LONGSHOTS: Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
by Dave Long
With football and pennant race colliding, itís time for another foray into the mail bag.
Dear Dave: As I write this, the Red Soxí lead has eroded to four ahead of the Yankees. Do you agree that Terry Franconaís the problem? Barry (the golf) Nazi, Table 5, The Lounge at Derryfield Country Club, Mammoth Road, Manchester, NH.
Dear Barry: No, itís not Terryís fault, though thereíll be plenty saying it is. Do you remember three months ago when the Yankees were struggling and many said Joe Torre would be fired? Well, they got healthy and now if they win the East the same guy expected to be fired in June probably wins manager of the year for holding things together. Things donít change that quickly.
Who threw the home run ball Sunday to Miquel (you say tomata, I say) Tejada ó Tito or Eric Gagne? Ditto for Fridayís implosion? Because heís struggled mightily you can say it was bad strategy to bring him back on Sunday. But they got Gagne to pitch in the eighth and he has a closerís mentality to shake it off. Iíd have done the same thing. The problem is the lack of timely hitting to put teams away and execution by key guys in the bullpen over the weekend. Besides, I donít want to tell you I told you so, but I told you so when the lead was 14 ó history shows big leads can fade. And contrary to what folks like Dan (ďthe Yanks donít have the pitching) Shaughnessy were saying, the Yankees would be back because theyíre too good. The bottom line? Weíll get to see if theyíre tough enough to hang on and win it. Which is what youíre supposed to be when the payroll is $150 million.
Dear Dave: Do you know what covering the plate with dirt does after an umpire throws a manager out of the game as F-Cat Manager Bill (Sunday) Masse did after he got heaved on Tuesday night? George B. Rett, 87 Pinetarr Blvd, Bronx, NY.
Dear George: You mean besides telling kids itís OK to be disrespectful to umpires when a call goes the other way? For some reason baseball people blindly follow rituals even if theyíre outdated or just stupid ó like hitting the batter who steps in after a big home run. Iím sure it makes perfect sense to them ó like you better not dig in on me. But when it started, Iíll bet it probably had more to do with frustration than with some code. Like when Pedro drilled Karim Garcia because he was getting cuffed around by the Yankees in the 2003 playoffs, a move that so enraged 70-year-old coach Don Zimmer he charged Pedro in the brawl that followed. So in the case of Masse, I guess because Billy Martin and Earl Weaver did it, itís OK to follow suit. I know people will tell me I just donít understand, or that managers are showmen entertaining the crowd, but it reminds me of the scene in Animal House when Dean Wermer says to the neophyte pledge from Delta House, ďSon, fat, dumb and stupid is no way to go through life.Ē And since I was no saint with the refs as a basketball player and a coach in college, Iíll translate it to the less caustic ďthere has to be a better way to argue a call or fire up your team.Ē
Dear Dave: What do you make of those people who got banned by the Concord Little League for aberrant behavior toward umpires during an All-Star game last month? Don Dengkinger, 14 Missed Call Street, Kansas City, Missouri.
Dear Don: Iím guessing they grew up watching managers like Weaver and Martin and think itís OK to teach the kids itís OK to act like a jackass when things go wrong.
Dear Dave: Whatís your favorite spot to watch a Fisher Cats game? Lave Dong, 89 Forgotten Road, Toronto, Ontario.
Dear Lave: I love the entire park, but my new favorite is the Brown Monster patio at the Hilton Garden. With the bar now done, itís cool. I particularly like the trampoline effect when homers hit the barís pliable roof, like Dave Smithís shot on Thursday, which bounced high off it before a scramble ensued for a souvenir ball. And thumbs up to the guy who got it and turned it over to a little guy next to him.
Dear Dave: Is the pressure really on Doc Rivers now that Dannyís given him three all-stars to coach? Rick P. Teeno, 16 Potepinko Way, Louisville, Kentucky
Dear Rick: Not really. If you had a choice late in your contract, what would you rather have ó a bunch of young guys who won 24 the previous season, or a team with the talent to win 50+? If you take the first one, Iím guessing Iíd have fired you long before this conversation.
Dear Dave: What do you make of Tom Brady topping the list of best-dressed person in the world? William Bellachick, 13 Saville Row, Foxborough, England.
Dear William: Not much. People who make up lists like that go in the same category as dancing girls, mascots driving dirt bikes on fields and scoreboards with rising meters to get ďfansĒ cheering louder. But now that you ask, Iím figuring he must have a few things in the closet from Georgeís on Elm Street.
Dear Dave: What do you make of The Bronx Is Burning on ESPN ó does it have any relevance to today? Billy Martin, 1 Heavenís Gate Road, Great Beyond, Texas.
Dear Billy: I had a tough time with Oliver Platt as George Steinbrenner in the beginning. Just not blustery enough, but Iím warming to him. But Daniel Sunjataís personality isnít big enough to capture Reggie Jackson, who, like Bill Parcells, just filled up the room. But John Tutoro has Billy Martin cold and the guy playing Thurman Munson makes me think he got the stem cell police in the Bush Administration. But, like Sex and The City and Seinfeld, itís going to hit home more with New Yorkers and not just because of the Yankees. I was in NY when the Son of Sam killings started and the day he was caught. It was a gripping drama heightened by columnist Jimmy Breslin and the Daily News being in the middle of the story. I was also in the bleachers (wearing a Yankee batting helmet) with 5,000 of my closet friends the day Martin yanked Jackson in the middle of an inning. It came in a week when the Sox belted 16 homers in winning three straight over NY at Fenway and overpowered Baltimore the same way the next series. Then they lost three straight one-run games in the Bronx the next weekend. Other than right now, it was the best I ever saw the rivalry. On the whole Iíd give it a B+, but for those outside Gotham itís probably a B-.
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).