LONGSHOTS: Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
by Dave Long
Here are a few odds and ends to tide us over until the Patriots finally get back to work against what once was their most bitter rival in the late great AFL, when they face the Buffalo Bills on Football Night in America Sunday evening.
Speaking of FNA, I’m not much of a pre-game show guy, but it’s a cool name and I really like the way NBC does it. It’s good seeing witty Keith Olbermann back in sports, especially with Bob Costas, to go along with his political Countdown show on MSNBC, which my friend NHTI Sports Management Director Mike Moffett likes so much.
The versatile Olbermann, a noted lefty, might use the analogy of obstinate conservatives refusing to acknowledge global warming is real just because the Dems got to the issue first (whereas if it were the other way around it’d be Katie bar the door, watch out for rising tides) to explain some of the votes cast in an ESPN Sports Nation poll last week. In it 94.1 percent of 41,000-plus votes said the Patriots would win the AFC East. Not bad, but given the records involved and the time left that seems exactly 5.9 percent on the low side to me. But even if all 5.9 percent thought 5-4 Buffalo might stage a miracle run, how do you explain 2.1 percent saying 0-9 Miami and another 1.3 percent saying the 1-8 New York Jets would win the division despite being already eliminated by virtue of their records? Guess things happen in threes. The Jets will win. The fish will win. Global warming ain’t happening. I get it.
Or maybe he’d go to his sports background and cite SNHU’s Jeff Gore still clinging to his belief in a conversation this week, that Kobe, not Shaq was the man when L.A. won three straight titles, despite more evidence since the Big Fella left town than they had for either OJ trail.
While on that subject I asked Millrats GM Ian McCarthy on my radio show if he were Celtics GM and could get Kobe even-up for Paul Pierce would he do it? Given the 5-0 start, would you?
Regarding the Cs, I hate to rain on the parade already, but can anyone tell me what Doc Rivers is doing playing Ray Allen all 48 minutes in just the fifth game of the season? Especially when durability is the issue of concern with the new big three?
You don’t see that with Tim Duncan. Of course after all those titles there’s a little more seasoning on the bench. Including one Matt Bonner, who in year two with the champs is getting more, as Dickie V likes to say, P. T. bay-BEE! He played over 20 minutes in three of their first five games, had 13 points on opening night and grabbed nine rebounds Sunday vs. the Bucks. Nice to see.
Does anyone else know Bonner once sent Kevin Garnett sprawling battling for a rebound that led to a boys-will-be-boys moment and his only NBA ejection? So circle Feb. 10 for the rematch, which is when the Spurs and Cs meet at Garden.
Those now rejoicing after waiting 20 years for them to become the Celtics again can probably empathize with fans of once-mighty Nebraska, where two weeks ago Kansas scored 75 on them at home. It’s inconceivable to see that dominant program fall so far under the about-to-be-fired Bill Callahan, where the coach who got it started in the 1960s, Coach Bob Devaney, once said, “I don’t expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation. I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation.”
It’s amazing the Ricky Santos era has one game left. Boy, it went fast. Who do you suppose he missed more this year, all world receiver David Ball or all world coordinator Chip Kelly?
By the way, if Dennis Dixon of Oregon wins the Heisman, will Kelly be the first coordinator to coach a Heisman-winning QB one year and the D-IAA’s (I refuse to use the new name) equivalent, as Santos did last year, in back-to-back years?
Forget the Mike Lowell business; with his contract up at after next year what will Theo do with Manny in 2009? If he pulls a Curt Schilling and re-ups for a hometown discount after years of wanting out, will that make him a sports version of Maxwell Q. Klinger re-enlisting as the war was about to end after spending his entire 11 years on M*A*S*H bucking for a section eight to get out of the army?
Here’s the best line I saw on Joe Torre’s firing. It comes from Fox.com’s Mark Kreigel, who said, “it looks like the only one in the Yankee high command who had the guts to actually fire Torre was George Steinbrenner. By the way, have you seen Steinbrenner’s sons? Looks like George built them in the basement.”
But even with the bungled firing, is it out of line to expect more from a $200 million payroll than what the Yanks delivered this century under Torre? And if it’s not Torre, then what about GM Brian Cashman, who blew $200 million on groceries that didn’t produce as desired?
If A-Rod gets the $35 million he’s after, agent Scott Boras should be put in charge of the Federal Reserve. The only way that kind of payroll drain is worth it is if it positively impacts the value of a franchise or if he delivers a title. If you say it takes more than one guy to do that, you’re making my point, because when you devote that much dough to one guy it prevents you from buying enough other good players to win. Thus he has to win it by himself.
And finally, I’m not picking on Mike Reiss here. He’s an excellent addition to the Boston Globe’s football coverage. I’m just trying to make a point. Next time someone gets ready to write me a note or e-mail asking how dare I question writers from the Globe and the national media outlets, think of last Friday’s scorecard from the BG’s weekly “expert” football picks. Only one of four “experts” was over .500 (and barely), collectively they were 28 games under .500 on picks against the spread and, if Reiss was betting with bookies, he’d be getting fitted for a cement overcoat right now thanks to a 49-73-8 overall record. Not that Reiss is a yaker, but it’s the latest evidence that while good sportswriters know a lot about the news of the sport they cover it doesn’t necessarily mean they know enough to actually be on a sideline — despite yaking like they do.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s 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.