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Mike Shalin's Working Press: This is why it's called 'The Hub'

By MIKE SHALIN
April 12. 2018 10:42PM




Welcome to sports sensory overload weekend in New England.

There’s no NFL — except for draft and Gronk talk — but the rest of the local sports scene is in full bloom this weekend.

The Yankees finished their eventful series at Fenway Thursday night, while, across town, the Bruins were opening their playoffs with a game with the Maple Leafs. The Celtics open their playoffs Sunday and then, of course, comes the Boston Marathon on that special Monday.

That enough for you?

Let’s look at them one at a time, omitting the Patriots and whether your favorite tight end will be there when it matters.

Wednesday night, the greatest rivalry in sports re-exploded when the benches emptied not once but twice, the second in a full-blown donnybrook.

OK, Tyler Austin’s slide wasn’t great, although it would have been great under the former rules. Joe Kelly figured he’d get the Red Sox, a team that went through a similar situation in utter confusion in Baltimore and then at Fenway against the Orioles last season, even.

He threw inside at Austin and that should have been it. Then he drilled him with a powerful fastball and is therefore the top culprit in a battle that also saw Austin nail Red Sox coach Carlos Febles with an overhand right, kind of a cheap shot.

Tweeted Pedro Martinez, who knew a thing or two about buzzing a hitter: “The only thing I would had done different than Joe Kelly tonight, is I would’ve hit Tyler Austin at his previous at bat. Other than that, Kelly executed perfectly.”

Anyway, the post-game was fun, with Brock Holt providing the levity by saying, “Typical Red Sox-Yankees game: four hours long, a couple of bench-clearing brawls, so we’re right on track here.”

Holt, asked who he targeted in the brawl, said it was 5-foot, 8-inch Ronald Torreyes.

At one point, it looked like the mammoth Aaron Judge was moving the entire pile of players.

On NESN, Jerry Remy railed against the rule in place to protect second basemen and shortstops on their pivots. “I can’t wrap my head around it after getting crushed all those years,” Remy said. “I didn’t like (the rule) from Day 1 and I hated it a little more tonight.”

Indoor playoffs

While the Bruins opened their series Thursday night and will play Game 2 at TD Garden Saturday night, the Celtics were winning at the Garden while the rest of the Eastern Conference was settled. It says here avoiding the Washington Wizards is a key for them.

Milwaukee beat the Celtics recently, but things are a bit more settled on the Celtics’ roster. True, there’s no Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart or Daniel Theis. And, true, the “Greek Freak” (Giannis Antetokounmpo) presents major problems. But they should be able to advance — and then they would at least get Smart back.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy says being able to get back-to-back practice time and getting all but one (Riley Nash) of the players ready for the opener was a positive.

“I think we were able to get dialed in and focused at the task at hand, which is Toronto,” he said prior to the game. “It was nice, I think we need it. It came at a good time for us. Guys kind of put the last few games behind us and started focusing on what was accomplished so far this year and what we need to continue to do to continue accomplishing good things. That was good for our group. With the exception of Riley Nash, we’re a pretty healthy group. All the other players are available.”

Marathon tributes

It’s been five years since that dreadful day at the Boston Marathon finish line and the weather is not supposed to be very good on Monday (the morning baseball game could be in jeopardy).

But even if the Red Sox don’t play, they will spend the rest of the weekend paying tribute to the events of that day five years ago, players making appearances, the Sox wearing special “BOSTON” jerseys on Monday, and, according to the Sox press release, “toiletries (donated at) Fenway Park on Friday and Saturday that will be assembled and donated to The Dimock Center in Roxbury, and Heading Home, an organization that seeks to end homelessness in Greater Boston. Donated items can be dropped off at the Fan Services Booths at Gates D, B, and E.

Long wait

All year long, Markelle Fultz had become kind of a joke around the NBA. The kid the Celtics passed along to the 76ers had a shoulder injury and then had an inability to hit even a mid-range jump shot.

Well, Wednesday night, Fultz became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple double. His 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in just 25 minutes came when he was 19 years and 317 days old. That broke the record set by Lonzo Ball (20 years, 15 days) earlier this season. Ball broke LeBron James’ record of 20 years, 20 days.

Fultz’s effort Wednesday helped the Sixers win their 16th straight, giving them the longest winning streak of all-time at the end of an NBA season.

Speaking of triple doubles, Russell Westbrook in 2016-17 became the only player not named Oscar Robertson to average a triple double for an entire season. Now, Westbrook has done it two years in a row. Robertson did it once, in 1961-62.

Speaking of LeBron, he played in all 82 games of a season for the first time in his career.

Madison Square Garden’s teams have a special distinction heading into an early offseason. Both Ranger coach Alain Vigneault and Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek were canned before they got home after their final games.

Trayce trip

Nifty story: We give you outfielder Trayce Thompson, brother of Klay and son of former NBA’er Mychal. On April 3, he was claimed off waivers by the Yankees from the Dodgers. On April 5, he was claimed off waivers by the A’s from the Yankees. On April 11, he was robbing former Dodger teammate Yasiel Puig of a three-run homer at Dodger Stadium.

To make the story sweeter, Trayce now gets to live with his brother in the Bay Area.

Finally, righty Jordan Zimmermann was hit in the head by a 106 mph line drive Wednesday. He left under his own power and intends to make his next start, citing a plate previously put in his head to fix a broken jaw suffered on a similar play.

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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