October 19, 2006

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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


10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football

10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did
02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Heroís death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The†Demonization of Johnny Damon
Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat