From my vantage point, it was time for another new beginning. Whether you are one who believes that fall begins Sept. 23, Labor Day, or on the day your local high school plays its first fall season athletic event, it really doesn’t matter. My belief that fall begins at least by Labor Day has some merit when I looked closely around me and noticed a number of trees had already begun to change colors.
Yankee fans, hold your jokes. I’m not in the mood. The best one I use to hear over the years though was “What’s the difference between a Yankee Stadium frank and a Fenway frank?” If you never heard that one, the answer is “They are available in October.” I am certainly glad those Yankee fans have not been able to use that one in recent years.
Lots of baseball news recently. On the surface, it was shocking to hear about the firing of Dave Dombrowski, but the longer you think about it, John Henry and company have been consistent in their firings. When the tide is turning, they make a switch or at least attempt to put things in the best possible order. They have been extremely lucky in turning the tide.
Think back to Terry Francona, Theo Epstein and the monkey suit before he decided to return, Ben Cherington and last, but not least, John Farrell. The Red Sox play in Boston where the Patriots set a high standard, and there is only one Bill Belichick.
Please don’t forget Ben Cherington. Too many current Red Sox fans either never knew the importance he played in the team’s history or have forgotten his contributions. He had to battle Larry Lucchino over just about every move he did or didn’t make, something Theo had to also experience. Cherington still managed to hold on to Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., Matt Barnes, and Christian Vazquez rather than trade them for experienced talent.
Cherington made his Shopper area debut in the summer of 1986 when he was a member of the Lebanon Baseball All-Stars, where he played in the Fall Mountain Invitational Baseball Tournament I ran for a number of years at the Bellows Falls playground. Even some readers played against him there. Showing his appreciation of days gone by, Cherington brought up that participation in our first conversation when I first met him when he was climbing his way up the ladder of the Red Sox. Still having a memory of that shows how expansive his scope is of his surroundings.
By the way, Cherington and Dombrowski both served basically four years as the leader of Red Sox operations. Cherington was named general manager in October of 2011 and chose to leave that position when ownership brought in Dombrowski above him in August 2015. Dombrowski’s tenure was just over four years.
Last but not least on Red Sox leadership, Cherington was a John Henry favorite. Henry wanted Cherington to remain as GM to work under Dombrowski. Cherington, who had not been kept in the loop while ownership was pursuing Dombrowski, chose to leave. He is a vice president with the Toronto Blue Jays today. I would not be one bit surprised if Cherington’s phone rings asking him to come back as part of this leadership group. I also would not be surprised if such a call comes, Cherington chooses not to be interested.
The annual Josh Cole Tournament is great area news for this weekend. The bad news coming out of summer vacation was that Black River would not have a boys’ soccer team, but the good news was that President Athletic Director Joe Gurdak had things planned out ahead of time to keep this prestigious tournament going. It all begins Friday night when at 6 p.m. Leland & Gray and Windsor square off in one semifinal, while at 8 p.m. Green Mountain meets Mount Saint Joseph. Obviously Black River’s presence will be missed, but there will be two former Presidents suiting up for Green Mountain. There were 14 players on the boys’ Presidents soccer team last fall, but six graduated. Once some were lost to school choice and injury, three showed up this fall and unfortunately the rest is history. The best news of all is the Josh Cole Tournament lives on. The finals will be held at Saturday 8 p.m. on Dorsey Field where all the action takes place.
Some people are stirred up in Bellows Falls where the Terrier epic field hockey team has been placed in Division I again. They really don’t belong there, but a year ago the Terriers, who had won previous field hockey state titles in Division II and III, chose to take their success to the Division I level. It was a challenge to a group of seniors, many of whom were a part of the team when they won three state titles in succession. The VPA allowed the unusual request, but the Field Hockey Committee would determine the Bellows Falls team’s future alignment class. When the committee met, it was determined Bellows Falls would compete in Division I for two more seasons.
It’s looking more and more likely that the Springfield Cosmos football team have become big boys overnight. Rich Saypack told me while he was still coach that there were players in the lower grades who should improve the program. Both Coach Todd Aiken and Saypack were whispering the same thing last year, but I really didn’t know what to think.
However, Jacob Stepler, Sam Presch, Noah Zierfus, and Brady Clark were all skill position players who displayed hope at a young age and Clark has returned from schooling elsewhere. A defensive line has been growing over time and an offensive line is still developing.
Keep an eye on this group. The win over Mill River was kind of expected and maybe Oxbow too, but comparable scores of Oxbow’s opponents suggest that the Cosmos might be in the mix this year. Windsor, who is the opponent on the road this Saturday at 1 p.m., has dominated the outcome of this series in recent years so stay tuned. Could the Cosmos go 3-0?
Send comments or questions about This & That to Bill Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.