Boston's athlete wish list: Who would you want?

836675.jpg

Boston's athlete wish list: Who would you want?

Here in Boston, weve been fortunate, especially of late, to root for some ridiculously great sports teams. And with those teams, has come an array of exceptional athletes.

In the last 25 years alone, weve cheered on Cy Youngs and batting champs; Hall of Fame defensemen and a legendary (if not wacko) goalie. Weve watched history-making tight ends, perennial Gold Glovers, and the most prolific three-point shooter the world has ever seen. Weve been captivated by one of the greatest power forwards of all time, perhaps the greatest quarterback whos ever lived and an outfielder who once karate-kicked a catcher.

To quote the great Paul Revere: Its been real, bro.

But even amidst all this glory and good fortune, were still missing out. Even in the face of all this success, there are still certain experiences and corners of sports fandom of which weve never enjoyed.

This hit me yesterday while I was writing about Chandler Jones emergence as New Englands most exciting and potentially dominant outside pass rusher in at least five lifetimes. And it got me thinking: What other specific types of athlete whether its a matter of need (as in Chandlers case) or pure aesthetics are on Bostons wish list?

For instance, if wed asked this question five years ago, responses would have included:

You know, its been a long time since weve been blessed with a transcendent point guard.

Will we ever know the excitement of watching a prolific base stealer?

Whats it like to root for a superstar wide receiver?

Thankfully, Rajon Rondo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Randy Moss have since answered the call.

So, whats left?

Here are a few suggestions. Feel free to add your own in the comment section. Also, feel free to not. Either way, no hard feelings.

Game-breaking punt returner: Irving Fryar led the NFL in punt return average in 1985, and Troy Brown did the same in 2001, but neither especially Brown instilled the fear of God in the other team. Just once, wouldn't it be nice to see a punt float through the air and just know that the opposition is collectively soiling their spandex? Or for a team set up for a punt in the waning minutes of a close game, and to hear the announcer say: "They'd be crazy to kick to X here."

Professional dunker: We had Ricky Davis for two seasons, and Gerald Green for basically one. But five years is far too long to go without an athlete who's destined for SportsCenter every time he gets out on the break. Note to Danny Ainge: KEDRICK BROWN IS VERY AVAILABLE.

Wait, he's also 31 years old. Damn.

Centerfield surprise: In 2011, Jacoby Ellsbury became the Red Sox first Gold Glove-winning outfielder since Ellis Burks. But quick, off the top of your head, how many memorable Ellsbury catches come to mind? Nothing really sticks out for me. Ellsbury just isn't that kind of guy. And by that kind of guy I mean a home run-stealing, full-extension-loving, acrobatic freak. I'm talking about guys like Torii Hunter, Jim Edmonds, Ken Griffey Jr. or even Aaron Rowand.

In Ellsburys defense, Sox center fielders are inhibited by a center field wall that (short of spidey senses) is impossible to scale. But the Sox still play half their games on the road, and there are plenty of balls for the nabbing. It's hard to complain about what Ellsbury has done for this team (when healthy), but if he and the Sox part ways, I wouldn't mind them finding a web-gem machine to fill the void.

And yeah, I see you, Jackie Bradley.

50-goal scorer: Cam Neely registered three 50-goal seasons in his career, the last of which came in 1993-1994. Thats also the last time the Bruins have had one (although Glen Murray came close in 2002). In fact, only five players in Bruins history (Neely, Ken Hodge, Rick Middleton, John Bucyk and Philip Anthony Esposito) have eclipsed the mark, and its high time they have another. Hmm, if only there were a young, potential superstar the Bs could draft and sign to a six-year35M extension . . .

All rebounds, all the time: Of all the specialists in professional sports, Ive always had a soft spot for the pure rebounders. The guys like Dennis Rodman, Reggie Evans and Popeye Jones who exist entirely on their willingness to outmuscle, out-hustle and fight like hell for rebounds. The last guy the Celtics had like that was Danny Fortson who averaged a cool 15.4 rebounds per 36 minutes in over his one season here.

Rocket-armed catcher: In the annals of baseball history, there have been more than 500 instances of a catcher throwing out at least 50 percent of potential base stealers. And not since Sammy White in 1958 has one of these catcher played for the Red Sox. (Although, Rich Gedman came close in 1986, throwing out 54 of 109 runners for a .495 clip.) Otherwise, its been pretty ugly. Willie McGee ugly.

OK, so there's six to get you started. What else you got?

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

trump_1920_uswo17_d3.jpg

Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest.

In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

Several athletes, including NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police.

Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said, encouraging owners to act.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who went through with his encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange, also blamed a decline in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

The NFL has made several efforts to reduce violence in the sport, particularly hits that may cause damage to the head. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the “old days” — claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn’t protect their heads when pushing them into quad cars.

It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of kneeling during the anthem, hadn’t been signed by an NFL team.

Trump said the protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned this season.

“You know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.

CSNNE SCHEDULE

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

bruins_brad_marchand_012417.jpg

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

CSNNE SCHEDULE