November 15, 2007

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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 dlong@hippopress.com. 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.


11/8/2007 OK — it's week nine and I'm ready to talk

11/1/2007 Finally a little shut-eye for a sleep deprived nation
10/25/2007 A rocky mountain high for Red Sox Nation
10/18/2007 Time to go to the mailbag
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 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