October 18, 2007

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LONGSHOTS: Time to go to the mail bag
by Dave Long

With the Patriots undefeated, the Sox possibly on their way to the World Series, the, ahem new Big Three to debut at the new Garden and number-two-in-some-polls Boston College possibly headed to the BCS Championship game, enthusiasm in these parts is running high, to say the least. That has people asking questions, so letís go to the mail bag and see whatís on their mind.

Dear Dave: I saw your ďI Told You SoĒ piece a few weeks back after you were right about the Yankees getting back in the race. But I havenít heard you admit you were wrong about Randy Moss yet. Is that coming anytime soon? Tee OíNeal, 81 Popcorn St., Irving, Texas.
Dear Tee: Technically Iím not wrong. I didnít say it wouldnít work, I said I gave the gamble an A+ and it had a 33 percent chance of working. And while I still want to see what happens when some adversity hits, Iím willing to say two things. First: I may have been guilty (and not for the first time) of judging the book by its cover. Second: I donít think I realized how good the peak Moss is (was) and how much respect heís accorded by the opposition. I think itís because he just doesnít look like heís running all that hard as heís effortlessly blowing by people. And now hereís a question for you: after seeing how his presence opens up so much for everyone else, will Bill Belichick spend more than he normally would on a wide-out to retain Moss at the end of the season when heís a free agent? Because if he keeps doing what heís doing, you know someone else will. Iíll also add, not that I think he should, but if stays for less money then ó then Iíll really be impressed. And by the way, do I get any points for saying the Wes Welker deal would turn out great? I love that guy.

Dear Dave: Do you think the Patriots could run the table to have an undefeated season? Nick Boonocanee, 85 Dolphin Marine, Key Biscayne, Fla.
Dear Nick: My basic rule on records is if somebody can set a record then someone else can break it unless rules or a game changes dramatically like it has for how pitchers are handled in baseball. That makes Cy Youngís 511 wins the most unbreakable in sports. When the Dolphins did it, they had it easier and harder than now. Harder because their quarterback Bob Griese went down until the playoffs after game five. So they did it with back-up Earl Morrill at QB. Easier because they played a 14-game schedule and faced just two teams (who were both just 8-6) with winning records. Still itís a sensational accomplishment. As for the Patriots, in case you havenít noticed, the Colts are still unbeaten too and they meet in Indy on Nov. 4, so see me after that one. But having said that, theyíve already won 22 in a run over two years, which included a run through the playoffs, so why not?

Deer Dave: What do you think Johnny Most would say to Larry Bird, if he showed up at Fenway like Lebron James did at the ALDS in Cleveland wearing a YANKEE hat? ????!!! Antwaan W. Alker, 16 Bodyphat Lane, Miami, Fla.
Dear Antwaan: Johnny wouldnít have time to get to Larry; I think the Nation would kill even Tom Brady the day after he threw those five TD passes if he tried to do something that dumb at Fenway.

Dear Dave: You have any problem with the way Terry Francona is managing in the playoffs? Heyden (King) Edwards, 175D Contactsport Drive, Bedford, N.H.
Dear Hey: I know some are on him about using the struggling Eric Gagne, but Iíd have done the same thing. I canít believe what heís turned into since getting here either. He took some heat for not forcing Manny to play when things got tight and he turned out to be right. The only thing Iíd do differently is play Jacoby Ellsbury in center. Rookie, schmookie. Heís a dynamic player who makes things happen in ways that Coco Crisp doesnít, like hitting .350 in September, which didnít look like a mirage to me. So on the whole, though, I think Titoís a keeper.

Dear Dave: I like your Sports 101 questions, so now Iíve got one for you. Dustin Pedroiaís .317 average was the sixth-best average ever by a Red Sox rookie. Name the other five. Larry Mondello, 12 Beavercleaver Dr., Stockdale, Calif.
Dear Larry: It wasnít Yaz (.266), Nomar (.306), Jim Rice, Mo Vaughn (.234) or even Tris Speaker (.309), who, oh by the way, hit .344 lifetime with the Sox and Indians. I would have bet my Brooks Robinson autographed mitt he was among íem. Thereís Ted Williams, of course. He hit .327 with 31 homers and 145 RBI in 1939. And if I didnít get Wade Boggs I should forfeit the prized Robby glove as well. He hit 349 over 100 games in 1982 and if that doesnít count as a full year for you, he hit 361 the next. Then thereís the never-should-have-left-Fenway Fred Lynn, who was Rookie of the Year and MVP after hitting .331 with 22 home runs and knocking in 105. Johnny Pesky hit .331 in 1941, which was the first of three straight seasons with over 200 hits. The final one was big Walt Dropo (who once had a summer house in Freedom, N.H.). He was as good a rookie as Williams was 11 years later in 1950 when he hit .322 with 34 homers and knocked in a whopping 144!

Dear Dave: For a place that hasnít produced many big-time college players, what do you make of local duo of Dan Mullen and Chip Kelly being offensive gurus for some very interesting college football stories this fall? Sid Gilman, 19 Alworth Dr., San Diego, Calif.
Dear Sid: I donít really know what to make of it. All I know is that not all that long after they played at Trinity and Central theyíre making their mark nationally in college football. Trinityís Mullen was calling the plays when Florida won the National Championship last January. And Kelly hasnít missed a beat since moving to Oregon after orchestrating the Ricky Santos show at the U. The 5-1 Ducks have scored over 50 three times already and are averaging 45.2 points a game. And in a year or two we might be adding Centralís Ryan (make my) Day to this group. He was the QB under Kelly at the U in the late 1990s, worked under Mullen at Florida and is now the wide receiver coach at number-two-in-the-nation Boston College. I donít know what it is, but I do love seeing it.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billyís Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM-Nashua.


10/112007 Who'd more popular, Patriots or Red Sox

10/4/2007 IA weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
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 Mís 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
Heroís 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