June 12, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: A Father’s Day letter to Dad
by Dave Long

Dear Dad,

With Father’s Day on Sunday I’ve been thinking about you a lot this week. This will be the 10th Father’s Day since you left us. And since I’m not quite sure what it’s like up there, I thought I’d write you a letter to fill you in on what’s been going on down here since you left.

You know that young defensive coordinator you were always bragging about with the Giants during the Bill Parcells years? He got another chance with the Patriots after getting the shaft in Cleveland. And he’s turned them into what the ’49ers were under Bill Walsh. They’ve won three Super Bowls in eight seasons — which many here say is a dynasty — but you know better. Impressive, but still a few titles and years away from the D word.

You’d like them, although, since you were a Don Shula guy, I’m curious what you’d have thought about their run at an undefeated season this fall. Many of his Dolphins were yakking as the wins piled up. They passed Miami’s 17 in the AFC title game. And guess who was waiting at the Super Bowls. Your Giants — who came back from the dead to get there.

The Pats beat them in a spectacular game the final week of the season when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw his 51st TD pass. That’s 15 more than our beloved Y.A. Tittle threw the first year we watched football together — when the Giants lost to Da Bears in the 1963 title game. Bitter cold day — remember? Y.A. is now 81 — how can that be? You’d have loved the big game. The Giants defense played great and the O scored with less than a minute left to win, thanks to an UNBELIEVABLE catch on the drive by some guy named David Tyre, who trapped the ball against his helmet while being tackled.

It looked cool on flat-screen TV, which weren’t invented when you left. Since your career started when radio was the miracle medium, then black and white TV and then, oh my gosh, color TV, you’d be pretty impressed. They’re so precise that when your guy John Madden does one of those “look at that guy, over there in the eighth row” deals, you can see the hair falling out of his bald spot.

Technology overall is amazing. They’ve got this thing called the Internet now that has put the big daily newspapers on the endangered species list. It’s like a library at your fingertips that lets you find almost anything instantly. Like the other day when I was messing around and stumbled on the box scores from the first game you ever took me to.

Remember that day? The vivid colors just burst into my eyes leaving the tunnel to see the field where you actually saw the Babe play when you were the same age as I was that day. It was like when Dorothy opened the cabin door to get her first look at the land of Oz. If I never told you, that was one of the greatest days of a wonderful childhood. So, thanks.

It was Aug. 29, 1962. The Yanks lost 3-2 to Cleveland. It all came back as I read the box score. It was the year my guy the Mick won his final MVP. He made a nice shoestring catch and had two hits. Roger Maris hit his 30th homer, a far cry from the 61 he’d hit a year earlier. And there was Yogi getting a pinch hit on a ball that bounced five feet in front of the plate that he stroked to right after the hop.

The Cleveland star was Tito Francona. He was three for four and scored twice. He’s the father of Terry Francona, who now manages the Red Sox. Tito also made his 20th error that day. An unbelievable number for a first baseman, especially in light of the fact Boston’s current first baseman went all last year and this one without making even one. You’d like Kevin Youkilis, dad. He’s tough; he plays hard, hurt and anywhere when needed.

He just got smacked by his own teammate in the dugout over some internal stuff. The smacker was Manny Ramirez, who may be as good as your guy Jimmy Foxx. He just hit his 500th homer and has an outside shot at finishing third all time in RBI and he’ll beat double X in both categories. Calling it RBI is not a mistake. A while back an English teacher somewhere declared “RBI’s” grammatically incorrect and everyone bought it. So now it’s RBI, not RBI’s. I know — yuck!

You’re not going to believe it, but the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004 and again last year. And the result is that you won’t recognize the place. No more doom and gloom and no more out on the ledge after they lose two in a row. And most amazing, they came back from down 3-0 to beat the Yankees in the ALCS to get to the series. It really ticked George off.

Speaking of George, he’s retired now. A son no one ever heard of named Hank is in charge. He talks as much as George, so I’m sure you’d still be yelling at the TV anytime the owner appears. The best thing the Yanks did since you’ve been gone was help the city deal with the 9-11 attack. It happened Sept. 11, 2001, when Arab terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center buildings. They burned and eventually crashed to the ground. Phil Hayes’ father was one of nearly 3,000 people who died. I know — if it had happened before you retired, you’d have been right down the street. It was a sucker punch that stunned the city. Its recovery was aided by having the series played in the Bronx a month later. Especially when two of the games were won with Yankees walk-off homers.

And finally, something from your favorite sport. That kid Tiger Woods you heard about since he was 10? He’s the real deal. Already won 13 majors. I know you can’t believe it, but he’s as good as the Bear. Maybe better.

Well, that’s about it from here. You have a good day. Tell mom, grandma, grandpa, Mick and the Babe I said hi. And it wouldn’t hurt to put in a good word for me with the big fella too.

I miss you.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. 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.


6/5/2008 Twenty-one and six are the lucky numbers for the Cs

5/29/2008 Sometimes a bat is just a bat
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