Mazz: Four Quickies on the Big Four

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Four quick thoughts on each of Boston’s four major sports teams during the black hole between the Super Bowl and NFL free agency…

1. Waiting for Gronk

Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and head coach Bill Belichick walk along the sidelines before their game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and head coach Bill Belichick walk along the sidelines before their game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Is anybody else getting tired of waiting during the annual will-he-or-won’t-he Rob Gronkowski saga? We all love Gronk. We all want him back. But this is now the second straight season in which Gronkowski has threatened retirement, then left the world hanging. It’s behavior befitting a diva.

Is it possible the Patriots and Gronk are negotiating? Of course. But it was Gronkowski who made this all public more than a year ago, when talk of potential retirement conveniently leaked on Super Bowl Sunday. Then Bill Belichick tried to trade him to Detroit, at which point someone or something intervened.

Here’s the point: Devin McCourty also hinted at retirement during Super Bowl week and we didn’t like that, either. When Brett Favre and even Doc Rivers pulled this act, we didn’t like it then. Why would we like it now?

2. Pedroia's future

Feb 18, 2019; Lee County, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) during a spring training workout at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Does anyone think the idea of batting Dustin Pedroia leadoff is foolish? Again, we’re all rooting for Pedroia, an old-school player who has always approached his job seriously. But Pedroia hasn’t played regularly in roughly a year-and-half now and he has a degenerative knee condition, surgery or no surgery. If and when he gets back to being himself, fine. But we have a long way to go before we know if Pedroia can hold up.

The point? Pedroia is going to need a lot of days off – and that’s assuming health. He should start the season in the bottom third of the order – maybe seventh? – where he can regain his timing, play at his own pace and maybe even help what was the weakest part of the Boston lineup last year.

3. Is Gordon Hayward the guy?

Feb 5, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) dunks in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Colleague Michael Felger wonders if the Celtics have made a concerted effort to run their offense more through Gordon Hayward since their well-documented flight to the West Coast, and the numbers certainly suggest that the Celtics are a better team when Hayward is a more integral part of the offense. This season, the Celtics are 18-6 when Hayward takes 10 or more shots (a .750 winning percentage) and 22-20 (.524) when he does not.

As the year has progressed and Hayward has incrementally improved, the numbers are even better. Since Christmas, the Celtics are 12-1 when Hayward takes 10 or more shots and 9-11 when he does not.

4. Everything's coming up Bruins

Mar 7, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) reacts after a goal by center Patrice Bergeron (37) during the third period against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Bruins’ 4-3 comeback win over the Florida Panthers last night was nothing short of scintillating and, more than anything else, evidence of just how much things are breaking the team’s way at the moment. Are the Bruins good? Sure. But pulling the goalie and scoring to tie a game is a low-percentage play to begin with, let along following it up with another goal 30 seconds later to win the game and extend their unbeaten streak to a whopping 18 games.

Yes, that’s a good streak, but consider this: to break the NHL record of consecutive games without a regulation loss, the Bruins would need to begin another 18-game streak ... right now. The record of 35 games was set by the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers, who went from October 14 to January 6 without a defeat.

The Flyers did not win the Stanley Cup that season, but only because they lost to a dynastic New York Islanders in six games in the Cup final.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.