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 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.