January 24, 2008

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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 dlong@hippopress.com. 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.


1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
1/10/2008 Grumpy old Dolphins are lost at sea on this one
1/3/2008 The primary concern is getting a clear picture
12/27/2007 The annual sports awards close out 2007
12/20/2007 Holiday gifts for the deserving and not so deserving
12/13/2007 Jets land in Foxboro as pat go number 14
12/06/2007 To include or not to include Ellsbury ó that is the questione
11/29/2007 Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
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 ó 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 Mís 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
Heroís 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