October 4, 2007

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LONGSHOTS: A weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
by Dave Long

As bored as I was on Sunday with no Patriots game, I’ve got to admit it was a pretty interesting day all over the country that left us with no shortage of things to talk about, including:

We got to see one area where baseball is still king over football. Consider the two-year fanfare over Barry Bonds’ pursuit of Hank Aaron’s home run record. It was helped along by the parallel steroid story, of course, but it was just as big when Aaron went by the Babe in 1974. Compare that to the blip on football’s radar as Brett Favre approached Dan Marino for first place all-time in touchdown passes as almost no one knew about it until he tied his record last week. As Robert Parish used to say, “It’s nooooo contest,” when it comes to records and history between baseball and football.

Actually I think football’s real record is an undefeated season. If any among the Colts, Packers, Cowboys and Pats (I’m writing this before Monday night) get close that would be HUGE.

Speaking of Cameron Diaz’s boyfriend in There’s Something About Mary. While I absolutely love his toughness and admire his streak of 250+ consecutive games played, he doesn’t quite go into the same level with Elway, Montana, Unitas, Manning and Brady among the best I’ve seen. Even though he has a passel of big plays on the résumé, he made just enough mistakes at the wrong moment to drop down a notch among the best of the best. I’ll take Bart Starr as the Pack’s all-time QB too.

Staying in the NFC Central there was the Lions’ astonishing 34-point fourth quarter. Or was it the Bears’ astonishing collapse? Either way, when is the last time a team went into the fourth period with three lousy points and ended the game with 37? The Bears got 14 as well in a period that had two kick-off returns for TDs and an interception run back for a score. And none of it can be blamed on (train) Rex Grossman, who lost his starting job in the biggest no-brainer decision since Donald Rumsfeld got benched at the Pentagon.

There was the best grudge game performance in a first game back at the old stomping grounds since Roger Clemens stared down Dan Duquette after striking out 16 at Fenway for the Duke’s “in the twilight of his career” crack. It came in Miami when Daunte Culpepper threw for two TDs and ran for three more in Oakland’s 35-17 win on the same surgically repaired knee the Miami brass said wouldn’t hold up as they shabbily pushed him out the door.

Good thing Eric Mangini turned in Bill Belichick. After a loss in Buffalo, a 1-3 start and squealing on the guy who made it possible to get the big bucks he now makes, if this continues what do you think his job prospects will be if he gets fired in NY?

We got to see the talkative Chargers also drop to 1-3. That’s more losses than all last year. Wonder when soon-to-be-ex-GM A. J. Smith will realize that while Marty Schottenheimer has a scary post-season record, playoff teams in Cleveland, Kansas City and now San Diego all got worse after he left. It also happened when Dan the Fan fired him in Washington to bring in Steve Spurrier.

The retiring Craig Biggio played his last game for Houston. Even though he’s a good player who made one of the oddest position conversions of all time, from catcher to second base, never once during his career did I consider him bound for Cooperstown. But many will say 3,000 hits means you’re in. I say, while he did have 291 career homers, he hit just .251 and never drove in close to 100. And let me ask you this: if you had your choice of 10 years with his college teammate Mo Vaughn or 20 with Biggio, which would you take? I’d take Mo ’cause he was much better. And I mean no disrespect, because after all, Biggio’s a fellow Long Island guy!

With rampaging Colorado forcing a wild card playoff and Mike Lowell getting a standing O, the old baseball cliché “sometimes the best deals are the one’s you don’t make” came into focus. We heard all winter and spring Theo was hot to trot for Todd Helton and Lowell was the guy he’d give up. Well the numbers are in; Helton hit .318, with 18 home runs with 89 RBI. For Lowell it was .324 with 21 home runs and 120 RBI. Plus he’s a better fielder, costs a lot less, ain’t playing a mile above sea-level to help his numbers and team MVP. Theo dodged a bullet.

It’s the latest in a building number of deals made or in the rumor stage (B. K. Kim, Edgar Renteria, Manny for Lastings Milledge and Aubrey Huff) to “get better” that make me nervous when I hear rumors of any Theo deal. Wanting to get better is OK, but it’s as valuable to know when you have a good thing — which Lowell is. Ditto for Orlando Cabrera.

Still young Theo’s team won the East thanks in part to a hellacious stream of young talent coming out of his farm system as Mssr’s Pedroia, Paplebon, Buchholz, Ellsbury, Delcarmen, Lester and Youkilis all played significant roles in ’07.

With the Twins here the final weekend, as they were at the climax of the Impossible Dream of 1967 when they were beat by Boston on the final day, we heard rumblings ace Johan Santana may be traded this winter. So, while I’d never include Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury, would the centerfielder-less Twins take a package of John Lester, Manny Delcarmen or Craig Hanson and Coco Crisp for him? How about this rotation — Santana, Josh Beckett, Dice-K, Tim Wakefield or Curt Schilling and Buchholz?

I feel bad for Willie Randolph, but Mets fans FINALLY got paid back for their incredible luck when the ball got through Buckner. It’s also a shame a classy guy like Tom Glavine had the kind of Buckner moment that can overshadow a great career in the same year he won his 300th game. But blowing a seven-game lead with 17 to play might be the worst choke in history. Here are three notable things from their final week: Pedro, like in 2003, lost a huge one on Thursday, BK Kim beat them on Friday and Moises Alou had a 30-game hitting streak in the middle of it all that no one seemed to know about. The headline writers at the New York Post had a ball with it all of course, with Monday’s “Choked To Death” being the best.

All that happened on just one day — which I think is kind of cool.

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.


9/27/2007 I hate to say I told you so...

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