LONGSHOTS: Predictions and Wants for the new year ahead
by Dave Long
With the new year looming on the horizon, here’s a mix of things I’d like to see happen as the year plays out and some predictions about whether they will happen or not.
Want: Coach B to understand that there is a distinction between playing it close to the vest about injuries during the season to keep the other guys guessing and letting the public know about Tom Brady’s health at this point because Patriot Nation wants to know that he’s OK — just for his sake.
Prediction: He won’t.
Want: For him to look at all options in the Matt Cassel-Brady situation going forward. While reports of Brady’s health have put him in question for the start of next year, which diminishes his trade value, they should still explore all options. That’s because after his year-long audition, I’m convinced they can win a Super Bowl with Cassel. So it’s incumbent to the best interest of the team to learn who brings back the best return in a trade, who reduces the salary cap burden in the long haul, who they can count on for the longest period of time and how all that translates to staying in contention for years to come.
Prediction: Cassell will quarterback more games for New England from this point on than Brady does.
Want: To see Saint Anselm, SNHU or both in the men’s NCAA basketball playoffs. It’s been a few years since that’s happened and given the history of the two that seems like a lifetime in these parts. Prediction: I think Saint Anselm at least makes it.
Want: For someone besides me to figure out that emperor of the stat geek fantasy baseball crowd Bill James has no clothes. I mean, I’ve got nothing against him personally and find his writing to be interesting. But, while I never thought his stuff had much real value, seeing him use stats to “prove” Jim Rice is below Roy White on the all-time left fielder list confirms his crackpot status as far as I’m concerned. Hey, I love Roy White, but are you nuts Bill?
Prediction: He’ll still be looked on as a god by civilians who think they know a lot more about what makes a good baseball player than they actually do and by GMs who, not so coincidentally, keep overpaying for free agent talent.
Want: Actually I don’t care if the fantasy crowd knows it or not. I just want Theo, after using some of James’ thinking in signing Matt Clement, David Wells, JD Drew and Julio Lugo to big free agent deals, to finally understand James is a crackpot. Because the eyes of a scout and word from the manager he plays for go a lot farther than coming up with stats to justify how good a stat geek says a guy is. As Dustin Pedroia shows, numbers and physical size don’t tell you a thing about heart.
Prediction: This is my lock of the year. Theo is smart enough to learn from his mistakes.
Want: Even in wake of the Yankees’ spending spree, I still don’t want baseball to institute a salary cap the next time it can. Yes the Yankees have a big advantage over everyone. But they haven’t won a thing lately and I like the huge financial edge the Red Sox have over almost everyone else as well.
Prediction: As for the Yanks’ new haul, Tex goes 30, 100, .300, Sabathia wins 19, while AJ Burnett is on the DL before July and chokes in September as the Yanks finish out of the money again.
Want: After his despicable exit, Manny gets penalized by the baseball gods despite his sensational play in L.A. and doesn’t get anywhere close to want he wants, which at that time was in the neighborhood of $100 million over four years
Prediction: It happens, especially if the Dodgers take their original $45 million for two years off the table and play hard ball instead. Alas, even if they do, he’ll still be doing a lot better than me.
Want: I’d like to see Brett Favre do what he wants to do and not what the clamoring public says he should do. Because even if a great player is not what he once was, the legacy of his career is up to him, not up to what others think it should be.
Prediction: We’ve seen the last of Brett. The resignation in his voice at Sunday’s post-ame press conference made it seem final to me.
Want: I’d like to see the L.A. Kings hire Scottie Bowman to run the organization so they’ll get the talent to dominate in the minors.
Prediction: Can’t see Scottie in la-la land, or the Kings shelling out the bucks to get him.
Want: While I know they have had the best start in NBA history, I want Pierce to stop deferring to everyone else (or is it conserving energy?) and start being aggressive offensively. He, not Ray Allen shooting three’s, or Rajon Rondo’s penetration, is the straw that stirs the drink in half court and his passive early play is a big reason why they lost in L.A. on Christmas Day.
Prediction: He does after dreaming he got a message from Red that said “Earth to Paul Pierce: start taking it to the basket or else!”
Want: UNH to finally make it past Northern Iowa.
Prediction: They do, as I’m seeing in my crystal ball the football team winning a national title before the hockey team does.
Want: Plan B for the Red Sox in losing out on Teixeira to focus on getting the relentless one-through-nine line-up they had in 2004, with the number one option being making a run at bringing Hanley Ramirez back to play shortstop and bat lead-off. Michael Young of Texas is plan B in plan B.
Prediction: They won’t get Ramirez even if the Marlins are willing because Theo won’t part with the young players Florida would want back. They should; Clay Buchholz as a center piece is worth it, because Hanley’s really good, by Mark Teixeira standards — cheap, and with him leading off followed by Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz, Youk, Drew, Bay, Lowell and whoever, the line-up is better than the Yanks’ — even with Teixeira.
Want: Drama and good story lines in the Class L basketball playoffs. On the boys’ side that would mean at a Memorial-Trinity match-up Dave Keefe and Mike Fitzpatrick where teammates when Central won a Class L title sometime last century would meet. And I’d like to see Fitzy face Central — who he won a couple of titles with — as well.
Prediction: It happens, because the hoops gods will smile on me and I’m all about the drama.
Want: For all to have a happy New Year everyone.
Prediction: You will.
Dave Long can be reached at email@example.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.