Big Freddy was late when he barged through the door with a folded umbrella in one hand and the morning newspapers in the other.

“Oversleep?’’ I asked as he shed his rain gear.

“Bruins’ nightcap,” he said between grunts as he settled down. “All that effort with the overtimes with the puck finally winding its way into the wrong net.”

“Tough loss,” I said.

“Win some, lose some - sports and elections, there’s always next time around. But speaking of losses that really matter, look at the turnout for Paul Cellucci’s wake at the State House.”

“Impressive,” I said.

“Impressive? It was more than that, “ Freddy said. “ He was one of a kind at a time all the way up the ladder to governor that we don’t have any more, and the turnout was as much about that as it was for him - both sides of the aisle of the not so long ago movers and shakers,, and nothing phony about any of it.”

“Which is probably why sports are respites,” I said.

“Certainly part of it,” Freddy said. “Sports and elections. Athletes and politicians going head to head over the whatevers in life that keep us involved.”

“Speaking of which there hasn’t been much involvement in the Markey-Gomez senate race,” I said.

“It’s heating up,” Freddy said. “It’s been more like a walk on between two unknowns than a walk off for Markey.”

“He has a big lead over Gomez,” I said.

“Had a big lead,” Freddy said. “It’s fading because Gomez is gaining on him.

“Markey’s spent most of his life in Washington. Outside his district, he’s been just another long term, rubber stamp Democrat. That gets him the party vote, but not everyone’s a Democrat even in Massachusetts.”

“But it’s ‘Gomez Who?’ he’s running against,” I said. “He has a solid military record, and he’s made it big in business as a civilian, but he’s as green as they come when it comes to politics.”

“But he’s gaining polling numbers and Markey’s losing them,” Freddy said. “That says more about Markey than it does about him, so Democrats bring not only Obama, but Bill Clinton to town -- that says it all about Markey’s appeal. Case closed.”

“Hardly,” I said. “It’s insurance.”

“Reassurance to get out the vote,” Freddy said. “They lost Kennedy’s Senate seat to Brown first time around.”

“Because of a weak candidate,” I said.

“And because not every voter in Massachusetts is either a Democrat or a Republican,” Freddy said. “There are a lot of leaners here. More or less middle of the roaders who can support the right kind of Republican.”

“Like Paul Cellucci,” I said.

“Absolutely, and God rest him, but his wasn’t a fresh face,” Freddy said. It was exceptional because he was more than an ordinary pol. Called them as he saw them, and if he called them wrong he could change his mind without having to pay a price for it.”

“There was a time,” I said.

“And there is one now, but it’s not the same and, if you ask me, I think the Cellucci wake was as much about that as it was about him,” Freddy said.

Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist.

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