Keeping Score with Chip Ainsworth: Orioles hand Red Sox a dose of reality

Published: 04-12-2024 3:01 PM

Modified: 04-12-2024 7:45 PM


Good morning!
Fresh off good reviews in Peoria, the Boston Red Sox returned home this week and got smacked around by their division nemesis the Baltimore Orioles who rolled sevens to beat them in back-to-back games, 7-1 and 7-5.

While Boston fretted, Baltimore called up much-ballyhooed phenom Jackson Holliday and batted him ninth in the lineup. The media is gushing over the baby-faced rookie who’s a cross between Roy Hobbs and Mickey Mantle. ESPN shamelessly aired a contrived scene of his reaction to getting the news of his callup from Norfolk. Holliday played along but knew what was coming.

After striking out and hitting into a fielder’s choice, Holliday’s first big at-bat came in the sixth inning with nobody out and runners on second and third base. Trailing 5-2, he grounded out to second base for his first career RBI.

Proving they aren’t a one-trick pony, the O’s stars of the game were rookie outfielder Colton Cowser and sophomore infielder Jordan Westburg. Cowser drove in two runs and made two circus catches after Westburg’s grand slam had capped a four-run seventh inning.

The Red Sox helped Baltimore’s cause by committing four errors in two games, throwing two wild pitches and allowing three stolen bases. “What we’ve seen consistently from Boston these last two days are fundamental breakdowns,” said O’s broadcaster Brett Hollander.

Indeed, it is the proverbial tale of two teams going in opposite directions. Already shortstop Trevor Story’s out for the season with a separated shoulder and starting pitcher Nick Pivetta is on the 15-day IL with a sore elbow, but all’s not lost in the land of pink hats and selfies. They still have the wave and “Sweet Caroline” to keep them happy. Ooh Ooh Ooh.

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The college basketball coaching carousel went into overdrive this week when John Calipari left Kentucky for Arkansas. Calipari won the national championship in 2012 but his Wildcats hadn’t made it past the second round in five years. A headline in Slate called him “The Most Successful Disappointment in College Sports History.”

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This year’s first round loss to unknown Oakland was the last straw. As Mike Francesa said, the only things that matter in the Bluegrass State are basketball, bourbon, and racehorses, but Calipari’s $33 million buyout clause was likely to keep him in Kentucky.

“John knew the fan base wanted him out and he knew the AD wanted him out,” Francesca said on his Bet Rivers podcast. “When he got there they loved him, now they can't stand him.”

So what happened? “SMU surprisingly fired their coach (Rob Lanier) after two seasons, Andy Enfield jumped USC for SMU, and (Eric) Musselman jumped Arkansas for USC.”

Suddenly there was an opening for Calipari who already has more money than he can spend. “Arkansas has Jerry Jones, the Walmart people, and John Tyson is a billionaire and John’s buddy. John gets a call, they give him whatever he wants, and he’s away from an ugly, terrible and intolerable situation at Kentucky.”

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UMass has gone from being a stepping stone school for coaches to one for players. Center Josh Cohen transferred from low-rent Saint Francis to UMass and played well enough for Eric Musselman to want him at Arkansas. When Musselman jumped to USC, Cohen went with him.

Cohen said he was doing it “out of loyalty to coach Muss.”

Loyalty? What a laugh. The only loyalty in college sports is to the greenback dollar.

Last year RJ Luis transferred from UMass to St. John’s, Tafara Gapare bolted to Ga. Tech, Wildens Leveque left for a bench job at Texas A&M, TJ Weeks Jr. transferred to Rider and Dyondre Dominguez went to Arkansas State.

This year five other players including Cohen and point guard Keon Thompson transferred via the portal. No wonder Pat MacWilliams founded The UMass Collective, he owns Five College Movers.

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The Pat Kelsey saga continues. Seven years ago this spring Kelsey was 30 minutes from being introduced as the UMass basketball coach. It was a big deal. The school spent a reported $30,000 on the presser, but Kelsey backed out and returned to Winthrop University in South Carolina.

It was a time when payoffs came in brown paper bags, and it’s become common knowledge among UMass insiders that Kelsey had been a4proached by two players seeking pay for play.

UMass AD Ryan Bamford subsequently hired Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, who happened to be visiting Boston at the time. McCall let his players wear their hoods up and chew gum during the national anthem. He never had a winning season and was fired two years ago.

Frank Martin was hired and coached UMass to its first winning season in 10 years. Meanwhile Kelsey’s gone from winning at Winthrop to the College of Charleston to Louisville which was 12-52 in two years under Kenny Payne. Kelsey signed for five years and $11.5 million; his deal at UMass would’ve been for five years and $4 million.

Charleston hired Chris Mack to replace Kelsey and one of his assistants is — three guesses — Matt McCall.

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SQUIBBERS: The paid attendance for the UConn-Purdue game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Az., was 74,423. … Most useless ESPN stat of the week: “(Anthony) Volpe first Yankee shortstop with 15 hits through first 10 games since Derek Jeter in 2012.” … Phil Simms to Ross Tucker on second tier QBs in the upcoming draft: “If I’m looking for a steal, it’s Joe Milton. He has size, can run, has a really great arm and played the position better than I expected at Tennessee.” … Sirius-XM’s Charlie Weis wants the Giants to pick LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers. “He’s a legit candidate,” said Weis. … Despite the defections The UMass Collective was able to salvage Rahsool Diggins. The smooth-shooting guard from Philly averaged 12.8 points and played in all 31 games for UMass last season. … Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski is back from paternity leave and Capt. Carl has another great grandkid. … The Red Sox had committed 12 errors through the first 12 games.. … O’s announcer Brett Hollander came up with a clever way of saying Boston’s Tyler O’Neill struck out looking on Wednesday: “O’Neill caught in the observatory.” … Credit Serbia native Nikola Jokic for his honesty. Asked if he enjoyed helping the Nuggets win their first-ever NBA title, the 6-foot-11, 285-pound center said, “No. I think it’s actually the opposite because we played two-and-a-half extra months.”

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached at chipjet715@icloud.com