July 26, 2007


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LONGSHOTS: Getting out of a slump; an amateur golfer can feel Sox’ pain
by Dave Long

There’s an old adage that says you can’t understand what someone is going through unless you walk a mile in their shoes. Given the sports climate around here I’m not sure many agree. To them it’s ready, aim, complain.

That was pretty much the case for Red Sox players stumbling out of the gate without hitting their weight in ’07. The Nation was vocal about Dustin Pedroia — overmatched by major-league pitching; Coco Crisp — just can’t hit, period; JD Drew — stinks; and all the alumni shortstops hitting far better than Julio Lugo. I must admit I was singing in the chorus on Pedroia (I was wrong), Drew (not my kind of guy) and Lugo, who had a worse June than Germany did in 1944. Although it wasn’t Lugo I was really carping at, it was Theo, who changes shortstops like George Steinbrenner used to change managers. But Tito Francona patiently fended off talk radio calls for Wily Mo to replace Coco in center (how dumb does that sound now?) and for Alex Cora to first replace Pedroia (now hitting .310) and then Lugo.

I must say I felt worst for Lugo because he was so discombobulated. He just looked so lost hitting under the Eddie Gaedel line in June. Also, I knew how he felt, as I was in the biggest golf slump of my life at the same time. I know 37,000 and 10 times as many on TV weren’t watching me flail away as I walked my mile in Lugo’s shoes. But even when I did hit one straight, I felt so uncomfortable it was like a golf alien had inhabited my body.

In baseball when they get into a slump, they’ve got regular batting practice, the cage under the stands, videotape and about 117 coaches to beg for help. Me, I was on my own, with of course a little help from my friends.

Lugo looks like he’s getting his mojo back after a terrible start. At least that’s how it looked when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth on Friday. Two weeks earlier I’d have bet my house he’d strike out into a double play somehow — but then I had a strange feeling it was going out — which it did.

I’m more like Lugo at the end of June. My golf results are not quite there, but I can see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, the most obvious being the Larry Bird shot I hit out of the woods on the eighth hole at Manchester CC Tuesday. That would be the shot in the old McDonald’s commercials where Larry’s standing on top of Boston Garden playing horse with, I think, Julius Erving, and calls, “Off the building, through the window, off the scoreboard, off the backboard — nothing but net.”

My improvement can be verified by State Farm insurance mogul Dick Lombardi. He was in the woods with me to make sure I didn’t foot wedge my Titleist 5 to a better lie or move any leaves covering it before hitting. He’ll back up that I called hitting it through, conservatively, the 615 or so redwoods blocking my path to the green and the delayed fade to the right side of the green. It was the kind of shot Phil Mickelson would be proud of. Especially since he’s the only other one dumb enough to try it. The only bad thing was the Sergio-like lip out of my putt. Making birdie from the woods would have given my friend Haden Edwards a stroke (the medical kind) — which might have been the only way to stop the whining about his bad (boo-hoo) golf luck. Although draining the winning putt on 18 put him in a very sunny mood. So like Lugo I’m not out of the, er, woods just yet.

Until then, would somebody please give JD a shot of adrenaline to let me know he’s actually alive?

Dave Long is host of Home Team Saturday with Dave Long and Company, 10 a.m. to noon each Saturday morning on WGAM (1250 AM in Manchester and 900 AM in Nashua)..

7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?

7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 M’s for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
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
Hero’s 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