November 6, 2008

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LONGSHOTS:Mail bag delivers some interesting questions
by Dave Long

With the election behind us it’s time to go back to some straight sports topics, and what better way is there than to wade into the mail bag for some topical stories to talk about?

Dear Dave: What was the most striking thing to you about the Patriots’ loss to the Colts last Sunday night? Pak Mentalatee, 13 Second Guessers Lane, Media, Mass.

Dear Pak: Man — it would be that Adam Vinatieri, who was allowed to walk as much for concerns over leg strength as he was for money, beat them with a 52-yard field goal. That’s his longest since 2002, when he was doing it for the Patriots instead of to them. Did anyone doubt Mr. Clutch was going to nail that one? I’d have bet on him if it were 60.

Dear Dave: If Matt Cassel improves in the way Tom Brady did in his first year and pulls off what TB did in 2001, what will happen with the Patriots quarterback situation? Barnard Costar, 42 Miami Dade Drive, Cleveland, Ohio.

Dear Bar: You might be getting ahead of yourself, as the improving Cassell has a long way to go, but that still is an interesting question. First, because while it’s hard to fathom Brady could be disposed under any circumstance, it’s noteworthy to point out Bill Belichick has twice replaced franchise QB. And in Cleveland he did it to Bernie Kosar, a hometown boy as popular there as TB is here. And it hit the fan there after that to the point where they still hate Belichick. The obvious difference is that Kosar’s arm was gone and he had no choice here, because Drew Bledsoe was hurt and when he came back the team was clearly playing better than it had in the three previous years with Drew.

But there are a couple of other factors. If the Patriots managed to win it again this year with Cassel at the helm, while giving hints he’ll be even better the next year, it would put the team in a bit of a box. He’s a free agent next year. Thus they can’t park him behind Brady as insurance, because he will be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with a market for him in places like Chicago, Miami, Minnesota and Detroit, to name four. Then throw in the huge cap hit Brady’s contract causes next year and do you think the brass of a team in need of some new young blood on defense would contemplate what they could get with both all the cap space and back for Brady in a trade? If Herschel Walker could bring enough in a deal to put Dallas on the way to winning three times in four years in the 1990s, you know Brady would bring back more. I can’t imagine they’d have the guts to do it, but if it all fell into place as you said, I’d lay money it would cross their mind.

Dear Dave: You said right after he was traded there’s no way Manny would get the money he and Scott Boras were aiming at. Well, after what he did in L.A., are you ready to admit you were wrong? Jon Knee, Daymon Drive #14, East Bronx, N.Y.

Dear Jon Knee: I still don’t think he’ll get the $100 million deal they’re shooting for, but he’ll do better than I thought. I thought he’d be better out there, as he always has come out smoking after every other “Manny being Manny” episode, but this time he was off the charts. My prediction for him in my 2008 Baseball Guide was pretty close in homers and RBI, though I missed in batting average after he went nuts in L.A. Given the decline the previous two seasons, the up and down periods here in ’08, coupled with what every other slugger in history besides Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds has done after 36, I figured a three-year deal at $15 million per would be tops. But after the two months in L.A., I think someone might step to the plate with more, and it’ll probably the Yanks. It gives them a clean-up hitter who actually produces when it counts, to pair with A-Rod, who doesn’t, and it’s a nice jab by Hank to stoke the rivalry. 

Dear Dave: What’s your prediction for what will happen with Jason Varitek? S. Cot Boreus, 37 Dirty Pool Lane, Unethical, Calif. 

Dear S. Cot: If it were me, I’d only sign the captain if he dumped his slimy agent after what he did in the Manny case. But I think Theo and John Henry are a little more granola-eating, crunchier, non-grudge-holding than I am. So I think they’ll offer two years — and don’t go “market value” cheap on him either. That means similar money to his current $10 million per year with the proviso that he might be pinch hit for more next year if ’08 wasn’t an aberration and that he shares the job with a 65-35% split in playing time while grooming the new guy to get more than half the playing time in ’10. Whether he’ll do that or not remains to be seen.

Dear Dave: You mentioned a while back the only way to get Mark Teixeira was to move Youk to third and trade Mike Lowell. Would they do that? Bill Wright, 13 Wideacher Place, Out There, N.M. 

Dear Bill: I want to amend my statement. I want all three, as I love Youk’s versatility and the grit of Lowell and after watching Tex in the playoffs I think he’s the best guy out there to be the booper they need to replace Manny. That’s if they don’t try to re-sign Manny himself. That means Youkilis goes to left field, which most will say he can’t do. I ask why not? He’s a battler who played the entire season without an error after moving from first to third. And he moved back to third just as easily this year. While I wouldn’t put him in right field, playing left in Fenway is simple because it if goes over your head it’s coming back to you. Plus, while I have always said Manny was better than most gave him credit for (which was a chorus of one I might add), he played there for eight years without reminding anyone of Roberto Clemente. Manny probably has a quicker release and is more accurate, but Youk runs better, hustles a lot more and clearly has better defensive instincts. If it doesn’t work out, they can trade Lowell after 2009 and bring him back to third. But if Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey and Greg Luzinski could play left in much bigger places, I think Youkilis can. And if it works, the moderately priced Jason Bay is a nice chip in the search for a shortstop, middle relief or a fourth starter.

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.


10/30/2008"Yankees Suck" - like mentality fuels political discontent

10/23/2008 No ray of hope as season closes in Tampa Bay
10/16/2008 Going to the nines a thing of the past
10/9/2008 C-eeing some interesting stories unfold this week
10/2/2008 "How come?" is the main question of the day
9/25/2008 Observations on baseball in 2008
9/18/2008 If I were a QB, a DB, a stat geek or a soccer mom ...
9/11/2008 After disaster Brady's bunch won't pass on season
9/4/2008 Pats start off with high expectation and some concerns
8/28/2008 A race to the finish to take all month long
8/21/2008 National news items of interest for local folks
8/14/2008 A little of this and that from the good side of sports pile
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