October 1, 2009


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LONGSHOTS: Bay watch on for Sox MVP
by Dave Long

With football and the baseball playoffs converging and the Celtics beginning pre-season camp this week, I’ve got all kinds of things on my mind and not enough space to say them. But here goes:

I hope my well-informed e-mailing friend who I went back and forth with a while back over my saying Joe Namath belonged on the Mount Rushmore of history’s most overrated players noticed that Joe Willie was nowhere to be found on Peter King’s Top 12 all-time quarterback list on SI.com last week. Of course he’ll have a legion of supporters in these parts if he wants backers in saying King doesn’t know what he’s talking about since Tom Brady was way down at number 10 and, worse, four slots below Peyton Manning.

With this the Patriots’ 50th anniversary — which is highlighted by wearing throwback four times this year — I have two comments. Whoever picked the name Patriots was spot on. It honored the colonials whose spunk led to the formation of this great country in a battle that started in Boston. And having said that, then how in the name of Billy Sullivan could they have picked the team colors worn by the enemy — the British Redcoats — for those uniforms? And how come I’ve never heard any historian, even Ken Burns or Doris Kearns Goodwin, ever mention that? 

In case you don’t read headlines, I’m taking Jason Bay for my Red Sox MVP. But, in the way I’d have voted for Manny to be last year’s NL MVP, despite being only there for two months, the guy whose presence really stabilized the ship was Victor Martinez. He’s been a tremendous addition and the best mid-season deal made by Theo — who also gets thumbs up for getting Alex Gonzalez and Billy Wagner — since Orlando Cabrera.

If you’re wondering, Justin Masterson is 1-6 with a 5.21 ERA for Cleveland since that trade.

I know it’s a little early, but my eye will twitch this off-season when I hear Theo is if he passes on Alex Gonzalez AGAIN at shortstop for next year.

And speaking of the one that got away, Hanley Ramirez’s line for the year stands at .348 with 24 homers and 105 RBI. But somehow with Gonzalez on board it doesn’t bother me as much.

Broadcasting line of the week came from Tim McCarver Saturday on Fox when he said, “That may be the most exciting inning in baseball history when a ball never left the infield,” after Dice-K loaded the bases on an infield hit and two walks and then naturally wriggled out of it thanks in part to great plays by Victor Martinez and Mike Lowell.

My friend Gary Parson says the reason the Yanks were 7 for 7 in steals against Jason Varitek Friday is the pitchers don’t hold runners on. I say it’s mostly the captain. E-mail me — what do you think?

Here’s the most worrisome stat for the post season: the Sox finished 39 and 42 on the road while both the Yanks and Angels are 45 and 33 away from home. 

Anyone else noticed that the AAA and AA teams in Pawtucket and Portland from the Red Sox’ vaunted farm system were a combined 33 games UNDER .500? That doesn’t sound real vaunted to me.

After a peek at the leader board it’s still hard to believe F-Cat alums Aaron Hill and Adam (gone with the) Lind both hit over 30 homers and knocked in over 100 runs, especially for Hill, who’s fourth in the entire league with 35 bombs. And with the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler being a 30-30 guy the AL has two second basemen with over 30 homers. When’s the last time that happened?

I mean aside from the steroid era.

Throw in Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia is, at best, the fourth-best second baseman in the AL this year.

Of course since the Orioles’ Brian Roberts already has 55 doubles and became just the fourth person ever to hit 50 in a season three times, Pedroia is probably fifth. Who are the other three to do it, by the way?

But if Pedee can make it through the week without an error, it’ll be his third straight year with just six, which is Omar Vizquel-like.

I don’t know about you, but I think Jon Gruden has been great in his first two MNF games. One of the few able to clearly explain technical coaching language economically.

With the Steelers 1-2 after losing to the lowly Bengals, is this the beginning of the Super Bowl hangover? Probably not, but if so, Steelers fans can kiss that team-of-the-decade talk good-bye.

The last time I saw a coach go for it inside his 30 before the fourth quarter as Coach B did leading six in the third period Sunday on fourth and one was Barry Switzer with Dallas. And after his not making it, the accurate Post’s headline the next day was “Bozo the Coach.” 

While the length, shot blocking and three-point shooting that are part of Rasheed Wallace’s game are exactly what the Celtics were missing last year, does anyone realize both Leon Powe and Big Baby outplayed Sheed almost every time the Pistons and Celtics played the last two years?

While I really like defenses coming after a QB as aggressively as the 3-0 Jets do under Rex Ryan and think he’s injected a swagger up and down the line-up, let’s keep it in perspective. They weren’t the Lions a year ago. With a few new additions it’s the same team that had the division wrapped up until collapsing in the final month when Brett Favre’s arm trouble was a real issue.

Speaking of which. No big shock, but it’s pretty hypocritical just the same that the NY media that rightly made a huge deal over videogate barely made a peep when the Jets got caught blatantly cheating by leaving Favre entirely off the injured list those last four weeks. How is it any different?

The three trifecta 50 double guys are Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Ducky Medwick and Tris Speaker, who’s the only one to do it four times. That’s good company for Roberts.

And almost forgot. I’ve got another Terry Francona thing that sets my eye to twitching when his name is brought up. It was treating last weekend’s series with the Yankees as exhibition games BEFORE they even clinched the wild card. I wouldn’t call it a disgrace, but I’m glad I’m not on the team because I’d have been embarrassed  my manager handed the Yankees the division title IN Yankee Stadium without a fight. I know it was inevitable, but tell that to the ’64 Phillies or the ’87 Blue Jays, who blew big leads in the final week.

Or to maybe their ancestors on the 1978 team who after blowing a 14-game lead needed to win the last nine to force the famous playoff and did — which in my opinion was one of the great Red Sox moments ever, because I’m with Yogi — “It’s never over ’til it’s over,” and they didn’t give up.

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.

9/24/2009 Pitch count police trigger another dreamlike episode

9/17/2009 The mailbags open for business
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