September 17, 2009

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LONGSHOTS: The mail bag’s open for business
by Dave Long

Time to go to the mail bag to hear what inquiring minds want to know about what’s happening in football as the NFL season opens.

Dear Dave: If the Steelers win it all in ’09, are they the team of the decade over the Patriots? Bill Cow, Herr Blvd., Kordell Stewart, N.M.

Dear Bill: You know how the above-the-Tarrier-Line crowd is — somebody does something good today and suddenly they’re the greatest ever, even when they still have 16 majors left to catch Jack Nicklaus as Tiger was thought of after winning just his second major. So they’ll remember the last two and forget about all that the Pats did. For my money the only way they can get that crown is to blast the Pats head to head in the playoffs and a blow-out win in the Super Bowl. Otherwise the Pats have all the tie-breakers — like three Super Bowls, the 16-0 season and another (losing) trip to the Super Bowl, the two longest winning streaks in league history, a better overall win-loss record in the decade than the Steelers, no under-.500 seasons (Pitt has one), surviving the loss of Tom Brady and still going 11-5 and, oh by the way Steelers fans, they are 2-0 in head-to-head playoff games over Pitt. Of course winning like that is kind of like figure skating, where the judges decide it. A better way to do it would be to win the Super Bowl in the decade’s final year and be the team that knocks the Steelers out of the playoffs.

Dear Dave: What do you think of Plaxico Burress getting two years in the pen for the gun incident in the night club? (just call me) Tiny, Cell Block D, Sing Sing Correctional Institution.

Dear ... OK ... (gulp!) ... Tiny: It probably didn’t please my friends at the NRA or that guy from Dover who was packing heat at the Obama health care reform meeting/rally in Portsmouth a while back much, but I’m OK with it. Just wish it had happened 18 months earlier. That would have meant he and Ellis Hobbs never would have met on that faithful day.

Hey Dave: Do you think Richard Seymour still has his fastball and what do you think the long- and short-term impact of the trade will be? Ben Davidson, 1960 Raydar Way, Hells Angel, Calif.

Dear Ben: He still brings heat, but in the low 90s, not 98 like he used to. In the short term, I’ll be surprised if they’re better without him. But since the first-round pick from Oakland won’t have any impact for two years minimum, the coaches must think he’s not dominant as he once was and his production can be approximated by committee. With that conclusion reached, Coach B went the Branch Rickey route and traded him a year early rather than a year too late to get the best value back. That remains to be seen, but Coach B sees him every day so they may know something we don’t. But if I had to bet – they’ll suffer growing pains before that takes place, if it does at all this year. As for the long term — this was a money thing that came down to him or Vince Wilfork and they reasoned finding a high-level nose guard to play in the 3-4 is tougher than a defensive end. So it could mean Wilfork will be resigned. Second — the trade was with the Raiders, who own the record for most consecutive seasons with double-digit losses, so they’ve got a good shot at a Top 10 pick. The only times Belichick’s had one he took Seymour and Jerod Mayo, so his track records pretty good. 

Dear Dave: What do you think about Bill Belichick sending a guy who had played his heart out for him as a vital cog on three Super Bowl winners to the NFL’s version of Siberia as he did with Richard Seymour? Mike Fraybill, 50 Banished St., Outoftown, Missouri

Dear Mike: I know there’s no crying in football and it’s a “what have you done for me lately” business — but I still hate it. I’d like to think sending warrior players like Seymour and Mike Vrabel — who epitomized what’s come to be known as the Patriots way — deserve better than to be dumped in rebuilding loserville places like KC and Oakland. I get there’s a fine line between watching out for a guy and hurting your team — like sending Seymour to a rival like the Jets or a Super Bowl contender like the Giants and the need to maximize return on your investment in players. But they, along with the likes of Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi and a few others, earn better treatment at the end. Teams and fans ask players to take the hometown discount all the time and when they don’t fans get all over people like Johnny Damon. Well, it should work both ways and taking a little less for Vrabel and Seymour and sending them to a decent place is a team version of the hometown discount.

Dear Dave: Of all the moves Coach B has made as Patriot GM, which do you think was his biggest mistake? Cleo Eppstine, Boston, Mass.

Dear Cleo: Letting Ty Law walk — no question. Even though they went on to win the 2004 Super Bowl, the secondary and the defense have never been the same. He got lulled into believing he could be replaced — but he never has done it and it’s impacted both the pass defense and pass rush, because they have had to double team and play zone much more without anyone back there with the ability to shut guys down one on one.

Dear Dave: Do you see the Patriots moving Richard Seymour as the kind of preemptive move the Celtics of the ’80s should have done as the Big Three got near their ends? Pervis L. Ahsin, #1 Street, Louisville, Kentucky

Dear Pervis: A lot of people last week cited letting the big three get old before retiring or leaving the team as the reason why they spent 20 years in the wilderness of mediocrity. To some extent it’s true, but there’s more to the story. First, they got a new owner in Paul Gaston who understood the business only in terms of preserving the value of the asset —  he was clueless for putting the pieces together to build a winning organization. Second, Red basically stepped down, putting the team first in the hands of Dave Gavitt, then ML Carr and finally Rick Pitino, so he wasn’t there to work his magic. And finally, if Len Bias and Reggie Lewis hadn’t died the story probably would have been different, I suspect. And not just because they were good, but also because with Bias on board the guard-poor team wouldn’t have needed Michael Smith, and the next guy taken after him in the ’89 draft was Tim Hardaway. Not that answers your question, but it let me get a little off my chest. With regard to your question the answer is yes.

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.


9/10/2009 Pats now see more clearly what needs to be done for '09

9/3/2009 On the shrink's couch in a near francoma
8/27/2009 Random thoughts and big refrigerator magnets
8/20/2009 Sixty-one years later and Ruth's still in the conversation8/13/2009 Empire strikes back during annual visit
8/6/2009 Ortiz and Manny's steroid story tests fans as well
7/30/2009 Trading places not as simple as "I'll take the old guy" 7/23/2009 Mailbag delivers some interesting questions and answers
7/16/2009 Random thoughts for a lazy summer day
7/9/2009 Season's second half is when it'll get interesting for the Sox
7/2/2009 Declaring independence of how others play the game
6/25/2009 Finding the right plan is as easy as A, B, C with Celtics
6/18/2009 A great experience came in the Knick of time
6/11/2009 Ripping key to Rodney's broadcast success?
6/4/2009 The Mt. Rushmores of the red Sox-Yankees rivalry
5/28/2009 First-place Sox are making the grade
5/21/2009 NBA rivalries have no rival in other team sports
5/14/2009 Lying from baseball's Pinocchio prompts questions
5/7/2009 Celtics bull their way into round two — finally!
4/30/2009 Tanked from the headlines, the Fenway series yanks it back
4/23/2009 Draft winds blow NFL teams to make interesting decisions
4/16/2009 Spring cleaning of a cluttered sports mind
4/9/2009 Red Sox Nation springs back to life
4/2/2009 Climbing sports Mt. Rushmore
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 Ms 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