May 29, 2008


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LONGSHOTS: Sometimes a bat is just a bat
by Dave Long

I had this dream the other day. I was on the couch in Sigmund Freud’s office in Vienna. There was a mirror over the couch, but the face smiling back wasn’t mine, but a dead ringer for Woody Allen and my voice sounded like Archie Bunker. I was wearing a Patriots throwback jersey, a Yankee hat, high black cons from the Bob Cousy era and the name on the back of the jersey was P. Tarrier with the number 1993.

It’s one of those dreams that was hazy, but it was clear the eminent doctor was evaluating me with a lot of, “Vhat do you tink dat means?” questions. And then he added, “You are obviously conflicted, and 1993 seems to be da point vhere all da trouble is, because you keep going above and below it like the yo-yo you are. I mean like a yo-yo. So vhat does 1993 mean to you?”

Of course it’s a year, known in this space as the Tarrier Line, the point where the intellectually un-curious begin to lose interest in any conversation. I think the dream was triggered by a conversation I had with Sean Sendal, the new producer on my radio show, last Saturday. It was about the Celtics’ road woes and all the hand-wringing over the Cs giving up home court advantage with a loss to the Pistons in Boston two days earlier.

Hand-wringing makes me crazy, so I dipped below the Tarrier line for an example to show a much more dire circumstance faced by the ancestors of the current Celtics. It was from 1984 when the Lakers immediately stole home court with a 115-109 win in Game One. They then had Game Two in the bag for 47 minutes and 42 seconds until Gerald Henderson made a play every bit as good and important as more hallowed efforts by Larry Bird and John Havlicek by stealing a James Worthy pass and scored to send it to OT, where the Celtics won. L.A. blew them out in Game Three and was doing it again until Kevin McHale’s famous take-down of Kurt Rambis turned the tides and helped them steal another game they had no business winning. Memorable wins at the Garden in Games Five and Seven followed, giving them title number 15, when they really should have been swept in four.

When I finished, he was giving me a blank look that told me, while it seems like yesterday to me, he wasn’t born when the series took place. But, unlike many before him when I get going like that, he actually seemed interested in a story from below the Tarrier Line. I took that as a victory — apparently all the way to the dream later that night.

“Vell, we have to get to da bottom of this, so we’ll do a vord association game. You tell me the first thing dat enters your mind when I say a name. That should tell us if you just live in da past, or if it’s something else — OK?” Fine with me, I said.

“Kevin Garnett.” “Dave Cowens”, I replied. “No, Bill Russell. No, Cowens. No, Russell. No, it’s definitely Cowens. “That’s an odd start,” Siggy said. “Vhy do you go back and forth like dat?” “Well, he plays hard like the great Cowens, who was the first big guy I ever saw run the floor. KG’s a better passer, though not quite the rebounder. But he’s more athletic. Like Russell, who was agile and quick, plus the force of his personality changed things, as number six’s did as well.”

“OK, then — Dave Cowens,” came Sig’s next volley. I said “What the heck is doing on the other bench anyway?!!!” “Vhat does that mean?” he came back. Cowens is an assistant on the DETROIT bench in this series — seeing him there doesn’t look natural, does it?

“Doc Rivers.” “Terry Francona. No, KC Jones. No, Tito. No, KC.” “What do those fellows have in common?” he asked. Well, say what you want about the rotating rotation and some of the strategy, but I’d absolutely want to play for Doc. Just like I’d want to play for Tito. As for KC, since I was there for the glowing things Kevin McHale said about him the day he went into the Hall of Fame, the three are similar.

“Ahhhh — den, Kevin McHale.” “A ring,” I said. “Vhat???” Well, if the Celtics win it all to get one, they should give him one ’cause the Garnett trade is what got him there. Just like the swindle that brought him and Robert Parish to the team in 1980 was the trigger for the three titles won in the Bird era. Big trades have always played a role for the Celtics. Russell’s draft rights came in a trade too.

“Danny Ainge.” “Chauncey Billups. No, Joe Johnson. Chauncey. No, Joe, naw, it’s Chauncey.” “How’d you come up wit dat one?” he asked. Because Danny had the patience the guys who drafted Joe and Chauncey didn’t. Maybe he learned it takes a while from his own experience as a player, as he didn’t become the significant player as quickly as most thought he would. And, unlike Chris Wallace, who let Johnson go for a rental player, he also knew who to keep and who to let go — like Rajon Rondo, who Danny refused to give up in the Garnett deal and he’s now their third-best player.

“Rajon Rondo.” “Tiny Archibald.” “Because he’s the point guard?” Siggy shot back, showing his growing appreciation for hoops. No, I said. Because when the Celtics won in 1981 they backed off Tiny and dared him to shoot like Rondo now. Why they’d do that to a guy who once won the scoring and assist title in the same year eluded me, but they did. But he shot it with no hesitation. And that’s what Rajon should be doing when it’s done now. Hit or miss. No hesitation.

“Alright,” an exasperated Siggy says, “how about Cavs forward Anderson Varejao?” “Archie Bunker.” “VHAT?????!!!x$%!!! Vhy?” Because with that hairdo, the first thing Archie would say, after calling him a pinko, is “Get a haircut.”

“OK, that’s enough. Here’s my diagnosis. You have an infatuation with history bordering on the obsessive. But you don’t live in the past. You seem to just have fun with it and use it to show that not much these days is all that new. And that when the hand-wringing starts, there are plenty of examples to show that things are not quite as dour as they may seem. And those are actually helpful lessons to know.” Then I stood up and shouted, “THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL EVERYONE!” And then I woke up.

Weird dream, ain’t it? Wonder what we can all learn from it?

Dave Long can be reached at He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.

5/22/2008 Some questions for folks right up there in the front row

5/15/2008 Numbers don't add up to supposed Fenway
5/8/2008 Cavalier attitude nearly derails first meeting with LeBron
5/1/2008 I'm so old,I remember ...
4/24/2008 Sox Line-ups, Celtics and ESPN investigations are in the mail bag
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 — 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 — 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 — 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 M’s 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
Hero’s 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