November 29, 2007


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LONGSHOTS: Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
by Dave Long

I spent Thanksgiving behind enemy lines in one of the most interesting visits I’ve ever made to the heart of the evil empire. Amazingly all the usual smugness that goes along with sports conversations was missing. In fact, no one even brought up baseball. And when football came up, it usually only was a shot at the bad sport Bill Belichick.

I originally thought it had to do with just the second title in four years. Because while Yankees fans couldn’t do the 1918 thing anymore after 2004, they could still use the “OK, it’s now 26 to your one — so big deal” line. But, since the Sox have won twice while the Yanks have won squat this decade and were on the verge of falling apart, the usual swagger was MIA. But after just one day reading the papers I could see it was more than that. The sports environment down south is an absolute mess, just as ours is in better shape than perhaps any other city has ever had it! It has the masses outraged, the papers out for blood and everyone else jealous!

It did my heart well to see the utter chaos underway.

Consider the following. The once highly touted Jets with the coach who squealed on his mentor are 2-9 and got roasted by Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Mets had arguably the most historic regular-season collapse in baseball history. The Yankees, of course, already own history’s worst playoff collapse in 2004 and got run out of the playoffs in the first round again, fired their very popular manager, and, thanks to the free agency of A-Rod, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, along with the possible retirement of Andy Pettite, they were facing the unacceptable prospect of closing historic Yankee Stadium in a rebuilding mode. The Nets were in the middle of a seven-game losing streak (with two losses being to the Celtics) and the Knicks are the biggest joke of all! Admittedly with the Rangers in first and Islanders and Devils right behind, hockey was a bright spot, but hey, who cares about hockey these days? Oh, they were also very high on the New York Football Giants, but I left before beleaguered Eli Manning threw three TD passes to the other team in an embarrassing 41-17 loss to Minnesota. The fans are disgruntled, dismayed and in complete disarray.

And I’ve got to tell you, it was hilarious. And since I’m the kind of guy who likes to share the rock, here’s a sampling of what I came across for folks who enjoy seeing the high and mighty knocked down a peg or two, or actually in this case about 12!

Remember when Dan Shaughnessy called Paul Gaston “Thanks Dad” after his father gave him the Celtics? Well, Newsday columnist Wallace Matthews says the Yanks are going from being run by George Steinbrenner to being run by Boy George Steinbrenner, with son Hank now in charge.
The Yankees spent $400 million on three guys last week. Not that money matters down there, but at the end of two of those deals they’ll be paying a 40-year-old closer and a 40-year-old catcher $15 million a year each. Seems to me that has more to do with making sure they won’t be rebuilding when they close the old stadium next year and open the new one in 2009 than fiscal sanity.

A-Rod also came back into the fold. He’ll be getting $30 million when he’s 42 as he tires to break the all-time home run record just as Barry Bonds could be getting home from the slammer. That’s going to seem a lot even for the Yanks, if he isn’t a lot better than Willie Mays was at 42. Newsday’s Johnnette Howard gave Boy George a knockout win over A-Rod and Scott Boras for getting them to crawl back to the Yanks. She also said Rodriguez is the new face of the Yankees after they committed to him for a 10-year deal. Wonder what Derek Jeter thinks about that?

As I said, the Jets are under fire, especially after their turkey of a 31-3 visit to Dallas on Thanksgiving. Eric Mangini’s coaching got a D from Newsday for that one.

They’re hammering Belichick for the running it up in blogs on Newsday and the New York Times (now a buck and a quarter!). Although, they are bracing for when ManGenius meets the Mentor for the first time since spygate on Dec. 16 and are clearly expecting the Jets to play Custer in an NFL re-enactment of Little Big Horn. The best line came from Ed McNamara while making Newsday’s weekly predictions in asking, “as a child did Bill Belichick enjoy picking the wings off flies?”

But the best of all was the soap opera at Madison Square Garden presided over by one Isiah Thomas. In the last 18 months he’s given away the second overall pick for heart condition-tainted Eddie Curry, who’s no good, gave Larry Brown a $50 million coaching deal and fired him after one year with the Knicks on the hook for the money, instigated a nasty brawl with dirty antics learned from his days with Detroit and lost an embarrassing $11 million sexual harassment suit that’s all over the media.

And oh yes, the team is so awful a kid in the Garden was carrying a sign on Wednesday that said, “I’m embarrassed to be a Knicks fan” when they got blown out on Tuesday by Golden State. The Post called Wednesday’s loss in Isiah’s old stomping ground the “Motown Meltdown” and had a picture of his head superimposed on a body of a holiday turkey. It was laugh-out-loud funny. Newsday had “Thomas Garden Tenure is Overcooked” — a slightly kinder theme, but the same message.

Anyone who remembers the dirty play of his Pistons and the tactics of Thomas the player during that time can’t help but get a kick out of this mess. Although the owner of the team, Jimmy Dolan, who is the biggest “thanks dad” dope of all, won’t pull the trigger despite all the clamoring. And that brings me to the message of this story. Dolan is the son of cable TV mogul Charles Dolan, who already was owner of the Knicks and Rangers when he offered more money to buy the Red Sox than John Henry and Tom Werner did, but thanks to Bud Selig he didn’t get the team.

So in addition to having a great Thanksgiving, my trip gave me one more thing to be thankful for. So, Bud, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for keeping the dope who presides over the Madison Square Garden mess away from the Red Sox, because the history would be much different and not for the better.

Dave Long can be reached at 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.

11/22/2007 Here's what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving

11/15/2007 Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
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