January 15, 2009


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LONGSHOTS: Spring cleaning of the sports mind a little early
by Dave Long

Time to clear out the attic of sports things that are rambling around collecting dust.

Is it me or did Jeff Jagodzinski let more folks down besides the players when he elected to walk out on the football program by interviewing for the Jets head coaching job against the wishes of the BC brass? What about his coaches, like local lad Ryan Day, who could’ve been left out in the cold with a young family in tow? Seems to me he’s got a responsibility to them as well as the players, especially since he did it relatively late in the job search process. 

Somebody sent me these jokes, which I’ll send out for my friend the Labor Commissioner George Copadis, who is the biggest Dallas Cowboy fan north of, well, Dallas. What do the Dallas Cowboys and a possum have in common? They both play dead at home and get killed on the road. What do you call 47 millionaires around a TV watching the Super Bowl? The Dallas Cowboys.

I love John Smoltz. Smart, tough and clutch. But he’s 41 and coming off an injury. And with Brad Penny coming off an injury- filled year and Tim Wakefield having gone to high school with Smoky Joe Wood, there are too many old bucks on the staff. Throw in Rocco Baldelli and Josh Bard and there are too many injury and health risks with the recent signings for my liking.

Thumbs up to news that Ken Burns is working on a new inning for his epic Baseball series that first ran on PBS in (yikes, say it ain’t so) in 1994. The 10th inning will air in spring of 2010 along with a re-run of the first nine innings and will cover what’s happened in baseball since the original series aired.

Can’t wait to see the steroids part of the story.

Mike Shanahan is the Tony LaRussa of football — over-rated and living on the two Super Bowls won last century as he’s an ohfer since John Elway left the building. 

Danny please, I’m begging you don’t sign Stephan Marbury. I know KG told the New York media he’s fine with Steph, but I want to hear what he says behind closed doors on that one. Spend what limited amount of the salary cap exemption you have on the big you really need to provide behind KG and Perk.

Here’s the only bigs out there the C’s have cap space to get: Joe Smith, Yoakim Noah and Jeff Foster of Indiana. Foster is the best but very unlikely, Smith would cost a first pick I think (do it) and Noah is doubtful unless the Bulls are so disappointed they’re willing to cut their losses. Noah intrigues me the most because his odd game — block shots, run the floor, put backs — game, makes him one of those guys who are much better as a cog on a good team than as a 35-minute guy on a group like Chicago. A first pick, Big Baby and what?

The series between Saint A and SNHU in basketball ain’t what it used to be.

Saw my first full Millrats game on Sunday and I’ll admit I was surprised at the talent level. There were two blocks and two dunks in traffic in that one that the SNHU field house has never seen the likes of.

For those of us who played with him and against him, the news of the death of former NHC star Keith Elwood following a heart attack after playing hoops in New Jersey just before Christmas was a jolt. He scored a hair under 2,000 points in the pre-three- point shot days. He was a really good player, a great guy and will be missed.

In case you’re interested, I picked the Ravens to win the Super Bowl. And for me that’s saying a lot, because I have a hard time rooting for or picking a team with uniforms I absolutely hate. But I love their defense, and as they say in the movies, love conquers all.

Think the Patriots can get two first-round picks for Matt Cassel? Probably not, but where would the Vikings be right now if they had a quarterback who could play? Probably still playing. If they use their top pick to get a QB this year, most likely they wait two years before he’s ready. So is the other first worth getting there two years faster while the talent is ready to contend? To me it is.

If you’re still skeptical, look how the picture changed in Miami after they got Chad Pennington.

And speaking of Miami, if we go below the Tarrier line to 1970 when the Dolphins surrendered their first pick for a new coach, there was a loud cry of “you can’t do that because first picks are too valuable.” With the aid of 20-20 hindsight, who came out on top when Miami got Don Shula in return for a third-down back named Don McCauley who the Colts took? Four trips to the Super Bowl, two titles and the only undefeated season says Miami. 

Here’s why Oklahoma has lost three out of four times in the BCS title game. While it is hard to get to their four times in nine years as Bob Stoops has done, I’ll bet if there was a playoff system Oklahoma rarely gets out of the first round. The system encourages bullies to run it up whenever they can in the regular season and like most bullies, when Oklahoma comes up against someone their own size they get their lunch handed to them, like vs. Florida in losing their fifth straight BCS bowl game.

Hey, Bob Ryan, talk all you want about strength of schedule, but how many times have you actually seen Utah play? They’re 13-0 and spanked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, who was undefeated until December while playing in the SEC and ranked number one for five weeks. And even if they were laying down, you can’t blame Utah for that. So here’s my question: if there’s no college basketball tournament back in the day and Lew Alcindor’s dominant UCLA teams were in the WAC instead of the PAC 8, would you have said they didn’t deserve to be voted number one? How about when Indiana State sat atop the polls mainly because of you know who and didn’t play anyone? They lost that number-one ranking only when Michigan State beat them in the final. Until somebody beats Utah, I say they’re in the argument even if I think Florida would beat them head to head.

Finally, admit it: after what happened in last year’s Super Bowl, you liked seeing the Giants go out early in the tawnament when they lost to Philly Sunday. Especially since many in the New York media had them winning two in a row!

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.

1/8/2009 Will hall have Rice on the menu come July

1/1/2009 Predictions and wants for the year ahead
12/25/2008 A look in the rear view mirror at 2008
12/18/2008 The Pats' playoff run and new Yankees contracts make big news
12/11/2008 Random thoughts and associations
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