September 27, 2007

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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....”

Anyone disagree?

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.


9/20/2007 Media and fan bias shades the severity of sports crime

9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
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