Dan Shaughnessy

Pieces coming together

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / August 16, 2009

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Picked-up pieces while wondering if anyone else thinks it’s a coincidence that Babe Ruth (1948) and Elvis Presley (1977) died on this same day. The Sultan and the King . . .

■ Bronson Arroyo is Bill James’s kind of guy. Arroyo told USA Today last week that he regularly takes supplements not approved by Major League Baseball. Here’s part of James’s recent manifesto on the topic of steroids: “Drugs like steroids will not disappear from our culture. It will grow, eventually to become so common that it might almost be said to be ubiquitous . . . If we look into the future, then, we can reliably foresee a time in which everybody is going to be using steroids or their pharmaceutical descendants . . . You can like it or you can dislike it, but your grandchildren are going to be steroid users. Therefore, they are very likely to be people who do not regard the use of steroids as a moral failing . . . With the passage of time, more people will come to understand that the commissioner’s periodic spasms of self-righteousness do not constitute baseball law.’’

Interesting. James is listed in the Red Sox directory as “Senior Advisor/Baseball Operations,’’ on the same page with club “Director’’ George Mitchell. Since the (“none of our guys ever cheated’’) Sox aren’t likely to sanction one of their own, I wonder if MLB might have a problem with a club official saying yes to steroids. Reached at his office and asked about James, Bud Selig said, “No comment.’’

■ Jerry Remy’s visit to Fenway Wednesday was another reminder of the bond between baseball communities and their favorite announcers. Not even the great Curt Gowdy and Ned Martin ever got this much love. The brave RemDawg has become as beloved in Boston as Vin Scully in Los Angeles and he does everyone a service by speaking publicly about his post-cancer depression.

■ It says a lot about big-time college athletics if Rick Pitino can survive at Louisville. All you have to do is win. Everybody has moments of indiscretion, but Louisville is supposed to be in the business of educating young people. University president James Ramsey says it’s time for everyone to move on and calls Pitino “our guy.’’ Huh? Alabama football and Iowa State basketball dumped coaches for far less. Maybe the administrators in Louisville consider this a teachable moment. More likely, they just want to beat Kentucky. Pathetic.

■ Count me in for BC-BU hockey at Fenway Jan. 8.

■ Years go by and we’re still talking about Ben Watson’s 100-yard takedown of Champ Bailey the night Champ picked off Tom Brady in Denver. It’s like Dave Roberts’s steal and Bernie Carbo’s homer. It has become the only play of Watson’s career.

■ When you see Jason Varitek interviewed in front of his locker after games, he appears to be wearing one of the “Snuggies’’ advertised on late-night television.

■ Dumping Gatorade on the winning coach? The tradition is believed to have started with the 1985 Giants dousing Bill Parcells. Just as the Tuna gets credit for the Gatorade bath, you should know that our own Dennis Eckersley invented the now-overused term “walkoff.’’ And the first touchdown celebration? In some books of lore, the author of end zone moves was speedy Giants wideout Homer Jones, who spiked the ball behind him when he caught TD passes in 1965. Jones invented the move because teammates Alex Webster and Frank Gifford had been fined for throwing the football into the stands after scoring.

■ What’s more fun in the World Series: Pedro and the Phillies or Manny and the Dodgers?

■ On this day in 1920, Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch from Carl Mays. Chapman died the next day.

■ Looks like Joba Chamberlain will miss the Red Sox at Fenway next weekend. Rats. Youk was just getting ready for another bull rush to the mound.

■ Wonder what brought Jeremy Jacobs out of the bunker. He was J.D. Salinger for a couple of decades, now he’s on the air more than Regis Philbin.

■ Did anyone else notice what a fine job St. Louis did during All-Star week pretending Mark McGwire never existed? Big Mac was like a Russian leader erased from the Kremlin walls when the midsummer classic came to the city by the Arch.

■ Not sure if Edgar Renteria and Matt Clement are still on the books, but the Theo Epstein administration has wasted way more than $100 million on the Lugos, Smoltzes, and other guys who were dealt or released with money still owed.

■ Michael Vick on “60 Minutes’’ tonight is must-see TV.

■ New parlor game for Red Sox fans: Will David Ortiz be a member of the team next year?

■ Alex Rodriguez has successfully reinvented himself. It’s been all baseball since the spring training steroids fiasco. He has even kept his relationship with Kate Hudson under the radar. But nothing really changes for the guy until he gets something done in October.

■ Truly sad to see softball axed again by the International Olympic Committee. It’s easy to go without baseball in the Olympics - there’s no good time to stage a hardball tournament and we already have the annoying World Baseball Classic. But softball players have few options once their college days are done.

■ Wonder if Max Yasgur’s friends called him “Yaz.’’ Today was Day 2 of the festival in Bethel, N.Y., 40 years ago.

■ Speaking of concerts, it’s nice to get a shout-out from Elton John, but if I were Bob Kraft, I’d ask Elton to play something other than “Tiny Dancer’’ next time he sends a song dedication in my direction.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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