December 11, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: Random thoughts and associations
by Dave Long

My friend not so liberal Lou DeMato calls me a “drive-by” college football fan who’s only there for the big games, so I guess I should ask his permission to watch the Florida-Oklahoma title game.

I’ve got to say, the way the Bruins are playing the life sentence they earned from me for owner neglect may get them out on fan parole at least before OJ gets out of the slammer.

Even if Theo makes a big deal Vegas this week, here’s the deal I’m hoping he’ll make this winter. Why not be bold and try expanding any catcher of the future deal with poor-pitching Texas to include Michael Young? It will take a lot to get a guy who’s had 200 hits five times and won the gold glove last year (so did Kevin Garnett), but he’s 31 and makes $3 million less than Julio Lugo. I’m not sure what it would take, and I’d be reluctant to throw in Justin Masterson. But I’m guessing it would start with prospect Michael Bowdon, Jed Lowrie and another highly rated young pitcher — though not Clay Buchholz, despite his gruesome year — and maybe Manny Delcarmen for Young and one of their four catchers. The big problem is that the Rangers will want a majors-ready starter and the only way to pull that off would be a three-way deal with a prospect-thirsty team. Like San Diego and Jake Peavey maybe?

Buchholz, incidentally, illustrates what a tough job talent evaluators have. Here’s what one report might say: glowing reports in the minors at all levels, some early success and then real struggles in the majors. So is he going to grow into what Jon Lester did last year, or what Casey Fossum eventually became after leaving the team in the Curt Schilling deal? The Sox were right on both, but if Buchholz turns into Fossum, they could be kicking themselves a few years down the road for turning down some big deals where he was the deal-breaker.

Is it me, or does Mark Teixiera look just like John Elway?

Here are the numbers for Matt Cassel and Tom Brady after their first 13 games in charge. Brady — 17 TD passes, 12 interceptions, completed 64.2 percent of his passes, a QB rating of 86.5 and the team’s record was 10-3. For Cassel — a 64.0 percent completion rate, 14 TD passes, 10 interceptions, a QB rating of 85.0 and the team is 8-5. As for yards gained, it’s Cassel 3,052 to Brady’s 2,735.

What’s a three-letter word for the biggest joke in sports? Answer: BCS. And it’s never been more so than this season. I mean, how can you legitimately pick the number-one team in college football with a computer poll when they have six teams with just one loss and another two that are undefeated as there are this season?

Especially given the absurdity of the ratings, as evidenced by this very good question from Mark Kreigle on Fox Sports.com: “How is 11-1 Penn State — which beat Oregon State by 31 — ranked eight, while 10-1 USC — losers to the Beavers by six — at No. 5?”

J-O-K-E!

In the few times I’ve seen the Lakers center Andrew Bynum play — who missed last year’s playoffs — I have liked him a lot. But can anyone tell me just when he got elected to the Hall of Fame, as most of the national basketball writers seem to suggest when writing about the Lakers this year?

Those are the same writers, by the way, who picked Kobe and company to wipe out the Celtics last June.

Speaking of the Celtics, with Portland in town last Friday, it made me wonder what it would have been like if they’d gotten Greg Oden instead of the consolation prize that led them to the title 17 and may do it again this year.

And one back-in-the-day comment about the C’s: I’m starting to think this bunch could beat the 1986 team in a series to save the planet. The below-the-Tarrier Line group is considered by many to be the best Celtics team of them all and perhaps of any team as well. They would have a big size advantage inside with the original Big Three and Bill Walton coming off the bench and at guard as well. While Robert Parish has a big edge over Perk, KG could probably lessen the inside scoring edge Kevin McHale posed over everyone else. And by having to play Kevin Garnett, McHale couldn’t be switched to cover the top scoring option as they usually did in the day and Larry Bird would have had real trouble with Paul Pierce on D. Plus I’m not sure they had a guy who could negate Rajon Rondo’s quickness, and beyond Walton the current bench is better. Whether or not I’m right, it would be interesting to see.

I’m surprised the ND offense has had such trouble under Charlie Weis. Let’s see, he was good when he had Brady Quinn at QB and hasn’t been without him. Made his name with the Pats when he had Tom Brady at QB. Does this say more about the importance of a good QB or Weis? Either way, when do you think the folks at ND will get it right?

So Chip Kelly is the guy in waiting at Oregon — that’s a pretty fast rise from being the OC at UNH just two seasons ago. Not that I think they are wrong, just I’m amazed at how things can evolve.

Why do people still think Stephan Marbury is good? 

Is it me, or is Brian Scalabrine the most annoying Celtics three-point shooter since Antoine Walker? He rarely shoots anything besides a three and I don’t think he’s ever taken one without me being in the process of saying, “No, no, no!!!”

I just discovered this the other day: you want to know the most amazing thing about the year Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs? He got just 137 RBI — meaning he got only 64 when he didn’t knock himself in. If half his 73 had one guy on, it means he only got 37 RBI all year when he didn’t hit a homer.

By contrast in 1927 when the Babe hit 60, the guy batting behind him, Lou Gehrig, managed to drive in 171, despite that fact Ruth had cleared the bases a full 60 times before he came to the plate.

To those who wanted to burn Theo in effigy after he let Pedro walk after 2004: How’s he looking on that one now?

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.


12/4/2008 Pats should consider options when it comes to Cassel and Brady

11/27/2008 Putting the thanks in Thanksgiving
11/20/2008 News of the week has people talking
11/13/2008 Cassel's in the clouds compared to early expectations11/6/2008 Mail bag delivers some interesting questiont10/30/2008"Yankees Suck" - like mentality fuels political discontent10/23/2008 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