April 24, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: Sox Line-ups, Celtics and ESPN investigations are in the mail bag
by Dave Long

Time to go to the ďmail bagĒ to see what inquiring minds want to know.

Dear Dave: What did you think of ESPNís ambush of Miguel (you say tomata, I say) Tejada? Edward Aremurrow, 1940 Good Night and Good Luck Street, London, England.
Dear Ed: Boy, ESPN really blew the lid off a huge story, didnít they? Brings me back to when I thought about going into investigative journalism after Woodward and Bernstein helped unravel the Watergate caper. Iíll paraphrase Captain Renault in Casablanca after he discovers gambling is going on at Rickís Cafe ? Iím shocked, SHOCKED!! that some ďjournalistĒ would mislead someone with sleazy gotcha tactics to bring attention to themselves. But except for the people interested in his next contract, who cares? Whatís next, a story on how old Satchel Paige really was when he pitched for the Kansas City Aís in a gimmick promo in the 1960s?

Dear Dave: Do you really think the performance of Manny Ramirez bears watching as you said in your 2008 Guide to the Red Sox Season? Roger Hiztorey, 1993 Peetetarrier Line, Owemagosh, N.H.
Dear Roger: It didnít look like it last week when he was 14 for 30 with five homers, 12 RBI and leading the AL in homers and ribbies. Throw in the playoffs after coming back from his strained oblique and he looks like Manny. But he turns 36 on May 30 and historically thatís a line of demarcation for all but a handful of sluggers. The Babe had just one big year left, ditto for Reggie Jackson. Mike Schmidt and Hank Aaron had two. Barry Bonds hit 73 at 36 and was unstoppable for years after that, but almost everyone believes he had extra help. But Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Jimmy Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Jim Rice and everyone else I checked on were in decline. Ted Williams never drove in even 90 after 32 and was over 30 homers just once although his Korea service had something to do with it. Yaz was ordinary after turning 30, before a renaissance at 35 and 36 when he drove in 102 in both years. But after that, bubka again. At 36 injuries come more frequently. Manny played 130 and 133 games his last two years and his production in 2007 was the worst since 1994. So even with the great start he bears watching because you never know if he could go down. Having said that, since 50 is the new 30, and players are in much better year-round shape than in the days of Mantle and company, I think heís got two more real good ones in him if he can avoid the injury troubles heís had the last two.

Dear Dave: Iím an expatriate Red Sox fan living outside the Nation in Hawaii and wondered if youíd ever consider doing something different with the Sox line-up. Fran Konna, 47 Redshirt Boulevard, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dear Fran: Funny you mention, as I do. Assuming Manny remains being Manny and David Ortiz gets back to Big Papi as I suspect he will, Iíd consider moving J. D. Drew to third in the order to see if heíd get the same kick start to his career that Ortiz got when he was placed in front of the great Ramirez. While Iím not a huge fan of the Drew signing, he has ability and makes pitchers throw strikes. So heíll see a lot of fastballs in the three hole because no one will want to walk him hitting in front of Manny and Papi in the fifth slot. And moving Ortiz into that slot restores the lefty, righty, left, righty, switch- hitter line-up that makes it tougher to get righty-vs.-righty and lefty-vs.-lefty advantages in the late innings without burning up the bullpen. Iíd also bat Jacoby Ellsbury ninth, rather than first or eighth, and Kevin Youkilis goes back to the second spot. Iíd do this because leading off heís too close to the boopers and thus canít steal bases as it leaves first open for them to be walked. But hitting in front of Dustin Pedroia, Youk and Drew gives that option to a guy who is 16 for 16 in steals so far in the majors. That would give them a power line-up and a second part that could manufacture runs in tight games when theyíre not hitting.

By the way, does being an expatriate mean you once liked the Patriots and now donít? And if so does it have anything to do with spygate accuser Matt Walsh, who also lives out there in paradise? And by the way, from the facts that are nice to know but you donít need to know file: the owner of Rickís Cafe, who I mentioned a few letters ago, was Rick Blaine. He was the last expatriate Iíd ever heard of before hearing from you.

Dear Dave: What to you think the Bruins have to do in this post-season to be relevant around here again? Harold Cinden, 1414 Mockingbird Lane, Fantasy Land, Florida.
Dear Harry: Iím writing this the morning of game seven, but I think they already did it. As ticked off as the Bruins fandom and given ownership the Big Chill over it Ė winning cures all. And while they may not have won, they showed grit coming back from down three to one. Win or lose, that is a really good thing to build on, assuming they donít throw up a stinker in game seven.

Dear Dave: You said you were almost giddy after waiting 20 years for the Celtics to enter the playoffs and finally seeing them have a shot to win it all, but you never said if you thought theyíd do it. So do you? Christopher Long, Huntington, Ave., Boston, Mass.
Dear Christopher: I like their chances better than those out west because itís a reverse of when Bird, Erving and Magic came walking through that door. In those days the Celtics, Ď76ers, Bucks, Pistons and Knicks for a short time would kick the crap out of each other in the early rounds, while the Lakers would tip-toe through soft competition out west. Being less beat-up when the finals arrived helped them get five titles to the three the Cs got. And that could be the case for whoever gets out of the East, which may be even be a little easier ? when the Pistons get knocked off by Philly ? who, you may remember, I said two weeks ago was the team in the east that scares me the most. Although LeBron James is pretty scary all by himself.

And by the way, are you the Chris Long who may be the number-one pick in the NFL draft on Saturday or the one who graduates from Northeastern with honors next weekend? Just wondering.

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.


4/17/2008 Show me the way to that All-Star Game

4/10/2008 For C'ing a great time ahead as playoffs arrive this spring
4/3/2008 Bill James and the stats for 2008 ó Take Two
3/27/2008 Drowning in the NCAA office pool
3/20/2008 Whether forecast is right or not is the question
3/13/2008 Comment sparks wonder over just what I did
3/6/2008 New hires, new trades in pro sports
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