Massarotti: Childish Olympians And Other Sports Takes

By Tony Massarotti

Five things are eating at me while I desperately wait for the NFL season to start:

1. Why does the U.S. continue to embarrass itself with self-absorbed, childish behavior that confirms the international perception that we’re arrogant?

I’m as pro-America as anybody else. But seriously, did Ryan Lochte honestly think no one would call him on that positively mind-numbingly dumb story of his? Yeesh. It always seems to be something with Americans at the Olympics. Either our hockey team is trashing hotel rooms in Japan. Or one of our figure skaters is plotting to injure another. Heck, Hope Solo all but has her very own Olympic lowlight reel, from showing up drunk on The Today Show (in 2008) to sounding like a classless American loser following this year’s loss to Sweden.

Here’s the point: for an allegedly developed nation with good values, we sure act stupidly and childishly sometimes.

2. The Kansas City Royals should be scaring the life out of projected American League playoff teams right now.

In case you missed it, the Royals have won nine in a row, scoring 50 runs and allowing just 13 runs during that stretch. In seven of the nine victories, Kansas City has allowed no more than one run. Kansas City’s vaunted bullpen has not allowed a run in 30 innings, and the Royals are now just four games behind a suddenly fading Baltimore team for the second and final wildcard spot.

Remember: the Royals have dominated the AL Central, and September will be played largely within the division.

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3. A recent story by ESPN has the Golden State projected win total at 66.8.

Now, here’s the amazing part:

If you’re at all like me, you’re thinking, that feels low.

Look, we all know what projections and opinions are worth. But it’s not often you see a team projected to win 67 games. As we all know, the Warriors won 73 games last season — without Kevin Durant — before ultimately succumbing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in The Finals. Things rarely go the way they are supposed to in professional sports, though the NBA is a significant exception to this rule. If the Warriors don’t win the NBA title, who can? Maybe two or three other teams, including Cleveland, San Antonio, perhaps the Los Angeles Clippers.

After that, there’s no one else.

Given how the 2015-16 unfolded, the Warriors are under incredible pressure. What if they go 64-18? Does that suggest a vulnerability? I don’t know about you, but I’m expecting at least 70 wins.

4. If the Patriots don’t win the Super Bowl this season, who will?

Of course, there are the usual suspects — Green Bay, Seattle, Pittsburgh and maybe Carolina. And those teams all have the biggest prerequisite: a quarterback. But after that? I have my doubts. Heck, beyond New England (and I’m a Boston guy, which brings obvious biases), I have my doubts about everyone. Pittsburgh can’t seem to get everybody on the field at the same time, be it the result of injury or indiscretion. (The Steelers, it seems, can only play on grass. Lay off the weed, fellas.) Seattle has taken some hits on defense. Green Bay’s receiving corps got exposed last year without Jordy Nelson. Cam Newton shrunk in the Super Bowl. And then there’s Denver, which doesn’t have a quarterback.

Obviously, Tom Brady is going to miss the first four games of this season from his Deflategate suspension. But after that? It feels like the only thing that could derail the Patriots is injuries.

5. Does anyone else think the Yankees are on the upswing?

Once the Yankees swallowed their oversized pride and sold off pieces at the deadline, New York started playing for 2017 — whether the Bombers can bring themselves to admit it or not. And that is totally fine. New York obviously has some holes still — most notably on the pitching staff. But the Yankees of August 2016 suddenly feel a little like the Red Sox of a year ago, when Boston started to blossom and become the team it is now.

At the moment, the Red Sox are tied for first place in the American League East. This month, only the Mariners and Royals have played better. Boston is cresting at the moment, having gone 7-2 on a nine-game road trip that has taken them through Cleveland, Baltimore, Detroit and now Tampa.

Here’s the point: the Yankees are on the upswing again. New York’s pitching problems will be trickier to address than Boston’s — the free-agent class this offseason stinks — but New York always seems to find a way. Baseball will be far better off when the Yankees become championship-caliber again, particularly if the Red Sox are right there with them.

Tony Massarotti is an avid Boston sports fan and has covered sports in Boston for more than 15 years for both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. He now serves as a co-host on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. He was a two-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers and has written four books, including “Big Papi,” the New York Times-bestselling memoirs of David Ortiz. You can follow Tony @tonymassarotti.

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