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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Expanding rosters is just silly


Thursday is an important day on the Major League Baseball schedule — but it’s also another day the sport foolishly alters itself.

Is there another sport that allows you to increase your roster — by as many as 15 players — at any point of a season? No. Making it worse, it’s the most important month of the season, where minor leaguers come up, where contenders often play against kids like it’s spring training.

Not sure where this sits on the list of foolish things done by the sport. The All-Star Game matters? One league has the DH and the other doesn’t? The DH is used in the home World Series parks of the American League teams and not the Nationals?

But the Sept. 1 thing is just silly — and seems easier to fix.

Say the Red Sox decide they want to bring Yoan Moncada and his legs to the big leagues. He could serve as a pinch runner and perhaps decide a race. A third catcher allows manager to manage like they don’t the rest of the season.

It makes no sense.

“I think during the most important time of the year you look for advantages for matchups,” Yankee manager Joe Girardi said over the weekend. “You do that for five months and all of a sudden some of those advantages are gone because of all the call-ups.”

Girardi has an idea of how to fix it, saying bring the guys up, but, “I think you should have to designate maybe 27 players to a roster, 28 players to a roster that day.”

He also thinks the All-Star rosters, which call for at least one player from each team making it, don’t make sense when you’re supposed to be trying to win the game. Remember, a long time ago, the stars played entire All-Star Games.

“If the game has that much importance, I think you should take whatever your best roster is. Bottom line,” he said. “I know they wanted to get away from what happened a couple of years ago (7-7 tie in 2002), but I found it really hard, as a manager, to tell a player that he wasn’t going to play and hold him back. I thought that was really unfair. If you want to make it count, I think you ought to have reentry rules in a sense. I don’t think that’s right. It might be a player’s only All-Star Game. You’re not going to play? That bothers me.”

Freedom of speech

Everyone and his brother-in-law is going to weigh in on Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit out the national anthem in protest to the treatment of minorities in this country.

Whether you agree or disagree with what he says, whether you think he should have done what he did, you have to respect the fact that this is America and freedom of speech is just that. He elected to make his protest by not standing for the anthem, plain and simple.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

His opinion. His feelings. His right. Freedom of speech.

What I’d like to see Kaepernick do is get involved and help make changes.

The NFL says there will be no punishment because there is no specific rule mandating standing for the anthem, which is fine. What is just a tad ironic is that this is the league that fines players for having the wrong color shoelaces. OK that’s a stretch, but not a big one.

Pot Roast Is toast

Then Pats newcomer Terrance Knighton, early in camp: “I just want to focus on football,” Knighton said. “Not worry about the outside stuff. Always hearing about the Brady (Deflategate) stuff. You don’t see guys here on Instagram, on their phones, taking pictures. They’re always talking to each other, working out. It’s all about football. Now that I’m off Twitter, I don’t have a reason to pick up my phone.”

Now, Knighton needs his phone. He’s gone.

“It just didn’t work out,” Bill Belichick said of Knighton’s release, which came Monday.

Belichick on Kaepernick: “We’re really focused on what we do and getting ready for the Giants, improving our football team. We’re not here to talk about political commentary or ideology and all of that.”

Hey, The Stork was re-delivered Monday, as Bryan Stork failed his physical in Washington and was returned, only to be released by the Pats. The club was set to release him last Wednesday before Washington made a trade offer — Stork mulling retirement before heading that way. Now, he’s likely done.

If this matters: If the Pats beat the Giants Thursday night, they will have their first 4-0 preseason since 2003.

New Pats linebacker Barkevious Mingo called his new surroundings “A huge culture shock.” As far as joining his new team so late, the former first-round draft pick said, “It’s hard. These guys got a couple of months on me. It’s a challenge but the guys here, they’re really helping me come along, pointing me in the right direction and just getting me ready to play.”

Drop the puck

As the baseball season enters its stretch run, the World Cup of Hockey is just around the corner — and the Bruins continue to be out of the news.
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They didn’t sign Jimmy Vesey, but the real story of the offseason is how they haven’t come up with a quality defenseman. With Zdeno Chara getting older by the shift, Claude Julien’s team no longer has a star defenseman.

A recent ranking of defensemen by Yahoo Sports had Chara 24th among the league’s defensemen, with the line, “Think he’s done? YOU tell him.” It seemed fitting he was just ahead of Jacob Trouba, the D-man the B’s were thinking about, and who would have cost them four first-round picks.

The top five in the rankings were Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Victor Hedman, Duncan Keith and Kris Letang.

A piece posted on The Hockey Writers had the Penguins as having a great chance to repeat as Cup champions. No one has done it since the Red Wings 18 years ago, but the piece said, “Obviously the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning and others will do their best to keep the Pens from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final from the Eastern Conference. And whoever emerges from the Western Conference will not go down easily. But, the defending Stanley Cup champions will be much the same team as they were this past season, and that’s not good news for the rest of the league.”

And repeating is not good news for the Penguins. Sure, it could happen and there have certainly been times in the recent past we thought it might happen. But don’t send out the parade invitations just yet.

Oops, I did it again

-- A clarification from Sunday’s column — the Red Sox had three walkoff ERRORS for losses.

-- Hope Solo suspended for a comment after the Olympics? Let’s call it a lifetime achievement award for all of her transgressions. She can handle six months.

Vin says it best

When the Cubs brought reliever Rob Zastryzny into a game over the weekend, Scully sighed and said, “I was hoping they wouldn’t bring him in.” He then called him “Rob Z” the rest of the way.

To which my buddy Terry Lyons remembered: “Longtime NHL official then 14-year color commentator Bill “The Big Whistle” Chadwick used to struggle mightily with certain names, most notably Jocelyn Guevremont. Trying a syllable at a time and then stuttering, The Big Whistle relented, “We’ll call him Smith”

We will try to furnish a Vin comment as often as possible as the 88-year-old marvel winds down his final season.

Send one here

If there’s anything at all to this John Wall/Bradley Beal non-chemistry in Washington, the Celtics would certainly welcome either to Boston.

“I think a lot of times we have a tendency to dislike each other on the court,” Wall said recently. “… We got to be able to put that to the side. If you miss somebody on one play or don’t have something go right … as long as you come to each other and talk. If I starting arguing with somebody I’m cool. I’m just playing basketball.”

Early go Bragh

Question: Will you get up at 7:30 in the morning Saturday to watch BC-Georgia Tech from Ireland, as the Eagles get a quick shot at winning an ACC game, something the Eagles didn’t do in football OR basketball last season?

Finally, this from Japanese baseball: Shohei Otani hit his 20th HR of the season there last week. He’s a pitcher.


Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.
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