Some Things I Think I Think: On the trouble posed by Red Sox’ run of injuries (2024)

* How many more injuries can the Red Sox take?

For the time being, they’re without their four best hitters: Trevor Story, Rafael Devers, Tyler O’Neill and Triston Casas.

The plan is for Devers and O’Neill to return in a matter of days. But Story is done for the year, and Casas’ injury Saturday was ominous. Whether it’s a rib cage or an oblique issue, either can be both painful and long-lasting.

Some Things I Think I Think: On the trouble posed by Red Sox’ run of injuries (1)

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And speaking of ominous, three weeks into the season, Devers has now been sidelined by two different maladies: a left knee and left shoulder. One or the other or both could be something he has to manage for much of the season. Combined, the two problems have already forced Devers to miss nine of the first 22 games.

Then there’s O’Neill, battling a concussion, weeks after a calf muscle slowed him in spring training. His injury history is well-documented, with eight trips to the IL over the course of his career.

When the season began, the Red Sox’ offense qualified as slightly above-average. But that was before Story went down for the season, before the litany of injuries that soon followed. Without two of their four best offensive performers, the Red Sox’ lineup is greatly reduced; without all four, it’s not even major league-caliber.

With their frequently slipshod defense and inconsistent offense, the Red Sox have been kept afloat by the performance of their starting rotation, which sports a sparkling 1.71 ERA.

That isn’t sustainable, meaning the Red Sox better figure out how to catch the ball and/or score more when the starters regress to the mean. Ironically, Alex Cora had been reluctant to make the most obvious defensive upgrade — moving Ceddanne Rafaela to shortstop — with O’Neill unavailable.

Other teams are battling injuries, too, so the Red Sox run of bad luck is hardly unique. But it does pose an additional first-month challenge to a team that already had more than its share.

* A special bond exists between local play-by-play broadcasters and the fan bases they serve. They visit living rooms nightly, follow fans in the car, travel with them to the beach and backyard. And become almost like friends who never actually meet.

We were reminded of that earlier in the week with the sudden surprise retirement announcements from Jack Edwards here in Boston and John Sterling in New York.

Both could be polarizing, to be sure — Edwards with his hyper-partisan tone and dramatic soliloquies at the conclusion of big games or series, and Sterling with his patented home run calls and final out pronouncements.

But nobody could ever accuse either Edwards and Sterling of being vanilla. They exuded passion and had a certain unmistakable style. And there was never any question about where their loyalties lied — Edwards and Sterling wanted their respective teams to win and weren’t shy about showing it.

If you weren’t a Bruins fan — and maybe even if you were — some of Edwards’ calls could seem over-the-top. But within the context of the telecast, they somehow fit. Meanwhile, it didn’t matter that Sterling’s “It is is is gone!” wasn’t always the most accurate description. It was all part of what Sterling once candidly labeled his “act.”

The sad thing, of course, is that Edwards and Sterling wanted to continue the jobs they loved, but were curtailed by health issues. It’s too bad they couldn’t go out on their own terms, at full capacity.

But we won’t soon forget either, which, when you think about it, is the ultimate compliment for their profession.

* Whose seat is hotter as the TD Garden turns into Playoff Central — Jim Montgomery or Joe Mazzulla? I’d say Mazzulla. The Bruins, while giant playoff flops last spring, overachieved during the regular season in what was supposed to be something of a transition year. Meanwhile, the Celtics finished with the best record in the NBA and enter the postseason as, at the very least, Eastern Conference favorites. The Celts have lost in the conference finals twice and the Finals once in the last four years and patience is running low.

* For a guy who was born in what was then Czechoslovakia and played for two other franchises before joining the Bruins, Zdeno Chara has become quite the Bostonian in retirement. Chara ran the marathon (again) last week, regularly takes part in local philanthropic endeavors and enjoys dropping into the Garden. It’s like he’s lived here all his life.

* No truth to the rumor that the Patriots are considering changing their team entrance song from Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” to the O’Jays’ “Back Stabbers.”

* We should all have the kind of loyalty and devotion from our bosses that the Red Sox inexplicably have for Joely Rodriguez.

* Tough call for Montgomery when it comes to his goalie rotation. Linus Ullmark has the better of the two since the All-Star break and has more postseason experience, but Jeremy Swayman played superbly against Toronto throughout the regular season. No matter which way he goes, Montgomery opens himself up to second-guessing.

* Sugar, on Apple TV, is a noirish series set in L.A. with strong performances from Colin Farrell, James Cromwell and Amy Ryan and well worth your time.

* Is the NFL draft over yet?

* We might wait a long time to find a better human interest story than Cam Booser’s Friday night. Not since 1945 had a Red Sox player make his debut at such an advanced age. His journey is one of perseverance and resilience, having left the game for several years. And the shot of him on NESN, sitting in the dugout postgame, overcome by emotion, was moving beyond words.

* My concern for the Celtics would be this: drawing an first- or second-round opponent with a physical center who could make things rough and tough on Kristaps Porzingis, softening him up for later rounds.

* RIP to Dickey Betts, ex- of the Allman Brothers Band. His fluid guitar playing was the perfect complement to Duane Allman, and he wrote “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” the live version of which on At Fillmore East may well have been the band’s apogee. May they all be only Blue Skies from here on, Dickey.

* Playoff predictions: Bruins over the Maple Leafs in seven. First-round matchups in the NHL are never easy and this won’t be either. Celtics over the Heat in five. First-round matchups in the NBA are always easy and this will be, too.

* Things I did not expect to see: Bill Belchick, almost giddy while appearing on Pat McAfee’s ESPN show. But he sure did seem to have given his background shot some extensive thought.

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Some Things I Think I Think: On the trouble posed by Red Sox’ run of injuries (2024)


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