EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 3, 2013

Sports in a Minute

Hector Longo
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Last weekend at Pats camp

A scheduling quirk has rendered today’s session as the final weekend practice open to the public at Patriots preseason training camp. With the team off tomorrow and not scheduled to practice next Saturday and Sunday after Friday night’s preseason opener in Philadelphia, today’s 9 a.m. session is slated for the weekend day open to the public.

The team’s tentative schedule for open practice sessions runs Monday at 10 a.m., before the team heads off to Philadelphia for joint practices with the Eagles, before the exhibition game.

New England’s camp then is set to resume Monday afternoon, August 12, back in Foxboro.

How desperate is desperate?

Look, put me in the camp that says the Patriots roll to the AFC East title this year with at least 10 or 11 wins. That said, the fact that Julian Edelman’s return to practice this week was as heralded as the Randy Moss trade back in 2007 should tell you something about the state of panic in the receiving corps.

Your current starting receivers in Patriots camp are Danny Amendola and Edelman. Together, because of injuries and lack of bigtime talent, they have they have missed 30 of 64 games in the last two seasons.

I just have to wince a little bit when I hear a frustrated Tom Brady say about Edelman’s return: “He’s a tough kid mentally and physically and he’s battled through a lot over the course of his career. I know he’s been working hard in his rehab and hopefully it continues to go well.

The Pats have been very active on the waiver wire early in camp, bringing bodies in and out, especially at this position. Expect it to continue, unless one or two of the rookies — Aaron Dobson or Josh Boyce would be the lead candidates — establishes himself as a clear threat.

Top reasons to love Saratoga

Of all things, the family and I went camping — yes, tent and all — last weekend in Vermont. Great time had by all, but especially by me, who took an hour ride from the campground to Saratoga Race Course for the Sunday afternoon card.

The Saratoga meet is truly impressive, if you have not been, a celebration of what many say, and I refuse to believe is a dying sport for seven weeks every summer.

While I can’t recommend camping for all, a day or overnight trip to “The Spa” is highly regarded here. Some thoughts on why it’s so special.

1. You’re watching the big leagues of horse racing, the best of the best, for a $3 ticket. And on this day, the $3 admission got you a free ticket.

2. It is a trip back in time. You’re at a place where the entire world seems trapped in the 1950s. People are happy to be there. “Please” and “thank you” are overused. It’s so laid back. And everyone, win or lose, is having a good time.

3. The building itself feels like Wrigley Field to me. Old, but clean and comfortable. You can find your own niche, too. Care to sit in the grandstand? You can buy a ticket. Feel like sitting outside, bring a lawn chair, there’s plenty of grass to make your own spot. Coolers are welcome, meaning you don’t have to pay stadium prices for food and drink.

4. The Saratoga meet runs through Labor Day. And I swear it it’s not that long a drive. I’m telling you, it’s worth the trip.

Gators running tryouts

The Gators AAU program out of the new Batter Up hitting facility in Methuen is searching for players to compete at the U13 and U14 levels next season. Tryouts will be held August 7 from 6-8 p.m. and August 11 from 9-11 a.m. at the Batter Up indoor cages. For more information, contact Batter Up at 978-258-0308.

Central’s Alaimo a trail blazer

As UMass Lowell steps up a level in athletics to Division 1, new challenges lie ahead for Shannon Hlebichuk and her perennial national power in Division 2 field hockey program.

Hlebichuk welcomes Central Catholic grad Hope Alaimo to her seven-player recruiting class for this fall. Alaimo was a captain and top defender for the Raiders. She’s from North Andover.

The River Hawks open up at home on Sept. 2 vs. Northwestern.