LONGSHOTS: The mailbag beckons in a busy week
by Dave Long
With all kinds of things going on, and few of them good, it’s time to go to the mailbag.
Dear Dave: What do you make of the Tiger Woods saga and will it hurt his popularity over the long term? W. Jefferson Klintin, 1567 Deseat Blvd., Acheetah, South Carolina.
Dear W. Jefferson: The answer to the second part of your question comes in a question. When is the last time you heard anyone mention Ray Lewis and pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in a double murder in the same sentence? Or how about Kobe Bryant and rape? Or, or, or? So, sadly I don’t think enough people care enough about abhorrent behavior by star players, as long as they keep performing, for its shelf life to last to even the next major he wins. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t become the butt of an endless stream of Internet jokes that have been e-mailed all over America, like “Apparently the police asked Tiger’s wife how many times she hit him. She said ‘I don’t know exactly but put me down for a 5.’”
As for me, I tend to hold a really long grudge if the offense is bad enough. Like I just pardoned George Steinbrenner for his crimes against sports humanity dating back to 1990 when he paid a convicted felon $40,000 to smear the reputation of Dave Winfield. My sentence lasted nine times longer than the lifetime ban he got from MLB (which actually lasted just two years), but he’s been a good boy for about 15 years and since he’s getting on in years, I recently let it go.
Having said that, though, what Tiger did or did not do isn’t remotely like what Lewis pleaded guilty to — who the Ravens welcomed back with open arms after he got out of the slammer. How a couple defines its marriage and the rules that govern it is up to them, not me. It’s pretty obvious Tiger and his wife aren’t on the same page in that department and his conduct is not anything I look up to, but he gets a stiff sentence from me for another reason. The worse thing you can do to me is treat me like I’m stupid, so using the “family” shots on his Web site and all the rest to create an image that just does not exist is enough to make me like the Soup Nazi in saying, “THAT’S it, come back, FIVE years!!!” and we’ll see if he’s grown up. In the meantime, since I only root for people I admire, I’m hoping Jack Nicklaus’ record for majors stands. And if Tiger breaks it in the meantime it will be greeted with the same excitement Barry Bonds got when he passed Hank Aaron. I’m also changing his animal nickname from Tiger to Dog Woods, which is a good name for someone selfish enough to put his interests above those of his kids and wife, and a nice twofer, because I think that’s the type of tree his car hit on the fateful night that put events in motion.
Dear Dave: Any idea how New Hampshire always seems to stumble into these big national stories like the UNH alum paramour (or one of them) in the Tiger Woods story? L. Bud. Melman, 1207B Stephanie Birkitt Highway, New York, N.Y.
Dear Bud: You got me. It’s like a Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation thing where a New Hampshire connection was in the recent Dave Letterman sex/extortion scandal and the embellished phony résumé in the George O’Leary mess three coaches ago at Notre Dame. Plus on the good side, how does a dinky, bad-weather state like ours wind up with guys like Josh (aye) Hoyer and Brian Sabean as major-league general managers and others like Allard Baird, Ben (sonny and) Cherington, Don Orsillo and Dave O’Brien in varying big-time roles on that level as well? Don’t really have the answer — but I do think the results are curious.
Dear Dave: Now that the Patriots have the same number of losses with Tom Brady that they did all year with Matt Cassel running the show, do you feel vindicated from the flack you took last year after saying they should consider trading Brady if the right deal came along? Victor Kiam, 14 Furnaceblast Road, Deviltown, New Mexico.
Dear Vic: Probably not for the reason you think. I love Brady, and while he has made BIG mistakes this year in being intercepted in the end zone in losses to New York, Indy and Miami where a field goal would have won two of the games and a TD would have tied the Jets, I wasn’t trying to run him out. I just thought the emergence of Cassel (who’s only been OK in KC) presented a unique opportunity to get a mother lode of draft picks and provide cap space to help rebuild a defense that I thought needed a huge infusion of talent at linebacker, in the secondary and pass rushers in the quickest way possible. And what we’ve seen in 2009 says that assessment was right. Whether they would have gotten the godfather offer or not is another story, but there’s no question the defense is in transition from the Super Bowl group, which desperately needs an impact pass rusher or two, two linebackers (at least) and more time to let us see if the young DBs can lock people down in a way they have been unable to do in 2009.
Dear Dave: What is the deal with Theo Epstein and his merry-go-round at shortstop? Joe D. Read, .389 OBP Way, Fickle Finger of Fate, Montana.
Dear Jackie: You got me. As I said last week, he’s like Elizabeth Taylor with husbands — picky, picky, picky and probably unsure of exactly what would satisfy him at shortstop, aside from what looks to be an obsession with the stat geeks’ numbers. My issues go back to Orlando Cabrera being allowed to walk after being THE ingredient change that sent them onto their first world title in 86 years in 2004. He was first in a line that has now stretched to eight shortstops after being deemed not good enough. He cost less than Julio Lugo and Edgar Renteria and was younger than both. And since he left five years ago he’s won a gold glove, while averaging 154 games, 15 errors, 70 RBI per season while hitting .257, .282, .301, .284 and .289. All of which is better than what Marco Scutaro put on the board in his “career year” of 2009, except in errors, where he had just 10. We’ll see what happens on Scutaro, but I kind of look at Theo making the right choice at short (at least for more than two months) like A-Rod in the post-season before this year. Until he does it, I expect it not to work out.
Dave Long can be reached at email@example.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.