March 6, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: New hires, new trades in pro sports
by Dave Long

It was an eventful week for the local pro teams. Some of it good and some of it not so good. Hereís my take on some of the biggest stories.

News Item: Sox Put on a Little Extra Colon
I love Teho signing Bartolo Colon. Since heís won just seven games the last two years thanks to arm miseries, you canít let your imagination go. But itís no risk and the last time he was healthy he won the Cy Young. If healthy again, that would make him a pretty good number two behind Josh Beckett. Beside the injury, the obvious problem is that he looks to be in worse shape than I am. But still, there have been a fair number of portly pitchers through the years, like David Wells, Mickey Lolich and LaMarr (where does it) Hoyt, so you never know. And as I said on the radio the day it happened, it brings to mind when the Red Sox plucked Luis Tiant off the scrap heap and he went on to win 20 three times after that. Iíll settle for 10-12 wins, 150 innings and being ready come playoff time. Weíll see.

News Item: Assante Flies High as Eagles Show Him the Money
The one thing you canít say is Assante Samuel never said, ďit isnít about the moneyĒ before taking the huge deal. It was ALWAYS about the money and he went after it like an errant pass in the flat. Put me solidly in the column that says this is, as Julia Roberts said to the snooty Rodeo Drive saleswomen in Pretty Woman, ďbig mistake ó HUGE.Ē The weakest spot on the team is the other corner and now they have two huge holes at corner. Yes Ty Law may be out there, but heís about the money too, so heís not coming here on the cheap. Plus at 34, donít tell me you think he can be the shutdown corner they need? A nice, experienced number two maybe. But a number one? I donít think so.

But the larger point is that unless youíre Tom Brady or Richard Seymour, guys in the locker room know that while you may eventually get the big money, it will come from some other place. And while they may be able to reconcile that, I wonder if it doesnít grate on them when they see the BIG money going to an outsider like Adalius Thomas instead of folks like Law, Deion Branch and Adam Vinatieri, who helped win those Super Bowl titles. It bears watching.

News Item: How Hard Casell Takes to the Bench in Crunch Time is Issue
Show me another team EVER to have a bigger roster turn around from one season to the next than the Celtics have under Danny Ainge and then led the league in wins as they have from day one. The latest is adding P. J. Brown and (99% sure) Sam (donít call me Howard) Cassell as theyíve gone from the leagueís second-youngest team to a savvy experienced group where just five of the 15 players from last year remain. At 38, weíll see about Brown, who provides experienced depth to a frisky front court thatís getting steady contributions from Big Baby Davis and Leon Powe. Cassell, however, gives them what they need for the playoff. I love the instant offense Eddie (Big) House provides, but he ainít a point guard. Cassell is the experienced ball handler and crunch- time player they need behind Rajon Rondo. My only reservation is how heíll take to sitting on the bench in crunch time when it happens.

News Item: Ducking White House Visit a Bush Move?
Was it a classic Manny-being-Manny moment or something else? It came after electing not to attend last weekís ceremony at the White House where President Bush congratulated the Red Sox for winning the 2007 World Series. That was followed by many in nitwit nation calling him unpatriotic on talk radio for what they said was dissing the President. A political statement? Are you kidding me? While I think it was a genuine gesture by Mr. Bush, who once did own the Texas Rangers, itís also been used as a photo op by pols in the past, so whatís the big deal if he doesnít go? Itís a free country where people can do what they want when the visit isnít a mandatory club function ó even for those who donít get what an honor it is. As for the president, I donít think it bothered him too much. He was on his game, especially in asking ďif Mannyís grandmother died again,Ē in reference to his inventory of usual excuses for missing All-Star games, the start of camp, and assorted other functions.

News Item: Pettiest Feud in Sports Jets Even Higher
So where do you stand on this one? Eric Mangini told Jonathan Vilma last week he and his agent could seek a trade with ANY team in the league EXCEPT the Patriots because he wanted to stick it to New England one more time, or he didnít want the best team in his division, who is in need of help at linebacker, to get one from his team. The rumor mill is churning that Oliver Stone has an investigation under way. I donít see a conspiracy. Instead I think they just didnít want to hand over a guy to the linebacker- depleted the Patriots who already knows the system after playing for Mangini. Sticking it to his former mentor was just a bonus.

Etc., Etc., Etc.
Vilma, incidentally, wound up in New Orleans along with Randall Gay. That Gay got a deal worth $17 million tells what the DB market is like and should make it dicier for the Patriots to come up with a good one. Although, you never know what they may be able to trade for or draft. Iíd have given the money to Assante over Randy Moss though I would have tried to find it for both. However, it you throw Vince Wilfork into this, whoís up next year, maybe it came down to him and Assante ó which is a harder call.

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.


2/28/2008 Celtics issues far from black and white in the early days

2/21/2008 Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
2/14/2008 Basketball rounds into form under the cover of Pats football
2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue
1/31/2008 Foxboro lads earn pats on the back, and old Celtics mystique makes sense
1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
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