Where do we begin on this New England Wednesday? Tom Brady and the Patriots on their way to another Super Bowl? The disappointing Red Sox going and the fired Dave Dombrowski gone? The close but still stuck on 23 Grand Slams Serena Williams? The close but no cigar URI football Rams? Let’s try them all!

If Brady is worried about playing out his contract this season, lining up without Rob Gronkowski at tight end, and throwing to a committee of wide receivers, he did not show it Sunday night while leading the Patriots to a 33-3 rout of the Steelers in the season opener for both teams.  Brady was brilliant, his passes crisp and his reads and checks spot on.  He made everything look so easy: 24 completions for 341 yards and three touchdowns. And he’s 42? Yeah, right.

Julian Edelman, Philip Dorsett and Josh Gordon on the outside and James White and Rex Burkhead out of the backfield gave the Steelers a four-quarter headache. I can’t wait for Antonio Brown to play, possibly Sunday at Miami. 

Defense may be the strength of these Patriots. A single field goal allowed says it all.

Thank God the Pats are back because the Sox are heading toward the exit. Their reign as World Series champs ends Sept. 29 at home against the woeful Orioles.  The Red Sox have lost seven of their last 11 are 9 games out of the second wild card slot with 17 to play. Good luck!

Dave Dombrowski, head of baseball ops at Fenway Park, was the first to pay the price for Boston’s dismal performance this season. He was fired Sunday night after a 10-5 loss to the Yankees. Failing to sign a proven relief pitcher before the  trade deadline, and offering super-lucrative contracts to Chris Sale, Nathan Evoldi and Steve Pearce, all injured more than healthy this season, doomed Dombrowski. 

Promoting a relaxed atmosphere in spring training, an approach that produced a horrible start from which the Red Sox never fully recovered, was another Dombrowski error.

But the man who assembled the team that won 119 games and the World Series in 2018 is not solely responsible for the great collapse of 2019. Sale, the supposed ace of the pitching staff, struggled all year and is on the injured list. David Price has been up and down and in and out of the rotation. Rick Porcello has been mostly down. Eovaldi, a late season acquisition in 2018, spent the heart of 2019 on the injured list, was ineffective upon his return to the rotation and is toiling out of the bullpen now.

The best Red Sox pitcher of 2019? Eduardo Rodriguez, 17-6 with a 3.73 ERA. Who would have guessed back in April?

Let’s move on to tennis. Serena Williams lost to a 19-year-old Canadian, Bianca Andreescu, in straight sets in the U.S. Open final and failed again to tie Hall of Famer Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles. 

Okay. So what? Serena Williams is 38 years old, the mother of a toddler. If you are a woman reading this, were you competing against someone half your age when you were 38? If you’re a guy reading this, were you playing at the highest level of a sport when you were 38? If so, let me know. The next commentary is about you.

I’m old enough to have written about Billie Jean King, who revolutionized women’s tennis in the 1960s with her aggressive serve and volley game; Chris Evert, who dominated from the baseline in the 1970s; Martina Navratilova, who elevated tennis in the 1980s with her all-court game and emphasis on conditioning and cross-training, and Steffi Graf, she of the devastating forehand. 

But I’ll take Serena Williams, even if she never wins her 24th Grand Slam singles championship.  She has played on the pro tour for 25 years. She has played doubles with her sister Venus. She has won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. She has four Olympic gold medals. She has played for the United States Federation Cup team. She has married, had a child and returned to tennis. She has been ranked No. 1 eight different times. She has done it all. She could retire tomorrow and still be the best ever.

Before leaving tennis, kudos to Spaniard Rafael Nadal for his five-set thriller over Russian Daniil Medvedev in the men’s final Sunday. Nadal won his 19thGrand Slam championship, one shy of Roger Federer. He’s 33, by the way, and was on the court for 4 hours and 50 minutes.

And congratulations to the classy Hall of Famers Rod Laver on the 50thanniversary of his second Grand Slam, winning the Australian, French, Wimbledon and U.S. championships in the same year. The Aussie won his first as an amateur in 1962 – most of the best players were “amateurs” in 1962 – and won again as a pro in 1969. He is the only player in tennis history to win two Grand Slams. He is 81 now.

Let’s close with URI football.  The football Rams have played in the shadow of the basketball Rams for 35 years, ever since the championship and playoff seasons of 1984 and 1985. College football in New England was never better than those two seasons.

The 2019 Rams kicked off their home opener last Saturday night under the lights and on artificial turf, firsts for the URI program. Jumping into the 21stcentury was a reward for posting a 6-5 record in 2018, the first winning season at URI in 17 years.

Rhody played hard Saturday night but lost to No. 23 Delaware, 44-36, in triple overtime. URI could have won this game but a holding penalty negated a third-down sack in overtime, an interference call gave Delaware the ball at the 1-yard line in overtime, and an interception on the last play was the final spoiler.

Still, the Rams entertained a sellout crowd of 8,500.  Here’s hoping Rhody continues to compete, but wins instead of loses.