March 19, 2009

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LONGSHOTS: B-Ball, Coach B and Baseball in the mailbag today
by Dave Long

Time to go to the mail bag to see what inquiring minds want to talk about.

Dear Dave: You used the word “panicked” and asked if we should still trust Bill Belichick recently. I have two questions: what more do you want from him and have you completely lost your mind? John Jay, Cutler Avenue, McDaniel, Colo.

Dear John: “Panicked” probably was not the most accurate word. I think maybe he had a plan in mind to take what he could get by a certain date instead of being a riverboat gambler waiting it out, to avoid hampering his efforts in free agency. But given the real need for QBs on up to seven teams, especially with Scot Pioli and Josh McDaniel in position to bring Matt Cassel in, I’d have preferred him to hang in longer like the gambler would have. But as I told my class the other day at (plug, plug) NHTI, he’s got three Super Bowl rings and I’ve got none — so who are you going to listen to.

Dear Dave: Who do you like in the NCAA Tournament? Sean Sendal, 185 Second Guess Terrace, Nashua, N.H.

Dear Sean: Since I’ve watched the least college basketball this winter since I was about seven, I’ve probably got my best shot ever at winning my brackets. And since the reason I watched so little is because I use my b-time on the Cs, I’m taking Rick Pitino and Louisville so he gets a little redemption for slinking out of town as he did to conclude his train-wrecked Celtics career.

Dear Dave: Who do you think will be the best pitcher in baseball for 2009? Dick Lombardi, 2007 Giants Lane, State Farm, N.H.

Dear Dick: You know a lot of people are saying Tim Lineceum will follow up his Cy Young with another in 2009, but not me. While he’s real good, I can make a pretty good Cy Young case for CC Sabathia for what he did in Milwaukee after coming over from Cleveland. But Lineceum had the overall numbers and won — which doesn’t answer your question. So I’ll say it’ll either be CC in New York, who’ll rise to that challenge, or be a total homer with Jon Lester, who’ll take another step up. 

Dear Dave: Did you see Nick Cafardo said in the Globe the other day that A-Rod was arguably the best player in the game? Do you agree? Mr. Annabal Stiroyd, 2003 Marionjones Lane, Afraud, Texas.

Dear Annabal:  Not a real new comment, but in the article you cite I believe he was quoting a scout or GM from another organization. You can talk all you want about his impressive numbers, but according to my definition you can’t call someone “the best” until they put up those numbers when it matters most. That’s why I’d take Manny in a heartbeat over him as he rises to the moment while A-Rod to this point has shrunk from it. While his postseason homers and average (7 and .276) are better than most think, his 17 RBI in 147 at bats is a 60 pace over a full season, which is pathetic. When I think of greatness I see an image of somebody doing it when it really counts, like Tiger’s ball sitting on the lip of the cup and dropping in on an impossible final-day shot at the Masters, the Derek Jeter backhand flip to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate, Carlton Fisk waving the ball fair, Michael Jordan hanging in the air until Craig Ehlo came back to earth after having guessed right to smother him, then making the game- winning shot, Junior Griffey rounding third on his way to the plate from first base on a single to beat the Yanks in the ’95 playoffs on the greatest base-running play I’ve ever seen. Give me one of those on A-Rod and maybe I’ll put him in that class. Until then he’s like a QB with a lot of TD passes who gets happy feet with the game on the line and there’s no way you can call a guy like that the best. And, oh yeah, from 2001 to 2003 (at least) he got those fancy numbers and an MVP by cheating.

Dear Dave: What do you think of Eric Young’s comment on ESPN that Jonathan Papelbon broke the clubhouse code by criticizing Manny in Esquire? Mr. John Nash, 1313 Codebreaker St., Princeton, N.J.

Dear John: Hope this doesn’t break you heart, but give me a break. While Manny was central to winning in 2004 and 2007, his final act was walking out on his teammates and that’s the biggest clubhouse code-breaker of them all. I think Pap’s comments set the tone for what’s expected of a teammate in the locker room going forward — which, given all the young players coming through the system, is a good thing. That’s something a leader does. 

Dear Dave: I heard you say on your radio show you think Manny Ramirez is a better player than Ted Williams was. Were you just trying to amp up the callers or are you just nuts? Ralph “Red” Socks, 9 Nation Boulevard, Splendid Splinter, Fla.

Dear Ralph: As Inspector Renault said in Casablanca, I’m shocked, SHOCKED you would think I’d hype a position to get the callers agitated. Besides, I’m the only one dumb enough to fall for that (see my stance on ESPN’s Mt. Rushmore of Sports). As for being nuts — maybe. I know I’m being a heretic saying anything but “Ted is the greatest Red Sox ever.” Regarding his place in team history, having played his entire career here it’s hard to argue with that. But during Manny’s eight years here and over his entire career it’s a lot closer than you think. Yes Ted missed five years due to two wars or his numbers would have been better, but as it stands now, Manny’s played one fewer season than the 17 full years Williams did and he’s already got him in homers, and he’ll pass him in RBI and doubles this year, and in hits in 2010. While Williams has him in average (.344 to .315), triples (72-18), by a wide margin in runs and astonishingly by over 800 walks, Manny’s got five 40-home-run seasons to Ted’s one; with 12, he’s already got three more 100-RBI seasons, and is second all time in grand slams to Williams’ fourth best. And then there’s the post season — which is not apples and apples, since they just had the World Series back in the day and today there are three playoff rounds and eight teams get in each year. So while you can throw Williams’ .200-average, no-homer, one-RBI performance in his only post-season appearance, it’s hard to look at Manny and see anything but the greatest postseason hitter ever. Because while his average is just .286, his 28 home runs and 74 RBI are more than anyone in history.

I told you it’s closer than you think.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts Dave Long and Company from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.


3/12/2009 Great talent a rush but not all it's cracked up to be

3/5/2009 In Bill we still trust?
2/26/2009 A mountain over this molehill
2/19/2009 Steroids muscle in on game's strength
2/12/2009 Bonner bombs away on Cs in garden party homecoming
2/5/2009 Nation's angst ends as V-Tek says what the heck and rejoins flock
1/29/2009 Super Bowl Sunday brings to mind past and present
1/22/2009 The elusive quality of greatness is the topic of the day
1/15/2009 Spring cleaning of the sports mind a little early
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