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Opining on the hope of Ted Lasso, the Buffalo Bills & a baseball MVP debate

Opining on the hope of Ted Lasso, the Buffalo Bills & a baseball MVP debate

To quote Ted Lasso from the Apple TV+ series named for him, “Here’s what I’m thinking: Abraham Lincoln.”

I’m thinking his story about a fictional Premier Soccer League coach is really a story about life rather than sports. I’m thinking it’s really sad to see it end this week after just three seasons.

Like many, my bride and I stumbled upon this marvelously written, acted, and directed dramedy during the pandemic and were hooked after just a few episodes. Lead actor Jason Sudekis and this wonderful ensemble cast has made us laugh and cry and left us each week wanting more. We’ve seen Ted and all the characters deal with the vicissitudes of life in humorous, profane, poignant and, ultimately, uplifting ways. We’ve seen them grow into more empathetic human beings because of Ted’s relentless examples of kindness, even in his darkest moments. Given all the hatred and sadness we’ve witnessed in the world in recent years, this show provided the perfect balm for battered souls.

In one of the early episodes, Lasso, a former American football coach who’s been hired to run this once-proud English soccer franchise, has a conversation with vindictive team owner Rebecca Welton (played magnificently by Hannah Waddington). While taking Ted on a tour of the stadium, she mentions that many locals believe their soccer pitch is haunted.

“Do you believe in ghosts, Ted?” Welton asks.

“I do,’’ Lasso responds. “But, more importantly, I believe they need to believe in themselves.”

It was a great line — one of many that evoked immediate laughter followed by deep thought.

Ultimately, Ted Lasso was all about believing — believing in hope, believing in oneself, and believing in your fellow human beings.

If you are looking for a spirit boost, give it a watch. I’m hoping the way it resonated with people will generate more series that deal with kindness and light at time when there is a fixation on meanness and darkness.


If I’m Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane, I’m not signing DeAndre Hopkins unless I can convince the veteran wide receiver to accept an incentive-laden deal. Yes, I realize the Bills can get creative with the math and restructure more contracts to make this work, but at some point this kick-the-can-down-the-road strategy lands you in salary cap hell. The Bills already boast seven players with cap hits of at least $10 million, and next year that number jumps to 10, with Josh Allen’s $47-million-a-year cap hit coming due.

I understand the appeal of Hopkins and the thinking he might be the missing link to a Super Bowl championship, but the current roster is good enough to get the job done. Josh just turned 27 and by many accounts is as locked in as he’s ever been. I don’t believe we’ve seen his peak yet, and if he can stay healthy and cut down on the interceptions (his 70 picks is second most in the NFL since 2018), he can help these Bills grab that elusive Lombardi Trophy.

It’s not like Josh doesn’t have enough weapons in his arsenal. He does. I’m excited about the prospects for first-round pick Dalton Kincaid, a tight end/wide receiver hybrid with great hands and a knack for getting open. His addition, along with two free agent wide receivers and two free agent running backs will enable second-year coordinator Ken Dorsey to keep the offense humming and create numerous personnel mismatches, while also alleviating Josh’s burden.

Hopkins remains productive, but he is 31 and the fact he’s played just 19 of 34 games the past two seasons is a red flag. Again, if I can convince him to accept an incentive-loaded contract, I’d take a shot. Otherwise, I’d be content to go with what I have.


Stefon Diggs’ pouty behavior following January’s dispiriting playoff loss to Cincinnati has been concerning, and the fact he’s made cryptic comments on social media and didn’t show up for last week’s voluntary OTAs only adds to Bills fans’ angst. The Pro Bowl wide receiver hasn’t spoken to reporters, so we don’t know what’s bugging him. I wouldn’t, though, start to worry unless he begins missing mandatory workouts.

I’m glad he’s disappointed with the way the Bills’ seasons have ended the past two years, but he needs to realize he has a great thing going with Josh. Diggs is coming off the best three-year receiving stretch in franchise history with 338 receptions for 4,189 yards and 29 scores. He’s also has been rewarded with a contract that’s paying him $24 million a year.

If he has grievances, he should air them privately with Josh and the coaching staff instead of playing these silly internet games because they only make him look like a diva.


Aaron Boone says Aaron Judge is the best baseball player on the planet, and it’s easy to understand why the New York Yankees’ manager feels that way. Since returning to the lineup after missing 10 games with an injury, the reigning American League MVP has been leading with bat and glove. Judge’s all-around greatness was on full display in Monday’s slug-fest victory against Seattle, in which he smashed two homers and robbed the Mariners of a home run with a magnificent, leaping stab. (It’s a travesty he hasn’t won a Gold Glove yet. Perhaps he will this year.) Since his return, the injury-depleted Yankees have the best record in baseball, and Judge is leading the league in home runs and slugging percentage.

Still, despite those heroics, Las Vegas oddsmakers have him trailing Shohei Ohtani as the AL MVP favorite. Given Ohtani’s unprecedented hitting and pitching exploits, it’s difficult to argue against the Los Angeles Angels slugger/hurler. Though Judge out-distances him in homers (17 to 12), batting average (.302 to .263) and runs batted in (38 to 33), it’s impossible for the outfielder to match his defense against a pitcher as good as Ohtani. The Japanese star leads the league in strikeouts (90) and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (4.7), while posting a 5-1 record and a 2.91 earned run average.

Interestingly, when the last two AL MVPs went head-to-head in Yankee Stadium recently, Judge robbed Ohtani of a homer by gloving a ball that was going over the centerfield wall. Whether Ohani wins his second MVP or not, he may be awarded the first $500-million contract in MLB history when he becomes a free agent after this season.


The last two weeks are reminders that Rochester remains a very good sports town. First, there was the PGA Championship, which drew more than 200,000 fans to Oak Hill Country Club, followed by this past weekend, which saw two sell-out crowds of 10,700 for Rochester Americans Calder Cup hockey playoff games, as well as a Memorial Day crowd of more than 9,000 for Red Wings baseball at Innovative Field.

Best-selling author and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.