LONGSHOTS: Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
by Dave Long
I was reading through Letters To The Editor in the UL the other day when I stumbled on one from a writer named Cary Grant. Since Caryís my favorite movie star from a bygone era it caught my attention. Heís the guy who got robbed more in the American Film Instituteís voting for the greatest movie star ever than David Ortiz in last yearís MVP race.
He finished second to Humphrey (donít) Bogart in that jointís ranking Ė Bogartís an actor who couldnít turn pol because with a butt always dangling from his mouth he couldnít get away with saying ďI didnít inhale.Ē I grant you Casablanca and The African Queen were great but his work canít carry Grantís overall credits. Putting Grant behind Bogart is almost as dumb as Darrell (rio) Grandeís assertion on (plug, plug) Sports Fight with Dave Long the other night that Babe Ruth wouldnít be good enough to play in the majors today! Iíll concede that now heíd probably do a rehab stint or two in the Steve Howe suite at the Betty Ford Clinic, but give me a break. Anyone who hit more homers than every team in a single season, as he did in 1920, would be the star today, but I digress.
Back to Cary, who was going on about the UL giving special emphasis to Central teams, especially football, at the expense of other local schools. That seemed a little like the crazed political right whining that the liberal media elite is out to get them, which given that the paper is on the crazed political right seemed a little ironic. Seeing his letter made me wonder what celebrity letters I had in my mail bag. So I looked and hereís what I came up with:
Dear Dave: Got any guys left off the list of Top 25 baseball players in Sports Illustrated last week that you think belong? Tom Hanks (Aaron), Room 755, Hilton/Sleepless Inn, Seattle, Wash.
Dear Tom: How about a fellow named Barry Bonds. The steroid thing? Iíll buy he wouldnít have gotten to Aaronís homer record, but at worst heíd still be third all-time. Plus heís up there in every hitting category, stole more than 500 bases, won many gold gloves and seven MVPs. No one else has more than three. Those are big enough numbers to, I hate to say, push out, gulp, Ted Williams and my childhood guy Mickey Mantle.
Dear Dave: How come my namesake wasnít one of the pitchers in the Top 25 and my favorite Tiger outfielder from the 1920s, Harry (zeig) Heilman, didnĎt get in either? Mel Gibson. Steve Howe Suite, Betty Ford Clinic, Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Dear Mel: When his ERA was 1.12 in 1968, Bob Gibsonís year was one of the best ever, but he won almost 100 less than Roger Clemens so Iím fine with it. You know, most people would think anyone who says Heilman belongs there has had a few too many. But, in hitting .403 in 1923 and over .390 three more times he was better than most remember. Itís obvious your grasp of baseball history is a lot better than it is on world affairs and other such matters.
Dear Dave: The suspense is killing me. Do you think the Red Sox would actually pull the trigger on the scary notion of bringing Alex Rodriguez to Boston in a blockbuster trade? Alfred Hitchcock, 14 North By Northwest Blvd, Mt Rushmore Village, Idaho
Dear Al: That one is for The Birds. E-Rodís skin is thinner than Calista Flockhart, so Grady Little has a better chance of coming back as manager than the ravenously critical Nation has of seeing Alex batting eight in the local lineup.
Dear Dave: What do you make of that Little League coach who got one to six years in the big house for paying a player to hit an autistic teammate so heíd get hurt and couldnít play anymore? Dustin (them off) Hoffman, 72 Rain Man Street, New York, N.Y.
Dear Dustin: I think pitchers who throw at batters in the majors today should get one to six in the pen. A grown-up who pays someone to hit any kid should get the chair.
Dear Dave: With all that swirls around Terrell Owens do you think he should seek psychiatric care? Tom Cruise, 12 Babbling Brook Rd, Shields, Calif.
Dear Tom: Iím not big on the insanity plea. I think they should just lock him in a room with a TV playing an endless loop of your insane interview with Matt Lauer. Iím sure that will make him want to shut up and get back on the field toot sweet.
Dear Dave: How do high school teams get lucky enough to get their stories covered in the newspaper? Holden (on) Caulfield, 15 Catcher in the Rye Lane, Cornish, N.H.
Dear Holden On: At the risk of being banned from future screenings of The Philadelphia Story, Iíll say it: newspapers arenít in business to be fair. Theyíre in it to be read by as many people as possible. So itís in their interest to spread coverage over many teams. Regarding coverage of Central football, you donít suppose it had anything to do with winning four straight Class L titles, do you? And while soccer usually takes second chair to football in most papers, the West soccer dynasty under Jack Amero got more coverage than any local soccer story ever has and rightly so. How about the pub lavished on Trinity hoop a few years back even after it came up empty twice in Durham? Whereís the story asking if two-time champ Central in the Tyler Roche era was the stateís greatest hoop team ever? And, if my conversation at the Backroom on Friday is any indication, many Central folks still arenít happy with the coverage of last yearís partygate flap. Having said all that, as one who knows itĎs impossible to please everyone, seems to me the UL does a pretty good job spreading it around with the reporting resources they have. It may not be perfect, but who among us is?
And thatís a wrap.
Dave Long can be heard on Sports Night with Dave Long nightly from 6 to 7 p.m. on 610 WGIR-AM