---- — Basking in this amazing heat, my mind tends to wander.
Yesterday, I thought about my sports wishes. There are the usual standing pleas: A Web.com Tour win for Andover’s Rob Oppenheim; promotions for the region’s minor leaguers; a 10-homer in 10-game tear for Carlos Pena, a 16 for 20 for Ryan Hanigan; me breaking 80 just once in my life on the golf course, etc., etc., etc.
But I came up with three yesterday that are a tad selfish on my part, but in the end can really help the region’s sports following.
So here goes:
1. A Santos stomping — When ESPN’s Friday Night Fights hits Rockingham Park this week, it’s the biggest break of Alexis Santos’ young career.
The boxing world, suddenly stabilized and now heating up again, will be watching the 9-0 heavyweight from Lawrence, just to see if he’s got something.
Folks who have already jumped on the Santos wagon — and there are hundreds of them right now — feel that same electricity I do when the 200-pound wrecking ball hits the ring. You watch him thinking the next punch will be the one that goes viral on Youtube. It’s not quite the same frenzy as a rising Mike Tyson — remember the night he battered Marvis Frazier? — but I’ll tell you, it’s pretty close.
He needs an emphatic win over journeyman Marlon Hayes (23-11) Friday night at the Rock. Here’s hoping Santos gets it.
By the way, there’s still plenty of room on this express train of a bandwagon. Tickets for Friday night’s card are still available at the Rock. Call 603-898-2311.
2. Sox give TD a shot — Look, I’m no blind champion of all that’s local, just because it’s local. I see Terry Doyle’s 5.44 ERA at Pawtucket and Portland over the first half.
Salem’s two-time Eagle-Tribune Baseball MVP is struggling. But this plea goes out to Ben Cherington to give Doyle a chance in the bullpen with the big club.
Before you go out and give top prospects away for bullpen help, give Doyle a shot.
Why? I have no metric to prove Doyle, at age 27, will put it together and find himself in the big leagues. What I do have is past performances.
First, Doyle smoked the International League last summer, going 6-3 with a 2.81 ERA for the White Sox Triple-A club. He struck out 71 and walked 18 in 76.1 innings.
The guy can pitch.
But more to the point, Doyle is one of those competitors who rises to occasions, better than the normal human being.
He’s the ultimate “clutch” performer, always has been.
At Salem High, he was the role player who stepped up into the spotlight and hit the big shot late to beat the unbeatable Trinity team.
He won the state titles in baseball.
In the Cape League, he’s the guy that out of nowhere pitched Yarmouth-Dennis to a title.
Track record, Ben. Track record.
You’re basically running open bullpen tryouts. Fish or cut bait with Terry. Give him a shot. It’s a bit of a hunch, but I say he gets it done for you.
3. A Brady comeback — Yep, only nine days until the official opening of Pats training camp, and while the world will be abuzz with Aaron Hernandez chatter, my top plea revolves around the man, Tom Brady.
Now again, I can’t tangibly explain it. It may be as simple as Brady has grown up, but he’s been a different Tom over the last six or seven years.
He’s still a superstar, the top gun in the game in my eyes. Don’t get me wrong.
But, he’s different, too.
The young Brady always smiled, he never stared or pressed. He was loose and played easy. He spoke in one-liners and chuckled with the media.
That has changed, maybe not so coincidentally with his playoff performances heading south.
Loose, free-wheeling Brady in the postseason? 12-2 with three Super Bowl wins.
Grown-up, serious, tight Brady in the postseason? 5-5 with two Super Bowl losses.
Brady’s still that fun-loving kid. He has to be. Tom, you’ve done more than enough in this game. No need to push. Keep your amazing drive. But find the fun again. It’s missing in your game. Swagger, dance, have some fun. Enjoy these times. Cherish them.
The window is closing, so enjoy what you have. You will be better for it, and so will the Patriots and their fans.