LONGSHOTS: Mail bag asks about Rice, the Hall and wild-eyed liberals
by Dave Long
With things being calm for a few more days until the Patriots get to Arizona, itís a good time to hit some neglected topics that have shown up in the mail bag ó where we havenít been for a while.
Dear Dave: Do you think Jim Rice should be in the Hall of Fame? B. Holm Byeleven, 287 Winds St., Sour Grapes, Minn.
Dear B. Holm: I go back and forth. There are two schools of thought. The first is sheer numbers. If you get 500 homers, 300 wins and 3,000 hits youíre in even if you voted for Dennis Kucinich. The second is how great you were and how long did your peak last.
I think the Hall is about greatness. Not being very good and healthy enough to last a long time to rack up stats. Sandy Koufax won just 165 games before retiring at 31 and wouldnít get a whiff from the numbers-only crowd. Instead theyíd like probably Don Sutton, who won 324. But there was NO COMPARISON, where in his last five years Koufax was every bit as good as Michael Jordan at his peak. During the time he won five ERA titles, 25, 26 and 27 games in three of those years when he had 74 complete games, threw 311, 335, and 323 innings and struck out 306, 382 and 317. Sutton was a consistent number two, who won 20 once in 23 years when it was routinely done and didnít get over .500 until his ninth season!
If Rice gets in, heíll have to be Koufax, not Sutton, as he fell off the table quickly after being among baseballís scariest hitters for 10 years. People are talking Craig Biggio for his amazing versatility and 3,000 hits. Over Rice? NO WAY! Ditto for Wade Boggs, who definitely belongs ó but he wasnít nearly as good. And then thereís the ďif heís in, Rice should be tooĒ list, which includes Richie Asburn, Sunny Jim Bottomley, Gary Carter, Nellie Foxx, Ralph Kiner, Tony Perez and Kirby Puckett. So though heís borderline, I vote for Jim.
Dear Dave: What do you think of stat guy Bill James? Halbert Heinstein, E-2 Relativity Way, Princeton, N.J.
Dear Halbert: I think heís a crackpot. Well thatís a tad harsh. Some of his ideas are interesting, maybe even useful, but stat geeks take him way too seriously. Like Sunday, when, in talking about Coco Crisp and Julio Lugoís 2007 production, the Warner Wolf of the UL, Alex Speier, goes to the OPS rankings quicker than Warner goes to the videotape. Thatís ignoring the obvious. I was no fan of the Lugo signing. But even with his horrid first three months his 73 RBI were more than Dustin Pedroiaís (50), fifth-hitting J. D. Drewís (64) and Jason Varitekís (68). Not bad for a guy who didnít get a hit until July. And numbers donít account for emotion, leadership, brains and grit. His college coaches and the combine crowd ignored the wins Tom Brady put on the board at Michigan, because someone else always scored better in things that donít count. The Patriots brass saw the intangibles and look whoís got the rings. Basically, I think an overemphasis on what James is selling leads to giving a Lugo $9 million per and stat manís dream Drew $70 million over five years.
Dear Dave: What do you think about playing games in the weather the teams faced on Sunday in the AFC and NFC title games? Bud ďFrostyĒ Wizer, 6 Title Way, Lombardi, S.D.
Dear Frosty: The players and coaches make big money from the TV deal so I guess the league has a right to say suck it up and play no matter what. Iíll also like later weekend starting times, which I wish they did when the weather was nice. Although I like a 1 p.m. start on championship Sunday since itís my favorite day of the sports year. And if Iím in my family room watching it played where the wind chill is 20 below after the sun goes down, who cares. But still, itís a disgrace how the NFL takes its fans for granted because TV wants to maximize audience size with later times. If itís in a dome or a warm- weather site, Iíve got no problem. But since a New York team was in the game, even if the Pats were playing in San Diego on Sunday Iíll bet it still would have been the early game. The NFL should treat the paying customer at the games with more respect and drop night games in January like the one a few years back when the Patriots beats the Titans on a brutal night at Foxboro.
Dear Dave: What are you doing while waiting to see the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl? Mercury Morris, 22 Clueless Road, Miami, Fla.
Dear Merk: Iím going to see undefeated Bentley when it visits SNHU on Thursday night. They are 16-0 in 2007-08 as I write this and have won 43 straight regular-season games. They pass, pick, rebound and can shoot. Anyone who likes watching basketball as it is intended to be played should get down to the field house on Thursday. Plus we get to see local lad Joey Fremeau. Heís not getting much time to date, but heíll be there.
Dear Dave: Why do always pick on the conservatives when you mix politics with sports? Is it because youíre a biased, wild-eyed liberal? Bill O. Riley. 1 Fox Plaza, Right Wing, Texas.
Dear Bill: I donít always do that, although as Dick Lombardi the insurance mogul points out, thatís the way itís been lately. Agreed, but Iíve said things about Sen. Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry and Kathy Sullivan, to name four, when I thought they were wrong. But you get branded depending on who you disagree with. Thus Iíve been called a liberal, a conservative and a libertarian. Personally, I see myself as an American who decides based on the facts in front of me. So while I am a registered Democrat, I havenít voted for one for president since Jimmy Carter. And I only did that because Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. Although to be fair, I didnít really vote for Junior, I voted against Gore and Kerry.
Thanks for the letters.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Ė The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.