NESN Diary: Baseball Without Fans, Nooses Vs. Knots, Tom Brady Bending Rules (And Other Random Thoughts)


Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, 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.

Disclaimer: I know we always write “and other random thoughts” in these NESN Diary headlines, but I’m really going to live up to that tonight.

I was thinking about the return of Major League Baseball, and of course, how it would look without fans. Are players going to try to make up for the lack of real crowd noise, posting-up against the dugout fence cheering for each other like it were a high school game?

I think it would be really funny to watch someone like Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout batting while his teammates call out, “Mike, Mike, Mike” to the tune of the seagulls from “Finding Nemo.”

Hopefully every once in a while the broadcasts will pick up on some of the real chirps. Imagine if there were no fans in the stands last season and we got to hear what former Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly was saying before he threw down against New York Yankees’ Tyler Austin?

I’ve said this for a while now, but if the MLB (or any league for that matter) wants to bring in entertainment-driven income, mic up the players and sell rights to an R-rated stream separate from the normal cable broadcast. ESPN did it throughout “The Last Dance” documentary.

I think the NFL would have the best quality of trash talk, but that the NHL would show strongly too.

— I don’t get the shade that NASCAR and especially Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. are getting right now.

NASCAR president Steve Phelps on Thursday gave more detail about the FBI’s findings regarding the noose incident, revealing photos of what the rope looked like.

After seeing it, um, what did people want NASCAR to do? Regardless of how long the garage-closing apparatus was in that particular stall, it’s the only one across all 29 tracks tied in that particular type of knot.

And with this current social climate, not to mention all the animosity that Wallace has seen over being vocal about systemic racism, I don’t see how NASCAR investigating this seriously could be seen as an overreaction.

I certainly feel for Wallace here.

— The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the NBA has modified its dress code for the restart, and players are no longer mandated to wear a sport coat on the bench.

That’s great news for followers of NBA fashion, and I’m hoping it means we see Marcus Smart’s Versace robe court-side.

— Speaking of the Boston Celtics, The Athletic recently ranked NBA teams for the quality of their young core players under contract through next year, and the C’s came in at No. 2. Not hard to believe when you benefit from the tag-team of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Also, another NBA analyst sees Boston as the Milwaukee Bucks’ biggest threats in the East. And Enes Kanter called Nick Wright out for predicting the Bucks to win the conference.

— Liverpool FC made history today, claiming its first ever English Premier League title. And boy, did it feel good to watch fans at Anfield celebrate a major victory, even if only vicariously online.

It was also nice to see some quality championship hype videos after the team claimed the crown, especially considering what manager Jurgen Klopp has done for the franchise.

— In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Chaim Bloom gave some updates on Collin McHugh and Alex Verdugo’s injuries.

— The NHL is still in the process of narrowing its short list of potential host cities down to two hubs. The Canucks announced that Vancouver is officially out of the running, leaving Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Edmonton and Toronto still in play.

— Austrailia and New Zealand won a joint-bid and will hose the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, beating Columbia’s pitch in a FIFA Council member’s vote.

Tweet of the Day

If this Instagram post was a shot at the union for its recommendations against NFL players holding private group workouts, it wouldn’t be the first time Brady’s taken a subtle shot at the league.

The NFL’s chief medical officer also sided with the players association when asked about Brady working out with his new Buccaneers teammates, but this week shows us that Brady doesn’t care what the NFL or Mike Florio think. He has chemistry to build before training camps reportedly begin on July 28.

But the irony of the quote Brady used is quite hilarious.

Stat of the Day


Video of the day

While people are focusing on Liverpool, not enough are talking about Christian Pulisic’s opening goal to get Chelsea on the board over Manchester City. The 2-1 victory ultimately is why Liverpool was able to clinch the title.

— And for sake of randomness, I’m going to end this by straying from sports completely. Unless you feel like eating is a sport, because I’d support you.

Today would have been Anthony Bourdain’s birthday. Especially during this time, I think we all could learn a lot from his eagerness to dive into other people’s cultures as a means of understanding them, all through food and travel.

Bourdain, though known as a chef and television personality, remains one of my favorite writers, so I’ll send you off with a link to one of my favorite pieces he wrote, another to an awesome profile of him by Patrick Radden Keefe in The New Yorker, and lastly, a classic Bourdain quote:

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, and as much as you can. Across the ocean or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.”

Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images

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