Francona speaks his mind

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Francona speaks his mind

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Terry Francona was angry as hell on Wednesday afternoon.

Well, at least by Terry Francona standards.

For instance, had it been Bill Belichick giving that interview with Dale and Holley (listen here, if you haven't) snapping at jokes, calling out the media, reacting to questions as if someone had just spit in his face you'd have probably thought, "Hey, the coach is in a decent mood today!" But because were talking about Tito a light-hearted guy who's far more likely to crack a joke at his own expense than he is to speak out against anyone else, a guy who's so naturally uncomfortable with being a jerk, that its sometimes hard not to laugh when he tries Wednesdays performance definitely qualifies as pissed off.

But more interesting than the anger itself, was where and to whom it was directed.

How much do they really know?

It's a question I ask myself a lot when it comes to professional athletes and coaches.

And for the sake of the column, I guess I'll get more specific.

I wonder how much they know about what's being said in the public sector; how aware they are of their reputations among the fans, what's written about them online, or screamed about them on TV.

When Adrian Wojnarski tears LeBron five new orifices in a scathing 2,000-word column, does LeBron ever get wind? As Felger calls Rasheed Wallace useless and pathetic for six straight months, is 'Sheed ever lying in bed watching TV with his wife and maniacally plotting Felger's death? Does Kevin Durant read through every mention he gets on Twitter? Do these guys know what's really going on, or do the columns, shows and tweets that dominate the periphery of professional sports not really exist within the walls?

It's not a terribly important question; it's not going to decide the outcome of any game or season or title. But if you're a sports fan, its no less interesting.

Does KG realize that everyone jokes about him being crazy? Is J.D. Drew aware of the eruption of jokes on the Internet every time he strains a hamstring? Does Manny Ramirez even know the Internet exists?

I think the answer varies from player to player. There are athletes who are in tune with everything that's going on and being said. While none of them would ever admit it, I'm sure there are tons of pros who Google themselves every day, click through message boards and want to know every little thing that's typed about them.

And I'm sure there are guys who've never Googled themselves. Guys who are confident enough, or just don't care enough to wonder what anyone else says. But while I respect and envy that crew, theres something about the players and coaches in that first group the ones who take it personally, and make you feel like they care as much as you do who are so much more fun to root for. Who provide fodder, and personality, and make sports just that much better.

Which brings us back to Wednesday's interview with a pissed-off Terry Francona, a man who no doubt sits among that first group. A man who's well aware of all the stories and drama and the public perception of his team.

He hears the calls for Papelbon's head:

"Every time Pap gives up a run," he said, "I hear the clamoring about exchanging him and I think sometimes, I don't know why, maybe it's because you're fans . . . "

He knows what people are saying about Jacoby Ellsbury, the questions theyre asking about his toughness, and, likely, the tweet from a local radio show that called him a five-letter p-word.

"I think for anyone to ever say that he's soft, especially for a radio host, is very disrespectful," Francona said. "Talking tough on the radio is a lot different than running into a wall or getting hit with a pitch. It's easy to be a tough guy when you get away from the field."

Hell, he even admits to reading Dan Shaughnessy:

"I don't want to put words in your mouth," Holley began a question, to which Tito responded, "Shaughnessy does it all the time." It was playful, if not unprovoked. Obviously not a big deal, but for Francona to come up the line as quickly as he did, it's clearly something he'd been thinking about. You can almost imagine him sitting in his office perusing Shaughnessy's column and wanting to reach through the pages and strangle him.

The point is he's reading. He's watching. He's in-tune. He cares.

There's no doubt that his players appreciate that. And fans should, too.

Now if only that appreciation could shave off a few games in the Wild Card.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

C's Mickey sent to D-League

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C's Mickey sent to D-League

Jordan Mickey, inactive in five of the Boston Celtics’ last six games, has been assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the Development League.

“He’s been inactive in a few of these games here,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game at Philadelphia. “And rather than being inactive and being here in a suit and tie, we knew there was a hockey game this afternoon and it was going to be unlikely to get much action on the court at all today. So it made a lot more sense to play for a couple days and fly down to Houston and meet us.”

Mickey has appeared in just eight games this season, averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

Tonight will be the former second-round pick’s 10th missed game this season, five in which he did not play (coaches decision) and another five in which he will be inactive.

The lack of playing time for the second-year player has more to do with Boston’s depth in the frontcourt than anything specific to his game.

“He’s done a good job,” Stevens said of Mickey. “It’s the same old thing that last year although we’re not quite as deep at that spot. But it’s still, at the end of the day we have to make a decision of, are we going to play more traditional or are we going to slide like a Jonas (Jerebko) or Jae (Crowder) over to the four (power forward) and play more spaced which limits the amount of bigs you can have in a game.

Stevens added, “he’s done a good job.  He’s made progress. I don’t think there’s any question we think he’s a guy that can help us not only down the road but this year.”

Mickey is in the lineup for the Red Claws’ game tonight against Santa Cruz and he’s also scheduled to play in Sunday’s game against the Raptors 905 with both games being televised via Facebook Live.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

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Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.