by Bill Murphy

Hit the road again is the theme song for the Red Sox for basically the rest of the 2016 season. Beginning with Monday’s make-up game versus Cleveland, they play thirty of their final forty-six games on the road. At least the rumor is, they will open next year at home for a change.
Home for the Shrine Football Game is up in the air for the future. There is at least one more game to be played on the present Castleton University contract, BUT, what about after that? I think the odds are that Castleton keeps the game for at least a few years. The bottom line is the dollars and cents which are made for the charity and way more dollars have been made recently at Castleton, than have been made anywhere else.
New Hampshire appears to have lost some interest in the Shrine Game. Between the East-West CHAD Game played in Manchester at an earlier date in the summer and the fact that the New Hampshire Shriners no longer support the game as a unit, interest seemed to tail greatly this year. In addition, several New Hampshire newspapers who use to cover the game, either chose to send no one to cover the event this year or ran an abbreviated story. We wonder what does the future hold for the Maple Sugar Bowl?
Taking thoughts a step further in relation to the Shrine Classic and New Hampshire interest, we ask which of the following two factors matters most in the fading of interest towards the event? Is it the fact that Castleton is over 300 miles round trip from most NH players house OR Vermont’s inability to field a competitive team for years, obviously before this year. A sixty-three year old classic has to find a way to be preserved.
Football practices begin in Vermont today. The states oldest rivalry is weeks away, Lyndon-St. Johnsbury, BUT, the second longest rivalry, Springfield-Bellows Falls, has been forced to schedule in the first week of competition. Those four Vermont schools, who find their long-time rival competing in a different division, should still feel lucky they are able to keep their tradition alive. The state’s highest level rivalry for years, Rutland- Mount Saint Joseph, died a few year ago due to several non-competitive outcomes. In fact, MSJ is now part of a merged football entry, teamed with Poultney.
Steve Buckley, columnist with the Boston Herald, recently scripted a piece “Fire him now, or not at all,” in regards to John Farrell’s status with the Red Sox. Buckley wrote, “If the Sox don’t qualify for the postseason, and if Farrell is fired, it’ll be because Dombrowski, with the support of owners John Henry and Tom Werner, concluded someone else can do a better job. Right? And if it plays out that way. it’ll mean they spent the last seven weeks of the 2016 season holding onto a manager they don’t want.” The column basically says they should know by now IF Farrell is or isn’t the man and act accordingly. Based on previous reader response from NSN followers, most of you agree, Farrell should be replaced.
It says here, Farrell will finish 2016 as manager of the Red Sox and his fate will be determined by his teams’ postseason performance. If they don’t make the ALCS, he will be replaced. One year ago this week, I believe management made the decision to replace Farrell, the day Dombrowski was interviewed and offered the job. While all that was taking place, General Manager Ben Cherington was attempting to reach ownership to inform them of Farrell’s illness. I, believe in the end,  the complicated set of circumstances led to Farrell returning. This is why I would be shocked IF the same management team, would support letting Farrell go basically at the anniversary date of his original illness. IF they didn’t make the move at the All-Star break, I believe they already decided to wait out the season. For what its worth, I agree with them, BUT, readers already know that.
IF Farrell is let go, now or later. will Torey Lovullo be handed the reins OR will there be a search? One interesting aspect to watch will be, does Jason Varitek become a part of the mix? IF a move had been made this year and Lovullo had been moved into the managerial seat, chances are quite high, such a scenario would have been the case. I think Varitek would have been the bench coach.
Just wondering how many of those people who felt the Sox had to acquire Chris Sale at any price, may have second thoughts, after watching the debut of Andrew Benintendi? IF Juan Moncada does really turn out to be the best of the two, would those fans start rethinking Bradley Jr., Benintendi and Moncada for Sales?
Are you a baseball fan OR just a Red Sox fan? IF you really love baseball, you probably realize that the sport is having a REALLY GOOD YEAR and IF the Red Sox OR Giants don’t win the World Series, 2016 could turn into a GREAT YEAR for the sport. For people who follow the game closely, you already know, that there is a belief in some circles that this is the Giants year, BECAUSE of that every other year thing. San Francisco won in 2010, 2012 and 2014, so IF you believe this streak is meant to continue, 2016 is next. That would mean four titles in the new century for the West Coast team. On the other hand, the Red Sox also have three World Series titles in this century. They have won in 2004, 2007 and 2013. BUT, have you stopped to notice most of the rest of this years contenders have gone a long span of time since winning it all, IF, they have won at all. 
The present Washington franchise, which began as the Montreal Expos, has never been crowned champion. Neither have the Texas Rangers, who began their days as the second coming of the Washington Senators. The Chicago Cubs are the third team with a history no one has experienced. They have won before, BUT, no fans remain from that 1908 experience. Those three teams make up half of our division leaders today. The two other present division leaders not named San Francisco, (Cleveland and Toronto) haven’t won since 1948 and 1993 respectively. Three other contenders, trailing those leaders, have long histories of drought, Houston has never won, Baltimore last won in 1983 and the LA Dodgers in 1988. In the broadest of pictures, the game of baseball is alive and well.
Before closing, until the next time, we ask, why do some baseball fans get as excited as a little kid getting a present on an important day, when they hear about the date and opponent their team will open the next season with. The rumor at Fenway is, Boston will open at home versus Pittsburgh, yes Pittsburgh on Monday, April 1, 2017. STAY TUNED!