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Sunday, July 20, 2014

World Cup is fun, but football is football

Alan Greenwood

Wandering into the Arena sports bar in Nashua last Sunday, there was a starling sight:

Almost every flat screen in the joint showed the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. The Red Sox and Astros were relegated to one screen a standard-size screen, next to one of the wall-sized projection screens. ...

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Wandering into the Arena sports bar in Nashua last Sunday, there was a starling sight:

Almost every flat screen in the joint showed the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. The Red Sox and Astros were relegated to one screen a standard-size screen, next to one of the wall-sized projection screens.

While a few patrons wore Argentine jerseys, everyone cheered and groaned with each near-miss and spectacular goalie save.

Lots of well-meaning observers have insisted that soccer now stands on the verge a meteoric rise in the pecking order of American sports culture. This happens every four years, as the World Cup’s inherent likability is shared by lots of viewers who resume ignoring soccer by the time NFL training camps open.

By the time the Bill Belichick begins his welcome-back speech Thursday, futbol’s clutch on America will be a faint memory.

RONDO GONZO: A fellow scribe whose work appears on nesn.com suggested last week that Rajon Rondo hasn’t displayed his pronounced diva tendencies in a long time, so talk of trading him is downright silly.

Well, if a few months has weaseled its way into the definition of “a long time,” that assessment is right on the money. Rondo has been quietly selfless since the season ended in April, which is about the time that folks generally stopped paying lots of attention to him.

Admittedly, this essay is hunt-and-pecked by a bona fide Rondo flip-flopper. His athletic talents and basketball abilities are top shelf, and it is always wise for an NBA team stating from scratch to think long and hard before trading its most talented ballplayer. Despite his glaring deficiencies as a shooter, Rondo is that ballplayer.

Still, none of that masks Rondo’s love affair with the man whose eyes twinkle at him as he shaves. Or the fact that if Rondo stays, he is going to be looking for a boatload of money when he becomes a free agent next summer, almost certainly much more than he is worth.

If the Celtics are able to get something close to 99 cents on the dollar for Rondo, Danny Ainge should pull the trigger quickly. When the NBA mid-season trade deadline arrives, Ainge would be lucky to get anything close than 50 cents on the Rondo dollar.

Having committed himself to take the longest, winding road back to legitimacy, Ainge needs to ensure that Rondo’s inevitable bouts of moping will not muddle the Celtics total renovation project. Short of finding a way to crawl inside Rondo’s head, that is a fairly hopeless endeavor.

COOPERSTOWN IS NOT CALLING: Inarguably, Brock Holt is having an extraordinary season for the Red Sox, but his express trip to baseball immortality should be put on hold, at least until the end of next season.

Consider the man’s work for at least two full seasons. Baseball history is littered with players who look like Roy Hobbs long enough to temporarily reflect greatness, but finish their careers with no more than a few lines in the Baseball Register.

For those who have never heard of Roy Hobbs, do a wiki search on Robert Redford. For those who have never heard of a wiki search, welcome to the darker side of cultural oblivion.

TIME TRAVEL: As Apollo 11 prepared for its landing, and for Neil Armstrong’s giant leap, Nashua Coffey Post 3 kept itself alive in the fight for a spot in the state American Legion baseball tournament with a 7-6 win against Derry. John Pananos was the winning pitcher, thanks to Coffey Post’s four-run eighth.

Across the bridge, the Hudson Post 48 baseball team endured a 33-0 rout against Sweeney Post 2. One of those runs came on a home run by a kid named Mike Flanagan, who went on to make quite a name for himself on the mound.

And at Fenway Park, rookie third baseman Syd O’Brien (a poor man’s ancient model of Brock Holt) knocked in three runs with a single, a triple and a homer, as the Red Sox posted a 6-5 win, completing a weekend sweep of the first-place Baltimore Orioles. Alas, pennant fever did not grip Hub for long; the Red Sox were still 11 games out, in second place, on their way to a third-place finish.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-6427 or
agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Greenwood on Twitter (@Telegraph_AlanG).