LONGSHOTS: Thanks and turkeys are the usual fare this time of year
by Dave Long
It is Thanksgiving in what may have been the fastest- and slowest-seeming year on record if that makes any sense to anyone but me. What does make sense for all is that it’s time to hand out my thanks and turkey awards in the Thanksgiving issue of Hippo Sports. So here goes.
Thanks — that things all worked out for Red Sox hurler Jon Lester after his health scare from what is now three seasons ago. Let’s hope it goes as well for Kareem Abdul Jabbar after his recent news.
Thanks — to a pretty sensational first decade of the sports century in these parts when the Patriots won three times, the Red Sox twice, Celtics once, with all three and now the Bruins all in contention to maybe win again this year.
Turkey — Theo’s maddening, Larry Brown-like nitpicking with his shortstops. After Nomar, Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, Lugo again, Nick Green, Gonzalez AGAIN and who knows who for next year, he is to shortstops what Elizabeth Taylor is to husbands.
Thanks — to John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Luchino for not knocking down Fenway Park. I know it’s cramped and some call it a dump, but it’s our dump and if you’re watching most games on TV, who cares? It’s a classic and the coolest place in baseball for those of us who look at going to a game as a day with baseball and not a day out for “entertainment.” And there IS a difference he said with a sneer.
Turkey — the loud music at most events. While I’m not a “game presentation” kind of a guy, I’ve got no problem with it as long as they turn down the sound by 100 decibels or so.
Thanks — to the Verizon Wireless Arena and the ballpark down by the river — as the folks in charge of each do a great job running them and it’s great to be able to be there in five or 10 minutes with none of the hassle if you just get the itch to see a game.
Thanks — that the economy didn’t take down the high school sports which appeared headed for the chopping block in Manchester.
Thanks — to all the folks who sent e-mails about last week’s column on the controversy surrounding Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on fourth and two. There were many good ones, but one stood out for a distinct reason. It was from a Jean Ehrman — who I’m not sure if he’s a French-speaking hockey player related to one of my Rangers and later Bruins faves, Jean Ratelle, a female English teacher from the Midwest or something else. But I do know it came from a Peyton Manning lover in Fort Wayne, Ind., of all places, with kind words about that particular column, a non-trash-talking enthusiasm for the Colts win and a question about what I thought about what Rodney Harrison’s take on Coach B’s call.
Turkey — speaking of trash talking, to the yakkers like Rex Ryan and some of his Jets, but especially ones who yap and don’t back it up like Miami’s Joey Porter, who recently proclaimed he “hated” the Patriots and then put a donut on the board by not getting even a SINGLE tackle.
Thanks — still we give it for free speech to all — which was exercised by the aforementioned Rodney Harrison on NBC and Tedy Bruschi on ESPN about their former coach. For the record, both struck me as competitive former defensive players who didn’t like Coach B’s no-confidence vote for the defense — which is understandable.
Turkey — that age catches up to players in all like Rodney and Tedy — ’cause I’d give anything to find a fountain of youth to see Michael Jordan playing for the title in the same NBA finals against Bill Russell. Ditto for a chance to see Mickey Mantle at his peak, Sandy Koufax in a duel with Pedro at his peak and without a pitch count, Gale Sayers running, darting and making people miss along with Walton and Alcindor when UCLA owned college basketball.
Thanks — to the humble guys who are big-time stars like Tom Brady, who is, as I said a few weeks back, the entire package — smart, team, tough, clutch and humble. A good example to the kids.
Turkey —we like him generally and are impressed with his poise, but skulking out of the gym after the Cavs’ loss to Orlando last spring was bush (and for the fair and balanced network: that’s not a political statement of any kind). And then there’s his idea to retire Jordan’s number 23 throughout the NBA. Earth to Lebron: MLB did it for Jackie Robinson because he had the strength to lead the integration of baseball, which was a big factor in helping to right an injustice throughout the land. Not because he made everyone in baseball a little richer.
Turkey — the Byron Russell trash talk at his Hall of Fame induction was unnecessary by Jordan, even if he doesn’t like him. The sentence to get out of turkeyhood is to go to U-Tube (or is it You-Tube I can never remember) to hear Ted Williams’ touchingly eloquent remarks from the day he was inducted with Casey Stengal in 1966.
Thanks — if you’re not into the sports media like me this won’t matter, but to Concord Monitor alum Chad Finn taking over that column in the Boston Globe. It’s interesting week in and week out for the first time since Jack Craig was doing it back below the Tarrier line.
Thanks — that cooler heads prevailed and the Globe didn’t get shut down as threatened by the liberal, except when it comes to their interests, NY Times as a hardline negotiating tactic — ’cause whether it’s as good as it once was or not, it’s an important part of my morning every day.
Turkey — I know it’s a tribute to the late, great AFL, which I love, but I’m glad the Patriots will only wear their red throwback uniforms two more times. I don’t like them because of their dumbfounding, historically incorrect “the British are coming” red-coats quality. History teachers and Revolutionary War scholars should unite on this one!
Thanks — for having the annual turkey game at Gill Stadium. Not for me, as I didn’t grow up here, but it’s nice for folks to have something like that in the place where they did grow up.
And finally thanks for Thanksgiving — which has it all, good food and drink, the smell of the turkey as it’s cooking through the day, football in person and on TV to watch amid the trial, tribulations and fun of being around the family. And then best of all — since it happens on Thursday — you get three full days to recover from it all!
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to all.
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.