.

The Devil Rays were insisting that Boston trade both its top offensive prospect, Hanley Ramirez, and its top pitching prospect, Jon Lester, to the Rays in order to finish off the deal. The Red Sox, however, couldn’t convince themselves to trade their two best prospects and their 150-RBI cleanup man in one massive transaction.

Oh, man. Sometimes, the best deals really are the ones you don’t make.

— Who’s the best pitcher ever to undergo Tommy John surgery?

The discussion could become even more interesting in the time given the surge in procedures over the past few years, but Jacob deGrom and Stephen Strasburg definitely are near or at the top of the list.

John Smoltz remains a fascinating case, too, given that he cemented his Hall of Fame resume — first as a closer and then again as a starter — upon returning to the bump in 2001.

— David Ortiz posted a video of his 15-year-old son, D’Angelo, unloading on baseballs.

Hope the Red Sox someday sign “Little Papi” to do damage at Fenway Park? Well, they kinda already did — back in the day.

Ortiz joked during a 2012 press conference to announce a two-year contract extension with the Red Sox that Boston also signed his son to a $5 deal.

Here’s more from an article by Dan Roche published to CBS Boston’s website on Nov. 5, 2012:

Apparently, David told Red Sox President Larry Lucchino a story about 8-year-old D’Angelo hitting a home run in his ballgame. D’Angelo is a switch-hitter, but came up batting righty to face a right handed pitcher.

Ortiz told him to switch, but D’Angelo said, “I got this, I have more power from the right side.” He then homered.

Larry said he loved the story and said the Sox had to sign him.

— Three years ago Tuesday, Devin Booker dropped 70(!) points on the Boston Celtics.

Impressive. Especially since the Phoenix Suns still lost. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images