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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.