LONGSHOTS: I hate to tell you I told you so, but ...
by Dave Long
When I was at WMUR, I once said to meteorologist to the stars and Celtics savant Mike Haddad (can I borrow the car) there should be official standings for weather forecasters. He looked at me in the way I imagine Frank Costanza did after 14-year-old George told him he wanted to be a ventriloquist and asked me why. I said, “To see whose five-day forecast we should pay attention to the most.”
It made sense to me, though I suspect it would not to many in the media who rant about everything from the misdeeds of Terry “Francoma” to mis-manging the war on terror without any accountability. So, we should have Right and Wrong standings for comments like Dan Shaughnessy’s annual “the Yankees are dead” entry. That’d let readers know who’s best at forecasting events WHEN THEY HAPPEN and not after they do. So let me be the first to give you a crack at what I had to say about moves that were happening as the Red Sox and Yanks were getting ready for 2007.
I should warn you, though, while I did put in every pontification, I had a better year than Josh Beckett so you should know ahead of time. Here’s what I wrote and then what actually happened:
The Pick for Top Pitcher (4/30/07): “The real number one? Maybe Dice-K beats the cultural transition and better AL hitters to burst on the scene as Ichiro did in 2001. But that would be a pleasant surprise. I’ll take 15 wins here too. Thus, Josh Beckett has to win 18 or more, which he’ll do....”
Dice-K goes for #15 this week in an up-and-down year brought on by control issues. A disappointment to some, but not to me, though 12 losses are more than expected. Beckett won more than 18 as I said and clearly was the number-one guy from day one.
The Age Discrimination Award (4/30/07): “Curt Schilling — he’s 40 and gave up more hits than innings the last two years. He hadn’t done that since 1994. Plus he ran out of gas last year and broke down the three previous seasons, including 2004 while gallantly fighting through a post-season ankle injury cost him 2005. So the mission should be having him rested for the stretch run, when he’s tremendous. Even if it means giving him a few Pedro-like long Dominican weekends to make sure he’s ready. So I’m happy with 15 wins….”
He didn’t get the 15 wins as he just went 8-8 with a 3.97 ERA. He did get the Pedro vacation via a month on the DL at mid-year. So he’s rested for the post season. How he does remains to be seen.
Manny Not Being Manny Award: (4/30/97) “... Beyond that I’ll take the bi-annual dimwitted distractions for the 35 and 120 he’ll put on the board again in 2007.”
He missed 24 games with the strained oblique but he wasn’t going to get close to either even if he hadn’t. The thing to wonder about is is it just a bad year, or is it the beginning of his decline?
The “When Are They Going To See Stat Man Bill James Is Full of Hooey?” Award: “According to Nick Cafardo in Sunday’s Globe, sabermetrics wizard Bill James has Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield and Josh Beckett for a combined 33 wins. I’ll say 43....”
Eight plus 20 plus Wakefield’s 16 equals 44. I win.
220 Innings Starting Is Less Strain than 70 on Your Arm From Closing (4/30): “The best move of the entire off season was moving Papelbon back to closer. He was Mariano Rivera-like in a dominating 2006, with the talent to be so for 10 years....”
The Bob Ryan Incorrect 65 Yanks vs. the 2007 Edition Analogy Award: “The difference in ’07 is their top stars aren’t ready to topple as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard were in 1965. They need bullpen help, but the top four starters look pretty good to me. It may be 1965 all over again, but, like then, I ain’t buying it just yet....”
As A-Rod’s monster year, among several others, demonstrated, the top Yankee stars are still at the top of their game and it wasn’t 1965 re-dux.
The Roger Clemens Forecast (5/8): “The man ahead of him on the all-time win list is Warren Spahn. His greatest season arguably came in 1963 at age 42, when he was 23-7, with a 2.60 ERA in 256 innings. In ’64 he lost it overnight going 6-13 with an ERA over 5.00. Roger’s 45. Sooner or later he’s got to lose it. I say it’s this year and Roger wins just eight games….”
Not quite right. His last two games vs. Boston show he hasn’t lost it, but he was dogged by injuries and is 6-6 as I write this. Since wins count most, I’m giving myself an A-.
The “How Many Times Do We Have To Go Through This Before It Gets Through Your Head?” Award (6/6): “Then there’s the outright giddiness in Red Sox Nation, where many counted the Yankees dead.... Egads, doesn’t anyone have even a little sense of recall --around here? I don’t like to tell you I told you so — actually it’s more like I love doing it — so I’m telling you the Yankees will be back before it’s over ....”
Does being just 1½ behind to start the final week after trailing by 14 in early June count as being back?
The Maxwell Smart “Missed It By That Much” Award (6/6): “... With Coco Crisp having climbed into the high .250s how’s my bet he’ll hit .300 looking now? And I’m going to go out on a limb with a similar offer to take on all comers and guarantee Julio Lugo will hit at least .200.”
Well, OK, I missed it by 30 points, but you can’t say I wasn’t right about Lugo. But Coco’s hot streak didn’t last, burning what I first said in April to a crisp.
Not Over ’Til It’s Over Award: With Dice-K mania, Beckett better, Pap in the bullpen and Big Papi and Manny bobbing again, not to mention a few Manny-being-Manny moments, it will be a very interesting year ahead as the Sox (barely) win the AL East.
We won’t know about this, but either way, I’m pretty close, so I’ll ask, how good am I? What, you think I’d do this if I had the same kind of year J. D. Drew had (which I called, by the way)? Get serious.
Dave Long hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM-Nashua.