Prognostications and predictions

Some morsels for you to chew on while waiting breathlessly to see how the Bruins evade being ambushed by the Red Wings in round one of the Stanley Cup fandango. When and if, of course, they manage to do so.

NHL seedings

By the way, the NHL's new seeding system that arranges tougher than ever first-round match-ups may add to the excitement but it's hardly fair to all the combatants. Under the old system, the Chicago Blackhawks -- struggling to get some of their best troops back from the DL -- would never have been obliged to deal with an opponent in the opener as tough as the St. Louis Blues.

Swiftly down by two games and pondering elimination the Hawks can be forgiven for wondering if the defending Cup Champs ought not be treated with a bit more respect. And the Bruins think they got problems.

But the play's the thing! The Stanley Cup gauntlet, easily the most demanding of all pro-sports' postseason festivals, has become more intense than ever. And the great unwashed out there in sports-consumer-land are beginning to notice, if ratings, revenues, media interest, etc. are the measure. NBC's massive coverage is characterized by an enthusiasm for the game not seen in some time on American network television, and as we well know that's what rules the roost. Hockey people could not be more pleased.

Marathon

Never was normalcy in all of its blissful, controversy-free, and sun-drenched simplicity more pleasing than in the near serene renewal of the Marathon one year after that unspeakable atrocity. In the triumph of dogged Meb Keflezighi -- African born but an American citizen since his California college days -- the ages of this dandy and timeless classic are nicely bridged.

In its formative years through WW II, the great race was dominated by working class sons of immigrants, dutifully plugging their way up from obscurity. Thereafter it's become totally an international festival which has increasingly annoyed nationalists. But it's offered the marginalized the means and ends for glorious utterance, which much to their credit many have seized upon brilliantly. In this year's renewal, high among the most auspicious BAA jogs ever held, the admirable Keflezighi represents the best of both worlds and a quite perfect winner this year of years.

Equally interesting to long-term observers in this era so dominated by tender youth is the gentleman's age. At 38, Meb is the oldest boy to triumph since Jimmy Henigan, the Medford milkman, prevailed on blistered feet in his ninth try in the highly depressed year of 1931, also at age 38. The oldest ever is of course the one and only Clarence DeMar who won his seventh and last Boston just the year before at 40.

There was only one DeMar. It will be interesting to see how Meb fares should he return two years hence.

Less boring

At the other extreme, what was far and away the looniest sports' item of the last week got nowhere near the attention -- or, if you prefer, the appropriate derision -- that it richly deserved. An allegedly "important" MLB executive reputedly connected with a team of particular "stature" confided to influential columnist Buster Olney that all the grand old game of Baseball need do to regain its grip on the popular fancy is to chop the length of its games from nine innings to seven innings.

The chap who came up with this "Eureka" moment is said to have been totally serious; his rationalization being that such a move would curb boring four-hour tilts, add pizzazz to the product, introduce charming new strategies, save pitchers from arm trouble, and increase the game's appeal to an impatient younger generation notably possessed of a very limited attention span.

Peachy! That would make it just like Little League; a happy prospect. Perhaps MLB could also have a 10-run rule, terminating ballgames once they become too one-sided. So boring! And maybe if the thing were still tied and thus undecided after seven innings they could have a home run-hitting contest to determine the outcome. That would really rouse the kiddies.

Not surprisingly, the proponent of seven inning games wishes to remain anonymous.

This is the second time in little more than a month that a MLB executive in a burst of pseudo enlightenment, has proposed radical nonsense to "juice up the game." You'll recall that during spring training, a Red Sox executive -- that would be the one who serves as maestro of banal ceremony, self-serving celebration, and related folderol -- proposed rather ridiculously to have the public address announcer declare every ball, every strike, asserting every count, from start to finish, for all to hear, at every game.

Can you imagine the mindless monotony of such a ceaseless drone? Can you conceive of anything that might reduce attending a ballgame to a more abject and benumbing experience? It would become like Bingo! Do they think we who sit in the bleachers are so dumb we can't keep count of the count?

This fellow -- the proponent -- was also entirely serious. In fact, his gimmick was given a trial run for a few innings at a Fort Myers' exhibition tilt. Aside from some well-deserved snickers in the seats, the experiment registered embarrassing indifference, while the Boston sports-media -- which assiduously avoids ruffling the feathers of the Red Sox front office -- ignored it.

Sometimes you wonder if some of these alleged major league baseball executives have ever actually seen a major league baseball game.

Rescuing the Celtics

As the Celtics seek to dig themselves out of one of the deepest holes in their illustrious history, we should bear in mind the advice of arguably their most knowledgeable critic. That would be Bob Ryan, ex of the Globe, and I mean "critic" in the classical sense of that term; denoting one who does not mindlessly "knock" but rather scrupulously analyses a subject. That's Bob.

And he tells us, regarding these Celtics, that we should expect only "itsy, bitsy" progress in the restoration this off-season as Danny Ainge plays the best card he holds, a fistful of draft picks only one of which is a certified blue-chipper, although he's displayed a knack for finding talent further down the food-chain. Once upon a time in the NBA, say back around 1956, you could rebuild overnight mainly via the draft. Not so easy anymore; nor is that the entire measure of the difference between GM Auerbach and GM Ainge, by the way.

The draft is always a crapshoot, but Ainge will make the right choice given such choices as may land in his lap. How he deals with the Rajon Rondo question may say much more about how well the restoration proceeds. He continues to infer nice things about his mercurial point-guard. But is that because he really believes them, or because he hopes to pump up Rajon's trade value, greatly diminished by his recent health issues plus those spates of 'the mercurial'.

Presumably, in making this crucial decision this little factoid will be considered. The Celtics had a wretched record of 7-23 this season when Rajon played and a limp but decidedly more respectable 20-32 mark when he didn't. What to make of that? Granted in such a miserable season how much relevance does any single factor have? Moreover, the player was never 100 percent. On the other hand, it adds to the intrigue, does it not? Productive or otherwise, this Celtics' off season will be mighty interesting.

Jacoby an MVP

We leave you with a prediction; never a specialty of this space. If he stays healthy, Jacoby Ellsbury is going to lead the AL in hits, runs, doubles, stolen bases, OBP, and batting average which will earn him for him the MVP award he narrowly missed his best year in Boston. Which should please the boo-birds in Fenway's bleachers no end.

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...