August 14, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: A little of this and that from the good side of the sports pile
by Dave Long

With so much unpleasantness going on, like money, Mannygate, steroids, agents and drugs in the Olympics, one can get a bit caught up in the down side of sports. So today, I’m just going to look at some of the good and interesting stuff that is in front of us this week.

Of course, with all due respect to the great run by the Manchester Wolves, news that the Celtics and Yao Ming will be at the V in October and seeing Chris Carpenter back on the mound (at least until he got hurt on Sunday), the number-one happy story was the run of Manchester North that is all over this space this week.

Now I am on the record as wondering if ESPN (and now NESN) should be putting Little League games on TV and not just for the exploitation factor. But, while a bit on the weird side, how much fun was it watching Manchester North playing on TV? So after seeing them play like the champs they are, I’m going to do a flip-flop on this one that is worthy of a presidential candidate. I’ve now got no problem with anything but the financial exploitation.

I say weird, because I’ve known a few of those kids since they were toddlers and hearing Lou Merloni on NESN talk about them like they were major leaguers, while cool, seemed a little odd.

Best Hit: From the “How Did He Do That?” department was the homer by Tres (bumble) Beeson in the New Hampshire State Tournament that those who were there said went an astonishing 350 feet. From the standpoint of timing, it had to be Nick (of time) Levesque winning the Bernie Carbo Pinch Hit of the Week Award with his two-run shot on Wednesday. It took New Hampshire from down 3-2 to ahead at 4-3 in the fourth in an eventual 7-4 win over Rhode Island that sent them to the semi-finals.

Best Stat of the Tournament: Thanks in part to that hit by Levesque we got to see Collin Duffley strike out the last 14 batters he faced in the 5-2 win over Massachusetts that sent them to the finals.

Best Myth-Debunking Player: That was Carmen Giampetruzzi, who took a heartbreaking loss in the final, after seeing the lefty’s name in the box score playing second, third and short when he wasn’t pitching. Maybe it’ll start a trend for left-handers who’ve been discriminated out of playing those infield positions because someone a long time ago said they can’t play there because they were lefty and their throw might take a little longer.

Anyone know what the local connection is between the Olympic Games underway in China and the North Little League team? It’s that race walker supreme Joanne Dow (and my pick at Beijing) is the aunt of the aforementioned strikeout artist Colin Duffley.

There were a few other enjoyable things that went on while we were being taken by storm:

That was nice pub Oregon Offensive Coordinator Chip Kelly got this month in ESPN The Magazine. The former Central QB was rated numero uno in Bruce Feldman’s List of Top Ten best-kept secrets in college football. To me that means once he’s not as big a secret even bigger dough might lay ahead. Thanks to brother Keith for the heads-up, as I probably would have missed it too.

I heard on the radio this week that the Beatles were turned down by EVERY single record company in England before showing up on the doorstep of “fifth” Beatle George Martin for their last chance. Even though he wasn’t all that impressed, Martin agreed to work with them and the rest is history. It kind of reminds me that most in the world don’t have the guts or the vision to try something beyond the accepted norm. And the story winds up on the sports page because it made me think of Dustin Pedroia, whose turning out to be something despite a diminutive size that turned most of the so-called experts off because he didn’t look like a player. There’s a lesson in both stories to all the non-risk-takers out there.

Now that he’s back in the saddle as Memorial’s head man, what’s the over-under in terms of years that the Crusaders will get the to Class L Basketball final under Mike Fitzpatrick?

Not sure what’s harder to believe for my producer Sean Sendal on (plug, plug) WGAM — that the great Babe Ruth died 60 years ago this week or that I wasn’t alive when it happened.

The most amazing thing about Ruth to me is that despite dying those 60 years ago and having not played since 1935, he’s still in everyday conversation about baseball. That’s why when you talk about the athlete with the greatest impact of them all, you can’t say it’s Michael Jordan until he’s been dead for 60 years and he’s still in current NBA discussions — which I do not believe will happen.

One more thing about the Babe. I’ll ask my friend and Bedford Little League coach Darrell (rio) Grande this: if he wouldn’t be able to even make the majors, as you are on record saying, because he’s too fat, how did he waddle around the bases to get the 16 triples and 17 stolen bases he had in 1921 to go along with the 44 doubles, 59 homers and the 171 runs he knocked in while hitting .371? Or for that matter, go 2-0 when he didn’t give up any earned runs in nine innings of work as well?

Best baseball player of them all — period.

When Yao Ming comes to the Verzion Wireless Arena in October, they should have Manute Bol on hand to stand back to back with the big fellow. Those of us who were there when Manute played at the SNHU Fieldhouse in early 1980s want to know for sure which will actually be the tallest person to ever play hoop in the Queen City.

And finally one more thing about Manchester North. If the glass is half full, you can say “what if” all day long. But if you look at the big picture, you’ll see what a great experience their run in the Little League All-Star play was. Even with the disappointing ending that left them one run and an inning away from going to the World Series in Williamsport, Penn., it will prove to be one of the most memorable experiences of their life. And I’m not just talking about their athletic life.

Well done, fellows — your effort made the region very proud.

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.


8/7/2008 Manny happy returns from the Evil Empire

7/31/2008 Manny being Manny - the sequel Part XXXII
7/24/2008 Open the mail bag for some Red Sox questions
7/17/2008 Hall-worthy or not the latest question on Schilling
7/10/2008 Baseball season has actually started
7/03/2008 UL editorial in denial — stop the presses
6/26/2008 Boston turnaround makes NBA green with envy
6/19/2008 Letters from the NBA finals
6/12/2008 A Father's Day letter to dad
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