April 2, 2009

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LONGSHOTS: Climbing sports Mt. Rushmore
by Dave Long

As you may know I’m hooked on the Mt. Rushmore of Sports thing from ESPN — which has to do with my, let’s call it competitive, personality. But, for a history guy, it’s also fun. So here’s my first offering via a random series of topics from near and far:

Mt. Rushmore of Boston Celtics: 1. Bill Russell — greatest team sports player ever. 2. Larry Joe Bird — went from 29 wins to 61 in the season he arrived and they didn’t look back. 3. Bob Cousy — as important to the early NBA as Jordan was in the ’90s. 4. Red Auerbach — the smartest guy in sports for 40 years. Toughest Omissions: John Havlicek — it’s totally forgotten how great he was. Dave Cowens — amazing intensity. Paul Pierce — the team’s best scorer ever? Kevin Garnett — hasn’t been here long enough, but his intensity changed the culture.

Mt. Rushmore of Celtics Villains: Since they were so bad for so long, it’s hard to find any above-the-Tarrier Line villains, so they’re all oldies but goodies. 1. Bill Laimbeer — if you throw out mass murderers, terrorists and the guy who invented the Internet symbol “LOL,” I can’t think of anyone I hate more. 2. Wilt — it had more to do with the David and Goliath thing than him but he certainly was the focus of attention. You might be interested to know the only time I ever spoke to him (at Larry Bird’s Hall of Fame induction) he said he loved playing in Boston and that fans always treated him well when the game wasn’t going on. 3. Andrew Toney — an assassin who murdered them at the end of games. 4. Sidney Wicks — the only guy to win while playing for the Celtics as the ex-UCLAer is the symbol of a bad couple of years. Toughest Omissions: Darryl Dawkins, Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland, a.k.a. Mcfilthy and McNasty. 

Mt. Rushmore of the Boston Red Sox:  1. Ted Williams — the second-greatest hitter who ever lived. 2. Tris Speaker — I know, you don’t buy it. Check his record. 3. Pedro — his first six years were arguably the most dominant of any in history 4. Yaz — Manny was better, but he gets it on longevity, versatility, being a great left fielder and for 1967 — when no one has ever carried a team on his back quite the way he did. Toughest Omissions: Manny, Roger Clemens, Cy Young, Nomar Garciaparra, Bobby Doerr, Carlton Fisk, Wade Boggs, Jim Rice and David Ortiz.

Mt. Rushmore of Overrated Players: This doesn’t mean I don’t like these guys, it just means the public’s opinion is higher than it should be. 1. Nolan Ryan — when you nearly lose 300 games and were only 32 games over .500, I don’t see how you can be the right-handed pitcher of the century when Christy Matthewson, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens and Bob Feller also played then. 2. Alex Rodriguez — great numbers but he’s done squat when it counts most and he had help too. 3. Joe Namath — 47 more interceptions than TD passes, 63-64-4 as a starter. Never has anyone gotten more mileage out of one stinkin’ guarantee than Joe Willie. 4. Roberto Clemente — a great player who’s gained in stature after his death. But the truth is he was clearly behind Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson as the best right fielder in the ’60s and there are plenty of folks in Detroit who think Al Kaline was better too. Toughest Omission: Kobe Bryant — it doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s great. But in the 2008 playoffs, Lebron was clearly better against the Cs and ABC broadcaster Mark Jackson still talked as if he wanted to have his children.

Mt. Rushmore of Boston Guys Behind the Mike: 1. Johnny Most — one of a kind and as loyal/biased as they come. 2. The Rem Dawg — took me a while to get the Rem Dawg thing, but now I’m on board ’cause he’s really good. 3. Gil Santos — great voice, great with drama and he owns his share of signature calls. 4. Mike Gorman — a personal preference. While he had to hang in during the down years, with the Cs good again, it’s a reminder of just how good he is. Especially my favorite — “Got it!”

Mt. Rushmore of the New England Patriots: 1. Tom Brady — do I need to say? 2. Bill Belichick — more valuable than Brady. 3. John Hannah — a terror. 4. Adam V — won two Super Bowls on the final play and had the greatest kick in history. Toughest Omissions: Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Steve Grogan, Bob Kraft and Billy Sullivan — an adventure, but he started it all.

Mt. Rushmore of Underrated Players: 1. Robert Parish —the Celtics were under .400 without him and over .600 when Kevin McHale was out. You tell me who was more valuable. 2. Hank Aaron — while he’s got the records, he played in the shadow of Willie Mays in his prime and the two Rs (Ruth and racism) as he neared the record. 3. Bart Starr — you never hear his name when great QBs are talked about. But if Brady gets extra credit for being a winner, why doesn’t Starr, who led the Pack to five NFL titles and to victories in the first two Super Bowls when he was MVP? 4. Tim Duncan — three titles and two MVPs later and people still don’t get how good he is. Toughest Omission: John Smoltz — esteemed teammates Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux have 305 and 355 wins and he has just 210. But he lost 65 more while a closer and is 15-4 in the postseason while the other two were both UNDER .500 in the playoffs. 

Mt. Rushmore of the Boston Bruins: 1. Bobby Orr — the greatest. 2. Raymond Bourque — the second-greatest. 3. Phil Esposito — inspired greatest bumper sticker ever — “Jesus Saves! Esposito scores on the rebound!” 4. Cam Neely — beloved and tough, the classic Bruin. Toughest Omissions: Greats I didn’t see play like Milt Schmidt and Eddie Shore — ’cause I’m not sure how good they were.  

Mt. Rushmore of Manchester Sports Bars: 1. Billy’s – even has TVs in the bathrooms. 2. The Hilton Winter Garden Inn — good TVs and live F-Cat action behind the patio 3. Derryfield CC — best golf course bar in history. 4. The Backroom — not really a sports bar but go in there any Friday after Central football and basketball and there’s more good sports talk than in all the other places combined. Toughest Omission: Jillian’s — love that NCAA total game package.

Mt. Rushmore of Boston Sports: Orr, Williams, Russell and Auerbach. Toughest Omissions: Bird, Cousy, Brady, Yaz and Bourque.

I’ve got about a million others, so I’ll be back with various editions from time to time including a great one on the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry later in the summer. And if you’ve got any send them along and I’ll run them in “People, Places, and Other Stuff” as they come in.

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.


3/26/2009 Mount Rushmore offerings and other spring thoughts

3/19/2009 B-Ball, Coach B and Baseball in the mailbag today
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