LONGSHOTS: The annual sports awards close out 2007
Here are a variety of off-the-beaten-path awards for the 2007. The envelope, please …
by Dave Long
Hypocrits of the Year: Those in the New York who pontificated greatly after the spygate allegations about the Patriots run of three Super Bowls were now tainted and remaining quiet when 11 members of the Yankees championship teams of 1998-2000 turned up in the Mitchell Report. You tell me which is likely to have a greater impact on winning — using video of defensive signals from the sideline that are changed all the time, or having half your team juiced on performance-enhancing drugs?
Best New Addition to the Sports Environment: What else? The Brown Monster patio at the Hilton Garden. It’s my favorite spot to watch a Fisher Cats game — although it could get a run for its money next year from the new Sam Adams Sports Bar inside the park, which sounds pretty cool.
Bruce “Can’t Win the Big One” Boudreau – Adopted Alumnus of the Year Award: Name in honor of the former Monarchs mentor who got bounced for not being able to win the big one (or any playoff series for that matter) — an act he promptly followed up by winning consecutive AHL titles. It goes to folks who came to Manchester from parts unknown to work in town and then went on to glory elsewhere. Third place to former NHC and now Seattle Supersonics Head Coach P. J. Carlesimo, who, oh by the way, was SNHU Athletic Director Chip Polak’s college roommate at Fordham. Second place to former WMUR sports anchor from a loooong time ago Jack Edwards, now doing Bruins Play by Play for NESN. But the winner is Bruce Can’t Win The Big One himself, since not only did he lead Hershey to its second straight Calder Cup, but after a shake-up in the big club he found himself a head coach in the NHL with Washington as well.
The 1918 Award: For the accomplishment by a player or team that hadn’t been done in our lifetime. It goes to the aforementioned Monarchs for winning not one, but two playoffs rounds before being swept by, ironically, Can’t Win the Big One and Hershey. Still, a job well done and an exciting year.
Chris “Can Win the Big One” Carpenter – Local Boy Done Good Award: After an injury-filled year that ended in surgery, it won’t go to the big fella this year. There are a lot of nominees, most notably Dan Mullen and Chip Kelly, who are coordinators of high-powered offenses at Florida and Oregon respectively. Mullen grabs second place because in Tim Tebow he mentored the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, as well as the first guy to accomplish the astonishing feat of passing for 20 or more and run for 20 touchdowns in the same season. Then there was also coaching a game when he had an appendectomy earlier in the day. I’m sure Chipper would have done it too, but you get bonus points with me if you play hurt. But it goes to Concord’s Matt Bonner, because he accomplished a New Hampshire first in being the first native of the state to be on a team that won an NBA title.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Award: Named for the legendary Jimmy Stewart film where idealistic Jefferson Smith stands up for what’s right against the corrupt forces that put him in office. It goes to Manchester School Athletic Committee Chairman Bobby Leonard and his supporters on the board for not backing down to misguided parents of several Memorial softball players. They wanted Coach Dave Hedges’s head (say that five times fast) after forcing those players to practice on the same day they skipped school — making them ineligible for the next day’s playoff game, which they lost. That outraged the parents, even though some admitted they knew the consequences when they looked the other way as their kids participated in the annual skip day even though it screwed over other kids on the team who worked all year to win the title and had showed up to school that day.
Rick Pitino – the Big Three is Not Walking Through That Door Award: To formerly maligned Celtics GM Danny Ainge, as after a pretty crafty summer in making what may arguably may be the two most productive trades in history, he transformed the second worst team in the NBA to a legit contender overnight — and has a 21st-century version of them walking through the door every day.
Mitt Romney Flip-Flop Citation: It’s debatable if he actually did flop and Danny denies it, but considering all his famous flops, the Romney camp has to love hearing folks talk about how it’s OK to change your mind, as they believe Danny did over changing course to bring in the veterans after blowing up the team and going young. Of course my question is, when did you do it and what was the real reason for the alleged change of heart, Governor, er, I mean, Danny?
Amos Alonzo Kraft Award: The phrase coined by Globe scribe Dan Shaughnessy to mock the meddling of overzealous Patriots owner Bob Kraft following the departure of former coach and new Dolphins pooba Bill Parcells. It goes to Sox owner John Henry, who stuck nose into the Larry Luchinno-Theo Epstein boar war a while back to get the creative force behind the Fenway money machine and the young GM back in the fold and working together. Two years later it yielded a transforming Fenway Park, a dynamic farm system and a second World Series title. Pretty good work by an owner who in his spare time shows his joy for baseball by playing running bases at Fenway. With him now just one title behind Alonzo, guess it’s OK to meddle with your team.
Ralph Kramdon – I’ve Got a Biiiiiiiiig Mouuuuuuth Award: Who else? Deposed F-Cat manager Bill (Sunday) Masse for calling the cheering of local fans for an electric effort by visiting Clay Buchholz “disgraceful,” not disgusting as I mistakenly said last week (which I apologize for).
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.