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)..